Tag Archives: 1917 fashion for women

A Skirt and Two Waists, January 1917

Some Butterick patterns for January 1917, Delineator magazine.

Some Butterick patterns for January 1917, Delineator magazine. These are not dresses, but skirts with separate blouses [called “waists.”]

These are not dresses. Bodice, or “Waist” patterns were sold separately from skirt patterns for a long time. (Sometimes, sleeve patterns were sold separately, too.) In Victorian times, practical women often had two bodices made to match one skirt:  a high necked, long-sleeved bodice for day, and a low-cut, short sleeved bodice for evening wear. When upper and middle class families “dressed for dinner” every night, this was a sensible way to maximize the clothing budget. Skirts took several yards of fabric, while bodices took less fabric but more labor.

It’s not surprising that patterns for these 1917 skirts, which take a lot of fabric, were also sold separately from their “waists”, i.e. blouses. This allowed women a great deal of originality in their costume, and made it possible to use one elaborate skirt with several top variations, as shown in these Delineator illustrations featuring Butterick skirt pattern 8875.

The simplest (and barest) version of both skirt and waist were shown in an editorial illustration:

Editorial Illustration, Delineator,  Jan. 1917. The top and skirt of this evening ensemble were sold separately, and both skirt  (No. 8875) and waist (No. 8901) had variations.

Editorial Illustration, Delineator, Jan. 1917. Patterns for the top and skirt of this evening “frock” were sold separately, and both skirt (No. 8875) and waist (No. 8901) had variations.

[I was able to identify the pattern numbers because they were featured in more detail elsewhere in the magazine. Butterick didn’t usually specify the patterns used for the full-page editorial illustrations that began Delineator‘s pattern pages every month.]

In this illustration, the surplice [wrap] waist is very bare, and trimmed with embroidery  at shoulder and waist:

Waist pattern 8901, shown sleeveless. Jan. 1917 Delineator, p. 37.

Waist pattern 8901, shown sleeveless. Jan. 1917 Delineator, p. 37.

On a different page, the same waist has short lace sleeves to match its more elaborate skirt:

Butterick waist pattern 8901, illustrated on page 38. Delineator, Jan 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 8901, illustrated on page 38. Delineator, Jan 1917.

Waist 8901 requires a “French lining,” which would have been close-fitting and supported the loose folds of the fashion fabric layer. Pattern 8901 was sold in sizes 32 to 46 inches bust measurement.

Butterick Skirt pattern 8875, from 1917

Skirt pattern 8875 can be made relatively simply, as on page 37:

Skirt pattern 8875 as illustrated on page 37, Delineator Jan. 1917

Skirt pattern 8875 as illustrated on page 37, Delineator Jan. 1917

Here, the sides of the panels are open at the natural waist and the front and back panels are connected with a button. The underskirt appears to be finely pleated chiffon, matching the fabric seen at the bodice underarm. [This skirt could also be made with the underskirt and overskirt of the same silky fabric — see color illustration below.]

Editorial Illustration, Delineator,  Jan. 1917. The top and skirt of this evening ensemble were sold separately, and both skirt  (No. 8875) and waist (No. 8901) had variations.

Editorial Illustration, Delineator, Jan. 1917. Page 37. This version has a plain, sheer, pleated fabric under the silk parts of the skirt and bodice.

The version with short lace sleeves was shown with matching lace — yards and yards of it — for an underskirt.

Waist 8901 with lace sleeves, and skirt 8875 with a lavish lace underskirt. Delineator, Jan. 1917, page 38.

Waist 8901 with lace sleeves, and skirt 8875 with a lavish lace underskirt. Delineator, Jan. 1917, page 38.

A closer view of this version of skirt 8875:

This version of skirt pattern 8875 has a lace underskirt, open at the sides like the overskirt, pulled through the opening near the natural waist.

This version of skirt pattern 8875 has a lace underskirt, open at the sides like the overskirt, and pulled through the opening near the natural waist. The patterned stockings echo the lacy look.

Butterick 8875:  “The skirt has an extremely graceful drapery at the front and back which gives a cascade effect at the sides. The underskirt is cut in two pieces and can be made with a flounce having a straight lower edge. The skirt is 39 inches long in front and has a slightly raised waistline.”

To make the skirt as illustrated would not be cheap. “A medium size requires 4  1/2 yards of taffeta silk 36 inches wide, 1/2 yard lace 22 inches wide, 7  1/2 yards edging 16 inches wide, 1  3/8 yard of narrow edging, 2  1/2 yards material for underskirt. Bottom foundation skirt measures 2  1/2 yards.”  When I was studying this illustration, I wondered how the underskirt could have galloon edged lace on three sides; apparently, the lace we see is the seven-plus yards of 18″ wide edging. The skirt shown here has at least three layers: silk top drape, lace under-drape, and and opaque “foundation skirt.” This skirt pattern was available in waist measurements 22 to 36 inches, for 20 cents.

Waist Pattern 8863 with Skirt pattern 8875

Skirt pattern 8875 was also illustrated with a completely different bodice, No. 8863, which had its own variations.

Other views of skirt pattern 8875, with waist 8901, left, and waist pattern 8863, right. Delineator,  Jan. 1917 .

Other views of skirt pattern 8875, with waist 8901, left, and waist pattern 8863, right. Delineator, Jan. 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 8863 with Skirt 8875:

Waist 8863 with skirt 8875, Delineator Jan. 1917.

Waist 8863 with skirt 8875, Delineator Jan. 1917. Embroidered bag transfer pattern 10616.

This is a day or afternoon version of the look. In this case, the skirt has been made with panels and underskirt of the same fabric, and trimmed with beading and tassels, which match the points of the bodice.  “Satin, charmeuse, taffeta or crepe meteor” are recommended. This two-piece outfit is described as a “smart frock.”

Butterick Waist pattern 8863:  “The waist has a draped front which is in one with the sash ends — a very new and effective arrangement for the back. The closing is made at the left shoulder and at the seam under the arm. Two different types of long sleeves with one seam are offered, or you could use the shorter length if you prefer. [The color illustration shows long, sheer sleeves with a cuff, and the black and white views show a tight long sleeve, left, and a below elbow sleeve, right. “The lower edge of the waist can be cut  in a single [black and white illus.]  or double pointed effect [color illus.]

Waist 8863 with a single point center front and high collared chemisette, or with the sheer collared V-neck chemisette shown in the color illustration.

Waist 8863 with a single point center front and a high-collared chemisette, or with the sheer collar and V-neck shown in the color illustration. Butterick also sold the embroidery design, Transfer No. 10101.

“The chemisette and collar can be omitted, but not the French lining, which is extremely important.” [I believe “French lining” refers to a close-fitted lining that does not have exactly the shape of the outer garment; it supports blouson or ruched and gathered effects on the outer layer and was very common on 19th century bodices.]

Waist pattern 8863 with sheer, cuffed sleeves and a double-pointed top, trimmed with embroidery and beaded tassels.

Waist pattern 8863 with sheer, cuffed sleeves and a double-pointed top, trimmed with beaded embroidery and tassels to match the skirt. The bag is also beaded and tasseled.

In 1917, one skirt pattern and two bodice patterns provided many variations; a woman could really feel that her choices would give her a unique look. Careful planning could also give her several “frocks” which used just one skirt. A second, more workaday, skirt pattern made from coordinated fabric could really multiply her wardrobe.

Simpler Skirts, January 1917

Skirts and blouses for day wear, Delineator, January 1917. p. 45.

Skirts and blouses for day wear, Delineator, January 1917. p. 45.

Since taffeta and silk were worn in daytime, as well as evening, one of these skirts might also be combined with the waists shown with skirt 8875.

I can’t resist pointing out the chi-chi balls / ball fringe trimming the hat on the right. Ole!

Hat with ball fringe, January 1917. Delineator, page 45.

Hat with ball fringe, January 1917. Delineator, page 45.

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1917 Fashions Revisited

Delineator, September 1917 editorial image.

Delineator, September 1917 editorial image.

My local Public Broadcasting Station has shown Downton Abbey Revisited so many times in the past few weeks that I suspect a new season is about to begin. I realize they’re somewhere in the 1920s by now — I lost interest many episodes ago — but I still have some lovely color images of 1917 fashions from the American fashion magazine Delineator to share. [Back and alternate views — sometimes surprising — may be found at the bottom of the post.]

Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator magazine, page 51.

Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator magazine, page 51.

Starting at the top of the page:

1917 sept p 51 color top 500

 Butterick patterns 9375, 9363, 9326

A “waist” is what we call a blouse. Waist and skirt patterns were commonly sold separately, but often made up of matching fabrics and called a “frock.” Butterick suggested that either of the outfits below could also be made in navy or dark blue serge; the dress on the right was suitable for “serge, gabardine, checks and stripes” and would also be “pretty in marine blue, smoke gray, beige, soft green or claret color.” Note the red pocket lining and stitching.  Parallel rows of decorative topstitching made a popular trim in 1917. (Click here and scroll to the bottom of that post for a photo.) That’s quite a lovely jeweled belt — very Arts & Crafts, like this set of hairpins.

Butterick waist 9375, skirt 9363, and dress 9326, Sept. 1917.

Butterick waist 9375, skirt 9363, and dress 9326, Sept. 1917.

 Butterick 9369, 9316, 9384

The French blue Georgette top (below, no. 9369) with matching midnight blue satin skirt (9316) is worn for afternoon or tea — tea dances were popular — but for “general wear fine serge or gabardine with a satin; [sic] silk crepe or chiffon cloth body and sleeve would be good-looking and useful.” Pullover dress 9384 is shown made of “mustard color broadcloth. The soft sleeve shown here is cut with a pointed outline that ends with a fascinating bell tassel of dark blue to match the deep indigo satin of the collar and cord sash. . . . One piece frocks are worn in navy, beige, Burgundy, dust color, prune or brown.”

Butterick patterns 9369. 9316, and dress 9364; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9369. 9316, and dress 9364; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Skirt 9316 is illustrated in two versions, with the “tonneau” skirt [below left] arranged “in four soft loops that are especially effective in the satin surfaced silk;” it can also be made as the “envelope” skirt [right] with the folds overlapped and apparently stitched or buttoned together — and trimmed with a tassel.

Two versions of the same skirt: a

Two versions of the same skirt: a “tonneau” [barrel skirt] on the left and an “envelope” skirt on the right. Butterick 9316, from 1917.

The Tonneau Skirt, 1917

It must have taken a merchandising genius to persuade women that they wanted their hips to look like a “tonneau,” the French word for  “barrel.”  Nevertheless, they did; here is a photo of a California girl proudly showing off her new dress:

“Ethol” wearing a taffeta tonneau-skirted dress, circa 1918.

Ethol and Bretta, San Mateo Co., California, about 1918.

Ethol and Bretta, San Mateo Co., California, about 1918.

The “envelope” version of pattern 9316 (in light blue ) appeared at the bottom of the page, with this wine colored dress, No. 9381:

1917 sept p 51 waist 9337 skirt 9316 dress 9381 500
1917 was a good year for interesting hats, upswept hairstyles . . .

Finely pleated hat, 1917. Delineator.

Finely pleated hat, 1917. Delineator.

. . .  novelty sleeves, plenty of buttons, tassels galore, and beautifully embroidered dresses. Butterick sold embroidery transfers and also the pattern for the handbag, at left, No. 10625.

Novelty sleeves, plenty of self-covered buttons, tassels everywhere, and embroidered dresses and suits. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Novelty sleeves, plenty of self-covered buttons, tassels everywhere, and embroidered dresses and suits. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9373, 9073, 9340, 9360

The salmon-colored top and skirt outfit below has a white satin collar, and the buttons are also satin-covered. “Deep patch pockets are embroidered in red and stitched in black.” [!] The blouse can be cut in a shorter length. For afternoon wear, the outfit should be made in satin; “serge, gabardine, wool jersey, stripes or checks make a useful morning and street costume during early Autumn.” [The alternate view of the Russian blouse — at the botttom of this post — looks very different.]

Russian blouse 9373 with skirt 9073; waist 9340 with skirt 9360. Butterick patterns, Delineator. Sept. 1917.

Russian blouse 9373 with skirt 9073; waist 9340 with skirt 9360. Butterick patterns, Delineator. Sept. 1917.

Above right: “Russian green and beige are the colors, soft silk and Georgette crepe the materials that make a frock of distinction for afternoon wear, teas and luncheons. . . . The two-piece skirt can be made with trimming pieces on the hips that give a graceful draped effect. [See the back view, further down.] It has a very soft, pretty silhouette and is made with a moderate amount of fullness.”

Butterick patterns 9350 and 9251

Butterick waist patern 9350 with skirt 9251. Delineatro, Sept. 1917.

Butterick waist pattern 9350 with skirt 9251. Delineator, Sept. 1917.

“In this frock of blue a draped front in bodice effect has a pointed closing fastened by a single big button. . . . The front of the waist forms a sash at the sides and ties over the back giving an attractive peplum impression. [Scroll down for a back view.] The two-piece skirt is arranged with drapery at the sides and gives the popular narrow lower edge and yet is not at all extreme. For evening wear there is a separate train that is very smart and graceful…. For general wear the serge frock is effective in dark blue, mastic, gray, dull red, brown, or prune color.” It could also be made as an afternoon frock in satin, charmeuse, crepe de Chine or crepe meteor “for receptions, tea, or matinee wear.” It’s not hard to imagine an evening version of this skirt, with a long train trailing after those tasseled side-poufs.

Back versions of three of these outfits were also fully illustrated:

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 , waist 9340 with skirt 9360, and 9381. Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator.

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 , waist 9340 with skirt 9360, and 9381. Butterick patterns for September 1917. Delineator.

Back (or alternate) views of Dress 9384 (the mustard one), waist 9340 with skirt 9360 (the green striped one), and 9381 (the Burgundy dress with sleeve tassels and front emboidery.) Apparently the woman on the left is not looking over her shoulder to ask, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” That was a “given” in most 1917 fashions. The alternate version of 9340 – 9360 [center] is very different from the “Russian green” striped version we saw before.

Other alternate and back views for the dresses in this post:

Other views of Butterick patterns 9363, 9316, 9350, 9251, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick patterns 9363, 9316, 9350, 9251, Sept. 1917. Note the sleeve variations, right.

Other views of Butterick 9337, 9316, 9326, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick 9337, 9316, 9326, Sept. 1917. Waist 9337 is almost unrecognizable.

Othre views of Butterick skirt 9073 and Russian blouse 9373, Sept. 1917.

Other views of Butterick skirt 9073 and Russian blouse 9373, Sept. 1917.

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