Category Archives: Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Before “Twenties’ Fashions” Had That Twenties’ Look

Fashions for women from Butterick patterns, February 1924. Delineator Magazine, page 32.

The iconic look of nineteen twenties’ fashions — dropped waists, short skirts, an emphasis on youth — didn’t really dominate until the latter half of the decade. These styles from 1924 don’t suggest flaming youth.

Butterick coat 5055 with skirt 4743, from 1924.

These outfits from the tubular twenties have very long skirts, just exposing the ankle area. Women’s hemlines are not much changed from 1917. The 1924 Butterick suit coat shown above, from the lower left of the page, not only looks matronly to me, it reminds me of the suits of 1910, although the body ideal is quite different.

More suits from The Gimbel Book, a 1910 catalog in the Metropolitan museum collection.

Another suit, from the Bendel Collection, by French designer Jenny has a vague twenties’ look, hinting at a lowered waist, but it is actually from 1914. Here’s a closer look at that Butterick style for 1924:

The coat is long, the bust is low, and the waist is ignored. 1924. Butterick also sold the hat pattern, a Tam-o Shanter, No. 4886.

An illustration from later in 1924 shows that this shapeless look (with the same hat) was not necessarily for older women:

Butterick hat pattern No. 4886, is worn with a coat (Butterick 5120) and matching skirt (Butterick 4983.) in Delineator, April 1924.

Returning to the top of page 32, a “box coat,” elaborately embroidered using Butterick transfer pattern 10181, is at left. The dress worn under it does have a dropped waist.

At left, Butterick’s box coat pattern 5052 over dress 4721. From 1924. The outfit at right is made from coat pattern 5051 over dress 4789.

Butterick coat pattern 5053 treats the female body as a long cylinder, although this pattern was available up to bust size 46 inches, which assumed a proportionately bigger hip measure.

Left, a “coat dress,” Butterick 5054, with embroidery pattern 10191; right, a mannish suit made from “sack coat” 5040, blouse 4790, and skirt 4753. Delineator, Feb. 1924, page 32.

The sack coat (as in the traditional sack suit worn by men) is shown with a Butterick hat pattern, 4973. From 1924.

Here’s another illustration of hat 4973, worn by a much more girlish model, from April of 1924.

This last coat, from the lower right side of page 32, is rather charming, perhaps because it looks more like the fashions to come:

Butterick coat pattern 5032, Delineator, February 1924.

The model is drawn as a teen; her hem shows just a bit more leg, and the coat’s pin-tucked trim on cuff and collar hints at an Art Deco influence.

Butterick coat 5032 — with a swirling button — and cloche hat pattern 4973 again.

When I look at these styles, I can hardly wait for the “real” twenties to begin. As in the 1960’s, styles favored by young women and teens became dominant as the decade progressed.

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Spring Prints, 1938

Maybe it was the result of seeing flowers in bloom that made women dress in print fabrics every Spring. In 1938, the flowers on the dresses were often big ones:

Two dresses for May, 1938. Butterick Fashion News flyer. Butterick 7847 and 7839.

Pattern descriptions and back views for Butterick 7847 and 7839, May 1938.

These (mostly floral) print dresses appeared in the Butterick Fashion News flyer in April and May of 1938.

Print dresses for Spring, 1938. Butterick store flyer, April 1938. Butterick 7813, left, and 7801, right.

 

Butterick dress pattern 7809 illustrated in a large-scale print fabric. Butterick store flyer, April 1938. Available up to bust size 44 inches.

Butterick patterns 7786, 7784, 7817, and 7795. Store flyer for April 1938.

Patterns for older and larger women were also illustrated in print fabrics. Butterick patterns 7802, 7799, and 7815; store flyer, April 1938. These were available up to size 50 or size 52.

Smaller and younger women could also find patterns — and print fabrics — to meet their needs.

Butterick 7862 was for women 5′ 4″ and under. Store flyer, May 1938.

7830, 7836, and 7828.

The “jacket frock” in the center is for Junior Miss figures up to bust size 38. Companion-Butterick patterns 7830, 7836, and 7828, from May 1938. The one on the right has print lapels and sash.

The dress on the cover for May 1938 was polka-dotted. Butterick 7857.

Left, a big floral print on Companion-Butterick 7829. Next, No. 7823 has a floral print sash. Its neckline is attributed to Vionnet’s influence. The dress with bows, No. 7827, is shown in a smaller, widely spaced white floral print. Right, No. 7825. All were available in a wide range of sizes, to fit either  young and small women (Sizes 12 to 20) or women up to bust 44″. Butterick store flyer, May 1938.

Bold border print fabrics were suggested for these “Beginners'” sewing patterns.

These patterns for inexperienced dressmakers use 52″ border prints. One has a zipper front, and neither has set-in sleeves. Butterick 7838 and 7864. May 1938.

Print fabrics were also suggested for Spring of 1939 — but there was a more youthful silhouette:

Butterick dresses for Spring, 1939. Patterns 8366, 8387, and 8372. Butterick Fashion News flyer, May 1939.

These sleeves and shoulders resemble those of the previous year, but in 1939, skirts were being worn much shorter — just at the bottom of the kneecap:

Butterick dress patterns from May 1938 (left) and May 1939 (right.) Butterick store flyers.

For May, 1939, a suit jacket and bodice are piped with the same polka-dotted fabric that makes the “pancake” hat, worn very far forward on the head. The hat is Butterick pattern 8359. The suit, with knee length skirt, is Butterick 8351.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers

More Fashions from McCall, July 1938

It’s such a pleasure to see full-color pattern illustrations; here are some more.

McCall coat pattern 9809, McCall dresses 9807 and 9815. McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

Surprisingly, the gold colored garment on the left is a coat for summer; it could be made with longer sleeves for other seasons.

McCall coat pattern 9808, from 1938. It has a “petal neckline.” Available in sizes 12 – 18 and 36 to 42.

McCall dress pattern 9807 from 1938. A dress “anyone can wear,” it was available in sizes 12-18, and 36 to 46.

McCall pattern 9815 from 1938. These floral striped fabrics were very popular that year. Available in sizes 12 through 20 years, but not in woman’s sizes.

For more stripes and flowers from 1938, click here.

Dresses to make your waist look smaller. McCall 9792, 9790, 9791, from McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

McCall dress pattern 9792 from 1938. It was only available in young women’s sizes 12 to 20.

McCall dress pattern 9790 is described as a new kind of  princess line, shaped with tucks instead of princess seams. 1938. Sizes 12 to 20.

McCall pattern 9791 looks like a dress and bolero jacket, but it is really a dress made from two fabrics. 1938. Sizes 12 to 20.

Three dresses intended for average and larger women appeared together, at left:

McCall dress patterns available up to size 46: 9817, 9805, 9789; right, 9795. McCall’s Magazine, July 1938.

As usual, they were not illustrated on a different body type than the dresses for younger or smaller women, and these 1938 styles do not seem especially matronly. They were not only for larger sizes.

McCall dress pattern 9817 was available in sizes 12 – 18 and 36 to 46. 1938. I would think this dress was more slenderizing than the pink “hourglass” one (No. 9790) above.

McCall dress pattern 9805 was available in sizes12 to 18 and 36 to 46. 1938.

McCall dress pattern 9795 was available in the normal range of sizes, 12 to 18 and 36 to 42. 1938.

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Modart Corset Ad, March 1928

Ad for Modart Corsets, detail, March 1928, Delineator.

Ad for Modart Corsets, detail, March 1928, Delineator.

This color advertisement for Modart corsets caught my eye. I think it’s aimed at women with a “mature” figure, because the corsets have lace-up features, and appear to be boned.

Closer view of Modart corset No. , from 1928.

Closer view of Modart corset No. 9513, from 1928. It has adjustable laces at the side, and creates the 1920’s tubular silhouette, including a flattened posterior and a flattened bust.

At the bottom of the ad, five other Modart styles were shown.

Five Modart corset styles taken from the bottom of the ad. 1928.

Five Modart corset styles taken from the bottom of the ad. 1928. Notice bandeau [bra] No. 0857, at bottom right; it wouldn’t have offered much support, but it has darts. It’s not a flattener. The bra shown with step-in No. 7012, at top left, has breast separation, described as an “uplift” style.

By 1925, many younger women were wearing less restrictive, un-boned foundation garments called corsolettes or corselets. (There were many spelling variants.) By 1928, Bandeaux and other bust-flattening garments were also on their way out. You can see two bras with bust darts worn with waist-high Modart girdles in this ad. By 1929, the new brassieres gave a more natural look.  Some women wore no bra at all; others were adopting so-called “uplift” styles which had breast separation and a “pocket” for each breast.

But most women still needed an undergarment to suppress their curves and give the fashionable, flat-in-back, narrow silhouette.

Evening dresses from Delineator, March 1928, the same issue as the Modart ad.

Evening dresses from Delineator, March 1928, the same issue as the Modart  Corset ad. From left, the fabrics are lace, moire silk, satin, and a print fabric, probably silk or Georgette.

Alternate view and pattern information for Butterick 1936 and Butterick 1946. March, 1928.

Alternate view and pattern information for Butterick 1936 and Butterick 1946. March, 1928.

Alternate view and pattern information for Butterick 1910 and Butterick 1942. March, 1928.

Alternate view and pattern information for Butterick 1910 and Butterick 1942. March, 1928.

Three of these patterns were available in bust measure 44 inches, which meant a hip of 47 1/2 inches.

Text of Modart ad, March 1928. Delineator magazine.

Text of Modart ad, March 1928. Delineator magazine.

“Thousands of women now wear with ease the difficult, simple lines of modern fashion … by wearing Modart foundations. Over the rightly proportioned, supported figure, all types of frocks have a new smartness, a new confidence in fashion.”

The horizontal hip line of 1920’s dresses was likely to make a woman’s body look wider, in spite of the ideal of a slender, youthful silhouette. In fact, some of these French designer fashions for Spring, 1928, are really the opposite of slenderizing.

Sketches of Paris designs by Premet, Philippe et Gaston, [Augusta] Bernard, and Worth. Delineator, March 1928.

Sketches of Paris designs by Premet, Philippe et Gaston, [Augusta] Bernard, and Worth. Delineator, March 1928. The designs by Philippe et Gaston and the House of Worth make even a fashion illustration look like a sack of potatoes.

Sketches of Paris designs by . Delineator, March 1928.

Sketches of Paris designs by Lenief, Bernard, and Premet. Delineator, March 1928.

I have written many posts about women’s undergarments in the nineteen twenties. I linked to some of them in this post, but, if you’re a new subscriber with an interest in the nineteen twenties, you may want to check these titles:

Not All Flappers Wanted to be Flat in the 1920s

How to Look Thinner in the 1920s, Part 1 (Advice from an article dated 1925)

Underpinning the 1920s: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners

Underpinning the Twenties: Corsets and Corselets

Uplift Changes Brassieres, Part 1

Uplift Changes Brassieres, Part 2

Changing the Foundations of Fashion: 1929 to 1934

If you want to see some lovely full color illustrations of dresses from 1928, click here. If you just love twenties fashions in general, searching this blog for 1928 will turn up many Butterick pattern illustrations from that year.

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Filed under 1920s, Bras, Corselettes, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Red, White, and Black Ink Fashion Illustrations, May 1927

These illustrations by L. Frerrier [2/23/17 Edit: or Ferrier] were first published in May, 1927, but they seem appropriate for Valentine’s week. Dresses for girls were included, although the grown-ups are using the swing! (Larger views and details are at bottom of post.)

Butterick patterns 1435, 1431, and 1429, illustrated in May, 1926, Delineator magazine. Page 34.

Butterick patterns 1435, 1431, and 1429, illustrated in May, 1927, Delineator magazine. Page 34. For teens or women.

Butterick patterns 1425, 1425, 1401, 1421,and 1428. Delineator, May 1927, p. 31.

Butterick patterns 1425, 1424, 1401, 1421, and 1428. Delineator, May 1927, p. 31.

Butterick patterns 1346, 1392, 1381, 1420, and 1405. Delineator, May 1927, p. 29.

Butterick patterns 1346 (coat), 1392 (frock),  1381, 1420, and coat 1405. Delineator, May 1927, p. 29.

Butterick patterns 1389, 1206, 1403, 1414, 1447. Delineator, May 1927, p. 28.

Butterick patterns 1389 (suit), 1206 (blouse), 1403, 1414, and (redingote with costume slip) 1447. Delineator, May 1927, p. 28.

Closer looks at 1927 dresses for girls:

Dress with matching bloomers for a little girl. Butterick 1927.

Dress with matching bloomers for a little girl. Butterick 1438, 1927. “This dress would be very festive in cherry red taffeta and very practical in pin checked gingham….” In sizes 2, 4, 6.

Left, Butterick 1381, with bloomers, for ages. Right, Butterick 1428. Both from 1927.

Left, Butterick 1381, with panties to match the collar, for ages 2, 4, and 6. Right, Butterick 1428. Both from 1927. Left, No. 1381 has an inverted pleat and straight panties that “show an important inch below the hemline.”  Right, No. 1428 is for girls 6 to 10 years.

1428-text-girl1927-may-p-31-1425-1424-girl-1401-girl-1421-large-1428-l-farrier-illus

For school aged girls, panties did not extend below the skirt hem. “Compose” dresses — which use two or more fabrics — were chic in 1927.

Left, Butterick 1403, Right, Butterick 1414. 1927.

Left, Butterick 1403, for girls 6 to 10 years old.  Right, Butterick 1414, for girls 8, 10, 12 & 14 years. It has an inverted pleat in front. The bib front, modeled on mens’ dress shirts, is called a gilet. 1927.

Left, Butterick 1424, Right, Butterick 1421. 1927.

Left, Butterick 1424,  for girls 6 to 10 years. It was suggested as a party dress. Right, Butterick 14o1, for girls 2 to 7.  Both from 1927. Many patterns offer the option of hand-smocked or machine-shirred hip bands.

1401-girl

Butterick 1420 for a girl . 1927.

Butterick 1420 for a girl 8 to 15 years old. Notice that the hem is above her knee.  1927 dresses for adults cover the kneecap. 1927.

1420-girl

I still have trouble reading “flannel” and thinking “wool,” rather than cotton nightgown fabric.

Left, Butterick 1425, a smocked or shirred dress for a teen 15 to 18 or women bust 36 to 40. Right, Butterick 1428, a compose dress for women.

Left, Butterick 1425, a smocked or shirred dress for a teen 15 to 18 or for women bust 36 to 40. Right, Butterick 1421, a compose dress for women, made from two fabrics, or two shades of the same fabric, or using the matte and shiny sides of crepe satin. This pattern was available up to size 52!

1425-dress-smocked-or-ruched

 

1421-dress-image10

Left, Butterick 1390 has a "Chinese" style monogram. and graded color bands. Right, Butterick 1407. Both 1927.

Left, Butterick 1390 has a stylized monogram, and graded color bands. Right, Butterick 1407.  1920’s illustrations often show a bar pin worn diagonally, not at the throat or on a lapel. Both 1927.

Butterick 1390 could be sleeveless, but bare arms were to be covered for city wear. 1927.

Butterick 1390 could be sleeveless, but bare arms were to be covered for city wear. 1927. The skirt was mounted on a sleeveless bodice top, so it hung from the shoulders rather than the waist.

Butterick suit 1389 with blouse 1206, and a sheer redingote over a print costume slip, Butterick 1447. Both 1927.

Butterick suit 1389 with blouse 1206, and a sheer redingote over a print costume slip, Butterick 1447. Both 1927.

1389-suit

In the illustration below, the woman on the swing is wearing a dress with shirring at the front.

1429-text1927-may-p-34-1435-1431-1429-dresses-swing

Butterick 1435, 1431,and 1429. May 1927.

Butterick 1435, 1431,and 1429. May 1927. Dresses for teens 15 or older, and for adult women.

Butterick 1431, in the center, which looks like a two piece, is not:

1431-text1927-may-p-34-1435-1431-1429-dresses-swing

Last, a “suit” that consists of  a two piece silk dress with a  7/8 length coat which is lined with the dress material, and a n evening coat with tiers:

Butterick frock 1392 with matching coat (pattern 1346), and Butterick coat pattern 1405, a "tioered" coat for formal occasions, available in teens or women's' sizes. 1927.

Butterick frock 1392 with matching coat (pattern 1346), and Butterick coat pattern 1405, a “tiered” coat for formal occasions, available in teens or women’s’ sizes. 1927.1405-coat

 

About the illustrator: I’ve been referring to “L. Frerrier” because that is the way the signature looked the first time I found it (in January 1928). But sometimes it looks like “L. Ferrier.”

Is it Frerrier or Ferrier? Frerrier seems most likely.

Is it Frerrier or Ferrier? Frerrier seems most likely.

[Edit 2/22/17: The comments favor Ferrier. I could not find an artist named Ferrier working in America, and the painter L. Ferrier-Jourdain appears to have lived and died in France.] I did find an “L. Ferrier” in the New York City directory, but no occupation.]

L. Frerrier often illustrated fashions for Butterick's Delineator. These stylized "one color plus black and white" drawings are very different from the same illustrator's more realistic work.

L. Frerrier [or Ferrier] often illustrated fashions for Butterick’s Delineator. These stylized “one color plus black and white” drawings are very different from the same illustrator’s more realistic work.

Whoever he or she was, this was a versatile artist.

In January 1928, L. Frerrier painted these models as passengers aboard the luxurious S. S. Ile de France. Delineator, p. 31.

In January 1928, L. Frerrier [or Ferrier] painted these models as passengers aboard the luxurious S. S. Ile de France. Delineator, p. 31. I darkened the signature to make it more visible.

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Hats, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Summer in January, 1928

Title of a page in Butterick's Delineator magazine, January 1928. P. 33.

Title of a page in Butterick’s Delineator magazine, January 1928. Page 33. [From a black and white illustration.]

It was traditional for fashion magazines to show cruise or resort clothes in the dead of winter. Here are all eight “Summer Modes” and their pattern information.

Butterick 1828, from January 1928.

Butterick 1828, from January 1928. “A typical southern frock.” Available up to size 44 bust. Soft fabric petals accent one shoulder.

Then as now, people who could afford a vacation headed south for a little sunshine during winter months.

Butterick 1821 and 1581, January 1928.

Butterick coat 1821 and frock 1581, January 1928. I love the dress fabric, a pattern of umbrellas and rainbows in falling rain. The sheer coat has a decorative fabric flower on the shoulder.

Butterick 1824, a spectator sports outfit from January 1928..

Butterick 1824, a spectator sports outfit from January 1928. This cardigan costume — with velvet sleeveless cardigan — has two color bands at hip and wrist, the lighter band matching the cardigan vest’s color.

Butterick 181 from January 1928.

Butterick 1818 from January 1928. Sheer georgette chiffon in a floral print worn over a light colored slip, probably the same color as the “plain Georgette” which trims the neck and forms a long bow.

Four outfits featured on the bottom of page 33. Delineator, Jan 1928.

Four outfits featured on the bottom of page 33. Delineator, January 1928.

Buterick 1819, a coat illustrated in a bold patterned stripe.

Butterick 1819, a coat illustrated in a boldly patterned striped shantung silk. It is also shown sleeveless. The dress barely covers the kneecap, and the 7/8 length coat suits it perfectly.

I love this silk coat. I think it is meant to be worn open, and is not for warmth, but I like the deep triangular pockets and that fabric! I hope it really existed and was not the illustrator’s invention.

Jean Patou had popularized monogrammed sports wear (his own monogram on couture) in the early twenties, and many stylized alphabets were available as embroidery patterns.

Butterick 1816, a sports frock from January 1928.

Butterick 1816, a sports frock from January 1928. Stylized monograms were quite popular, so that may be an “M” embroidered in thread to match the striped neckline and belt. The box pleats are applied on top of the belt.

By a happy coincidence, The Midvale Cottage blog just shared illustrated sewing instructions by Ruth Wyeth Spears for sewing exactly this type of pointed 1920’s pleat. Click here.

Butterick 1822, a three piece sport ensemble from January 1928.

Butterick 1822, a three piece sport ensemble from January 1928. It is not a knit fabric, but Shantung. The blouse has a bold sun ray applique.

So, that’s one cardigan made of velveteen and one made from silk Shantung. Without the pattern descriptions, I would have assumed they were jersey knits.

Butterick party frock 1826, from January 1928.

Butterick party frock 1826, from January 1928. It could also be made with long sleeves, and the pattern was available for teens or small women, and for women up to size 44 bust.  Notice the ruching at the shoulder, which creates a little fullness for the bust. The pattern for the slip that goes under the sheer chiffon Georgette was not mentioned.

We think of the twenties as the era of the slim, boyish figure, but all eight of these Butterick patterns were available in sizes up to 44 inches bust measurement, hip 47 inches.

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Filed under 1920s, Sportswear, Uncategorized, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Sized to Height Patterns from Butterick, 1948

The July 1948, cover of Butterick Fashion News was still introducing a new product: "Special" patterns for shorter women.

The July 1948, cover of Butterick Fashion News was still introducing a new product: “Special” patterns for shorter women.

I happen to have a group of Butterick Fashion News Flyers from 1948. For several months, “Sized to Height” patterns, or “Special Patterns,” were featured as an innovation which still needed some explanation. The February issue explained the concept several times.

Front cover of Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. The suit on the left, No. 4422, was available in short and average patterns.

Front cover of Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. The suit on the left, No. 4422, was available in both short and standard pattern sizes.

I don’t have a complete, consecutive run — just February, March, July and August of 1948 — but this “Special Patterns” or “Sized to Height” box appears on all four covers. (What I Found has a copy from 1947; that cover also mentions “shorter length” patterns.)

Special patterns for shorter women information box. Cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

Special patterns for shorter women, information box. Cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

Further explanation and examples appeared on facing pages 2 and 3.

Pages 2 & 3 featured patterns which could be ordered in sizes for women under 5' 5". BFN, Feb. 1948.

Pages 2 & 3 featured patterns which could be ordered in sizes for women under 5′ 5″. BFN, Feb. 1948.

If the pattern was available in both standard and shorter sizes, customers could order the shorter one by putting an “S” after the pattern number.

Page 3, BFN, Feb. 1948. These patterns for shorter women were described on page 2.

Page 3, BFN, Feb. 1948. These patterns for shorter women were described on (facing) page 2.

Here is the explanatory text from the top of page 2:

Text from top of page 2, BFN Feb. 1948.

Text from top of page 2, BFN Feb. 1948. “Special length … patterns are one inch shorter from neckline to waistline.”

Short pattern purchasing information, bottom of page 2, BFN, Feb. 1948.

Short pattern purchasing information, bottom of page 2, BFN, Feb. 1948.

Special Length patterns were shortened from the waist up, and were not aimed at stout or older women. (If the skirts were also proportionally shortened, Butterick didn’t mention it here.) Some of these patterns were illustrated twice in the same issue, once with the number followed by “S” and once as standard sized patterns. Starred numbers were available in both versions.

Butterick 4424 pattern for a suit with fitted jacket, available in average or short versions. Feb. 1948.

Butterick 4424 pattern for a suit with fitted jacket, available in standard  or short versions. Feb. 1948.

Butterick 4422; its hip-widening peplum shows "New Look" influence.

Butterick 4422; its hip-widening peplum shows “New Look” influence. Feb. 1948.

Both pink dresses are pattern 4419, in Average and shorter sizes.

More “New Look” influence. Both pink dresses are pattern 4419, in standard and shorter sizes. (The model looks long-waisted in both illustrations.) Center, Butterick 4431; perhaps its complex bodice design made it unsuitable for a shorter version.

I don’t know why dresses for larger women, like those on page six, below, were only aimed at women over 5′ 5″ in 1948.

Dresses for mature or large women, available to size 46. (The gray one was available up to size 50.) Shorter versions of these patterns were not mentioned. Feb. 1948.

Dresses for mature or large women, available to size 46. (The gray one was available up to size 50.) Shorter versions of these patterns were apparently not available. Feb. 1948.

It’s a mystery to me why a pattern company like Butterick did not always capitalize on the fact that many women — especially mature women — are both short and “stout.” You would think that women who are not standard sizes would be a perfect niche market for specially sized sewing patterns, but that isn’t the case here.  (Lynn at American Age Fashion has written about the development of “half-size” dresses and patterns several times.)

Butterick did sell such patterns earlier.  In the nineteen thirties,  Butterick had issued some patterns for “shorter women with larger hips.” In her History of the Paper Pattern Industry, Joy Spanabel Emery shows Companion-Butterick pattern No. 7586, from 1937; it is a “Frock for Shorter Women of Larger Hip.” See it at the Commercial Pattern Archive by clicking here. Another from BFN in 1937 was Butterick 7647, the gray dress shown below: dec 1937 BFn numbered no faces 500

Another pattern for Shorter Women of Larger Hip (No. 8014) was shown in the BFN for August 1938. I don’t have a complete run of Butterick Fashion News, but the idea of patterns for shorter women with larger hips appeared at least as early as February, 1933 (Butterick 4883.) See “Clothes for Clubwomen.” 

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/1933-feb-p-77-text-4883-shorter-figure-large.jpg?w=500

I find them as late as Feb. 1940 (Butterick 8790) in my very limited collection.

I haven’t found that phrase in my 1948 flyers, however.

Some of the 1948 dresses on page 7 came in either standard or “special” versions; the text at the bottom of the page taught  customers how to order:

Page 7, Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948.

Page 7, Butterick Fashion News, Feb. 1948. A Star next to the number meant that the pattern could be ordered in short or standard versions.

Text, bottom of page 7. BFN Feb. 1948.

Text, bottom of page 7. BFN Feb. 1948.

Perhaps the “S” stood for “Special,” but I suspect that customers thought it meant “Short.”

In July, 1948, Butterick used the word “Petite” to describe these patterns. The expression may well have appeared earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed it applied to Butterick patterns — so far. It’s definitely an improvement over “Special.” Too bad they didn’t think of it in time to indicate these patterns with a “P” instead of an “S.”

Butte4rick Patterns for "Petite" women, Butterick News Flyer, July 1948.

Butterick Patterns for “Petite” women, Butterick News Flyer, July 1948.

Incidentally, it seems incredible to me that for decades Butterick assumed its average customer was 5′ 5″ or over, even in the nineteen twenties, when some of the most glamorous women in Hollywood were tiny:  Gloria Swanson was 5′ 1″. Clara Bow was 5′ 3 1/2″. “Little Mary” Pickford was just over five feet. Louise Brooks? 5′ 2″. Pola Negri? Five feet exactly. Greta Garbo was considered tall — and criticized for her wide hips and big feet — at five foot seven and a half. In the 1920’s Butterick patterns for “small women” were literally small — maximum bust about 37″ — when the normal pattern run fit sizes up to 44″ bust, with some patterns available up to size 52.

There is a great essay (with charts) about pattern sizing here; a chart from a very flawed government study shows that the average American woman was 5′ 3″ in 1937.

After World War II, more statistics were available and led to more specialized pattern sizing. The excellent Midvale Cottage blog (which I just discovered) says that Butterick introduced half sizes (for women under 5′ 5″ who were shorter-waisted and larger in the waist and hip) in 1949. Click here for her history of 1940’s pattern sizing.

I’ll share  more fashions from 1948 in later posts. [As often happens, when I started this post, I didn’t remember Butterick’s Shorter/Larger patterns from the 1930’s — even though I had mentioned them in other posts. As a result of proofreading and checking facts, this post kept getting longer…. Caution:  my sample of Butterick flyers is hardly conclusive for real scholarship — Just full of interesting things to share.]

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Resources for Costumers, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes