Saturday, May 7, 2011

Made to Measure

A friend of mine is currently doing a PhD on "Dressmakers in Post-War Australian Society" and I offered to do a call-out for people for her to interview for the study... I started looking through the family files for appropriate photos to accompany the post. It's hours later, and I've been completely absorbed in photos.... these, of my parents (top) and a very dear aunt and uncle (above) in their "going away" outfits after they were married..... gorgeous.

My Mum and two of her sisters were all married within the same year (in the early 50's). The 3 sisters were all much the same (tiny) size and the family wasn't exactly awash with money. They had the one bridal gown made in Flinders Lane,and each wore it on their own special day. Photos of my lovely Auntie Wilma seem to be sorely lacking in my photo files, which is an awful shame. It'd be good to have photos of all three girls. For these thrifty, crafty girls, having something made was a huge treat. I remember my Mum telling about it and showing me the dress when I was very small. (And then, when I asked her about it when I was a teenager, she couldn't remember what happened to the dress.....sigh).
(Another family wedding. Two of my sisters and a brother are kids in the bottom-right of this photo, which dates it at about 1963).

Did you have an aunt, grandmother or family friend who was a dressmaker in the 50's and 60's in Australia, who would be willing and able to be interviewed for my friend's study?

This research will focus specifically on dressmakers using their home as the base for their work. The main aim of the research project is to investigate the personal experience of the dressmaker and what it meant to be a dressmaker in Australian society at this time.

My friend, Jenny-Lynn, is seeking women who fit the above criteria and who are willing to participate in this research project. Participation will involve one or two interviews at their home (or a preferred location). The interviews will take approximately 60 minutes. They will be asked questions about their own personal experience of working as a dressmaker and how they managed their work alongside of any family or domestic responsibilities.

This is an opportunity to contribute to expanding the body of knowledge about the social and cultural history of women, work and family in Post WW2 Australian society. (Personally, I'm looking forward to reading this when it's published!!!)

Oh - and if anyone in Melbourne needs anything made-to-measure, or needs some freelance pattern-making/sampling done, my sewing buddy has just decided to go freelance..... she might be your girl!


Trash said...

Oh this looks like a fabulous research field. I also would love to read it on completion. Wish her bon chance.

Lesley said...

What an interesting subject to investigate. I always remember the Italian ladies were beautiful seamstresses. Lesley

**Anne** said...

This sounds like a facinating study and I'd be interested in reading the material when it is published.
I'll keep your friend in mind as I'm finding it increasing difficult to find clothes or patterns that suit my changing shape.
Have a lovely Sunday,
Anne x

Meg said...

What a great study, you must pass this link onto your friend. It is a link to a very interesting documentary on ABC radio nationals' Hindsight program.
About dressmaking in Australia before the advent of cheap ready-to-wear clothing.
Another interesting fact, my Grandfather was managing director of Butterick patterns Australian arm in the 50'-60's. My mum said she had hundreds of patterns from this time, but when we made the big move from Sydney to QLD in the early 80's, she got rid of them all!!! I nearly died when she told me this but what can you do, she didn't know then, that now, I would be an avid sewer. Good luck to your friends research.

CurlyPops said...

I would love to read the study when she's finished.
When my sister moved into her house in Clunes, the previous owners had left a lot of things behind. The old lady had been a dressmaker in Footscray around that time, and there was a notebook with the names and adresses of her customers with their measurements.
It was so sad that her family didn't think it was worthwhile keeping.

The Essess said...

As Cam said I do have the Dress Makers book from teh elderly lady we bought our house from.. It's here somewhere just need to find it!.....

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh i wish, my mother has her mother-in-law 1890 Singer industrial machine with original table, both were incredible seamstresses, it was their bond. I mean, my mother married their only surviving son, as a mother of one boy, i can imagine being VERY judgemental of who gets to marry him. Anyway, i will see if my mummy has any information to offer, Alzheimer's has stolen many of her memories. Stay tuned. She was the ultimate 1950s housewife, a country girl from England, married to an Australian sailor & moved here to live & raise 4 children (i'm the baby, came along after their 20th wedding anniversary). Finally, i hope my 3 daughters share a wedding dress, how economical, they're all the same tiny size too. They've each asked if they can have my old wedding dress, even better!! Love Posie

Fer said...

I come from a long line of women who sewed for themselves and their families, but I don't think any were actual dressmakers.

These photos are so beautiful, women had such style back then. ♥

The O's said...

Oh how I wish my MIL was still alive, not a dress maker as such but a sewer and all through necessity with 2 hefty lads as sons who grew at the rate of knots. I have a lot of her sewing stash which includes binding tape for Africa (seriously, you could outline Africa and all its countries with the amount of tape I have!), buttons, trouser clasps, zips, you name it I have it! And scissors, the woman collected them... but I can't find the pinking shears I know she had... There was a certain element of thrift which bordered on OCD in those days! I would love to read this when it is done too. Very interesting study indeed.

Karen said...

Those photos are divine - the little kids look so cute!
And hooray for your sewing buddy - good on her.