The next month, Woman’s Home Companion offered this hat pattern, No. 7361:
The next month, Woman’s Home Companion offered this hat pattern, No. 7361:
The Butterick company’s target market in the 1920’s was upscale; there were regular reports on French fashions, and even a new column giving women financial advice during the stock market boom of the late twenties. But in this Depression Era article from May, 1933, the emphasis is on economy.
The accessories suggested include some rather elegant shoes, a sweater, and, as explained in the text, only one hat that you couldn’t make for yourself.
I’m not surprised that those shoes were expensive.
Other gloves and hats could be made from Butterick patterns:
Notice the extended shoulders on most of these clothes.
In addition, a print suit (a dress plus jacket) and a “Letty Lynton” – influenced evening gown were part of the twenty-five dollar wardrobe.
The stiff, sheer layered sleeves show the influence of Adrian’s design for Joan Crawford in the film Letty Lynton.
The $25 budget didn’t include accessories, not even the ones made from Butterick patterns. However, there is an emphasis on the need for wardrobe planning: coordinating your pieces so that they can all be worn with either black or white accessories. (And, if you could afford a vacation in 1933, setting some limits would definitely make packing easier.)
The cost of the Butterick patterns themselves ranged from fifty cents (the jacket dress or the evening gown) to thirty-five or forty-five cents for the other dresses, and twenty-five cents for the hat pattern, which included three styles. I wonder if the big, stylish buttons were included in the price estimates.
In 1936, a woman fresh out of college could expect to earn about $80 per month. According to one article, on this salary, she could even afford to take a vacation….
She can “join a savings club and see the world. Happy landing, we say.” — Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936.
In 1924, dresses were still longer than our usual image of the nineteen twenties — even dresses for young women, who were usually illustrated in the shortest styles.
For their back views, see the end of this post.
The evening dresses would have needed a clever remodel around 1926 — cutting them at the 1926 hip or waist line, and raising the lower part of the skirt. The new seam could have been hidden with a sash or belt, too. The tunic dress at right might have simply discarded the underskirt.
Butterick also offered many cloche hat patterns — and tam-o’-shanters — during the twenties — including two that were shown with these dresses.
A Closer Look at These 1924 Dresses and Hats
If you’re wondering what size “16 to 20 years” means, click here.
“It is worn over a slip of flesh-pink satin veiled with flesh-pink chiffon trimmed with lace.” This suggests that the impression of a nude body glimpsed through the lace was the goal. Other lining colors were, of course, possible — tan, coffee, pale blue, yellow-green, etc. In the image below, it appears that the chiffon-over-satin layer was visible at the sides.
Back trim on evening dress 5550. The trim begins with the straps in front, and extends into a long tassel, with a surprise lining of strong pink, and plenty of beads or pearls.
There are “fine plaits at each side,” [tucks?] making the dress fit more closely at the hip. This dress from 1926 has the same “plaits” at the hip.
“It is the new narrow type [as] close fitting at the hips as one can sit down [in.]” It closes at the side front, like a Russian shirt. The pattern description suggests making it in dark brown with a contrasting scarf. In an era when ladies still did not go shopping or to work without wearing a hat, the soft, crushable Tam-o’-Shanter was especially popular with girls and young women.
No. 5489 could easily have been shortened at the hem and worn in 1926, when hemlines approached the knee. Its proportions could have been improved by raising the waist line as well, but it wouldn’t have been necessary.
I don’t see any knot, or other sign that it literally ties, in this illustration. This hat appeared in several issues. The side views make it look as though the velvet whatever-that-is-on-the-side is wired and possibly twisted, but not “tied.” It does look, in the side view, as if the front brim extends into a long point which is twisted up, and the back brim has a shorter extension which twists down. I am glad I don’t have to make it, because I’m not at all certain I understand it!
Here are the back or alternate views for seven of these dresses. The back of No. 5550 was illustrated in color and shown earlier.
Dresses cut like No. 5489 are often seen in silent movies, but they are usually tightly fitted, with an opening in the left side seam; or the actresses may have been stitched into their evening dresses by hand.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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: