This post started with sleeve patterns as its subject, but it grew into one about the widening of shoulders in the 1930’s…. If that’s your interest, just scroll down to 1930’s Sleeve Patterns.
Butterick periodically offered sleeve patterns as a way to give your dress a new look without much expense.
Changing the sleeves on an old garment doesn’t make any sense to me, because you would rarely have enough of the original dress material left over to make a pair of long sleeves…. Nevertheless, here is an assortment of sleeve patterns from 1917 to 1933:
1910’s Sleeve Patterns
Here are some fashions from 1917 and 1918; would changing the sleeves have made much of a difference?
1920’s Sleeve Patterns
Sleeves in the 1920’s were usually simple, fitted without fullness at the shoulder and close to the arm. However, some sleeves were sheer from the wrist to below the elbow, some widened, and some were split.
1930’s Sleeve Patterns: The Silhouette Begins to Change
Sleeves from the early 1930’s were often long but simple:
This writer saw a connection between smaller hats and bigger sleeves:
However, back in 1931, this article noted that as hat styles changed, they looked better with “period clothes, clothes such as were worn with them originally. Period styles have appeared, but they are mostly evening dresses. Something else happened, however, to make the new clothes look right with the new hats… wide sleeves and puffed sleeves.”We can trace a slow increase in shoulder width from the 1930’s to 1940, but from my small sample it appears that wide shoulders and gathered sleeves (except for the frilly ones on formal dresses) were a gradual style change between 1931 and 1937, starting with evening and outerwear.
Also in 1933, coats and jackets with fur accents or extensions at the shoulders were being featured, and not necessarily to accomodate fuller sleeves on dresses:
1933 coat pattern 5347 has wide shoulders and a modified, droopy leg-o-mutton sleeve.
These 1933 jackets also show the “Gibson girl” influence:
By 1935, even dresses appear to have wider shoulders — it would be hard to get this silhouette without using shoulder pads:
By 1937, exaggerated shoulders with sleeves that are full at the top are standard features, as these patterns from a Butterick store flyer illustrate.
The natural shoulder of the 1920’s and early 1930’s is completely out of style.