I collect pattern books, from anywhere and at any time period. I have a lot of self-published books which can be unintentionally quite funny mostly because many pattern makers are known to be quite opinionated if not arrogant. Plant managers the world over will agree, pattern makers can be a pickle so I’m not the only one. It seems to be something that comes with the territory. Still, some pattern makers can really cross the line. In today’s post, I’m featuring one such book from my collection. The book is called Metodo Cientifico Acme (The Scientific Acme Method), a self-published work from Mexico by a woman named Ester Ana Sharp de Woolman, written in the late 1920’s (no publication date).
Probably the funniest thing about this 127 page book is that Mrs. Woolman devotes no less than 10% of the page count to glorifying herself, to the extent that she publishes a song -complete with lyrics and music- written about her by two of her students. The song extols her virtues and brilliance for “inventing” such a noble and wondrous pattern making method. Or maybe I’m just jealous. The only song anyone ever wrote about me was titled [expletive deleted] Kathleen, written by a punk rocker I used to date so you’re not the only one who thinks I can be a pill. I’ve always thought it would be really funny for a musician to perform the song. Or, a variety of musicians. I can just see it, a punk rock version, a country-western version, a hip-hop version, a blue-grass version…but then, I’m easily amused. Below you’ll see the music, if you’d like to try to play it yourself, the full size download is here. My better half mentions you should note the key change and states indignantly that “this is not Rachmaninoff“.
The lyrics translate as follows:
We study “Acme” joyfully, it brings happiness to the home, what beautiful hours [are spent] when I want to cut a dress. The scissors, thimble and System are the joy of the heart because it brings with it, the gem to those who triumph at sewing. That we always use exact measures in drafts and sewing, is due to so ample a System that guides us to fulfill its mission.
Mrs. Woolman presents studies in many nations, anywhere students increase preparedness for sewing. With thread in our hands, we sing victoriously in sewing, finishing our study we intone this sweet song. The Acmistas pay honors as a tribute to your sacrifices, paying eternal loores [sic] with love for its benefits.
Suffering Unappreciated Inventor, we sing this hymn of love to you, for your great sacrifice in life and your noble and wondrous work. Oh teacher, illustrious Inventor! The nations remember your gifts and womanhood itself calls you Lady in the most beautiful and sweetest songs.
But wait, there’s more. Mrs. Woolman has invented her own (cardboard) drafting rulers, printed with a picture of herself on them. Included is a stern warning not to copy them as they were patented in Mexico, Cuba, US, Germany, Canada, England and France on July 26, 1926 (patent number 26246).
As far as the material itself goes, it’s not that impressive so all of the self-glorification pages (and sprinkled through out the text) are over the top. It’s mostly very basic styles for babies (several styles of diapers for instance), basic ladies tops and skirts and a few men’s coats. Speaking of coats, here is a style that she named after herself -the Woolman Coat!
The only thing I found of moderate interest (drafting-wise) is that she cuts her sleeves like the Chinese and Japanese do, in that the elbow dart has been transfered into the end of the sleeve. Also, her sleeve caps aren’t bad.
The self-worship pages are a riot. Evidently, she tried to get her pattern making method legislated as the “official pattern making method of Mexico” to the extent that she reprints the responses sent to her from various government officials -complete with their photos! She also reprints copies of the many hokey awards she’s been given by various sundry, motley organizations. She even reprints an invitation she received to attend -not exhibit- at the “Great Exposition of Industrial Progress” held in Italy in the year 1923.
Here’s another example of cheesy; it’s a depiction of her pattern making “territory”. She’s taken a map of Mexico and filled it in with people’s faces, presumably the legions of students she’s raised from the depths of hum-drum home sewing.
I close with the transcription of the lyrics in Spanish in the event you don’t like my translation. For those of you who do speak Spanish, you’ll agree that these are much funnier than the ones I translated.
Estudiamos el “Acme” gozosas que nos trae la dicha al hogar, qué horas hermosas cuando quiero un vestido cortar. Las tijeras, dedal y Sistema son el gozo de los corazones, porque obtienen con ellos la gema, las que triunfan en las confecciones. Siempre usamos medidas exactas en los trazos y la confección, es debido a tan amplio Sistema que nos guía a cumplir su misión.
La señora de Woolman presenta los estudios en muchas naciones, por doquiera estudiantes aumenta preparadas para confecciones. Con hilo en las mano, cantamos victoriosas en la confección, terminando el estudio nos vamos entonando esta dulce canción. Las Acmistas brindamos honores como premio a sus sacrificios, tributándole eternos loores [sic] con amor para sus beneficios.
Abnegada Inventora sufrida, te cantamos este Himno de amor, por tu gran sacrificio en la vida y tu noble y grandiosa labor. ¡¡Oh maestra, ilustre Inventora!! Las naciones recuerdan tus dones y tu sexo te canta señora, las más bellas y dulces canciones.