Category Archives: Dating Butterick Patterns

Summer Dresses from Butterick, July 1918, Part 1

Dresses, skirts and blouses, Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine, July 1918, page 52.

Dresses, skirts and blouses, Butterick patterns in Delineator magazine, July 1918, page 52.

This color page of dresses (and blouses and skirts) from Delineator magazine shows a change in silhouette, from full to narrower skirts. (Tubular Twenties ahead!) Here are designs by Gabrielle Chanel, dated 1916 [from Doris Langley Moore’s Fashion through Fashion Plates via Quentin Bell] :

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/chanel-1916-bell-plate-39-from-fashion-through-fashion-plates-doris-langley-moore.jpg?w=500

And here is a Delineator sketch of an influential Chanel suit from January 1925 — very a different silhouette.

Chanel design, January 1925, as sketched by Soulie in Delineator.

(You can read about the “Tubular Twenties” here.)

I’ll show the July 1918 images in greater detail below, but first, a few words about underwear and the “ideal” figure.

Ideal figures, July 1918, were thick in the waist, low in the bust, and slightly swaybacked

Ideal fashion figures in July 1918 were thick in the waist, droopy in the bust — even with the model’s shoulders thrust back — and slightly swaybacked.

I’m always unnerved by the emphasis on thick waists and low busts of this period. (How is is possible for a slender young woman to have such a low bust? — The explanation is two-fold: the exaggerations of fashion illustrators, and 1917-1918 corsets and brassieres.)

Corsets for Fall, 1918. Sears catalog.

Corsets for Fall, 1918. Sears catalog.

The brassiere of the World War I era was more likely to smash the breasts than to lift them. The corset of the “teens” did not reach (or support) the breasts at all. It extended down over the thighs and pushed the body very flat in front, causing a posture which made the waist higher in the back and lower in the front, as you can see from these 1917 skirt illustrations.

Women's skirts, Perry Dame catalog, 1917. The waists dip low in front and rise high in back

Women’s skirts, Perry Dame catalog, 1917. The waistlines dip low in front and rise high in back.

Skirts, blouses and dresses, from July 1918 show the oddly high waist in back.

Skirts, blouses and dresses, from July 1918 show the oddly high waist in back.

The beautiful vintage blouses of this period (sometimes called “Armistice blouses”) are often so short in back that they have to have a tail of fabric added before they can be worn without the corset. Otherwise, they won’t stay tucked in.

This vintage "Armistice blouse" is much shorter in back than in front.

This vintage “Armistice blouse” is shorter in back than in front, even allowing for its position on the hanger. It has not been altered; the ties are original.

The thick waists of the WW I era can be interpreted as a reaction to the tiny waists of the previous generation (Here’s Princess Maud in 1906.) (We tend to reject the clothes our mothers wore. Imagine wearing a 1926 dress in 1938…. or a 1906 dress in 1918.)

The page of color fashions (p. 52)  had a half-page of black and white ones, along with all their descriptions, on page 53.

Butterick patterns from page 53, July 1918.

Butterick patterns from page 53, July 1918. Nos. 9932, 1035, and 1037. The two on the right are heavily embroidered.

This month in 1918 marked the start of a new Butterick pattern numbering sequence, from 9999 to the 1000s.

I’m afraid the colors are overexposed in my photos, but still worth looking at. For those who want details, I’ll show each outfit with its original pattern description at the bottom of this post.

Butterick 9992 and 9447, July 1918. Delineator.

Butterick 9992 and 9447, July 1918. Delineator. Belts that crossed over and buttoned in front were a distinctive feature of the “teens.”

Butterick 9989 and 9990, July 1918. Delineator.

Butterick 9989 and 9990, July 1918. Delineator. The dress on the left has a “Peter Pan” collar — very different from the Peter Pan collar of the 50s.

Butterick 9986 and 9973, July 1918. Delineator.

Butterick 9986 and 9973, July 1918. Delineator. There was nothing but fashion to prevent a shapely girl from wearing her belt (or her basque bodice) tighter….

Buttrerick 1005, July 1918. Page 52. Delineator,

Butterick 1005, July 1918. Page 52. Delineator. That’s almost a 1920’s cloche hat.

Dress Details 1918

In case anyone is inspired to recreate these fashions, here are the original descriptions and alternate views.

The high collared blouse fell out of fashion around 1912, when bare necks became acceptable, (cf Lucy Barton, Historic Costume for the Stage) but the V-neck in daytime was a new idea in 1914, so most of these patterns show a high-necked alternative for conservative women.

Butterick 9992, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9992, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. “For women 15 or 50.”

Butterick 9947, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9947, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. Transfer 10686 is the pattern for the bag, which seams to have a figure in a kimono on it.

Bag, Butterick transfer pattern 10686 from 1918.

Bag, Butterick transfer pattern 10686 from 1918.

Butterick 9989, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9989, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9990, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9990, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. A “delightful new shirt-dress.”

Left, Butterick 9986, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Left, Butterick 9986, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. It has a side seam opening.

Butterick 9973, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9973, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1005, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1005, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. “It slips on over the head,” like many of the 1920’s dresses that followed.

Butterick 9932, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 9932, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. Without the optional shirring, it becomes an Empire line dress. For maternity wear, perhaps?

Butterick 1035, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1035, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. This style was available up to bust 46 inches, and the scarf-like “bretelles” end in pockets. Transfer 10674 is the embroidery design.

Butterick 1037, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52.

Butterick 1037, July 1918. Delineator, p. 52. The front panel could be asymmetrical. I’m surprised this dress is not shown without its tabard-like top layer.

More dresses in color from 1918 to come….

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Bras, Corsets, Corsets, Dating Butterick Patterns, Foundation Garments, World War I

A Paris Wardrobe for Summer 1928 from Butterick Forecast Patterns

This final (?) set of eight patterns, identifiable as “Forecast” patterns only because of their peculiar numbering, were illustrated by L. Frerrier, like previous Forecast patterns. Crowded on to one page this time, each pattern was shown in equal-sized front and back views. Nothing in the text explains why they cost a dollar each — twice as much as any other Butterick patterns.

Forecast patterns from Butterick, June 1928. Delineator, p. 42. L. Frerrier, illustrator.

Forecast Wardrobe patterns 12 A through 12 H from Butterick, June 1928. Delineator, p. 42. L. Frerrier, illustrator.

The bathing suit, 12 A, is shown with a variation of caped coat 12 E.

Forecast wardrobe patterns 12 A bathing suitand 12 E coat. Butterick, June 1928.

Forecast wardrobe patterns 12 A bathing suit and 12 E coat. Butterick, Delineator, June 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12A text500 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12E coat450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12E text

Frerrier has cleverly illustrated the back/alternate views made up in different fabrics from the front views, turning eight patterns into sixteen illustrations

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 B, Delineator, June 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 B, Delineator, June 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12B text

Butterick Foreccast Wardrobe pattern 12 C, Delineator, June 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 C, Delineator, June 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12C text

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 D, Delineator, June 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 D, Delineator, June 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12D text

Butterick Forecarst Wardrobe pattern 12 F, Delineator, June 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 F, Delineator, June 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12 F text

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 G, Delineator, June, 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 G, Delineator, June, 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12G text

The “new cord-narrow straps” on the slip (called spaghetti straps in the 1960s) — not to mention the depth of the V in back — would make it impossible to wear a 1920’s brassiere under this dress.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 H, Delineator, June 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 12 H, Delineator, June 1928.

450 1928 june p 42 paris wardrobe 12H textThe coat’s front cape, which wraps around over the shoulder, must have been a nightmare for the coat-check girl who had to put it on a hanger. It was customary for dresses with side panels or irregular hems to hang out under the evening wrap, as they do here — a look which in other eras would have been dismissed as “draggle tailed.”

None of these patterns was available in sizes bigger than a 40 inch bust measurement.

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Filed under 1920s, Bathing Suits, Dating Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Vintage patterns

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe for Spring, 1928

Butterick issued eight more “Forecast” patterns, at $1.00 each, in March of 1928. Although the illustrations were large, the accompanying text was quite brief.

The two-page spread was titled “The Forecast Wardrobe Lays Complete Plans for Spring.” Butterick pattern numbers 11 A through 11 H cost $1.00 each, twice as much as normal, four-digit Butterick patterns cost in 1928. L. Frerrier did the illustrations again, but there was no lavish background scenery. In fact, I find this set of patterns rather unexciting.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns 11 from Delineator, March 1928, p. 30.

Daytime fashions: Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns 11C, 11D, 11B and 11A from Delineator, March 1928, p. 30.

Evening fashions: Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns from Delineator, March 1928, pg. 31.

Evening fashions: Butterick Forecast Wardrobe patterns 11 F, 11 G, 11 H, and 11 E, from Delineator, March 1928, pg. 31. Illustrations by L. Frerrier.

A “Wardrobe” pattern from the 1960’s or 1970’s usually included tops, skirts, trousers or shorts, and a jacket or coat, so that the buyer could plan a large, color-coordinated wardrobe. The daytime coat 11 B was intended to be worn with the blouse/skirt/vest pattern 11 A, but not necessarily with any other patterns in this series.

Butterick Forecast Pattern 11 A. March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Pattern 11 A. March 1928. The wrap skirt does not have a waistband; instead it hangs from the shoulders on a slip- or chemise- like “underbody.” The “scarf” is part of the back yoke and collar.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 B, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 B, March 1928. Perhaps because it’s intended for spring, the coat cannot be fastened.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 C, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 C, March 1928. This “formal sport frock” is really a tunic and a separate skirt.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 D, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 D, March 1928. In the twenties, a “bolero” was often hip length, and, like this one, part of the dress, not a separate jacket. This would definitely look better with a fox fur “scarf,” since the neckline is very plain.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 E, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 E, March 1928. The diagonal “surplice” closing was often recommended as “slimming” to the woman who wore larger sizes. This pattern was available up to size 44 inch bust, with a 47.5 inch hip.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 F is a moire taffeta evening dress, March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 F is a moire taffeta evening dress, March 1928. By 1928, snug hip bands like this, with a blouson effect above them, were quite chic.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 G, a lace evening gown, from March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 G, a lace evening gown, from March 1928. High-in-front-low-in-back hems hint that a change in length is coming. This dress would look very different with pleats (“plaits”) rather than ruffles. Note the tight hip.

BUtterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 H, an evening coat with raglan sleeves. March 1928.

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe pattern 11 H, an evening coat with raglan sleeves. March 1928. You can see a line of gathers (shirring) on the sleeves. 7/8 length coats were another sign that hem length was in transition in 1928.

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Dating Butterick Patterns, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe for January 1928

Butterick’s Delineator magazine featured an eight pattern “Forecast” wardrobe (at $1.00 per pattern) in January of 1928. (However, unless you needed two evening dresses and two evening wraps, you would only need 6 patterns for the “wardrobe.”) The illustrations, by L. Frerrier, used the SS Ile de France for background. Although Frerrier illustrated all the sets of Forecast Wardrobe patterns for Delineator, this two page layout was the most elaborate.

Daytime Fashions of the Forecast Wardrobe

"Daytime Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe," Butterick 10B, 10F, 10A and 10 C, Delineator, Jan. 1928

“Daytime Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe,” Butterick 10B, 10F, 10A and 10 C, Delineator, Jan. 1928, page 30.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 B, January 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 B, Butterick, January 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10B coat text

Incrustations” seems to mean applied trim.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 F, Butterick, 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 F, Butterick, 1928.

451 1928 jan p 30 special forecast patterns 10F text

Forecast Wardrobe pattren 10 A, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 A, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10A text sports frock

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 C, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 C, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10C frock text

The vestee can be seen in the opening between the lapels of the tunic. It is “on the bodice which holds the skirt.” The skirt is suspended from the shoulders, and does not have a waistband. Again, a cluster of artificial flowers trims the shoulder.

Evening Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe

"Evening Forecast Wardrobe Patterns 10 D, 10H, 10E, and 10G, Butterick. Delineator magazine, January 1928, page 31.

“Evening Patterns of the Forecast Wardrobe,” Butterick 10 D, 10H, 10E, and 10G;  Delineator magazine, January 1928, page 31.

Forecast Warddrobe pattern 10 D, Butterick, January 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 D, Butterick, January 1928.

451 1928 jan p 31 special forecast patterns 10D text evening

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 E. Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 E. Butterick, Jan. 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10 E wrap text

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 G, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 G, Butterick, Jan. 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 H, Butterick, Jan 1928.

Forecast Wardrobe pattern 10 H, Butterick, Jan 1928.

451 1928 jan forecast 10 G gown and 10 H wrap text

Usually, the uneven hemlines of the nineteen twenties were allowed to hang below the hem of the coat, but in this case, the dipping hem of the coat is designed to match and cover the “high in front, low in back” hem of the “robe de style” evening gown. The “robe de style,” with its relatively snug bodice and full skirt, is usually associated with designer Jeanne Lanvin. In lightweight taffeta it was often suggested for bridesmaids and young women, but in velvet or dramatic colors  it was a “grand entrance” gown for sophisticated women.

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Filed under 1920s, Dating Butterick Patterns, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns

Butterick Forecast Patterns, Fall 1927

I promised more details about Butterick  “Forecast” wardrobe patterns. Butterick’s Delineator magazine gave just one page to patterns 8 A through 8 D in October of 1927, and one page to patterns 9 A through 9 D in November. The fact that they cost $1 each — and had very strange pattern numbers — wasn’t mentioned. [But I still need to revisit those volumes….]

Incidentally, there is no consistency about these pattern numbers — the illustration might use a hyphen (9-A), while the text said (9A) and a space might be used in Delineator‘s pattern list (9 A). I wonder what the pattern envelopes said….

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe Patterns, October 1927

Butterick Forecast patterns 8 A through 8D, Delineator, p. 26, October 1927.

Butterick Forecast patterns 8 A through 8 D, Delineator, p. 26, October 1927. “The Smart Woman sees Each Costume as a Part of the Whole Wardrobe.”

Some recommended accessories were illustrated and described along with the patterns.

Butterick pattern 8 A, Delineator, Oct. 1927.

Butterick pattern 8 A, Delineator, Oct. 1927. Her bag seems to match her scarf.

8A 500 text1927 oct p 26

Butterick pattern 8 B, for a complex but lovely evening dress.

Butterick pattern 8 B, for a complex but lovely evening dress. Chartreuse Georgette fabric was suggested.

A large bar pin sits below the V neckline.

text 8B 1927 oct p 26 The purse, shoe, stockings, and optional flowers or necklace were also illustrated.

Two flowers made of organdie could be attached to the shoulder of the evening dress, or a necklace could be worn. 1927.

Two flowers made of organdie could be attached to the shoulder of the evening dress, or a fringe necklace of gold could be worn. 1927.

At first, I thought the necklet was inspired by Egyptian revival lotus buds, but you can see that they are individual long and short beads.

Very sheer stockings for evening wear might still have  pattern (called a “clock”) on their sides.

Sheer stockings for evening wear. Delinator, Oct. 1927.

Sheer stockings for evening wear. Delinator, Oct. 1927.

These nearly identical clocked formal stockings appeared in an ad for Kayser Hosiery three years earlier.

Sheer stockings with "clocks" for formal evening or bridal wear. Ad for Kayser Hosiery, Nov. 1924.

Sheer stockings with “clocks” for formal evening or bridal wear. Ad for Kayser Hosiery, Nov. 1924. Stockings were often matched to the color of the dress in the twenties.

 

Butterick pattern 8 C, October 1927, Delineator.

Butterick pattern 8 C, October 1927, Delineator.

frock 8C text 1927 oct p 26

A bag for daytime use, Oct. 1927 Delineator.

A bag for daytime use, Oct. 1927 Delineator.

top rt shoe glove1927 oct p 26 accessories and wardrobe 8A 8D 8C 8B not listed in chart top RThe bag and “slipper” (shown below) could be suede, lizard, or kid. The color of the gloves should match the color of the “guimpe” [a false blouse or dickey] under the dress. Fox fur “scarves” or neckpieces were widely worn, even with very lightweight, summery fabrics. Below, pattern 8 C is shown under the wrap coat, but made in a lighter color.

Butterick coat pattern 8 D from Delineator, Oct. 1927.

Butterick coat pattern 8 D from Delineator, Oct. 1927.

8D text coat 1927 oct p 26

Butterick Forecast Wardrobe Patterns, November 1927

top text1927 nov p 26 forecast wardrobe 9D 9C 9B 9A and accessories btm

BUtterick Forecast patterns 9 A through 9 D, Delineator, November 1927.

Butterick Forecast patterns 9 A through 9 D, page 26, Delineator, November 1927.

Outfits with the blouse trimmed in the skirt fabric appear often in Delineator illustrations from the late twenties. Pattern 9 A strikes me as probably unflattering to any woman, but it does look nice as an Art Deco drawing….

Butterick pattern 9 A, from Delineator, p. 26, November 1927.

Butterick pattern 9A, from Delineator, p. 26, November 1927.

9A text 1927 nov p 26 forecast wardrobe 9D 9C 9B 9A and accessories btmDresses with applied trim like this one were often made from two fabrics in the same color but of contrasting textures (e.g., velvet and silk), so the bands on the bodice would be a subtle change of texture rather than of light/dark values as illustrated here. Double-sided silk crepe used with matte and shiny sides out was popular.

BUtterick 1775, Dec. 1927, and 1705, Oct. 1927. Delineator magazine.

These dresses use both the matte and shiny sides of double-sided crepe satin. Butterick 1775, Dec. 1927, and 1705, Oct. 1927. Delineator magazine.

The skirt of 9A  is described as “two piece” and “flared front;” during most of the twenties, the back of a skirt or dress was cut straight, with all of the fullness — and walking ease — in the front. See the “front flare” coat below.

Butterick coat pattern 9 B from Delineator, Nov. 1927, p. 26.

Butterick coat pattern 9-B from Delineator, Nov. 1927, p. 26.

450 text coat 9B nov 1927 nov p 26 forecast wardrobe 9D 9C 9B 9A and accessories btm

Accessories for Nov. 1927.

Accessories for Nov. 1927. Delineator, p. 26.

The “Oxford” shoe above left was recommended for wear with dress 9A, and the three-toned shoe and envelope purse at right are suggested for dinner dress 9C, below:

Butterick 9 C with matching jacket for dinner or bridge. Delineator, Nov. 1927.

Butterick 9C is a sleeveless gown with matching jacket for dinner or bridge. Delineator, Nov. 1927. The wide rhinestone “necklace” and “cuffs” are not jewelry, but part of the dress and jacket. I love the sporty — but rhinestoned — jacket!

450 9C dinner 1927 nov p 26 forecast wardrobe 9D 9C 9B 9A and accessories btm“The embroidery in necklace and bracelet outline is new and important.” In the same month, Delineator showed this drawing of a “Necklace Dress” by couturier Jean Patou; the “necklace” was actually trim on the dress:

A "necklace dress" by Jean Patou, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1927. The three-strand false "necklace" is trim applied to the dress.

A “necklace dress” by Jean Patou, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1927. The three-strand false “necklace” is trim applied to the dress.

 

Butterick pattern 9 D from Delineator, Nov. 1927.

Butterick pattern 9-D from Delineator, Nov. 1927.

450 dress 9D1927 nov p 26 forecast wardrobe 9D 9C 9B 9A and accessories btmBias panels joined by fagoting were associated with Vionnet. This diagram gives you an idea of how it works:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/black-dress-squares.jpg?w=500The panels were connected by horizontal stitches over a space of an eighth to a quarter inch or so, leaving a tiny part of the undergarment visible. It meant the panels could move (slightly) independently. The dress would be worn with the bias in a vertical position. See a later vintage dress with fagoting as trim here.

Vionnet also used pin tucks to create diagonal lines across the front of dresses like this one, dated 1926-27 in the Metropolitan Museum collection. You could use double lines of pin tucks instead of fagoting to recreate Butterick 9-D.

 

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Filed under 1920s, bags, Dating Butterick Patterns, Dresses, Gloves, handbags, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

Dating Butterick Patterns Site Has Been Updated

Cover of Butterick Fashion News, October 1962. Image courtesy of PatternVault at ETSY.com

Cover of Butterick Fashion News, October 1962. Image courtesy of PatternVault at ETSY.com. Butterick pattern 2452 dated 1962.

My project for dating vintage Butterick patterns using Butterick Fashion News flyers (Click here for an explanation) has some new information, thanks to the input of generous readers. I finally have some pattern numbers for 1962, thanks to Sarah at the Pattern Vault, and I’ve been able to fill in some missing information for other years, too. (Thank you, Monica, at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas.)

Cover of Butterick Fashion News, July 1962. Image courtesy of PatternVault at ETSY.com.

Cover of Butterick Fashion News, July 1962. Image courtesy of PatternVault at ETSY.com. Butterick pattern 2343, from 1962.

I’ve been neglecting my search for covers of Butterick Pattern News lately, because the pattern dating at the Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) is so comprehensive. However, if you have a vintage Butterick pattern that looks 1920’s through 1970’s and want to date it, my numerical charts  at witness2fashion.com are easy to use. If you go to witness2fashion.com, under Dating Butterick Patterns 1937 -1977 you will find a chart like this one — but larger and easier to read.

Dating Butterick Patterns 1934 -1977 chart from witness2fashion.com.

Dating Butterick Patterns 1934 -1977 chart from witness2fashion.com.

You can see from this chart that simply by listing the date of a Butterick News Flyer and the number of the pattern on its cover, a numbering sequence can be established. Of course, some patterns remain available for sale in stores for a very long time, but if you’re not sure whether a pattern is late 1930s or early 1940s, for instance, this chart can help.

At witness2fashion.com earlier patterns are listed on another page:  Butterick patterns 1920’s to 1937. Click on those charts to enlarge them.

I’m especially grateful to Sarah, because I still have a few years without any data from Butterick Fashion News covers, and she was able to supply us with numbers from 1962, an important year.  Butterick pattern numbers  reached the high 9900s by November of 1961, so re-numbering was due to begin in 1962. Thanks to Sarah, we now know that the new number sequence (1962) seems to have begun in the two thousands, skipping the one-thousands.

Some years have no information at all from Butterick Fashion News covers. witness2fashion.com

Some years — like 1953 and 1963 — have no information at all from Butterick Fashion News covers — yet. Detail of Chart from witness2fashion.com

For some years — like 1953, 1955, and 1963 — I have not found any BFN covers, but we can deduce that the 6000 series began again in 1952, since No. 5934 was for sale in January 1952. Did numbers in the 1960’s 3000 series begin in 1963 or 1964? It would be nice to fill in that two-year gap from October 1962 (No. 2452) to October 1964 (No. 3288.) If you have a cover from a “blank” year, please send the date and front cover pattern number(s) to witness2fashion at gmail.com. Sarah scanned the covers, enabling me to share them.

In 1973, Butterick reached the end of the 6900s in March and began renumbering in the three thousands in April.

Renumbering begins in 1973. Cover pattern numbers from Butterick Fashion News.

A new numbering cycle began in mid-year, 1973. Cover pattern numbers from Butterick Fashion News.

Starting a new number sequence before reaching 9999 is sometimes triggered by a new logo or pattern envelope format.  Jumps in sequence (renumbering) like this are one reason that a chart is helpful in dating undated patterns. Another potential source of confusion is that the same numbers are reused every few years. (For example, Butterick pattern numbers beginning with five thousand were issued in 1924-25, 1933-34, 1949-52, the late 1960’s – early 1970’s, and again in the late 1970’s!)  I have not systematically collected numbers earlier than 1924 — so far– but a new numbering sequence, ending the 9990’s and starting again in the 1000’s, began around July 1918:

Pattern views from Delineator, July 1918. The end of the 9000's number sequence is side by side with the new 1000s sequence.

Pattern views from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1918. The end of the 9000’s number sequence is side by side with the new 1000’s sequence.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1960s-1970s, bags, Dating Butterick Patterns, Dating Vintage Patterns, Gloves, handbags, Hats, Purses, Resources for Costumers, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

A Lament for Bound Periodicals

Cover of Delineator magazine, April 1917. Color illustration by Maud Humphrey.

Cover of Delineator magazine, April 1917. Color illustration by Maud Humphrey.

I am still amazed to the discover full color fashion illustrations in magazines that are 98 years old, or even older.

Look at the unexpected notes of muted red in the embroidery on this blue dress:

Detail, Delineator cover, April 1917.

Detail, Delineator cover, April 1917.

Hem embroidery, April 1917.

Hem embroidery, April 1917.

The Past Was Not Dressed in Black and White

Most of the movies and photographs that we have for the early 20th century are in black and white. It’s hard not to think of the nineteen twenties and early thirties in shades of gray, because, in the photos we have, we can’t see that a “black” dress is actually red, or burgundy, or blue, or green; or that a pale dress is not white but peach, yellow, or aqua, etc.

This is how a page from a 1925 copy of Delineator magazine would look on black and white film or microfiche:

Delineator, April 1925, photographed in gray scale.

A page from Delineator, April 1925, photographed in gray scale.

But this is what those old Delineators really looked like;  there were several pages of full-color fashion illustrations in every issue:

A color page from Delineator, April 1925.

The same page as it actually appeared in Delineator, April 1925.

When you see it in black and white, the suit on the lower right seems to actually be black and white — but the blouse is vivid yellow. The hem of the red dress “reads” as black when you can’t see the color. The beading on the black dress is reddish, too.

Bound Periodicals Replaced with Black and White Film

There is a wealth of costume history and color information in old periodicals, but sadly, many libraries got rid of their bound periodical sections and replaced them with microfilm and microfiche about ten years before the digital revolution. Today, it’s possible to make full-color scans of old magazines (if you still have any), but the big, old, heavy, bound volumes of magazines are long gone; often black and white photos of their pages are all that libraries have.

When you can get your hands on a vintage fashion magazine, many of the illustrations look like this:

Delineator, June 1926, p. 29, photographed from a bound periodical in the library.

Delineator, June 1926, p. 29, photographed from a bound periodical in the library.

But this is what they look like when you read them on microfilm:

The way it would look on microfilm.

The same illustration converted to black and white. Would you guess that one dress has green roses on it? That the dress in the lower left is not black?

Why I Became Witness2Fashion

Originally, I thought I would write mostly about the 1950s and 1960s — because I was a “witness” to the fashions of those years. I was just becoming aware of clothing and its social impact then; I can remember exactly when I wore certain outfits, because I was young and had many milestones — first dance, first capri pants, first grown-up suit, first jobs, important interviews, etc. I can also remember which styles from the period looked stodgy and middle-aged to me at twenty, and what occasions called for hats and gloves.

McCall's pattern 7981, 1965.

McCall’s pattern 7981, 1965. Classy, but by 1965 a little “mature” for a college senior like me. The models are young, but chic women in their fifties also wore suits like this.

I handle a lot of clothing patterns, not always dated, and I expected to verify the memories they evoked by going to the library and looking through magazines from my youth: Seventeen, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Vogue, etc. I have access to both a major urban library system and a large university library. But . . . .

Information Was Lost in Translation to Black and White

. . . most of those magazines are now only available as microfilm or microfiche! They’re preserved in black and white — color fashion magazines, stripped of their colors. Knowing that half the information that used to be there is missing really takes the pleasure out of a library visit. (Neither library subscribes to Vogue online.) And black and white versions of color fashion photos do lose much of their information. If you need proof that red and green look the same when reduced to black and white :

Cover of Maureen Valdes Marsh's book 70s Fashion Fiascos. Converted to black and white, the lettering is all the same gray.

Cover of Maureen Valdes Marsh’s book 70s Fashion Fiascos. Converted to black and white, the lettering is all the same gray, and the caftan loses most of its impact.

Also, for the benefit of anyone under forty, I’ll explain that it is very uncomfortable for those of us who wear glasses with bi-focal or graded lenses to read a vertical microfilm screen. With all graded lenses, you’re expected to look down to read and straight ahead to focus on things that are far away. This works for driving — but not for reading a vertical screen one foot away! I physically can’t spend hours reading that way.

So I switched my focus — in both senses — to the remaining vintage fashion periodicals that I could find.

Butterick’s Delineator Magazine, 1900 to 1937

Delineator cover, February 1933.

Delineator cover, February 1933. The illustrator is probably Dynevor Rhys. Vintage color combinations are sometimes unexpected, like this hat. Makeup styles are also documented in color.

At the main library I discovered a huge treasure trove of really old Delineator magazines still in the form of full-size bound periodicals that had not been converted to microfilm. My library has a complete set of Butterick’s Delineator magazines from 1900 to 1937. They were not converted to microfilm, possibly because The Delineator stopped publication in 1937. The library stores them in a basement off-site, but will bring volumes to the reserve desk with one day’s notice.

I also discovered that, from the early 1920’s to 1937, Butterick put a list of each month’s new pattern numbers at the back of Delineator magazine,  which meant that those “undated” Butterick patterns could be dated — something not possible before. I made it my project to collect the numbers and publish my research online. (See Dating Butterick Patterns 1920s to 1937 by clicking here.)  The results can be found at witness2fashion.com.

Of course, I couldn’t help reading some of the magazines! At first I intended to photograph a few of the the color pages;  then I became fascinated by the ads, and the black and white pattern illustrations; I started taking photos of some of the longer articles to read later . . . .

My project kept growing. Trained to do academic research,  I wanted to compare the Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator with contemporary patterns pictured in other available bound periodicals, like Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s Home Companion. My computer is getting very full of images!  I’ll share as many as I can.

“Got Anything Valuable?”  in Vintage Advertisements

I was taught to regard advertisements as a valuable source of primary research, because they often show occupational dress and stereotypical clothing far removed from high fashion. Here are a few informative ads in color:

"Customs Inspector: 'Got anything very valuable in this trunk?' The Traveler: 'I should say so . . . . A whole carton of Chesterfields." Cigarette ad, July 1928. The Delineator.

“Customs Inspector: ‘Got anything very valuable in this trunk?’ The Traveler: ‘I should say so . . . . A whole carton of Chesterfields.’ ” Cigarette ad, July 1928. The Delineator.

Her big, orange scarf with green accents transforms a quiet camel suit and matching shoes. I expect The Vintage Traveler to covet that travel blanket. Could it be a Pendleton?

Camel Cigarette Ad, July 1928.

Camel Cigarette Ad, July 1928. This ad offers a fantasy of country club life. Ads are aspirational, always implying that using the product will improve your life and possibly raise your social status.

A costumer will note the different shades of blue (not gray or black) on the gentlemen’s jackets, worn with light tan or gray slacks, and a pink pocket square.

Ford was later than other manufacturers to introduce closed cars. This is one of a series of Ford advertisements aimed at women:

April 1924 Ford Ad for Closed Car.  Delineator. A "Woman in Business."

April 1924. Ford Ad for a Closed Car. A “Woman in Business,” but not a secretary; this is her office. From Delineator.

“Her habit of measuring time in terms of dollars gives the woman in business keen insight into the true value of a Ford closed car for her personal use. . . . inexpensive operation and upkeep convince her that it is a sound investment value. And it is such a pleasant car to drive. . . .”

Ad for Elgin watches, December 1928.

Full color ad for Elgin watches, December 1928. Costumers need to know about period accessories.

If you’ve just started reading witness2fashion, it may seem like I hop around from era to era.

I do, on purpose, following whatever trail catches my eye — zippers, corsets, makeup, accessories . . . . I like them all!

I Love the Colors of the Past

There are fashions in color, as well as in styles. Some color combinations or seasonal colors may surprise us.

To end where I started, here are several color illustrations from Delineator, 1917 —  almost a century old.  Images like these are a reason I treasure (and want to share bits of) those bound periodicals that escaped conversion to microfilm.

February 1917, Delineator, page 51.

February 1917, Delineator, page 51. The dress on the right looks like blue-violet changeable taffeta.

Up close, you can see the pastel print on the black dress, and the pink tassels on the blue one. Orange chiffon dresses with black and white trim are not a common sight nowadays:

Details, February 1917, Delineator, page 51.

Details, February 1917, Delineator, page 51.

The ladies below wear cocoa, tan, brilliant blue-green or reddish brown, no longer “Spring” colors to us,  with some rather remarkable hats:

Feb. 1917, Delineator, p. 52.

Feb. 1917, Delineator, p. 52.

Up close, you can see the colors in the prints lining the white stole and used in the rust-red dress and hat:

Detail of color illustration, Feb. 1917.

Detail of color illustration, Feb. 1917. Is that a Valkyrie on the right?

These are fashions for January, 1917. It’s nice to know that the blue hat and bag are blue,  not black.

January 1917, Delineator, page 40.

January 1917, Delineator, page 40. The vivid red and blue contrast would be lost in a black and white photo.

Detail, Jan. 1917, Ddelineator. The red and blue dress has embroidered pockets.

Detail, Jan. 1917, Delineator. The red and blue outfit has embroidered pockets; so does the pumpkin-brown dress.

“Here’s Looking at You, Kid”

Delineator, Feb. 1917.

Hats from Delineator, Feb. 1917.

 

 

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