Tag Archives: Butterick Fashion News

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.

 

 

8 Comments

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

Mother and Daughter Fashions from the Forties and Fifties

Mother-Daughter robes from McCall, patterns 1289 and 1290. Store catalog, Dec. 1946.

Mother-Daughter robes from McCall, patterns 1290 and 1289. Store catalog, Dec. 1946.

Nos. 1289 (adult) & 1290 (child). McCall pattern catalog, Dec. 1946.

Nos. 1289 (adult) & 1290 (child). McCall pattern catalog, Dec. 1946.

These robes are from a 1940s Christmas catalog, but Mother-Daughter outfits were popular well into the fifties. I found examples from Butterick, Simplicity, and McCall.

These Butterick patterns show girls’ styles as identical to the women’s clothing as possible, as if girls really were “little women.”

Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1943, pattern numbers 2626, 2663, 2570, 2664.

Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1943, pattern numbers 2626, 2663, 2570, 2664.

BFN sept 1943 text  2626 2663 2570 2664

“Daughter chooses an identical coat frock to help Mummy on her busy days.” In reality, Mummy chose both their clothes.

More Mother & Daughter patterns from Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1943. Pattern Nos. 2691, 2676, 2693, 2420.

More Mother & Daughter patterns from Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1943. Pattern Nos. 2691, 2676, 2693, 2420.

BFN sept 1943 text 2691 2676 2693 2420

Simplicity Sundresses, 1948

Mother and Daughter patterns might be featured together, as in the listings above, but they sometimes appeared on different pages, like these charming Simplicity sundresses with bolero jackets. In this case, the child’s pattern has been modified to allow for its shorter skirt without noticeably scaling down the appliqued flowers:

Simplicity adult pattern #2397, page 3, and Simplicity girls' pattern #2415, page 8. Simplicity Fashion Preview, April 1948.

Simplicity adult pattern #2397, page 3, and Simplicity girls’ pattern #2415, page 8. Simplicity Fashion Preview (flyer), April 1948.

Sun or Swim Suits, 1950

McCall offered these Mother and Daughter playsuits on facing pages of the catalog:

"No. 1552, the Glamour Mermaid swim- or sun- suit." McCall Needlework Catalogue, May 1950.

“No. 1522, the Glamour Mermaid swim- or sun- suit.” McCall Needlework Catalogue, May 1950.

"No. 1523, the mermaid swim- or sun-suit." McCall Needlework Catalogue, May 1950.

“No. 1523, the mermaid swim- or sun-suit.” McCall Needlework Catalogue, May 1950.

The bloomers seem to work a lot better on the daughter! [Full pattern descriptions are at bottom of post.]

Mother and Daughter Matching Aprons, 1950

Mother and Daughter matching pinafores or smocked aprons, McCall Needlework Catalogue, May 1950.

Mother and Daughter matching pinafores or smocked aprons, McCall Needlework Catalogue, May 1950.

The daughter’s aprons had their own listing in the Children’s section; I have put both illustrations side by side to show how very similar the adult and child versions were:

McCall patterns #1532 (Mom) and #1533 (Daughter). May, 1950.

McCall patterns #1532 (Mom) and #1533 (Daughter).  Smocked  or embroidered pinafore aprons. May, 1950.

My mother had more enthusiasm for Mother-Daughter looks than I had. In the 1950s, it was assumed that little girls would want to be “just like Mommy.” I had suit with a dark red jacket and a plaid, pleated skirt — just like my Mother’s. I was given a little toy iron that really plugged in and got warm (not hot,) and a little toy stove (ditto.) I didn’t need a little apron “just like Mommy’s” to see where this was leading. . . .  And, even at age five, I had other plans.

More Pattern Information:

Mermaid Swim- or Sun- Suits

Pattern description for Adult playsuit #1522. May, 1950.

Pattern description for Adult playsuit #1522. May, 1950.

Pattern description for McCall girls' "mermaid" swim- or sun- suit #1523.

Pattern description for McCall girls’ “mermaid” swim- or sun- suit #1523.

Robes 1290 and 1289

mccall dec 1946 text robes 1290 1289

4 Comments

Filed under 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, Bathing Suits, Children's Vintage styles, Nightclothes and Robes, Sportswear, Swimsuits, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns

Dresses for a Film Noir Femme Fatale, January 1951

Butterick 5563 and 5530, January 1951, Butterick Fashion News flyer

Butterick 5563 and 5530, January 1951, Butterick Fashion News flyer

What the Bad Girls Wear

Every year, I attend the Film Noir Festival in San Francisco. It’s a privilege to sit in an old theatre where these movies were originally shown, and see them on the right size screen, with a few hundred (sometimes over a thousand) fellow movie lovers.  Most of the films are in black and white, and date from the nineteen forties and fifties. And, for me, the essential film noir plot requires a femme fatale.

Out of the Past (1947), starring Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum, is, for many, the quintessential film noir. Mitchum’s character is a private eye pursuing the girlfriend of a gambler (Kirk Douglas) who says she shot him and disappeared with $40,000 of his cash. When he finds her, the detective falls in love with her. Favorite moment: Jane Greer tries to convince Mitchum that she didn’t take the money. Mitchum replies, in a voice thick with lust, “Baby, I don’t care.” (For a full plot summary, click here. To see and hear a clip of that scene, Click Here.

A Dress That Screams “Gloria Grahame” – Butterick #5530

A Femme Fatale Look: Butterick Pattern # 5530, from Butterick Fashion News flyer, January 1951

A Femme Fatale Look: Butterick Pattern # 5530, from Butterick Fashion News flyer, January 1951

Gloria Grahame Audrey Totter, Ida Lupino, Lana Turner, Barbara Stanwyck … they all played calculating women who use their beauty to lure men into doing very bad things. And I can’t find a photo of any of them wearing this halter dress, but – trust me, as they always said – Butterick 5530 is a classic film noir look. The model isn’t actually smoking a cigarette, but her pose and sidelong glance are otherwise perfect. gloria grahame dress halter 5530719That black lace would probably have a few glittering beads adding sparkle to the texture. gloria grahame dress jkt & back 5530720The jacket is interesting because it is collarless and does not have a peplum; it exposes the stand-up collar and the peplum of the dress. This pattern was available in sizes 12 to 18.

A Dress with That “Out of the Past” Look – Butterick #5563

Butterick 5563 and 5530, January 1951, Butterick Fashion News flyer

Butterick 5563 and 5530, January 1951, Butterick Fashion News flyer

On the same page of Butterick Fashion News, January 1951, is a mauve dress and jacket combination that has almost the same neckline and sleeves as the light colored dress Jane Greer is wearing in the film, as she came walking out of the light into the darkness of a Mexican cantina, although the film was released four years earlier (hence the shoulder pads.) Don’t you love how innocent that big hat  makes her look?5563 top wrap jacket

Pattern # 5563:  “With the criss-cross button-on jacket you have a wonderful wear-everywhere-after-five dress. Off with the jacket and you have the newest chemise dress.” (Not what was meant by a “chemise dress” a few years later!)gloria mauve no jkt721

The dress in the film has gathers at the skirt’s center front, like this sweetheart neckline dress (below right) from 1944. (In the film, the scene where Greer and Mitchum meet is part of a long flashback.)

Butterick Pattern # 2988, May 1944 Butterick Fashion News

Butterick Pattern # 2988, May 1944 Butterick Fashion News

Butterick #2988 has a drawstring from the armscye of the cap sleeve to the sides of the neckline, a flattering V shaped panel at the waist, and soft gathers at the center front of the skirt. The V is not a part of the bodice, so you could add this skirt style to a different pattern if you wanted.

O.K. – all you have to do is make one of these dresses and you’re ready to ruin some guy’s life!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1940s-1950s, Vintage patterns

A Schiaparelli-type Suit, Pictured in Butterick Fashion News, April 1938

Schiaparelli-influenced suit jacket, Butterick # 7819

Schiaparelli-influenced suit jacket, Butterick # 7819

#7819, “The important Schiaparelli-type suit” on the right is decorated with a series of diamond shapes that have a contrast fabric showing through narrow openings. The elongated kite-shaped diamond that bridges the waist may be a practical pocket.

Purple Schiaparelli jacket photographed from Shocking, in collection of  Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Purple Schiaparelli jacket,  in collection of Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, photographed from Shocking, by Dilys Blum.

Schiaparelli used many diamond shaped motifs in her Commedia dell’Arte collection of 1939, but this pattern pre-dates that collection.  A purple wool jacket from her winter 1936-37 collection, pictured in Dilys Blum’s Shocking: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli , p. 97, has oblong areas cut away to reveal a brown velvet underlayer in the pockets. [It really is purple, not blue — a problem with my camera.  I could not find a link to this suit online.] Perhaps the Butterick jacket pattern is a reference to this one, especially if this pattern also has practical pockets. The jacket from # 7819 was featured twice in one issue of Butterick Fashion news; here it is worn open to reveal a Butterick blouse underneath:  schiap influ jacket blue open681

Easier than It Looks

I love the ingenuity of this design.

It appears complex, but if you really look at it, you can figure out how  relatively simple the construction of the diamonds revealing a contrast fabric underlayer actually is. You could apply this idea to almost any jacket pattern.

BFNschap CLOSEinflu suit pockets apr 1938547The jacket front pattern piece has been divided horizontally into four sections. You can see the seam lines where they have been joined together to create a yoke section (A), a yoke-to-bust-point section (B), a bust-point-to-waist section (C), and a waist-to-hip section (D). Section C has a vertical bust dart on each side, which would be stitched before the 4 sections are seamed together. I can’t imagine any reason for dividing the jacket into sections, except to make it easier to reveal the contrast fabric in the diamonds.

A Guess at the Jacket Construction

CAUTION: I have not tried this in fabric – I’m just deducing how it could be done….

After carefully marking the positions of the diamonds on your fabric – probably thread basting, since you would need the markings on both sides of the fabric, you would seam the sections together, A to B, B to C, stopping and backstitching when you reach the horizontal point of the diamond, leaving a gap in the center of the diamond, and resuming the seam at the other point. (The opening would not be a rectangle….) Once you press the seam allowances out of the way, you would baste them into position, put your diamonds of contrast fabric (matching the grain) behind the fashion fabric, baste, check for smoothness, and topstitch along the lines of the diamond. schiap influ jacket close upThen you would topstitch along the folded-back seam allowance, about 1/8 inch from the fold, through all layers. You can see these lines of topstitching in the illustration. (In theory, you could stitch the seam allowances out of the way before applying the diamond backing, but I think this might allow the fashion fabric to gape from stress at the bust-point.)

It’s a nice detail that the lapel is topstitched only where it overlaps the top diamond.

If the below-the-waist diamond is a practical pocket, you would stitch a twill stay-tape to the seam allowance on section D, just beside the fold line, to prevent stretching, and add a thin lining. You would have to topstitch the seam allowance inside the diamond below the waist before applying the contrast backing, so that bottom section of the diamond shape remains open.

A friend suggested that the diamonds and collar are prick-stitched by hand with thread to match the contrast layer. That would certainly be a couture touch, but it’s equally possible that the illustrator was just working within the constraints of a pattern catalog printed on newsprint: big white dashes were the only way to indicate stitch lines.

I repeat, I have not tried this with wool and a sewing machine, but I think it’s a reasonable explanation of why this apparently complicated “Schiaparelli-type” jacket is divided into sections on the Butterick pattern. The famous Butterick Deltor [otherwise known as an instruction sheet] would tell you how to construct it, probably much more clearly than I have done…. I rarely sew for myself any more, but I’m really tempted to try that kite-shaped pocket on a casual jacket — a little bigger, with a zingy color underneath. On a dark fabric, I might even try a different jewel color under every pocket!  Comments and suggestions are welcome.

2 Comments

Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns

One Good Dress in the 1930s

Two Day Dresses from December 1931, Delineator

Two Day Dresses from December 1931, Delineator

Murder, Lust, Ambition, and a Good Black Dress

Fashion History shows up in the strangest places. I’ve been reading a book – Violette Nozière, by Sarah Maza  – about a murder trial in Paris in the 1930s. Maza uses the true story of a woman who tried to kill her parents as a way to examine changes in postwar French society and culture. One point she makes, which I had never really considered before, is that women’s daytime fashions in the 1930s helped to disguise class differences, increasing social mobility and opportunities for mixing,  in a way not possible before World War I.

Fashionable woman, 1912; Photo courtesy of media-cache

Fashionable woman, 1912; Photo courtesy of media-cache

Before the First World War, it was impossible to mistake a working woman for a member of the bourgeoisie, because the fragile, luxurious, and labor-intensive clothing of a middle-class woman could not be imitated more cheaply, or mass produced. The hand-beading, the embroidery, the combinations of fur and chiffon – the very quality of the materials – were not affordable to working women.  Silent movies that show lower class women in “tawdry finery” demonstrate the difference between real luxe and attempts to imitate it.
Simple Was Chic in the 1930s
Maza points out that the fashions of the 1930s, with their use of wool, dark colors, and simpler styling, made it possible for department stores to carry mass-produced dresses of good quality. They were not cheap, but you only needed one. Delineator, Dec. 1931 p 70 dresses, blouses
An ambitious girl like Violette Nozière, pretty, educated, well-spoken, but living in two overcrowded rooms with her parents, could go to a café – in her one good dress – and chat with businessmen and young men of the bourgeoisie, posing as the daughter of a successful man in the railroad business.

One Dress, Many Accessories

 One, really good, daytime dress, varied by scarves and detachable collars, really was an investment. It could get you admitted to chic restaurants and cafes, and was a necessity for a better-paying secretarial or sales position. A well-cut black wool dress from a store like Galeries Lafayette  might not have deceived an upper-class woman, but – for the first time – it allowed any pretty, well-spoken, working class girl with a sense of chic to mingle freely with men of the upper middle classes. She looked like their sisters.  Even thirties hairstyles, covered in daytime with a hat, no longer required the services of a lady’s maid.  A secretary could dress well.

Changeable Collars and Scarves Turn One Dress into a Wardrobe

"If your dress hasn't gotten to the point where it needs a new top, hide its 1931 neckline beneath a collar, one of the new big white ones that make the new dresses look so fresh.... Every one of the collars here was taken from a brand-new dress. They all come right up to the base of the throat and they're all deep enough that even and antiquated deep V neckline can be made to look like a new high one. They all button on,... are smartest in white satin, rough crepe, linen and pique.

“If your dress hasn’t gotten to the point where it needs a new top, hide its 1931 neckline beneath a collar, one of the new big white ones that make the new dresses look so fresh…. Every one of the collars here was taken from a brand-new dress. They all come right up to the base of the throat and they’re all deep enough that even an antiquated deep V neckline can be made to look like a new high one. They all button on,… are smartest in white satin, rough crepe, linen and pique.”

Of course, the problem with having one good dress and a job, is that everyone sees you in the same dress day after day. (Violette was interested in attracting a wealthy man, not working in a office.) The Great Depression meant that many people couldn’t get work, and those who had jobs were often supporting a whole family: parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents…. So fashion magazines offered inexpensive ways to give the impression that you had several outfits. The collars above – and a “make it yourself hat” are patterns from Butterick , 1932.

Butterick Fashion News, April 1938

Butterick Fashion News, April 1938

A Butterick Fashion News flyer from 1938 shows what you could do with collars, cuffs, sashes, and even a halter top worn over a black dress. “Collars and cuffs, gilets and sashes make a small wardrobe seem extensive… Price, 25 cents.”BFN variety April 1938 scarves
“Variety…The basic dress worn with either of two necklines. Vary it with striped sash or trim collars and belts if the neck is high, with clips or collar-into-sash if low.” [Jewelry collectors will recognize several types of “duette clips.”]

Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face, 1933

Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face, 1933

Movie Recommendation: Baby Face, 1933
If you rent the movie Baby Face, from 1933, you’ll see Barbara Stanwyck in many variations of the black dress with accessories, as she literally sleeps her way to the top. This is a Pre-Code picture, a lot more frank about sex than movies were 20 years later! (In some versions, it begins with this teenaged girl’s father clearly prostituting her to the patrons of his dive bar.) Armed with determination, cynicism, and a series of ‘secretary’ dresses, she works her way to the penthouse suite – and a much more glamorous wardrobe.

14 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns

Website for Dating Butterick Patterns, Part 2

Dating Butterick Patterns, 1937 to 1977, at witness2fashion.com

Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938, pattern #7757

Butterick Fashion News flyer, March 1938, pattern #7757

In Part 1, I showed how you can date 1920s-1930s Butterick patterns using a chart at witness2fashion.com that is based on information from the Delineator magazine. Butterick stopped publishing Delineator magazine after the April 1937 issue, so I had to find a different source for dating Butterick pattern numbers.  Butterick Fashion News, an 8 page flyer distributed by pattern stores and through the mail, was used to publicize current Butterick patterns even before the Delineator stopped publication. [Edited 1/10/15:  8 page flyer changed to “a flyer on newsprint, 8 pages or more”]

Using Butterick Fashion News Flyers to Date Butterick Patterns

Butterick Fashion News flyer, February 1948, patterns #4422 & 4428

Butterick Fashion News flyer, February 1948, patterns #4422 & 4428

Butterick Fashion News could appear twice a month – I have seen two different covers for some months – and was printed on poor quality paper. It wasn’t intended to last.

Fortunately, there are still many copies that have survived, and by listing their dates and the number(s) of the pattern(s) featured on the covers, it is possible to see a number progression.

Butterick Fashion News chart from witness2fashion.com

Butterick Fashion News chart from witness2fashion.com

How to Use the witness2fashion Website for Dating Butterick Patterns, 1937 to 1977

Although not as precise as using the chart of Delineator numbers, even in its incomplete state this chart compiled from Butterick Fashion News flyers can be helpful.  The Butterick Fashion News chart shows that pattern # 3288 was on the cover in October 1964.BFN as of Jan 1 2014 marked

It’s reasonable to assume that this pattern,  # 3183, appeared in early 1964 or late 1963.

Undated Butterick pattern #3183

Undated Butterick pattern #3183

Confirmation

Fortunately, the Simplicity company did date its patterns sometimes – either on the envelope or, in some years, on the instruction sheet. Simplicity pattern # 5595 is a double-breasted variation of the same style as my Butterick pattern:

butterick & simplicity side by side

Simplicity # 5595 is dated – to 1964. Our tentative dating of Butterick # 3183 to 1963-1964 is supported.

 When a pattern is hard to date – ‘Late 1930s or early 1940s?’ – just knowing when renumbering occurred can be a big help.
Renumbering began in 1940

Renumbering began in 1940

Can You Help Fill In the Blanks?

I can’t buy every issue of Butterick Fashion News that appears on Ebay, but I do check the listings frequently, and make a note of the cover information whenever it’s legible.

There are some serious blanks in my Butterick Fashion News chart right now, especially between 1961 and 1964.  Renumbering started in this gap, so it’s really desirable to supply some cover numbers from those years.

If you have a copy of Butterick Fashion News that is not on the chart at witness2fashion.com, and are willing to add to this project, please send me the year, month, and number(s) of the pattern(s) on the front cover. You can use the comment section, or contact me through witness2fashion.com. I will update the chart at witness2fashion.com whenever I have several items to add.  Just today I found 5 more issues at Buttons and Bobbins. Ginny has generously posted pages from several issues for lovers of 1940s fashions. Thank you, Ginny! (I will update when I get a couple more.)

6 Comments

Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Dating Butterick Patterns, Dating Vintage Patterns, Vintage patterns