Category Archives: Not Quite Designer Patterns

Day Dresses for November, 1934

Butterick dress patterns for "High Noon," November 1934. Nos. 5961, 5955, and 5857.

Butterick dress patterns for “High Noon,” November 1934. Nos. 5961, 5955, and 5857. From The Delineator magazine. Photographer not named.

High Noon

“If you sit in the lobby of any smart luncheon place at high noon, you’ll see these smart women come in. The one who wears a tailored tweed dress, 5961 [left], with careful details — small collar, pockets, buttons, pleats, stitching.  The one who wears a black wool dress, 5957 [right], with slits in the streamline skirt and a shining satin sash.  The one who wears a bright crepe dress, 5955 [center], punctuated at neckline and wrists with black. There’s a look of Jodelle about the lovely, simple lines. . . . Cheney fabric. Delman shoes. Lilly Daché hat. Furs from Jaekel.”

Butterick 5961

Butterick pattern No. 5961, Nov. 1934, Delineator magazine.

Butterick pattern No. 5961, Nov. 1934, The Delineator magazine.

I confess that this is my favorite. It has so many great details, including that yoke extending into sleeves; the intriguing pocket shapes, copied on the skirt; and the big button accents. On the other hand, matching the large-scale plaid was undoubtedly easier for the illustrator than it would be for the home stitcher!

1934 nov high noon 5961 left top

“5961:  The kind of tailored clothes that came out of Paris are the kind with interesting details — stitching, slot seams, amusing pockets, slit skirts. As Agnes-Drecoll uses details, we used them in this plaid wool dress. For 36 (size 18), 3 yards, 54-inch wool.  Designed for 12 to 20; 30 to 42 [inch bust measure.]”

Not what we think of as a 'slit skirt' today: Butterick #5961, 1934.

Not what we think of as a ‘slit skirt’ today: Butterick #5961, 1934. It wouldn’t make walking much easier….

Butterick 5955

Butterick pattern No. 5955, with Lilly Dache hat. November 1934 Delineator magazine.

Butterick pattern No. 5955, with Lilly Dache hat. November 1934 The Delineator magazine.

“As Jodelle grows familiar, you recognize the simplicity of her lines. Like our dress with its convertible collar, they suit everyone. . . . Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40 [inch bust measure.] “

Butterick pattern No. 5955, Delineator, Nov. 1934.

Butterick pattern No. 5955, The Delineator, Nov. 1934.

That’s certainly an interesting sleeve (although likely to swoop into the soup at lunch). The article gives no alternate view to explain how the collar is “convertible.” Here’s a closer look at the Lilly Daché hat, with its brim of pleated velvet:

Black velvet hat from Lilly Dache. 1934.

Black velvet hat from Lilly Dache. 1934.

I had to increase the contrast to show the hat details. According to Lizzie Bramlett, writing for the Vintage Fashion Guild, Lilly Dache’s first hat under her own name was also made of velvet. Fashion trivia fact: “In 1958 Daché hired Halston as a hat designer.”

Butterick 5957

Butterick pattern 5957, Delineator magazine, Nov. 1934.

Butterick pattern 5957, The Delineator magazine, Nov. 1934.

“5957  A new French house called Robert Piguet slit the skirts of trim wool dresses and filled them in with pleats. We make a dress like that and tie shiny satin around the waist. . . . Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40 [inch bust measure.] ”

SLit with pleats in the style of Robert Piguet, 1934. The Delineator.

Slit with pleats in the style of Robert Piguet, 1934. The Delineator.

Writing for the Vintage Fashion Guild, emmapeelpants says that the house of Robert Piguet, founded in 1933, was “the training ground for Dior, Bohan, Galanos, Balmain and Givenchy. ” That’s quite an alumni group! Like Butterick No. 5961, this dress has broad shoulders and a yoke, which makes the upper body look wider (and the hips narrower by comparison. Also notice how much the length of the thigh is exaggerated in this fashion illustration.) 1934 nov high noon right 5957 thigh lengthThe finishing touch on this dress (described in the copy as “a black wool dress,” but illustrated in red) is an exceptionally long rhinestone dress clip at the neckline, added in the illustration to continue the vertical CF seam. 1934 nov high noon right dress clip

1930s rhinestone dress clip from RememberedSummers.

1930s rhinestone dress clip from RememberedSummers.

I thought this vintage clip was long — over 2 inches — but it’s nowhere near as long as the one illustrated. The collar of #5957 would look quite different without that big piece of jewelry.

Not Quite Designer Fashions

You’ll notice that all three patterns are described with reference to specific Paris designers, but none of them claims to be an exact copy of a Paris design. “As Agnes-Drecoll uses details, we used them in this plaid wool dress.”  “There’s a look of Jodelle about the lovely, simple lines.” “Robert Piguet slit the skirts of trim wool dresses and filled them in with pleats. We make a dress like that . . . .” The Butterick Publishing Company maintained an office in Paris, partly for the purpose of reporting on the latest fashions. Back in the 1920s, it was raided by the French police on behalf of Madeleine Vionnet; they indeed found evidence that her dresses were being copied in the workshop. Vionnet sued. (Source: Betty Kirke’s brilliant book Madeleine Vionnet.)

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, Hats, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

Was Vionnet the First Couturier to Use a Zipper? Spring 1929

Vionnet Spring 1929, Sketched for Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 27

Vionnet for Spring 1929, Sketched for Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 27

Delineator Magazine Reports on Paris Fashions, March 1929

The Butterick Publishing Company, which published Butterick patterns and also the Delineator magazine, maintained an office in Paris for the purpose of reporting on couture and other Paris fashions.

“…Butterick keeps a staff of experts in Paris all the time. Wherever new modes are launched there is a Butterick expert noting each successful model.  Quickly that expert cables the news. Sketches, details follow by the fastest steamers. Immediately patterns are made for each of the successful new modes.” — Butterick Advertisement in Delineator, August 1924, p. 67.

Couture for Spring, 1929,  Article in Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

Paris Fashions for Spring, 1929, Article in Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

The top left sketches show designs by Cheruit and Vionnet. Designs by London Trades and Mary Nowitsky at right. The evening gown is by Louiseboulanger.

Dress and jacket by Cheruit; Blouse, skirt, and coat ensemble by Vionnet, Spring 1929

Dress and jacket by Cheruit; Blouse, skirt, and coat ensemble by Vionnet, Spring 1929

The sketch and caption for the peach satin blouse by Vionnet show that it closes with a slide fastener – i.e., a zipper.

Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

Butterick Pattern #2526: Culotte Blouse with Zipper; Wrap Skirt

Left, design by Vionnet; Right, Butterick pattern #2526

Left, design by Vionnet; Right, Butterick pattern #2526

When I turned to page 28 of the same issue, I found Butterick patterns which are nearly line-for-line copies of the Vionnet blouse, wrap skirt, and coat ensemble.

Butterick culotte blouse & skirt pattern #2526 on left, Coat pattern #2495 on right.

Butterick culotte blouse & skirt pattern #2526 on left, Coat pattern #2495 on right.

Back views, Butterick patterns #2526 and #2495

Back views, Butterick patterns #2526 and #2495

The name of Madeleine Vionnet does not appear on this page, but the idea for the culotte blouse is typical of her ingenuity. The problem of wearing a 1920s wrap skirt which rides far below the natural waistline (the skirt over a satin blouse would have a tendency to migrate around the body as you walk), and the problem of keeping the blouse tucked in when you sit and stand, or raise your arms, are both neatly solved by the “culotte blouse,” known much later in the 20th century as a bodysuit, as popularized by Donna Karan. The 1929 blouse is made-in-one with panties, like a camisole & panties underwear “combination” or “teddies”, also called “cami-knickers;” the crotch keeps the blouse from riding up and twisting around.

Here are the pattern descriptions:

Pattern descriptions for Butterick #2526 and # 2495.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick #2526 and # 2495.

1929 march p 28 vionnet zipper pattern blousePhoto Left of pattern #2526 “The Elegant Version of the Culotte”: This is Paris’ newest idea on the ensemble frock. The blouse is not only a blouse but a step-in, which gives it these advantages; it stays in place and it eliminates a piece of lingerie. It closes with a slide-fastener under the tied neck-line. The skirt is a graceful one-piece tie-around, holding the hips snugly. Designed for sizes 32 to 42. [bust measure]
1929 march p 28 coat pattern # 2495

Photo right of pattern #2495 “The Ensemble with Casual Coat”: The coat-and-frock ensemble has reached new peaks in the mode. There is no smarter example of it than this with a seven-eighths length coat, which hangs casually open, has moderately wide sleeves and a shawl collar, and the frock described above….Designed for 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years); 36 to 44. [bust measure]

The Vionnet culotte blouse was described on page 27 as ending “in brief trousers with the new sliding fasteners at each side.” The Butterick culotte blouse pattern described on page 28 only mentions a slide fastener down the front. It’s difficult to say from the tiny back illustration (unfortunately on the curve of a bound volume) whether we are seeing a side seam or a side zipper. [Using the Ladies’ Room while wearing a bodysuit was always awkward, but I’m not sure side zippers would help much.]

I have not searched the library for other reviews of Vionnet’s collection for Spring of 1929, but it certainly deserves more investigation.

If you search for “Schiaparelli zipper” you may find sites claiming that she was the first couturier to use zippers (then called ‘slide fasteners.’)  She was among the first; and she pioneered (and even encouraged the development of) colored plastic zippers in women’s clothing.  But, unless Butterick invented the designs sketched in its March 1929 issue of Delineator, Vionnet deserves the credit for the first zipper used in couture.

#2526 is not the first Butterick dress pattern to use zippers; # 2365 appeared in December of 1928, and no designer was mentioned.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Zippers

A Schiaparelli-type Suit, Pictured in Butterick Fashion News, April 1938

Schiaparelli-influenced suit jacket, Butterick # 7819

Schiaparelli-influenced suit jacket, Butterick # 7819

#7819, “The important Schiaparelli-type suit” on the right is decorated with a series of diamond shapes that have a contrast fabric showing through narrow openings. The elongated kite-shaped diamond that bridges the waist may be a practical pocket.

Purple Schiaparelli jacket photographed from Shocking, in collection of  Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Purple Schiaparelli jacket,  in collection of Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, photographed from Shocking, by Dilys Blum.

Schiaparelli used many diamond shaped motifs in her Commedia dell’Arte collection of 1939, but this pattern pre-dates that collection.  A purple wool jacket from her winter 1936-37 collection, pictured in Dilys Blum’s Shocking: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli , p. 97, has oblong areas cut away to reveal a brown velvet underlayer in the pockets. [It really is purple, not blue — a problem with my camera.  I could not find a link to this suit online.] Perhaps the Butterick jacket pattern is a reference to this one, especially if this pattern also has practical pockets. The jacket from # 7819 was featured twice in one issue of Butterick Fashion news; here it is worn open to reveal a Butterick blouse underneath:  schiap influ jacket blue open681

Easier than It Looks

I love the ingenuity of this design.

It appears complex, but if you really look at it, you can figure out how  relatively simple the construction of the diamonds revealing a contrast fabric underlayer actually is. You could apply this idea to almost any jacket pattern.

BFNschap CLOSEinflu suit pockets apr 1938547The jacket front pattern piece has been divided horizontally into four sections. You can see the seam lines where they have been joined together to create a yoke section (A), a yoke-to-bust-point section (B), a bust-point-to-waist section (C), and a waist-to-hip section (D). Section C has a vertical bust dart on each side, which would be stitched before the 4 sections are seamed together. I can’t imagine any reason for dividing the jacket into sections, except to make it easier to reveal the contrast fabric in the diamonds.

A Guess at the Jacket Construction

CAUTION: I have not tried this in fabric – I’m just deducing how it could be done….

After carefully marking the positions of the diamonds on your fabric – probably thread basting, since you would need the markings on both sides of the fabric, you would seam the sections together, A to B, B to C, stopping and backstitching when you reach the horizontal point of the diamond, leaving a gap in the center of the diamond, and resuming the seam at the other point. (The opening would not be a rectangle….) Once you press the seam allowances out of the way, you would baste them into position, put your diamonds of contrast fabric (matching the grain) behind the fashion fabric, baste, check for smoothness, and topstitch along the lines of the diamond. schiap influ jacket close upThen you would topstitch along the folded-back seam allowance, about 1/8 inch from the fold, through all layers. You can see these lines of topstitching in the illustration. (In theory, you could stitch the seam allowances out of the way before applying the diamond backing, but I think this might allow the fashion fabric to gape from stress at the bust-point.)

It’s a nice detail that the lapel is topstitched only where it overlaps the top diamond.

If the below-the-waist diamond is a practical pocket, you would stitch a twill stay-tape to the seam allowance on section D, just beside the fold line, to prevent stretching, and add a thin lining. You would have to topstitch the seam allowance inside the diamond below the waist before applying the contrast backing, so that bottom section of the diamond shape remains open.

A friend suggested that the diamonds and collar are prick-stitched by hand with thread to match the contrast layer. That would certainly be a couture touch, but it’s equally possible that the illustrator was just working within the constraints of a pattern catalog printed on newsprint: big white dashes were the only way to indicate stitch lines.

I repeat, I have not tried this with wool and a sewing machine, but I think it’s a reasonable explanation of why this apparently complicated “Schiaparelli-type” jacket is divided into sections on the Butterick pattern. The famous Butterick Deltor [otherwise known as an instruction sheet] would tell you how to construct it, probably much more clearly than I have done…. I rarely sew for myself any more, but I’m really tempted to try that kite-shaped pocket on a casual jacket — a little bigger, with a zingy color underneath. On a dark fabric, I might even try a different jewel color under every pocket!  Comments and suggestions are welcome.

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

When Is a Designer Pattern Not a Designer Pattern?

A recent blog on Pattern Vault showed Schiaparelli patterns from Authentic Paris Pattern Company that did not use phrases like “after Schiaparelli” or “Schiaparelli-influenced,” which are usually indicators that the pattern has been adapted from an original design, with varying degrees of participation or permission from the designer – sometimes, none.  Betty Kirke’s extraordinary book, Madeleine Vionnet, tells us that:

“In 1922, [Vionnet] brought action against Butterick Publishing Company, claiming infringement of pattern rights. Police raided the Paris branch of Butterick and found a staff of designers converting her dresses into patterns.” (Kirke, p. 221)

[Five years later, Vionnet and Butterick were apparently on very good terms, since she even wrote an article for Butterick’s magazine, The Delineator, in 1927.]  Nevertheless, over the years, Vionnet filed many other lawsuits in an attempt to prevent manufacturers from selling unauthorized copies of her designs.

Is This Dress a Lanvin Designer Pattern?

This dress pattern, Butterick # 5870, was featured in Delineator magazine in August, 1934.

Photographed by Arthur O’Neill, Delineator, August 1934

Photographed by Arthur O’Neill, Delineator, August 1934

1934 aug p 62 Lanvin dress pattern #7870 text

This caption does not use any of the usual ‘hedge words’ like ‘after Lanvin,’ ‘inspired by…,’ ‘in the manner of…’; it says “Jeanne Lanvin’s button-down-the-back dress, sensation of the Paris openings.” Does that mean Lanvin authorized this pattern?

Is This Coat a Schiaparelli Designer Pattern?

Earlier that year, in March, 1934, Butterick coat pattern # 5576 appeared under the headline “The Schiaparelli Wind Blown Coat.” 1934 march schiaparelli coat #5576 koret bags top page

1934 march p 17 no caption schiaparelli coat #5576The caption, however, says “This is Schiaparelli’s newest silhouette. Even in the calmest weather the forward streaming revers indicate high March winds blowing from the rear.” 1934 march p 17 caption schiaparelli coat #5576Questions arise: This may be a Schiaparelli silhouette, but is this a pattern authorized by Schiaparelli? Is it an exact copy? Is it based on a sketch of a coat by Schiaparelli, or on a toile supplied by her? I can’t tell. [A toile is a prototype garment made of inexpensive cloth, from which a pattern for the real garment  is taken.]

Is This Dress a Schiaparelli Designer Pattern?

Butterick pattern # 5874, Delineator, Sept. 1934

Butterick pattern # 5874, Delineator, Sept. 1934

This dress pattern, Butterick # 5874, is presented in the same way as the Lanvin dress above, and in the very next issue of the magazine, September, 1934. But the headline and the caption use the words “in the manner” of Schiaparelli, which not quite the same as ‘Schiaparelli’s Tweed Dress.’

Photographed by Arthur O’Neill

Photographed by Arthur O’Neill

1934 sept p 17 tweed dress in manner of schiaparelli text

Vogue Designer Patterns

Vogue, Butterick, and McCall’s are now all one big company. The company history on their website  tells us that:

“While Vogue Pattern Book featured “couturier” patterns as early as 1937, these patterns were not exact reproductions of actual styles. But in 1949, Vogue Patterns announced “A New Pattern Service—Paris Original Models Chosen From The Collections.” The cover of that year’s April/May pattern book showed photographs of the styles chosen from the eight featured countries [couturiers?], among them Balmain, Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Jaques Fath.

“It was the first time originals from the Paris couture had been duplicated in pattern form. Vogue Patterns became the only pattern company licensed to produce designs from the world [sic] leading couturiers, establishing a precedent which continues today.”

And yet, The Pattern Vault has Authentic Paris Patterns that say “This pattern reproduces exactly the original garment of this design made in Paris by Schiaparelli.”  Sarah at Pattern Vault also has copies of the Authentic Paris Pattern Company booklets for sale on her Etsy store, so it is possible to read the articles in them. (I haven’t – I just discovered them.)  Until some scholar finds copies of the licensing agreements from all the pattern companies, we’ll just have to hope that the designers were participating and being recompensed. I’d welcome comments — I really don’t know the answers to the questions I’m raising.

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Filed under 1930s, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

Fashionable Dress Patterns for Women of All Sizes, 1932

Eight Butterick patterns, June 1932

Eight Butterick patterns, June 1932

New Styles, June 1932

A Delineator page illustrating eight warm weather patterns for June, 1932, mentions several new trends – long, full sleeves, fitted above the wrist, cape sleeves, jacket dresses, Schiaparelli pink…. The dresses all show that the dropped waist of the 1920s  is not only gone, but replaced by a fitted, belted waist that is a little higher than the natural waist, usually with a blouson, rather than a darted, bodice. The jacket of #4593, however, “has this year’s new fitted look.” Even the Great Depression didn’t stop fashion; the bottom of the page says:June, 1932 bottom center p 69

Paris Designs Become Dresses for Ordinary Women

"Lanvin Stripes"

“Lanvin Stripes”

Famous designers are alluded to, but the designs are not actually attributed to them:“Vionnet was the first to drape necklines.” (# 4572) “Lanvin and Mainbocher used cape sleeves.” (# 4584) “It was Lanvin who started this fashion of stripes combined with plain color,” (# 4576) and “Schiaparelli pink” is suggested for the jabot of # 4542. “A famous name sponsors the three-quarter sleeves and wide revers” of # 4593.

Fashions for Larger Women in the Early 1930s

Although the illustrations all show a tall, slender model, five of these designs are for large women, and they are not singled out. All 8 designs were available in size 44 [i.e., for a 44 inch bust measurement], but # 4585 and # 4576 ran to size 48″, and three, # 4572, # 4593, and # 4582 are specifically recommended as slenderizing, reducing the hipline, etc. Those three patterns were sized for women up to a 52 inch bust. One pattern, #4585, is “Specially becoming to short women,” although no adjustments in length are mentioned. The smallest dresses are for a 30″ bust.

Patterns for sizes 48 to 52

Patterns for sizes 48 to 52

Eight Styles for Summer, 1932

Here are all 8 patterns and their descriptions:

#4602, sizes 30 to 44"; #4585, sizes 34 to 48"

#4602, sizes 30 to 44″; #4585, sizes 34 to 48″

# 4602 “Sheer jacket frock”:  The new full-at-the bottom sleeves are, nevertheless, tight at the wrist, and graceful as you can see.  As for the dress, its sleeves are capes. [See back view] The fabric – the big fabric for summer jacket dresses, is semi-sheer crêpe – plain or printed. This dress is designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 44.

# 4585 “high tied”:  There are simpler ways of reducing your hipline than dieting and exercising. One of them is the clever hip yoke of this frock.  Its sleeves follow the mode in a manner of their own. Specially becoming to short women. Designed for 34 to 48.

#4572, size 36 to 52"; #4542 for sizes 32 to 44"

#4572, sizes 36 to 52″; #4542 for sizes 32 to 44″

# 4572 “because it’s becoming”: Vionnet was the first to drape necklines. We favor this one because it is becoming to everybody. Two more reasons why this dress is a find for the larger woman are – the sleeves, full enough to be smart but not enlarging, and the yoke, cut to reduce the hips. Designed for 36 to 52.

# 4542 “with Schiaparelli pink”:  Pink is the new accessory color– a nice soft easy-on-the-complexion pink…. for the jabots if the rest of the costume is of navy blue, which it is almost sure to be this season. This is one of the… jacket dresses that Paris has sent….Designed for 32 to 44.

#4584, sizes 30 to 44"; #4593, sizes 36 to 52".

#4584, sizes 30 to 44″; #4593, sizes 36 to 52″.

# 4584 “shoulder capes”: Lanvin and Mainbocher used cape sleeves and so did almost every other dress-maker. Of course nothing could be more perfect for this cool, summery frock of chiffon. It’s young looking but any age can wear it. Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 44.

# 4593 “the jacket urge”: Here’s something to satisfy that jacket dress urge. A famous name sponsors the three-quarter sleeves and wide revers. It’s slightly shorter than last year’s jacket and it has this year’s new fitted look.  The frock specializes in slenderizing lines. It is designed for sizes 36 to 52.

#4576, sizes 34 to 48"; #4582, sizes 36 to 52"

#4576, sizes 34 to 48″; #4582, sizes 36 to 52″

# 4576 “Lanvin stripes”:   It was Lanvin who started this fashion of stripes combined with plain color. And the smart place for them is in blouses. It’s “blouse” in name only here, however, for this is a dress with a jacket – easier on the figure than the costume of skirt, blouse and jacket. Designed for 34 to 48.

# 4582 “lace for the face”: The unsymmetrical dress is the one that does the most for the larger figure. In the first place, it’s interesting, in the second, it’s reducing. We added the lace at the neckline for face flattery. The most slenderizing fabric for this is chalky semi-sheer crêpe. Designed for 36 to 52.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes