Category Archives: Vintage patterns from the movies

Movie Doll Wardrobes and Patterns for Shirley Temple Dolls

Although the face looks like a Shirley Temple Doll, this pattern said it was a for a "Movie doll." McCall pattern 418, from a 1946 catalog.

Although the face looks like a Shirley Temple Doll, this pattern said it was a for a “Movie doll.” McCall pattern 418, from a 1946 catalog, but probably issued years earlier.

McCall "Movie" doll clothes pattern 1015, from a 1946 catalog.

McCall “Little Lady” doll clothes pattern 1015, from a 1946 catalog, but probably earlier.

Singing, dancing Shirley Temple was a big star (and a movie veteran) by the time she was eight.

Shirley Temple ad for film Baby Take a Bow, 1934.

Shirley Temple in an ad for the film Baby Take a Bow, 1934. She was five or six at this time.

Get a 13" Shirley Temple Doll for selling four subscriptions to Ladies' Home Journal. January, 1936, LHJ.

You could get a free 13 inch Shirley Temple Doll by selling four subscriptions to Ladies’ Home Journal. Ad, January 1936, LHJ.

Shirley Temple dolls, made by Ideal, came in many sizes; after their successful debut in 1934, pattern companies wanted to cash in on their popularity by selling patterns for doll clothes that would fit the dolls, and which could be related to little Shirley’s movie roles. However, because of licensing agreements, most companies didn’t have the right to use the Shirley Temple name.

DuBarry doll wardrobe pattern from 1939.

DuBarry doll wardrobe pattern 2144B, from 1939. Vintage doll enthusiasts usually refer to this as a Shirley Temple pattern — for obvious reasons.

This DuBarry pattern, which dates from 1939, shows dolls with the Shirley Temple face and hairstyle, but does not use her name.

Text from DuBarry envelope, pattern 2144B, 1939.

Text from DuBarry envelope, pattern 2144B, 1939.

The pattern was available in 6 sizes, depending on the height of the doll. Simplicity 2243 also said it would fit “popular film star dolls.” McCall 41435 from 1937 is usually described online as a Shirley Temple pattern, but those words aren’t used on the envelope.

McCall "Movie" doll pattern 525 had a nurse's uniform and hooded cape, and well as beach pajamas.

McCall “Movie” doll pattern 525 had a hooded cape, as well as beach pajamas and hats.

Shirley Temple in Heidi, 1937.

Shirley Temple in Heidi, 1937. Her “peasant girl” movie dress laced up the front.

These McCall "Movie" doll patterns seem inspired by Shirley Temple's Heidi costumes.

These McCall “Movie” doll patterns (525) seem inspired by Shirley Temple’s Heidi costumes, which probably influenced dresses for other little girls.

I love this beach pajama outfit; beside it is a photo of a little girl who lived next door to my grandmother.

McCall's Movie doll pattern for beach pajamas; right, unidentified girl wearing a similarly bias trimmed outfit. California, 1930s.

McCall’s Movie doll pattern 525 for beach pajamas was the same design as a 1937 play outfit for girls in the CoPA collection; right, unidentified girl wearing a similarly bias-trimmed outfit. California circa 1930s.

Clothes for these dolls resembled real clothing for children, as seen in the dress, green coat and suit from McCall 418, below.

Part of McCall 418, "Movie" doll wardrobe, from December 1946 catalog

Part of McCall 418, “Movie” doll wardrobe; in December 1946 catalog, but the number sequence puts it earlier.

There’s no mistaking Shirley Temple’s face on this illustration. The detail of the clothes is amazing, considering that it was available for dolls as small as 13 inches (like the one offered by Ladies’ Home Journal.)

McCall "Movie" doll pattern 418.

McCall “Movie” doll pattern 418. The face is Shirley Temple’s.

McCall offered the little Shirley Temple doll suit with plaid skirt in another version in pattern 1015, which does not have Shirley Temple’s face or curls:

Detail, McCall "Movie" doll wardrobe 1015, from 1946.

Detail, McCall “Little Lady” doll wardrobe 1015, from a December 1946 catalog, but probably earlier.

I wore a suit like that, myself, in the late 1940’s.

Little girl in a suit similar to the Movie Doll patterns. Later 1940's.

Little girl in a suit similar to the Movie Doll patterns. Late 1940’s.

I also had to wear curls like Shirley’s, perfected with a curling iron heated on the gas stove; my mother and I fought about those curls every day. She had seen plenty of Shirley Temple movies before I was born and had a clear idea about what her daughter should look like.  (I try not to hold a grudge against Shirley.)

Butterick doll wardrobe pattern 449, from December 1937.

Butterick doll wardrobe pattern 449, from December 1937 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

These wardrobes often included underwear, dresses, a coat or cape, and pajamas or a jumpsuit; the detailed robe in Butterick 449 delights me.

details from Butterick 449.

Details from Butterick 449. Butterick Fashion News, December 1937.

McCall pattern 1015 reflected World War II women’s styles, including a “siren suit” (is that an air raid warden’s insignia?) and a Red Cross Nurse.

Detail from McCall 1015. A "siren suit" for wearing during air raids and a nurse's uniform.

Detail from McCall 1015. A “siren suit” or coverall for wearing during air raids or war work, and a nurse’s uniform. Suitable for “Little Lady” and similar dolls, 13.5 to 22 inches high. 1946 catalog, but probably earlier; Little Lady dolls appeared in 1942.

McCall 918 pattern for "All Movie dolls" and Little Lady dolls.

McCall 918 pattern for “Movie dolls” and “Little Lady” dolls.

918-text-movie-d46-p-124

Perhaps the movie inspiration for this one was Gone with the Wind (1939,) rather than Shirley Temple.

Southern Belle dress and cape from McCall Movie doll pattern 918, from 1946 catalog.

Southern Belle ball dress and cape from McCall Movie doll pattern 918;  from 1946 catalog, but probably earlier.

I especially like the doll’s “broomstick skirt,” a fad for women’s skirts that were twisted and tied around a broomstick while wet, so that they were random pleated when dry.

Long housecoat and broomstick skirt with blouse, McCall Movie doll pattern 918.

Long housecoat and broomstick skirt with blouse, McCall Movie doll pattern 918.

Allowing for the child-shape of the dolls, these mimicked women’s clothes. I remember my mother wearing a blue 1940’s housecoat very much like that one!

woman-in-housecoat-with-and-baby-1940s

Shirley Temple’s heyday as a child star was in the mid 1930’s; although doll-buying parents might have fond memories of her as Dimples, The Little Colonel, Curly Top, and other roles she played before she was eleven, by 1947 she was a married woman, playing opposite Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.

Butterick doll wardrobe patterns, December 1951, Butterick Fashion News.

Butterick doll wardrobe patterns 5969 and 5968. December 1951, Butterick Fashion News. Butterick 5969 was for the new “Toni” doll, which allowed you to wash and set her hair.

p-2-christmas-dolly-patterns-bfn-dec-1951-5969-5968-text-toni-doll

The Toni home permanent company realized (or hoped) that little girls might like to give their dolls a “Toni.” In fact, the setting lotion for the Toni dolls’ hair was sugar and water. I can say from my own childhood experience that my Toni doll’s hair developed a sort of sugar dandruff — luckily you could shampoo her hair, too.

However, Shirley Temple dolls did not disappear; in fact, perhaps because her old movies were appearing on television in the fifties, a new, improved Shirley Temple doll was released in 1958, and new doll wardrobe patterns for her — in fifties’ styles — quickly appeared.

Advance doll pattern 8813, released in 1958. From Blueprints of Fashion 1950s, by Wade Laboissionere.

Advance doll pattern 8813, released in 1958. From Blueprints of Fashion 1950s, by Wade Laboissionere.

The Advance company was licensed to sell Shirley Temple Doll patterns, but I suspect that other companies were able to work around that problem — again.

Click here to see a Simplicity Shirley Temple doll pattern dated 1979.

Unlike many child stars, Shirley Temple Black  led a happy and productive life “after Hollywood,” and served as a United States Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Many of these movie doll patterns can be seen (or purchased) at Old Doll Patterns.

 

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Church Wedding, September 1933

The wedding dress designed for a movie by Travis Banton as part of Butterick’s Starred Patterns series (August 1933) appeared in The Delineator again the very next month, with no mention of Travis Banton as its designer. This time, it was the centerpiece in a “Church Wedding” feature.

The Church Wedding, Delineator, September 1933, p. 64. From left, patterns 5269, 5299, 5183. Myrtle Lages illustration.

“Church Wedding,” Delineator, September 1933, p. 64. From left, patterns 5269, 5299, 5183. Myrtle Lages illustration.

Helen Twelvetrees in Travis Banton's wedding dress design, from the movie Disgraced. August, 1933.

Helen Twelvetrees in Travis Banton’s wedding dress design, from the movie Disgraced. Delineator, August, 1933.

Detail, Butterick wedding dress pattern 5299, Delineator, Sep. 1933.

Detail, Butterick wedding dress pattern 5299, Delineator, Sep. 1933.

The pin-tucked yoke and the sleeves are the same sheer fabric as the veil; the dress is satin.

Butterick wedding gown 5299, described in Delineator, Sept. 1933 issue.

Butterick wedding gown 5299, described in Delineator, Sept. 1933 issue.

The Maid of Honor, Butterick 5269, as shown in September, 1933. Delineator.

The Maid of Honor, Butterick 5269, as shown in September, 1933. Delineator. “Pansy blue” taffeta with “out-standing shoulders.”

The Maid of Honor’s dress, No. 5269, was illustrated before, in August, and given the name “Wings.” Like many dresses for a wedding party, it was also a normal party dress — and shown on a much younger model.

5269: This "Maid of Honor" dress in September was a Party dress in August. Delineator. 1933.

5269: This “Maid of Honor” dress from September was a party dress for the bride’s trousseau in August. Delineator. 1933.

“From the [bride’s] trousseau comes ‘Wings,’ a charming, creamy white taffeta dress with wings over the shoulders and flaring godets around the bottom that give a quaint, petticoated look. Don’t miss the garnet belt and the circlet of garnets in the hair. Glittering stars and circlets reflect the light on many smooth heads in Paris these days.” — R. S. in Delineator, August 1933.

Bridesmaid dress, Butterick 5183, as shown in September, 1933 Delineator.

Bridesmaid dress, Butterick 5183, as shown in September, 1933 Delineator. “The fichu comes off, leaving a dinner-y dress beneath.” “Have the hats in velvet.”

The Bridesmaid’s dress,  Butterick pattern 5183, also had an independent life:

Butterick 5183 was first illustrated in June, with the name "Late Date."

Butterick 5183 was first illustrated in June, with the name “Late Date.”

Apparently, if you tired of the Letty Lynton ruffles, you could wear the dress without its “fichu.” I wasn’t able to find a picture of it without the fichu, unfortunately, although this illustration from the 1933 catalog shows the fichu/capelet and sleeves made of a different fabric than the dress.

Of course, hats were needed for a church ceremony, but the velvet hats illustrated here look like streetwear in surprisingly dark shades. Perhaps they’re a penny-pinching nod to Depression Era budgets.

Hats for the Bridal party in a Church Wedding, 1933. Very odd.

Hats for the Bridal party in a Church Wedding; Delineator, 1933. Very odd.

 

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Butterick Starred Patterns Part 5: Helen Twelvetrees Wears Travis Banton

Butterick Patterns designed by Travis Banton for Helen Twelvetrees in Disgraced. Delineator, August 1933.

Butterick Patterns designed by Travis Banton for Helen Twelvetrees in Disgraced. Delineator, August 1933. “Below is the gown that brings forth all the ‘Oh’s’ and “Ah’s” when Miss Twelvetrees models it in ‘Disgraced.’ “

Today, costume designer Travis Banton is more remembered than actress Helen Twelvetrees. (No, that was not the name she was born with.) These patterns from August, 1933 are the last two Starred Patterns in the Butterick series that began in May of 1933. Butterick’s Delineator magazine had so much faith in this wedding gown design that it was the star of its own article a month later.

Disgraced is a Pre-Code melodrama. In it, Miss Twelvetree’s character, a fashion model named Gay, begins living with a rich wastrel in the belief that he will marry her. Instead, he plans to marry wealthy Julia, and Gay only discovers his plan when she has to model Julia’s wedding dress. Murder ensues. See the movie poster here.

Butterick pattern 5297, Delineator, August 1933. Designed by Travis Banton for the Paramount movie Disgraced.

Butterick pattern 5297, Delineator, August 1933. Designed by Travis Banton for the Paramount movie Disgraced.

The text of the article says that Butterick 5297 can be worn without the cape collar, but I’m afraid that the alternate view was not illustrated.

1933 aug p 53 Helen Twelvetrees 5297 textTravis Banton des btm text

“Change-about” dresses were popular in the heart of the Great Depression.) Vintage Pattern Wikia has a larger image of this design, from the Fall 1933 Butterick catalog. The Delineator article was also printed in Butterick Fashion News.

Butterick 5299, designed by Travis Banton for the film Disgraced. Delineator, August 1933, p 53.

Butterick 5299, designed by Travis Banton for the film Disgraced. Delineator, August 1933, p 53.

Helen Twelvetrees modeling wedding gown No. 5299 in Disgraced, 1933.

Helen Twelvetrees modeling wedding gown No. 5299 in Disgraced, 1933.

The wedding dress, Butterick 5299, was described in the Delineator in August:

“If, by any chance, you’re contemplating marriage, and you’re in the ususal dither about what to wear for the Big Moment, we urge you do do just one thing. Take yourself on the run to the nearest theater showing Helen Twelvetree’s latest picture, ‘Disgraced.’

“In this picture — in which there’s plenty of excitement besides the clothes, you can take our word for it — Miss Twelvetrees wears a wedding gown that is our idea of a wedding gown. It had us practically in a swoon. All that blond loveliness of course helped, but even a plainer girl, we imagine, would look pretty glamourous in such a gown. It’s a satin affair, with a yoke of fine net, and a tulle veil that is like a cape and quite the most lovely one we’ve seen in years of weddings, on- and off-stage. The idea is to wear it down, all around, until after the ceremony, and then to toss it back off the face for the recessional.” — Delineator, August 1933, p. 53.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5299, a wedding gown designed by Travis Banton for the movie Disgraced. Detail.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5299, a wedding gown designed by Travis Banton for the movie Disgraced. Detail.  Delineator, August, 1933.

There’s a larger image from the Butterick Fall catalog, 1933, at Vintage Pattern Wikia.

Detail, Butterick wedding dress pattern 5299, Delineator, Sep. 1933.

Detail, Butterick wedding dress pattern 5299, Delineator, Sep. 1933.

Description of Butterick 5299 from September Delineator, 1933.

Description of Butterick 5299 from Delineator, September 1933.

From Delineator, August 1933. P. 53.

From Delineator, August 1933. P. 53.

Travis Banton, Costume Designer

When you think of Marlene Dietrich in extravagant and improbable 1930’s costumes, you’re thinking of Travis Banton. They first worked together on Shanghai Express, in 1932. [Her most famous line from the movie is, “”It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.”] Click to see Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932.)

“Travis did more than any single person to make Marlene Dietrich the clothes horse of the movies.” — Hedda Hopper, quoted in Creating the Illusion: A Fashionable History of Hollywood Costume Designers, by Jorgensen and Scoggins.

Born in Waco, Texas, in 1894, Travis Banton grew up in New York. After serving in World War I, he worked for a custom fashion house, where he designed a lavish bridal gown which was seen by silent mega-star Mary Pickford. She wore it for her 1920 wedding to the equally famous Douglas Fairbanks. Banton remained in New York, working for top design house Lucile  (Lady Duff-Gordon). He started his own salon, while also designing costumes for Broadway shows. He moved to California and signed a contract with Paramount Studios in 1925, where he worked happily (and often uncredited) for Chief Designer Howard Greer.

In 1927, Banton designed Clara Bow’s costumes for the movie It, a picture with plenty of advance publicity (or notoriety.) Here are several clips of Clara Bow in It, which must have inspired ambitious shop girls to try to look just like her. (Note that some of her 1927 costumes have natural waists….)

Marlene Dietrich in Angel, 1937. Costume by Travis Banton. Imaage from Creating the Illusion by Jorgensen and Scoggins.

Marlene Dietrich in Angel, 1937. Costume by Travis Banton. Image from Creating the Illusion, by Jorgensen and Scoggins.

According to Creating the Illusion, Banton became known for form-fitting, lavishly embellished gowns. This heavily beaded dress for Marlene Dietrich in Angel (1937) cost the studio $8,000 ($135,000 in 2015 dollars.)

At the time, Banton’s salary was $1,250 per week. Paramount refused to increase it when his contract expired, so he left.  [After watching a short commercial, you can see many more of his costumes from Angel at the IMDb site. Click here.]  

Around 1940, Banton moved to 20th Century Fox, and in 1945 he moved to Universal. In the nineteen fifties he co-produced a clothing collection under the label “Marusia-Travis Banton.”

Carole Lombard in a beaded gown by Travis Banton. My Man Godfrey, 1936. Photo from Creating the Illusion.

Carole Lombard in a beaded gown by Travis Banton. My Man Godfrey, 1936. Photo from Creating the Illusion.

The classic thirties comedy, My Man Godfrey (1936), featured Carole Lombard as a wealthy madcap in costumes by Travis Banton. [She wears this beaded outfit on a scavenger hunt to the city dump.]  Here is that glittering gown in color.

If you have nine minutes to spare, this short film, “The Fashion Side of Hollywood”–  which was made to publicize Travis Banton’s designs for several movies — is a treat.  If you want to see a top model at work, watch the final segment; Marlene Dietrich poses in costumes that would look ridiculous on anyone else, and she looks wonderful. She clearly understood how to make the camera and lighting work for her!

This is the last of a series on Butterick Starred Patterns. Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

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Butterick Starred Patterns Part 4: Katharine Hepburn and Helen Chandler

The movie-linked patterns issued by Butterick in May of 1933 were designed by Howard Greer, for the movie Christopher Strong. Hepburn played an aviatrix in love with a married man, British MP Christopher Strong,  and Helen Chandler played his daughter, Monica Strong.

Katharine Hepburn and Helen Chandler wearing Howard's Greer's designs, copied as Butterick Starred Patterns. Delineator, May 1933.

Katharine Hepburn and Helen Chandler wearing Howard’s Greer’s designs, copied as Butterick Starred Patterns. Delineator, May 1933.

This was only Katharine Hepburn’s second movie.

After a New York stage success, “… she was cast in A Bill of Divorcement (1932), opposite John Barrymore. The film was a hit, and after agreeing to her salary demands, RKO signed her to a contract. She made five films between 1932 and 1934. For her third, Morning Glory (1933) she won her first Academy Award. Her fourth, Little Women (1933) was the most successful picture of its day.” — Internet Movie Database (IMDb.)

Helen Chandler, a successful stage actress, is probably best remembered in films as a victim of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula (1931), although she appeared in over two dozen movies. Her later life was a sad one.

Butterick Starred Patterns 5156 and 5154, from Delineator, May 1933.

Butterick Starred Patterns 5156 and 5154, from Delineator, May 1933.

Here is Delineator raving about young Katharine Hepburn:

1933 may p 71 Katharine Hepburn ttrend setter 5156 5154 designer Howard Greer text

Delineator is especially interested in Katharine Hepburn because of the way she wears clothes. She has that thing called chic…. What she wears in a picture to-day has a good chance of being what Young America is going to demand tomorrow.” By 1933, fashion magazines like Delineator were beginning to appreciate that movie costumes might have more influence on young women’s clothing choices than Paris fashions. (The “Letty Lynton dress”of 1932 had created a great demand for copies.) Butterick entered into agreements with three studios — Warner Bros., R.K.O., and Paramount — which allowed Butterick to make exact copies of dresses worn in their movies. This was quite different from the Hollywood Pattern Company’s approach. However, for whatever reason, only a few of these Butterick Starred Patterns were ever issued.

This one, designed for Katharine Hepburn by Howard Greer, was Butterick 5156. It included a pattern for the tucked hat. The open sleeves were seen on other dresses in the 1930’s. You can see the pattern envelope, with alternate views, by clicking here.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5156 from May, 1933. Delineator.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5156 from May, 1933. Delineator.

Helen Chandler’s gown, No. 5154, was made of organdy — like the Letty Lynton dress — and trimmed with lace.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5154 was designed for Helen Chandler by Howard Greer. Delineator, May 1933.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5154 was designed for Helen Chandler by Howard Greer. Delineator, May 1933.

1933 may p 71 helen chandler text 5156 5154 designer Howard Greer text

The “lace is sewed along one edge only;”  i.e., it is not labor-intensive insertion lace.  A variation of this evening pattern, made in plaid organdy, was illustrated two months later, in the July issue of Delineator. There was no mention of its movie connection.

Butterick pattern 5154 as illustrated and described in Delineator, July 1933,

Butterick pattern 5154 as illustrated and described in Delineator, July 1933. “Pin some huge red poppies at the point of the neckline.”

Details of Butterick 5156 and 5154, May 1933.

Details of Butterick 5156 and 5154, May 1933.

You can see the Starred Pattern envelope for Butterick 5154 at the Commercial Pattern Archive; Click here.

Howard Greer, Costume Designer

Designer Howard Greer had been working in the movies since the 1920’s.  Jay Jorgenson and Donald L. Scoggins, authors of Creating the Illusion, put their chapter about him in the Silent Era. For a while, he was head of the wardrobe department at Paramount Studios, but he said he did his best work in three dimensions, while his friend and associateTravis Banton had a genius for what would look good on the screen. In 1927, Greer left Paramount to start his own custom clothing salon in Los Angeles. Many of his clients were movie stars. He obviously moved back and forth between his work for private clients and his film costume design, usually only designing gowns for the star. One of his later films was Bringing Up Baby, also with Katharine Hepburn. In the 1940’s, he started a ready-to-wear business. His last film credit was lingerie for Joan Crawford in Sudden Fear (1952).  He was also a mentor to Edith Head, giving her her first job at Paramount Studios.

Greer’s most famous costume from Christopher Strong was Katharine Hepburn’s metallic lame “moth” outfit; in this scene, she’s on her way to a masquerade ball:

Katharine Hepburn in Christopher Strong, wearing a Moth Costume by Howard Greer. From Creating the Illusion.

Katharine Hepburn in Christopher Strong, wearing a Moth Costume by Howard Greer. From Creating the Illusion.

TCM has a great 2 minute video that shows her making an entrance in it — Wait for it! “Forgive me if I keep staring at you,” says Colin Clive. No kidding.

This is Part Four of a Series about Butterick Starred Patterns. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 were patterns based on designs by Orry-Kelly, for Warner Brothers movies.

Next: Butterick Starred Costumes Part 5: Helen Twelvetrees and Designer Travis Banton

 

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Butterick Starred Patterns Part 3: Mary Astor

This is the third set of patterns based on Orry-Kelly’s designs for movie stars and featured in The Delineator magazine. (Click here for Part 1, Bette Davis and more about Orry-Kelly.) (Click Here for Part 2, Kay Francis.) Butterick had permission to make exact copies of the clothes worn in certain movies in 1933.

Two Frocks from The Little Giant; Delineator, July 1933, p. 55

Two Frocks from The Little Giant; Delineator, July 1933, p. 55.

One of these Butterick Starred Patterns was a dress for Mary Astor, who really was a star in the twenties, thirties and forties, and the other was for Shirley Grey, a lesser-known actress.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5271, designed for Shhirley grey by Orry-Kelly. Delineator, July 1933.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5271, designed for Shirley Grey by Orry-Kelly. Delineator, July 1933. Partly open sleeves were seen on several designs in 1933.

“Shirley Grey’s dress [Butterick 5271]  is one of those “frocks with ideas,” ideas for making itself into several. You can do things to it and obtain at least two frocks, possibly three. Made just as you saw it in the picture, it is simply a lovely afternoon dress consisting of a black satin skirt, on a thin underbody, and a white crinkled satin blouse. But made another way (and the pattern made of this dress provides for this version, too) it still looks just as you see it here except that the skirt is longer, instep length.”

Oddly, although Mary Astor’s dress was illustrated again, in a different fabric, in a later issue of Delineator, the alternate views of dress 5271 were described, but not pictured.  Perhaps they thought this lengthy verbal description was enough:

Shirley Grey dress 5271 LIttle giant text

However, you can see this dress without the “blouse” at the Vintage Pattern Wikia. Click here.

Mary Astor in a dress by Orry-Kelly that was copied as Butterick 5267. Delineator, July, 1933.

Mary Astor in a dress by Orry-Kelly that was copied as Butterick 5267 . Delineator, July, 1933.

Description of Butterick Starred Pattern 5267, from July 1933.

Description of Butterick Starred Pattern 5267, from July 1933.

This dress was illustrated in another version in the next issue of Delineator, August of 1933. It didn’t mention Mary Astor or the movies:

Butterick 5267 as drawn in July and August, 1933.

Butterick 5267 as drawn in July and August, 1933.

Buttrerick 6267 as described in the August 1933 Delineator.

Butterick 5267 as described in the August 1933 Delineator.

You can see a larger illustration of 5267 at the Vintage Pattern Wikia.

About Mary Astor and Edward G. Robinson

Mary Astor was a child actress whose career lasted well into middle age. She played Ophelia to John Barrymore’s Hamlet on the stage,  transitioned easily from silents to talkies, survived a huge scandal, and graduated to mature roles (and an Oscar *TM*) in the 1940’s.  She is best remembered as the temptress in The Maltese Falcon, the mother in Meet Me In St. Louis, and Marmee in Little Women.  The list of her credits (155 movies and TV episodes) at The Internet Movie Database pretty much defines “working actress.”  She also wrote two books: My Story and My Life on Film.  You can get a tiny sampling of her work in this one minute Tribute from Turner Classic Movies.

Edward G. Robinson and Mary Astorin The Little Giant, Delineator magazine, July 1933.

Russell Hopton, Edward G. Robinson and Mary Astor in The Little Giant, Delineator magazine, July 1933.

The real star of the picture was Edward G. Robinson, who had a blazing hit in 1931 playing a ruthless gangster in Little Caesar. The Little Giant allowed him to play a gangster in a comedy. Here he is explaining that he is “crawling with culture.” [In fact, Mr. Robinson was a deeply cultured, educated man, but, as beautifully explained at the Pre-Code movie site, his physical appearance made him an unlikely movie star.]

“You definitely can’t build a star like Edward G. Robinson. A Jewish-Romanian who’d studied to be a Rabbi before trying law school and eventually working his way to the theater, Robinson worked on Broadway for fifteen years and made his first appearance in a silent film in 1923. But when the talkies came, so came Robinson’s voice to the masses– a distinctly New York-ian snappy piece of work, a raspy growl that signifies a great deal of soon-to-come fury. Little Caesar is the movie that made Robinson a star, a role that allows him to embody a character of unstoppable, aggressive malice. His character of Rico, AKA Little Caesar, is a bully in search of the American dream, all too eager to find the next guy to squeeze it out of. He’s not just a thug– he’s charismatic and clever. And, most importantly, he’s ruthless.” — Pre-Code.com

The TCM tribute to Edward G. Robinson is six minutes long, but a reminder of his versatility. Click here.

Next: Butterick Starred Patterns Part 4: Katharine Hepburn and Helen Chandler in designs by Howard Greer.

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Butterick Starred Patterns Part 2: Kay Francis in The Keyhole

Orry-Kelly, who designed the costumes for Bette Davis in forty-two movies (see Part 1,) was also credited with these designs for Kay Francis in The Keyhole. Butterick chose two designs from the movie to copy as Butterick Starred Patterns 5102 and 5113. This article introduced the Starred Patterns idea in April of 1933, in Butterick’s Delineator magazine, although the term “Starred Patterns” was not used.

Delineator, page 74, from April 1933. This is the first mention of Butterick Starred Patterns.

Delineator, page 74, from April 1933. This is the first mention of Butterick’s exact copies of clothes from the movies. Patterns  5102 and 5113 were featured.

Although she’s not remembered as well as Bette Davis, who displaced her at Warner Bros., Kay Francis was a very big star in the early thirties.

“Despite a slight lisp, she was one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and highly paid stars in the 30s, … typically portraying stylish, worldly brunettes in romantic melodramas and occasional comedies…. By the early 40s she had been mostly relegated to B pictures.”  — Ephraim Katz, in The Film Encyclopedia.

Here is the text of the Delineator article which introduced the concept behind Butterick Starred Patterns:

Butterick Starred Patterns; Text of Delineator article, April 1933, p. 74

Text of Delineator article, April 1933, p. 74. “The patterns for these two frocks reproduce the Kay Francis dresses exactly, as the sketches … show.”

“Each month Delineator will present fashions from motion pictures. Each month two or more dresses, worn by the stars who are noted for their chic, will be chosen. Butterick will make patterns of them, and Delineator will illustrate them, and bring you news of the new motion pictures.” In previous decades, Butterick bragged about its copies of Paris fashions. In 1933, there were more references to New York styles, and to the influence of the movies.

Butterick 5120 was an exact copy of this brown evening gown worn by Kay Francis in the movie The Keyhole. 1933.

Butterick 5102 was an exact copy of this brown evening gown worn by Kay Francis in the movie The Keyhole. Delineator, April, 1933.

The caption read “Kay Francis in the role of ‘Anne,’ a dancer, in the mirror scene from her new picture, The Keyhole.”  (Click the link to watch it.) The article said, “Throughout her troubles [bigamy and blackmail] — her taste for stunning clothes remains intact.”

Butterick Starred Patterns 5113 and 5102. Delineator, April 1933.

Butterick Starred Patterns 5113 and 5102. Delineator, April 1933.

[Note: No. 5102 is a dress for those with perfect posture, or with toupee tape on their shoulders. If your napkin slips off your lap at dinner, don’t reach down to retrieve it in a backless, sideless bodice like this….] “The evening gown is made of brown lacquered satin, and the jacket frock of chartreuse wool and white pique.”  Here is a closer view of the bodice details:

Butterick 5113 and 5102, details. Delineator, April 1933.

Butterick 5113 and 5102, details. Delineator, April 1933. The dress on the left was lime green and white.

The photos from the film show how precisely Butterick’s patterns copied these dresses.

Butterick 5113 was a close copy of Orry-Kelly's design for Kay Francis. 1933.

Butterick 5113 was a close copy of Orry-Kelly’s design for Kay Francis. 1933.

You can see larger images of Butterick 5113 and 5102 at the Vintage Pattern Wikia, where their images from the Fall 1933 Butterick pattern catalog can be found. You can see the pattern envelope for 5102, with a very different bodice, by clicking here. It says nothing about “Starred” patterns, so perhaps that title wasn’t conferred until later. These are actually the first two patterns in the series of twelve, and do appear as a group in the 1933 pattern catalog.

After watching a lot of clips on YouTube, I discovered that Kay Francis is much more attractive in motion than she appears in studio portraits. Those downward-slanting eyebrows make her look morose in still photos, but in movies her face seems lively, and her fleeting expressions strike me as more natural and genuine than run-of-the-mill thirties’ acting. She was equally at home in comedy and melodrama.

Leonard Maltin’s Classic Film Guide describes The Keyhole as a “seedy romantic drama with Francis anguishing in a variety of elegant Orry-Kelly gowns.” Well, isn’t suffering supposed to make you beautiful? In the movies, it could.

You can read more about glamorous Kay Francis at the TCM site. Costume designer Orry-Kelly is the subject of a new documentary film, Women He’s Undressed (2015). See the trailer here. (It’s Australian, like Orry-Kelly, so may not yet be available in the U.S.  I love that trailer! No wonder he won three Oscars *TM*!)

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Vintage patterns from the movies

Butterick Starred Patterns: Actual Fashions from the Movies (Part 1)

Katharine Hepburn in Butterick Starred Pattern 5156 5154, Delineator May 1933. P. 71

Katharine Hepburn in Butterick Starred Pattern 5156, Delineator May 1933. P. 71 From the movie Christopher Strong.

As far as I can tell, in 1933 Butterick decided to take advantage of the movies’ influence on fashion by issuing a dozen patterns that were exact copies of the clothes worn in films. The costumes were designed by Orry-Kelly, Travis Banton, and Howard Greer for actresses Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Kay Francis and Mary Astor, among others. The series was called Butterick Starred Patterns. The movie studios cooperating with Butterick were Warner’s, R.K.O., and Paramount.

These patterns are not to be confused with the Hollywood Pattern company; Hollywood Patterns only had movie studio tie-ins, with pictures of stars and starlets appearing on the pattern envelopes. The patterns were not exact copies of movie costumes. As explained in A History of the Paper Pattern Industry, by Joy Spanabel Emery:

“Hollywood pattern styles were not of the garments worn in films, for as stated in the April/May Hollwood Pattern Book, ‘[The designs] are inspired by the clothes of the smartest stars, not copied from them. The dress which may be perfect for the camera may be too dramatic in the office or home. Our staff studies the best previews, then creates clothes in the same spirit, but easier to wear.’ ” — Joy Spanabel Emery, p. 126. [Movies were often previewed a month before general release.]

SoVintagePatterns.com has many Hollywood patterns for sale. Click here and see if you find your favorite actress. Click here to see the Hollywood pattern version of a Scarlett O’Hara dress, translated into a 1939 evening gown or day dress.

Butterick Starred Patterns

Because of their rarity and their genuine movie and celebrity tie-ins,  Butterick Starred Patterns are collectors’ items now. Butterick No. 5215, a pattern for the bathing suit worn by Bette Davis in The Working Man, sold on Ebay in December, 2015, for $113.50 (unused.)

Bette Davis in The Working Man, and Butterick Starred Pattern. Delineator, June 1933.

Bette Davis in The Working Man, and  Butterick pattern 5215, a halter top bathing suit. Delineator, June 1933.

Butterick Starred Patterns only appeared in the Butterick catalog for one year: 1933. (Joy Spanabel Emery, p 127.)

As it happens, I have just finished going through all 12 issues of Butterick’s Delineator magazine — in which “Starred” Patterns were publicized — from 1933. From April through August, The Delineator featured a different movie each month, with illustrations of the patterns on the same page as photographs of those exact outfits being worn in the film.

Delineator, June 1933. p. 63. Four Butterick Starred Patterns designed for Bette Davis by Orr-Kelly in the film The Working Man.

Delineator, June 1933. p. 63. Four Butterick Starred Patterns designed for Bette Davis by Orry-Kelly in the film The Working Man.

I’ll separate the patterns by designer, starting with Bette Davis in four costumes designed by Orry-Kelly for the Warner Brothers’ film, The Working Man. Here is the text of the article “Four Costumes Worn by Bette Davis.”

1933 June p 63 Bette Davis 500 hollywood 5204 5215 5212 5214 left TEXT

1933 June p 63 Bette Davis 500 hollywood 5204 5215 5212 5214 btm half TEXT

Bette Davis’ bathing suit 5215  in The Working Man is searchable as Butterick 5215 C in the Vintage Pattern Wikia. The pattern envelope shows another, pleated version, too. That view was featured in Delineator’s July issue. It’s been named “Seaworthy,” and there is no mention of Bette Davis or the movies.

Butterick bathing suit pattern 5215 -- "Seaworthy" -- in a feature about resort wear. Delineator, July 1933.

Butterick bathing suit pattern 5215 — “Seaworthy” — in a feature about resort wear. Delineator, July 1933.

In June, Delineator said, “The plaid gingham bathing suit is fashion news, for the cotton suit is the suit of the summer, much, much smarter than the wool one.” In July, the same suit, in an alternate view with pleated skirt, was described this way:

Butterick 5215 as described in July 1933.

Butterick 5215 as described in July 1933.

Two designs for Bette Davis in The Working Man. Butterick Starred Patterns 5204 and 5215. Jule 1933, Delineator.

Two Orry-Kelly designs for Bette Davis in The Working Man. Butterick Starred Patterns 5204 and 5215. June 1933, Delineator.

Bette Davis wore Starred Pattern No. 5204 for her role as a secretary:

Butterick Starred Pattern 5204, a "four pocket" dress for a secretary. Delineator, June 1933, p. 63.

Butterick Starred Pattern 5204, a “four pocket” dress for a secretary. Delineator, June 1933, p. 63.

“It was a grand dress to get fired in.” 5204  is not in the Vintage Pattern Wikia, but click here to see the envelope.

Butterick Starred Patterns 5212 and 5214, designed by Orr-Kelly for Bette Davis. Delineator, June 1933.

Butterick Starred Patterns 5212 and 5214, designed by Orry-Kelly for Bette Davis. Delineator, June 1933.

Butterick Starred pattern 5214 is described in the June article as the “two color dress [which] tends to reduce one’s ‘Boss’ to a state where he will eat out of one’s hand.”

Bette Davis in the dress which Butterick copied as pattern 5214. Delineator, June 1933.

Right: Bette Davis in the dress which Butterick copied as pattern 5214. Delineator, June 1933.

Bette Davis Starred Pattern 5214 is listed in the Vintage Pattern Wikia as 5214 B. Patterns 5204 and 5214 had long or short sleeved versions, so buyers could make an exact copy of the movie dresses.

The “jabot frock” on the left, above, “would make the best possible Saturday dress.” Bette Davis Starred pattern  5212 is also in the Vintage Pattern Wikia.

Costume designer Orry-Kelly first worked with Bette Davis in 1932, when she still thought of herself as “a mousy, twenty-two year old virgin with knobby knees, a pelvic slouch, and cold blue bug eyes….”

“Davis credited Orry-Kelly’s designs for giving her a certain amount of chic, a quality that she did not feel she possessed…. During her eighteen years at Warner Bros.,  Davis came to rely on Orry-Kelly to help her build the characterizations for which she became so famous.” — Creating the Illusion, p. 170

Orry-Kelly and Bette Davis didn’t like each other, according to Jorgenson and Scoggins in Creating the Illusion, but they realized that they complemented each other’s work.  They made forty-two movies together in a period of fourteen years.

“Working with Bette Davis isn’t easy, but she’s worth it. She’s honest and outspoken. She’s one of the very few actresses I know who can look in the mirror and tell herself the truth. When I’m ready to give up and throw out a dress, she’ll give it a hitch or a twist and turn it into something great.” — Orry-Kelly, quoted in Creating the Illusion, p. 171.

Orry-Kelly has an astoundingly long list of movie design credits  (Filmography) at the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb), but he didn’t design all the costumes in all those movies. Studios often listed a department head or supervisor as the “designer” on films. Much of the work was done by assistants. However, established stars developed working (and sometimes fighting) relationships with studio designers. In addition to all those Bette Davis pictures, you may remember Orry-Kelly’s costumes for Gold Diggers of 1933,  Casablanca and Some Like It Hot. 

Next:

Butterick Starred Patterns, Part 2: Orry-Kelly designs costumes for Kay Francis, and Butterick makes patterns from his designs.

 

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Bathing Suits, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Swimsuits, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns, Vintage patterns from the movies, Women in Trousers