Wide, Sheer Sleeves: A Fashion from 1922

Nearly rectangular sheer lace sleeves with deep armholes. Butterick 3510, from January 1922.

While collecting images of 1922 tunic blouses, I noticed a parallel trend toward very wide sleeves — sometimes rectangular, sometimes funnel-shaped.

Butterick 3510 from February 1922, Delineator.

French designer fashion: wide, funnel sleeves on a gown from Molyneux, Photographed by O’Doye for Delineator, January 1922.

Sometimes they appeared on dresses that suggested the tabard worn by medieval knights.

A sheer under layer with a tabard-like opaque layer on top. Butterick 3508 illustrated in February 1922.

Butterick dress 3508, Delineator, January 1922.

Butterick patterns for teens, February 1922.

Often the sleeves of 1922 were made of sheer fabrics like lace or chiffon.

Dress for teens, Butterick 3474 from January 1922.

This inspiration for these patterns came from Paris couture.

Left: wide, sheer sleeves on a dress by Drecoll. Sketched for Delineator by Soulie, January 1922.

The Paris house of Madeleine et Madeleine showed this dress with sheer, rectangular sleeves that close tightly at the wrist.

Some have armholes that reach almost to the waist:

Butterick dress 3601 from March, 1922.

This Butterick pattern (3393) from December of 1921 cited French designer Jenny as its inspiration. Google image from Hathitrust.org.

Butterick Blouse 3532 from Delineator, February 1922.

Very wide, deep sleeves on Butterick 3406, 1922.

Those were very deep armholes, like pattern 3510:

A closer look at Butterick 3510. “Butterfly-wing sleeves.”

These sleeves were sometimes attached to a slip-like lining, rather than to the dress itself.

Sheer sleeves could also begin from a dropped shoulder:

Left, a Paris designer dress from the House of Beer; right, the same sleeves on a Butterick sewing pattern. 1922.

Butterick 3479 with sheer sleeves. January 1922.

Of course, a very wide sleeve requires a coat to match:

Butterick dress 3465 with coat 3454. January 1922. The dress has a sheer lace bodice over a matching lining.

These enormous sleeves date to 1921-1922.

A dress with very full sleeves, Butterick 3841. 1922.

Funnel sleeves, 1922.

Another distinctive 1920’s sleeve, supposedly based on medieval or “Medici”costumes, was the “troubadour” sleeve, which was very wide — the armhole almost reached the waist — but which tapered to a tight fit in the lower arm and wrist.

Troubadour sleeves. Butterick blouse pattern 1174, from December 1926.

The troubadour sleeve was “a thing” in 1926. More about these sleeves in my next post.






Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

11 responses to “Wide, Sheer Sleeves: A Fashion from 1922

  1. I believe I’ll make one or two of those tabard style overdresses, would be very versatile. Thanks!
    bonnie in provence

  2. Some look like Russian peasant blouses.

    • You are the expert! Can you suggest anything written about the impact of Russian emigres on Paris fashion in the early 20th c? I read somewhere that the glorious embroidery of couture might be traced to Russian refugees.

  3. Christina

    Russian influence on Paris fashion started c1909 with Ballets Russes and Diaghilev. The peasant tunic is usually attributed to Poiret. Post WWI skilled workers became part of the fashion industry. Useful for a section on this period;


  4. Thanks for the interesting history. I’ve been thinking of making a 192os style dress with sleeves, but most of the pictures I’ve seen are sleeveless, until now.

    • In the early 20s sleeveless dresses were the style for evening dress. Long, tight sleeves were popular in daytime, with sleeveless dresses gradually accepted for country wear and sports. I highly recommend that you log in to the Commercial Pattern Archive at University of Rhode Island (it’s free!), select a year from the Twenties, and choose “any” in the very last column. You will see hundreds of dresses that ordinary women could have made from sewing patterns, and if you click on an image you like, you will usually be able to see the pattern pieces, too. Happy stitching!

  5. Duy Khang Nguyen

    Does wide and short sleeves (elbow length or shorter) are suitable for winter ???
    Example in my design https://i.pinimg.com/originals/28/69/fa/2869fa9ef079e0d96648909f7e6daa6c.jpg
    I’m using short sleeve
    I asked my friend about what did they think about the sleeves and they thought it was quite odd because long sleeves supposed to keep the arm warm

    But what do u think ???

    • will have to decide that for yourself. If you are reading through September through March issues of Delineator magazines at hathitrust.org you will notice that shorter sleeves are associated with summer, but because people buy sewing patterns all year long, most dress patterns will have a shorter sleeved version illustrated as an alternate view. The choice of long or shorter sleeve would depend on the needs of the wearer and when she was making the dress. In general, if the fabric is a winter fabric, like wool, it will be shown with the winter sleeve length. If the fabric is light cotton, it may have a short sleeve in the big illustration and a long sleeve in the alternate views. In the 1910s, patterns often had a “chemisette” with a high collar and wrist length sleeves, which could be worn under a 3/4 sleeve dress with a lower neckline. But the dress you drew might be wool for autumn instead of the really cold days of winter.

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