Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Sewing Journal

Yesterday, a dear friend from my doll club handed me this non-assuming, vintage notebook. "I picked this up at a garage sale and I want you to have it," she said.
I carefully flipped through the fragile pages and my heart did a little flip. I was holding some one's sewing notebook from 1927. That someone, to be precise, was Dorothea V. Her last name starts with a "V" and is written in beautiful cursive writing, but I can't make it out. It appears that this notebook was for her domestic arts class in high school. Sept. 23, 1927 is neatly penciled on the inside cover. The very first page shows basic sewing skills, such as a buttonhole, binding, snap, bound pocket, and a bound buttonhole.
The second page is a chart of sizes: The first row being the measurements for Venus de Medici, the second column belonging to Dorothea herself, and the last column listing "normal" sizes.
A page showing "requirements for the trip".

Hat trimming made from felt.
Examples of seams: French, slab, plain, and felt.
Fabric samples: Pongee, Wash Satin, Pussy Willow Taffeta, ABC Silk Dimity, Flannel (outing), Crepe, Muslin, Georgette, Crepe de Chine, and Voile. I had never heard of Pongee before--apparently it's a soft, thin, woven cloth, woven from Chinese or Indian raw silk. And don't you just love the "Pussy Willow Taffeta"? Sounds so perfect for spring! One thing I noticed is that the muslin fabric from back then is much nicer than today's muslin. 1927 muslin was soft and silky, much like a fine, cotton sateen. No wonder they used it so much for dresses and blouses. The muslin we have today is a far cry from that.
I love how Dorothea used page hole reinforcers to adhere things into her notebook!
Underwear examples from 1927 (above) and clothing fasteners (below).
This notebook is also filled with page after page of careful writing, all having to do with sewing. There are even pages devoted to the best way to wear one's hair according to body type, and personal hygiene. Do girls in school still make notebooks like this for Home Ec? Somehow, I don't think so. So, who was Dorothea V.? And how did her sewing journal from a high school domestic arts class end up at a garage sale? If I had something like this belonging to one of my relatives, I would never let it go. Did nobody in Dorothea's family find any sentimental value in this little notebook? Maybe I treasure it because it has to do with sewing. In any case, I love it, and it now has a special place on the shelf in my sewing room. Welcome to your new home, Dorothea's journal.


  1. How neat! That is so fun to look at. :)

    1. You'll have to look at it in person the next time you're over...hopefully soon!