Tag Archives: Pattern

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


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.)


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

Website for Dating Vintage Butterick Patterns, Part 1

My Website for Dating Vintage Butterick Patterns, Part 1
If you have an undated Butterick pattern from the 1920s or 30s, you can probably use my new website, witness2fashion.com, to find the month and year when it first appeared in Butterick’s magazine, The Delineator.

How to Date a Butterick pattern by Using witness2fashion.com

Vintage patterns are a wonderful resource for researching vintage fashions and costume history, but very few pattern companies used to date their patterns. Butterick resisted dating its patterns for decades. My project is to make dating them easier for collectors and historians.

Here Is a Typical Pattern Chart from The Delineator, January 1933 1933 jan Delineator pattern chart

I have been working on this project for over a year, ever since I discovered that, in the 1920s and 1930s, there was a chart near the back of every Delineator, listing all the patterns illustrated in that issue. This was for the convenience of customers who wanted to order by mail.  I have collected that information from over 150 issues, from January 1924 to March 1937, and published it for the use of vintage pattern collectors and sellers, and of course, for historians who need to track the development of styles.

Rather than try to post all the individual charts, I have summarized, giving the highest pattern number for each month, from January 1924 to March 1937. [I will add earlier years as soon as I have the chance.]

a chart from witness2fashion.com

Part of a chart from witness2fashion.com

If you have a 1920s style pattern with a number between #5721 (December, 1924), and #6507 (December, 1925), you can be sure that pattern was first offered for sale in Butterick’s Delineator magazine in 1925. You can even find the month and issue, which is useful for charting changes in hemlines, etc.

Examples of Patterns Dated Using witness2fashion.com 

Photo used with permission of Bill Walton Antiques

Photo used with permission of Bill Walton Antiques

This pattern, #5493, is currently listed on Ebay by Bill Walton’s Antiques.

It is clearly a 1920s style. Its number — 5493 — dates it to September, 1924.

Finding the date for Butterick pattern #5493

Finding the date for Butterick pattern #5493

And here is a photo of the original listing in The Delineator, September issue, 1924.1924 sept dresses p 31 btm label

Coat Dress #5493 “Twills, wool crepe, wool rep, cashmere, flannel, plaids, stripes, checks, heavy silk crepe, silk alpaca or satin make a very new one-piece coat dress of the straight-line type….Lower edge 48 inches. The coat dress is for ladies 32 to 48 bust.”

Another pattern, #5508, was listed by  connieandcompany

Photo used with permission of connieandcompany

Photo used with permission of connieandcompany

By an amazing coincidence, its number also dates it to September, 1924. This is how it was illlustrated and described: 1924 sept dresses p 31 topBlouse # 5508: The slip-over blouse is smart to wear with a wrap-around straight skirt with set-in pockets, etc….  Initials trim this blouse of heavy crêpe de chine, etc…. Blouse and skirt are for ladies 32 to 44 bust and 35 to 47 ½ hip.”

Collectors Can Date Vintage Butterick Patterns to the Year and Month

[edited 1/10/15 to correct typo Day for Year]

Mr. Walton has said, quite accurately, that his pattern #5493 has a patent date of 1921.  In her excellent article about Mc Call’s patterns, De-coding Vintage Patterns, the Wearing History  blogger explained that a patent date may refer to the pattern’s mechanical process or printing process, not the design itself. It is not the same as the copyright date on a modern pattern.

The witness2fashion.com charts show the month and year when the Butterick Publishing Company first illustrated and described each sewing pattern it was offering for sale. They may have been available in stores a little earlier, but being featured in the magazine means the fashion was current.

More About the Two Patterns from September, 1924

Statistically, the chance of my finding two vintage patterns currently for sale on Ebay which date to the same issue of The Delineator was pretty small, but, incredibly, they also appeared on the same page.  Even more amazing: by pure serendipity, I happen to have photographed the very page they appeared on just last week!

Delineator, September 1924, page 31

Delineator, September 1924, page 31

That is why I was able to supply pictures of them from the magazine. (And thank you to Ebay sellers waltonsjunk  and connieandcompany  for allowing me to use their listings and photographs!)

Four More Fabulous 1920s Blouses

There are so many great blouses on that page that I can’t resist describing them, too, in a later post.


Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Vintage patterns

1920s Styles for Larger Women, Part 1

For Bust Measurement 33 to 48 Inches

For Bust Measurement 36 to 48 Inches

1920s Patterns with Bust Measurement 44 Inches or More

In spite of the long, narrow figures in 1920s fashion illustrations, twenties dress patterns were usually available in bust sizes 33 to 44 inches – the equivalent of a modern size 22. Butterick routinely issued patterns even larger than 44.  The gorgeous evening dress above, pictured in gold metallic brocade, is sized 36 to 48. More about it later….

Body Measurements from a Butterick Pattern Envelope, 1927

This chart is on the back of a pattern envelope from 1927:

Butterick Pattern Envelope, 1927

Butterick Pattern Envelope, 1927

A woman with a 32″ bust was expected to have 35″ hips; a 38″ bust had 40 ½” hips; and a size 44 was assumed to have 47 ½” hips – and the pattern mentions “outlet seams” which can add another inch and  a half if necessary.

Surplice Styles Flattering to Larger Women

As you can imagine, 1920s fashions which drew a horizontal line across the widest part of a woman’s body were not necessarily flattering — especially to a woman with 49″ hips. With that in mind, the editors of Delineator Magazine often recommended a surplice line dress for larger women. 1929 jan p 26 surplice“There is no line more flattering to mature figures than the surplice closing, especially when it is softened by a scalloped and frilled lingerie collar. The straight skirt is gathered to a girdle that ties snugly….Designed for [bust] 34 to 48.”

The ‘surplice line’ meant that there was a design line, often the front closing, that ran diagonally from one shoulder to the opposite hip. Draped fabric falling from that point – as in the gold evening gown, #1187 below – carries the eye down, rather than across the body.

Two 1926 Evening Gowns for Size 48 Bust Patterns 1195, 1187 together

1926 dec p 47 #1195 for 48 bustFrock #1195: Draperies that develop wing-like properties in motion fly from the shoulder and hip of a Paris evening gown. The frock that composes itself entirely of Georgette, lace, or crépe de chine is the most useful kind of evening dress. In this particular frock the bloused body is sewed to a one-piece slip and the lower edge of the tunic [sic] is straight….For women 32 to 48 bust. [Controlling the blouson top by attaching the sheer outer layer to a slip makes the dress much easier to wear. The slip – with its straight hem – is visible below the asymmetrical hem of the dress. Such a slip would be made in a color to match the dress, and the silk used for the slip might also bind the neckline.]

1926 dec #1187 fits 36 to 48 bust

Gown #1187: “Uneven lies the hem of the Paris gown intended for formal day or evening use. The long V line of the surplice closing, the tight drapery at the hip and the free drapery at the side have reducing properties. The gown itself is in one-piece style and so is the separate slip. An extra slip with sleeves for afternoon, make[s] two gowns. Size 36 will need 2 5/8 yards of metallic brocade 40 inches wide. Designed for women 36 to 48 bust.” [The version illustrated is an evening gown. An under-dress ‘slip’ with a higher neckline and sleeves, often of sheer fabric trimmed with the dress fabric, would make it modest enough for afternoon tea dances, etc.]

Mature Elegance in a Surplice Evening Gown1929 feb p 89 lucky ad middle aged woman

Elsie de Wolfe, Noted Interior Decorator (and about 63 years old at the time of this February ad) wears an evening dress very similar to Butterick #1187 in an advertisement for Lucky Strike Cigarettes, 1929. She is quoted as saying, “I recommend a Lucky instead of a sweet… an excellent substitute when your appetite craves a sweet but your figure must be considered.” [The ad goes on to say that “A reasonable proportion of sugar in the diet is recommended, but the authorities are overwhelming that too many fattening sweets are harmful. So, for moderation’s sake we say: – ‘Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet!’ “]

Surplice Line Dresses for Young Women and Teens, January 1929
1929 jan p 29 rt

The surplice style was not limited to older women or those who had to “consider” their figures. Butterick pattern #2397, “a very informal afternoon frock for winter resorts, [was] designed for sizes 32 to 37, 15 to 20 years, and for [ladies with bust measurement of] 38, 40.” The dress next to it, #2424, is also for teens “15 to 18 years and [women bust] 36 to 44 [inches.]” A dress pattern for size 18 years had a 35 inch bust, but was proportioned for a smaller person. 1920s pattern descriptions often say “15 to 20 and smaller women.” Butterick Patterns for women who were both short and stout did not become available until the 1930s, as far as I have seen — but I’m still looking.


Filed under 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes