Serendipity: 1933 Wedding Gown & Its Rare Pattern

Left, Butterick Starred Pattern 5299, a copy of the wedding dress worn by actress Helen Twelvetrees in Disgraced; right, a vintage wedding dress made from this pattern.

Some time ago I wrote about Butterick Starred Patterns. As far as I know, only twelve Starred Patterns were issued; they were exact copies of movie costumes by top film designers.

Left, still photos from a Bette Davis movie; lower right, two Butterick “Starred” sewing patterns that are exact copies of her costumes. Delineator, 1933.

Star Helen Twelvetrees modeled a wedding gown designed by Travis Banton in this Paramount movie. Delineator, 1933.

Wonderful Liza D at Better Dresses Vintage recently acquired a vintage wedding gown …

Vintage wedding gown discovered by Liza D, photographed on a very tall mannequin.

…along with the Butterick pattern used to make it.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5299, from 1933. Someone wrote “Dots Wedding Dress” on it. (Dot = Dorothy)

Back of Butterick pattern 5299, used with permission of Better Dresses Vintage.

Image from the Deltor (sewing instructions sheet) inside the pattern envelope. The corsage hides the shirring (“gathers”) on the bodice.

Shape of pattern pieces from the back of the envelope.

I am very grateful that Liza shared these photos with me! As if that connection with a rare Butterick pattern weren’t enough, this was the “cherry on the cake:” the bride had torn a page from Delineator magazine on which this wedding dress was illustrated, and saved it inside the pattern envelope!

Liza D found this page from Delineator, September 1933, folded inside the pattern envelope.

Here is a clearer image of that wedding gown illustration.

Butterick 5299 wedding dress illustration from Delineator, September 1933.

It was originally featured in an article which showed the gown as worn in the movie — these illustrations come from Delineator’s August 1933 issue:

5299 pattern illustration from August, 1933.

Helen Twelvetrees models the wedding gown designed by Travis Banton. Delineator, August 1933.

Liza realized that “Dot’s Wedding Dress,” as it says on the pattern envelope, was made for a small woman, not the six-foot fashion mannequin she originally photographed it on. (Look at the sleeve length:)

The dress on a too-tall mannequin; those sleeves should be wrist length.

… so she asked her 14-year-old daughter to try it on. Her daughter is 5’2″ and the dress is lovely on her:

The 85-year-old dress on a model the right size is still beautiful. Cream colored satin dresses were a chic Thirties’ choice.

Puffy “Directoire” sleeves made a comeback in the early 1930s.

It’s not often that a vintage gown can be dated this precisely when we don’t even know the full name of the bride, or her wedding date. [Edit 1/27/19: Liza says, “I know the bride’s name and who she was, because I asked the family I acquired it from. She was their mom’s cousin. Yes, I’ve asked them to share a photo of her in it if they come across one.”  We can hope!]  We do know that she read Butterick’s Delineator magazine 🙂

Butterick 5299 was used for this 1933 wedding dress, beautiful enough for a movie star.

Liza D says it was made without a train, “perhaps for an in-home or informal wedding? There was no veil included.”

I am very grateful that Liza D remembered reading about Butterick Starred Patterns in this blog, and that she was willing to share these photos of her unusual vintage find! Check out this dress (and the pattern) and her other items for sale by clicking here. Thanks to her daughter, too.

P.S. If you missed my five posts on Starred Patterns, here they are: (Sorry I about the font size!)

Butterick Starred Patterns: Actual Fashions from the Movies (Part 1)

Bette Davis wears designs by Orry-Kelly.

Butterick Starred Patterns Part 2: Kay Francis in The Keyhole

Also designs by Orry-Kelly.

Butterick Starred Patterns Part 3: Mary Astor

More designs by Orry-Kelly.

Butterick Starred Patterns Part 4: Katharine Hepburn and Helen Chandler

Designs by Howard Greer.

Butterick Starred Patterns Part 5: Helen Twelvetrees Wears Travis Banton





Filed under 1930s, Dresses, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns from the movies, Wedding Clothes

18 responses to “Serendipity: 1933 Wedding Gown & Its Rare Pattern

  1. Ms. Kitsch

    This is such an incredible find!! What a wonderful dress, and so amazing it came with the pattern and page from Delineator too! It’s so much fun imagining what Dot must have been like. Such a lovely piece of history! I’m so glad Liza shared it with you so all of us could see it too!

  2. What an incredible find! 🤩

  3. TBG

    How beautiful! I discovered Helen Twelvetrees just a few years ago and she’s wonderful! I don’t know why she didn’t become more well known to us later. A beautiful and fun-to-watch actress.

    • The movies we know best from the 1930s & 40s are those that appeared on TV often in the 50s & 60s. Paramount and 20th Century Fox were slow to release their film libraries to television, so we are more familiar with the stars at Universal, MGM, Warners, and even RKO. It does give us a skewed idea of Who was Who in Hollywood, and reading lists of top box office names is often surprising. (My reference is my film scholar husband….)

    • P.S. Disgraced, starring Helen Twelvetrees, was a Paramount picture…. She seems to have often been treated very badly by scandal magazines — as when her alcoholic first husband made a suicide attempt. After leaving Hollywood, she returned to stage acting.

  4. Wow! How wonderful to see this. Thanks so much to everyone. 😘😘😘

  5. seweverythingblog

    This is fascinating! Would you mind if I re-bloggged this post on my own blog? My url is . I will only re-blog if you give me permission, even though WordPress makes it so easy to do it without…. 🙂

    • Entirely up to Witness2Fashion, as this is her work, but I’m fine with it, if she is.

    • Liza and I want people to see it! Please re-blog. Be sure you keep the links to Liza’s Better Dresses Vintage, since this dress and the pattern are for sale there.

      • seweverythingblog

        Thank you so very much. The post will get re-blogged on Tuesday morning. Again, I do appreciate your permission, and agree that it should be shared with the maximum number of fashion and sewing history enthusiasts — and potential customers for Liza.

  6. Dee

    How wonderful to see the same design from different sources, as well as an extant garment! I would love to know more about Dot! The note on the envelope was intriguing enough, and then I noticed the edited note from Liza.

    This reminded me of a long-ago incident. I was friendly with the owner of a vintage clothing shop (before vintage became really popular, and also before widespread use of the internet). One day she had a beautiful 30’s wedding dress on display – it had a very distinctive look, with a yoke and collar of rouleaux joined with thread. I was just tickled to see it, because I remembered seeing a dress of the same design (from the vintage clothing collection of a particular designer) featured in a popular sewing magazine!

    • Those “I’ve seen this before” moments are wonderful, especially when we can put a name to where we saw it. Here is one of mine: In the case of this McCall pattern, I didn’t remember wearing it, but I did remember seeing it in an old photo … I cringe, but there I am hugging a flamingo statue while wearing a pattern I saw in a vintage catalog 60+ years later! Click here for the blog post about it.

  7. seweverythingblog

    Reblogged this on Sew Everything Blog and commented:
    I’m always excited when there is verifiable, solid information about how ordinary people in the past lived, dressed and went about their business. For instance, what happened in their lives during milestone events such as weddings – specifically, the making of the wedding dress. I am fascinated by this post from Witness2Fashion, and that is why I am re-blogging it here with permission. Read and enjoy! Samina

    • seweverythingblog

      I guess my intro to the re-blog turns into a comment! 🙂

      • when I click the link in your email to seweverythingblog I get a page that says is no longer available.

        The authors have deleted this site.

        But when I do a google search, I find your homepage immediately. So — something with wordpress to straighten out. If only wordpress let you talk to a human being on the phone…. Thanks for the reblog, by the way!

  8. seweverythingblog

    How weird! I’ll look into it. Thank you for the alert.

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