Tag Archives: Jack Hamm

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

Fashion Illustration vs Fashion Reality, 1934

In the 1930s, some magazines that sold patterns, like Butterick’s Delineator, tried to modernize by running more photographs and fewer drawings of their products. Sometimes the collision between the unrealistic “fashion figure” of the early thirties — impossibly long, impossibly hipless — and the way the clothes would look on a real woman was pretty jarring.

Tailored Daytime Dresses, Butterick patterns 5914 & 5907. Oct. 1934. From The Delineator.

Tailored Daytime Dresses, Butterick patterns 5914 & 5907. Oct. 1934. From The Delineator. Illustrator is Myrtle Lages or Lageo.

Butterick evening dresses, No. 5913, on left, is after Mainbocher. Sizes 12 to 20, 30" to 44". The Delneator, Oct. 1934.

Butterick evening dress, No. 5913, on left, is “after Mainbocher.” Sizes 12 to 20, 30″ to 44″. The Delineator, Oct. 1934. These floor length dresses make the models look taller and thinner, but not much like the illustrations.

The evening gown models in the photograph do not have the narrow waists or exceptionally long thighs of those in the drawing, although they do have the sense not to stand “flat on” to the camera.  (Fashion tip: a slenderizing vertical belt buckle, like the rhinestone one on the left, draws our eyes to the center of the body rather than its width. Even so, her waist still looks thick.) Pattern companies were well aware that a woman’s hips are usually larger than her bust or shoulders; they just didn’t draw them that way.

This juxtaposition of a fashion drawing and a pretty, live model shows how impossible the ideal was:

Butterick coat pattern No. 5899 and Butterick tunic dress pattern 5882. Oct. 1934, The Delineator magazine.

Butterick coat pattern No. 5899 and Butterick tunic dress pattern 5882. Oct. 1934, The Delineator magazine.

In this particular layout, the photographic model is wearing the same hat as the drawn one — as if to suggest that the coat illustration was true to life.

Three views of the black felt feathered hat. Oct 1934.

Three views of the black felt feathered hat by Lilly Dache. Oct 1934.

The dress and coat below appeared in the same article, and showed another feathered hat in a photograph and in two drawings beside it. The Lilly Daché hat fares better than the live model.

"The famous butcher boy dress" (Butterick pattern No. 5609) and coat pattern 5901. October 1934, The Delineator.

“The famous butcher boy dress” (Butterick pattern No. 5609) and coat pattern 5901. October 1934, The Delineator.

“A belted and buttoned coat of black tweed flecked with rose, with scarf collar and cuffs of Hudson seal and the famous butcher boy dress of Howlett and Hackmeyer ashes-of-roses velveteen — worn with black fabric beret, kid bag, kid and suede oxfords, and beige suede gloves. Coat and dress are designed for Junior Miss sizes 12 to 20, 30 to 38 [inches bust.]”

Butterick pattern #5854, "after Lyolene." September 1934, The Delineator.

Butterick pattern #5854, “after Lyolene.” September 1934, The Delineator. Photo by Arthur O’Neill.

The model in this brown tweed plaid dress is wearing low-heeled shoes, which make it even more necessary for her to turn her hips to one side and conceal their width with her hands and purse. Those gigantic cuffs are a distraction, but the large collars of the 1930s are very useful in balancing a woman’s hips with a mass of lighter color to draw our eyes up toward the face and to widen the shoulders.

Three Butterick dress patterns from September 1934. From left, Nos. 5854, 5852, and 5874. The Delneator.

Three Butterick dress patterns from September 1934. From left, Nos. 5854, 5852, and 5874. The Delineator. The pose of the figure in green is very similar to the live model’s, who looks thick-waisted by comparison. The vertical line of buttons running all the way down the back of the black dress is very slenderizing. (But probably not nice to sit on!)

Of course, by 1934 shoulder pads were also in use to ensure that women’s shoulders looked wider than their hips, and shoulder pads got progressively bigger throughout the 1930s.

The Rule of Thumb

In case you haven’t studied both fashion illustration and life drawing (drawing from a live, nude model) — artists, as distinct from fashion illustrators, start with the fact that a normal human being is usually about seven or seven and a half “heads” high.   That is, if you hold out your arm with a pencil or brush in it and use your thumb to measure off the height of the model’s head, that “head” becomes the unit of measurement for the rest of the body. To make the three dimensional body look graceful when reduced to two dimensions, artists usually elongate the legs a little, so ‘realistic’ figure drawings are based on an eight head figure:

An eight head figure from Walt Reed's figure drawing book, The Figure.

An eight head figure from Walt Reed’s figure drawing book, The Figure.

On a standing model, the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the torso is about four heads, and so is the distance from there to the heel. The legs equal half the body. I love this memorable illustration from Jack Hamm’s book, Drawing the Head and Figure:

Jack Hamm's version of the "eight head figure." From Drawing the Head and Figure.

Jack Hamm’s version of the “eight head figure.” The figure on the right measures seven and a half heads. From Drawing the Head and Figure.

Most of the added length is in the leg.  You can see how the eight head figure (AC) on the left compares with a more truthful — but chunky looking — seven-and-a half head figure (BD) on the right.

But fashion illustrations usually start at “nine heads” and “editorial” fashion illustrations are often eleven heads tall. There is no way an average woman, (5′ 4″ to 5′ 8″) with the measurements a pattern company gives as normally proportioned (say, 36-28-38) can ever look like the drawing on the front of the pattern envelope. That is why models kept getting taller and thinner; only a very tall, thin person can come close to matching the illustrated ideal. fashion  illus Myrtle Lages

You can see that the lower part of the body in these fashion illustrations is much more than half of the whole. Just for fun, I played with this illustration and the photo of two women in evening gowns from the top of this post. [Correction on 2/25/15: the adjusted figure below is based on the suit on the left, above, #5914, not the evening gown.]

shortened fashion drawingIn the illustration above, I took the extra length out of the legs. [I eye-balled it, so it still looks like a fashion illustration. Old habits….] comp model with legs addedOn the right is the photograph of the model. Her skirt is the same length in both images — I just added some legs under it so she looks taller (I also adjusted the flare, but not the length, of the skirt.) If you cover the legs with your thumb, you can see that this is the same picture.

Of the two drawing books mentioned above, Jack Hamm’s (available in paperback) is more useful to the fashion illustrator or costume designer. Originally published in 1963, the faces look dated, but there is a simplified guide to the 12 most common fashion models’ poses that can be a help when you’re doing dozens of costume sketches. He also covers feet (in high heels and men’s shoes) and the way fabrics behave. Walt Reed’s book is aimed at life drawing students (no clothing is discussed), but his lessons on head positions & features — and his emphasis on male and female models and models of various ages — is another handy reference when you don’t have a model to work from. [Costume designers rarely have a model, and we do have to draw more men than women.]

 

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Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Hats, Vintage patterns