Category Archives: Vintage patterns

More Cloche Hat Patterns from 1925: Butterick 5966 and 5952

In 1925, home stitchers could make these cloche hats from Butterick patterns.

Several years ago I wrote about a versatile hat and scarf pattern from Butterick (No. 5218.) I mentioned that my own experience making 1920s’ hats was with factory-made felt hat “shapes,” so  I was surprised to find that pattern companies like Butterick issued many hat patterns for home stitchers. A cloche hat made from a gored hat pattern was apparently quite do-able, and as the decade progressed, the patterns became a little more complex. Many hat patterns for little girls (and girls up to age 12) appeared in Delineator magazine, but patterns 5966 and 5952 were available in a full range of sizes. In this illustration, they are shown with dresses for girls 8 to 15.

Young teen girls wear Butterick hats 5966 and 5952 in this illustration from Delineator, June 1925.

Hat pattern 5952 has six gores and a brim (and usually a bow on top;) 5966 has just one center back seam, and the small brim does not continue all the way around the back, leaving a small space for a bun at the nape of the neck if the wearer’s hair was not bobbed into a short style.

Butterick hat patterns 5966 and 5952, Delineator, April 1925.

Butterick Cloche Hat Pattern 5952

Six-gored hat, Butterick 5952. This style was  illustrated in Delineator in 1925 and 1926.

Pattern 5952 could be made from contrasting fabrics (or from one fabric with the grain running in two different directions.)

5952 with the grain running two different ways.

Hat 5952 made in a shiny solid fabric, in a striped or textured fabric with the grain in two directions, or in one smooth fabric which doesn’t show differences in grain. 1925.

Side view of 5953 with contrasting grain. The back brim is very narrow.

Hat 5952 in a shiny fabric. Crepe satin could also be used, alternating matte and shiny sides.

If this hat was made from a delicate fabric like silk or velvet, you would need to flat-line it (and the brim) with a more substantial interfacing.

The bow at the top did not need to be self-fabric. In later illustrations, this hat was often shown without the bow.

Without the bow on top, hat 5952 is a very simple six-gored cloche. March, 1926; Delineator.

Hat 5952 as shown in January 1926. Delineator. Notice that the brim could be worn different ways, showing the contrasting ribbon hat band.

A simple piece of jewelry on the velvet version of the hat makes it quite dressy. It could also benefit from elaborate embroidery or patterned fabric:

Hat 5952 in Delineator, February, 1926. The embroidery would probably be wool, or “pearl/perle” embroidery floss in cotton, silk, or rayon.

Butterick Cloche Hat Pattern 5966

Butterick hat 5966, shown in April, 1925. “For ladies and misses” and for girls.

Duvetyn was a brushed fabric; wool duvetyn was often recommended for coats.

Hat 5966 has just one seam up the back, and a decorative self-fabric “feather” or leaf, apparently tucked under [or does it go through?] a pinch of fabric at the top.

Butterick hat pattern 5966. Delineator, April 1925.

Butterick hat 5966 in a side view; it’s shown with coat pattern 6037. May, 1925. Delineator.

The shading makes it appear to have gores, but they aren’t mentioned in the description.

If that illustration shows corded silk, and there is only one seam, perhaps the top of the pattern piece is shaped like the top of a heart. Is this a cylinder with a strange, curved top? There is no front seam. The grain appears to run either vertically or horizontally. Does the “leaf” pass through a slit at the top? Too bad that the Commercial Pattern Archive *** doesn’t have this pattern. Yet.

Hat 5966 illustrated in Delineator, May 1925. Passing a tie through a bound buttonhole in the dress was quite common in Twenties’ fashions.

This pattern was available for ladies, misses, or girls.

This young woman wears hat 5966 and carries a tennis racquet. (She’s a little distorted by being close the the binding of the book I used.)

Left, a purchased hat; right, Butterick hat 5966. May 1925, Delineator.

It’s not clear what that blue hat is trimmed with (beads? silk flower petals? felt shapes?) but it looks like you could copy it using pattern 5952 without the bow. Here is one more view of No. 5966:

Another side view of Butterick 5966 from 1925. It seems to be velvet, matching the collar and sleeves of the dress.

*** If you already use the Commercial Pattern Archive, skip this section. If you have anything to do with vintage patterns or dating vintage clothing, you need to know about CoPA!

If you have never visited the CoPA site located at the University of Rhode island, you can create a log in — it is free! — and have access to images of more than 64,000 vintage patterns, all of them dated; the envelopes/pattern layouts are photographed when possible. Pattern layouts show you the shapes of the pattern pieces…. Curious? To see a great example, create a Log-in name and password; choose the “search for pattern number” option.  Type in pattern no. “1603,” select “McCall” from the Company name pop-down list, and hit “enter.” Next, click on the archive number at the far left (in this case, it’s 1927.91, because they are archived by date: 1927.) That click will give you a color image of the pattern illustration and all of the pattern pieces. You can print it. Sizing them up into a usable pattern will be up to you…. 🙂

While you are at the CoPA site, go back to the search page and select “Complete Search.” You will see several columns of search possibilities. If you select the year 1920 and hold down the Shift key, you can select 1920 through 1929. In the next column (“Garment,”) choose “Hat.”  In the Gender column, choose “Female.” In the other columns (Keyword, Pattern Company, Collection) choose “Any.” When you click on “Search” you will see every woman’s hat pattern in the collection that is dated between 1920 and 1929, with a small image of the pattern illustration. From there, you can explore them using the Archive numbers. As you can see, 1920s’ hat patterns are rare, but some have gorgeous color illustrations!

Once you start searching CoPA, you will see the amazing possibilities of this searchable digital archive. Imagine being able to scroll though hundreds of  1920s (or 1930s, or 1960s, etc.) patterns. Pick a year, or a range of years, and get a really specific overview of that era. Costume and pattern research has never been this easy!

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Dating Vintage Patterns, Hats, Resources for Costumers, Sportswear, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

Butterick Cloche Hat Pattern 5549, from 1924

Hat pattern for home stitchers, Butterick 5549 from 1924.

Butterick hat pattern 5549 is a simple four-gored cloche hat with a modest brim. (For a previous post describing a different 1920’sButterick hat pattern, No. 5418, click here.) These hat patterns were a revelation to me: many of us were taught to begin a 1920’s hat with a felt “shape,” which has to be cut and steamed into the style you want. This hat is made from a flat sewing pattern.

Butterick cloche hat pattern 5549 from Delineator, October 1924, p. 36. (Duvetyn was a brushed wool.)

Although illustrated on Misses on page 36, it was also featured in illustrations of Ladies’ fashions.

Butterick cloche hat pattern 5549 in 1924 and 1925.

The pattern shows variations in trims (none, feathers, or a ribbon rosette;) sometimes the seams are accented with topstitching, and the brim may or may not be topstitched.

5549 in shiny fabric trimmed with a purchased feather trim.

5549 with a different, drooping feather trim.

5549 with a rosette made of pleated ribbon and a topstitched brim.

5549 worn with a coat and a larger feather cluster.

Hat 5549 with a rosette. (The girl next to her is holding a garden trowel.) Delineator. May 1925.

Here, Butterick hat pattern 5549 is shown next to a “store-bought” hat. Both are chic styles for 1924 – 1925.

Butterick hat 5549 and a purchased hat. Delineator, November 1924.

Note: Vintage patterns sometimes assumed that the stitcher would figure out that things like linings, grosgrain bands and interfacings are needed. At a lecture,  Milliner Wayne Wichern suggested stiffening fabric hats with the natural fiber interfacing used for tailoring men’s suit fronts. It can be steamed into curved shapes using a tailor’s ham. Synthetic interfacings are not recommended. And the grain of the fashion fabric and the interfacing must be matched!  He offers workshops in several locations.

Petersham ribbon (often used for the interior hat band) looks like grosgrain but has a special virtue: grosgrain ribbon does not stretch and cannot be steamed into a curve; Petersham can be made to curve — important when you need to stretch the ribbon on one side, as in the invisible waistband of a skirt, or in millinery.

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Vintage patterns

Seeing Double on a Suit from 1926

Butterick costume suit 6641 from Delineator, March 1926, p. 27.

I’ve been browsing through old magazine issues in search of Butterick hat patterns from the Twenties. This unusual suit caught my eye. The first time I saw it, that bright scarf got my attention, but fortunately, Butterick featured this suit more than once. I confess it was a less colorful illustration that first made me take a second look at the lapels.

Butterick costume suit 6641 as illustrated in February, 1926. Delineator, p. 36.

(Technically, the open collars of the dress and jacket don’t have lapels; they are simply showing the contrast lining on the revers. The collar and lining of the plaid coat also make do without additional pattern pieces. Easy Peasy!)

I do like the way the dress and jacket echo each other to give that “seeing double” effect.

Butterick costume suit 6641, Delineator, February 1926, p. 27.

Although it says this is a suit for Misses 15 to 20 years (“and small women” is usually implied,) the illustration on page 36 shows a more mature (and very tall!) woman wearing it.

Butterick suit 6641 with coat 6639, Delineator, February 1926, page 36.

Alternate views of Butterick dress and jacket 6641. The dress has a pleat at its left side.

In the charming illustration below, the models are definitely in a younger age bracket. (Sadly, I did not photograph the pattern descriptions, but I would guess these are in the early “teen” years, possibly 10 to 15.) [The proportions of illustrations for girls and misses are less elongated and more realistic than those for adult women, so these Twenties’ clothes often look more attractive to modern eyes, including mine.]

Center, Butterick costume suit 6684 , illustrated in Delineator, March 1926, p. 31.

Butterick dress and jacket combination 6684 has button closings at neck and waist, but is otherwise very similar to pattern 6641. Its pockets are decorated with embroidery.

Butterick 6684 in a very dressy version for young women. Delineator, March 1926, p. 31. [I read the fabric as velvet.]

Her hat — a tam-o’-shanter –is also made from a Butterick pattern. (For more 1920’s tams, click here and here.)

Butterick tam-o’-shanter pattern 6246, Delineator, September 1925. “For girls, children, misses or ladies.”

It would be hard to find a dress and jacket that are simpler to make, and which equal these for classic Twenties’ style.

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April 1928 Ad for Belding’s Silks

Part of an ad for Belding’s “Pure Dye” Silks, Delineator, April 1928.

I don’t have a picture of the entire page, but this ad interested me because it shows dress patterns from several companies:  Vogue, McCall, Butterick and Pictorial Review. It also shows a range of women’s styles for 1928, and it shows the cost of the fabric to make them.

Belding’s “Pure Dye” silk was not weighted “or in any way adulterated” to make it seem more substantial than it was. In other words, this was not the cheapest silk fabric available. In fact, at $3 to $6+ per yard, it was relatively expensive.***

(The Belding Brothers of Michigan established a successful business manufacturing silk thread and silk fabrics, with factories in four states.  They also built housing to attract the best female employees, as well as libraries and a hospital for their workers. “Belding Brothers & Company merged with Heminway Silk Company in 1925 and did business as Belding-Heminway. Soon after, the company was acquired by Corticelli Silk Company and did business as Belding-Heminway-Corticelli. The last mill in Belding closed in 1932.” This 1928 ad also mentions Belding’s silk stockings.

Butterick 1904 was featured in the ad; here it is shown in striped silk.

The Butterick Publishing Co. illustrated it in a different fabric in Delineator magazine:

Butterick 1904 made in dotted fabric. Delineator, June 1928. a “frock for mornings or sports” in sizes from 32 to 48 inch bust.

McCall pattern 5168 in Belding’s Silk ad, Delineator, April 1928. This 100% “radium weave” pure silk was washable “Vanette.”

(“Radium silk” was not radioactive.)

Butterick pattern 1906, Belding’s Silk Ad; Delineator, April 1928. “Simple crepe frocks like this have a smartness that belies their small price.” This is made of Belding’s Crepe Iris, “guaranteed washable crepe.”

This Art Deco (or Moderne) dress doesn’t strike me as especially “simple” to make; I love its geometry (“plaits in an architectural outline,”) but I’d be tempted to hire a “little dressmaker” to deal with all those interlocking pieces.

Butterick’s own illustration of dress 1906, from Delineator, March 1928.

This dress is more formal, with a jeweled “buckle” centered on the hip yoke, and a draped neckline.

Another McCall pattern, 5157. Belding’s Silk ad, Delineator, April 1928. This afternoon frock was made in Belding’s “Satin Ciree.”

Top center in the ad was this jacket and dress combination made from Vogue patterns. The plaid dress is topped with a plaid scarf — not an easy combo to bring off well!

Vogue jacket 9273 is combined with Vogue dress 9261. Belding’s ad, April 1928. The “sport silk” fabrics are “Washable Broadcloth” and “Crepe Cashmere” for the jacket — “heavy enough to tailor crisply.”

Pictorial Review pattern 4229, Belding’s ad, Delineator, April 1928. The asymmetrical dress has a soft jabot/drape running down the bodice.

The relatively simple dress is made of Belding’s silk printed crepe “in a distinctive modern design — a summery pattern suggesting the lovely modernism of Paris.” (The “Style Moderne,” which we also call “Art Deco,” was introduced at the Paris Expo of 1925  (Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes)

This classic 1920’s evening dress is Vogue pattern S 3191.

It is sleeveless, with low armholes; a surplice closing (thought to be slenderizing;) an under layer seen at the neck opening; and a big bow forming a side drape. At first I thought it had a (very unexpected) short sleeve, but a close view shows that the model is wearing an arm bracelet, along with two necklaces and very long dangling earrings.

Detail of jewelry in the Belding’s ad illustration. 1928. Note the low armhole.

The next gown is surprisingly bare:

Pictorial review pattern 4159 is an evening dress made in sheer silk Georgette. Belding’s ad, Delineator, April 1928.

This gown is notable for its narrow jeweled straps and its asymmetric shoulder (or neck) line.

A woman really could not wear much underwear under this dress — just knickers and stockings. (And maybe a girdle….)

Details of the diagonal neckline and shoulder straps of Pictorial Review evening pattern 4159.

Georgette is usually a sheer fabric, so this dress is probably built over a straight, opaque silk lining, which would also support the blousing and hip decoration. That neckline would still be worth copying, if you have the figure for it!

*** The Sears catalog (Fall 1928) offered washable silk satin yardage for 74 cents a yard.

Washable silk satin from Sears, 1928.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, evening and afternoon clothes, Hosiery, Hosiery, Jewelry, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

The Big Hem Drop: 1929 to 1930

Only one year separates these Butterick patterns from Delineator magazine. This is rapid fashion change.

The change in fashion that took place between Fall of 1929 and Spring, 1930 — just a few months — fascinates me. The fact that a completely different fashion silhouette was adopted during a time of economic crisis  — when pennies were being pinched — makes it even more astonishing.

Just to get our eyes adjusted and refresh our memories of 1929 before the change, here are several images of couture and of mainstream Butterick sewing pattern illustrations from July 1929.

French couture sportswear, illustrated by Leslie Saalburg in Delineator, July 1929. Short and un-fussy.

These fashions are unmistakably late 1920s. Note the hem length, which just covers the knees. There is a crisp, geometric quality about many of these outfits.

Couture sportswear illustrated by Leslie Saalburg for Delineator, July 1929.

Patterns for home use:

Spectator sportswear; Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator, July 1929. The dress at left is soft and flared, a hint of things to come. The dress at right is crisply geometric. Both are short.

1920’s day dresses, Butterick patterns 2697 and 2707. Delineator, July 1929. Mostly straight lines.

Butterick patterns for sportswear, Delineator, July 1929. Simple, pleated, short.

Whether we look at French couture or home sewing patterns, the silhouette and the length are  definitely “Twenties.”

In the 1929 Fall collections, couturier Jean Patou showed longer skirts — well below the knee — and took credit for changing fashion from the characteristic Twenties’ silhouette to the longer, softer, Thirties’ look. (A few other couturiers also showed longer dresses, but he took the credit for being first.)

French couture fashions sketched for Delineator, November 1929. The large illustration at left is an ensemble by Patou — noticeably longer than the other designers’ hems.

“Paris revolutionizes winter styles.” Compare the hem on the dress by Patou, second from left, with those from Molyneux (left, very “Twenties”) Cheruit (third from left,) and Nowitzky (also “Twenties” in spirit, far right.)

Below is the Fall 1929 version of Chanel’s famous black dress. (In the original, from 1926, hems had not reached their shortest length.)

This variation on Chanel’s famous little black dress — with a slightly different placement of tucks –falls just below the knees in 1929, the season when Patou was pioneering longer dresses.

By Fall of 1929, Chanel’s “little black dress” (a sensation in 1926) is just below the knee. It also has a natural waist.

You may have noticed that waistlines are rising as hems are falling; that’s a topic deserving an entire post, but….

Delineator, October 1929, p. 25. “Higher Waists, Longer Skirts.”

The flared dress at left has a softer, less geometric look, and shirring near the natural waist instead of a horizontal hip line. Delineator, October 1929. This dress seems to be “in the stores” rather than a Butterick pattern.

Between July couture showings and October, 1929: That is how fast commercial manufacturers picked up on the new trend for longer skirts and natural waistlines.

Butterick patterns in Delineator, October 1929.

Delineator (i.e.,Butterick Publishing Co.) had offices in Paris where the latest couture collections were sketched (and copied.) In this case, longer skirts appeared on patterns for sale very quickly. (The process of issuing a pattern took several weeks, and the magazine had a lead time of a month or so, as well.)

When these patterns appeared in April, 1930, nothing was said about their length. Old news!

Dresses for women, up to size 48. Butterick patterns from Delineator, April 1930, p. 31. From left, “tiny sleevelet,” “flared sleeves,” “white neckline,” and “short kimono sleeves.”

By April 1930, what was notable about these dresses, to the editors of Delineator, was the variety of their sleeves!

Back views of Butterick 3143, 3179, 3173, and 3180. Delineator, April 1930, p. 31.

Longer styles had been in the news for several months.

Butterick patterns from Delineator magazine, January 1930.

Butterick patterns from Delineator, February 1930. Hems have fallen. Waists are in transition.

The most interesting article I found about this change from “Twenties” to “Thirties” was in Good Housekeeping magazine, November 1929, pp. 66 and following.

In “Smart Essentials of the Winter Clothes,” fashion editor Helen Koues wrote:

“They differ from any we have had since the war…. To be sure, last season Patou and a few houses tentatively raised the waistline, and we talked about it and made predictions. But now the normal or above normal waistline is here, and anything remotely resembling a low waist is gone. We have had it a long time, that low waist and short skirt, and it is only fitting and logical that it should make way for some sort of revival. [“Directoire, Victorian, Princess….”] We have worn high waists and long skirts before — both higher and longer. But coming with a greater degree of suddenness than any change of line has come for some years, it is an inconvenient fashion.  What are we going to do with our old clothes? [My emphasis.]

“The new silhouette will be taken up just as fast as the average woman can afford to discard her old wardrobe…. The average woman will replace what she needs to replace with new lines, but she will take longer, because she will wear out at least some of her old clothes.  In three months, however, all over America the tightly fitted gown, the longer skirt, the high waist will have superseded the loose hiplines of another season. and the main reason for the speed of this change is that we are ready for it. We are bored with the old silhouette, for we have had it too long — so long, in fact, that… we were beginning to think that we would wear short skirts and low waists till we die…. The psychological moment has come….

“Skirt lengths are particularly interesting: for sports, three inches below the knee is the right length; for street clothes, four inches below, and for the formal afternoon gown about five inches above the anklebone. Evening, of course, right down to the ground… and probably with as much length in front as back…. These are the average lengths.

“Skirts are slimmer than ever, if that is possible, or at least the effect is slimmer, because with the added length the flare necessarily begins lower down. But the flare is still there in full force….”

Colors for Spring, 1930. Butterick patterns in Delineator, March 1930. Flares, softness, and a coat that is shorter than the dress.

Koues also noted that the new three-quarter coat, “that strikes the gown just above the knee” was in style, although she did not mention that this, at least, was a break for women who could afford a new dress but not a new winter coat. Koues recommended wearing longer knickers (underwear) in winter to make up for the shorter coat.

Short coats or long jackets, February 1930, Delineator.

Vogue, October 26, 1929 reminded readers “We told you so!”

If you have access to Vogue magazine archives you may enjoy a timeline of Vogue fashion predictions from October 26, 1929. It began, “We told you so! If you are one of the many women who are complaining that the new mode means a completely new wardrobe, that you were caught unawares, we take no responsibility. For two whole years, we have been reiterating and reiterating a warning of the change to come.”

Here are some highlights of Vogue‘s predictions:

JANUARY 1, 1928:  “The Waist-Line Rises as the Skirt Descends…”

JANUARY 13, 1928:  “Skirts ….. Will Be Longer” — “Waist-Lines Will Be Higher” — “Drapery and the Flare Will Be Much in Evidence.”

APRIL 13, 1929:  “What looked young last year looks old this season — all because longer, fuller skirts and higher waist-lines have been used so perfectly that they look right, smart, and becoming.”

JUNE 22, 1929: “The hemline is travelling and so is the waistline. One is going up, and the other is coming down.”

Vogue ended, “Need we say more? Surely, Vogue readers are well prepared.”

This is what designers in Paris were showing in Spring, 1930.

Paris Couture, sketched for Delineator, May 1930. Every one has a long skirt and a natural waist.

I began with several images of patterns and couture from July 1929. Here are some dresses from July 1930, showing how completely the Twenties’ look had been “superseded” by the Thirties — in one year.

The Twenties are over. The Thirties are here. Patterns from Delineator, July 1930.

Naturally, in 1929-1930 some women thought the new long skirts made them look “old” while some thought they looked “youthful;” but that is a story for another day!

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Coats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Panties knickers bloomers drawers step-ins, Sportswear, Underthings, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Proportions: Dresses from January 1926 and 1927

Fashions for teens and small women, January 1926. Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator, bottom of page 27.

One year later, young women were wearing their dresses much shorter, and fashions looked more youthful because of a subtle change in proportions.

Day wear for teens (15 to 20) and small women, January 1927. Butterick patterns in Delineator, page 24. I see knees.

When looking at designs from 1926, we need to make allowance for the exaggerated length of the 1926 fashion [illustration] figure.

Here’s the original 1926 image again — tiny heads on very long bodies:

Fashions for teens and small women, January 1926.

To make a point, I altered this image rather crudely to show that the biggest change from 1926 illustrations to 1927 illustrations is in the torso length:

The proportions of the 1926 dresses have been altered near the waist in this image, not at the hem. I just cut and pasted the lower part of the 1926 dresses higher on the body.

Left, original illustration; right, with the lower half of the dress moved higher on the torso. The result is also a more realistic human figure.

1920’s dress patterns had to be altered at the waist, not just at the hem, to make the proportions look “right” — and to match the later 1920’s styles. (Click here for alteration advice from December 1926.)

"We pinned half of the pattern together and put it on . . ."The fact that many late Twenties’ dresses had a horizontal seam at the mid-hip must have made it much easier to restyle 1926 dresses into 1927 dresses!

Conjecture: A thrifty woman could use the bottom of a 1926 dress as the skirt of a 1927 dress:

The skirt portion of a 1926 dress might be cut off below the waist and sewed to a shorter bodice to become the skirt of a shorter 1927 outfit….

Or she might shorten the dress three or four inches at the 1920’s dropped waist level and cover the resulting seam with a belt….

This dress from January 1927 was altered at the waist while still in the pattern stage, but that belt could also cover a dress alteration….

I suspect that, when skirts got shorter in 1927, many “little dressmakers” must have been busy doing simple alterations like these.

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French Lining

French lining pattern 6933 from Butterick. Delineator, June 1914, p. 74. It has princess seams and many neckline options.

As far as I can tell, a French lining is a closely fitting interior structure that is usually not the same shape as the finished garment we see. It is different from “flat lining,” or a “dropped in” lining shaped like the dress or skirt, or a coat lining that merely allows the coat to slide over other fabrics more easily.

“A French lining gives a perfection of fit that can be attained by no other means…. It makes an excellent foundation for the draped waists [blouses] now in vogue…. For stout figures a French lining is almost indispensable, and this design will prove most welcome, for it conforms to the newest lines. When made of thin material it may be used as a foundation for Summer dresses or waists, and when made of lawn or silk it is also an excellent foundation for the draped evening dresses now worn.” — Delineator, June 1914. p. 74

Delineator, June 1914, p. 74.

When you have a garment that is tightly fitted, “flat lining” [a lining whose pieces are the same shape as the fashion fabric and are sewed at the same time] will take some of the stress off the seams and the fashion fabric. But when you see a vintage garment that fits very closely in back, but appears to be loosely fitted in front, expect a French lining.

Inside this apparently loose-fitting bodice is a tight-fitting inner structure. Vintage garment.

This vintage bodice has no visible opening. The tight lining prevents “pull” on the fashion fabric’s concealed closure.

When you have a garment that is draped, or bloused, or which has complicated concealed closures, it will behave better with an invisible, body-hugging lining.

This vintage dress does not have a visible opening in front or down the back. It does not have a snap opening in the side seam.

How do you get into it?

Back of vintage lingerie dress. It doesn’t open down the back. Clue: There is a hook and eye closing on the left shoulder.

This sheer lingerie dress with a blouson top has a simple French lining made of net.

How do you get into this dress?

The bias cut lining, which takes the strain of the hooks and eyes, fastens at the center front.

The pattern for the inside of the dress is not the same shape as the pattern for the fashion layer. I would class this as a simple French lining.

The lining fastens at center front; the fashion fabric layer fastens with hooks and bars at the side and shoulder! The sleeves are attached to the French lining. The skirt opens at side front.

The “French Lining” pattern could be purchased separately, but was often included in a dress or blouse pattern.

The Commercial Pattern Archive has this Butterick pattern from 1914.

Butterick 7317; information from the pattern envelope, courtesy of CoPA (The Commercial Pattern Archive.) Notice how different the French lining pattern pieces (top center) are from the fashion fabric pieces (at the bottom.)

Left, the French lining is an 8 piece princess line pattern which fits closely to the body.

The French lining was meant to fit very tightly, and is the support for the fashion fabrics. It ensures that the weight of the dress is suspended from the shoulders, that the folds and blousing aren’t pulled out of place, and that the wearer always looks neat as a fashion plate. In No. 7317, the cross-over drape in front ties at center back.

Changing Body Shapes Seen in French Lining Patterns

These French lining patterns reflect the changing body shape as corsets changed.

1910: Butterick French lining pattern 3527, January 1910. Note the “sway back” shape caused by 1910 corsets. This princess seamed lining has 4 panels in front and 6 in back.

1914: Butterick French lining 6933 from June 1914. The lower bust and larger waist reflect a change in corset shape.

1917: Far right, French lining pattern 1042 from Ladies’ Home Journal, November 1917. The womanly torso is losing its curves.

1924: A French lining pattern from Butterick, July 1924. “…An excellent dress lining or… it can be used to cover a dress form.” It probably was intended for older or “stout” women, since 1920’s dresses were lighter and less structured than previous styles. It has a long, hip-length, waistless shape, like most Twenties’ dresses. Butterick 5361 came in sizes 32 to 48 bust.

French Lining Included in Patterns

The French lining is often based on a princess seamed pattern (like all of those above,) since this permits an extremely tight fit, perfectly contoured to the body. (A French lining also looks very much like the covering of a professional dressmaker’s mannequin.) When you are draping on a professional dress form, you can feel the underlying seams through your muslin — very handy for locating the exact bust point or side seam, or placing a dart.

Once the French lining was perfectly fitted to a woman’s body, she could also use it to figure out (Oops, accidental pun!) alterations to commercial patterns.

[I was taught to call an individually fitted basic pattern a “sloper;” they’re handy to have if you are making multiple costumes for the same actor — or several pairs of trousers for yourself! Fitting patterns are still sold.]

Butterick waist 6791; Delineator, April 1914.

Incredibly, the Commercial Pattern Archive at University of Rhode Island has the pattern for this waist! (If you just create a Log-in, you can use this wonderful site  — over 64,000 patterns and growing! — for free.) There’s always a link to CoPA in my “Sites with Great Information” sidebar.

Pattern pieces for Butterick 6791; Commercial Pattern Archive.

It’s no surprise that Butterick 7971 includes a French Lining.

You can almost guess from the illustrations which garments need a French lining: if you think, “That dress defies gravity! How can that be possible?” or “How did she get into that?” you are probably looking at a dress that has a French lining.

Fashion Plate, 1888-1889 from Metropolitan Museum Costume Plate collection. Below the wrapped outer bodice is a concealed side-front closing.

There are no visible openings on these late 1880’s dresses. Met Museum collection.

They definitely did not have a zipper down the back! A tight fit in back and a concealed opening usually means a French lining; you can probably deduce the rest….

Vintage garment with very full front. The lace was accented with large French knots. It does not have a visible opening in front or in back.

Butterick 3816, Delineator, May 1910.

Butterick 3816, May 1910. The gathers are stitched to the lining; they won’t slide around or come untucked, and the V’s in back and front will never gape.

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