Magazine of New York Fashions and Novelties for Girls and Women

I am really sorry about the prolonged absence! The last two weeks have been a bit crazy here as we were dog-sitting, and then I decided to sell some sewing patterns. Online selling can be very lucrative, but it is also time-consuming. Anyway, I had found a hoard of 1920s – 1950s patterns at the Goodwill Dig, and there was no way I was going to leave them for the paper recycling center. I decided to sell them and put the money into buying things for my library and archive. Here’s one of the things I bought.

You might be a bit puzzled by the image of the Native American woman on the cover, until you see the name of the company – The Camp Fire Outfitting Company. The Camp Fire Girls was/is an organization similar to the Girls Scouts, but with a twist. In the early days of the organization there was an almost fetishization of what was perceived as the “Indian” lifestyle. In 1915, the year of this catalog, the group was only five years old, and the “Indian” thing was going strong.

Camp Fire Girls wore a ceremonial outfit that consisted of “…leather-trimmed genuine khaki gown, bloomers, brown stockings and moccasins. A beaded head-band, made by the girl herself. is usually worn…” Many of the activities were “Indian” as well.

Fire making kit

Today Camp Fire has moved on, and is open to both girls and boys. They claim to be the oldest “multiracial, multicultural, and nonsectarian organization for girls” and that may be true, but I could find nothing on their website that addresses the cultural issues of the organization’s origin.

To be clear, I don’t believe the standards of today ought necessarily to applied to people in the past, but I do believe these issues must be addressed by us and they have to be remembered. People might have thought Nathan Bedford Forrest was the greatest man around, and thus put statues of him up all around Tennessee, but today we are wrong to allow such statues to remain standing.

Some argue that taking down statues and putting former heroes in their proper place is erasing history. It’s good to remember that history is not the past; it is the study of the past. How we choose to interpret the past says a lot about who we are. Ignoring the past problems of our world is a bit like saying those things did not matter. So yes, I would like to see a statement on the Camp Fire website addressing their past.

But enough of the soapbox.

Even though the company was called The Camp Fire Outfitting Company, it was not actually owned by Camp Fire Girls, and most of their business came from girls and women not in the organization. Most of the catalog is clothing for any active girl.

I especially love this three-piece set of middy, bloomers, and skirt.

The bathing suit has the Camp Fire emblem. I have never seen one of these, though the Camp Fire ceremonial dresses are quite common. Like many of the items in the catalog, one could buy the pieces of the bathing suit pre-cut, and do the sewing at home.

Outing hats from this era are hard to find and hard to identify.

There were quite a few sweaters in the catalog. From looking at photos from this era, I know that sweaters were extremely popular. However, time and moths have made them scarce these days.


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14 responses to “Magazine of New York Fashions and Novelties for Girls and Women

  1. Michellebeth

    What fun! I also commend you on your definition of history, obviously an ongoing subject fraught with peril, but one we must assess and deal with.


  2. Alice

    I would wear middy suit 3301 in a heartbeat–love that top!



    The last two weeks have been absolutely NUTS! LOVE the illlustrations! What a wonderful collection!


  4. That era had a new discovery of the outdoors (Boy and Girl Scouts, too) — but for white, middle-class, urban/suburban kids. The atrocities occurring in Indian boarding schools at that time — “kill the Indian, save the man” — is quite a contrast. P.S. Glad you’re back to blogging!


  5. Thanks for another fun post! I would like to know what platform you use for selling patterns, as I have quite a few, though not as vintage as yours.


    • I sold most of the patterns in Instagram. That might not work for most people but I have over 8600 followers there, many of them sewers of vintage patterns. The ones that did not sell I put on ebay, and now all have sold except two.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. morningwaters

    Thank you for addressing the “history” issue. I am appalled that parents are fighting Critical Race theory and other history from being taught in schools because it might make their children “uncomfortable”. Being uncomfortable is essential to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.


    • Heaven forbid that we present our children with the facts and allow them to draw their own conclusions! This business of a certain political faction trying to control the narrative of our country’s past is alarming.


  7. Laura

    I think the outfits are a cute peek into history, and the history itself, well, not so cute. Even in the 1970s my brother belonged to Indian Guides” an all white, fetishization type organization for fathers and sons. They mixed Ogalala with Dine with Oholone and called it all good.

    History is what it is. When we refuse to acknowledge it, then we are the problem. Historically, kids kept wild birds like starlings in cages, stealing them from nests. Its not hard for us to say ” that was wrong, we dont do that anymore.” But it sticks in our nations throat to say ” We broke all the treaties we made with the Native Americans, we impoverished generations of people, and they didnt have voting rights untill the mid 1950’s”

    How much easyier, and wiser to say, that was wrong, people did that, and we should not do it anymore. How do we fix this great injustice?

    As well as admire some truely cute middy blouses.

    Liked by 1 person

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