Eighty-one years ago, these print dresses were illustrated in The Delineator magazine, a Butterick Company publication. Print fabrics were suggested for both day and evening wear. I’ll show some close-ups of each dress, because the details are so lovely.
“The fruit prints are very charming, especially the berry, apple and pear ones. A raspberry print is used for dress 5494, a frock distinguished also for its new type of high cowl neckline, buttoned to one shoulder and its sleeves that go just beyond the crook of the elbow.” — The Delineator, February 1934, p. 72.
What I really like about this dress is the unusual cut of the bodice and sleeves, and the way the diagonal seam is carried down into the skirt.
Butterick patterns 5527 and 5507
The large, swirling, abstract print on number 5527 is quite a contrast to “fruit prints.”
Butterick 5527: “Light rust is the newest color for prints, and best-looking when the design is in white, as in the hood frock 5527. In front the dress has a high neck, but it is its back that is the important thing.” [That’s right: A hood!]
Butterick 5507: “Neat little unimportant designs, spaced apart, make the smartest looking dresses after all, as 5507 with its entrancing laced and buttoned scarf, proves. This is the kind of print that is definitely high fashion for spring.”
Big bow/collars like No. 5507 were also popular in white. Notice the way the sleeves echo the curve of the bodice.
This print dress with a contrast collar/bow is Butterick 5609, from April 1934:
It also has fullness gathered into curves on the sleeves, like No. 5507.
A print fabric was also featured in this dress from a Lane Bryant catalog advertisement in February:
Print for a Spring Evening Dress
Butterick 5534: This jacket dress would be hard to beat — for being terribly good-looking and practical, too. It’s suitable for Mama and Daughter alike. Wear it informally with the jacket. Take the jacket off and you have a covered-shoulder, low-backed frock …. Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40.”
Butterick 5526: The skirt of this dress is all one unbroken sweep of the satin, with a single seam down the back — no side seams! For this, you have to use 54 inch satin. There’s a built-in brassiere, so all one needs to wear underneath is a girdle and step-ins …. Designed for sizes 12 to 20; 30 to 40.”
Number 5526 doesn’t use print fabric, but that description — a single seam bias skirt and a built-in bra — is pretty interesting!
A Vintage Print Evening Dress, circa 1929
While reading about these prints for spring — one of them in rust, which is not a “springtime” color anymore — I remembered this vintage dress which I photographed — badly — several years ago:
It is several years earlier than the patterns from 1934; it has a handkerchief hem which is much shorter in front than in back.
These transitional gowns were popular around 1929 — this example is from Paris, by Lucien Lelong.
A closer view of the front of the vintage dress shows a dropped waistline, too. It is made of print chiffon over a silk lining. Like many gowns of the 1930s, it depends on a bias cut for its effectiveness.
The use of bold, printed fabrics spanned several decades.