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Leighann Foster

Atomic Kitchen, Mid Century

Artist's Statement

I am a still life painter, painting in a realistic manner with oil on canvas board.

My interest is in manufactured and handmade clothing dating from the turn of the century through the 1960ís. Right now I am focusing on painting sewing patterns and fabric for womenís wear.

The patterns I find are not always dated so I use other clues to establish the date. The illustration on the envelope front, like the style of the hat, dress, and length of dress, shoes, and hairstyle can quickly date a pattern. The number of the pattern and the price will place it in a certain decade. Tissue pattern pieces before 1938 were not printed but instead had notches and perforations to indicate construction details. After this date all pattern companies began to print cutting, piecing, and sewing instructions directly on the pattern pieces. Sometimes I find notes written on the envelope or instruction sheet inside that tells me who the garment was made for or pattern pieces duplicated using the daily newspaper that contains information establishing a date.

Once I can establish an exact or general date, I look for fabric that the seamstress might have bought, to match the time period of the pattern. Once in a while I will find a strip of fabric tied around the pattern envelope so I know exactly what textile was used. I find a lot of my fabrics in books, on Ebay, Etsy, and in antique shops. And there are many reproductions on the market if you know what to look for.

The designers of manufactured and handmade garments and textiles during this time were influenced by the great wars and the depression because the government put restriction on fashion design and manufacturing of textiles. Skirt lengths went up and down for a reason. I enjoy researching this time period to document my work with interesting historical facts and influences.

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