Friends, welcome back for part two of The Women’s World, Book of Baby Trousseaux; a twenty-five page magazine from 1926. If you missed the first 11 pages you will find them here. So let’s get started, shall we – no time to waste.
Pages 12 and 13 are a centrefold spread of “Soft Woolen Things You Can Knit or Crochet to Keep Jack Frost at Bay: sweaters and mittens and bootees and caps that keep babykins comfy and warm – Touches of color may easily be added by using combinations of white, pink and blue.” It’s taken 12 pages till the mention of colour folks! I’m impressed! And even when the colour combinations of white, pink and blue are discussed it is done so with absolutely no reference to gender.
Page 14 – “Cunning New Styles for Baby Bunting: Lovely little things for the littlest member of the family. “ This is a gorgeously illustrated page. Again the clothes that are illustrated as teasers for the reader to purchase. The little booties at the top of the page have a basic description of construction instructions, “Booties stamped on white poplin, 25c [bargain!!! i’m sold i’ll take 10 sets]. Two yards of white bias binding required. Bind soles and sides separately, then sew together. For ankle strap, double 4 in. [inch] of binding and sew it to bootie 2 inches in back. In front make buttonholes to run ribbon through. One skein white floss, 3c. Transfer of bootees, 15c.” Friends, I have a little bootie transfer pattern from this very period…I’ve book-marked it for a future post.
Page 15 – “Fairy Craftsmanship for Tiny Frocks; miracles that deft fingers and loving hearts can work with thread on sheerest fabrics.” Readers this is the page that sorts the wheat from the chaff, I’m afraid. “If you belong to the lucky folk who can embroider the sheerest fabrics, and work with a fairy needle and finest cotton, you can make a baby’s frock or cap look as if it were blown straight from fairyland.” Friends, this introductory sentence makes me a little sad because during the time that this magazine was printed, many many women did routinely know the skills to complete the more complex embroidery that is presented on this page: pulled and drawn thread work and cut work. Over time these skills have largely been lost to most women and to learn them today will cost you a pretty penny. In more recent years, there has been a renewed interest in sewing, embroidery and other skills that have traditionally been thought of as ‘women’s work’. This interest has lead to the commercialisation of a traditionally female-owned skill-set…and that makes me incredibly sad.
Page 16 – “For That Proud Day – Baby’s First Outing; useful and ornamental accessories for the carriage to be made in odd moments.” This page presents lots of ideas on making items for your own baby or gifts for another-someone’s beloved baby. Such things as: a carriage pillow, a carriage robe, ribbon ornament to decorate the robe, a ribbon carriage strap, enamelled clothes pins, a yarn doll, a cap and sacque of white albatros [I have NO idea what “white albatros” is], a bath blanket, a bath apron and towels and wash cloths. The enamelled clothes pins have really piqued my interest: “Two clothes pins of the “hold-fast” type may be enameled in white and used to hold the carriage robe in place. The little flower designs shown, with pink petals, yellow center, green leaves and stem, may be painted on the clothes pins.” Firstly, forgive the American English – when quoting I have kept the spelling the same as what is printed. Secondly, I love that ordinary household items such as wooden pins/pegs are used to “hold the carriage robe in place.” The reader is advised to enamel paint the pegs in a classic white and then paint on decorative flower designs! The DIY/mend and/or make-do mentality is again found later in the book when discussing using a laundry basked for a baby bassinet! Friends, I love love love this attitude that doesn’t try and make the reader feel like they are ‘less-than’ by not keeping up with the proverbial Jones’s. So far, this book acknowledges that its readership may sit in any of the three general class groups and caters for everyone without being condescending – now-a-days we call that ‘inclusion’.
Friends, my brain is starting to hurt…all this thinking has broken it! Stay tuned for pages 17 to 24 in future posts – I’m off to make myself a cup of tea.