The other day I blogged about using historical CPI data to compare the price of various textile/craft magazines and its advertised goods. Today I went back to the magazines for a second look.
The picture below on the left is from Needlecraft (Spring/Summer 1969), and the picture below on the right from Needle and Yarn (Summer 1965).
As I re-examined these two issues, I was struck by the different patterns. I don’t mean styles or yarn; I mean the projects themselves. The knitting and crocheting patterns in the 1965 and 1969 magazines focused on making women’s dresses and women’s suits – whole ensembles.
Of course, general attire – at least in the U.S. – has gotten a lot more casual since the 1970s — some people would say too casual. I’m not going to go there, though, because I remember having to wear girdles, shoes that didn’t fit but were “ladylike,” and uncomfortable dressy suits (with matching handbags and shoes, of course!) whenever we flew between Norway and the U.S. Talk about uncomfortable!
But I digress.
Born in the late 1950s, I remember that handmade clothes (not just handmade sweaters and accessories) were common, especially with “average” folks (e.g., middle- and working-class). I also remember thinking having a store-bought outfit was exciting.
I am not sure, but perhaps this was one of the reasons all girls in my city were required to have sewing classes starting in junior high. 🙂 Many of us loved sewing and made our own clothes. Many high schools (such as mine), offered an array of advanced sewing classes, including tailoring.
In California at those days, average folks shopped at JC Penny and Sears, and most of the clothes we bought were made in the US. (Now try limiting your clothes shopping to clothes made in the US!) In addition, most people (the average folks, at least), did not have the sheer number of items of clothing they do now (as reflected in the lower number of clothes closets in older houses).
It wasn’t until the advent of (1) outsourcing the growing and preparation of fiber for clothing manufacturing to developing nations with much lower land costs, (2) outsourcing the clothing manufacturing to developing nations with much lower labor costs, and (3) the birth of stores such as Marshall’s and Ross selling heavily discounted clothing that working and middle-class folk could buy ready-made clothes a lot more easily and abundantly.
But I digress yet again.
In both magazines I also noticed many advertisement for “Weave-Its.” Weave-Its were hand looms on which one could weave little squares (2, 4 or 5 inch). Hero Manufacturing Company of Middleboro, Massachusetts, started making them in 1934. They are now considered “vintage” (check eBay!); you can read about them on eLoomaNation.
The Weave-Its advertisements caught my attention because in the last two or so years I read, I believe, at least one article in at least one textile/craft magazine about Weave-Its, not to mention a couple of letters to the editors about Weave-Its.
Needle and Yarn had two patterns for making baby sacques out of the squares woven on a Weave-It. In case anyone has a Weave-It, here are the instructions for the two baby sweaters in the picture at the right. It also had a picture of a wrap (or “stole”) made from Weave-It squares (see pic below), and I scanned in the instructions as well for interested readers.
I think many of us fiber nuts, crafters, textile artists – whatever name we give ourselves – are, in their own way, bringing life and value back to the everyday world around them. And perhaps our own clothing styles reflect that.
About six months ago I decided I would never again wear a tailored business suit. While I carry a briefcase and will wear dark slacks or a dark skirt to professional events, I top them off with a hand-made arty (often “vintage”) sweater or jacket of some luscious fiber in a strong color. (I keep thinking of the poem by Jenny Joseph, “Warning: When I am Old, I Shall Wear Purple.”) That way, when the non-textile part of me is working, I am still surrounded by soothing fiber.
Plus, it guarantees I am the only person in the room in that outfit! 🙂