Tag Archives: 1930s

Butterick Patterns for Children, 1930

Each of these schoolgirls wears an outfit with matching jacket. Butterick patterns in Delineator, April 1930.

I’m struck by how grown up these schoolgirls would look in their suits. (Farther down,  I’ll show school clothes for girls that really echoed the clothes women would have worn to the office.)

The alternate view, left, shows a miniature 1920’s cardigan suit. Butterick 3169 for girls 4 to 10.

The details of the sleeveless blouse are rather sophisticated. [I remember having to wear a skirt like this, held up by matching suspenders, in first grade…. It’s incredible that I once had no hips!]

Butterick 6135 is very like an adult’s dress, with a deep back tied with a bow. For ages 8 to 15. Delineator, April 1930.

If the little girl’s suit (3169 looked) “1920s,” clothes for her older sister (above) show the higher waist of the Thirties.

This little boy is too young to object to ruffles, according to the description, and the girl wears a 1920s’ style that still looks charming to me; it also suggests an outfit for the office, with its bib front and prim little bow!

Butterick patterns for children: 3150 and 3364 from August 1930, Delineator.

Some clothes really were child-sized copies of adult clothing:

The sleeveless dress with cape-collared jacket (3226) isn’t an exact copy of an adult style, but the jumper outfit (3234) is very similar to an adult version. Delineator, May 1930.

Butterick 3234 is for girls 8 to 15; Butterick 3239 is for women in a full range of sizes up to 44″ bust.

I wish this explained how you got into this top; the fitted waist, front and back, implies an opening somewhere. (Probably a side seam opening closed with snap fasteners.)

The coat shown below must have been out of the budget for most children’s wardrobes.

Butterick 3448 has a flared skirt; girls’ coat 3467 has a capelet and fur trim — very grown-up. October 1930.

Proportioned for girls 8 to 15, coat 3467 mimics the woman’s coat at right (Butterick 3491.) Both from autumn, 1930. Delineator.

From a page of fashions for working women [!] Delineator, October 1930. Right, women’s coat 3491.

Left, for girls 8 to 15, Butterick coat 3422 and dress 3414, from September 1930. Delineator. Even the little girl’s caped coat (3434) has a fur collar and capelet like 3491, above.

The dress above (3414) has a false bolero, just like the adult dress (3529) below:

Left, for girls 8 to 15; right, for women. Fall 1930, Delineator.

Left, a bolero jacket over a dress with a light-colored top. July 1930. Women wore them , too.

This bolero suit came in versions for very little girls and their bigger sisters. Delineator, August 1930.

(The girl’s skirt stays up because it is buttoned to the blouse, like the little boy’s outfit, below.)

Right, another bolero suit. The girl’s dress in the middle is quite a departure from the usual 1930’s styles for women, however. It pre-dates the Letty Lynton fad.

The image above is from a page of party fashions for girls; frilly dresses for little girls allowed for departures from the “miniature woman” look.

These party dresses for little girls (age 4 to 10) are nothing like the body-hugging adult fashions of the 1930s. Delineator, November, 1930.

For very young girls, a shapeless dress with fantasy trim (right, Butterick 3529.) Girls in their teens, however, might prefer to wear a dress with a waist — like 3532, in the middle. November 1930.

These dresses for girls from 8 to 15 look like 1920s’ styles, except that they are belted at the waist instead of the hip. Delineator, August 1930.

It’s almost a relief to see that girls were not necessarily expected to grow up overnight in 1930, although many must have joined the workforce in their early teens. [Depression Era film recommendation: Wild Boys of the Road, 1933 . Click here for Plot summary. A teen-aged girl is among the desperate children riding the rails. Louise Brooks made a similar picture in 1928, before the stock market crash: Beggars of Life.]

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Boys' Clothing, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Postcard #2 from My Vacation at the Library

Three fashions for daytime, Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 29. They have characteristic dropped waists, a horizontal line across the hip, and hems that barely cover the knee.

Less than a year later:

Fashions for daytime, Delineator magazine, January 1930. Butterick 3007 and 2984, on sale in January 1930, demonstrate the transition from 1920s to 1930s.

It’s obvious that by January 1930, the change from the low-waisted, short-skirted 1920’s silhouette was already well under way.
At a first glance, these suits do have a 1920’s look, but the return to the natural waistline and the move toward longer hems which they demonstrate is also illustrated on this catalog cover.

Ad for Butterick Quarterly from Delineator, January 1930, p 76.

It’s remarkable, when you consider the lead time for creating sewing patterns and for magazine publication: The design has to be approved, made into a prototype (muslin) and patterned,  made up in fabric, modeled for the illustrators, “graded” up and down to a full range of sizes, and set into mass production before being issued and publicized in magazines, etc. This suit was not designed in January 1930, but several months earlier.

Butterick 2984 took months to develop and have ready for sale in January of 1930.

It looks very much like the popular cardigan-jacketed suit of the Twenties, complete with a long neck tie, but the skirt has a natural waist and a seam line at the familiar 1920’s hipline. The jacket is long, falling well past that old hip-level design line, and the skirt falls three or four inches below the knee.

Butterick Quarterly cover, January 1930. Suit 2984 is on the right, and is shown in a different illustration below..

Butterick 3007 (L) and 2984 (R) from January 1930. No. 3007 has a low hip seam and unstructured bodice that allows the wearer to put the belt where she likes.

Two other observations: The three-quarter length coat was a popular 1930 option, and in 1930, a “sleeveless” dress really was sleeveless.

I’ve been curious about the transition from 1920s to 1930s; apparently it happened very fast!

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear, Uncategorized, Vintage patterns

Bathing Suits for July, 1938

McCall’s coverage of summer fashions for 1938 included articles on choosing a flattering bathing suit — perhaps made of rubber — and the importance of wearing sunglasses.

Photo from McCall's magazine, July 1938. Peach colored bathing suit and matching swim cap.

Full-page photo from McCall’s magazine, July 1938. Peach colored bathing suit and matching swim cap.

McCall’s was a large format magazine, so I had to scan the top of the page, then the bottom and join them. This image was the “cover” of the style and beauty section, and didn’t have a description. Her waffle-weave swimsuit has a matching peach and white cap — or is it a scarf? There seems to be a tie peeking out from behind her head. Her coral lipstick and nail polish match.

Swimsuits and Sunglasses, 1938

"If the Sun's in Your Eyes" article, McCall's, July 1983. Sunglasses and print bathing suits.

“If the Sun’s in Your Eyes” article, McCall’s, July 1983. Sunglasses and print bathing suits.

Bathing suits, July 1938.

Striped and flowered bathing suits, July 1938.

The striped suit has a bra-like shaped top. The ethnic basket/beach bag is impressive. Like other late 30’s swimsuits, the legs are as long as modern shorts. This article stressed that sunglasses keep you from squinting, and, therefore, prevent wrinkles around the eyes. However, not all sunglasses were equal:

“Ordinary colored blown glass has wavy imperfections in it which distort the vision. . . . Science has perfected sunglasses that do not distort vision or darken the landscape. Even at a moderate price good sunglasses are now constructed so that they scientifically screen out most of the infra red and ultra violet rays. . . . Good sungogggles, not optically ground, of course, cost about fifty or seventy-five cents a pair, sometimes more.  But the extra cost over the cheapest type is small compared to the comfort you get. Such glasses are usually a blue or green tint, they’re well made, and come in handy carrying cases.” — Hildegarde Fillmore, writing in McCall’s magazine, July 1938.

How Do You Look in Your Bathing Suit?

That was the question posed by this two-page article:

"How Do You Look in Your Bathing Suit?" article, McCall's, July 1938

“How Do You Look in Your Bathing Suit?” article, McCall’s, July 1938

“If your hips and thighs aren’t exactly streamlined, a dressmaker suit with a skirt will do more for you than a skin-tight maillot.” [But these long swimsuits do make the models’ legs look short and chunky.]

1938 halter necked bathing suit in "jungle print" with zipper front. McCall's, July 1938.

1938 halter-necked dressmaker bathing suit in “jungle print” with zipper front. McCall’s, July 1938.

p 70 bathing suit top 500 with text

“Is a bra-topped suit your love? Then be sure your bustline is pretty perfect and that no ‘spare tire’ mars your midriff.”

1938 bathing suit of elastic lace, "designed by a corset manufacturer."

1938 bathing suit of elastic lace, “designed by a corset manufacturer.”

1938 bathing suit: "The brassiere gives a good uplift, and front and back panels do a flattening job." McCall's, July 1938.

1938 bathing suit: “The brassiere gives a good uplift, and front and back panels do a flattening job.” McCall’s, July 1938.

To my surprise, two of the featured bathing suits were made of rubber. “Do you covet a skirtless rubber model? You’d better see to it that your tummy is practically concave.”

1938 white rubber bathing suit. McCall's, July 1938.

1938 white rubber bathing suit. McCall’s, July 1938.

White rubber bathing suit, McCall's magazine, July 1938.

White textured rubber bathing suit “starred in red and blue”, McCall’s magazine, July 1938.

“This crepe textured rubber maillot ‘swims’ like a second skin and dries in an instant. Its comfortable wool shoulder straps are adjustable at the back.”

(Below) “Tailored as a man’s waistcoat, this very brief bra-and-shorts suit is of ivory-white rubber in a neat jacquard self pattern. The points of the bra snap securely to the shorts, and a row of buttons form the trimming.”

1938 ivory rubber bathing suit. McCall's magazine, July 1938.

1938 ivory rubber bathing suit. McCall’s magazine, July 1938.

p 70 bathing suit btm text 500

I’m not sure how popular rubber bathing suits turned out to be, because, frankly, I didn’t want to do a search for them! Many years ago, while helping to organize a workshop on making dancewear, an online search for stretch fabrics taught me more than I really wanted to know about people who love spandex. Passionately. (Ahem.) I like to think that “nothing human is alien to me,” but I just don’t feel that curious about rubber clothing.

However, given how hard it is to find vintage rubber swim caps in good condition, I doubt that many rubber bathing suits survived.

1917 bathing cap made by Faultless Rubber Co. Ad from Ladies' Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

1917 bathing cap made by Faultless Rubber Co. Ad from Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1917.  A pretty cap like this would be quite a vintage collector’s item.

Rubber for Reducing

Another reason the rubber swimsuits surprised me is that rubber corsets had been advertised as reducing aids since at least the 1920s. They were still being advertised in womens’ magazines about the same time as the rubber swimsuits, and it’s hard to imagine that no one made the connection. (The swimsuits were not perforated, of course. You would just have to swim in your own sweat.)

Kleinert's New "All-in-One" of Sturdi-flex rubber fabric is a perfect marvel! Ad, 1937.

Kleinert’s New “All-in-One” of Sturdi-flex rubber fabric is a perfect marvel!” Ad, 1937.

“Kleinert’s Sturdi-flex Reducers are sized to bust measure. . . . It’s ODORLESS, perforated for coolness, and can be washed in a moment.” And only two dollars!

The Perfolastic rubber reducing garments must have been more expensive, because their price was never given.

Perfolastic rubber reducing garment advertisement from Woman's Home Companion, MArch 1937.

Perfolastic rubber reducing garment advertisement from Woman’s Home Companion, March, 1937.

And Another Thing About 1930s Bathing Suits . . .

I wasn’t expecting to see so many swimsuits with tight “boy-shorts” legs. Late Thirties’ bathing suits are long, by modern standards. [No French cut legs on the beaches then!] But even in the 1950’s, many women’s bathing suits still had a sort of “modesty panel” in front that concealed the crotch.

Esther Williams in an ad for Cole bathing suits, from her book, Million Dollar Mermaid.

Esther Williams in an ad for Cole bathing suits, from her book, Million Dollar Mermaid.

Here are some suits from the 1958 Sears catalog, two decades after the 1938 bathing suits pictured in McCall’s.

Sears' catalog bathing suits for Spring 1958. all three have a modesty panel hiding the crotch area.

Sears’ catalog bathing suits for Spring 1958. They are still rather long, and all three have a modesty panel hiding the crotch area.

Swimsuits from 1938 might be long, but some of them had legs:

Bathing suits from Sears' catalog for Spring 19238.

Bathing suits from Sears’ catalog for Spring 1938.

Bathing suits shown in ads in McCall’s are very similar to the conservative styles at the top of this post.

Bathing suit in and ad for Underwood's Devilled Ham. McCall's, July 1938

Bathing suit in an ad for Underwood’s Deviled Ham. McCall’s, July 1938

Swimsuits from an ad for Palmolive soap, McCall's, July 1938.

Swimsuits from an ad for Palmolive soap, McCall’s, July 1938.

Skirted bathing suits from a Palmolive ad, McCall's, July 1938.

Skirted bathing suits with low backs and bra tops, from a Palmolive ad, McCall’s, July 1938. Note the attractively striped shoes, too.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Bathing Suits, Corsets, Foundation Garments, Girdles, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Zippers

Fun with Stripes: A Gallery of 1930’s Styles

Fifty years ago, I saw this 1930’s photo of actress Gertrude Lawrence in a striped suit. The creative use of striped fabric struck me and stayed in my memory.  The joy of these nineteen thirties’ dresses is the way that a striped fabric is turned in different directions — horizontally, vertically, on the bias — to create the interest of the design.

Butterick pattern after Jacques Heim, Butterick Fashion News, July 1939.

Butterick pattern after Jacques Heim, Butterick Fashion News, July 1939.

Simple Striped Dresses

Striped dresses in many variations appeared throughout the 1930’s. I’m not talking about dresses that simply use striped material, charming as these are:

Butterick patterns from The Delineator, 1934. Left, June; right, July.

Left:  Stripes cut on the bias.   Butterick patterns from The Delineator, 1934. Left, #5599 from June.  Right, #5767 from July.  This fabric was probably printed with diagonal stripes and used on the straight grain.

I’m trying to imagine jumping over the net in one of those tennis dresses.  Actually, #5599 isn’t so simple; getting stripes to match and form chevrons on the bias takes patience.

Striped dresses were usually summer wear. This one is punningly named after Lucky Strike Cigarettes.

"Lucky Stripe;" Butterick pattern from June, 1932.

“Lucky Stripe;” Butterick pattern #4600 from June, 1932.

The dress below is a three piece set:  blouse (with or without sleeves) plus skirt and shorts.

The stripes are all used simply on straight of grain here, both they would make cutting and assembly more difficult! Butterick pattern #3785 from April, 1931. This is a three piece set:  blouse, skirt, and shorts.

Butterick pattern #3785 from April, 1931.

The stripes are all cut simply on straight of grain here, but pattern matching would make cutting and assembly more difficult! Matching stripes is a challenge for the dressmaker.

Stripes in Different Directions

The dresses that delight me turn the stripes in different directions.

Butterick patterns, The Delneator, April 1931.

Butterick pattern #3769, The Delineator, April 1931.  [Two of these early 30’s dresses have both a low hip and a natural waist.]

Pattern with a slenderizing center front panel, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. It came in sizes 34 to

Pattern #8583 has a slenderizing center front panel, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. It came in sizes 34 to 52.

A simple dress with bias skirt and playful pocket:

Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. Butterick pattern #

Butterick Fashion News, September 1939. Butterick pattern #8566

Sometimes the interest comes just from the flattering contrast between a horizontally striped yoke and a vertically striped dress.

Far right, Butterick pattern # in The Delineator, February 1936.

Far right, Butterick pattern #6622 in The Delineator, February 1936.

Butterick pattern #5201 makes a striped cruise dress, January 1934, The Delineator.

Butterick pattern #5201 makes a striped cruise dress, January 1934, The Delineator. The horizontally striped pocket flaps carry the yoke design to the skirt.

Here, the yoke is on the bias, and echoes the diagonal lines of the pockets:

Bias cut yoke on #7743, Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

Bias cut yoke on #7743, Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

When the yoke continues into sleeves, there is added interest:

Horizontal stripes on yoke and pockets, vertical stripes on the body of the dress. Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938.

Horizontal stripes on yoke, pockets, and belt; vertical stripes on the body of the dress. Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938. By 1938, the center front zipper was no longer news.

This yoked dress and jacket combination (at right) has an interesting dress, too.

Jacket dresses from February, 1935. The bias stripes change direction on the sleeves. Butterick pattern 6074.

Jacket dresses from February, 1935. The bias stripes appear to change direction as they follow the sleeves. Butterick pattern #6074.

This dress with chevron striping goes under coat # . Butterick pattern from February 1935. The Delineator.

This dress with chevroned stripes goes under coat # 6074 . It also has “yoke and sleeves in one.” Butterick pattern from February 1935. The Delineator.

The ensemble below is pretty straight forward, but the lapels, bow, and belt turn the stripes in a different direction:

Striped jacket dress from May, 1934. Butterick #5634.

Striped jacket dress from May, 1934. Butterick #5634.

The play of stripes also appeared in thirties’ evening wear:

Striped evening dress, Butterick, February 1934; striped gown and matching jacket, Butterick, July 1934.

Striped evening dress, Butterick, February 1934; striped gown and matching jacket, Butterick, July 1934. #5780 has beautiful, complex striped sleeves.

Advanced Play with Stripes

But the play of stripes gets really interesting when used as the focus of the design.

Berth Roberts Semi-Made dress, Spring, 1934.

Berth Robert Semi-Made dress, Spring, 1934.

 

Butterick pattern 5678, May, 1934. The Delineator.

Butterick pattern #5678, May, 1934. The Delineator.

The more complex, the more fun -- or at least, the more challenging for the dressmaker. Butterick #4089, October, 1931.

The more complex, the more fun — or at least, the more challenging for the dressmaker. Butterick #4089, October, 1931.

Illustration from Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1936.

Illustration from Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1936.

“The zigzag dress to the left is made of muffler woolen, soft to touch, and in wonderful two-tone colorings. Leather belt and buttons, and a scarf barely peeking out above the collar.” — Ladies’ Home Journal, September, 1936.

This one has contrasting shapes inserted in the sleeves, a tucked bib, and buttons in graduated sizes.

Wearfast sports dress, Berth Roberts Semi-Made dress catalog, Spring, 1934.

Wearfast sports dress, Berth Robert Semi-Made dress catalog, Spring, 1934.

Stripes were often used on “bib” dresses:

Butterick pattern 5760, May 1934, and Butterick 5822, August 1934.

Butterick pattern #5760, May 1934, and Butterick #5822, August 1934.

"Housedresses" from December, 1931. Butterick patterns.

“Housedresses” from December, 1931. Butterick patterns. The one on the right was actually a “pull on” dress with mostly decorative buttons.

Ribbed wool or corduroy was also used for a more subtle play of stripes:

Butterick Pattern for a dress with silk crepe bodice and skirt of ribbed wool, with matching coat. February 1932. Delineator.

Butterick Pattern #4316 for a dress with silk crepe bodice and skirt of ribbed wool, with matching coat. Contrast yoke, bow, cuff trim, and belt. The Delineator. February, 1932.

1932 feb p 87 text 4316 doat and dress vionnet coat

Corduroy was also suggested for this lightweight coat:

Corduroy coat, Butterick pattern, January 1932.

Corduroy coat, Butterick pattern #4290, January 1932.

Bold stripes give lots of “Bang for the buck.”

Butterick pattern, May 1932.

Butterick pattern #4530, May 1932.

Berth Robert Semi-made dress #932, Spring 1934 catalog.

Berth Robert Semi-made dress #932, Spring 1934 catalog.

McCall's pattern 9815, July 1938.

McCall’s pattern 9815, July 1938.

Floral stripes were popular in 1938.

Resort dress, Butterick Fashion News flyer, July 1939. Butterick

Resort dress, Butterick Fashion News flyer, July 1939. Butterick #8473.

What a difference the stripes make:  Two versions of Butterick #8557, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939.

What a difference the stripes make:  Two versions of Butterick #8557, Butterick Fashion News, September 1939.

Does anyone feel inspired to rework a basic pattern — by playing with contrasting stripes? Maybe a sewing group would like to have a “stripe challenge.”

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Sportswear, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers

Striped Prints, Spring 1938

Companion -Butterick patters Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Companion -Butterick patterns Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

The dress on the right, Companion-Butterick pattern 7733, is both a floral print and a stripe. What’s more, it’s a horizontal stripe. Not just the fabric, but the high waist and the draped V top reminded me of something familiar:

My mother with her mother, 1938.

My mother with her mother, 1938.  The woman on the left is in her 30s; the older woman is in her 60s.

Of course, it’s not exactly the same dress, but it’s very similar. The photograph is dated 1938, and I happen to have several Butterick Fashion News flyers from 1938.  Large scale prints were becoming popular in women’s dresses, under the influence of Elsa Schiaparelli. This Schiaparelli blouse, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, has a floral/horizontal striped print, too.

Schiaparelli print evening blouse, Metropolitan Museum. Winter 1938-1939.

Schiaparelli print evening blouse, Metropolitan Museum. Winter 1938-1939.

It has some elements in common with the dark fabric on the dress shown by Butterick, #7733.

Companion -Butterick patters Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Companion-Butterick patterns Nos. 7734 and 7733, March 1938 Butterick Fashion News flyer.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7733 (right):  “A soft, simple dress just right for the new striped prints. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]

Companion-Butterick pattern 7734 (left):  “A tiny lace frill on a new scalloped neckline. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]

Another horizontally striped floral print is used for Companion-Butterick 7745, below. “Peasant influence, laced bodice, puffed sleeves, square neck. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 40 [inches bust measurement.]

Companion -Butterick pattern No. 7745, Butterick Fashion News, March 1938.

Companion -Butterick pattern No. 7745, Butterick Fashion News, March 1938.

“Tyrolean” fashions were popular until World War II broke out. Lantz of Salzburg dresses — very popular with young women in the 1950s  — were known for these floral stripes. (Now, those floral stripes — used lengthwise — are associated with flannel nightgowns.)

Companion-Butterick patterns 7781 (seated) and 7791, Butterick Fashion News , April 1938.

Companion-Butterick patterns 7781 (seated) and 7791, Butterick Fashion News , April 1938.

The dress on the left  looks youthful, but the pattern goes to size 42″.

Companion-Butterick No. 7781 (left):  “The neckline outlined with flowers is fresh. Size 36 takes 3 1/2 yards rayon crepe 39. Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 42 [inches bust measurement.]

Companion-Butterick No. 7791 (right):  “A peasant dress in bayadere print. Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 38 [inches bust measurement.]” The Design Fabric Glossary defines “bayadere” as “brightly coloured stripes in a horizontal format characterized by strong effects of colour. A Bayadere is an Indian dancing girl, trained from birth.”

Although this dress does not technically have striped print fabric, the floral pattern is distributed in chevrons, rather than randomly:

March 1938 cover of Butterick Fashion News, featuring Butterick pattern No. 7757.

March 1938 cover of Butterick Fashion News, featuring Butterick pattern No. 7757.

Butterick 7757:  “One of the new prints in a dress with softly shirred bodice.  Sizes 12 to 20; [women’s sizes] 30 to 42 [inches bust measurement.]

This dress, whose top is made of striped print fabric, appeared in Woman’s Home Companion in November of 1937:

Companion-Butterick pattern 7626. Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7626. Woman’s Home Companion, Nov. 1936.

Strong colors and stripes were certainly used by Schiaparelli in this blouse from 1936:

Schiaparelli blouse, summer of 1936; Metropolitan Museum collection.

Schiaparelli blouse, summer of 1936; Metropolitan Museum collection.

(It could have been worn in the 1980s — or now — but it dates to 1936.)

The woman who couldn’t afford to make a new, print dress could add a print halter top over a solid dress, as in this Butterick accessory pattern (No. 7792), which included “collars and cuffs, gilets and sashes to make a small wardrobe seem extensive:”

Butterick "Quick Change" accessory pattern 7792, Butterick Fashion News April 1938.

Butterick “Quick Change” accessory pattern 7792, Butterick Fashion News, April 1938.

Taking a closer look at my mother’s dress from 1938, I can see that the pattern in the fabric is not actually floral; it is more like a negative pattern made by using lace to bleach out a solid color.

Close up of print dress, 1938.

Close up of print dress, 1938.

I can also see that there is a little white chemisette filling in the neckline.

Daughter and mother, 1938.

Daughter and mother, 1938.

Note:  Pictures from the Metropolitan Museum should not be copied from a blog and posted elsewhere — The Met graciously allows their use for writing about fashion history. If you want to use them, please get them from the Met’s Online Collection site, and credit the Museum.

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Filed under 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Companion-Butterick Patterns, vintage photographs

More “Button-On” Patterns from the Thirties

"Another Button-on, " Woman's Home Companion, August 1937

“Another Button-on,” Woman’s Home Companion, August 1937

I confess that I am fascinated by the many “button-on” patterns I’m finding in 1930s magazines. They reflect a completely different way of thinking about clothes than we have today, in our “cheap and disposable” clothing culture. As a teenager, I lived in a house built in 1908; it had 12 foot ceilings and leaded glass windows in the china cabinet doors, but the bedroom closets — one to a room — were three feet wide and barely one coat hanger deep. I am sometimes appalled by the “House Hunters” who demand two walk-in closets. Does anyone really need that much stuff? The average 1930s wardrobe for women would have fit in a very small closet.

Depression-Era Budget Savers

Companion-Butterick pattern 7515, August 1937, sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 42."

Companion-Butterick pattern 7515, August 1937, sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 42.”

Although Butterick patterns were historically more expensive than Simplicity, DuBarry, and Hollywood patterns (and were aimed at middle to upper middle-class women) Companion-Butterick patterns often tried to give real value for money by emphasizing the versatility of their designs. (For more about Companion Butterick Triad patterns, click here .) [You can see more 1930s ideas for giving one dress many looks in my post “One Good Dress in the 1930s.” Click here.   Edited 11/22/14 to add link.]

Companion-Butterick Pattern 7255

In March of 1937, this button-on dress, # 7255, was designed “to give you six day-time dresses at practically the price of one.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7255, WOman's Home Companion, March 1937. Available in sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 44;" this pattern cost 45 cents.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7255, Woman’s Home Companion, March 1937. Available in sizes 12 to 20 and bust 30 to 44;” this pattern cost 45 cents.

“The various trimmings which make this miracle possible can be buttoned or slipped into the foundation dress with lightning speed. Suppose you make 7255 in brighter-than-navy crepe. Then you may like the look of a sturdy white pique vestee on Monday; of linden-green linen at neckline and belt on Tuesday; of sober scallops of the dress material on Wednesday; of crisp plaid taffeta on Thursday; of pink Bengaline on Friday; of the grand climax of embroidered batiste and cerise red velvet bow on Saturday. One pair of blue shoes and one blue bag … may serve with all these trimmings.”

There is a copy of this pattern in the Commercial Pattern Archive.

The comment that you would need ony one pair of shoes for all six looks reminds us that, in the 1930s, most women had to pinch every penny. Click here for Living on $18 per Week, which explains that a college girl or office worker was expected to buy no more than four dresses and four pairs of shoes each year.

Companion-Butterick Pattern 7515

In August of 1937, the pattern at the top of this post appeared. Here are some enlarged views:

1937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500 51937 aug p 56 button on 7515 31937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500 21937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500 41937 aug p 56 button on 7515 500I’d be curious to see the construction of this dress, since the last two views show that there has to be a fairly large opening between the yoke and the bodice. I’m guessing there was some sort of tab or underlap on the bodice section which held the single, large button which fastened through a buttonhole on the yoke.

Companion-Butterick 7579

In October of 1937 another button-on frock appeared; number 7579 also suggested plaid taffeta or self-fabric for the office, with a gold lame vestee for “after-hour parties.”

Companion-Butterick pattern 7579, October 1937, was suggested for secretaries' or debutantes' wardrobes.

Companion-Butterick pattern 7579, Woman’s Home Companion, October 1937, was suggested for both secretaries’ and debutantes’ wardrobes.

“For years some of the Companion’s most successful designs have been dresses with a series of easily buttoned-on trimmings, each planned to give the dress a different look. And now this ever-practical idea has become a real fashion fad, made by the smartest dressmakers, worn by the smartest women.”

Companion-Butterick Pattern 8597

This rather similar version — also with a plaid option — appeared two years later, in October 1939:

Companion-Butterick 8597, Butterick Fashion News, October 1939.

Companion-Butterick 8597, Butterick Fashion News, October 1939.

companion butterick 8597 Oct 1939All those buttons give a slightly military or western frontier look to pattern 8597.

Butterick 5948

The button-on idea was still around in 1951, when Butterick offered this convertible “round the clock dress” for days when you want to go from the office to a date:

Butterick No. 5948, Butterick Fashion News flyer, December 1951.

Butterick No. 5948, Butterick Fashion News flyer, December 1951.

“It’s covered up for daytime . . . decollete for date-time.” The sparkly buttons can be made “of jet, rhinestone, mock-pearl, or tortoise-shell so that, with the yoke off, the buttons become a decorative ‘jewelry’ accent.”

Butterick 'Round the Clock dress pattern, December 1951.

Butterick ‘Round the Clock dress pattern No. 5948, December 1951.

Suggested fabrics were faille, crepe, corduroy, or velveteen. Available sizes 12 to 20 and up to bust size 38 inches.  I can imagine this design also being popular with women who dressed up to play bridge one afternoon a week, or who couldn’t justify the expense of a rarely worn cocktail dress. Many faille or taffeta afternoon or “bridge” dresses turn up on vintage racks.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

Sheer Black Dresses, Fall 1939

Butterick No. 8556, Cover of Butterick Fashion News, September 1939.

Butterick No. 8556, Cover of Butterick Fashion News, September 1939.

I bought some counter catalogs at an estate sale, and found, tucked inside, two copies of Prevue, a newsprint pattern flyer, for August 1939. One featured Du Barry patterns, and the other showed Simplicity patterns for the same month.

Du Barry Prevue, August 1939 cover.

2 Du Barry Fashions Prevue, Cover, August 1939.

 

Simplicity Fashions Prevue, Cover, August 1939.

Simplicity Fashions Prevue, Cover, August 1939.

I already had the Butterick Fashion News for September 1939, so it was fun comparing the styles from three companies. (Incidentally, DuBarry patterns were made by Simplicity, specifically for sale at Woolworth stores. The designs were not the same. Woolworth wanted to offer a ten cent pattern, at a time when Simplicity patterns sold for fifteen to twenty-five cents. Patterns with the Simplicity name were sold at Woolworth’s competitors, like S.S. Kresge and Sears and Roebuck.  Source: A History of the Paper Pattern Industry, by Joy Spanabel Emery, pp 119 – 122.)

The Sheer Black Dress from Du Barry

In the Fall of 1939, patterns for the sheer black dress were being offered by all three companies, DuBarry, Simplicity, and Butterick. This dress, from the cover of the Du Barry Fashions Prevue, was also pictured in a violet print and as a sheer afternoon frock:

Du Barry Pattern 2319B made in lemon yellow print fabric.

Du Barry Pattern 2319B made in lemon yellow print fabric. Love that hat! The belt is clever, too.

Du Barry pattern #2319B as a sheer afternoon dress and in purple print fabric.

Du Barry pattern #2319B as a sheer afternoon dress, and in purple print fabric.

The length is just below the knee:

Du Barry #2319B, two versions. Aug. 1939.

Du Barry #2319B, two versions. Aug. 1939.

“Choose this sheer afternoon frock for sheer flattery. Sizes 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42. Slide Fastener for side placket 9″.”

Simplicity’s Sheer Black Dresses, August 1939

Simplicity showed two different patterns made up as day dresses or as sheer afternoon frocks:

Simplicity pattern No. 3139, August 1939.

Simplicity pattern No. 3139, August 1939. In sizes 32 to 44.

Simplicity pattern 3150, August 1939.

Simplicity pattern 3150, August 1939. In sizes 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 40.

Patterns 3139 and 3150 were shown under the caption “Slenderizing Dresses.” Style 3139 came in sizes for bust 32″ to 44.” Style 3150 came in young women’s sizes 12 to 20; the largest bust measurement available was only 40 inches. However, sizes 12 to 20 were generally for a shorter woman than the sizes sold by bust measurement. Both patterns came with either long or short sleeves. Pattern 3139 is shown in a sheer print fabric, which might be either black or navy — the flyer doesn’t mention color. It has a slenderizing line of buttons down the front from neckline to hem. The other (3150) has that clever, slenderizing bow — not too wide — at the center of the waist, plus a V-neck. It’s amazing how sophisticated it looks without the ruffled trim.

Companion-Butterick’s Sheer Black Dress for September, 1939

Butterick No. 8556, September 1939.

Companion-Butterick No. 8556, September 1939.

“Companion-Butterick 8556:  Sheer stark black — smart and as new as tomorrow’s newspapers. Soft surplice forms a belt in back. . . . Sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 44.”

That unusual bodice detail — the “surplice” — appears in Butterick pattern number 8557, too:

Butterick pattern 8557, Sept. 1939.

Butterick pattern 8557, Sept. 1939. Two views.

However, the surplice drape appears to be topstitched when the dress is not sheer, and the back treatment is different on this dress:

Companion -Butterick # 8556 and Butterick 8557. Back views. Sept. 1939.

Companion-Butterick # 8556 and Butterick 8557. Back views. Sept. 1939.

For more about Companion-Butterick patterns, click here.

 

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Companion-Butterick Patterns, Hats, Purses, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, Zippers