June 11, 2020 1 Comment
We are excited to introduce (or re-introduce) the 211 Two Middies sewing pattern! First published by Folkwear in 1980, 40 years later, we are bringing it back in a slightly different form - in a larger size range with with two handsome blouses for women and men based on traditional naval shirts of the past.
The sailor's Middy has been worn for countless generations by seamen, petty officers, and midshipmen (for whom it was named) on all the oceans of the world in navies from the U.S. and Great Britain to the Soviet Union and Japan. It has also been a constantly recurring feature of children's and women's dress since at least 1850 (in 1846 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert dressed their young son in a sailor outfit for a royal portrait that sparked this fashion trend). And, in April 1980, women in the U.S. Navy were issued white middies and bell-bottom trousers as official garb, replacing a less distinctive skirt and blouse.
View A is the uniform of seamen in the British Navy during World War II and for many decades earlier. The original was made of heavy white twill cotton with blue binding of dungaree cloth around the square neck opening. It was worn with white shorts and various head coverings depending on the sailor's origin. The odd-shaped self-patch across the back shoulders and down the center back exemplifies the persistence of naval tradition. It is a reinforcement to strengthen that section which was soiled by the sailor's pigtail worn in the 19th Century (and before). Heavy scrubbing with a brush and saltwater was needed to remove the natural oils, until the back wore out and had to be patched. You can make this shirt with or without the patch, but it also gives a chance to make an interesting color-block look to the shirt. It makes a good undershirt (and is great for wearing under our 270 Metro Middy Blouse)
View B is a collared Middy originating from 1927, and our original was khaki colored twill with no trim. The hip-banded style was adapted from navy-wear to sports clothes in the twenties, and was shown also in "sports silk, foulard, crepe de chine, linen and gingham”. Women and girls wore middies especially as sport clothes and for school until the 1920s when, at their height of popularity, the familiar square collars (as on this version) were added to garments for all occasions. This Middy collar, often trimmed with braid and/or stars, has been added to all styles of dress, from the modest bathing costumes and voluminously skirted gowns of Victorian times to the scanty flapper dresses of the Roaring Twenties. Small children, especially boys, have been outfitted in sailor suits since before uniforms in the British Navy were officially regulated in 1857. Royal princes from various European dynasties are frequently pictured arrayed with full insignia, ties, and often a whistle strung around the neck and tucked in the breast pocket. Neck ties are still part of navy dress. We teach a simple method of cutting and sewing a tie to add to this shirt version in the pattern. This shirt has a breast pocket and a tab to hold the tie.
The pattern also includes several pages of traditional decorative embellishment for View B - including how to use soutache and braid and how to embroidery the traditional stars.
Both of our shirts are sized for men and women; men for sizes Small to 2X-Large and women from X-Small to 2X-Large.
For inspiration for this pattern, we put a Pinterest board together with ideas for modern wear as well as images that show the historic context of this garment. Some of my favorites are below.
I've seen lots of middy tops in white and blue/navy, but red is also an excellent choice - the trim here is traditional, but perfect for a vintage-modern look too. The large collar is lots of fun! (Pinterest link)
From the runway - a middy top inspired look. Again, the trim is fun, and I like the different colored cuffs and collar - a great way to use fabric! (Pinterest link)
I would not have thought to use an eyelet fabric for this shirt until I saw this. And I love it! So pretty and feminine. (Pinterest link)
Love the older images of women wearing Middy Tops. These two women from University of Utah in their Middies with neck ties and skirts are very sporty. (Pinterest link)
We will have a blog post with fabric suggestions in a few days, as well as a sew along for both of these shirts! The sew-along will begin next Friday (so order your pattern soon to join in!) and for 5 days, we will tackle different aspects of sewing this pattern. The patterns are quite simple to sew, but the sew along will dive deeper into the pattern and sewing techniques used.
In honor of those who served, and in honor of black lives, 20% of all sales of this pattern for the next two weeks will go to NABVETS (National Association for Black Veterans). This historic fashion, and pattern, was a tribute to military garb, and contributing to NABVETS helps bridge the gap that has underfunded and undervalued service men and women of color in America.