Tag Archives: art deco dress

Ensembles for April, 1929

Spring jacket and coat ensembles; Butterick patterns from The Delineator magazine, April 1929.

Spring jacket and coat ensembles; Butterick patterns from The Delineator magazine, p. 35, April 1929.

There is a time machine in San Francisco. Every year, thanks to the SF Silent Film Festival, I enter the Castro Theatre, a 1400 seat “movie palace” built in 1922,  and spend several days watching movies from the 1920’s, (and earlier) in the building where they originally played. Unlike so many of its peers, the Castro has not been divided into tiny screening rooms with the seats not-quite-facing the screen. Here, silent movies are shown on a full-sized, correctly proportioned screen, not chopped and cropped, letterboxed, or panned-and-scanned to fit a TV screen or modern movie proportions. They are accompanied by live music, just as they were in the 1920s. I enjoy my time travel with thousands of like-minded people, a number of whom dress in vintage or replica 1920’s clothes. In honor of The SF Silent Film Society, (you can scroll through their archives here) I’m sharing some suit, coat, dress and jacket ensembles ideal for an afternoon matinee in 1929.

Ensembles for Spring, 1929. The Delineator, page 34.

Ensembles for Spring, 1929. The Delineator, page 34.

Delineator, April 1929, p. 34.

The Delineator, April 1929, p. 34.

Left, blouse #2568, skirt # 2208, jacket # 2546. Center,  blouse #2565 with suit #2536. Right, frock and jacket ensemble # 2539. Butterick patterns, April 1929.

Left, blouse #2568, skirt # 2208, jacket # 2546. Center, blouse #2565 with suit #2536. Right, frock and jacket ensemble # 2539. Butterick patterns, April 1929.

The skirt on the left is worn over its blouse; in the center, a blouse is worn over a skirt. The bands of trim on #2539’s dress form a triangular shape. This sleeveless dress has the new, square armholes.

Alternate views of blouse 2568 & skirt 2208, blouse 2565 & suit 2536, and dress 2539.

Alternate views of blouse #2568 & skirt #2208, blouse #2565 & suit #2536, and dress  #2539. Butterick patterns from 1929.

Left, frock #2535 with coat #2545. Center, frock #2271 with coat #2495. Right, coat # 2545 again with frock #2539. Butterick patterns from 1929.

Left, frock #2535 with coat #2545. Center, frock #2271 with coat #2495. Right, coat # 2545 again with frock #2539. Butterick patterns from 1929.

“A high color with a white or off-white blouse, or a light suit with a dark blouse — this is the new mode for ensembles.”

Coat # 2545 is shown at left in seven-eighths length over a two-piece dress which uses a border print for its very long top. At right, the same coat (#2545) is shown in jacket length. Both have standing collars. The coat in the middle, with “a youthfully wide collar,” reminds me of one I owned in the 1980’s, made of reversible material.

Back views coat 2545, coat 2493, and frock 2529 with coat 2545 as jacket.

Alternate views of coat #2545, coat #2495, and dress #2529 with coat #2545 as its jacket.

 

Ensemble frocks, page 35, The Delineator, April 1929.

Ensemble frocks, page 35, The Delineator, April 1929. “The . . . blouse is often sleeveless.”

Jacket #2546 and frock #2553. Butterick, April 1929.

Jacket #2546 and frock (dress)  #2553. Butterick, April 1929.

This jacket is made of light-weight [“sheer”] checked wool, with a scarf collar; it is trimmed with bias-cut bands of the same checked wool, which is also used as a trim on the wool jersey bodice of the dress (#2553). More challenging is the use of the bias check on the pleated skirt. It is drawn as if panels cut on the bias were inserted between the straight-grain pleats of the skirt. (I’d be more inclined to cut the skirt entirely on straight grain and apply the bias bands to the stitched-in pleats — I think.)

Back views of jacket #2546 and dress #2553. Butterick, 1929.

Back views of jacket #2546 and dress #2553. Butterick, 1929.

On the jacket “the bands and the scarf collar may be omitted.” In fact, this is the same jacket shown earlier, when it was made from printed fabric and worn with a matching print skirt and a ruffled blouse.

Two versions of Jacket pattern #2546

Two versions of Jacket pattern #2546

This high-contrast dress and jacket ensemble looks great in black (or navy?) and white, but Butterick suggested a different color combination.

Jacket #2530 worn with Frock #2551. Butterick, 1929.

Jacket #2530 worn with Frock #2551. Butterick, 1929.

“This cardigan (#2530) is of a new length, it has the new raglan sleeve, and it is linked to its frock (#2551) by bands of the crepe that makes the blouse. The cuffs and pocket are finished with the same bands. It would be smart in a bordered material, jersey, or printed or plain crepe de Chine.” The chic dress “for the first outdoor sports events of spring” is trimmed with the same material used for its skirt and jacket. According to Butterick’s Delineator magazine,  “Chartreuse with blue or brown is very smart for this frock.” [For more 1920’s color combinations, see “A Lament for Bound Periodicals” or “1920’s Orange and Black: Not Just for Halloween.”]

Alternate views of #2530 and #2551.

Alternate views of #2530 and #2551. This jacket is longer than the others.

I confess, I’m very impressed with Frock #2559 and its geometric but asymmetrical design:

Butterick dress pattern #2559 and coat pattern #2547. 1929.

Butterick dress pattern #2559 and coat pattern #2547. 1929.

I almost think you could wear this frock  today (adjusted to normal body proportions) without  people realizing it was a vintage dress. It has square armholes, as well as square pockets. 1929 april p 35 square armhole dress reefer coat

Alternate views, dress #2559 and reefer coat #2547. Butterick, 1929.

Alternate views, dress #2559 and reefer coat #2547, shown full length. Butterick, 1929.

The “Reefer Top-Coat,” #2547, “is a fashion classic — double-breasted with a belt and vent in the back — but it is in the new seven-eighths length. In navy or white cheviot with brass buttons, it becomes the nautical reefer that is worn aboard ship by the smart yachtswoman. At Palm Beach it was worn for sports.” — The Delineator.

Speaking of normal proportions:  on all the dresses that are not covered by jackets, there are two shallow bust darts on each side.

Bust darts, April 1929.

Bust darts, April 1929.

Their location is rather low by modern standards, perhaps because the torso is very elongated in these illustrations.

All of these 1929 Butterick patterns were available in bust sizes from 32″ to 44″ (with a maximum 47 1/2″ hip measurement.)

Also worth noting:  most of these cloche hats for Spring of 1929 have very little brim in front — if any.

Cloche hats for April, 1929. The Delineator, pp. 34-35.

Cloche hats for April, 1929. The Delineator, pp. 34-35.

More about the Time Machine (May-June 2015)

This year, the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco runs from Friday, May 28, through Monday, June 1. Buying tickets in advance is a very good idea — for many movies, all 1400 seats sell out. It’s possible to see four or five different films in a day. This year, the time machine will go back 99 years to 1916, showing William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes, plus the silent “Ben-Hur”(1925)  and “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), Greta Garbo (1926), Harold Lloyd (1928),  Colleen Moore (1929), and silent films from Germany, France, Norway, China, the U.K., and of course, the U.S.

Also, the “High Style” exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum Collection at the Metropolitan Museum will be in San Francisco until mid-July. What a great summer!

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Exhibitions & Museums, Hats, Musings, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

How to Alter a Twenties’ Dress Pattern; Advice from December 1926

Delineator magazine, December 1926:  "The Plus and Minus of Figures and Patterns."

Delineator magazine, December 1926: “The Plus and Minus of Figures and Patterns.”

I find surprisingly little sewing information in Butterick’s Delineator magazines from the 1920s, considering that, like McCall’s magazine, it originally existed to sell patterns. That makes this brief article from December 1926 all the more interesting.

Delineator, December 1926.

Delineator, December 1926.

The Plus and Minus of Figures and Patterns, 1926

I’ll transcribe the whole thing, complete with its nasty assumption that all blondes are gold-diggers.

“Leila — the little creature without the hat — is a blonde, a Nordic by nature as well as by the color of her hair, but when she couldn’t gold-dig a new frock from her husband she decided to make something dazzling for herself and burst out in one of the new dolman frocks.

A dolman blouse, Butterick 1174, with a separate skirt, #6588, and Butterick's dolman  dress pattern 1167. December, 1926.

A dolman blouse, Butterick 1174, with a separate skirt, #6588, and Butterick’s dolman dress pattern 1167. December, 1926.

“She had her bust and hip measures taken when she bought her pattern, so she knew the size was right. ‘And that’s that,’ she thought, and cut it out gaily. It went together like a shot and she turned up the lower edges several inches, for, as I said, she’s a little creature. All went merrily as a wedding-bell until she tried it on and then, it was just all wrong.

"It was just all wrong. It was all top and no skirt,... the dolman armhole came below the hips...."

“It was just all wrong. It was all top and no skirt,… the dolman armhole came below the hips….”

“It was all top and no skirt, the waistline and the dolman armhole came below the hips and the sleeve itself acted very strangely on the lower part of the arm. You see, she’d done all the shortening at the lower edges while the frock was as long for her in the body as it was in the skirt.

[Butterick patterns from the 1920’s were for women taller than we’d expect. “Misses patterns,” sold by age instead of bust measurement,  often had the words “or small women” in their description, but a short woman with a bust bigger than 37 inches (age 20) would need to do the same pattern alterations as “Leila.” (Age 17 was expected to have a 34 inch bust; age 18, 35″, age 19, 36.” )]

“I’m on the short side myself, so I knew she ought to have shortened her pattern before she cut her material. We pinned half of the pattern together and put it on with a tape measure at her natural waist.

"We pinned half of the pattern together and put it on . . ."

“We pinned half of the pattern together and put it on . . .”

The we put the small perforations that mark the waistline of the pattern at the lower edge of the tape measure and took up the extra length in a plait across the body of the pattern, making it just the right length.

We "took up the extra length in a plait across the body of the pattern" at the natural waist.

We “took up the extra length in a plait across the body of the pattern” just below the natural waist. The sleeve is shortened below the elbow, not at the wrist.

“Very tricky, for it kept the waistline in place and gave the body and skirt an even break.

“We took the extra length out of the sleeve below the elbow instead of at the wrist, so that the dolman drapery wouldn’t come down on the lower arm where it is clumsy and ungainly.

“Trying on the pinned-up paper pattern is the easiest way to find out if the length needs altering — the pattern directions will tell you where to do it.

The third picture . . . shows the recut frock is precisely the right length . . ."

The third picture . . . shows the recut frock is precisely the right length . . .”

“The third picture of Leila, registering success, shows the recut frock is precisely the right length with its original proportions intact in spite of shortening.”

Before and After

Before and after correct pattern alteration. Delineator, December 1926.

Before and after correct pattern alteration. Delineator, December 1926.

The skirt, which was originally pinned up several inches, is now at the length called for in the pattern. Good thing Leila didn’t cut it shorter before consulting her friend!

Serendipity Again

Normally, I don’t write two consecutive posts about the same year and issue of a magazine, but The Delineator for December 1926 has both this discussion of the importance of adjusting the dress to the actual, not ideal, body, and another connection to “Pleated Dresses from 1926.” The friend who is helping Leila adjust her pattern is wearing that great art deco dress, Butterick 1163! I was sorry that I had no back views of it; while working on these pictures I remembered that its description mentioned “a tab yoke in back.” Here it is! On her left shoulder you can just make out the start of the button-trimmed arrow on the front of #1163, and her sleeves have the identical buttoned trim at the wrists.

The back of Butterick 1163, and its front view, from elsewhere in the same issue. Dec. 1926.

The back of Butterick 1163, with “tab yoke,”and its front view, from elsewhere in the same issue. Dec. 1926.

In the early twenties, dresses often had surprisingly boring one-piece backs; the skirt godets, drapery and pleats were usually limited to the front.

P.S. If I had to come up with a sophisticated 1920s outfit in a hurry, that metallic [tissue lamé? ] blouse #1174 and its timeless flared skirt would look very tempting.

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Filed under 1920s, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns

Butterick Pleated Dresses with Hats from 1926

Four Butterick designs from December 1926. Delineator, page. 43.

Four Butterick designs from December 1926. Delineator, page. 43.

I love the art deco “arrow” trim on the dress at center left, and the asymmetry on the dress at center right (it’s not a suit). Both are chic and probably influenced by Gabrielle Chanel, whose jersey tweed outfits were making news. She was also using pleats in 1925 – 1926.

"Sports Frock" by Chanel, illustrated by Soulie in Delineator, January 1925.

“Sports Frock” by Chanel, illustrated by Soulie in Delineator, January 1925.

“Chanel makes her famous sports frock of mixed beige and tobacco wool with a sweater blouse and an inverted plait at the front and back of the skirt which is not excessively narrow.”

In a later outfit, from July, 1926, the same year as the Butterick dress patterns, Chanel uses many pleats:

On the right, a Chanel ensemble from July 1926, drawn by Soulie for Delinator magazine. The ensemble on the left is by Premet.

On the right, a Chanel ensemble from July 1926, drawn by Soulie for Delinator magazine. The ensemble on the left is by Premet.

Text describing the ensembles by Premet and Chanel. Delineator, July 1926.

Text describing the ensembles by Premet and Chanel. Delineator, July 1926.

Butterick’s pattern illustrators also put their models in hats that resemble the ones shown with the Paris fashions.

Hats shown with Premet and Chanel fashions in July, 1926. Delineator.

Hats shown with Premet and Chanel fashions in July, 1926. Delineator.

Their dented and fold-over crowns seem to be inspired by the Phrygian cap which was a symbol of the French revolution. (Liberty, leading the people, wears a Phrygian cap in statues, paintings, and on these French stamps.)

Phrygian caps influence cloche hats; Delineator, 1926/

Phrygian caps influence cloche hats; Delineator, 1926. The color image is from Etsy. The top of the hat can be flipped to any side.

Butterick 1163

Butterick pattern 1163, Delineator, 1926.

Butterick pattern 1163, Delineator, December 1926.

Butterick 1163:  “. . . Square neck in front and a tab yoke in back are Paris signing off  [on this] frock. The arrangement of plaits in front of the straight skirt, the wide belt . . . and neck-band give the frock an air of individuality. Size 36 requires 2 1/4 yards of wool jersey 54 inches wide. Lower edge, plaits drawn out, 1 3/4 yard. For women sizes 32 to 44 inches bust.” [There are no pleats on the back of the dress. The front pleats seem to be stitched down.]

Butterick 1176

Butterick pattern 1176, delineator, December 1926.

Butterick pattern 1176, Delineator, December 1926.

Butterick 1176:  “The smart woman spends most of her life in sports clothes and evening clothes. A frock with the two-piece look in front and a flat, one-piece back, an unusual collar and a tab closing is an excellent style for worsted, wool crepe, or flat crepe. The lower edge is straight. Size 36 requires 2 yards of 54 inch tweed. The frock is suited to women 32 to 44 bust.”

Back when I had a sewing machine that didn’t do buttonholes (it was straight stitch only!) I would have been attracted to this dress because all the closures could be done with snaps.

Adjusting the Fashion Ideal to Reality

I’ve written before about how deceptive fashion illustrations can be (For “Fashion Illustration versus Fashion Reality, 1934” click here.) Just for fun, I drew Butterick 1176 on a more “normal” eight head figure by Jack Hamm:

An eight head figure, and Butterick 1176 as it might look on a living person.

An eight head figure, and Butterick 1176 as it might look on a living person.

In the illustration from Jack Hamm’s book Drawing the Head and Figure, which I have modified to show the “heads” as a unit of measurement, there are four “heads” from crown to bottom of the torso and four “heads” from there to the ground. The heel — supporting weight — is at 7 1/2 heads.

A cutter/draper working from the original fashion illustration would have to work from a few fixed points, as I did: the longer lapel comes to about the bust point (scroll down to see); the bottom of the “jacket” probably stops at the top of the thigh, or it will crease when she sits. (The button tabs ought to have been scaled down on my sketch.)   I personally believe that costume sketches should be drawn on an eight head figure, so the director and actors — and the costume shop — will have a more truthful idea of what the design will look like on a normal human being. It’s cheaper to solve problems on paper than in fabric.

Without computer generated imagery, an actress will never look like this:

An impossible ideal.

An impossible ideal.

If she’s never seen the impossible ideal, an actress may be willing to look like this:

Butterick 1176 as it might look on a normal body.

Butterick 1176 as it might look on a normal body.

In fact, since this dress has a long front opening, the sides can be tapered to look less bulky and more flattering. The sleeves can be tighter. A costume shop would probably build this dress with an inner lining that enables the skirt to hang from the shoulders, keeping the blouson in place, rather than depending on the belt to do it. [Tricks of the trade!]

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, bags, handbags, Hats, Purses, Sportswear, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

An Art Deco Fringed Dress, November 1926

nov 1926 butterick  ad pattern #1090In this illustration by Jean Desvignes for The Delineator, Butterick pattern #1090 is a classic of Style Moderne, the repeated curves of the lines of fringe accented by the repeated triangles in the model’s jewelry – and in the shape of her fingers, her stockings, and the elongated triangle formed by her legs. Even her shingled hair, worn smooth over the crown, curves to expose her earlobes and dangling earrings; the curves of the stylized 1920s rose in her hand and the curves and angles of the constructivist sculpture on the table echo the fringe.

The Chrysler Building's Curves and Tringles

The Chrysler Building’s Curves and Tringles

The tout ensemble reminds me of the Chrysler Building.

Here are some closer views of her Art Deco bracelets and the necklace cascading down her back (very 1920s!) details of  jewelry, heels, fringe

Desvignes has given her a jeweled belt to echo her rhinestone-studded high heels – perhaps it was woven, like a necklace, of black and silver beads – or it may be artistic license, since it ties like a ribbon. It was possible to buy jeweled heels like this  and have them put on your shoes.  Here’s a closer view of the curves of her dress: 1926 fringed dress detail butterick #1090 ad

Another View of the Same Pattern (#1090)

1926 dec #1090 version 2 front p 46 alt croppedDevignes’ illustration was part of an advertisement for Butterick patterns, so it’s interesting to compare his version with this conventional pattern illustration, which appeared elsewhere in the same issue of this Delineator magazine.

“# 1090: Pale dawn-blue georgette spattered with crystal stars is intended for the night life that begins one day and ends the next. The uneven line of the tiers and the backward flutter from the shoulder are extremely chic. The frock is in one piece and may be trimmed with tiers of fringe and made with a higher neck and a sleeve for afternoon. [The version with sleeves was probably illustrated on the pattern envelope.] The design is beaded with sequins. [Butterick embroidery pattern #10422] Designed for women 32 to 44 bust.”

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