I was all ready to write about 1940s snowflake sweaters (the bitter cold has an effect…) when I spotted these little lovelies at Dandelion Vintage. These little scraps of silk, which measure around 2″ X 3″, came as free premiums in tobacco or cigarette packs. There were lots of different themes, such as flags and flowers and colleges, and the tobacco companies hoped that consumers would collect the entire set of a theme.
People did collect them, and quilters often incorporated them into their work. For some reason it seems that many of them ended up in crazy quilts – those quilts that just developed willy-nilly as the fabric scraps became available.
These are so beautiful, and I’ve been very tempted to collect them. As pretty collectibles, they make a nice display. What they are not good for, however, is learning about fashion history. These are probably from the first ten years of the 20th century, when bathing suits were still worn below the knees. In reality, the necklines were often quite high, and the more modest bather even added inserts to raise a V-neckline! And in the silks, the ladies are shown with the popular figure silhouette of the day, which would make a corset necessary. While I’m sure some women, especially in fashionable bathing spots, were still wearing a corset when bathing, most photos from this era showing ordinary women show that the wearing of corsets at the beach was a thing of the past.
I suppose that the illustrations were spiced up a bit as the main users of tobacco at the time were male!