Monthly Archives: November 2014

What I Don’t Want for Christmas, Part 1

The Famlee Doll, A Whole Family of Dolls in One. Ad, Delineator, November 1924.

The Famlee Doll, A Whole Family of Dolls in One. Ad, Delineator, November 1924.

Creepy. Disturbing. Racist. A toy that was obviously thought up by an adult. A nightmare image: Imagine this from the point of view of the dolls in a box — “Here comes the giantess to twist off my head! Again! When I’d almost gotten used to having a body, even if I am a nurse wearing a clown suit. . . . Ouch!”

Text of The Famlee Doll Ad, 1924.

Text of The Famlee Doll Ad, Nov.  1924.

“Heads screw on and off — simply a turn at the neck; a two-year old can do it. Great fun to change from a Girl Doll to a Boy Doll — then to Little-Miss-from Holland  — then to Ching-Ching-Chinaman — and so on through all the lovable and life-like characters in each set. . . .  Each character walks and talks. 16 inches high. Non-breakable. Quality in every detail. In attractively boxed sets — each with one body and three, five, seven or twelve interchangeable heads, with a special dress or costume for each head. Additional heads and costumes to add to the family can be bought at any time. At leading department and toy stores.”

Oh, dear; there’s nothing like a little casual racism to undermine the holiday spirit. These doll sets, still in their boxes, occasionally show up at auctions. Click here.   Or here.

The next month, December 1924, had a slightly different ad:

The Famlee Doll, advertisement in Delineator, December 1924.

The Famlee Doll, advertisement in Delineator, December 1924. (Also good for playing French Revolution, although that’s not mentioned as a selling point….)

Text for the December 1924 Familee Doll Ad. Delineator.

Text for the December 1924 Famlee Doll Ad in Delineator.

“Three to twelve entirely different dolls from one — just by changing faces and costumes. . . . One body — but extra heads and costumes — all interchangeable. . . . Little-Sweet-Face becomes Black-Boy-Sam — then Funny-Face-Clown . . . . An ever changing playmate that makes every play hour an ever-new delight. . . ; a many-in-one gift that is not only a never-the-same doll, but also a game.”

1924 nov doll w 12 500 closeup heads ad

I think I’m reacting to these ads so negatively because my favorite dolls were my friends — I imagined them having an inner life, that went on without me, like the dolls in story books (books about Raggedy Ann, or stories by Hans Christian Andersen.)

A Girl's Best Friend, Raggedy Ann. Late 1940s. Courtesy of r ememberedsummers.com

A Girl’s Best Friend, Raggedy Ann. Late 1940s. Courtesy of  rememberedsummers.com

The Topsy and Eva Doll Dilemma

Also, at my grandmother’s house was a very old rag doll (probably from the 1920s, although they were still made in the 1950s.) It fascinated me, but it was frustrating to play with. My Grandma told me it was a “Topsy & Eva doll.” (The reference is to the two little girls in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.) Eva had a pink cloth face, blue painted-on eyes, yellow yarn hair, a simpering smile, and a blue calico dress. If you turned her skirt inside out, she became Topsy. Topsy had a warm brown face, a broad grin, knotted black wool hair, and a red calico dress. Topsy clearly looked like more fun to know than Eva. But it bothered me enormously that I could never play with Topsy and Eva at the same time, and they could never play with each other, either. That’s what I meant by calling The Famlee Doll “a toy that was obviously thought up by an adult.” An adult buys the toy, because it’s a bargain: one expensive (talking, walking?) body and lots of ways to dress it. But, like the old Topsy and Eva Doll, the characters could never play together. How could you have a dolls’ tea party with one complete character and a lot of decapitated heads? Could they even drink tea?

So, in spite of the prices being asked for this toy, please don’t get me one for Christmas.

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, vintage photographs

Happy Thanksgiving, 2014

Illustration by Dynevor Rhys, Delineator, November 1931.

Illustration by Dynevor Rhys, The Delineator, November 1931.

Dynevor Rhys did some of the loveliest illustrations and covers for The Delineator and other magazines in the twenties and thirties. This is from an advertisement for “Her Majesty” silverplated flatware and dinnerware by 1847 Rogers Brothers. You may recognize the design of the dinner spoons, etc. (Click here to see another Rhys ad and illustration.) Oddly, Rhys did not illustrate the silverware pattern. Instead, the ambiance of an elegant dinner party is evoked.

May your day be just as peaceful and serene.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Fall Fashions for Young Women, 1925

Fall Fashions, October 1925. Butterick patterns featured in The Delineator.

Fall Fashions, October 1925. Butterick patterns featured in The Delineator. “The Fashionable Young Girl Chooses New Ensembles for General and Better Wear.”

By late 1925, the tubular twenties were beginning to give way to dresses and coats with some flare or pleats below the hip, and occasional back fullness in the skirts. However, some of these styles have a hem circumference that barely exceeds the hip measurement. Although the title implies that these patterns are for women 20 and under, many were also available in women’s sizes.

Butterick Dress patterns 6306 and 6322. Oct. 1925.

Butterick Dress patterns 6306 and 6322. Oct. 1925.

Butterick 6306 (left) : “A new sleeve distinguishes this one-piece dress which fits closely at the hipline. The lower edge is straight and the dress slips over the head. . . . [Size 16 years has a] Lower edge 42 ins. It is for misses 15 to 20 years, also ladies 38, 40 bust.

Butterick 6322 (right): The bolero front of this slip-over dress makes it appealingly youthful. The one-piece back has an inverted plait [pleat] down its center. . . . [On size 16 years,] Lower edge, plaits out, 56 inches. The dress is for misses 15 to 20 years, also small women.”

Back views No. 6306 and 6322. Oct. 1925.

Back views No. 6306 and 6322. Oct. 1925.

This looks like two views of the coat, but the one on the right is a dress:

Butterick coat pattern 6302 and dress 6299. Oct. 1925.

Butterick coat pattern 6302 and dress 6299. Oct. 1925.

Butterick 6302 (blue coat):  “The flared coat is popular for the new ensemble costume. This one puts its circular flare across the back and keeps the front straight. . . . [Size 18 years’ ] Lower edge 2 yards. The coat is for misses 15 to 20 years, ladies 38 to 44 bust.”

Butterick 6299 (blue dress):  “The circular flare attached across the back makes this one-piece slip-over frock particularly chic with the new back-flared coat. The front fits closely at the hipline. . . . [Size 18 years’ ] Lower edge 43 1/2 inches. The dress is for misses 15 to 20 years, also ladies 38 to 44 bust.”

Butterick coat 6303 (left) and dress 6310 (right.) Oct. 1925.

Butterick coat 6303 (left) and dress 6310 (right.) Oct. 1925.

Butterick coat 6303:  “This straight line coat  with a dress to match its lining makes a very smart general wear ensemble. Use tweeds, cashmere cheviots, novelty weaves or camel’s hair, with plain or plaid twill flannel for lining. . . .  [For] 34 bust or 17 years . . .  Lower edge [is] 44 inches. The coat is for misses 16 to 18 years, ladies 33 to 52 bust. [A surprisingly large size.]

Butterick dress 6310:  “With two box plaits in front and one in back this slip-over one-piece dress makes a bid for chic. . . . [On size 17 years ] Lower edge, plaits out, 59 ins.  This dress is for misses 15 to 20 years, also small women. [Misses’ sizes had a shorter torso length than ladies’ sizes; size 20 years fit a 37″ bust.]

Back views of coat 6303 dress 6310.

Back views of coat 6303 & dress 6310.

This dress, with its sheer sleeves and self-colored embroidery, is an afternoon dress, and the coat shown next to it is also for “more formal” wear:

Butterick dress pattern 6235 and coat pattern 6298. October 1925.

Butterick dress pattern 6235 and coat pattern 6298. October 1925.

Butterick dress No. 6275:  “A lovely afternoon frock has a circular flounce across the front. The embroidery is decorative. Work in self-color. This one-piece slip-over frock fits closely at the hipline. Lower edge 43 1/2 inches. . . . It is for misses 33 to 35 bust or 16 to 18 years, also ladies.” [The embroidery was probably worked in silk floss, like this early 1920s blouse.]

Butterick coat No. 6298:  “The new and graceful coat with a circular flare across the front makes a rather more formal ensemble with a front-flared silk dress to match its lining. . . . The coat is for misses 15 to 20 years, ladies 38 to 44 bust.

Back views dress 6275 and coat 6298. October 1925.

Back views dress 6275 and coat 6298. October 1925.

On these two garments, all the flare is in the front, and the back is perfectly straight, as in most earlier twenties clothing.

This charming fall illustration shows two girls and a fashionable Boston terrier dog. Notice how much shorter their skirts are than the others pictured; that’s because these are girls 8 to 15,  not “misses 15 to 20.”

Butterick coat pattern 6335 and dress pattern 6309. October 1925 Delineator.

Butterick coat pattern 6335 and dress pattern 6309. October 1925 Delineator.

Butterick coat 6335:  “As an ensemble costume this coat with its circular flare attached across its back is excellent with the dress shown beside it. The coat is for juniors and girls 8 to 15 years; hat for girls 2 to 12.
Butterick dress 6309:  “A straight band lengthens the long upper part of this slip-over dress. With the coat beside it, it makes a smart ensemble costume. . . . The dress is for juniors and girls 8 to 15 years; hat for girls 2 to 12.

Back views 6335 and 6309.

Back views 6335 and 6309. Here they are shown on younger girls.

Their hat was also made from a Butterick Pattern:

Butterick hat pattern 6237 for girls 2 to 12. October 1925, Delineator.

Butterick hat pattern 6237 for girls 2 to 12. October 1925, Delineator.

The six-gored hat pattern was described separately elsewhere in the October issue:

Butterick hat pattern No. 6237 for girls 2 to 12. October 1925.

Butterick hat pattern No. 6237 for girls 2 to 12. Delineator, October 1925.

It’s interesting that there is no brim in back. Although a home stitcher could not stretch a felt shape into a cloche, four or six-gored hat patterns allowed women to make their own 1920s hats. Click here for images of another 1920s Butterick hat pattern.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Fall Color from Indian Head Cloth, 1920s

Ad for Indian Head Cloth, Delineator, September 1925.

Ad for Indian Head Cloth, Delineator, September 1925.

Indian Head was a brand that assured customers that its cloth was colorfast — it could even be boiled — and it was guaranteed not to run or fade.

Schoolgirls, Ad for Indian Head cloth, Sept. 1925. Delineator.

Schoolgirls, Ad for Indian Head cloth, Sept. 1925. Delineator.

The text next to this picture says, “The young girl knows that her school dresses of Indian Head are smart, attractive, and comfortable. The new Permanent Finish gives the appearance of lightness, but quality and weave are unchanged.”

Ads from the previous year (1924) usually emphasize the appropriateness of Indian Head for children’s clothing.

Here, a mother admires the way her little boy’s “Tom Sawyer suit” emerged from the laundy:

Ad for Indian Head cloth, Sept. 1924, Delineator.

Ad for Indian Head cloth, Sept. 1924, Delineator.

“The spot came out, but the color stayed.” “This dress can be made at home with Standard Designer pattern No. 7696. The boy’s suit is one of several Tom Sawyer suits made of Indian Head.” 1924 sept p 52 indian head fabric#7696 ad bottom text 500

“Scrub them; boil them; the color will not fade. . . . We guarantee every garment or other article bearing the Indian Head label to give perfect satisfaction as to fast colors, workmanship, and finish. If not, we will refund the total cost of the article.”

This advertisement also offered a free booklet to help women choose the most flattering colors for their own clothing. “The blue that brunettes should wear, and hues that give color to pale cheeks, are among the color harmonies explained in our booklet, ‘Your Color and Why.’ It is sent free upon request.”

An Indian Head Ad from May, 1924 shows a picture of the “Bag for 25 cents,” available in two color combinations, jade-and-mimosa-yellow, or silver-and-peach.  For 25 cents, you got the material to make this handbag.1924 may p 54 indianhead cloth hem mom kid bag 500Indian Head cloth was also advertised not to fade in the sun; letting down hems cam be a problem if the cloth inside the garment, protected from the sun, is a different color than the rest of the dress. 1924 may p 54 indianhead cloth hem 500“When you let down the hem you will find that the color of the skirt has not changed a bit, for —”

Indian Head cloth guarantee, May 1924, Delineator.

Indian Head cloth guarantee, May 1924, Delineator.

Amory, Browne & Company, which produced Indian Head Cloth, also made Nashua Blankets, Gilbrae Ginghams, Parkhill Fine Gingham, Lancaster Kalburnie Ginghams, and Buster Brown Hosiery.

Indian Head label, May 1924.

Indian Head label, May 1924.

This logo appeared in the selvage of yardage, and commercially manufactured clothes made from Indian Head cloth also had a hang-tag naming Indian Head. Obviously, this was a company that took pride in its product. For a detailed history of the Indian Head label and Amory, Browne & Co. by info.fabrics.net, click here.

 

 

 

 

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More “Button-On” Patterns from the Thirties

"Another Button-on, " Woman's Home Companion, August 1937

“Another Button-on,” Woman’s Home Companion, August 1937

I confess that I am fascinated by the many “button-on” patterns I’m finding in 1930s magazines. They reflect a completely different way of thinking about clothes than we have today, in our “cheap and disposable” clothing culture. As a teenager, I lived in a house built in 1908; it had 12 foot ceilings and leaded glass windows in the china cabinet doors, but the bedroom closets — one to a room — were three feet wide and barely one coat hanger deep. I am sometimes appalled by the “House Hunters” who demand two walk-in closets. Does anyone really need that much stuff? The average 1930s wardrobe for women would have fit in a very small closet.

Depression-Era Budget Savers

Companion-Butterick pattern 7515, August 1937, sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 42."

Companion-Butterick pattern 7515, August 1937, sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 42.”

Although Butterick patterns were historically more expensive than Simplicity, DuBarry, and Hollywood patterns (and were aimed at middle to upper middle-class women) Companion-Butterick patterns often tried to give real value for money by emphasizing the versatility of their designs. (For more about Companion Butterick Triad patterns, click here .) [You can see more 1930s ideas for giving one dress many looks in my post “One Good Dress in the 1930s.” Click here.   Edited 11/22/14 to add link.]

Companion-Butterick Pattern 7255

In March of 1937, this button-on dress, # 7255, was designed “to give you six day-time dresses at practically the price of one.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7255, WOman's Home Companion, March 1937. Available in sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 44;" this pattern cost 45 cents.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7255, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1937. Available in sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 44;” this pattern cost 45 cents.

“The various trimmings which make this miracle possible can be buttoned or slipped into the foundation dress with lightning speed. Suppose you make 7255 in brighter-than-navy crepe. Then you may like the look of a sturdy white pique vestee on Monday; of linden-green linen at neckline and belt on Tuesday; of sober scallops of the dress material on Wednesday; of crisp plaid taffeta on Thursday; of pink Bengaline on Friday; of the grand climax of embroidered batiste and cerise red velvet bow on Saturday. One pair of blue shoes and one blue bag … may serve with all these trimmings.”

There is a copy of this pattern in the Commercial Pattern Archive.

The comment that you would need ony one pair of shoes for all six looks reminds us that, in the 1930s, most women had to pinch every penny. Click here for Living on $18 per Week, which explains that a college girl or office worker was expected to buy no more than four dresses and four pairs of shoes each year.

Companion-Butterick Pattern 7515

In August of 1937, the pattern at the top of this post appeared. Here are some enlarged views:

1937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500 51937 aug p 56 button on 7515 31937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500 21937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500 41937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500I’d be curious to see the construction of this dress, since the last two views show that there has to be a fairly large opening between the yoke and the bodice. I’m guessing there was some sort of tab or underlap on the bodice section which held the single, large button which fastened through a buttonhole on the yoke.

Companion-Butterick 7579

In October of 1937 another button-on frock appeared; number 7579 also suggested plaid taffeta or self-fabric for the office, with a gold lame vestee for “after-hour parties.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7579, October 1937, was suggested for secretaries' or debutantes' wardrobes.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7579, Woman’s Home Companion, October 1937, was suggested for both secretaries’ and debutantes’ wardrobes.

“For years some of the Companion’s most successful designs have been dresses with a series of easily buttoned-on trimmings, each planned to give the dress a different look. And now this ever-practical idea has become a real fashion fad, made by the smartest dressmakers, worn by the smartest women.”

Companion-Butterick Pattern 8597

This rather similar version — also with a plaid option — appeared two years later, in October 1939:

Companion-Butterick 8597, Butterick Fashion News, October 1939.

Companion-Butterick 8597, Butterick Fashion News, October 1939.

companion butterick 8597 Oct 1939All those buttons give a slightly military or western frontier look to pattern 8597.

Butterick 5948

The button-on idea was still around in 1951, when Butterick offered this convertible “round the clock dress” for days when you want to go from the office to a date:

Butterick No. 5948, Butterick Fashion News flyer, December 1951.

Butterick No. 5948, Butterick Fashion News flyer, December 1951.

“It’s covered up for daytime . . . decollete for date-time.” The sparkly buttons can be made “of jet, rhinestone, mock-pearl, or tortoise-shell so that, with the yoke off, the buttons become a decorative ‘jewelry’ accent.”

Butterick 'Round the Clock dress pattern, December 1951.

Butterick ‘Round the Clock dress pattern No. 5948, December 1951.

Suggested fabrics were faille, crepe, corduroy, or velveteen. Available sizes 12 to 20 and up to bust size 38 inches.  I can imagine this design also being popular with women who dressed up to play bridge one afternoon a week, or who couldn’t justify the expense of a rarely worn cocktail dress. Many faille or taffeta afternoon or “bridge” dresses turn up on vintage racks.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

Paris Calls for Pleats, 1926 (Part 2: Styles for Larger Women)

In Part 1, I showed some Delineator pattern illustrations for Misses and Women’s dresses for September, 1926. The same issue had a second article about the importance of pleats [called plaits] — this time for larger women.

Plaits Reduce New Parisian Frocks to Their Slimmest Terms

"Plaits Reduce New Parisian Frocks to Their Slimmest Terms." Delineator magazine, Sept. 1926.

“Plaits Reduce New Parisian Frocks to Their Slimmest Terms.” Delineator magazine, Sept. 1926.

All but one of these Butterick patterns from 1926 is meant for larger-than-average women. The three on the right are for women with bust measurements from 36 to 52 inches, far from the boyish figure associated with 1920s styles. The four on the left are drawn, as usual, as they might look on women at the smallest end of their size range, not size 46.

Butterick Skirts and Blouses

"Slimming" Butterick patterns 7066 (blouse), 6286 (skirt), 7078 (blouse), 6331 (skirt) from September 1926. Delineator magazine.

“Slimming” Butterick patterns 7066 (blouse), 6286 (skirt), 7078 (blouse), 6331 (skirt) from September 1926. Delineator magazine.

The blouse patterns are new, but the skirt patterns’ numbers show that they first appeared in the previous year. The pleated skirt on the left came in hip sizes 35 to 49.5 inches. Skirt 6331 was available up to hip size 52 inches — equivalent to a modern size 28W. Most early twenties dresses had straight backs, with any flare or fullness in the front only, like skirt 6286, but that was changing by 1926.1926 sept p 32 delin text 7066 6286 7078 6331 stout dresses

Many mid-twenties illustrations show a decorative colored hankie peeking out from a pocket, like these.

Blouse patterns 7066 and 7078. September 1926.

Blouse patterns 7066 and 7078. September 1926.

That narrow ribbon tie on # 7078 is slenderizing. These blouses were available for bust sizes 32 to 46, a little larger than the normal size range. They both have yokes with gathers or tucks adding fullness in front, unlike this similar design for Misses aged 15 to 20 “and small women,” which has no bust fullness.

Butterick pattern No. 7950 for Misses and small women, Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern No. 7950 for Misses and small women, Sept. 1926.

Butterick 7051

Butterick pattern No. 7051 for larger women, 1926.

Butterick pattern No. 7051 for larger women, 1926.

This dress was available up to bust size 48; whether the embroidered horizontal band across the front — widened further with decorative buttons — would be becoming to its wearer is questionable. The bodice insert giving the impression of an exposed slip is a “vestee” which could be removed for laundering. It could also be made of a contrasting fabric, like pattern 7089, below.1926 sept p 32 white hat and detail stoutsShe wears a fairly lavish fox fur stole; even the woman wearing sporty blouse #7078 has put a pair of dead animals around her throat.

A small fox stole.

A small fox stole.

My mother (the former flapper) was very proud of her fur stole, which had baleful glass eyes and a hinged clip under the jaw, so that the little critters, like this one, appeared to be biting each other.

Butterick 7089

Butterick No. 7089, Sept. 1926.

Butterick No. 7089, Sept. 1926.

This dress, with a high collar that can be worn buttoned as shown, or open like No. 7051, features a long opening in the center front. 1926 sept p 32  top of 7089 stout leftButterick made this dress pattern in its usual range of sizes, bust 32 to 44 inches, roughly equivalent to modern pattern sizes 10 through 22. Her hat is trimmed with a very long jeweled pin.

Butterick 7077 and 7016

These two patterns were not only available in large sizes, but were described as able “to thin down a stout figure” and “to make the least of a large figure.” I wouldn’t agree about the one on the right.

Butterick patterns 7077 and 7046 for bust sizes 36 to 52. Sept. 1926.

Butterick patterns 7077 and 7046 for bust sizes 36 to 52. Sept. 1926.

1926 sept p 32 delin text7077 7016 stout dressesNumber 7077 certainly does its best to create a long vertical area from neck to hem, drawing our eyes to the center, rather than the outline, of the body. Number 7016 has a diagonal “surplice” line intended to do the same, but the hip band and wide space between two sets of front pleats negates the effect. The top of the dress doesn’t really relate to the lower part. The evening gown below, also from 1926, came in sizes 36 to 48; here, the surplice line is effectively carried down into a side drape so your eye travels past the hip, rather than across it.

Butterick pattern No. 1187 from Dec. 1926 had "reducing properties" and came in sizes 36 to 48.

Butterick pattern No. 1187 from Dec. 1926 had “reducing properties” and came in sizes 36 to 48.

Butterick 7077 and 7016, details.

Butterick 7077 and 7016, details.

It’s hard to be sure if the hat on the right was made of the same fabric as the lapels on the dress, or not.  It could be fur. The woman on the left is wearing what looks like a magnifying glass on a long necklace, but it might hold a secret, like this one:

A vintage lorgnette, courtesy of RememberedSummers.

A vintage lorgnette, courtesy of RememberedSummers.

When you press a tiny button on the silvery filigree, it opens to become a pair of hand held-spectacles:

Lorgnette photo courtesy of RememberedSummers.

Lorgnette photo courtesy of RememberedSummers.

Butterick 7083

Butterick pattern 7083 is "chic for stout women" with bust sizes up to 52". Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern 7083 is “chic for stout women” with bust sizes up to 52″. Sept. 1926.

The image is curved and distorted because it was photographed from a thick, bound periodical volume. In spite of this garment’s princess seams, the model is drawn as if wearing a bust-flattening corset or corselet.1926 sept p 32  7083 details hat stout rtShe, too, carries a fox fur piece.

One pleasure of Delineator pattern illustrations is the carefully drawn accessories, like these hats:

A selection of hats from September. 1926. Delineator magazine.

A selection of hats from September, 1926. Delineator magazine.

Folds, droopiness, and tiny brims can also be seen in the hats from Part 1. Click here.

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Paris Calls for Pleats, 1926 (Part 1)

Paris Straightens the Autumn Frock with Front and Side Plaits. Delineator, Sept. 1926.

Paris Straightens the Autumn Frock with Front and Side Plaits. Delineator, Sept. 1926.

Pleats for All Sizes

Butterick’s Delineator magazine ran two articles in the September, 1926, issue about the importance of “plaits” [i.e., pleats] to the fall styles. The first article showed three patterns for women in the normal range of sizes, with bust measurements of 32 to 44 inches. Elsewhere in that issue, patterns for “Misses aged 15 to 20 and small women” also show pleated skirts. [Misses’ sizes were for shorter and smaller figures; age 20 assumed a 37″ bust.] But the second article showed dresses with pleats in pattern sizes up to a 52 inch bust measurement. Since the styles of the 1920s were especially cruel to large figures, I am always intrigued by these unexpectedly large pattern sizes. I’m guessing that Butterick and other pattern companies realized that being “hard to fit” is a major reason for making your own clothes, so they routinely offered sizes not available in most stores.

Pleated Styles for Average and Small Women, 1926

In this post I’ll share some of the styles for women who fell within the normal size ranges.

Butterick pattern 7067, September 1926.

Butterick pattern 7067, September 1926.

This dress is very unusual — at least in my limited experience — because of the horizonal bands which decorate the shoulders and extend onto the sleeve caps.  Twenties’ fashions can be hard to wear because they widen the hips — already most women’s widest area. Many twenties styles have vertical details which seek to counteract this problem, but I have not seen many that visually broaden the shoulders like this:  butterick 7067 detailsNote, too, that the skirt pleats are stitched down for several inches to control fullness. The belt, which passes through buttonholes in the hip band, is tied very loosely as illustrated, but it could be used to snug the hip and create a blouson above. The long tie ends and the pleats create vertical lines for a slimming effect. This fashion figure is over 9 “heads” tall, but, adjusted to a normal figure, this could be a very becoming — and not terribly difficult — dress to copy. Back views are shown at the end of this post.

Butterick 7033, September 1926.

Butterick 7033, September 1926.

This dress, with its enormous buckle and wide hip band, would not flatter many women — especially those with a 44 inch bust and 47.5 inch hip — the usual pattern proportions. The collar creates a deep curve similar to the line of a long 1920s necklace, but it gets bigger at the bottom and draws more attention to the hip area. The description (“attached to a long body”) suggests that, although described as a dress, this is probably made made as a top, including the hip band, with a separate skirt suspended from the shoulders like a slip — a very common practice. The vestee, which fills in the neckline, can be made detachable for washing.

Butterick 7055, September 1926.

Butterick 7055, September 1926. For ladies 32 to 48 bust.

Butterick No. 7055 was not singled out as being for larger women, but it was available in sizes 46 and 48. I love the “Roman striped vestee” with its strong diagonals, and the ribbon-flower pom-pom which draws your eye upward to the face, plus the widening effect of “saddle shoulders” cut-in-one with the sleeve. This dress is definitely meant to be snugged at the hip; it has an adjustable belt at each side, like the belt on the back of a vest. butterick 7055 detailsThis dress has box pleats lined up with the side seams, and top-stitched for a slim fit over the hips. The saddle shoulders are similarly top-stitched.

A dress shown in “pea-soup green” gives plenty of room for movement when you’re walking:

Butterick 7045, September 1926.

Butterick 7045, September 1926.

Monograms were very popular, influenced perhaps by Jean Patou’s  use of them in sportswear. This dress is a bit tricky to make, because it has inserted pleats of darker color fabric. They are not inserted into seams, but added like a wedge-shaped godet. That explains the need for those arrow shapes — stitching or applique? — that reinforce the points of stress. 1926 sept p 28 grn skirt paris frocks pleats

Pleated Dresses for Misses and Smaller Women, September 1926.

Butterick patterns for Misses aged 15 to 20 and Smaller Women. September 1926.

Butterick patterns for Misses Aged 15 to 20 and Smaller Women. September 1926.

Butterick 7057, (left) like the green dress pictured above, has pleats inserted like godets. The color combination is interesting. A color called bois de rose (rosewood) was popular, but this dress is burgundy colored. Notice the unusual sleeves. The pink contrasts in the top half of this dress are so interesting that its self-colored hip belt is hardly noticeable.

Butterick 7057 for Misses and Smaller Women, September 1926.

Butterick 7057 for Misses and Small Women, September 1926.

The pleats are topstitched, both for flatness and to reinforce the weakest points. The “convertible” collar can be worn unbuttoned.

This blue dress also has stitched-down pleats below its dropped waist.

Butterick pattern 7003 for Misses and Small Women, Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern 7003 for Misses and Small Women, Sept. 1926.

This dress is for younger and smaller women, who might be expected to have ideal 1920s figures, but it still uses many vertical lines for a slenderizing effect, especially in the very long tie. Little capes on the backs of dresses were often shown in pattern illustrations, but, like this one, they were usually detachable or optional. “Chin-chin blue” is probably meant to evoke Chinese colors. The gray belt seems to run through buttonholes in the front and back of the dress. See back views below.

Misses’ dress 7024 is not pleated. Described as a “coat-frock,” it has a slenderizing vertical opening the entire length of the center front.

Butterick  pattern for Misses 7024, Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern for Misses 7024, Sept. 1926.

Lacking pleats, the skirt’s 46″ hem circumference does not encourage long strides. The artist has neglected to draw the slip straps. Another sheer-over-satin dress for young women, No. 6904, was featured in July, 1926:

Butterick pattern No. 6904 for Misses, July 1926.

Butterick pattern No. 6904 for Misses, July 1926.

These coat-dress styles create such a strong vertical line that I would expect them to be appealing to larger women, but both these patterns are for “Misses 15 to 20 years old, and small women.”

This dress pattern, No. 7059, is actually a blouse and skirt combination.

Butterick pattern No. 7059 for Misses and Small Women. Sept. 1926

Butterick pattern No. 7059 for Misses and Small Women. Sept. 1926

The pleats on the skirt can fall perfectly straight, because there is no waistband; this skirt is attached to a slip-like underbody and hangs from the shoulders. It is similar in style to some of the pleated dresses for larger women described in the same magazine. It is not a style I would recommend to women seeking to look thinner.

These 1920s Hats Deserve a Second Look:

Four hats from Delineator, September 1926.

Four hats from Delineator, September 1926.

Here are back views of the eight dresses from September that are pictured above:

Back views: Butterick patterns for Women Nos. 7067, 7033, 7055, 7045.

Back views: Butterick patterns for Women Nos. 7067, 7033, 7055, 7045.

Most of these dresses can be made with long or short sleeves. Only one, #7033, has pleats in back. #7045 shows that there is a handy strap on the back of her clutch purse.

Back views of Dresses for Misses, Nos. 7024, 7059, 7057, 7003.

Back views of Dresses for Misses, Nos. 7024, 7059, 7057, 7003.

Part 2 of “Paris Calls for Pleats” will show 1926 patterns for larger women.

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Filed under 1920s, bags, Hats, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes