Monday, 6 February 2012

The Rodmure System - Dress and Costume Cutting, Glasgow.

Apologies for the lack of any January posting. The month just gone was exhausting to say the least. But Dad is now having respite in our local hospice (fantastic places), and Mum and I have a little time to rest and prepare for when he is once again home with us.

Today I am looking at one of the schools of dressmaking up across the border in Scotland, the 'Rodmure School of Dressmaking and Design'. I came across a listing with 2 pattern books from 1899 and 1900, on ebay, and couldn't resist!!  When I received the package in the post I was delighted to find two pattern cutting pamphlets, and a cutting board, and some pattern pieces drafted out on one sheet of paper, along with the measurements taken by the student whom this obviously belonged to. It all came in its original folder, too. So at some point, I plan to sit down and go through the course myself (one day!)
The 'Rodmure' System Pattern Board. Turn of the 20th Century


The two pamphlets are Part I - Dress-Cutting, and Part II - Jacket Cutting. There is a part III, which is Blouses & Gowns, but sadly that one was missing. I shall have to keep an eye out for it. The first part was published in 1899, the second in 1900.

From reading the brief information about the company inside, the course made its way down to England after a few years, and was taught in schools and well as to private individuals. Part I explains how to take measurements, how to draft the pattern pieces, how to adapt the pattern, and 'hints on making up.' There are directions for how to make a skirt, and how to use the pattern for a child.

Part II includes similar descriptions to above, but there are diagrams to assist you as you go along, and directions to make a coat and cape also.
Part II - Jacket Cutting

 As well as the full sized pattern drafted onto paper which looked like it had only been completed yesterday, there were scraps of very old pattern pieces, well dog eared, with the name 'Martha' written on them. I do love these little personal touches on items such as this.
Close-up of Pattern Board
So now my mind is going into research mode, and wondering if there is any more information on the web about this Dressmaking School. Well, I was only able to find a few things. Firstly, although it no longer exists, I can't seem to find out when it closed. It moved premises a few times, and I came across a photograph of the building where it was housed along Sauchiehall Street from the 1920s. It seems that the owner Joseph Fox developed the system in the 1880s.
Rodmure is on the left hand side, up one storey. glasgowhistory.com
I also came across a page from 'The Glasgow Story' online, about Joseph Fox's (1851-33) daughter (Rhoda Levine), who was the school's manageress for some time.  She had a sister named Muriel, who trained as a Milliner in Paris, and then returned to Glasgow and opened up a dress shop along the same street as The Rodmure school. Rhoda assisted in the shop, and her husband was responsible for accounts- quite a family business! It also had a little information about Joseph Fox, who was responsible for "introducing the method of individual pattern cutting to the city".
Rhoda around 1900. Scottish Jewish Archives Centre
There is also mention of the dressmaking school in the book "Cutting for All!" by Kevin L. Seligman, which sounds a very interesting read.

On the last page of both pamphlets is an advertisement for Rodmure Corsets:

I have had a try, but sadly can't find any information about the corsets that were made and sold by them, but I will certainly keep an eye out.

So, if anyone has Part III of this system, please, do contact me!

with love,
Naomi