Friday, September 26, 2008

Flashback Friday -- Depression fashion

Am I going to have to make a wash dress like this from my quilting fabric stash?
Women photographed during the Great Depression were usually wearing faded cotton dresses. I’m okay; I have plenty of cotton fabric.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my dad and I were raising rabbits as a hobby, the big sacks of feed came in colorful patterns and designs. My dad said that during the depression, women made clothes out of the material. I wondered why the feed company still made the pretty sacks in the 50's.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Tanya Brown said...

Re: Anon's comment, my father's family was still making clothing out of flour and feed sacks during the forties and fifties. He has told me of going to the store, having his mother direct him to pick out the sacks he liked best, then getting so many of this and so many of that. I know it was an effect of economic severity, but the frugality of it appeals to me.

Regarding the wash dress in the depression-era photo, why was it called a wash dress? Poor woman, with all of those mouths to feed and care for.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous jackie said...

It's anon again. I don't know why they call me that, I always sign my name.

I remember dresses being called wash dresses, but I don't know why. The dress you wore to do the wash, maybe?

Jackie

11:06 AM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

My grandmother called those plain cotton dresses "wash dresses" but perhaps that was what they were called in South Bend, Indiana.
I did a google search and did not find much of anything.
I did find "house dress."

11:25 AM  
Blogger Del said...

In Western Oregon they were called House Dresses. I never heard wash dresses until I read it in a book about quilting in the 30s.
This dress wouldn't do for me, no sleeves, but I like the on-bias kick pleat in the front - a bit of extra room for all the bending, kneeling and stooping she had to do.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

Del,
You really studied the details. I missed the bias kick pleat aspect. I thought it was perhaps a patch, but you are right. Good observation.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Collagemama said...

All those poor children with no crocs or heelies or light-up shoes or flipflops on their feet! We have become so accustomed to variety and choices. My preschool students probably each have more pairs of shoes than that woman's entire family.

4:50 PM  
Blogger meggie said...

I think the term 'House dress' was popular in New Zealand in the depression. My grandmother had cotton dresses, that she would never wear out in public, simple cotton that could be washed & ironed with ease. For fancy wear-ie going out, a crepe dress, or one made from some delicate fabric, which would not stand washing, would be kept for best.

Thank goodness times have changed so much! I do like the idea of recycling though, like Tanya.

12:35 AM  
OpenID jettstream said...

Nope, they were called "wash dresses" in East Tennessee too (part of Appalachia, where the photo no doubt was made). I never knew whether it meant they could be washed, or that they were worn to do household chores like laundry. I suspect the former.

8:00 AM  

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