Enid Gilchrist

October 11, 2013

IMG_8211I found these in a second hand shop (Scroungers on High Street, Northcote if you are local) recently. They are Enid Gilchrist pattern books.

IMG_8210Take look inside.  IMG_8220Aren’t they wonderful?

Enid Gilchrist wrote a series of popular pattern books for the Australian home sewer from the 50s to the 70s. What I appreciate about these patterns, is that they are so simple to draft, you just follow her key pattern points and then join the dots.  All you need is a T square and long ruler and off you go.

IMG_8217Some second hand books even come with the paper patterns drafted by the last owner, slipped between the pages of the pattern they refer to!

The other thing I appreciate about the pattern books, especially the ones for children is the thoughtfulness behind the garment choices by age. The garments are not multi-sized patterns but particular items for particular ages. For example, in her Baby Book,  the Self Help Feeder (bib and sleeves in one) is perfectly sized for a baby’s food experiments, a First Suit for boys is designed to fit a child from 8 – 18 months and there is a great Play Dress for 1-2 years. They are just really useful garments.

IMG_8219I have made quite a few of these for my children including the Self Help Feeder, Casual Shirt and Boy’s Nightshirt.  That wee nightshirt was one of the dearest things my Dear Boy has ever worn…he looked like one of the Lost Boys out of Peter Pan!

One of my neighbours, who introduced me to Enid in the first place, made a couple of school uniforms from one of Enid’s patterns. Her daughter wore them, now another one of our neighbours’ daughters is wearing one to school and there is one waiting for Our Dear Girl’s first year of school.

IMG_8214Enid Gilchrist actually received a Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘service to the community through the publication of books and articles for home sewing, with patterns designed for Australian families and their lifestyle’.  Her pattern books are held in Australian museums. Her simple, intelligent, serviceable patterns made a significant contribution to the abilities of Australian mothers to cloth their children well on a limited budget.

I doubt our Dear Girl will ever grow out of these!

IMG_8226If you have any Enid Gilchrist stories, I would love to hear them.