Category Archives: Companion-Butterick Patterns

Peasant Blouses, 1940’s to 1950’s

McCall pattern 1254 for a Mexican-influenced embroidered peasant blouse. Circa 1945, illustrated in May 1950 needlework catalog.

When full, puffy sleeves returned to fashion in the late 1930’s, the “peasant blouse” reappeared. This Hollywood pattern from the Commercial Pattern Archive for a peasant blouse is from 1938.

A “Tyrolean ski suit” available in stores in January, 1936. Woman’s Home Companion, p. 55.

A “yodeler” type hat. December 1937, WHC. Note “the gay embroidery on the mittens.”

A “Yodel Apron” featured in July, 1937. WHC. “Go very Swiss-peasant….”

“Tyrolean” hats, ski clothes, and embroidery were briefly popular in the late thirties, until WW II tainted anything German or Austrian for U.S. consumers.

“The Peasant Note is Popular:” A “Swedish” embroidered headscarf, a “Carnaval” apron (over a peasant style blouse), and a “Tyrolean” knitting bag. Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937.

Wool embroidery decorated this Companion-Butterick Triad pattern for schoolgirls.

Left, yarn embroidery adds “Peasant” chic to Butterick pattern 7589 for girls 8 to 15. WHC, October 1937.

The difficulties of travel during the Second World War led many Americans to seek sunshine and a complete change of scene in Mexico, resulting in a fashion influence which lasted for several years after the war. I have already written about Mexican embroidered jackets

McCall "Mexican" coat pattern #1399, May 1950.

…and “Russian” blouses.  A Mexican blouse pattern, McCall 990, at CoPA, dates to 1942.

McCall peasant blouse pattern 1385, from a 1950 Needlework catalog, has “heavily Mexican” embroidery.

Some peasant blouses incorporated smocking and embroidery:

McCall “fiesta-mood” peasant blouse pattern 1317, from about 1947. The illustration is from a 1950 catalog.

The smocking resembles the pattern on this blouse:

McCall pattern 1221 for a smocked blouse. This image is from the Dec. 1946 catalog, but the pattern dates to 1945.

This smocking pattern, 1315, was featured in the same issue as the “fiesta-mood” blouse, pattern 1317 :

McCall smocking pattern 1315. Circa 1947.

Detail of McCall 1315.

Detail, McCall 1315.

For those who were willing to embroider a blouse, but not to smock it, McCall 1386 offered the option of shirring the blouse and applying very fine rickrack to imitate smocking.

McCall 1386, a peasant blouse that could be smocked… or not.

Detail of rickrack on McCall Mexican blouse pattern 1386. Circa 1947.

We tend to think of 1947 dominated by Dior’s New Look, but comfortable, unstuctured casual clothing was still popular in the pattern books.

Smocking continued to be associated with high-end clothing for girls. So did the peasant look:

McCall 1255, circa 1945, is a smocked and cross-stitched peasant dress for a little girl. “The cross-stitch is optional but very “peasanty.’ “

I went looking for a forties’ photo of my mother in a peasant blouse and found a “twofer:”  She’s wearing a peasant blouse and skirt, and I am wearing a smocked dress!

American woman in a simple peasant blouse and skirt, with toddler in a smocked dress. Circa 1947.

Although this 1950’s pattern for children is not “peasanty,” it can be smocked.

 

Artists’ smocks for girls and boys. McCall 1402, illustrated in May 1950. [I could live in that blue outfit, in a grown-up size!]

In fact, McCall 1402 actually is a smock — a painter’s smock — which reminds us that embroidered smocks were originally worn for work by shepherds and country folks — peasants.

A group of country gossips. Punch cartoon from The Way to Wear’em.

 

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Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Children's Vintage styles, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Sized to Height Patterns from Butterick, 1948

The July 1948, cover of Butterick Fashion News was still introducing a new product: "Special" patterns for shorter women.

The July 1948, cover of Butterick Fashion News was still introducing a new product: “Special” patterns for shorter women.

I happen to have a group of Butterick Fashion News Flyers from 1948. For several months, “Sized to Height” patterns, or “Special Patterns,” were featured as an innovation which still needed some explanation. The February issue explained the concept several times.

Front cover of Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. The suit on the left, No. 4422, was available in short and average patterns.

Front cover of Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. The suit on the left, No. 4422, was available in both short and standard pattern sizes.

I don’t have a complete, consecutive run — just February, March, July and August of 1948 — but this “Special Patterns” or “Sized to Height” box appears on all four covers. (What I Found has a copy from 1947; that cover also mentions “shorter length” patterns.)

Special patterns for shorter women information box. Cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

Special patterns for shorter women, information box. Cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

Further explanation and examples appeared on facing pages 2 and 3.

Pages 2 & 3 featured patterns which could be ordered in sizes for women under 5' 5". BFN, Feb. 1948.

Pages 2 & 3 featured patterns which could be ordered in sizes for women under 5′ 5″. BFN, Feb. 1948.

If the pattern was available in both standard and shorter sizes, customers could order the shorter one by putting an “S” after the pattern number.

Page 3, BFN, Feb. 1948. These patterns for shorter women were described on page 2.

Page 3, BFN, Feb. 1948. These patterns for shorter women were described on (facing) page 2.

Here is the explanatory text from the top of page 2:

Text from top of page 2, BFN Feb. 1948.

Text from top of page 2, BFN Feb. 1948. “Special length … patterns are one inch shorter from neckline to waistline.”

Short pattern purchasing information, bottom of page 2, BFN, Feb. 1948.

Short pattern purchasing information, bottom of page 2, BFN, Feb. 1948.

Special Length patterns were shortened from the waist up, and were not aimed at stout or older women. (If the skirts were also proportionally shortened, Butterick didn’t mention it here.) Some of these patterns were illustrated twice in the same issue, once with the number followed by “S” and once as standard sized patterns. Starred numbers were available in both versions.

Butterick 4424 pattern for a suit with fitted jacket, available in average or short versions. Feb. 1948.

Butterick 4424 pattern for a suit with fitted jacket, available in standard  or short versions. Feb. 1948.

Butterick 4422; its hip-widening peplum shows "New Look" influence.

Butterick 4422; its hip-widening peplum shows “New Look” influence. Feb. 1948.

Both pink dresses are pattern 4419, in Average and shorter sizes.

More “New Look” influence. Both pink dresses are pattern 4419, in standard and shorter sizes. (The model looks long-waisted in both illustrations.) Center, Butterick 4431; perhaps its complex bodice design made it unsuitable for a shorter version.

I don’t know why dresses for larger women, like those on page six, below, were only aimed at women over 5′ 5″ in 1948.

Dresses for mature or large women, available to size 46. (The gray one was available up to size 50.) Shorter versions of these patterns were not mentioned. Feb. 1948.

Dresses for mature or large women, available to size 46. (The gray one was available up to size 50.) Shorter versions of these patterns were apparently not available. Feb. 1948.

It’s a mystery to me why a pattern company like Butterick did not always capitalize on the fact that many women — especially mature women — are both short and “stout.” You would think that women who are not standard sizes would be a perfect niche market for specially sized sewing patterns, but that isn’t the case here.  (Lynn at American Age Fashion has written about the development of “half-size” dresses and patterns several times.)

Butterick did sell such patterns earlier.  In the nineteen thirties,  Butterick had issued some patterns for “shorter women with larger hips.” In her History of the Paper Pattern Industry, Joy Spanabel Emery shows Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7586, from 1937; it is a “Frock for Shorter Women of Larger Hip.” See it at the Commercial Pattern Archive by clicking here. Another from BFN in 1937 was Butterick 7647, the gray dress shown below: dec 1937 BFn numbered no faces 500

Another pattern for Shorter Women of Larger Hip (No. 8014) was shown in the BFN for August 1938. I don’t have a complete run of Butterick Fashion News, but the idea of patterns for shorter women with larger hips appeared at least as early as February, 1933 (Butterick 4883.) See “Clothes for Clubwomen.” 

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/1933-feb-p-77-text-4883-shorter-figure-large.jpg?w=500

I find them as late as Feb. 1940 (Butterick 8790) in my very limited collection.

I haven’t found that phrase in my 1948 flyers, however.

Some of the 1948 dresses on page 7 came in either standard or “special” versions; the text at the bottom of the page taught  customers how to order:

Page 7, Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948.

Page 7, Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. A Star next to the number meant that the pattern could be ordered in short or standard versions.

Text, bottom of page 7. BFN Feb. 1948.

Text, bottom of page 7. BFN Feb. 1948.

Perhaps the “S” stood for “Special,” but I suspect that customers thought it meant “Short.”

In July, 1948, Butterick used the word “Petite” to describe these patterns. The expression may well have appeared earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed it applied to Butterick patterns — so far. It’s definitely an improvement over “Special.” Too bad they didn’t think of it in time to indicate these patterns with a “P” instead of an “S.”

Butte4rick Patterns for "Petite" women, Butterick News Flyer, July 1948.

Butterick Patterns for “Petite” women, Butterick News Flyer, July 1948.

Incidentally, it seems incredible to me that for decades Butterick assumed its average customer was 5′ 5″ or over, even in the nineteen twenties, when some of the most glamorous women in Hollywood were tiny:  Gloria Swanson was 5′ 1″. Clara Bow was 5′ 3 1/2″. “Little Mary” Pickford was just over five feet. Louise Brooks? 5′ 2″. Pola Negri? Five feet exactly. Greta Garbo was considered tall — and criticized for her wide hips and big feet — at five foot seven and a half. In the 1920’s Butterick patterns for “small women” were literally small — maximum bust about 37″ — when the normal pattern run fit sizes up to 44″ bust, with some patterns available up to size 52.

There is a great essay (with charts) about pattern sizing here; a chart from a very flawed government study shows that the average American woman was 5′ 3″ in 1937.

After World War II, more statistics were available and led to more specialized pattern sizing. The excellent Midvale Cottage blog (which I just discovered) says that Butterick introduced half sizes (for women under 5′ 5″ who were shorter-waisted and larger in the waist and hip) in 1949. Click here for her history of 1940’s pattern sizing.

I’ll share  more fashions from 1948 in later posts. [As often happens, when I started this post, I didn’t remember Butterick’s Shorter/Larger patterns from the 1930’s — even though I had mentioned them in other posts. As a result of proofreading and checking facts, this post kept getting longer…. Caution:  my sample of Butterick flyers is hardly conclusive for real scholarship — Just full of interesting things to share.]

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Resources for Costumers, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

What’s Cooking? Holiday Aprons, Mostly from the 1940’s

Holiday party aprons for little girls, McCall pattern 1281, from a needlework catalog for December 1946.

Holiday party aprons for little girls, McCall pattern 1281, from a needlework catalog for December 1946.

Back in the mid-twentieth century, before women wore casual slacks or jeans to do housework, the apron was a useful, and often elaborate, handmade gift. Aprons were not included in the rule that gifts of clothing were too intimate for anyone but family members. Pattern catalogs and women’s magazines usually featured apron patterns in November and December;  in my parents’ home, one sign that Christmas was approaching was the making of pajamas and aprons.

Holiday Aprons" from Woman's Home Companion, December 1937. Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7652.

“Holiday Aprons” from Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937. Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7652.

The elaborate backs of these aprons may be surprising to those of us who are used to modern, store-bought, unisex aprons. These were serious aprons that protected your dress.

Back views and text for Companion-Butterick apron pattern 7652. Dec, 1937.

Back views and text for Companion-Butterick apron pattern 7652. Dec., 1937. “Triad” meant three designs in one envelope.

This unisex apron set from 1950 shows the basic outline of inexpensive, utilitarian aprons like the ones in my kitchen today; in 1950 they were called “barbecue” aprons, and the idea of a man cooking and wearing an apron at home was no longer just a joke — although the gift aprons were often intended to be humorous.

His and Hers barbeque aprons. McCall pattern circa 1950.

His and Hers barbecue aprons. McCall pattern 1515, circa 1950.

This apron set, found in a McCall Needlework catalog from May, 1950, has elaborate appliques, and would probably have been intended as a gift set — made for a friend, or newlyweds, or intended to be sold at a charity bazaar.

Making aprons to sell at fundraisers is an old tradition. The Ladies’ Home Journal suggested making these aprons for a fundraiser during WW I:

Aprons to make for a Charity Bazaar; Ladies' Home Journal, October 1917.

Aprons to make for a Charity Bazaar; Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1917. (In 1917, some skirts also had a ruffle at the waist.) Many women still wore “pinner” aprons, without straps, like those at right.

Of course, when women made aprons for themselves, they might prefer a simple shape, bound in bias tape

Two versions of Butterick apron pattern 6874, from 1926.

Two versions of Butterick apron pattern 6874, from 1926.

… but frilly, sometimes silly, labor-intensive aprons were a staple of holiday gift-making.

McCall called this a "little girl look" apron. Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946.

McCall called this a “little girl look” apron. Pattern 917, McCall Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946, but first issued in 1941. [I can picture June Allyson in this one.]

You can see the pattern piece shapes for No. 917 from a copy in the CoPA collection; click here.

Aprons like the ones below, often decorated half-aprons, were called “cocktail aprons” or “bridge aprons,” [for hosting card parties] and were worn while entertaining, not cooking or washing dishes.

Apron decorated with sequinned hearts. McCall 1278, from a 1946 needlework catalog.

Apron decorated with sequinned hearts. McCall 1278, from a 1946 needlework catalog. I have also seen aprons with sequinned martini glasses on them….

Simplicity aprons No. 1805, dated 1956. Starching and ironing those ruffles would be time consuming.

Simplicity apron No. 1805, dated 1956. Starching and ironing those ruffles would be time consuming.

This dress, McCall 1312, made from sheer fabrics, might be a gift to a bride. It was a fantasy of housework.

This apron, McCall 1312, made from sheer fabrics and delicately appliqued, might be a gift to a bride. It evokes a fantasy of housework, unrelated to reality. 1950 needlework catalog.

I suspect that many fancy aprons were re-gifted and never worn (probably why so many delicate aprons survive in vintage collections.)

This one, decorated with Scottie dogs, is my virtual gift to The Vintage Traveler.

McCall Scottie dog apron, circa 1950.

McCall Scottie dog apron, before 1950. I prefer the version on the right.

Aprons and Sewing Classes

Many girls and women made aprons while learning to sew. A simple half apron was well within the abilities of elementary school students, and many a proud mother must have received an apron — far too pretty to wear — for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.

McCall apron 1096 -- probably a Valentine gift. From a 1946 needle work catalog.

McCall apron 1096 — an appropriate Valentine gift. Photographed from a 1946 needle work catalog, but it dates to 1943.

Simplicity aprons from 1956, pattern No. 1789.

Simplicity aprons from 1956, pattern No. 1789. Even a beginner could make version 4, or apply rickrack, as in version 3.

A Super-Successful Apron Pattern

I found three McCall needlework catalogs (1946 to 1950) at an estate sale; some apron patterns were so successful that they appeared year after year, so a three-digit pattern number is often an indication that the pattern pre-dates 1946. This one first appeared in 1941 and was still in the catalog for November, 1950 — nine years later.

McCall pattern 884, called the "Necktie" apron dates to 1941 and was still being offered in 1950.

McCall pattern 884, called the “Necktie” apron dates to 1941 and was still being offered in 1950 –and, possibly, later.

The Necktie apron — cut in many sections — had to be folded to be ironed correctly:

Necktie apron, McCall 884. It is shown folded for ironing at the left.

Necktie apron, McCall 884. It is shown folded for ironing at the left.

Necktie apron description form 1946 catalog.

Necktie apron description from 1946 catalog. Rickrack trim was applied behind its edges, so that only half the trim was visible. Other designs used rickrack more obviously:

Rickrack was applied to the top sides of these aprons, McCall 987, from 1942.

Rickrack was applied to the outsides of these aprons, McCall 987, from 1942. The tassels would be rather impractical.

Mother-Daughter Aprons

In the post-war period it was generally assumed that little girls wanted to grow up to be housewives, just like their Mommies. You could buy identical apron patterns for children and women, like these:

McCall apron pattern 1532, for women. May 1950 needlework catalog.

McCall apron pattern 1532, for women. May 1950 needlework catalog.

Child's version of McCall 1532 was McCall 1533.

The child’s version of McCall 1532 was McCall 1533.

This Butterflies apron was also available in a child's version. (From 1946)

This Butterflies apron was also available in a child’s version. (From 1946) McCall No. 1257.

A Daughter (or little sister) version of the Butterflies apron was McCall 1258.

A daughter (or little sister) version of the Butterflies apron was McCall 1258.

Once upon a time, little girls wore dresses all day, and protected them with aprons or pinafores. Women also expected a practical apron to protect their dresses from cooking spatters and laundry suds; except for their elaborate embroidery or appliques, these aprons would do the trick:

McCall 1209 covered most of the dress,

McCall apron No. 1209 covered most of the dress. 1940s.

Kitchen pet of the career girl -- this young apron ... completely covers the dress. Pinafore ruffles give the smart broad-shouldered look." McCall 1135.

“Kitchen pet of the career girl — this young apron … completely covers the dress. Pinafore ruffles give the smart broad-shouldered look.” McCall 1135. Circa 1945.

The apron below is really unusual — but I’ll save the other aprons with novelty pockets for another day!

A tulip forms a novelty pocket on this unusual, fasten-in-front apron. McCall 1403, from 1948.

A tulip forms a novelty pocket on this unusual, fasten-in-front apron. McCall 1403, from 1948.

Although it looks complex, this apron would lie completely flat for ironing — more practical than it looks.

1403-m50-p-44-text-tulip-novelty-pocket-front-tie-waist-coverall593

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re inspired to cook up something delightful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Menswear, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, World War I

Becoming Dresses and Maternity Gowns, 1930

"Smart Patterns and Becoming Maternity Gowns," Good Housekeeping, February 1930, p. 74.

“Smart Patterns and Becoming Maternity Gowns,” from Good Housekeeping, February 1930, p. 74.

You’d expect fashion coverage from 1930 to be interesting, as women were trying to adjust to natural waistlines and descending hemlines. Caroline Gray, writing in Good Housekeeping, combined her suggestions for the mature figure with suggestions for maternity fashions. (Can you guess which are which?)

“The new silhouette is definitely here! Waists are higher and skirts are longer, and whether we like it or not, if we wish to look smart we must try to adapt it to ourselves and make it becoming…. Find the exact place where a higher belt is most becoming to you and put it there, regardless of whether it is quite as high as the dresses you see…. Nothing will look truly smart on you unless it suits your figure…. When you are determining the length of your skirt, experiment until you find the exact spot where it will add the most to your height and slenderness, for that is what we all want to achieve this season.”

Good Housekeeping pattern F-7 was recommended in February 1930. Sizes up to 42.

Good Housekeeping pattern F-7 was recommended in February 1930. Sizes 34 to 42. Not a maternity fashion.

“A small bolero is always becoming and makes the higher waistline more bearable.” The band at the hips echoes the familiar line of the twenties, but it follows the line of the bolero instead of  running horizontally.

Pattern F-6 is also suggested as a transitional style for “mature” women:

Good Housekeeping pattern F-6 from February 1930, p. 74. The natural waist is there, but not accented.

Good Housekeeping pattern F-6 from February 1930, p. 74. The natural waist is fitted, but not accented. For sizes 36 to 42. The tunic gives both a short and a longer hemline.

Of course, looking tall and thin is a challenge for most women even when they are not pregnant. Many writers in the 1920’s assumed that a woman’s goal was to conceal her pregnancy as long as possible.

“Maternity clothes have two objects: One is to make your condition unnoticeable, the other is to give you every physical advantage possible…. At this time you do not want to be conspicuous in any way.” — From The New Dressmaker, a Butterick book, c1921, p, 72.

To this end, Vogue suggested, in June of 1930, that pregnant women simply buy chic dresses in a larger-than-usual size, and have the neck and shoulders altered to fit.

“At first, concealment is easily effected by any woman with an eye for dress, but, after the figure is obviously changed, it is still possible to achieve, sometimes to the very end, the effect of a normal figure…. One should try to create the illusion of the naturally heavy figure, rather than be conspicuous for a disproportionate one.” — (Vogue, June 1930, pp 83, continued on p 102.) [This is 1930’s “pregnancy shaming:” it was better to be thought “heavy” than pregnant.]

Vogue suggested these fashionable gowns, among others, for the expectant mother in 1930:

Suggested maternity fashions, Vogue, June 1930. The one on the right is a Vionnet tea-gown.

Suggested maternity fashions, Vogue, June 1930. The one on the left was from Bonwit-Teller; the one on the right is a Vionnet tea-gown available from Jay Thorpe.

I’ll devote a later post to Vogue‘s other “just buy a bigger size” 1930 maternity suggestions.

Here are the maternity styles suggested by Good Housekeeping in 1930:

Maternity gown suggestions, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1930, p. 74.

Maternity gown suggestions, Good Housekeeping, Feb. 1930, p. 74.

The article did not offer a pattern, or say that this suit and rather formal surplice dress could be purchased ready-made.

gh-text-two-maternity-dresses-1930-feb-p-200-end-of-article-proquestdocuments-2016-09-14

It’s hard to imagine how these dresses could be expanded enough, although the assumption was often made that you would constantly open seams, as your shape changed,  and remake the dress as needed from wide seam allowances.

“It is much better to choose current styles that can be adapted to maternity wear and use them in preference to the special maternity clothes…. The slight alterations [!] that you make for maternity use can be changed back to normal lines after the baby is born.” (The New Dressmaker, circa 1921. Page 72.)

There Were Clothes Specifically for Pregnancy

Dressmaker Lena Bryant had found a market niche back in 1905, when her private clients began asking for maternity fashions (She used elastic in the waistbands, among other  devices for making them expandable.)

Lane Bryant ad for maternity corset, Ladies Home Journal, December 1917, p. 112.

Lane Bryant ad for maternity corset, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917, p. 112.

“By 1904, [Lena] Bryant was successful enough to open her own shop on Fifth Avenue at 120th Street. In the process of obtaining a loan from Oriental Bank, her first name was misspelled, giving birth to “Lane Bryant.”

“Bryant soon turned to producing dresses as well as undergarments for pregnant women, who had a difficult time finding stylish clothes that fit well. Bryant designed a maternity tea dress, called “Number 5” after its place on the order form. According to Figure, no newspaper would run advertisements for her maternity dresses–it was against the mores of the day for “ladies in waiting” to appear in public. When Bryant finally managed to have a small ad run in the New York Herald, she sold out of maternity dresses the day it appeared.” — from Funding Universe  (My McAfee security says it blocked ads from this site.)

Ad for the Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Delineator, March 1917. p. 43.

Ad for the Lane Bryant maternity catalog, Delineator, March 1917. p. 43. “Portraying the prevailing New York fashions, but so adapted as to successfully conceal condition….Fit when figure is again normal.”

The Lane Bryant mail-order catalog passed $1 million in sales in 1917. (Oddly, that was an era that favored thick waists, very full skirts, and smock-type overblouses — one of the rare times when mainstream fashion was perfectly suited to accommodate pregnancy.) Lane Bryant promised that their dresses would “automatically adjust” to fit after the baby was born — making them a good investment.

Chanel styles 1916 from Fashion through Fashion Plates by Doris Langley Moore.

Chanel styles, 1916, from Fashion Through Fashion Plates by Doris Langley Moore.

Teen-aged girls, circa 1918. Waists were thick and skirts were full.

Teen-aged girls in California, circa 1918. Waists were thick (and high) and skirts were full.

However, of the many decades when fashion was cruel to the chic pregnant woman, the early nineteen-thirties may hold the crown. These are maternity dresses. (Seriously.) The mores of the publishing industry meant that they could not be illustrated on a visibly pregnant body.

Woman's Home Companion, August 1936

The illustration shows three versions of Companion-Butterick maternity dress pattern 6948, from Woman’s Home Companion, August, 1936.  To read more about it, see Who Would Ever Guess?

A long, slender ideal silhouette plus soft, clinging fabrics, narrow hips, flat tummies, and (often) a decorative belt at the natural waist — combined with the idea that pregnancy was shameful and had to be concealed — must have made pregnant women feel frustrated in the thirties. Talk about an impossible ideal!

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Corsets, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

A Three-Pattern Wardrobe for Teens and Twenties, March 1936

Companion-Butterick patterns 6629 and 6623, for teens, twenties, and small women. Woman's Home Companion, March 1936/

Companion-Butterick patterns 6629 and 6623, for teens, twenties, and small women. Woman’s Home Companion, March 1936.

These Spring dresses for “Teens and Twenties” are pretty sophisticated. Either would be a good choice for the office, as well as for the campus. Both have yokes that continue into the sleeves, a modest flare near the hem, and flattering vertical lines in their skirts.

Pattern 6629 has an unusual pointy design in the bodice — I think it’s a terrific look, and would also work with the yoke and sleeves in a lighter color than the body of the dress —  a very flattering style if you want your shoulders to look wider and your hips to look narrower.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6629 looks casual with short sleeves in a printed fabric; it looks dressy in a solid material with longer sleeves. WHC, March 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6629 looks more casual with short sleeves, made in a printed cotton fabric; it looks dressy in a solid material (“blue-green silk crepe”) with longer sleeves. WHC, March 1936.

text-6629-whc-1936-mar-p-75-teen-three-pattterns-two-ways-6629-6623-btm

Look at the interesting backs of 6629 and 6623:

Back views of pattrens 6629 and 6623.

Back views of patterns 6629 and 6623. In these alternate views, the sleeves are wrist length. Dresses like these would usually have a concealed side seam closing under the left arm.

 

Companion-Butterick pattern 6623, WHC, March 1936, p. 75

Companion-Butterick pattern 6623, WHC, March 1936, p. 75. another versatile pattern — sporty or business-like. One has a square neckline, the other has a collar and a soft bow.

text-6623-whc-1936-mar-p-75-teen-three-pattterns-two-ways-6629-6623-btm

The “town” version of this pattern is a classic: variations of this dress with a yoke and stitched-down pleats were available in almost every decade that followed. Here’s a 1950’s Vogue pattern with yoke and pleats;  Here‘s a 1970’s Chanel;  a 1980’s Chanel,  a Vogue pattern from the 1980’s,  a YSL from the 1990’s….

I’m not absolutely sure what “size 20” translates to in 1936 — probably a 38 inch bust, since many patterns say “sizes 12 to 20; ladies 38 to 44.” Ladies’ sizes were sold by bust measurement and were for women over 5′ 4″ or so — as if women were never both short and in need of a 42″ bust measure….

In 1936, the Butterick sizes that I checked on the CoPA site were:

Size 14: Bust 32″, Waist 27, Hip 35

Size 16: Bust 34″, Waist 28, Hip 37

Size 18: Bust 36″, Waist 30, Hip 39

In addition to these dresses, WHC recommended this town or country suit as the third pattern for a six part wardrobe:

Companion-Butterick pattern 6648, March 1936, was for young women sized 12 to 20. Woman’s Home Companion.

Companion-Butterick pattern 6648, March 1936, was for young women sized 12 to 20. There are town and country versions. Woman’s Home Companion. The suit is navy blue wool with a “yellow chamois” blouse.

text-6648-whc-1936-mar-p-74-town-country-three-patterns-2-ways-6648-text-btm

The idea behind all three patterns was that, by making two versions of each, you would have a complete wardrobe of casual and dressy outfits. You could even combine the suit jacket with the dresses. And it’s true that making two dresses from the same pattern is a real time-saver. Once you have finished one dress from a pattern, the second version, in different fabric, goes together very quickly.

article-text-left-whc-1936-mar-p-74-town-country-three-patterns-2-ways-6648-text-btmarticle-text-right-whc-1936-mar-p-74-town-country-three-patterns-2-ways-6648-text-btm

 

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Blouses for Evening, November 1936

Butterick patterns chosen for the Woman’s Home Companion were almost always cost-conscious. These “Gay Blouses” featured in November of 1936 are illustrated in evening materials, to be worn with a long velveteen skirt. They require very little material — as little as one yard and a quarter.

Make a Gay Blouse from a Little Material," Woman's Home Companion, November 1936, p. 80

Make a Gay Blouse From a Little Material,” Woman’s Home Companion, November 1936, p. 80. Illustration signed McCuskin.

“How would you like to wear something glamorous and different to your next theater party or concert? If so, here is a practical suggestion. Make one of these formal blouses. You can do it in short order for the patterns are easy. And what is more, they require very little material. A remnant as short as one and one quarter or no longer than two yards is all you need for any one of them in size thirty-six.

“Here is a chance to indulge your taste for the most luxurious metal cloth, the softest satin, the richest velvet or the newest cloque. Any material shows to advantage in these simple designs.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7074, dated 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7074, dated 1936.

500 text 7074 whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7082 7078 7074

The Commercial Pattern Archive has Butterick pattern 7074, so you can see other views by clicking here.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7082, from Nov. 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7082, from Nov. 1936.

500 text 7082 whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7082 7078 7074

“Smart women are wearing them with short sleeves to afternoon parties and even to dinner dances with their long-skirted suits. However, long sleeves are also included in the patterns.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7078 from 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7078 from 1936. I’m assuming that the large clip/brooch at the neck is optional jewelry.

500 text 7078 whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7082 7078 7074

Katharine Hepburn wore an outfit  with open sleeves (rather like pattern 7078) in the movie Christopher Strong, in 1933. It was issued as Butterick Pattern 5156.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7076 from November 1936, WHC.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7076 from November 1936, WHC. The squares at the neckline are probably not decorative buttons, but a pair of dress clips, a jewelry style popular in the nineteen thirties and forties.

500 7076 text whc 1936 nov p 80 gay blouse 7076

“There may be an extra skirt already hanging in your closet. If not, plain black, brown, or wine-colored velveteen would complete a rich-looking costume, deceptively rich-looking when you consider the small quantity of fabric and the simplicity.” — Woman’s H0me Companion, November 1936, p. 80.

Alternate views of patterns 7072. 7074, 7076, and 7082. 1936.

Alternate views of patterns  7078, 7082, 7074, and 7076.  WHC, Nov. 1936.

Elsa Schiaparelli had begun experimenting with textured fabrics in 1933, like this “boldly crinkled rayon crepe fabric called ‘treebark.’ ” (From Shocking: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, by Dilys Blum.)

Elsa Schiaparelli began using matelasse and other textured crepe fabrics in the early 1930s.

Elsa Schiaparelli began using matelasse and other textured crepe fabrics in the early 1930s.

An evening blouse made of a textured fabric — especially if it had metallic threads — would be quite chic.

The models’ close-to-the-head hairstyles are also interesting. Two of them appear to have long hair that has been rolled up at sides and back.

Rolled hair styles, Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Rolled hair styles, Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Their flat crowns would be compatible with the brimless hats of 1936.

 

 

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You Can’t Have Too Many Jackets: 1937

Companion-Butterick pattern 7459 for three jackets; Woman's Home Companion, July 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7459 for three jackets; Woman’s Home Companion, July 1937.

“It is literally true that you can’t have too many jackets. Marjorie Howard reports that many of Schiaparelli’s clients are ordering just one evening gown and from three to six different jackets to wear over it. A young friend of mine who has spent most of her life in Paris and who knows fashions as well as the alphabet is going about these days in a simple black crepe dress varied by a series of different colored jackets. In Palm Beach last February jackets were extremely popular. All of which adds up to this: one spectator sports dress, one general daytime dress and one evening dress plus several jackets each, practically give you a summer wardrobe. And that’s a cheering fact, whether you consider it from the economical or dressmaking angle.” — Ethel Holland Little,  Women’s Home Companion, July 1937.

Although it’s not referred to as a “Triad pattern,”  the buyer got three different jacket patterns in Companion-Butterick No. 7459.

Companion-Butterick 7459 for a wool jacket. July 1937.

Companion-Butterick 7459 for a wool flannel jacket. July 1937.

500 7459 text gold flannel 1937 july p 57 three jackets #7459

Companion -Butterick 7459 pattern for a taffeta evening jacket. July 1937.

Companion-Butterick 7459 pattern for a taffeta evening jacket. July 1937.

500 7459 text flowered taffeta 1937 july p 57 three jackets #7459

The jacket fashion that appeared repeatedly in 1937, however, was the bolero — a term which now meant a jacket that ended above the waist.

Companion-Butterick 7459 pattern for a bolero jacket. July 1937.

Companion-Butterick 7459 pattern for a bolero jacket. July 1937.

500 7459 text bolero 1937 july p 57 three jackets #7459

Here is an early 1930’s Schiaparelli bolero jacket from the Metropolitan Museum collection:

Schiaparelli bolero jacket, early 1930's. Metropolitan Museum Collection.

Schiaparelli bolero jacket, early 1930’s. Metropolitan Museum Collection.

Elsa Schiaparelli was still making bolero jackets in 1940; this beaded jacket came in coral pink or in a blue version:

Beaded bolero jacket and evening gown, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1940. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Beaded bolero jacket and evening gown, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1940. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Mainbocher showed this bolero-topped suit in 1938.

Paris designer Lucile Paray showed this fur-trimmed bolero and evening gown combination in 1937:

An evening bolero and gown by Lucile Paray, illustrated in Woman's Home Companion, December 1937, p. 100.

An evening bolero and gown by Lucile Paray, illustrated in Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937, p. 100.

This bolero jacket pattern was suggested for young women or teens in April 1937:

Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7296 shows a low-backed summer dress with matching bolero jacket. Woman's Home Companion, April 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7296 shows a low-backed summer dress with matching bolero jacket. Woman’s Home Companion, April 1937.

For more 1937 jacket and dress patterns for teens and twenties, click here. These two jackets were also featured in April of 1937:

Companion-Butterickp[atterns 7303 and 7307, April 1937. Woman's Home Companion.

Companion-Butterick patterns 7307 and 7303; Woman’s Home Companion, April 1937. Bolero jacket on the right.

In May, the Woman’s Home Companion gave a full page to this dress with a matching or contrasting short jacket which ties at the waist:

Companion-Butterick pattern 7359, Woman's Home Companion, May 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7359, Woman’s Home Companion, May 1937.

Here it is with contrast trim:

Companion-Butterick 7359 bolero dress variation.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7359 bolero dress variation.

Companion-Butterick 7359, WHC, May 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7359, WHC, May 1937.

These illustrations for jacket dress No. 7359 show how bolero jackets in different colors could diversify a small wardrobe. [I.e., the white jacket could be worn with the brown and white or the blue and white print dresses, as well as with solid colors; the rust brown jacket could be also worn with the black dress, etc. The easy-to-make bolero could make one dress look like many in the same way as a set of collars.]

Companion-Butterick pattern 7504 went from casual summer sports clothes to an evening gown. June 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7504 would make casual summer sports clothes or an evening gown. June 1937. All versions included a bolero jacket.

500 7405 whc cb pattern teens twenties

For older readers, a bolero was combined with a halter-top evening dress, especially suitable for cruises and summer resorts. This pattern was available up to Bust measure 44 inches.

500 7407 text pattern infoWHC 1937 june wear at sea patterns

Companion-Butterick pattern 7407, for a bolero and halter-top dress. Woman's Home Companion, June 1937.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7407, for a bolero and halter-top dress. Woman’s Home Companion, June 1937.

500 7407 text WHC 1937 june wear at sea 7407

The combination of evening dress and jacket was also called a dinner suit. A bolero evening jacket, if made in fine linen or silk shantung instead of taffeta, could also be worn with day dresses. Again, the bolero in different colors gives variety to a limited vacation wardrobe — and only takes one and a half yards of fabric.

Maybe the reason I’m attracted to light-colored bolero tops with darker dresses is that the style is flattering to women who have narrow shoulders and wide hips. Even when the bolero was the same color as the dress, it was recommended for minimizing the hips:

Bolero tops were recommended for flaltering the woman with wide hips. The text applies to the blue outfit at right.

Bolero tops were recommended for flattering the woman with wide hips. The text applies to the blue outfit at right, Companion-Butterick pattern 7303 from 1937.

“Everything about this (the wide sleeves, the contrasting top, the short jacket length) tends to add width above the waist giving [the woman who has two or three surplus inches at the hips] a well-proportioned silhouette.”

A Sheer Vintage Bolero

It might be fun to try to copy this vintage evening bolero, which has two layers of stiff organdy, each layer made of  two layers of fabric treated as one and bound with a bias strip. This garment was badly in need of washing — it was originally white. You can see the deep armhole, which makes it a bolero, rather than a little cape.

A vintage thirites' bolero made in two layers.

A vintage thirties’ bolero made using two double layers of organdy.

Two layers of organdy were seamed at the right angle of the lapels, turned, and pressed, instead of being bound. There was no center back seam.

lg V230 needs wash, may have stain

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing