RE: [TheCostumersManifesto] History of pattern sheets with overlapping patterns
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2012 20:04:37 +0000
Subject: [TheCostumersManifesto] History of pattern sheets with overlapping patterns
OK, I wrote this for another forum, but thought you guys might be interested.
I own published pattern sheets dating from the early 1830s, the earliest I can find. (Tissue patterns for consumers [that is, not tailor's master patterns] were sold as early as the 1820s, but as far as I have been able to discern, these were single patterns.) Thee early sheets overlap patterns a bit, on the edges, maybe a very small piece completely inside a larger piece. As the 1850s went on, pattern sheets became denser.
The primary origins of many (if not most) published Victorian pattern sheets were German. Der Bazar (in Berlin) licensed all their sewing patterns, needlework patterns, and black-and-white fashion plates to La Mode Illustr�e, De Graciuese (in Holland) and from fall 1867 on, to Harper's Bazar. Also to numerous similar magazines in Spain, Russia, and other countries. They did not always publish identical issues, but the same material appeared in all the magazines in short order, accompanied by text in the native language. Around 1901 Harper's Bazar quit licensing the full set of material from Der Bazar, but La Mode Illustr�e continued. This widespread international licensing system was broken up by World War 1.
However, the Germans (Burda) currently publish overlapping pattern sheets and publish editions in different languages, including English. The Japanese also use them, and sometimes publish versions in English. Both the German and the Japanese pattern publications are popular with modern US sewers who want something a little different.
I used a full set of 1867-1868 Harper's Bazar pattern sheets for my book Reconstruction Era Fashions. The sheet size is typically about 20 � by 30 � inches, although extra-large sheets were used a few times a year. The sheets are always printed on both sides. Different line types are used to distinguish different patterns. Harper's Bazar proudly advertised a tracing wheel (which looks exactly like a modern one) for tracing single pattern pieces onto other paper. The assembly instructions are on the left sides of the sheets and the fashion plates are within the magazine. However, certain patterns were featured by having significant fabric and trimming suggestions and more assembly information included within the body of the magazine. Sometimes patterns for embroidery, braiding, or other needlework were designed for a specific pattern, and often these were in the main body of the magazine rather than on the pattern sheet. Therefore I included this supplementary material in the book. I also used dozens of 1877-1882 Harper's Bazar pattern sheets and magazines for my two-volume Fashions of the Gilded Age. The format was much the same as in the late 1860s.
Given the short time frame between the appearance of different international editions, my guess is that Der Bazar's licenses required the other countries to publish the patterns slightly after German publication. And, even if the choice of the foreign patterns for an issue was exactly the same as for Der Bazar, the arrangement and lines on the sheets are different. This says to me that rather than making and shipping multiple sets of printing plates, that Der Bazar shipped full-size paper patterns to their licencees, who then laid them out and traced them onto the metal plates used for engraving. If a pattern piece was too large for the plate, the printer folded over the paper pattern and traced the folded-over part onto the plate. (For example, if a dress was too long they folded up the bottom, so that the line for the hem is printed above the edge of the sheet.) The printer probably also traced the fashion plates, which are clearly woodcuts rather than metal engravings. I have period instructions, not related to Harper's Bazar, for "rubbing off" a printed woodcut onto a new block of wood, to then engrave with woodcutting tools.
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