Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bertha Robertson, Textile Science, and Edith Head

Back in the Olden Days when I was sixteen, I took Textile Science as part of the needletrades curriculum at Whitney Vocational High School.  Bertha Robertson was one of my teachers.

She was an admirer of Edith Head.  I had never heard of her.  There is much we don't know when we are sixteen.  My best friend and I would sometimes go to a late afternoon movie at a second run movie theater after school.  The tickets were considerably cheaper than at the first run theaters and the theaters were respectable, safe for young women to go to.  We probably saw some of Edith Head's creations.

In Mrs. Robertson's Textile Science class we did some simple experiments  with the commonly used fibers of the time...cotton, wool, linen, rayon and the relatively new one, nylon.

The second class Mrs.  Robertson taught was Pattern Design.  That was the one I really enjoyed.  We learned to adjust a basic pattern to our exact measurements and then how to change the pattern...move the darts, the waist lines, add fullness to create flared sleeves and skirts, etc.  In sewing class I made a sundress and jacket using what she taught us.

Strapless evening gowns, often organdy,  multiple nylon net petticoats under full circle skirts with poodles embroidered on them and conservative business suits with straight skirts and snugly fitted jackets because we had to dress properly to succeed were popular.    Often a movie date outfit was a two-piece knit outfit which was a short sleeve pullover-like  sweater top but longer in length, and a straight, narrow skirt, both sweater and skirt the same color.  We would wear  black pumps (high heels to us) with it.  Sometimes we wore a narrow gold-colored belt.  Snug bodices on dresses and nylon stockings with seams down the backs were also in style.  Suitcases were hard-sided.  Hats were important.

Unknowingly, I recorded some of these styles when I drew the Senior page for our 1955 yearbook, The First Lady.


  1. Wow you can sew if you know all that! :)

  2. I absorbed many of those same fashion rules in high school, and my dress-up clothes tended to be too old for me. I remember a blue wool coat dress that turned out to be much more useful when I got my first job. :)