Reviews / Comptes rendus - Eileen Collard, publications on clothing in Canada.

Reviews / Comptes rendus

Eileen Collard, publications on clothing in Canada.

Katharine B. Brett
Royal Ontario Museum
Patterns of Fashions of the 1870's. Eileen Collard. Burlington, Ont., Joseph Brant Museum, 1971. 22p. (Out of print)
The Cut of Women's 19th Century Dress. Part 1, The Vertical Epoch, circa 1800-1821. Eileen Collard. Ontario Costume Society, 1972. 9p. (Out of print); Part 2, Romance and Sentiment, circa 1822-1839. Ontario Costume Society, 1973. 20p. (Out of print); Part 3, Victorian Gothic, circa 1840- 1866. Published by the author, P.O. Box 622, Burlington, Ont., L7R 3Y5, 1977. 47p. ISBN 0-9690552-3-4. $10.00
From Toddler to Teens, An Outline of Children's Clothing, circa 1780 to 1930. Eileen Collard. Published by the author, 1973. 61p. ISBN 0-9690552-2-6. $7.00
Clothing in English Canada, circa 1867 to 1907. Eileen Collard. Published by the author, 1976. 72p. ISBN 0-9690552-0-X. $14.00
Guide to Dressmaking and Fancy Work. Eileen Collard. Published by the author, 1977. 43p. ISBN 0-9690552-1-8. $10.00

1 Eileen Collard's recently published The Cut of Women's 19th Century Dress; Part 3, Victorian Gothic, circa 1840-1866, continues the series begun in 1972 with The Vertical Epoch and followed in 1973 by Romance and Sentiment. As in the two earlier publications Collard has used sketches and pattern drafts to show important points about, and changes in, cut and construction in this period. Drawing on actual garments worn in Canada and fashion plates in contemporary journals available to Canadian women, this series is a welcome contribution to the study of dress in our country.

2 Part 3 also draws on Collard's extensive research into Canadian, American, and English women's journals of the period for informative and amusing comments on fashions of the day and for instructions and helpful hints on dressmaking. Two sections are devoted to contemporary comments. Another section covers the introduction of the cage-crinoline and includes the development of the domestic sewing machine. The last section, entitled "Period of Transition," points up the important changes between 1860 and 1866. A glossary and a bibliography are included.

3 We look forward to the completion of this series but meanwhile there is much useful information about fashions of the last quarter of the century to be found in Clothing in English Canada, circa 1867 to 1907. For this book Collard has drawn on both public and private collections of Canadian photographs in addition to sketches and pattern drafts of actual garments. A much-needed section on men's clothing is also included. Throughout the volume there is so much miscellaneous information relating to both men's and women's clothing that one can only wish that an index had been possible.

4 In Patterns of Fashions of the 1870s, Collard concentrates on a decade of interest and importance to many communities whose centennials have been celebrated in the 1970s. The emphasis is on cut and construction helpful to those considering, no doubt with some trepidation, the creation of period costumes. Sketches and pattern drafts of typical styles for men, women, and children are included.

5 Little has been published on children's clothing and Collard has ably filled the gap on Canadian children's wear in From Toddler to Teens, an Outline of Children's Clothing, circa 1780 to 1930. It is illustrated entirely with sketches of existing clothing and from contemporary journals. A number are shown with pattern drafts and there is considerable information about each garment, making this a useful reference source. A lengthy introduction discusses changes in children's styles and in attitudes to the way children were dressed. Here again Collard had drawn on contemporary comments in journals.

6 Eileen Collard's experience in designing, cutting, and dressmaking in the fashion world attracted her to the study of costume history and, quite naturally, to the art of dressmaking in the past. In 1977 she made an invaluable contribution to this aspect of the subject by reprinting with her own introduction, pattern designs, and selection of fashion plates, Guide to Dressmaking and Fancy Work which was first published in the 1870s by J.S. Robertson & Bros., Whitby, Ontario. Her introduction provides an outline of the styles of the 1870s and references to sources which Canadian dressmakers relied upon to keep up-to-date with the fashions of the moment. This is followed by several fashion plates from Album de la Minerve, which was published in Montreal in 1872, The Canadian Illustrated News, The New Dominion Monthly, and The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine. All this sets the stage for the Guide itself which begins with instructions for planning the materials and trimmings for the dress. A list of French dressmaking terms comes next, followed by sections on stitches and seams, cutting by measure, and additional notes on skirts, sleeves, bodices for ball dresses, and trimmings. The Guide concludes with notes on making over dresses and sections on jackets and under-clothing. Numerous illustrations show the various kinds of sewing required for gauging, cording, inserting whalebones, and making the fancy ruching so characteristic of the decade. Since neither the dress, or overdress, cut on princess lines, nor the puffed tunic is included in the Guide, Collard has provided drafts of these garments from dresses worn in Ontario.

7 In this group of publications Eileen Collard has given a useful survey of changing styles in nineteenth-century clothing, particularly for women and children. More importantly her information on cut and construction gives the would-be costume historian and collector a practical basis for identifying the period within the nineteenth century to which a given costume belongs. This together with the inclusion of many excerpts from contemporary journals is where the importance of these publications lie. The quality of some of the illustrations leaves something to be desired but of this the author is fully aware. The usefulness of her books far outstrips any adverse comments on those illustrations, a matter which was beyond the author's control.

Katharine B. Brett