Tag Archives: 1920s patterns

Paris Calls for Pleats, 1926 (Part 1)

Paris Straightens the Autumn Frock with Front and Side Plaits. Delineator, Sept. 1926.

Paris Straightens the Autumn Frock with Front and Side Plaits. Delineator, Sept. 1926.

Pleats for All Sizes

Butterick’s Delineator magazine ran two articles in the September, 1926, issue about the importance of “plaits” [i.e., pleats] to the fall styles. The first article showed three patterns for women in the normal range of sizes, with bust measurements of 32 to 44 inches. Elsewhere in that issue, patterns for “Misses aged 15 to 20 and small women” also show pleated skirts. [Misses’ sizes were for shorter and smaller figures; age 20 assumed a 37″ bust.] But the second article showed dresses with pleats in pattern sizes up to a 52 inch bust measurement. Since the styles of the 1920s were especially cruel to large figures, I am always intrigued by these unexpectedly large pattern sizes. I’m guessing that Butterick and other pattern companies realized that being “hard to fit” is a major reason for making your own clothes, so they routinely offered sizes not available in most stores.

Pleated Styles for Average and Small Women, 1926

In this post I’ll share some of the styles for women who fell within the normal size ranges.

Butterick pattern 7067, September 1926.

Butterick pattern 7067, September 1926.

This dress is very unusual — at least in my limited experience — because of the horizonal bands which decorate the shoulders and extend onto the sleeve caps.  Twenties’ fashions can be hard to wear because they widen the hips — already most women’s widest area. Many twenties styles have vertical details which seek to counteract this problem, but I have not seen many that visually broaden the shoulders like this:  butterick 7067 detailsNote, too, that the skirt pleats are stitched down for several inches to control fullness. The belt, which passes through buttonholes in the hip band, is tied very loosely as illustrated, but it could be used to snug the hip and create a blouson above. The long tie ends and the pleats create vertical lines for a slimming effect. This fashion figure is over 9 “heads” tall, but, adjusted to a normal figure, this could be a very becoming — and not terribly difficult — dress to copy. Back views are shown at the end of this post.

Butterick 7033, September 1926.

Butterick 7033, September 1926.

This dress, with its enormous buckle and wide hip band, would not flatter many women — especially those with a 44 inch bust and 47.5 inch hip — the usual pattern proportions. The collar creates a deep curve similar to the line of a long 1920s necklace, but it gets bigger at the bottom and draws more attention to the hip area. The description (“attached to a long body”) suggests that, although described as a dress, this is probably made made as a top, including the hip band, with a separate skirt suspended from the shoulders like a slip — a very common practice. The vestee, which fills in the neckline, can be made detachable for washing.

Butterick 7055, September 1926.

Butterick 7055, September 1926. For ladies 32 to 48 bust.

Butterick No. 7055 was not singled out as being for larger women, but it was available in sizes 46 and 48. I love the “Roman striped vestee” with its strong diagonals, and the ribbon-flower pom-pom which draws your eye upward to the face, plus the widening effect of “saddle shoulders” cut-in-one with the sleeve. This dress is definitely meant to be snugged at the hip; it has an adjustable belt at each side, like the belt on the back of a vest. butterick 7055 detailsThis dress has box pleats lined up with the side seams, and top-stitched for a slim fit over the hips. The saddle shoulders are similarly top-stitched.

A dress shown in “pea-soup green” gives plenty of room for movement when you’re walking:

Butterick 7045, September 1926.

Butterick 7045, September 1926.

Monograms were very popular, influenced perhaps by Jean Patou’s  use of them in sportswear. This dress is a bit tricky to make, because it has inserted pleats of darker color fabric. They are not inserted into seams, but added like a wedge-shaped godet. That explains the need for those arrow shapes — stitching or applique? — that reinforce the points of stress. 1926 sept p 28 grn skirt paris frocks pleats

Pleated Dresses for Misses and Smaller Women, September 1926.

Butterick patterns for Misses aged 15 to 20 and Smaller Women. September 1926.

Butterick patterns for Misses Aged 15 to 20 and Smaller Women. September 1926.

Butterick 7057, (left) like the green dress pictured above, has pleats inserted like godets. The color combination is interesting. A color called bois de rose (rosewood) was popular, but this dress is burgundy colored. Notice the unusual sleeves. The pink contrasts in the top half of this dress are so interesting that its self-colored hip belt is hardly noticeable.

Butterick 7057 for Misses and Smaller Women, September 1926.

Butterick 7057 for Misses and Small Women, September 1926.

The pleats are topstitched, both for flatness and to reinforce the weakest points. The “convertible” collar can be worn unbuttoned.

This blue dress also has stitched-down pleats below its dropped waist.

Butterick pattern 7003 for Misses and Small Women, Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern 7003 for Misses and Small Women, Sept. 1926.

This dress is for younger and smaller women, who might be expected to have ideal 1920s figures, but it still uses many vertical lines for a slenderizing effect, especially in the very long tie. Little capes on the backs of dresses were often shown in pattern illustrations, but, like this one, they were usually detachable or optional. “Chin-chin blue” is probably meant to evoke Chinese colors. The gray belt seems to run through buttonholes in the front and back of the dress. See back views below.

Misses’ dress 7024 is not pleated. Described as a “coat-frock,” it has a slenderizing vertical opening the entire length of the center front.

Butterick  pattern for Misses 7024, Sept. 1926.

Butterick pattern for Misses 7024, Sept. 1926.

Lacking pleats, the skirt’s 46″ hem circumference does not encourage long strides. The artist has neglected to draw the slip straps. Another sheer-over-satin dress for young women, No. 6904, was featured in July, 1926:

Butterick pattern No. 6904 for Misses, July 1926.

Butterick pattern No. 6904 for Misses, July 1926.

These coat-dress styles create such a strong vertical line that I would expect them to be appealing to larger women, but both these patterns are for “Misses 15 to 20 years old, and small women.”

This dress pattern, No. 7059, is actually a blouse and skirt combination.

Butterick pattern No. 7059 for Misses and Small Women. Sept. 1926

Butterick pattern No. 7059 for Misses and Small Women. Sept. 1926

The pleats on the skirt can fall perfectly straight, because there is no waistband; this skirt is attached to a slip-like underbody and hangs from the shoulders. It is similar in style to some of the pleated dresses for larger women described in the same magazine. It is not a style I would recommend to women seeking to look thinner.

These 1920s Hats Deserve a Second Look:

Four hats from Delineator, September 1926.

Four hats from Delineator, September 1926.

Here are back views of the eight dresses from September that are pictured above:

Back views: Butterick patterns for Women Nos. 7067, 7033, 7055, 7045.

Back views: Butterick patterns for Women Nos. 7067, 7033, 7055, 7045.

Most of these dresses can be made with long or short sleeves. Only one, #7033, has pleats in back. #7045 shows that there is a handy strap on the back of her clutch purse.

Back views of Dresses for Misses, Nos. 7024, 7059, 7057, 7003.

Back views of Dresses for Misses, Nos. 7024, 7059, 7057, 7003.

Part 2 of “Paris Calls for Pleats” will show 1926 patterns for larger women.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under 1920s, bags, Hats, Purses, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Outdoor Clothing for Young Women, 1920s

For a long time I had been puzzled by this photograph of my aunt wearing what seemed to be a military outfit. The photo is dated 1919; the man next to her eventually became her husband, and her mother is wearing a dress that was already old-fashioned.

Young woman with her future husband and her mother, 1919

Young woman with her future husband and her mother, 1919

I knew that English women had entered previously male occupations during World War I (1914-1918); England’s heavy mobilization and casualties meant that women were needed as factory workers, farmers, drivers of trucks and buses, etc.  But the United States did not enter the war until April of 1917, so, although American women were ready to volunteer for previously male occupations, and fashion was heavily influenced by military styles, American women were never called upon to fill traditionally male roles in the same numbers as their British sisters.

So why was my teen-aged aunt dressed in what seems to be an olive drab wool uniform?car and standing

Hiking & Camping Outfits for Young Women, 1925

When I came across these Butterick patterns for hiking and camping outfits, the mystery was solved:

Butterick patterns, Delineator magazine, July 1925

Butterick patterns, Delineator magazine, July 1925

1925 july p 35 right hiking #4552Pattern # 4552 (on the right): Middy Blouse and Knickers.  “The Middy blouse holds its own as a becoming and practical half of the knicker-and-blouse hiking costume. The middy blouse and separate knickers are suitable for general sports wear. Make tham of khaki, cotton poplin, or serge; or make the blouse of white jean or pongee with knickers of khaki, tweed, serge or corduroy…. The middy blouse and knickers are correct for girls and misses 6 to 18 years.”

1925 july p 35 right ctr hiking middy gym #4157Pattern # 4157 (on the left): “For the open roads and hidden trails young hikers wear a white jean middy and plaited or gathered bloomers of navy blue serge or khaki. Or make the entire garment of khaki, serge, or cotton poplin. This is good…for the gymnasium or for general sports wear. The blouse may be made with a yoke and the collar may be detachable…. The middy blouse and bloomers are for juniors and girls 6 to 16 years.”

A favorite part of any hike is cooling your feet in a stream.dot feet in water729

Gender-neutral Clothing for Hiking, Camping, and Picnics: 1921

This set of photos were taken on a group trip to Santa Cruz, a beach resort in northern California; they are dated 1921.

The Women

The Women

The Men

The Men

Boys and Girls Together, 1921

Boys and Girls Together, 1921

What is remarkable about these photos that the men and the women are dressed so much alike.  Such clothing, defying traditional gender roles – in public! – would have been unthinkable just a few years before.

4 Comments

Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, vintage photographs, Women in Trousers

A Dress Trimmed with Zippers, 1928

Dresses from Butterick patterns, December 1928

Dresses from Butterick patterns, December 1928

There’s something very unusual about the dress on the right.

Talon Zipper Advertisement, March 1929

Advertisement for Talon Slide Fasteners, March 1929

Advertisement for Talon Slide Fasteners, March 1929

This full-page advertisement for Talon slide-fasteners, made by the Hookless Fastener Company, appeared in Delineator magazine in March, 1929. (They were not called zippers, yet, because in 1929 a “Zipper” was a trademarked rain boot made by the B. F. Goodrich rubber company.)

Slide fasteners had been used in clothing, money belts, sleeping bags, etc. by the military in World War I, and in some men’s sportswear after the war, but they were not yet associated with women’s clothing. Many references will tell you that Elsa Schiaparelli pioneered the use of zippers in womens’ clothing in the 1930s, but in fact, she was not the first or the only designer who used them. [She does deserve credit for pioneering the use of colored plastic zippers, and for generating the most publicity about zippers being used in women’s wear in the mid-thirties.] 1929 march talon zipper ad color btm text 500dpi

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, July 1928

B.F. Goodrich Zipper Ad, July 1928

From 1924 to 1927, the Hookless Fastener Company had been selling seventy per cent of its output to B.F. Goodrich to use in ‘Zippers.’

Then, suddenly, the novelty wore off (or the market was saturated), and Hookless was forced to find other markets, and other uses for its products. Hence, this campaign to introduce slide fasteners to home stitchers.

We take zippers so much for granted now that this ad bears close examination:

Top of Talon Slide-Fastener Ad, 1929

Top of Talon Slide-Fastener Ad, 1929

How to Find a Zipper

The mid section of the advertisement shows women what the display case — “Talon Cabinet” — at the fabric store will look like:1929 march talon zipper ad color middle too

. . . and what a zipper in a package looks like, too.1929 march talon zipper ad color close of pkgs

The women shopping for zippers are wearing dresses that close with zippers. 1929 march talon zipper ad name on slide

1929 march talon zipper ad color middle tooThe fine print in this ad is what sent me pouring through old Delineators: “Frock illustrated can be made with Butterick Pattern No. 2365. Note the Talon Slide-Fasteners used as a smart style feature.”

Here it is, featured in the December 1928 issue of Butterick’s Delineator magazine.

Butterick patterns 2251 & 2365, December 1928

Butterick patterns 2377 & 2365, December 1928

Butterick Pattern No. 2365, a Dress with Zippers, 1928

1928 dec #2365 dress with zippers bigger

#2365: “A two-piece frock adds the metal trimming touch of slide fasteners that deftly close the turn back collar, pockets, and cuffs of the slip-over blouse. There is a narrow belt, and the one-piece straight skirt is plaited [i.e., pleated] in front and plain in back. The frock is designed for 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years) and 36 to 48 [bust measurement.]”

Of course, it’s impossible to know if any home stitchers actually made pattern #2365 in 1929. Zippers were relatively expensive — probably why the ad mentions that they will outlast the garments they’re put into — and this pattern uses six of them. The design does reinforce the message that Talon slide fasteners come in “10 lengths and 6 colors of tape.” And, as in many Schiaparelli designs of the 1930s, there is no attempt to conceal the zippers; they are used as trim as much as for convenience.

The same issue of Delineator  (March 1929) featured a line-for-line copy of an ensemble by Madeleine Vionnet which also uses zippers. But that deserves an entire post to itself!

Two good sources for information on the history of the device we now know as the zipper are Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty, by Robert Friedel, and The Evolution of Useful Things, by Henry Petroski.

Three Dresses from Butterick, December 1928

The white dress next to the zipper dress is so attractive I feel obliged to give more information about it, and about the one on the far left.

Three Butterick Patterns from Delineator, December 1928, page 34

Three Butterick Patterns from Delineator, December 1928, page 34

The white dress, # 2377 : “Bow knot trimming of selvage border at the V neck, close sleeves, and belt are extraordinarily smart. A skirt in front has pairs of plaits while the back is one piece, with tucks at the neck. The frock is especially good for borders. It is designed for 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years) and for sizes 36 to 44 [bust measurement.]

The dress on the left, # 2251: “A tailored frock of light-weight wool or flannel to start the day has the new starched collar and cuffs. It is cut in one piece and trimmed with two smart pockets, tie and belt, and may be made without the inserted plaits in front, if you wish to use a heavier material. Designed for 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years); and for sizes 36 to 44 [bust measurement.]

9 Comments

Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers