Tag Archives: vintage fashion

Sleeves with a Flare: 1930

Sleeves which end in a flare: Butterick patterns from February 1930. Delineator.

Left: bare arms covered by a sheer Bertha collar; Center: bare arms covered by a sheer jacket whose sleeves have a double flare or flounce. Right: bare arms for evening. Butterick patterns in Delineator, April 1930.

1930 was a good year for capelets, Berthas, and other soft, sheer, flowing covers for the arm.

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, February 1930.

Short sleeves (above the elbow) were also appearing on dressy dresses (and even on dinner dresses.) A sort of combination of the two styles was the new fitted sleeve with a flounce or “flare.” I first noticed these “medieval” sleeves:

The very long, slit flare on these sleeves was “medieval.” Butterick 3265 from Delineator, June, 1930.

Click here for some real medieval sleeves. Was Charles Addams remembering these dresses when he drew Morticia Addams?

Butterick 3534, from Delineator, December 1930. Another example of a flounce or flare with a slit in it.

A side note: notice how many of these 1930 evening dresses have a long, sheer skirt over a shorter, opaque lining.

Three evening gowns with sleeve interest. Butterick 3052, 3044, and 3054 from February 1930.

Digression: The one on the right is not chiffon but a coarse net mesh, and would deserve a closer look even without its above-the-elbow, tied sleeves (definitely a 1930 style.)

Sleeves that tie above the elbow “are entirely new;” sheer skirt over a shorter opaque layer. Butterick “dinner frock” 3054, February 1930.

The flared sleeve, which is my real topic, was included in pattern 3075 — it offered several sleeve styles for updating or individualizing other patterns:

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, p. 31

Butterick sleeve pattern 3075, Delineator, February 1930, page 30. This illustration included the tied sleeve seen on No. 3054.

Right, the flared sleeve again. Afternoon dresses, Butterick 3215 and 3202, May 1930.

Here is the flared sleeve on a dress for “madame,” i.e., an older women. (She holds her lorgnette in her hand.)

Butterick 3128, an afternoon dress for older or larger ladies.

(This alternate view shows a tied sleeve instead.)

I inherited this collapsible lorgnette with leather case and long chain, like the one worn in the illustration above.

Left, a dress with removable sheer cape; right, Butterick 3289 has a tied bolero top with long, flounced sleeves.

Both dresses have a shorter, opaque under layer with a longer sheer layer on top.

Detail of the 1930 bolero top, Butterick 3289.

I was lucky to find pattern 3269 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. (CoPA), so we can see the pattern pieces.

Pattern envelope for Butterick 3289.

Right: pattern shapes for sleeve and flare  3289.

In that case, the flare is a circle or oval with a round opening in the center.

I was glad to see that these sleeves were not limited to Butterick styles. Here is a very similar dress and jacket pattern from Ladies’ Home Journal:

Another evening dress with optional flounced-sleeve jacket. LHJ pattern 6483, 1930.

The pattern shapes for the sleeve and sleeve flare. This flare (10) is made very differently.

Another — different — sleeve flare:

A third way to achieve the “flare” sleeve. This one hangs open at the back.

Another flare was seen on this McCall pattern from 1931:

McCall pattern 6617 from 1931.

A short sleeve with a frill (top) and a long sleeve with a surprising shape. McCall 6617.

Also from 1931 is this set of sleeves:

Nine sleeve shapes from 1931. Butterick 3698.

A variety of ways to create a flared sleeve.

And, for real inspiration, here is a couture dress by Ardanse, very sheer from neckline to upper arm, where the lace fabric of the dress creates full, slit sleeves with a big, circular flare; they seem to defy gravity.

Couture by Ardanse, left, and Lelong, right. Delineator, May 1930.

Wow.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Capes, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Wide, Sheer Sleeves: A Fashion from 1922

Nearly rectangular sheer lace sleeves with deep armholes. Butterick 3510, from January 1922.

While collecting images of 1922 tunic blouses, I noticed a parallel trend toward very wide sleeves — sometimes rectangular, sometimes funnel-shaped.

Butterick 3510 from February 1922, Delineator.

French designer fashion: wide, funnel sleeves on a gown from Molyneux, Photographed by O’Doye for Delineator, January 1922.

Sometimes they appeared on dresses that suggested the tabard worn by medieval knights.

A sheer under layer with a tabard-like opaque layer on top. Butterick 3508 illustrated in February 1922.

Butterick dress 3508, Delineator, January 1922.

Butterick patterns for teens, February 1922.

Often the sleeves of 1922 were made of sheer fabrics like lace or chiffon.

Dress for teens, Butterick 3474 from January 1922.

This inspiration for these patterns came from Paris couture.

Left: wide, sheer sleeves on a dress by Drecoll. Sketched for Delineator by Soulie, January 1922.

The Paris house of Madeleine et Madeleine showed this dress with sheer, rectangular sleeves that close tightly at the wrist.

Some have armholes that reach almost to the waist:

Butterick dress 3601 from March, 1922.

This Butterick pattern (3393) from December of 1921 cited French designer Jenny as its inspiration. Google image from Hathitrust.org.

Butterick Blouse 3532 from Delineator, February 1922.

Very wide, deep sleeves on Butterick 3406, 1922.

Those were very deep armholes, like pattern 3510:

A closer look at Butterick 3510. “Butterfly-wing sleeves.”

These sleeves were sometimes attached to a slip-like lining, rather than to the dress itself.

Sheer sleeves could also begin from a dropped shoulder:

Left, a Paris designer dress from the House of Beer; right, the same sleeves on a Butterick sewing pattern. 1922.

Butterick 3479 with sheer sleeves. January 1922.

Of course, a very wide sleeve requires a coat to match:

Butterick dress 3465 with coat 3454. January 1922. The dress has a sheer lace bodice over a matching lining.

These enormous sleeves date to 1921-1922.

A dress with very full sleeves, Butterick 3841. 1922.

Funnel sleeves, 1922.

Another distinctive 1920’s sleeve, supposedly based on medieval or “Medici”costumes, was the “troubadour” sleeve, which was very wide — the armhole almost reached the waist — but which tapered to a tight fit in the lower arm and wrist.

Troubadour sleeves. Butterick blouse pattern 1174, from December 1926.

The troubadour sleeve was “a thing” in 1926. More about these sleeves in my next post.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Tunic Blouses, 1922

Three out of five dresses pictured are “Tunic Blouses” with matching slips. Butterick patterns in Delineator, January 1922. Page 30.

The outfit on the right in this illustration is a “Tunic Blouse” with matching slip. Butterick 3509 with slip 3489. February 1922.

Another simply cut but attractive tunic blouse appeared in this color illustration:

Right, Butterick Tunic Blouse 3530 with slip 2930. Delineator, February 1922, page 27.

We’ll take a closer look at that one in a minute…..  You may have guessed that “tunic” means an over layer that is shorter than the rest of the outfit. But the one below is not called a tunic blouse — it’s just a “dress.”

Butterick dress pattern 3456. Delineator, January, 1922, page 28.

It took me a while to realize that Delineator was selling patterns, so the patterns which included all the layers were described as “dress” patterns, and those that only contained the top layer were “tunic blouse” patterns. That way, the buyer knew she would have to buy a separate pattern (or use one she already had) for the longest layer, which was usually made as a slip — but with fashion fabric rather than lingerie fabric.

In spite of their overskirts, these are not tunics but “dresses.” Delineator, May 1921.

The Tunic look had been very important in the 1910s:

Tunic outfits in 1914. Delineator.

Then, the longer layer of the outfit might be part of the skirt pattern or part of a blouse (called a “waist”) pattern. Or it could be sold as a complete tunic dress pattern:

Alternative and back views of Butterick tunic dress 6779; 1914.

This version of the tunic look appeared in 1921:

Butterick sold this pattern as a tunic blouse; the skirt/slip pattern was sold separately. Google scan from Delineator, found at Hathitrust.org.

Another tunic blouse pattern from late 1921.

“A blouse of the sort with a suitable slip makes a complete costume. The Florentine neck and wide sleeves are particularly smart.”

In 1922, a variety of tunic blouses were on offer.

Butterick 3509 illustrated in January 1922.

Right, Butterick 3509 — again — as shown in February 1922. Delineator.

Butterick tunic blouse 3497 illustrated in February 1922, Delineator.

Detail of Butterick 3530 from February 1922.

I especially like the surprise of bright yellow lining on this black velvet tunic. The bands on the sleeves seem to be embroidered with birds.

Matching embroidered fabric shows through the slit at the neck.

That dress almost makes me forget that most women would look like a sack of potatoes in it — a beautiful, black velvet, embroidered sack ….

Some of these tunics have very deep slits at the sides. Butterick tunic blouses 3497 and 3507.

Those very wide sleeves were also typical of 1922 — they deserve (and will get) a post of their own.

Black chiffon over a black slip. Strips of coral red trim keep it from looking too bedroom-y.

Butterick tunic blouse 3462 over slip 3428. January 1922.

The simple tunic blouse pattern lent itself to different ornamentation.

“An elastic can be run through a casing at the low waistline. If transparent, the blouse is worn over a slip; otherwise a skirt will do.”

Teens and young women wore tunic blouses, too. Butterick 3462 from 1922.

I’ve written before on the tunic as a transition to shorter styles. These tunics are from January, 1925.

Tunics from Delineator, January 1925. The slit side was still seen.

A whole page of tunics in different lengths, from Delineator, March 1925.

As skirts rose to knee length in the later 1920s, the knee-length tunic became irrelevant.

This tunic blouse appeared in 1930, another time of hemline transition:

This tunic blouse with long skirt is from December, 193o. The tunic is the same length as dresses from 1929. Butterick 3560. December 1930; Delineator, p. 27.

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Filed under 1910s and WW I era, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Slips and Petticoats

Broad Shoulders for September, 1933.

Wide shoulders were appearing as early as September, 1933.

I had thought of mannish padded shoulders as typical of the late 1930s and early 1940s,…

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/bfn-sept-1943-p-11-suit-dresses-shoulders.jpg

Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1943. Broad, padded shoulders for women.

… but the September 1933 issue of Delineator surprised me. The huge, ruffled shoulders of the Letty Lynton era (the movie was released in 1932) were an early symptom of a change in silhouette — and the ability of wide shoulders to make hips look smaller in comparison mustn’t be ignored.

Shoulders begin to square up as early as summer of 1933.

Delineator, July 1933, p. 53. Left, a yoke with sharp shoulder line; right, a Letty Lynton ruffled shoulder.

Fall and winter coats offered novelty shoulders, sometimes exaggerated by fur trim:

Tpo of page 61, Delineator, September 1933.

Bottom of page 61, Delineator, September 1933.

Lead paragraph of Delineator article, September 1933, p. 61. “These shoulders look broad, but not stoutish.”

Butterick 5276, a coat with enhanced shoulders, was recommended for a college wardrobe. Delineator, Sept. 1933, page 63.

Even without fur or padded shoulder rolls (reminiscent of Elizabethan fashions!) the shoulders are getting straight and squared off, as in this blouse.

College wardrobe, Sept. 1933.

Patterns for women not going off to college show the same exaggerated shoulder line:

Ladies’ dress patterns from Butterick, September 1933.

Ladies patterns, Delineator, Sept. 1933, page 66.

As hips become impossibly narrow, exaggerated shoulders widen the top of the body.

“Paris frocks” become Butterick patterns, Delineator, Sept. 1933, page 65.

“Coal-heavers’ shoulders” are a feature of this Butterick pattern. Delineator, September 1933, page 55.

Ladies’ dress patterns from Delineator, September 1933, page 55. Note that extended yoke at bottom right.

Butterick 5247, 5270, 5259, and 5365. September 1933.

Extended shoulders were also shown on coats for girls:

Even the little girl’s coat (top right) has wide shoulders, thanks to its yoke or collar.

Older women also benefited from broader shoulders in 1933:

Clothes for women no longer young or slender. Butterick patterns 1933.

Delineator, September 1933. I found No. 5307 at the Commercial Pattern Archive.

Those shoulders, almost square, cannot be achieved without padding, but I have not found a 1933 pattern at CoPA that mentions shoulder pads — not even this exact pattern, No. 5307.

Coats for evening wear were even more exaggerated, evoking the sleeves of 1895:

Evening dress with jacket; Butterick pattern 5279, Sept. 1933.

Evening wrap and evening dress for a trousseau, Delineator, September 1933.

Four years later, in 1937, these patterns for young women were still “broad shouldered.” The “squarely fitted” cape shoulders were especially stylish.

Butterick patterns for young women; Delineator, Sept. 1937.

 

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Filed under 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

Autumn Hats from Paris, 1912

A Paris hat from couturiere Georgette, Delineator, October 1912, pp. 272-273.

It’s hard to imagine some of these hats as suitable for fall and winter, but High Fashion isn’t supposed to be practical. The wind wouldn’t dare disturb a wealthy Parisienne.

Paris hat from Jeanne Lanvin, Delineator, October 1912. “Hat of black antique satin with a soft crown of white taffetas [sic] trimmed with pink roses.”

Most of these hats from Paris designers were featured in a two-page photo spread in Delineator, October 1912, pages 272 and 273.

A Paris hat from Suzanne Talbot. Delineator, October 1912. She was a noted milliner and couturier in the 1920s. Hat of auburn velvet, self-colored tulle, with white and brown roses.

A bigger, sheer layer softens the brim of several hats.

Like Talbot, Lanvin also used a layer of sheer fabric [“frills of black tulle”] to make the hat even wider.

Georgette covered this hat with lace, which seems [to me] an odd choice for fall /winter wear. I had to put this through a photo enhancer to show the detail.

“Evening hat of black and white Chantilly lace turned up at the back. The black lace is used over the white.” Two layers of Chantilly lace? Very extravagant! [This is the first time I have seen an evening hat this large! And the model is not dressed for evening, is she?]

The fabric called Georgette, a crepe-like chiffon, was named after this designer. Georgette de la Plante, who was quite popular in the 1910s and 1920s.

Another very wide hat from Georgette. Delineator, October 1912. “Bell-shaped hat of black velvet rolled up at the back and trimmed with roses.”

Those gigantic hats got my attention, but there were more practical hats from chic designers:

Hat from Lanvin, Delineator, Oct. 1912. “…Black velvet with a trimming of ‘Marquis’ feather.”

“Hat of black satin with real old lace border. Soft black satin crown and ‘Neron’ rose under the brim. By Suzanne Talbot. [It’s rather like a Tam o’ Shanter.]

Flowers or feathers worn under the brim instead of on top of it  could be very charming.

“Brim of black silk sponge tissue, with crown of black satin. White Prince of Wales feather at the right side. By Jeanne Lanvin.” Delineator, Oct. 1912, p. 272.

This relatively simple hat from Suzanne Talbot must have been very annoying to sit next to, or behind. “Panne velvet hat with a piping of white cloth and trimmed with two curled ostrich quills.”

If you weren’t attracted by extremely wide hats, extreme height was also an option:

“White plush hat with black satin brim rolled at the edge and trimmed with two raven’s quills in front. By Suzanne Talbot.”

“Tailor-made hat of black satin with turned-back brim and shaped bands stitched with cords. By Georgette.” [To me, it looks like a shaped felt hat, but perhaps my photo program changed its texture.]

I do like the delicate sheer frill at her wrist, in contrast to her suit. All those photographs were taken by l’Atelier Taponier.

This hat from Doeuillet is another that must have required wearers to calculate the clearance on doorways and cabs very carefully.

Paris hat by Doeuillet; Delineator, November 1912.

Naturally, the illustrators working for Butterick’s Delineator magazine tried to keep up with the latest hat styles.

Hat with a sheer overlay, like many Paris hats shown in the same issue. Delineator, October 1912.

Wide hat with curved brim, drooping feather at one side; Delineator, Oct.1912. Her coat is corduroy.

Hats shown with Butterick patterns in Delineator, October 1912.

But the hat shown in the cover illustration for October 1912 was much simpler and smaller (and sportier) than the Paris hats inside the magazine.

Delineator cover painting by Augustus Vincent Tack. October 1912.

Detail of cover illustration, Delineator, October 1912. Enhanced to show detail

Edit 9/18/19 Here is a full length picture of the blue suit and hat from October pictured above:

500 1912 oct p 229 color 5664 k 5665 w 5668 sk 5669 blue 500 (3)

Illustration from Delineator, October 1912.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Hats, Hats and Millinery, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs, vintage photographs, World War I

Hostess Pajamas & College Pajamas, 1930

These pajamas, Butterick 3554 and 3551, can be “beach pajamas,” too. I’ve probably written about them before, but I just found the pattern for No. 3554 at the Commercial Pattern Archive. Besides, I do love pajamas!

Hostess pajamas (left) and “college pajamas,”(right) 1930. Both Butterick patterns appeared on page 82 of Delineator magazine, December 1930.

The hostess pajamas are made with a yoke and have very full legs.

Hostess pajamas 3554 are a three piece set.

The pattern envelope (at CoPA) shows options for sleeves on the bolero and a sleeveless blouse.

Information from the pattern envelope. CoPA.

That’s quite a lengthy list of possible fabrics, including linen, pique, and [silk] shantung for beach wear, and light weight velvets or metallic fabrics for “lounging.” I do wish yardage estimates were included, because these trousers need a lot of fabric:

The trousers for Butterick 3554 have very full legs, attached to a close-fitting yoke. Pattern pieces for “inside bands” explain how the waist was finished.

The yoke on 3554 is close-fitting and buttons at the side.

Here, the luxurious hostess pajamas have decorative tassels on the V-neck. The pattrn illustration shows a bow of bias matching the sleeve and neck binding.

Delineator magazine description of Butterick 3554. A 44″ bust meant 47.5″ hips, as a rule….

“College pajamas” as the magazine referred to Butterick 3551, did not have such voluminous trousers.

“College pajamas” 3551 have a longer robe/jacket and less extravagant (more practical) wide-legged trousers.

For beach wear or late-night philosophical discussions, 3551 would be just the thing. For decorating your dorm room, Butterick provided this 30 inch “sailor trou” doll pattern (on the same page as the other pajamas.)

Delineator, December 1930, page 82.

It’s not too early to start planning Christmas gifts — or too late for “back to college” pajamas. More inspiration: Molyneux offered these velvet hostess pajamas with sheer jacket in 1927. Why don’t I dress like this while binge-watching? (Well, mine would have to be washable, but this sleeveless PJ with sheer above-the-knee top isn’t a bad idea!)

A sketch of Molyneux’ luxurious velvet and chiffon pajamas for entertaining at home. Delineator, November 1927. In black chiffon and vermillion [red-orange] velvet, with [vermillion?] poppies and green leaf embroidery. The tight ankles are unusual.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, Musings, Nightclothes and Robes, Sportswear, Vintage Couture Designs, Women in Trousers

Pattern Pieces for Side Drapes (“Cascades”) circa 1922

The side panels of this skirt were called “cascades.” Butterick 3601 from March, 1922; Delineator.

Cascades were created in several different ways in the Nineteen Twenties. Using the pattern archive at CoPA to better understand the options, I found a considerable variety of pattern shapes. Some cascades were basically rectangles, others were shaped, and sometimes the solution was really simple: essentially a piece of fabric wrapped around the body, with one side seam sewn several inches inside the edge of the cascade, which jutted out. (See Pattern 1408, below….)

In 1980, a Twenties’ dress with two cascades like that green one was one of my early experiments in draping.  Think of the skirt as a very big pillowslip with an opening in the top seam a few inches from each side seam. That opening is gathered and attached to the bodice at the waist.  I used a fairly light silk, so the bulk of the seam at each side wasn’t a problem. It looked fine, but this week I learned that it probably was not the way cascades were done in the early 1920s.

If I had had CoPA for research, I would have noticed that there was usually only one layer of fabric in the cascade.

Butterick 3545 has a cascade at each side.

Pattern envelope scanned from CoPA. . “LADIES’ SLIP-OVER DRESS, closed at left underarm, with Detachable Cape, Two-Piece Skirt Attached at Low Waistline, with or without long body lining.”

Detachable Cape on Butterick 3545.

Butterick 3545 pattern layout from CoPA.

The skirt pattern pieces for Butterick 3545, 1922. Notches show where the cascades would be inserted into the side seams. This construction is very simple and logical to a 21st century stitcher.

A closer view of the skirt; Butterick 3545, 1922.

In that case, the cascade was a separate pattern piece. It was also separate in this LHJ pattern, but this cascade was shaped to taper at the bottom. And it was NOT inserted in a side seam.

The full image from CoPA of LHJ pattern 3616. A triangle of dots usually means “place on fold,” but in this case it’s hard to interpret.  Notch K in the bodice front matches notch K in the skirt. The separate side panel (did it hang free?) adds to the confusion. The dress drawing does not show a center back seam.

In Ladies’ Home Journal pattern 3616, the cascade is shaped, and it has a pleat (“plait”) at the point where it is attached to the skirt waist. But the cascade does not appear to be inserted into a seam.

The right-angled point of the cascade (I called it A) hangs free, but the other side is apparently sewn to the side front of the skirt. LHJ pattern 3616.

I don’t know how the straight, raw edge of the cascade would be handled, since it doesn’t appear to be inserted in a seam, but …. (I may be misreading this one! Perhaps those five dots on the skirt are a cutting line?)

Butterick 3417, from 1921, can teach us many things.

Butterick 3417 from 1921.

Bodice, cape, and lining of Butterick 3417.

The blouson shape can be held in place by the bodice lining and the waist stay, in addition to the built-in belt we see. The cape is not just a square; the little jag at the point of attachment will affect the way the cape falls. The cascade is cut in one with the skirt front.

Skirt pieces for Butterick 3417.

This cascade is cut in one with the skirt front; the jog at the bottom allows about three inches for the skirt hem to be turned up. (The cascades apparently have a narrow hem.) The pale lavender line is my guess at the seam placement.

Butterick 3417 (1921) makes sense once you realize that the three-dot triangle means “place on fold of fabric.” I circled the small dots which mark the place where the side seams need to go. The “tube” part of the dress has a hem allowance of about 3 inches. The cascade would be narrow-hemmed, or picot hemmed, if chiffon. Yes, the back side of the fabric would be seen — no problem with georgette or reversible satin….

This Syndicate pattern, No. 1789 from 1923 has just five pieces. A seamstress would have to know about facing for the belt, which apparently buttons at one or both sides. How are the sleeves and cascades finished? How about a neck facing? Is the bodice fully lined? All up to the seamstress.

Syndicate dress 1789 from 1923.

The aerial view of this dress as it would look before the sides were sewn is very informative!

The cascades apparently hang free, outside the side seams, which probably fall vertically from the side waist And that bodice is quite intriguing. what happens when you raise your arms? Definitely wear with a slip!

Pictorial Review pattern 1408 also makes the cascade part of the skirt front:

Pictorial Review pattern 1408 from 1922. The cascade is cut in one with the skirt front.

The skirt front is seamed to the skirt back at one side (see double notches.)

There appears to be a seam line where the left side of the skirt back wraps around to the front and tucks under the cascade.

Once you match the skirt front to skirt back at one side, the entire skirt wraps around and is stitched to the front, allowing the cascade to hang free.

This beautiful 1922 dress, Ladies’ Home Journal pattern 3701, has only four pattern pieces:

LHJ pattern 3701, from 1922. (The “whole skirt” length does not seem to be to scale, since the skirt is one piece, wrapping around the body and and folding up in horizontal tucks (“plaits”) at the waist.)

I said “only four pattern pieces;” the seamstress would have to make her own bias bindings and figure out how to face the long sleeves and neckline…. (I would line the entire bodice with contrasting Chinese silk.)

Butterick 4025 makes the cascade part of its one-piece skirt.

Center, Butterick 4025, Delineator, December 1922.

Butterick 4025 pattern envelope from CoPA.

The cascade is part of the one-piece skirt. (How could the black cascade have a white reverse side, as illustrated? More dressmaker ingenuity needed….)

More often, the cascade was a separate pattern piece. In this 1923 pattern (Ladies’ Home Journal pattern 3961) the cascade on this side-closing surplice dress is cut with one curved side, for a more graceful “fall.” (“Fall, waterfall, cascade….”)

A surplice closing creates this wrap dress. Ladies’ Home Journal pattern 3961, from 1923.

Skirt pattern pieces for LHJ 3961. One-piece skirt, possibly cut on the fold at center back. (See the Three dot triangle.)

Complete pattern pieces from LHJ 3961, scanned from CoPA.

Obviously, there’s more than one way to cut a cascade. I’ve spent a lot of my life looking at old paintings and photographs and illustrations, trying to figure out how those those garments were constructed (and what the backs looked like.)  One rule of the costume shop is: “Never assume.” Knowing how modern clothes are made — what “makes sense” to us — isn’t always the key to an authentic replica. CoPA, the Commercial Pattern Archive — started by theatrical costumers — is an absolute treasure. Spread the word!

Personal experience: Around 1985, I was designer and cutter for a production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. One of my stitchers had been trained as a tailor in Germany. She was so unhappy with the way my men’s sleeves (patterned from Norah Waugh’s Cut of Men’s Clothes : 1600-1900) needed gathering at the back of the sleeve head that I revised my patterns for them several times. Two years later I visited the Costume Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where some 18th c. men’s clothing was displayed in a case that I could walk around. Finally, I could see the back seams of the coats I had been drafting! Guess what? There were visible gathers at the back of the sleeve heads. And I had gone without sleep to get rid of them in my patterns!  (P.S. That’s also why I always want to see the backs at museum exhibits! Maybe a photo? Or a mirror behind the mannequin?)

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Filed under 1920s, Capes, Exhibitions & Museums, Musings, Resources for Costumers, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage patterns