I have some Japanese pattern magazines from the sixties that I love to pull out and show visitors -that’s what passes for social conversation around here. These are the funniest things. It’s not so much the styles that are funny although they are about 40 years old, it’s everything about them. Since these pattern magazines are the equivalent of home sewing magazines here, the advertising alone can be quite amusing because these are nothing like US magazines. They advertised everything from beer
to the latest hot new cars
to pancake make-up courtesy of Max Factor.
Okay, I take it back. The styles can be a riot. Just what is this woman wearing on her head?
Perhaps insult to injury -this being a pattern magazine- you can actually make that hat yourself! For those who don’t know, in Japan, you can’t go to the store and buy a pattern. You buy a pattern magazine. Pattern magazines sell you the instructions to draft your own patterns. New styles each month. You’re supposed to draft a basic fitting shell (instructions in each issue, always) and use that to generate the style. Note below that the shape of the basic pattern is superimposed and shaded blue in the sketch.
Below you can see another draft from a different magazine.
This is the method that is used most in the Orient. Often, separate patterns aren’t made. Rather, the block is laid on the fabric and the style is drafted directly on the cloth using chalk. You don’t really need to be able to read the instructions. You just need a block and a metric ruler. All the measurements are reflected in the drafts. This is much simpler than the kinds of pattern books we sell here. If you’re interested in Japanese or Chinese pattern drafting, you can get the basics in English with a book called Patternless Fashions by Diehl Lewis and Mary Loh. There’s another book too but I can’t find my copy to tell you the title.
And speaking of funny and home sewing patterns, Chrystal reminds me to tell you about Threadbared. These ladies have found the envelopes of vintage patterns to be inspirational -at least when it comes to humor. Here’s an entry entitled Apron: Strings Attached.
“See, I made this special hand sewn apron to show my husband how dedicated I am to my homemaking duties and caring for him. When he gets home I’ll say something clever like ‘Look honey, my heart belongs to you.’ ”
“Oh! Good idea. Maybe I’ll say something like ‘Look, Honey! Come here and let me give you some sugar.’ Get it? Sugar? Candy? The Candy Cane? Ha ha ha.”
“And I’ll say ‘Look honey, there’s a big man stuck in my chimney.'”