Tag Archives: bust darts 1920s

Learning from Browsing at CoPA

One of 64,000 pattern images you can find online at the Commercial Pattern Archive.

I know I recommend the online Commercial Pattern Archive at University of Rhode Island too often, but it just keeps revealing new reasons to visit. (Online Inventory last time I checked: 64,681 sewing patterns; mostly 1840s through 1970s.)
I can’t link to CoPA images anymore, because users now need to create a login, but you just create a user ID name and a password, and log in to use a totally free website! I never get email from them.

Two Butterick patterns from February, 1922. Delineator.

I’ve been sorting through my Delineator photos from 1922, and happened to log in to CoPA to check construction details — not really expecting to find much. However, I found a surprisingly large number of Butterick patterns from 1922 archived — and that means images of both back and front of the pattern envelope. You can see the shape of the pattern pieces!

“Armistice” blouse 1922 pattern The Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) has put over 60,000 vintage patterns online.

If you are trying to replicate a vintage pattern, whether you use drafting or draping, seeing the shape of the original pieces is very helpful.  And if, like me, you have no intention of re-creating the pattern, (that used to be part of my job) you can still learn a lot about vintage clothing construction.

NOTE: The images from CoPA that I show here do not reflect the quality of CoPA images online.  Because I couldn’t download them directly, I printed them, scanned them, and put them into a “500 dpi on the longest side” format. Unfortunately, I scanned the prints at the “black & white” resolution instead of at the “photograph” resolution. Image quality was lost on my scanner, not CoPA’s.

This bad image is not what Butterick 4025 looks like at the CoPA site. (https://copa.apps.uri.edu/index.php)

Elastic in 1920’s garments

There was a time when I was suspicious of any so-called vintage 1920s’ garments that depended on elastic. That was just my ignorance, based on “book learning” and classroom generalizations. Once I started really paying attention to vintage pattern magazines and pattern envelopes, my mind opened a bit!

All of these 1922 patterns include casing for elastic at the (usually lowered) waist.

Tunic Blouse 3462

Butterick tunic blouse 3462 from Delineator, January 1922.

If you sew, you know that there is a lot of information on the pattern envelope that you won’t find in the pattern’s catalog description.

CoPA shows images from the front and back of the pattern envelope whenever possible. The version at top right shows the tunic with “cascades” at the sides.

Pattern 3462 included a variation with “cascade” panels on each side, and the information that the waist could have elastic.

I’m surprised that there is no elastic casing pattern included, but it was mentioned in Delineator magazine’s pattern description (January 1922, p. 26.)

Dress 3460

Butterick 3460, Delineator, January 1922, keeps its shape with elastic at the slightly dropped waist. (Left, a Spanish comb in her hair.)

The front of the pattern envelope, from the Commercial Pattern Archive.

“Ladies’ and Misses’ One-Piece Dress, “Closed at the Back, with or without Elastic in Casing at Low Waistline or Blouse Body Lining.”

The pattern pieces for Butterick 3460, from CoPA.

This detail shows an inside belt and length of elastic. It also reminds us that the 1920s’ blouson effect was sometimes achieved with an optional inner bodice lining. (With bust dart!)

Pattern description from Delineator, January 1922.

This simple dress was also illustrated with a matching cape:

Butterick dress 3460 with matching cape, Butterick 3589. Delineator, March 1922.

Coat 3594:  This coat, which I find bulky but oddly appealing, could be controlled with elastic at the waist:

Butterick coat 3594 is gigantic, but beautifully trimmed…. Delineator, March 1922.

Butterick coat 3594 in Delineator magazine illustrations.

The front of the pattern envelope. In the online CoPA archive, the image is much clearer (and they have several copies of this pattern!)

Pattern pieces from the envelope. CoPA will tell you how to print a larger image (See CoPA Help)

Rubber elastic tends to degrade faster than the other components of the garment, so the elastic itself may not be present in a vintage dress (or underwear.) But these patterns confirm its use.

I was surprised to see this “Armistice” blouse [Not what they were originally called] issued in 1922. It can have elastic in a casing at the waist:

The “Armistice blouse” was still available as a pattern in the 1920s. The center panel is the “vestee.”

Pattern pieces for Butterick 3672 from CoPA.

Searching CoPA for a specific pattern: “Search by Pattern Number”

After you create a log-in at CoPA, you can search for any pattern by number (e.g., type in “3672” and select “Butterick” from the pattern company pull-down list. Chose “Any” collection. Results will show you images and links to further information — including the date for every pattern they have!   Say you own Vogue 1556, by Yves St. Laurent? CoPA’s archive number will tell you it was issued in 1966. (If you have an approximate date, you can also date patterns which are not in the archive by finding where they would be in the company’s number sequence and checking their resemblance to other styles and envelopes from the same year….)

Browsing through a year or group of years: use “Complete Search”

Or you can click on “Complete Search” and search by year (or a period of several years, e.g. 1920 through 1926 — just hold down the shift key while selecting.) You can limit your search in many ways (e.g., “male” + “adult;” or  “1945” + “hat” +”McCall;” or “1877 + “Any”….)

One of hundreds of McCall patterns from the 1920s you can find at the Commercial Pattern Archive. McCall 5315 from 1928.

Trying CoPA: If you love a specific decade, start with one year (e.g., “1928” + “McCall”  + Collection: “Any”) By the mid-1920s, McCall pattern envelopes had beautiful, full color illustrations. New to CoPA? Start with McCall in the 1920s, or try McCall in 1958! Less well-known pattern companies are also well-represented. Scroll though the “Pattern Company” pull-down for Hollywood, Advance, La Moda, Pictorial Review, DuBarry, & dozens more.

TIP: Be sure you set the final category (Collection) to “Any” if you want to search the complete archive. Otherwise, you’ll miss some good stuff! Also, search more than one way. “Medical uniform” (Category: Garment) got 20 results; “Nurse uniform” (Category: Keyword) got 38. It’s not a complaint; just what happens when many people try to describe things for a spreadsheet.

Next: Pattern pieces for side drapes (“cascades”.)

The dress at right has a cascade at each side.



Filed under 1830s -1860s fashions, 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Capes, Coats, Costumes for the 19th century, Dating Butterick Patterns, Dating Vintage Patterns, Menswear, Resources for Costumers, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns

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!



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