Category Archives: 1930s

Postcard #2 from My Vacation at the Library

Three fashions for daytime, Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 29. They have characteristic dropped waists, a horizontal line across the hip, and hems that barely cover the knee.

Less than a year later:

Fashions for daytime, Delineator magazine, January 1930. Butterick 3007 and 2984, on sale in January 1930, demonstrate the transition from 1920s to 1930s.

It’s obvious that by January 1930, the change from the low-waisted, short-skirted 1920’s silhouette was already well under way.
At a first glance, these suits do have a 1920’s look, but the return to the natural waistline and the move toward longer hems which they demonstrate is also illustrated on this catalog cover.

Ad for Butterick Quarterly from Delineator, January 1930, p 76.

It’s remarkable, when you consider the lead time for creating sewing patterns and for magazine publication: The design has to be approved, made into a prototype (muslin) and patterned,  made up in fabric, modeled for the illustrators, “graded” up and down to a full range of sizes, and set into mass production before being issued and publicized in magazines, etc. This suit was not designed in January 1930, but several months earlier.

Butterick 2984 took months to develop and have ready for sale in January of 1930.

It looks very much like the popular cardigan-jacketed suit of the Twenties, complete with a long neck tie, but the skirt has a natural waist and a seam line at the familiar 1920’s hipline. The jacket is long, falling well past that old hip-level design line, and the skirt falls three or four inches below the knee.

Butterick Quarterly cover, January 1930. Suit 2984 is on the right, and is shown in a different illustration below..

Butterick 3007 (L) and 2984 (R) from January 1930. No. 3007 has a low hip seam and unstructured bodice that allows the wearer to put the belt where she likes.

Two other observations: The three-quarter length coat was a popular 1930 option, and in 1930, a “sleeveless” dress really was sleeveless.

I’ve been curious about the transition from 1920s to 1930s; apparently it happened very fast!

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Uncategorized, Vintage patterns

Vacation Needed

Illustration from Delineator, 1925. This rural schoolteacher was tired out.

I’m not quitting — but after more than 500 posts, I do need a vacation!

I started writing witness2fashion in 2013, partly inspired by my discovery of more than 400 bound copies of Butterick’s Delineator magazine in storage at my public library. I was stunned by the color illustrations, and fascinated by the pattern illustrations and the advertisements. Very few of these magazines have been digitized or microfilmed — the latter is a blessing, in a way, because so many color magazines were preserved in black and white and then discarded by libraries during a wave of microfilming that took place just before digitization in full color became possible. That seems incredible, but…. [Recommended reading: Double-Fold: Libraries and the Asssault on Paper, by Nicholson Baker.] 

Hikers. Color illustration from an ad for Ivory Flakes soap, Delineator; October 1928.

Because of my interest in “everyday” fashions and working class clothing, Butterick’s “middle-class,” Paris-oriented Delineator would not have been my first choice — I was hoping to find McCall’s magazines. I used to own a few from the 1930’s, so I know they had color illustrations. But my last inquiries — assisted by a reference librarian — didn’t turn up any actual bound volumes of old McCall’s within 200 miles of me (and I am surrounded by universities!) The Los Angeles public library seems to have some from the 1920’s — but whether they are actual, bound magazines or black and white films, the librarian couldn’t tell me — and I’d have to take a vacation to visit them.

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Delineator cover by Dynevor Rhys, 1933. Who knew green and orange could look so sophisticated?

So, it’s time for me to spend a few weeks visiting the bound periodicals I love so much right here in San Francisco — a working vacation, but overdue.  I particularly want to research and document the sudden transition in styles between 1929 and the early thirties — but if you have a favorite year between 1900 and 1920 I could dip into, I do enjoy a bit of variety! Please use the comments section for suggestions (no promises, but….)

Meanwhile, Oldies but (I Hope) Goodies

Five years ago I found those magazines were full of things that really excited me, so I shared them — not just patterns, but articles and ads about everything from breast flattening corsets to family budgets, and new items like Knee-High stockings (1930s) and paper towels (people had to be taught what to do with them!) If you’re curious about a woman’s clothing budget in 1924 and in 1936, click here. For a family budget in 1925, click here. From the Great Depression year of 1936, I found a budget and related items about “Living on $18 per Week.” Click here.

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I’m hoping that new followers (bless you, every one!) will enjoy getting links and brief introductions to some of those blog posts from the past — so I will post a group of links regularly instead of writing entire new posts for August. I’ll try to group them by topic.

For a start, here are a few posts that highlighted the unexpected color combinations of the 1920’s:

A Lament for Bound Periodicals  (posted in February, 2015)

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A bridal party in shades of orange, 1924. Delineator magazine.

Orange and Blue in the Mid-Twenties  (posted in December 2015)

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/del-1925-feb-orange-and-black.jpg?w=359&h=500

Blue and orange are complementary colors — they make each other look more intense, as in this illustration. Right, orange and black are combined in a young woman’s dress; Delineator, February, 1925.

1920’s Orange and Black: Not Just for Halloween   (from October 2014)

Colorful Fashions for April, 1926  (from April 2017)

This "Aztec" pattern hand painted shawl was made in the Samuel Russel Studio, New York, and illustrated by Katharine Stinger for an Ivory Soap Flakes ad. Delineator, March 1927.

The Colorful Past  (from February 2014)

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/1928-nov-ivory-soap-ad-colorful-nightwear.jpg?w=500

And so to bed…. Do you dream in color? I do.

I’ll have many new images to share by September!

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Musings, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories

Vintage Kodak Ads and Vintage Photos

Family photo:  Isabel Porter and Dot Barton in car, dated 1919. Isabel is wearing an embroidered dress, but Dot is wearing hiking clothes:  knickers and a middy shirt.

Imagine how dreary costume history in the 20th century would be without photographs — not just posed studio photographs, but the millions of pictures taken of and by ordinary people. Small, simple to operate, “pocket” cameras really did give us a window into the past.

Four teenaged girls from Redwood City, California, pose in a back yard on May 5, 1918. From left, Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, Dot and Helen Barton. Edith and Ruth are wearing fashionable dresses; Dot wears her school uniform and Helen adds a sleeveless sweater to hers.

I have written before about the importance of informal snapshots during  World War I, made possible by the development of small, light-weight, portable “pocket” cameras. Click here for that post.

“Snap-shots from Home” enhance morale for soldiers in World War I. Kodak ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917, p. 91.

Soldiers also took photos with the “vest pocket” Kodak and mailed them to the their families and friends.

Kodak was also developing innovative cameras for use at home. This 1917 advertisement is for the Kodak Autographic camera, which allowed you to record when and of whom the picture was taken on the negative: a 1917 time stamp!

Ad for the “Autographic Kodak”, from Delineator magazine, July 1917.

“And to make an authentic, permanent record, on the negative, is a simple and almost instantaneous process with an Autographic Kodak.” 1917.

This ad appeared seven years later, but the “family” focus is the same.

Ad for the Autographic Kodak from Delineator, May 1924.

The Autographic Kodak was still being advertised in 1924, but, sadly, no one in my family seems to have had one — so they wrote on the pictures, sometimes long after they were developed, and not always accurately.

The folks in this group photo are named in ink on the margin of the picture.

Isabel and Dot visit an Aviation School, dated 1919.

Dot in the cockpit and Isabel beside the plane, dated 1920. Was this picture really taken in a different year? Did they take flying lessons? Some women did — quite successfully.

By 1927 you could take your own moving pictures:

Home movies taken with a Cine-Kodak, from an ad in Delineator, March 1927.

From an ad for the Cine-Kodak, Delineator, May 1927. The cost of a camera, plus a “Kodascope C  for projecting,” and a projection screen, was $140. “The price of Cine-Kodak film, amateur standard (16 mm.), in the yellow box, includes finishing.”

My Uncle Mel had a movie camera in the late 1940s, and, as the only toddler in the family, I was filmed so often that when my parents took me to a movie theater for the first time, I watched for several minutes and then began shouting, “Where’s Me? Where’s Me?”

My Uncle Mel as a teenager, with Ruth Cross. Ruth wears a pinafore. WW I era.

How I wish I could watch those family movies today — to see my parents and grandma and aunts and uncles in motion, wearing their ordinary clothes, doing ordinary things….

Family and friends at a party in the early 1930s. I recognize many of these faces, although I was born many years later. The photo is about this small, since it was a contact print.

The McLeods pose for a snapshot. The mother is dressed very differently from her daughters. 1920s.

Three men pose in La Honda, CA, in the 1920s. Yes, people did wear those golf outfits, [matching sweater and socks!] even when not playing golf. 1920s.

In the late 1920’s, pocket cameras were so common that Kodak advertised them in different colors, to match your outfits. Obviously, women were taking a lot of the pictures that we treasure today.

Ad for Vanity Kodaks in colors to match your outfit. Delineator, June 1928.

Top of ad for Vanity Kodaks. 1928.

“Vanity Kodaks come in five lovely colors [“Redbreast, Bluebird, Cockatoo,  Seagull and Jenny Wren”] to harmonize with one’s costume.” 1928 ad.

My Aunt Dot took to photography early. You can see her shadow as she takes this photograph of young Azalia Dellamaggiore in front of the Redwood City courthouse in 1918.

Here Dot and a soldier are photographed by someone else, but Dot has her camera in her hand.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, vintage photographs, World War I

Fashion Advice for Summer, 1933 (Part 2)

Beach pajamas [aka pyjamas]; detail from Delineator cover, August 1933.

When we think of summer fashion, we usually think of loose clothes, cool dresses with bare arms and backs, and sporty clothing suitable for vacation activities. Here is Part 2 of summer fashion advice from Marian Corey, writing in Delineator,  June 1933. [Click here for Part 1.]

For Tennis

Butterick 5182, at right; “The pinafore frock that buttons down the back is THE tennis dress.” Delineator, June, p. 61. (This is the only illustration of it that I found.)

Delineator, June 1933, p. 61.

Like dress 5182, Butterick 5025 buttons in back:

“Bermuda” is the name given to this dress (Butterick 5025) which, like tennis dress No. 5182, buttons down the back. “…Known technically as a beach dress although it is far more apt to be worn off the beach than on.” Delineator, April 1933.

Notice the bare backs and chic suntans of these blonde models.

“Hello Everybody” is the name given to Butterick 5021, at right. From Delineator, April 1933.

Bicycle Clothes

Clothes for bike riding and skating, Delineator, June 1933.

I didn’t find any illustrations of divided skirts in this issue, but there were good-looking slacks or beach pajamas, and shorts sets, too,

Butterick 5219 could be made as trousers or shorts. Delineator, July, 1933.

The Talon fastener — a slide fastener or “zipper” — was still new in 1933; many dressmakers would not know how to install one.

Butterick slacks pattern 4884 had a sailor influence in its double row of buttons. The shirt pattern was included.

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Left, Butterick 4884 photographed for Delineator in June, 1934. The reclining model wears Butterick 5219.

Shorts (or slacks) pattern 5219 was featured again in July; this time No. 5219 was christened “Eight Bells.”

Slacks pattern 5219 (“Eight Bells”) pictured with a bathing suit, 5215 (“Seawothy.”)  Delineator, July 1933, p. 60.

For those too young to remember, this was what roller skates looked like in the 1930’s; they were the same in the 1950’s, when I learned to skate:

You could earn a pair of skates like this by selling subscriptions to Ladies’ Home Journal. Ad from LHJ, August 1936. My skates could only be used with leather-soled shoes; the clamp at the front was adjusted with a “skate key,” but slipped off of tennis shoes.

The Pretty and the Kitsch blog happened to show this photo of women roller skating in trousers (like Butterick 4884 or 5219) or beach pajamas. The photo is not dated precisely, but it’s apt! Thanks, Emily Kitsch.

Bathing Suits

“Don’t get a wool jersey bathing suit — the wool suit isn’t enjoying its usual popularity. The rubber bathing suit and the cotton ones are making it look sick.” Marian Corey, Delineator, June 1933. p. 61.

Wool bathing suits in an ad for Ironized Yeast, Delineator, March 1933.

A wool bathing suit — and especially a heavy, soaking wet, wool bathing suit — did not camouflage any figure faults:

Wet wool bathing suits, late 1920’s or early 1930’s. All (well, nearly all) is revealed as the weight of the cold water pulls the knit suits tight against the body.

This cotton bathing suit was designed by Orry-Kelly for Bette Davis, seen wearing it. Butterick briefly offered line-for-line copies of clothing worn in the movies, as “starred patterns.” This one is from June, 1933; Delineator.

Marian Corey recommended cotton bathing suits, like this one, Butterick pattern 5215. June 1933.

Two versions of Butterick bathing suit 5215, from July and June, 1933.  “Jersey tights” were worn under the skirt  or shorts.

[You can read more about Butterick Starred Patterns from several movies: costumes for Bette Davis by Orry-Kelly, Katharine Hepburn by Howard Greer, Mary Astor by Orry-Kelly, Kay Francis by Orry-Kelly, and Helen Twelvetrees by Travis Banton.]

If you’re curious about the “beguiling” drawstring neckline dress mentioned by Marian Corey, here it is:

Butterick 5173, a dress with a drawstring neckline; Delineator, June 1933, p. 62.

And here are two rubber bathing suits featured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938. In case Ms. Corey piqued your interest: “We know you can think of dozens of reasons why a rubber suit wouldn’t suit you, but even so and nevertheless! You see, they’re good-looking, and so nice and cheap, and they give one quite a figure.”

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Rubber bathing suit pictured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

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Rubber bathing suit pictured in McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

Beach Pajamas

Gingham beach pajamas and bare shouldered sundress. Butterick 5133 and 5075 , Delineator, May 1933.

In “Gingham Girl” one can crawl about on hands and knees and get in the way of the garden hose without any harm being done. “Gingham Girl ” takes housework in its stride, too, doing away with bulky and unattractive aprons.” “New Low” is the thing for tennis, for there’s nothing to hinder the most smashing serve.” — Delineator, May 1933, p. 52.

Now I’m ready for July.

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Filed under 1930s, Bathing Suits, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns, Vintage patterns from the movies, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers, Zippers

Fashion Advice for Summer, 1933 (Part 1)

Five tips for summer fashions from June 1933. Left is Butterick 5149. Delineator, page 61.

I seem to be spending a lot of time in 1933 lately. Marian Corey, writing in Delineator, June 1933, offered a full page of advice about summer fashions:  Five ideas starting with “Yes” and five with “No.”

As the really hot weather approaches, here’s one topic Corey thought we all have on our minds: Gloves!

Glove advice from Delineator, June 1933.

“… Gloves of all sorts of queer fabrics. Printed silk gloves to match your frock and sometimes sold with the dress! White organdy gloves to wear with your dark dress that has white organdy touches on it. White piqué gloves to wear with your tailored suit. Lastex gloves. Fit? They don’t have to . It’s smart to wear them big.” (Lastex stretch fabrics were introduced in the early 1930s — which is different from Latex, which was sometimes used for rubber bathing suits!)

Matching print fabric gloves, hat and bag — all made from Butterick patterns. Delineator, August 1933, p. 52.

Organdy gloves and handbag, “to wear with your dark dress that has organdy touches on it.” August 1933, Delineator, p. 52.

Three Butterick dresses with organdy accents, Delineator, June 1933, p. 64. Notice the sheer areas in the sleeves. 5186 used a heavier, stiffer organdy.

It should be noted that fashion advice from Delineator magazine — not coincidentally –often mentioned Butterick patterns. Delineator was part of the Butterick Publishing Co. empire.

White piqué hat (Butterick 5256,) gloves (Butterick 5225,) and bag (Butterick 5274.) Delineator, August 1933.

Maybe Ms. Corey mentioned that gloves no longer needed to fit [“like a glove?”] because making gloves is difficult. Store-bought gloves used to come in a wide range of sizes, not just S, M, and L. Here’s what she said in a longer article:  “…Don’t worry if your gloves do not fit closely. They are not supposed to.”

Glove advice from Marian Corey, Delineator, August 1933.

Butterick glove pattern 5225 from July 1933, Delineator. This pattern was featured in both July and August.

“At first the loosely fitting glove seems clumsy…. All are worn big.” The gloves worn with these summer dresses are more like gauntlets:

Dresses worn with gloves made from Butterick 5225, July 1933. Delineator.

Gloves and a bag made from taffeta; Butterick patterns, August 1933.

More accessories made of piqué ; Butterick patterns from Delineator, August, 1933, p. 52. The illustrator is Myrtle Lages.

OK, I confess, the “No” paragraph about gloves was not really the first paragraph of the article about Summer fashions. The first paragraph was a “Yes” — about fur!

“Silver fox and blue fox are the furs” for trimming summer dresses,” or rabbit if your budget is more modest. Delineator, June 1933.

Butterick summer outfits trimmed with fur: From left, patterns 5176, 5178, and 5168. Delineator, June 1933, page 62.

Another “Yes” for summer was the white piqué swagger coat:

Butterick coat pattern 5164 from June 1933.

Everyone who owns a dark printed silk dress… should have a white piqué swagger coat to wear with it.” Butterick 5164; Delineator, June 1933, p. 62.

This style was only available in smaller sizes — an early use of “Junior Miss” patterns.

So, fur and gloves aside, what more practical fashions for summer were recommended in 1933?

Bicycle clothes, tennis dresses, beach pajamas, slacks and shorts — all coming up in Part 2.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Gloves, handbags, Hats, Purses, Vintage Accessories

Shirtwaist Dresses, 1939

Companion-Butterick 8459, a shirtwaist dress, appeared on the cover of Butterick Fashion News, July 1939.

It was featured on the back cover, too, and several other “shirtwaist” dresses appeared in this flyer. The 1939 shirtwaist could be casual or dressy.

If the text didn’t describe this as a “beautifully detailed shirtwaist dress,” I wouldn’t have classified it that way. Companion-Butterick 8459, July 1939.

Companion-Butterick 8459 does not button down the front, and the bodice is not a separate piece. Clever darts created the shape of this easy to make, pull-over style.

Companion-Butterick 8459, from back cover of BFN flyer, July 1939. A zipper in the side seam would allow you to pull the narrow waist over your shoulders.

Butterick 8459 used only four pattern pieces. Back cover, BFN flyer, July 1939.

Butterick shirtwaist dress 8479 uses pocket flaps as belt carriers. July, 1939. [Note the seamed stockings in the back view.]

Butterick 8466 combines a shirtwaist dress with a coordinating jacket. BFN, July 1939.

This dressy shirtwaist is Butterick 8497. BFN, p. 9, July 1939.

Are these shirtwaist dresses?  That’s not how they are described. BFN, p. 4, July 1939.

Center is Butterick 8493:

Right, Companion-Butterick 8483. BFN, July 1939.

Companion-Butterick 8493: “For spectator sports, wear this dress with brisk pleats in the skirt, and a pocket individualized with embroidery.” Sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 44.

I love this two- (or three-) toned dress with a zipper that runs all the way down the front.

Butterick 8470 has a zipper running from neckline to hem, but it isn’t a housedress.

[For more about the popularization of zippers in women’s clothing during the 1930s, read “Zip” Part 1 and/or Part 2. ]

Even fancier is this print dress made from “sheer” fabric:

Butterick 8486 looks like a shirtwaist to me — its bodice opens with buttons to the waist

The shirtwaist dresses that were a staple of my college wardrobe in 1962 were constructed like this; they buttoned down the front, usually to a concealed placket below the waist. (This 1939 version probably has a zipper opening in the side seam.)

Obviously, I can’t define “shirtwaist dress” from the way the Butterick Fashion News flyers use the term…. But I still appreciate their convenience and versatility.

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Hats, Hosiery, Hosiery, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, Zippers

The Corseted Silhouette: 1937

Three dresses with a “corseted” waist silhouette, Butterick Fashion News flyer, December 1937.

These patterns from December of 1937 are a far cry from the corseted waist of the early 1900s. In fact, the “corset” refers to a tightly fitted waist section that is part of the dress itself –no boning, no constriction.

Butterick patterns 7615, 7636, and 7640 have a seam at the midriff that defines the fitted waist area. BFN store flyer, Dec. 1937, p. 5

7615, at left, shapes the waist with a peplum and belt; 7636, center, has a curved seam located where an actual waist-cinching undergarment or structure would be ten years later, and 7640 has a built-in notched velvet “girdle” [sash.] All three dresses have high, uncomfortable looking necklines and similar sleeve caps.

Butterick dresses with the “corseted silhouette.” Patterns 7615, 7636, and 7640. Dec. 1937, BFN, p. 5. As a tiny waist becomes important, the shoulder area gets wider.

Back views of Butterick 7615, 7636, and 7640. The “corset” area could be tightened with a buckle at the back. (far left)

The corseted silhouette appeared in day dresses, evening gowns, and even in blouses.

The two evening gowns at left have the corseted silhouette, one trimmed with a row of tiny buttons, and one gathered to echo the sleeves. 1937.

Butterick evening gown 7626; black velvet was suggested.

The back view shows a seam at the bottom of the “corset” area.

The dress has a typical 1930’s side seam closing; in 1937, zippers were replacing snap closings. There’s a short zip at the back neck closing, too. These high necklines and sleeves suggest dresses for dinner & dancing.

Butterick evening gown 7624 has “the new slim corseted waist,” BFN, Dec. 1937, p. 9.

Bare necked — and bare backed gowns — might also have a corset waist:

Butterick evening gown 7646 has “the new corseted silhouette.” BFN, page 8; Dec. 1937. [P.S. That’s a lot of bangle bracelets!]

Butterick evening gown, “slit up the front,” BFN flyer, page 8, Dec. 1937.

This blouse pattern is constructed with a fitted “corset” waist section:

Butterick blouse 7629, BFN flyer, Dec. 1937. There is ruching (stitched-down gathering) at the neckline, the sleeves, and the midriff seam. The back view shows a belt.

Back views of four blouses.

I can’t resist showing the other blouse patterns from this page, although they do not have “corset waist” silhouettes.

Butterick blouse 7623, December 1937 BFN store flyer. Hat pattern 7631 was also illustrated.

Butterick blouse patterns 7627 and 7625, December 1937. Both have snug waists and high necklines; the one at right uses metallic cloth. To see all these blouses in full color illustrations, click here.

This “Triad” dress has a version with a corset waist and one without:

Triad dress pattern 7630 contained three versions. although only two were fully illustrated.in the December 1937 Butterick Fashion News flyer. [Notice the double darts low on the side seam.]

The alternate views show all three versions of Companion-Butterick 7630.

Many of the same patterns were illustrated in Woman’s Home Companion, November 1937.

Companion-Butterick gowns 7624 and 7626. WHC, November 1937.

That corseted look: Companion-Butterick patterns from November 1937. It’s attributed to the style-setting Duchess of Windsor.

I’ve seen so many vintage late Thirties’ and early Forties’ dresses with this fitted midriff look that it’s nice to have a name for it.

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