The Rapidly Changing Corseted Shape: Part 1, 1907 to 1910

Two W .B. Corsets: Left, 1907; right 1910. Both are “Reduso” corsets for stout women, pictured just three years apart.

I have quite a collection of corset ads from the backs of Delineator and Ladies’ Home Journal — but it’s just a sampling. Nevertheless, there seems to be a continuing message from advertisers to women, and that message is, “There is something wrong with your body.” In addition to being re-shaped, it needs to be “improved” and “confined.”

This is a selection of corset and padding advertisements from just one source, Delineator magazine.

1907: S-Bend and Padding

Ad for Set Snug Underwear, Delineator, October 1907.

Although that ad didn’t sell padding, it shows the nearly-impossible ideal figure of 1907.

This W.B. Nuform corset was designed to give the “chicness and charm of figure” of the Gibson Girl. September, 1907.

A chic figure might well require some padding, as well as distortion and an unnatural posture:

H & H Pneumatic Bust Forms were inflatable [and recommended as a flotation device.]  In a range of shapes, including “Round… Oblong, convex and concave….” July 1907.

[Note: The H & H “before” image shows a normal, youthful figure…. There is nothing “wrong” with it.]

“Are You Thin?” December 1907. Parisian Perfect Form padding for the “back” and hips. You can see it under the corset, especially in the back view.)

“When Nature Slips a Link, Art Steps In. Don’t be Ungracefully Slender a Day Longer….”

The Hip Form Health [!] Skirt will create a bulging bottom [below an unnaturally tiny waist.] November 1907. The text describes it an a petticoat.

And although these figures were presented as ideal…

American Lady Corset ad, September 1907. Delineator.

“Any woman can find a G.D. Justrite that will bring out the lines of her figure.” G.D. Corset ad, October 1907. Delineator.

… it was always possible to have too much of a good thing:

A Nemo Self-Reducing Corset ad. November 1907.

This ad for a Sahlin Perfect Form corset for slender women seemed to offer a less restrictive garment than those which depended on tight-lacing…

Ad for the Sahlin Perfect Form and Corset Combined, October 1907.

… but on closer inspection, what it really offers the slender woman is a curved, boned bodice which produces the effect of a larger, “stylish high bust” without padding.

It’s a bust improver that improves posture as well as creating a bulging bosom by the use of curved boning.

1910 Corsets: Straightening Out Some of Those Curves

In 1910, swaybacks were out, vertical was in. Two dress illustrations from Delineator, June 1910.

Two W. B. Corsets from March 1910. A mercifully straighter spine than 1907 is combined with a full bust and tiny waist.

Another ad for an inflatable bust improver. Ad for the Nature’s Rival Air Form corset waist, March 1910.

In contrast to an artificially tiny waist, a full bust was encouraged.

Ad for National Corsets, February 1910.

The disappearance of the 1907 sway-back style left some manufacturers off balance:

American Beauty corset ad, March 1910. Apparently a transitional style.

Ad for American Lady corsets, April 1910.

If your breasts were in danger of overflowing your corset top, a “confiner” could be stitched to the corset:

Gossard “bust confiner” made to be sewn to the top of the corset, as shown here.

This J.C.C. corset from 1910 starts low on the bust, and extends far down the thighs. Notice the extension which supports the stocking garters.

These corsets are very long.

Two corsets from an ad for J.C.C. Corsets, March 1910.

Above: The corset was moving down, over the thighs, but in 1910 it still offered some bust support.

The front and back views of a Kabo Corset, March 1910. Delineator.

“The most stylish and serviceable corset made.” Kabo corset ad, March 1910.

To emphasize the change in corset shapes from 1907 to 1910:

Left, 1907 Gibson Girl shape and posture; right, a longer, more vertical corset from 1910.

NOTE: I am not writing an authoritative history of corsets, just offering images from one or two sources in the hope that serious researchers will find them helpful. All of these illustrations come from Delineator magazines.

Coming soon: Corsets continue to change from 1910 to 1914.

 

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Clothes for Active Sports, July 1926

Summer sports clothes for men and women, Delineator, July 1926.

Alternate views of Butterick patterns for golfers, July 1926. Knickers 4147 and 3496. The girl in a pleated skirt has a boyish shingle haircut.

Golf, tennis, swimming, riding, hiking, camping: there were Butterick patterns for most summer sports. A two-page layout in Delineator from July, 1926, gives an idea of what to wear and how to accessorize it.

Don’t forget some lively socks!

A necktie is also appropriate:

Women golfers wear neckties with their golf clothing. July 1926.

The presence of blazers on all ages is probably a British influence (Butterick sold patterns in England and other countries, not just the U.S.) or an exclusive “private school” signal.

Tennis: Blazer 4458 for a boy, with knickers 5950; blazer 5246 for a girl, over dress 6851, worn with stockings rolled. July 1926.

Man’s blazer 6033

Blouse 6876 and knickers 3496, for golf or hiking. And a necktie….

A gym suit (Butterick 4152) or a matching middy blouse and knickers (Butterick 4552) were appropriate for camping and hiking. Illustration from 1926, but pattern 4152 first appeared in 1922-23.**

I wrote more about the knicker outfit, with many photos of my aunt wearing similar clothing in the 1920s.

Young woman with her future husband and her mother, 1919

My aunt with her future husband and her mother, 1919.

Riding habit (Butterick 4004,) necktie [what, no monocle?] and a spectator sport dress (Butterick 6918.)

Bathing suits 5204, 6809, and 6822. Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator for July 1926.

Bathing suit 5204 has a higher waistline; the belt covers the seam where the “tights” are attached — and, although the other bathing suits were brand new in 1926, No. 5204 first appeared in 1924.**

** The range of pattern numbers on these two pages (Delineator, July 1926, pp. 34 & 35) show that many of these patterns were “standards” that had been in the catalog for several years. Numbers lower than 4988 pre-date 1924, and bathing suit 5204 first appeared in 1924. The riding habit dates to 1922. (Source: Commercial Pattern Archive at University of Rhode Island. These specific patterns aren’t in their collection, but the number sequence is very clear. )

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Jumbled Musings and Fashion Surprises

When I named this blog “witness2fashion,” it didn’t occur to me that its initials were WTF. However, that abbreviation does occur to me occasionally when I’m wandering through the pages of a 100 year old magazine.

Caution: this ad uses a word that is offensive when applied to a human being, but the ad uses it to describe a sock supporter….

Ad for “Velvet-Grip Baby Midget Hose Supporters,” Delineator, February 1920.

What the hey? “Baby Midgets” are tiny garters or stocking suspenders which are attached to this baby’s diaper with safety pins!

Seriously: How is a garter supposed to hold up your stockings when you can’t even stand up and walk yet?

I remember reading a book (The Egg and I?) in which the grandmother, hearing that the children were either making too much noise or were suspiciously silent, would shout, “You! Pull up your socks!” This was a fairly effective all-purpose command, since children couldn’t pull up their socks without removing a hand from the cookie jar, or putting down that air rifle…. Just today, reading The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, I found that the Oklahoma Public library sent a condolence message to the Los Angeles Library after a terrible fire. It included the encouraging (?) phrase, “Keep your socks up!”

Incidentally, I also found this ad for Baby Dimples Safety Pins. Awwwww….

Ad for Baby Dimples Safety Pins, Delineator, January 1920.

Here’s another old expression:  “Keep it under your hat.”

Paris hat designed by Virot, Delineator, March 1912.

Don’t wear it while driving. Or while crossing a busy street.

Speaking of hats….

Hat featured in an ad for Cheney “Shower-Proof” silks. Delineator, March 1912.

Ad for Cheney “Shower-Proof” Silks, March 1912.

I don’t know why she would need an umbrella when she’s wearing that hat! In fact,  I’m not sure the umbrella would be big enough to cover that hat. (And what about the umbrella handle…? She couldn’t get it close to her head… or even close to her shoulder! Which is why the umbrella is down on the ground catching water, I guess.)

I started with the intention of writing about this:

When is this? (No, not 2012….)

It surprised me. It’s got bare shoulders. It’s got breast exposure. It’s got a good chance of a “wardrobe malfunction” if you lean sideways. I could imagine this on the red carpet of some awards show, probably in red satin, and probably held in place with toupee tape.

(“Toupee tape” was for many years as common in a wardrobe person’s tool kit as safety pins. It was a double-sided tape intended to secure a toupee to a bald head, but was quickly adapted to keeping low-cut dresses from gaping too far for television. Its great virtue was that the adhesive didn’t give out when exposed to sweat or body oils. Now there’s a similar product manufactured and sold — in larger quantities — specifically for use with clothing.) The video ad amusingly says it prevents “peekaboob.”)

I found this sketch charming. Clue to the date: the artist is fashion illustrator Soulié. [The model was not a young Nicole Kidman….]

And this bodice is part of a couture dress designed by Jeanne Lanvin and shown in Paris in 1920.

Couture gown by Jeanne Lanvin, Paris, 1920. The net skirt is embroidered and beaded. Sketched for Delineator, March 1920.

A deep V neckline in 1920? Breasts as an erogenous zone in 1920? Yes, to my surprise…

Couture gown by Martial et Armand, Paris, 1920.

When I showed these images to a non-fashion-historian friend, she couldn’t get over the “make-your-hips-look-at-least twice-as-wide” skirts.

Couture evening gown by Martial et Armand, sketched for Delineator, January 1920.

The bottom of the hip yoke is wired to make the skirt stand away from the body. Of course, the coat to wear over a dress like this will not produce a slender silhouette, either:

An “evening cloak” and gown designed by Bulloz, Paris, 1920.

My friend was also horrified by the long, dragging panels on these dresses. (Fashion historians accept that wasteful, extravagant, impractical “conspicuous consumption” is a hallmark of high fashion.) “How could you dance in a dress like this?” we wondered. “Everybody would step on it! It would get so dirty!”

The editors of Delineator had a suggestion:

So that’s what you do with it…. Or them….  This gown has two dragging “French panels,” one of fragile lace and one of silk:

Couture gown by designer Elise Poret [not Poiret] from the February, 1920 Delineator.

(That dress also has an “oriental hem.”) There have been many decades when skirts were widened to make waists look smaller by comparison. But that’s not what’s happening here.

We are so conditioned to the fashion ideal of slenderness (or at least, a tall, lean look on fashion models) that, while I was thinking,”Wow! a bodice held up by straps in 1920!” my friend was asking “Why would you wear that? It makes her look fat!”

I look at this hip-widening gown by Berthe and notice that its couture workmanship is outstanding, and … pretty:

Couture gown by Berthe-Hermance illustrated in May, 1920; Delineator.

Couture details on a 1920 gown. Undeniably luxurious.

(Also undeniable is its potential for a wardrobe malfunction if one shoulder relaxes….)

But it is difficult for me to look at coats like these and yearn to wear them:

Evening coats from Butterick patterns, November 1920.

Couture “cloak” by Renee, covered with red, yellow, and green “balls.” January 1920.

“What The F[ashion]?” Are those mules on her feet? With a coat? Seriously? And, what did it feel like to sit on those balls?

The historic House of Worth contributed this (shall we say transitional?) suit which gets its stiffness from pony skin. [Perfect if your name is “Whinnie.”]

From the House of Worth, Paris. Illustrated in Delineator, January 1920.

In other words, after five years of war and its aftermath, Paris went mad for luxury. “Suits no longer content themselves with fur collar and cuffs but are made entirely of mole, caracul, etc.” A lot of horses died in WW I, so I guess pony was a luxury item, too.

To end on a more cheerful note, we know about harem skirts and orientalism and the influence of the Ballet Russe. But this is the first photo of a model wearing harem pants that I’ve encountered:

Orientalism in high fashion: a harem hem for an evening in Paris. Delineator, May 1920.

Glamourdaze paid tribute to the Poiret-influenced harem hem outfit worn on Downton Abbey. But these are later, and not by Poiret.

Information about “Deddy” is hard to find, but the designer Deddy did appear in Delineator fashion coverage more than once.

The harem pants worn on Downton Abbey by Lady Sybil were definitely not as revealing as this outfit!

Very Bare in 1920: The top of Deddy’s harem outfit.

That’s all my “WTFashion?” images for now.  More to come.

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In the Swim, July 1920

Butterick beach costumes or bathing suits in Delineator, July-August 1920, page 101.

I’ve been working on the year 1920, which contains some surprises for me. If you find a fringed “1920s flapper” dress with narrow shoulder straps in a thrift store, it’s probably a costume from the 1960s or later. But evening dresses held up by straps were around in 1920. (More about that in a later post.) The bathing suit pictured (above center) is part of that trend.

While we’re looking at all three suits, notice the different choices for stockings and beach shoes. Each has its own hat, too. First, Butterick 2442:

Butterick “beach or bathing suit” 2442, Delineator, 1920.

The label shows that even the editors of Delineator realized that this outfit might not be suitable for use in the water.

Those pocket-like openings would fill with water and inflict a lot of “drag” on the swimmer, even if they are open at the bottom.

This suit is truly sleeveless. The exaggerated hip width reflects the dresses worn that summer.

Strap-top bathing suit No. 2440 also has a lot of fabric in its dress and bloomers, but the shoulders and upper arms are as bare as in a modern swimsuit.

Butterick bathing-suit 2440, summer of 1920.

Button straps and a straight band form the top of this suit.

“This being the same cut as the evening bodice does away with the uneven showing of coloring if one tans and wears an evening dress.”

This is a very early 1920s’ reference to a suntan being desirable, and to the bare skin revealed in a strap-top evening dress:

Singer Anna Case, photographed for Delineator, February 1920.

The third bathing suit for women is more conservative (for sizes up to 46″ bust.)

Butterick bathing-suit 2445, Delineator, summer of 1920.

Rows of parallel stitching were often seen during the WW I years. The sleeves are also conservative, compared to the other — sleeveless — suits.

That great hat seems to be included.

Bathing suits for younger girls were also illustrated.

Bathing suits for teens and little girls also showed the bare-versus-conservative styling.

The one on the left resembles adult suit 2240, with straps, bare arms, and a belt that passes through the dress.

Styles for girls echo styles for women. 1920. No. 2438 was for “misses”/teens and also for ladies. No. 1718 was for girls 2 to 14 years old.

I have labeled this “circa” 1920, because the small girl’s suit is No. 1718, indicating that it was first issued in an earlier series. Note how the sleeves and parallel stitching echo women’s conservative bathing suit No. 2445.

Taffeta was a recommended fabric for most of these bathing suits. Don’t forget your parasol [1920] or sunscreen [2019] !

For bathing suits from other years, use the search term “in the swim” in the search box at top right.

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A Bride’s Trousseau by Top Designers, April 1928

A wedding gown designed by Lucien Lelong and illustrated for Delineator magazine, April 1928. Delineator maintained an office in Paris to get the latest fashions for the Butterick pattern company.

In April 1928, Delineator magazine selected a hypothetical trousseau purchased  from the top Paris designers. The wedding gown and several other items were from the house of Lelong. Other designers’ names, like O’Rossen and Jane Regny, may be less familiar. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting time capsule of what a very rich society bride might choose for her first season as a married woman.

To make these images legible, I’ve straightened them out and adjusted them for exposure and clarity.

The illustrations were splayed around the wedding gown in the center, so I have made individual images of each garment to show the details.

The wedding gown displays an extreme version of the uneven hems that were chic in the late Twenties. The front of the gown is at knee length, but the train is extravagantly long.

A dipping train in the back of the wedding dress.

The dress is shaped close to the hips with a series of godets [inserts] which flare in front.

Superb construction was a mark of the House of Lelong.

The simple veil springs lavishly from a close-fitting cap. Large earrings dangle below the severe headdress.

The rest of the bride’s trousseau/wardrobe includes evening gowns, suits, and a coat (which was also by Lelong.)

First, a not-so-simple evening dress from Champcommunal. It is sleeveless, with a long chiffon scarf on one side.

Next, a sporty summer suit which combines fabrics in a very sophisticated way:

The cardigan jacket is casual and striped. The [wonderful] skirt is a floral print, and the same fabric lines the open jacket and trims the pockets. The design house is London Trades.

Dresses with gradations of color [“composé” ] were very stylish.

This dress in graded colors has a coordinating jacket. The designer is Jane Regny.

A real classic is this overcoat by Lelong. The waistline may move up or down, but the basic tailored overcoat appears in some version decade after decade. There is a classic belt in back, too.

The coat, by Lelong, is double-breasted and almost severe.

A wool traveling suit by O’Rossen is worn with a necktie (or scarf tied like a necktie) and a large fur stole. O’Rossen specialized in “tailleurs” — tailored clothing.

Women wore less sporty outfits to afternoon events. This print “dress” and jacket is by Lelong. The big floral decoration on one shoulder may be stiffened self-fabric. Oddly (to my eyes) both this accent and the flare of the asymmetrical skirt are on the left side of her body, rather than the accent being worn on the opposite side to “balance” the skirt. I see this “same side” accent on many 1920s’ illustrations.

A slightly more dressy ensemble by Lelong. The skirt is asymmetrical.

At this level of society, a woman would need more than one evening dress. The one below is extravagantly ruffled, but it’s not girlish.

I can’t get over how modern the model’s hair looks!

A breezy, casual, and chic 1928 hairstyle.

Another evening gown from Lelong, this one has yards and yards of lightweight ruffled net creating a full skirt which dips in the back.

That net dress is for parties and balls, while the “simple” chiffon evening dress would be appropriate for more intimate dinners and dancing.

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

For one thing, they can buy couture.

 

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Wrap-look Dresses from June, 1931

Butterick dress 3989, a pattern from July 1931.

Considering how popular and enduring a fashion Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses have been, this looks-like-a-wrap dress from 1931 got my attention. 1931 was the year when hems kept falling, so its proportions look odd, but the general impression is very much the same.

Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, Vogue pattern 1548, from 1976. Courtesy of the Commercial Pattern Archive.

Marie Claire ran a tribute to the DVF wrap dress (click here to read it) which includes a photo of the designer modeling her own dress. 1970s: DVF in this exact wrap dress . 2010: Michelle Obama in a classic wrap dress.  2014: The Duchess of Cambridge in her wrap dress . I think the wrap dress counts as a “classic,” especially since this look has been around since 1931!

The simple V neckline, the long sleeves, the slightly flared skirt — all those style elements were worn in 1931:

This 1931 dress was described as having a “surplice” closing at the side, often recommended in the 1920s as flattering to the figure.

It’s hard to tell without seeing the actual pattern, but this may be a long, asymmetrical wrapped bodice over a skirt.

Back view of Butterick 3989.

Fifty Dresses recently made Vogue 1610 (a DVF design circa 1977); the Fifty Dresses blogger uses vintage patterns to make 21st century clothing, and you can see that the classic DVF wrap dress still works. Click here.

Vogue 1610 (circa 1977) and 1548 (1977) by DVF are for stretchable knits only, while the 1931 wrap dresses probably depend on bias stretch for their fluid fit. In 1931 McCall offered No. 6681, which looks like a wrap but does not seem to open all the way down the side seam:

McCall wrap dress 6681 is in the collection of the Commercial Pattern Archive. It also dates to 1931.

Note the classic V neckline. Its skirt is suspended from a diagonal seam — in this case, straight rather than curved. Without being able to see the pattern pieces, it’s hard to tell how far the surplice opening continued into the skirt, but Butteick 3989, which was illustrated on the same page as 3960, below, does close with a tie at the side.

Also from 1931:

Butterick 3960 from July of 1931. The bodice doesn’t resemble a wrap but there’s definitely a tie at the side seam.

Note: wrap skirts were around in the 1920s:

Butterick wrap skirt 1480, from Delineator, June 1927. This suit was copied from Vionnet.

Click here for more 1920’s wrap skirts. Wrap dresses were also worn during World War I:

Back to 1931:

The plaid scarf doesn’t have much to do with the structure of this Butterick wrap dress from Delineator, February 1931.

It appears that the bodice wraps and ties at the side; the pleated section seems to be attached to the bodice and tied over a simple inner skirt. Is it a true wrap dress? The one below is.

Wrap/surplice dresses were often recommended for older figures:

Butterick “slenderizing” dress 4049, from Delineator, September 1931. Here, the front wrap clearly ties over an under layer, as in a classic DVF wrap dress.

For glamour — 1931 or now — it’s hard to improve on the long, wrap negligee:

Butterick’s wrap negligee No. 4224,from Delineator, December 1931.

Wow. And available for bust sizes 32 to 52! Gleaming, “icy pastel” satin for the shapely; deep burgundy velvet for more mature figures? Perfect for the Jean Harlow in every woman.

Jean Harlow in a wrap negligee, 1935. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

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More Cloche Hat Patterns from 1925: Butterick 5966 and 5952

In 1925, home stitchers could make these cloche hats from Butterick patterns.

Several years ago I wrote about a versatile hat and scarf pattern from Butterick (No. 5218.) I mentioned that my own experience making 1920s’ hats was with factory-made felt hat “shapes,” so  I was surprised to find that pattern companies like Butterick issued many hat patterns for home stitchers. A cloche hat made from a gored hat pattern was apparently quite do-able, and as the decade progressed, the patterns became a little more complex. Many hat patterns for little girls (and girls up to age 12) appeared in Delineator magazine, but patterns 5966 and 5952 were available in a full range of sizes. In this illustration, they are shown with dresses for girls 8 to 15.

Young teen girls wear Butterick hats 5966 and 5952 in this illustration from Delineator, June 1925.

Hat pattern 5952 has six gores and a brim (and usually a bow on top;) 5966 has just one center back seam, and the small brim does not continue all the way around the back, leaving a small space for a bun at the nape of the neck if the wearer’s hair was not bobbed into a short style.

Butterick hat patterns 5966 and 5952, Delineator, April 1925.

Butterick Cloche Hat Pattern 5952

Six-gored hat, Butterick 5952. This style was  illustrated in Delineator in 1925 and 1926.

Pattern 5952 could be made from contrasting fabrics (or from one fabric with the grain running in two different directions.)

5952 with the grain running two different ways.

Hat 5952 made in a shiny solid fabric, in a striped or textured fabric with the grain in two directions, or in one smooth fabric which doesn’t show differences in grain. 1925.

Side view of 5953 with contrasting grain. The back brim is very narrow.

Hat 5952 in a shiny fabric. Crepe satin could also be used, alternating matte and shiny sides.

If this hat was made from a delicate fabric like silk or velvet, you would need to flat-line it (and the brim) with a more substantial interfacing.

The bow at the top did not need to be self-fabric. In later illustrations, this hat was often shown without the bow.

Without the bow on top, hat 5952 is a very simple six-gored cloche. March, 1926; Delineator.

Hat 5952 as shown in January 1926. Delineator. Notice that the brim could be worn different ways, showing the contrasting ribbon hat band.

A simple piece of jewelry on the velvet version of the hat makes it quite dressy. It could also benefit from elaborate embroidery or patterned fabric:

Hat 5952 in Delineator, February, 1926. The embroidery would probably be wool, or “pearl/perle” embroidery floss in cotton, silk, or rayon.

Butterick Cloche Hat Pattern 5966

Butterick hat 5966, shown in April, 1925. “For ladies and misses” and for girls.

Duvetyn was a brushed fabric; wool duvetyn was often recommended for coats.

Hat 5966 has just one seam up the back, and a decorative self-fabric “feather” or leaf, apparently tucked under [or does it go through?] a pinch of fabric at the top.

Butterick hat pattern 5966. Delineator, April 1925.

Butterick hat 5966 in a side view; it’s shown with coat pattern 6037. May, 1925. Delineator.

The shading makes it appear to have gores, but they aren’t mentioned in the description.

If that illustration shows corded silk, and there is only one seam, perhaps the top of the pattern piece is shaped like the top of a heart. Is this a cylinder with a strange, curved top? There is no front seam. The grain appears to run either vertically or horizontally. Does the “leaf” pass through a slit at the top? Too bad that the Commercial Pattern Archive *** doesn’t have this pattern. Yet.

Hat 5966 illustrated in Delineator, May 1925. Passing a tie through a bound buttonhole in the dress was quite common in Twenties’ fashions.

This pattern was available for ladies, misses, or girls.

This young woman wears hat 5966 and carries a tennis racquet. (She’s a little distorted by being close the the binding of the book I used.)

Left, a purchased hat; right, Butterick hat 5966. May 1925, Delineator.

It’s not clear what that blue hat is trimmed with (beads? silk flower petals? felt shapes?) but it looks like you could copy it using pattern 5952 without the bow. Here is one more view of No. 5966:

Another side view of Butterick 5966 from 1925. It seems to be velvet, matching the collar and sleeves of the dress.

*** If you already use the Commercial Pattern Archive, skip this section. If you have anything to do with vintage patterns or dating vintage clothing, you need to know about CoPA!

If you have never visited the CoPA site located at the University of Rhode island, you can create a log in — it is free! — and have access to images of more than 64,000 vintage patterns, all of them dated; the envelopes/pattern layouts are photographed when possible. Pattern layouts show you the shapes of the pattern pieces…. Curious? To see a great example, create a Log-in name and password; choose the “search for pattern number” option.  Type in pattern no. “1603,” select “McCall” from the Company name pop-down list, and hit “enter.” Next, click on the archive number at the far left (in this case, it’s 1927.91, because they are archived by date: 1927.) That click will give you a color image of the pattern illustration and all of the pattern pieces. You can print it. Sizing them up into a usable pattern will be up to you…. 🙂

While you are at the CoPA site, go back to the search page and select “Complete Search.” You will see several columns of search possibilities. If you select the year 1920 and hold down the Shift key, you can select 1920 through 1929. In the next column (“Garment,”) choose “Hat.”  In the Gender column, choose “Female.” In the other columns (Keyword, Pattern Company, Collection) choose “Any.” When you click on “Search” you will see every woman’s hat pattern in the collection that is dated between 1920 and 1929, with a small image of the pattern illustration. From there, you can explore them using the Archive numbers. As you can see, 1920s’ hat patterns are rare, but some have gorgeous color illustrations!

Once you start searching CoPA, you will see the amazing possibilities of this searchable digital archive. Imagine being able to scroll though hundreds of  1920s (or 1930s, or 1960s, etc.) patterns. Pick a year, or a range of years, and get a really specific overview of that era. Costume and pattern research has never been this easy!

 

 

 

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