Thursday, August 5, 2010
When Women Padded Their Hips
Readers, I just scored the coolest piece of 50s sewing ephemera off of eBay: a Vogue pattern for shoulder and hip pads! Casey knows that I'm obsessed with the engineering of Dior's New Look suits (blogged here) so she sweetly e-mailed me when she spotted this pattern. Hip pads are a sort of mythical being to me: I've read about them countless times but never seen them in their natural habitat, so to speak. Hence, I had to make this pattern mine.
A New Look jacket, like that of the Bar Suit below, would have been intensely structured with interfacings, pad stitching, and padding in the shoulders and hips. (And, of course, the model would be wearing a "waspie" corset to cinch her waist.)
see the difference sleeve heads made in my red suit) to creating a more flattering fit. And there's nothing worse than a droopy, flimsy peplum. (Okay, that's not true. There are actually a lot worse things, but you get my point.) Wouldn't it be great to create a smooth, structured line on the hips as well? Hence, I've actually become rather attracted to the idea of tailoring the hips of jackets, just as the shoulders would be tailored.
So how does this pattern work, you ask? Well, I was surprised to see that it's not really padding at all, but three layers of heavy stiffeners: one layer of heavy hair canvas, one of buckram, and one of heavy muslin. (That's a lot of heaviness!)
There are two pattern pieces: an inner piece for the three stiffeners, and an outer piece for a fabric cover.
Here's how the construction works. All three layers are basted together, stitched in horizontal rows (this is how padstitching is done by machine), and then covered with a fabric outer cover.
But this more subtle effect (well, relatively speaking) of the pattern above would be perfect for a slim suit, like the one from VoNBBS. (Which, by the way, I finally found! Thanks to a helpful reader. Only one VoNBBS pattern left to find!) Can't you just see this with the hips getting a little help from these pads?
What do you think? Could you ever bring yourself to pad your hips? Or will you happily leave this idea in the 50s?