Textiles, A Discussion

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Textiles, A Discussion
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This is compiled from the third installment of the VCA board’s Let’s Play School Thread, March 31, 2007, hosted by Me - Carrie, chicgeekgirl.


Here is some information I found.
Source: vintagevixen.com

Sheiks and Shebas - Women's Fashions of the 1920s

The body outline was a very straight, curveless figure, with streamlined, close-fitting hats and hairstyles. Skirts fell between the knee and mid-calf in different seasons, for both day and eveningwear. One exception was a style of formal dress with a straight bodice and low-waisted flaring skirt with an uneven, ankle-length hem. In general, the 20s were an elongation and simplification of lines.

Common Designs
Sleeveless or cap sleeved scoop-neck lightweight dresses with no waistline or lowered waist. Layered suit-style jacket, blouse, skirt sets in softer, sometimes knit materials. Evening wear in sleeveless barrel shape with great amounts of beading- also panels, unusual streamlined drapes, or emphasis of the lowered waistline by a wide band of shirring or smocking.

Fabrics Available
Natural fibers (linen, cotton, wool, silk), acetate, and rayon (artificial silk). Most daywear was medium to lightweight, in crepes, georgette, knits and light suitings. Evening meant silk, in both sheer chiffon and opaque fabrics.

Popular Colors and Prints
For day neutral grays, browns, and blues were common, but pastels and more lively colors were worn. Nightwear was a rainbow of color; prints were common, but usually in small checks or figures, or a floral pattern.

Trims and Detailing
Daytime saw little trim, but nightwear overflowed with beading, furs, feathers, flowers, and lace. Both American Indian and Egyptian motifs were the rage, while the Art Deco movement stylized every type of design with its sleek, modern, geometric lines.

Hemlines Day and Night
The hemline rose from the end of the teens to reach the knee in 1925, and remained hovering near that position until the stock market crash of 1929, when they too fell to mid-calf and lower. Hemlines were approximately the same for day or night.

The Latest Fads
This decade is notorious for its scandalous changes in fashion:

Smoking in public
Extreme dieting
Bobbed hair
Showing your knees
Rolled stockings

Some less "radical" fads were:

American Indian motifs
Egyptian style craze, inspired by discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1923
streamlined Art Deco lines and figures

Development of bias-cutting fabric by Madeleine Vionnet
Invention of acetate fabric in 1924

Despair and Fantasy - Women's Fashions of the 1930s

For the first time in centuries, the natural, though slim, silhouette became the style. Hair was waved and shoulder-length. Shoulders were emphasized by puffs or padding, especially towards World War II (1939). For most women, a long, sleek appearance was desired.

Common Designs
Unusually cut and pieced day and evening dresses with oddly puffed and fitted sleeves. Bias-cut, high-waisted evening dresses and nightgowns. Two-piece suits with square-shaped jackets, large buttons and narrow, lean skirts in thin materials.

Fabrics Available
Natural fibers (sometimes linen, but mostly cotton, wool, and silk), acetate, and rayon, all in light to medium weights (velvet, georgette, crepe, organdy, satin) for day or evening.

Popular Colors and Prints
Colors were often muted or deeper hues, but brighter color was accepted. Prints were of soft to medium hues, and though they were still small to medium in size, they were more varied. Besides florals, geometric and abstract prints became popular; these were of two or more contrasting shades in streamlined designs that appear a little quirky today. Surrealism influenced prints, as artist Salvador Dali designed textiles for designers.

Trims and Detailing
Many 30s details depended on novelty-shaped plackets, lapels, pockets, cuffs, belts, or necklines, often with button accents. Large collar and cuff sets were very popular. Usually designs had either a medieval or ultra-Deco air to them. A standard motif throughout the decade was the two-piece belt or jacket clasp, worn at the center waist. To summarize, more trim was seen in daywear, with evening a showcase for cut and fabric drapery.

Hemlines Day and Night
Day hems dropped to mid-calf in '29 and rose through the decade to below the knee. At night, dress was floor-length.

The Latest Fads

Schiaparelli's controversial color, shocking pink
The first appearance of the midriff, seen in formal gowns and considered scandalous
Highly unusual sleeves, often with long fitted cuffs and a section of puffed sleeve
Surrealist influence
Novelty buttons, another Schiaparelli idea
Very low back bodices, known as being "backless" or having "back interest"
Tanned "movie star" skin

Nylon invented in 1939
Accepted use of costume jewelry by society, introduced by Chanel in the '20s
Development of two-way stretch weaves in fabric
Platforms on high-heeled dress shoes, invented by shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo

The New Look - Women's Fashions of the 1940s

In the first half of the decade, a trim waist and hips were contrasted with a broad chest and women's shoulder pads became a must. Hair was curled or rolled and shoulder-length or slightly longer. After the New Look debuted in 1947, shoulders sloped, waists cinched, and hips spread as far as they liked.

Common Designs
The fitted jacket-and-skirt suit, with a peplum to the hip. One- and two-fabric day dresses with 3- or 4-sided squarish curved necklines, the bust shaped by soft gathers above or below, and sometimes swags or drapery on the skirt. Lace and taffeta eveningwear with assymetric, bouffant styling. Cap-sleeved cotton or rayon blouses and matching tap-style shorts or wide-leg pants for recreation.

Fabrics Available
Natural fibers (linen, cotton, wool, and silk), rayon, acetate, and nylon. Light to medium-weight fabrics used, with light and sheer materials for nightwear. Nylon was seen as net overlays on formals and as the sole material in some sheer day dresses.

Popular Colors and Prints
Most daywear was in conservative colors, though some morning dresses had bright or bold floral or abstract figured prints. Evening saw more soft shades, and also classic navy and black. Casual clothes were sometimes boldly colored, with a lean towards western motifs.

Trims and Detailing
Little trimming appeared on clothing during this era, excepting some evening wear. Instead, fancy covered buttons, extra tailoring details, or fabric contrasts provided variety. One standard was two large hip pockets at either side of the waist, a regular fashion into the 50s.

Hemlines Day and Night
For day, just below the knee was standard, but some dresses fell to mid-calf. At night, at least ankle-length was necessary except for the cocktail hour.

The Latest Fads

Hats of every shape and size were fashionable, and was a style that began in the previous decade.
Shoulder pads occasionally reached wide, pointy, or hollowed proportions.
Hot items were alligator accessories, platform shoes, and marten stoles (long fox-like animals strung together).

Four new synthetics: saran (1941), metallic (1946), modacrylic (1949), and olefin (1949)

From Our Archives Interview with Janine Pons, Model in Paris 1948-1950

Flamboyant and Feminine - Women's Fashions of the 1950s

Soft but wide shoulders, corseted waist, and full hips were hallmarks of 50s wear, but silhouettes were more varied. On these outlines, women wore a trim bodice and very full knee-length skirt, or a fitted short, boxy jacket or blouse with a pencil-straight skirt. One style that hid all the rest, literally, was the cocoon-like sacque dress and coat, which fitted the shoulders and bloomed at the waist and hips.

Common Designs
One- and two-piece dresses with small-collared, fitted blouses and full, pleated knee-length skirts. More casual dresses with tied shoulder straps or halter straps, boned bodices and the quintessential circle skirt. Similarly fitted eveningwear that had a heart-shaped opaque strapless bodice with a sheer silk or nylon overbodice, usually sleeveless or long-sleeved. Prom night evening gowns of pastel nylon tulle, usually bedecked with yards of tulle trims, ruffles, and velvet bows. Long-sleeved button-up sweaters with a plain, ribbed neck, often beaded or appliqued. Fabrics Available
Natural fibers (linen, cotton, wool, silk), rayon, acetate, nylon, modacrylic, acrylic, polyester, and spandex. For daytime, the most common fabrics were in naturals, rayon, nylon, poly-cotton blends, and sometimes acrylic and acetate; sweaters were wool (cashmere for status) or acrylic knit. Brocades, satin, velveteen, taffeta, nylon net, tulle, and chiffon in both natural and synthetic fabrics were reserved for evening. Materials were usually light to medium weight, and sheer fabrics were common, but not usually as the main material of a garment (except in tulle evening gowns, and some day dresses and blouses).

Popular Colors and Prints
Day and casual wear saw neutral solids and floral prints, along with dazzling western and peasant-styled clothing, sometimes hand-painted onto circle skirts or scarves. Futuristic prints of all types appeared in bright, abstract designs apropos of the atomic era. Also, dark tone-on-tone abstracts in brown, gray, or navy were popular winter prints. For evening, both solids and classic floral brocades were common; the effect of overlaying contrasting sheer chiffon or net on a flesh-colored underdress was daringly popular. Colors in the evening were now both subtle and bold, as peacock blues and hot pinks became acceptable.

Trims and Detailing
The most obvious trim of daywear is the beading of sweaters and occasional extravagance on detailing circle skirts. Circle skirts and novelty garments were sometimes incredibly ornate, with applique, rickrack, screen-printing, sequins, or glitter. A very common feature on 50s dolman-sleeved dresses is the small, nonfunctional, diamond-shaped underarm panel. Flutter hems, which were curved evenly up and down, and scalloped edges appeared occasionally in full-skirted day and evening dress. Most evening detail appeared in sculpted pleats and necklines, or toned-down rhinestones and corde`, which added style without being cumbersome or uncomfortable.

Hemlines Day and Night
Daywear hems fell to the knee or a little below it. Evening gowns could be floor-length, but the cocktail dress also flourished at knee and upper-calf length.

The Latest Fads

Bobby soxers (Peter Pan collared blouse, poodle skirt, scarf-tied ponytail, and saddle shoes)
James Dean look-alikes, hoods, and motorcycle gangs
Modeling became a respectable job for young ladies
Cat-eye glasses
Hawaiian shirts
Barkcloth in casual wear
Ethnic scene prints in day and leisure wear
Americana prints with rustic scenes or patriotic eagles, etc

New fabrics: acrylic (1950), polyester (1953), and spandex (1959)

There is more on the site as well.

fabrics.net is a great site to research vintage fabrics. On their home page they have links to basic weaves of silk, cotton, and wool. Note that synthetics and other fibers can be woven in the same ways. For example, you can have a polyester dupionni weave. There can be cotton, linen, silk or synthetic damask weaves, and more.

You can search either on fabrics.net or on the web, so be sure to select the fabrics.net search.

My first find on there was info that helped date dotted swiss. They also have company histories of textile companies like Indian Head.

Wow, okay, Acetate is from the 40's! I didn't know that...

Acetate is earlier than 40s! Invented in the late 1890s, Celanese began producing textiles from it in 1924.


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