Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pepin Academy of Fashion

Last Friday after Casey put up a post about finding estate sales, I decided to give Craig's List a try to see if I  could find any in my area.  My goal was to find a belt buckle for the next dress I'm hoping to make, and possibly other vintage sewing patterns for cheap.  I found one estate sale that looked promising - the advertisement even showed a whole box of vintage patterns.  Unfortunately the sale started on Friday and I would not be able to get there until Saturday.

As I rummaged around in the sewing area I asked if there were any patterns left.  Someone had bought the whole box first thing on Friday.  Also finding no belt buckles, I was ready to walk away totally defeated.  Alas, my eye caught the words "Pepin Academy of Fashion" on a three ring binder.  It was a textbook that belonged to someone named Hazel Hawkinson.

A first glance through, the book appeared interesting, but nothing worth taking home.  Then I came to the second half of the book, where I was delighted by what I saw.

I can definitely use the section on jackets to make pieces for work.

So many lines and points need to be considered when pattern drafting.

This picture definitely caught my attention.

I just love all the possibilities for sleeves.

How much fun would it be to make (wear) something that
required a collar like this?

The book also has a handful of magazine cutouts that were glued to the pages.  They seem to match the type of pattern being reference.

There's not much of an imprint that Hazel left in her
text book, but she must have doodled this during a lecture.
This book not only teaches one how to custom draft a pattern for all of your measurements; it shows you how to create so many different looks.  There are pages dedicated to bodices, necklines, sleeves, collars, skirts, tailored jackets, even panties!

Basic measurement lines.

Okay, so there's a lot more measurements than I thought!
I can't wait to take the time to read through this.  This is going to be a helpful tool for any alterations that I decided to make on patterns that I buy, and now I am going to try my hand at creating my own patterns.  Plus, this will be super helpful for Portia's draft along!

Of course, I also have to share with you my research related to Pepin Academy of Fashion.  Sadly, there was not much out there.   A few pictures, a newspaper add and a mention of it in some one's obituary.  That's all, which leads me to believe that it wasn't around for too long (and therefore my book must be pretty old).

Here are some pictures from the academy's students during 1936.  These are from the collection of Women of Pepin School of Design (it seems the school went by more than one name, because the addresses matched) by photographer Lee Brothers.  Pictures were all taken in 1936.

I love the jacket that she is wearing.  She must have made
something lovely with that lace.

I would love to see more details of her outfit, love the sleeves.

I also love her shirt.  Judging from her dress form, it
appears she is making children's clothing.
No wonder I never get any sewing done - I have more fun researching this stuff than actually sitting down and sewing it.  What are your biggest project distractions?

Live the moment, love life!


  1. totally cool, this is an awesome find! I am doing Portia draft along too, Annabelle, I think this is going to be very helpful to you. I have a book too, not like yours but has a lot of information. I have to read it slowly because it takes a bit to get it.You are going to be whipping up a bunch of great things soon for sure.

  2. @Vintage Girl

    Thanks Gina! Your encouragement means a lot to me. There sure is a lot of information to take in, but I am really excited to learn this stuff. I hope this will lead to great things with my sewing.

  3. Wow, Annabelle! This is fascinating. It really has my curiosity going and I'm impressed no end by your detective work!! What a great find!
    I can shed some light on the dress form though. In pattern drafting we work with 1/4 scale and 1/2 scale slopers(blocks in UK speak). We use these to try out drafting ideas on a small scale before trying them out for real on a full size mannequin (or indeed person!). Often making up a muslin (toile in UK speak)in the 1/4 or 1/2 scale size. Our tutor has one of these 1/4 scale dress forms for us to try out our muslin designs.
    Thankyou so much for the mention. I am beyond flattered! Watch out for the next draftalong posting the next 24 hours.
    How's the 1930's project coming along??

  4. I'm guessing you stumbled across this but isn't the short biography here interesting?!


  5. @Miss P

    Portia, you are so sweet! I am waiting anxiously for your draft along to begin. Thanks for pointing out the details of the dress form. I would have never guessed that dress forms came in smaller sizes for muslin making. And that article you brought to my attention was a fascinating read - I hadn't come across it in my research. So much fun to read about Miss Harriet Pepin:)

    I have hit a bit of a roadblock with my 1930s project. I can't seem to find the perfect belt buckle - and therefore haven't started looking for fabric yet. I will get there eventually. But since your draft along is soon starting, that will occupy my time since I can be quite slow with these projects.

    Thanks again for your comments, its always a delight to hear from you.

  6. Hi Annabelle! Your blog is really great and I want to pass the Liebster Blog Award on to you. It's a little award for new bloggers, with less than 300 readers. If you aren't interested in participating, that's just fine. If you are, come to my blog, take the little button over to yours and nominate some other small blogs. Looking forward to your future posts!
    Take care,

  7. @KATJA

    Katja, thank you for the heart warming award!

  8. Hello, this is an older blog post... Anyone still watching? I googled Pepin Academy of Fashion because my grandmother went there and I have some similar items to what you have here that belonged to her. I was trying to find out more about the school. Your blog post came up. Did you find this at a sale in Minnesota? Just curious! It appears that the Minnesota Historical Society has one pupil's coursework on file as well. I love the old designs!

    1. Wow, that is so cool that your grandmother went to Pepin Academy of Fashion! I honestly don't know much about the school myself, I googled it a bit after I found this book. I did find it at an estate sale in Minnesota - Twin Cities area to be more specific.

      The old designs are so much fun to look at! I wish women still dressed like they did from this era ;)