Some More Margolis

I thought I’d share some more scans from the Adele P Margolis book ‘Fashion Sewing for Everyone’.  The first set of scans are here.

I’ve read this book cover to cover now, and there are a lot of post-its sticking out of it.  There are so many useful bits of information in this book that it’s been really hard to narrow down what I want to share with you.  I definitely wanted to show you this though.

These are some fabric scraps in the section on pockets.  My copy comes from St Catherine’s College, Bootle.  I wonder what the outfit was like that was made with this fabric.  There’s red and green in the scraps as well as gold flecks!

So, to use Ms Margolis’ own words here’s the section that’s ‘Borrowed from the Boy’s’ or the slacks and shorts chapter (trousers if you’re a Brit like me!).

A lot of time is spent explaining how to fit trousers and there are some great diagrams but first up is this little excerpt:

“While the design of the pants [trousers] is your first consideration, the second concern is making the standard-size pattern fit you not-so-standard figure.  This is even more important in pants [trousers] than in a skirt.  You may salvage a skirt in the seam allowances but you get no second chance to change a crotch, say, once the pants [trousers] are cut.”

Well!  No second chance to change a crotch.  Is it just me or is that just a tiny bit (school play ground kinda way) funny?  I can’t argue with the whole paragraph at all, but take those seven words out of context…  Google search results will be interesting considering the number of times I’ve written the word ‘crotch’ in this post too!

Anyway.  I digress down childish avenues!

There are some really comprehensive instructions on the measurements that are needed to fit trousers correctly, including taking measurements when seated to determine the crotch depth.

Here’s the first scan on fitting trousers with some really clear diagrams (click on the images to make them larger) on the adjustments to be made for a large (top diagram) or flat (bottom diagram) derrier:

The importance of a muslin is stressed:

“So now you have altered your pattern in accordance with your personal measurements.  You think your fitting problems are over?  Alas!  One can’t depend on mathematics alone to give a good fit.  All arithmetic can give you is length and width and a general idea of the required shaping.  That’s not enough.
Becomingness, ease of movement, posture, direction of seam line, individualised shaping can only be truly tested in cloth.  Not the cloth of your pants.  That would be too risky a test since only minor changes can be made at that stage.  A trial muslin will save you a lot of grief.”

Advice is also given on how to sew up the test muslin to aid fitting:

“Baste the leg seams first.  Baste the crotch seam.  Clip the crotch seam allowance.  Baste the waistband in place.  It is hard to judge the fit of pants without suspending them from something.”

Here’s a scan showing the wrinkles that may be apparent when fitting and what to do about them:

Finally a little word of advice:

“Did you think that sewing means dashing off to your sewing machine as quickly as possible and stitching away madly?  Not so!  There are really not that many yards of machine stitching in an entire garment.  Stitching is but the tip of the iceberg.  It’s that submerged seven-eighths – the planning, the care, the precision – that is so vital to the beauty of the garment.  Sewing is literally not what it ‘seams’.”

I think I should print this out and put it on my wall above my machine.

I’d like to share a little more next week.  Probably on pressing and tailoring as that is where the majority of my post-its are!  I’ll narrow it down to just a few though rather than the 20+ that are sticking out of the book at this moment in time!  I also have a give away to go with the post for your own copy if you’d like to read more…


Fashion Sewing For Everyone by Adele P Margolis

When Sunni’s information saved my fitting of the Jasmine blouse I was grateful for the information she had so willingly shared.  As the knowledge and technique were based on  a book by Adele P Margolis (1909 – 2009) I thought I’d see what else she’d written.

This led me to Fashion Sewing for Everyone.  Like Liz in her review of How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter the book its self is just really pleasant and easy to read.  It’s as if you have a really knowledgeable Aunt, Grandmother or friend talking to you and sharing their knowledge.  The writing style is so engaging.  I’m reading this much like I’d read a novel but all the time I am LEARNING!

Not only is my knowledge being increased, so is my confidence.  I’ve read about 3/4 of the 421 (excluding index) book and I really wanted to share some of it with you:

Here’s a scan of the foreword

The phrase that really stood out to me (and is used on the back of the dust jacket too, so the publisher must have thought it was good!) is this:

This is a book for everyone who loves to sew.  Not just plain sewing, mind you, but fashion sewing.  There’s a difference!  It’s the difference between chore and excitement, between have-to and want-to, between the routine and the creative.”

Never was a truer word spoken?  When I think about it whilst we are all sharing information, knowledge, techniques, patterns none of it is based on pure practicality.  We all sew because we choose to, because it excites us.

It may have begun as a means to an end, to get clothes in the style we like, that fit our aesthetic, that reflect our personal fashion.  Somewhere along the way though the process becomes as important as the finished product, the learning so that we can step it up a notch.  The fit that means that makes the clothes a joy to wear, the lining that stops the pencil skirt bunching up round our hips.  The pretty lace at the hem.  The insane pop of colour in a ‘sensible’ coat.  The fact that we know it will last because its been constructed properly, finished properly (well, at least to the best of our abilities!).

We sew because we want to and because it is creative.

Then there are the little confidence boosts along the way:

“The comforting thing about clothing construction is that there is nothing sacred.  There is just no one way to do anything.
No one way to design.  Make rules and along comes some design genius who defies them all.
No one way to sew.  New techniques follow new styles, new needs, new technology, new fabrics.”

“Following are some techniques that have stood the test of time.  New ones are constantly developing.  If you can invent some of your own – go ahead.  Anything goes if it works!”

Sometimes its good to be reminded that just because something is the ‘accepted’ way, doesn’t mean its the only way.  The first example of this that popped into my head is seam finishes!  In couture they may not be finished at all depending on the construction, or it will be over cast by hand.  Ready to wear is overlocking pretty much all the way.  Me, I know I’ve used no finish, pinking, over locking, turn and stitch, bound, french seams…  None are wrong, none are the only way in a given situation!

There is also some good advice, some of which is of the ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ variety, well at least for me anyway:

Planning; I’m OK at that I think and certainly I can see how the unit construction method is followed in pattern instructions.  However it was the paragraph under the heading “Some General Advice Before You Begin” that was the biggest light bulb moment…

Don’t worry in advance.  That way lies failure.  Concern yourself with step 20 in the sewing sequence when you’ve finished step 19 – certainly not before you’ve even begun step 1.  You’ll be defeated before you’ve begun if you’re tense and anxious about the final steps.  Besides, you’ll be agreeably surprised to find how logical and simple the operation really is when you come to it in proper time.”

I am having some real light bulb moments as a result of reading it; some are technical ‘so that’s how you do it’ kind of moments and others are more knowledge based.  I finally understand fully what the stand, fall, roll line and break on a collar are and even how to fit one!  I hope to share some other bits of the book with you over the coming week or so, plus some little pieces of evidence that shows that another sewist has used Ms Margolis’ instructions…