Some patterns from Madame Weigel in the 1920s, 30s & 40s
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Listen to ABC Radio National's BOOKS & ARTS DAILY for
"MADAME WEIGEL: colonial fashionista" ... Michael Cathcart interviews Veronica Lampkin
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Madame Weigel's paper pattern series was an important part of life for many women who sewed at home. Started in 1878, Weigel's patterns spanned nine decades and gathered many devoted followers who needed, and loved, Madame's work.
With Weigel's publications distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand, Madame Weigel soon became a household name. She worked alongside her husband, Oscar, to become the first commercial manufacturers of paper patterns in Australasia, and to publish Weigel's Journal of Fashion (1880-1915) and Madame Weigel's Journal of Fashion (1915-1950). Finally, after 91 years of business and millions of patterns sold, Madame Weigel's paper pattern business closed in 1969.
Madame Weigel's patterns represented high fashion to the readers of Weigel's Journal of Fashion, and this was how she issued her new patterns - through her journal, a key marketing tool. She also repeated many patterns in the journal, now found to represent more everyday clothing - those garments that were useful time and again and in steady demand for practical home sewing.
Patterns in the Madame Weigel series show what women were sewing, who they were sewing for, which patterns offered the latest fashions, and those that were popular time and again, sometimes for decades. Madame Weigel had an enormous following of loyal readers, including many women who used her patterns across the generations, and across the lifecycle from babies to 'matrons' - her term for the mature woman.
If you’re interested in the history of fashion and clothing in Australasia, in home sewing, vintage or retro fashion, then Madame Weigel will fascinate you.
Now retrieved from the archives, her paper pattern series offers a fascinating tour of 90 years of Antipodean clothing, fashion, and style.