Category Archives: Dating 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.jpgThe 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

Three McCall Hat and Bag Patterns Popular 1946 through 1950

These three hat and bag patterns were so popular that they appeared in McCall Needlework catalogs  for several years.

McCall pattern 1294, Hats and Bags

McCall hat and bag pattern 1294, from the December 1946 Needlework catalog.

McCall hat and bag pattern 1294, from the December 1946 Needlework catalog. This pattern was still being sold in November, 1950.

According to the Commercial Pattern Archive, McCall 1294 was issued in 1946.

MC 1294 text dec 1946346

“Hand-made hats, bag, with the “custom” look. Rows of machine stitching give these hats style and body. Stitched bag has hand strap or shoulder strap.” [One of the good things to come out of WW II was the popularity of hands-free, over-the-shoulder purses, suitable for busy women who carried their own packages and took public transportation.]

you can see the topstitching of mcCall 1294 more clearly here. Note the back strap which holds the hat in place.

You can see the topstitching of McCall 1294 more clearly in this enlargement. Note the period back strap which holds the hat in place.

McCall 1294 from the November 1950 catalog.

McCall 1294 from the November 1950 catalog. This pattern first appeared in 1946.

In the two 1950 Needlework catalogs I have, only the top two illustrations were used.  Hat styles were changing, along with hair styles, but the bags are classic shapes — a compact 7 1/2 inches high by 9 inches wide.

McCall pattern 1262, Handbags

McCall pattern 1262, for a a set of handbags, also had longevity; it, too first appeared in 1946.

McCall handbag pattern 1262, from 1946, and still in the catalog in 1950.

McCall handbag pattern 1262, from 1946, and still in the catalog in 1950.

McCall 1262 description.

McCall 1262 description. “You need never become a One-bag Woman!”

Views A and C close with a slide fastener, i.e., a zipper. Trapunto quilting, as on C, involves putting extra padding under the design, so that it is a raised pattern with stitching around it. Click here to see trapunto on a bed jacket. The sequinned bag at right is for evening. View C is “very dressy.”

McCall 1204, Hats for Girls

These hats for girls also appeared for at least four years, starting in 1945.

McCall pattern 1204, Girls' hats, dates to 1945.

McCall pattern 1204, girls’ hats, dates to 1945.  View C needs a back strap to stay perched on the head, just like some adult hats.

Here’s a closer look at the top four images — that jaunty feathered hat seems pretty sophisticated:

This enlarged image is from the November, 1950 McCall needlework catalog. No. 1204.

This enlarged image of No. 1204 is from the November, 1950 McCall needlework catalog, although the pattern was first released in 1945.

View C was called a “pancake hat” in 1945. It reminds me of a bellhop’s cap. It was also called a “pillbox” hat.

MC 1204 text girl hats top 1204 text

“Left-over pieces from Sister’s dress or coat can be used to make her a matching fabric hat.” “For school, for gadabout, for prettying up! Most casual of the three is the little brim hat (A) that fits the head closely.” It’s very similar to 1294 (B), the equally popular adult pattern, although the crowns are constructed differently.

McCall hat pattern #1294 for women, from 1946, and #1204, from 1945, for girls.

McCall hat pattern #1294 for women, from 1946, and #1204, from 1945, for girls.

Imagine: a world where little girls routinely wore hats — as did their fathers.

These girls’ hats are from Sears — 1945. Women who wanted to make hats at home from sewing patterns used cloth, because making a shaped felt hat usually requires equipment not available to the home stitcher.

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Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Children's Vintage styles, Dating Vintage Patterns, Hairstyles, handbags, Hats, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Zippers

Christmas Gifts to Sew for 1936: Lingerie, Robe, Pajamas, Nightgown

For some folks, the approach of Thanksgiving is a reminder to start making Christmas presents — if you didn’t start last summer.

The Personal Touch in Pattern-Made Gifts

"The Personal Touch in Pattern-Made Gifts." Woman's Home Companion, Dec. 1936, pp. 70-71

“The Personal Touch in Pattern-Made Gifts.” Companion- Butterick patterns in Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1936, pp. 70-71

If you were a reader of The Woman’s Home Companion, this two page spread in the December, 1936, issue might inspire you to sew gifts for members of your family or close friends:  a personalized set of matching panties, slip and nightgown; a classic robe/negligee, or lounging pajamas.

Companion Butterick patterns, Woman's Home Companion, Dec. 1936, p. 70.

Companion-Butterick patterns, Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1936, p. 70.

Companion-Butterick patterns, Woman's Home Companion Dec. 1936. Page 71.

Companion-Butterick patterns, Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1936. Page 71. Illustration by Mortimer.

If you didn’t feel up to that much work — or have enough time — you could always run up a few aprons.

Companion-Butterick apron pattern #7114: Christmas Aprons, Dec. 1936.

Companion-Butterick apron pattern #7114: Christmas Aprons, Dec. 1936. Illustration by Ernst.

Matching Panties, Slip, and Nightgown, 1936

Companion Butterick patterns 6835 (panties and bra) and wrap slip (6847.) WHC, Dec. 1936.

Companion Butterick patterns 6835 (panties) and wrap slip (6847.) WHC, Dec. 1936.

whc 1935 dec p 70 500 panties slip 6835 6847 text

There’s no mention of bias binding. The slip is a “wrap-around,” although the line drawing doesn’t show how the bodice closes. The nightie has a pretty back:

Back views of slip 6837, nightgown 6835, and panties 6847. Companion-Butterick patterns, Dec. 1935.

Back views of slip 6837, nightgown 6835, and panties 6847. Companion-Butterick patterns, Dec. 1936. Bra not included.

The closely fitting nightgown, Pattern 6837, has a lovely back view, but I can’t figure out how a midriff that tight could be pulled on or stepped into. Perhaps it has a snap opening on the side seam — or it doesn’t fit as tightly as illustrated.

Companion-Butterick nightgown pattern #6837. WHC, Dec. 1936.

Companion-Butterick nightgown pattern #6837. WHC, Dec. 1936.

You’d need to cut your own bias strips from that 3/8 yard of contrasting material. [The owner’s name is embroidered on the front of her nightie. In former times, this was useful for sorting family laundry. In the age of casual “hook-ups” with strangers, putting a name on one’s nightgown might prevent some embarrassing “morning after” moments….]

whc 1936 dec p 70 text 500 nightie undies slip 6835 6837 6847

Although “A fresh printed silk crepe was our choice for the three-piece lingerie set embroidered with a young girl’s name,” remember that “…peach-colored silk crepe with lace is lovely as ever…. Any one piece of the set would make a regal gift…. The wrap-around slip in bright-colored taffeta — royal blue, bottle green, or rust — is sure to please a friend who follows the latest fashions. For someone else make it of black satin, her tiny initials embroidered in white.”

Companion-Butterick patterns, 7109 (negligee) and 7122 (pajamas.) Woman's Home Companion Dec. 1936. Page 71.

Companion-Butterick patterns, 7109 (negligee) and 7122 (lounging pajamas.) Woman’s Home Companion, Dec. 1936. Page 71.

whc 1936 dec p 71 text 500 negligee robe 7190 7122 pajamas text

The “negligee” (No. 7109) could be made in double-faced silk crepe, with the body of the robe in matte silk and the collar, facings, and sash using it shiny side out. [Edited 11/22/15:  See a robe like this at Glamourdaze.] Or it could be made as a warm, wool flannel robe; a flash of contrasting color is inside the sleeves. The pajamas seem to be intended for lounging, rather than sleeping: “Velveteen for the blouse … and trousers,” or with a “satin blouse,” or with both pieces in satin. The buttons, as shown, are velveteen-covered and enormous; “blue and purple are the last word in chic…,” but these pj’s would also be luxurious “all in lilac-blue satin with pearl buttons.”

whc 1936 dec p 70 text 500 robe negligee and pajamas

Negligee pattern 7109 and lounging pajamas pattern 7122. Cmpanion-Butterick patterns from WHC, Dec. 1936.

Negligee pattern 7109 and lounging pajamas pattern 7122. Companion-Butterick patterns from WHC, Dec. 1936.

The Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) has another pajama pattern in this number series, Companion-Butterick No. 7116, which looks more suited for sleeping. Click here to see it. If you haven’t heard of CoPA, read about it here. [EDIT 9/2/19:  the “Sample” feature is gone, but you can set up a login at CoPA for free and access the entire archive. Donaations are appreciated, but there is no membership fee.] You can “Sample” its pattern search for free. Select a year, and pattern illustrations from many companies appear. For a chronological look at everyday fashion, CoPA is hard to beat.

Christmas Aprons, 1936

More suitable for a less intimate friend, or for sale at a Christmas Bazaar, are these aprons, made from Companion-Butterick pattern 7114.

Three aprons, Companion-Butterick [attern 7114, WHC, Dec. 1936.

Three aprons, Companion-Butterick Pattern 7114, WHC, Dec. 1936.

The idea that everything related to Christmas has to be red, white, and green had not taken hold in 1936, so these gift aprons could be worn all year round. Two of them are finished with contrasting bias binding; the one in the middle is trimmed with rick-rack.

Back views, Apron 7114. 1936.

Back views, Apron 7114. 1936.

Two tie in back; the one on the right slips on over the head. Bust sizes 32 to 48 inches.

whc 1936 500 christmas aprons 7114 text

Apron pattern 7114 looks less fancy on the pattern envelope:  no rickrack. Using the rickrack so that only half of it shows is a lovely 1930’s touch. Click here for a vintage waitress uniform that uses this technique.

 

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Dating Vintage Patterns, lingerie, Nightclothes and Robes, Resources for Costumers, Slips and Petticoats, Underthings, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Women in Trousers

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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More About Dating Butterick Patterns Online

Dating Butterick Patterns Online: witness2fashion.com Has Been Updated

Butterick Fashion News cover, May 1960, featuring pattern 9366. By 1961, a new 4-digit number series was beginning.

Butterick Fashion News cover, May 1960, featuring pattern 9366. By 1961, a new 4-digit number series was beginning.

A year ago, I found a way to date Butterick patterns using Delineator magazine (published by Butterick) and later Butterick publications, and posted my results at witness2fashion.com. Click here for my original post explaining my Delineator methodology. For Part 2, click here.

Now the pattern number chart for Butterick Fashion News from 1937 to the 1970s has been updated, so the blanks are slowly being filled in. Go to witness2fashion.com for charts of the Butterick pattern numbers published monthly in Delineator magazine from the 1920s to 1937 (click here) or for a chart of Butterick Fashion News flyer covers from the late 1930s to the 1970s (click here.)

Monthly Butterick Fashion News flyers like the one above were given away by fabric stores, so it is possible to date Butterick patterns — roughly — by following the sequence of numbers that appeared on the cover of each issue. (Butterick resisted putting copyright dates on its patterns until late in the 20th century.) Here’s a small portion of the resulting chart:

A small portion of the Butterick Fashion News chart relating pattern numbers to dates.

A small portion of my Butterick Fashion News chart relating pattern numbers to dates. April 1936 was an anomaly; otherwise, the numbers are sequential, in spite of large gaps in my data.

This is an ongoing project; I especially want to find flyers from 1962 and 1963, because pattern number 9968 appeared on the Butterick Fashion News cover in November 1961. A new sequence of four digit numbers began soon after that, but I haven’t found any flyers from December 1961 to October 1964 (when pattern No. 3288 was on the cover).  It would be nice to have proof that renumbering began with a 1000 series in January 1962.

By Nov. 1961, Butterick was running out of four-digit numbers. Numbering must have begun again with 1000  in December 1961 or early 1962.

By Nov. 1961, Butterick was running out of four-digit numbers. Numbering must have begun again with a 1000 series in December 1961 or early 1962.

Times When Butterick Number Sequences Started Over:

Butterick decided to start a new number sequence in 1926, jumping from the 7000’s (in September 1926) to the 1000’s in October. In mid-1940, Butterick ended its 9000 series and began re-using numbers in the 1000’s in July or August.

I found those 1940’s numbers by searching for Butterick Fashion News  flyers that were for sale online and writing down the number of the pattern on the front cover. I can’t buy them all, but here are a couple (before and after re-numbering started) from my own collection:

Butterick Fashion News for February 1940 featured Ski Suit Pattern No. 8793.

Butterick Fashion News for February 1940 featured Ski Suit Pattern No. 8793.

In February 1940, pattern numbers had reached the 8700’s. Re-numbering started that summer. By the end of 1942,  less than three years later, the new series of pattern numbers had reached the 2300’s:

Butterick Fashion News cover for December 1942. This is dress pattern #2306.

Butterick Fashion News cover for December 1942. This is dress pattern #2306.

If you have a Butterick Fashion News flyer from 1961, 1962 or 1963, I’d love to see a clear photo or scan of its cover, showing month, year, and pattern number. Please E-mail to witness2fashion at gmail.com.  (the records for 1953 and 1955 are also blank, in case you have one.)

It’s also possible to date Butterick and other patterns by using the Commercial Pattern Database (CoPA), but this site does not allow you to search by pattern number. You can how their sample [how] their search works by clicking here.     [Edited for typing error 1/13/2015.]

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More About Marian Martin, Anne Adams, Alice Brooks, and Their Sisters

Butterick ad, The Delineator, July 1926.

Butterick ad, The Delineator, July 1926.

Last year I wrote about my suspicions that many mail order patterns — sold under different names — were really all produced by one company. (Click here for Vintage Mail Order Patterns:  One Big Family?)

Marian Martin wardrobe pattern # 9346. This is a half-size pattern. I think these patterns, which appeared in newspapers, appealed to older women.

Marian Martin wardrobe pattern # 9346. This is a half-size pattern. I think these mail order patterns, which were offered in newspapers, appealed to older women, like my stepmother. As a teenager, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about her using them for my clothes.

Today I received a comment on that post from quilt historian Wilene Smith, whose research was quoted in a source I mentioned, although I had not found her original article. Today,  she sent me a link. Her wonderfully thorough research on the company that created all these “competing” lines of quilt, needlework, and fashion patterns can be read at her blog,  Quilt History Tidbits. Click here. It’s well worth reading, even if you don’t collect vintage patterns. If you do, it’s a goldmine of information.

A Marian Martin pattern from the 1930s. The name, Marian Martin, appeared on the translucent waxed envelope.

A Marian Martin pattern from the 1930s. The name, Marian Martin, appeared on the translucent waxed envelope instead of on the printed instruction sheet. Courtesy of RememberedSummers at Ebay.

Wilene gives starting dates for Anne Adams patterns (June 1931), Marian Martin patterns (July 1931), Alice Brooks patterns (November 1933), Laura Wheeler needlework patterns (April 1933) and one I hadn’t heard of, Claire Tilden garment patterns (April 1934.) They were all generated by one company with several mailing addresses in New York city.

Alice Brooks pattern #7442 with mailing envelope dated 1968.

Alice Brooks pattern #7442 with mailing envelope dated 1968.

All of these pattern companies — Anne Adams, Marian Martin, et al — were featured in newspapers, which sometimes sold them under their own name (see Becky Stott’s Pattern, at American Age Fashion. The pattern that belonged to Becky Stott was sold under the name of the journal “The Progressive Farmer.” )  The remarkable thing about these patterns is that, by creating different names for its many pattern lines, the company that produced them all was able to sell them through competing newspapers in the same cities;  in the case of The Wisconsin State Journal, the same paper sold both Alice Brooks patterns and Marian Martin patterns. (See Wilene’s article, Laura Wheeler and Alice Brooks.)  The parent company was a major pattern producer, with hundreds of employees and two large buildings in New York. Wilene Smith located a 1976 interview which said a single newspaper ad could generate 58,000 orders!

Anne Adams pinafore dress pattern #4946. I had a high waisted jersey top like this in 1971 or 72. I wore it open, over jeans

Anne Adams pinafore dress pattern #4946. I had a high- waisted cotton knit top like this in 1971 or 72. I wore it open, over jeans

Anne Adams patterns had a long run, beginning in the 1930s. The style dates the one above to the late 60s or early 70s.  The 1940s Anne Adams pattern below might have suited Rosie the Riveter:

A Vintage 40s Anne Adams overall pattern.

A vintage 40s Anne Adams overall pattern. Courtesy of RememberedSummers at Ebay.

The Marian Martin brand began in the 1930s and was still selling patterns in 1963:

Marian Martin pattern 9495 mailed in 1963.

Marian Martin pattern #9495 mailed in 1963.

Now, thanks to painstaking research by Wilene Smith, we can trace all these pattern brands to their source, and follow them through the hands of the original Reader Mail company based in New York, to distribution by Hearst’s King Features Syndicate, Inc., to becoming a Hearst subsidiary as Hearst Patterns in 1980, and then becoming Reader Mail, Inc.  later that year. It was eventually bought by Simplicity, and sold again in 2000.

This Reader Mail pattern (#4120) was postmarked 1998.

This Reader Mail pattern (#4120) was postmarked 1998. In 2000, Ms. Smith traced Reader Mail to an address in Michigan which had a catalog of over 300 discontinued patterns.

“The Reader Mail name was first found on . . . mailer envelopes in 1984, around the time the company was sold to Simplicity Pattern Company and moved to Niles, Michigan,” writes Wilene Smith.  She then traces the company through other changes; in 2005 the owners were PatternCentral, which bought it for the quilt and needlework patterns. At that point, they were trying to find a buyer for the unused 1960s and 70s fashion patterns included in their purchase from Simplicity! As I said, Wilene Smith’s article is well worth reading.

Wilene Smith has identified a couple of designers’ names, but this question remains:  was there a difference in style between the various lines?

The Kestrel Makes blog has contacted a former Reader Mail editor and you can read her interviews and more about Reader Mail at kestrelmakes.com  Click here for the second part of the interview with Helene, who discusses the Reader Mail illustration style and other surprising things about their operation. [edited 1/6/15 to add link.]

Sew happy!

 

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CoPA: The Commercial Pattern Archive

All three of these undated patterns were dated to 1974 using the CoPA Sample data search. What a great reminder that 1960s styles influenced fashion well into the 1970s!

All three of these undated patterns were dated to 1974 using the CoPA Sample data search. What a great reminder that 1960s styles influenced fashion well into the 1970s!

If you are interested in costume history or vintage sewing patterns, you will probably enjoy a visit to this amazing website. The Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) is a searchable database — with pictures — of more than 56,000 vintage patterns.  It gives you access to vintage patterns from several collections:  46,500 patterns from the 1840s through 2000 in the collections of the University of Rhode Island; plus many patterns from the Kevin L. Seligman Collection at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (18,000 items!)  and patterns from individual collections and other museums. More patterns are being scanned and added regularly.

Parallel Worlds with a Common Interest in Fashion History: Collectors, Costumers, and Theatrical Designers

The CoPA site is a project of the Costume Commission of the USITT. (The United States Institute for Theatre Technology.) Theatre Technology isn’t just about lighting instruments and scenery materials; over the years, the Costume Commission — people who design and build costumes and teach costume history, etc. — has become its largest (and a very active) division. As a former member (now retired) of the USITT, I’d like to introduce the resources of USITT to members of the Vintage Fashion Guild, costume re-creators, vintage collectors and other researchers. We all have a lot in common!

You Can Sample CoPA Searches: Give It a Try!

UPDATE 1/24/2018: Since this post was written, the CoPA site has changed; according to Joy Spanabel Emery, whom we all need to thank for her work on this project, the full benefits of the site are now available without a paid subscription! You can now search by pattern number, and have access to the entire online archive. You do need to subscribe. And, if you use this site, a donation would help to keep it being enlarged and maintained.

She wrote, “Since the CoPA database is now available at no cost, the Sample option is no longer necessary. At present an enrollment form is necessary for access. The from can be downloaded from the website…. We are now relying even more heavily on volunteers and financial donations to the Joy Spanabel Endowment Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.

I urge you to try this amazing archive of vintage patterns! The Log In page will allow you to download the subscription form. Click here.

[DELETED: Although you may want to subscribe in order to make full use of the scanned patterns and the entire CoPA collection,  you can access sample searches by clicking here. LINK IS DEAD ] There is a lot of information available to anyone — for free. If you want an overview of patterns and fashions from, say, 1920 to 1929, just scroll down to 1920 and then hold Shift as you scroll to 1929. If you want to see every sample in that time period, leave all the other settings on “Any.” If you want to limit your search to a certain type of garment (e.g. bathing suits) or a specific designer, or just one pattern company, or a keyword (e.g., “halter,” “corset,” or “pedal-pushers,”) that is also possible. If you want to search the whole archive, select all the Collections, the same way you select a range of dates.  DELETE: You can do repeated sample searches for free. CoPA says this gives just a sample of the collection, but I was able to date five of my undated Vogue designer patterns in a few minutes. (They happened to be included in the collection. However, you can also use the search to place your pattern within a number sequence, even if you don’t locate that specific pattern.)

It is now (2018) possible to search for a specific pattern number from most companies.

REVISED 1/24/18; SEE ABOVE or CLICK HERE for the new, 2018 CoPA Home page. If you want to take advantage of the entire collection and be able to see images of the pattern pieces as pictured on the envelope, so that you can drape a version of the pattern on a mannequin, you will need to subscribe, but the subscription only costs about $10 a month (Minimum of 4 months. There are Group Subscription Rates, too. See below.) REVISED: 11/6/18: Membership is FREE! However, donations will help to continue expansion.

Explore the CoPA Site for More Great Information

Read about the history of  CoPA site at PROJECT.  ON the 2018 site: ABOUT US or NEWS .

The FAQ explains how the patterns were dated and answers other Frequently Asked Questions about the archive. INSTRUCTIONS will help you to use the search engine and to print images. [Note: The USITT member who showed me this site says that MAC users sometimes have problems; the sample search works wonderfully with my PC.]  PARTNERS  is especially interesting because it lists several other pattern collections in the United States, Canada, and England, with summaries of their specialties, plus contact and visiting information. Some of these collections are represented in the CoPA Archives. You may discover a collection near you; for example, the Sterling Historical Society in Sterling, MA has “a good representation of very early Butterick patterns and papers.” The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has 18,000 patterns and pieces of fashion ephemera that belonged to USITT member Kevin L. Seligman. These collections can be visited by appointment. [Note: some of the Partners information is being revised. CoPA is an active, growing database.]

More Information about the Commercial Pattern Archive

Here is some other information from Joy G. Emery at the University of Rhode Island, who has been working on the CoPA project for many years:

“All proceeds from the subscriptions are used to pay student assistants working in the archive. In addition to the patterns we have an extensive collection for fashion and tailoring materials that are available to visiting researchers.
“Unfortunately subscribers can’t search with a specific pattern number. But looking at the pattern company and year(s) (determined by the style of the fashion), it is easy to determine what year the specific pattern number was issued.
“We don’t include separate numerical lists of each pattern company’s numbers. However, there is an option to view a list of 200-plus company numbers for the patterns in the Archive by hiding the images.
“Questions about group membership – and any other questions regarding the database or archive can be referred to  jemery@uri.edu .”

Book to Watch For: A History of the Paper Pattern Industry

A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution, by Joy Emery, will be published at the end of May by Bloomsbury.  This should be of great interest to collectors and fashion historians. Thanks to Joy for sharing all this information in her book and on the CoPA Database, for generously including her own pattern collection in the database, and for her help in checking this post for accuracy.

 

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Website for Dating Butterick Patterns, Part 2

Dating Butterick Patterns, 1937 to 1977, at witness2fashion.com

Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938, pattern #7757

Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938, pattern #7757

In Part 1, I showed how you can date 1920s-1930s Butterick patterns using a chart at witness2fashion.com that is based on information from the Delineator magazine. Butterick stopped publishing Delineator magazine after the April 1937 issue, so I had to find a different source for dating Butterick pattern numbers.  Butterick Fashion News, an 8 page flyer distributed by pattern stores and through the mail, was used to publicize current Butterick patterns even before the Delineator stopped publication. [Edited 1/10/15:  8 page flyer changed to “a flyer on newsprint, 8 pages or more”]

Using Butterick Fashion News Flyers to Date Butterick Patterns

Butterick Fashion News flyer, February 1948, patterns #4422 & 4428

Butterick Fashion News flyer, February 1948, patterns #4422 & 4428

Butterick Fashion News could appear twice a month – I have seen two different covers for some months – and was printed on poor quality paper. It wasn’t intended to last.

Fortunately, there are still many copies that have survived, and by listing their dates and the number(s) of the pattern(s) featured on the covers, it is possible to see a number progression.

Butterick Fashion News chart from witness2fashion.com

Butterick Fashion News chart from witness2fashion.com

How to Use the witness2fashion Website for Dating Butterick Patterns, 1937 to 1977

Although not as precise as using the chart of Delineator numbers, even in its incomplete state this chart compiled from Butterick Fashion News flyers can be helpful.  The Butterick Fashion News chart shows that pattern # 3288 was on the cover in October 1964.BFN as of Jan 1 2014 marked

It’s reasonable to assume that this pattern,  # 3183, appeared in early 1964 or late 1963.

Undated Butterick pattern #3183

Undated Butterick pattern #3183

Confirmation

Fortunately, the Simplicity company did date its patterns sometimes – either on the envelope or, in some years, on the instruction sheet. Simplicity pattern # 5595 is a double-breasted variation of the same style as my Butterick pattern:

butterick & simplicity side by side

Simplicity # 5595 is dated – to 1964. Our tentative dating of Butterick # 3183 to 1963-1964 is supported.

 When a pattern is hard to date – ‘Late 1930s or early 1940s?’ – just knowing when renumbering occurred can be a big help.
Renumbering began in 1940

Renumbering began in 1940

Can You Help Fill In the Blanks?

I can’t buy every issue of Butterick Fashion News that appears on Ebay, but I do check the listings frequently, and make a note of the cover information whenever it’s legible.

There are some serious blanks in my Butterick Fashion News chart right now, especially between 1961 and 1964.  Renumbering started in this gap, so it’s really desirable to supply some cover numbers from those years.

If you have a copy of Butterick Fashion News that is not on the chart at witness2fashion.com, and are willing to add to this project, please send me the year, month, and number(s) of the pattern(s) on the front cover. You can use the comment section, or contact me through witness2fashion.com. I will update the chart at witness2fashion.com whenever I have several items to add.  Just today I found 5 more issues at Buttons and Bobbins. Ginny has generously posted pages from several issues for lovers of 1940s fashions. Thank you, Ginny! (I will update when I get a couple more.)

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