17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, March 4, 1913: Today was quite an eventful day. Took my waist up this morning. We went up to practice this evening. I now think we are making some progress.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
When Grandma was young, blouses and shirts were called waists. What does “took up my waist mean?” Was she remodeling a waist or making a new one?
Maybe Grandma adapted a pattern that she’d previously used to make a new waist. Here are some drawings from a hundred year old issue of Ladies Home Journal that show several waists made from the same basic pattern.
Five Waists From One Pattern
To the woman who does her own sewing the advantage of a pattern from which several different styles of a particular garment can be made is obvious. It reduces materially the fitting problems and the need of studying the various parts of separate patterns. Once you have mastered the construction of the foundation pieces it is extremely easy to apply the various other pieces to make any of the five waists.
Ladies Home Journal (November, 1912)
Practice referred to play practice. Grandma had the role of Chloe the servant.