Tag Archives: vintage patterns

What’s Going on Here? Tops and Skirts from 1914

Almost the full page image of four outfits from Delineator, April 1914. Four outfits: eight patterns.

This is a follow-up to a post that showed this image without any explanation. In 1914, Delineator was a large format magazine, much bigger than the average computer screen (or modern magazine) so I will have to chop up that image to show details of these outfits. The opposite page gave more information about each one, so I also have line drawings and alternate views to share.

Important fact: Not one of these outfits is a dress. They are all separate tops and skirts.

Butterick pattern numbers for the brown and blue-gray outfits at the top right of the page.

It’s not always easy to figure out whether you’re looking at a dress, a skirt and “waist” [i.e., blouse,] or a “coat” and skirt in these fashions from 1914. Luckily, the old Delineator supplied plenty of alternate views.

Sometimes an alternate view  looks so different from the major illustration that only the pattern number shows that they are variations of the same garment. I’ll start by dissecting the gold-colored suit at top left.

Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Coat 6790 and skirt 6806 look like a suit with a long jacket — that’s an illusion.

First surprise: the jacket only reaches the waist.

Coat 6790 with an alternate view, the lapel buttoned.

Front and back views of coat/jacket 6790.

The skirt includes a long tunic top.

Skirt 6808 with two alternate views.  The skirt, drawn in plaid with a bias cut top and two rows of buttons, looks very different.

Butterick waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

The height of these hats makes it hard to do justice to the entire outfit at once.

Back and front views of waist 6791. In the color version, the waist is two-toned and has a blue and white collar and “vest.”

Alternate views of waist 6791. This view, made in sheer or print fabric, has a high neckline instead of the V-neck shown in the color illustration.

Skirt 6792 has two tiers over the skirt itself.

Skirt 6792 could also be made in a sporty plaid, with more buttons, too. I wonder: were the tunics always cut on the bias, being based on a circle segment? Was the back always placed on the straight grain?

These skirts must have been very warm, if every layer was lined. The drawing of the waistline on all these skirts shows how the corset of 1914 distorted a woman’s body; the boned front of the corset forced her abdominal area into a straight line, pushing the hips and pelvis back — which caused a sway-backed effect. The waistline of the skirt is therefore higher in the back than in the front — one reason why vintage blouses from the WW I era don’t stay tucked into your skirt in back if you aren’t wearing a 1914 corset!

Ad for the Nu-Bone corset, Delineator, March 1914. You can see how the straight-front corset forces the hips and pelvis back.

This Nu-Life corset is higher in back than in front — just like the skirts’ waistbands.

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800.

Incidentally, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion — which is the basis for My Fair Lady — opened in London in  1914. For the benefit of costumers, I’m sharing a lot of construction information.

A closer view of waist 6799. It looks very short-waisted.

Like the skirts, the waistline of the “waist” is higher in back than in front.

This skirt is elaborately draped.

Front and back views of skirt 6800.

Skirt 6800 later appeared in a feature about bridal costumes. It is very formal.  [Here, it looks like a cape, but it is a skirt.] The view on the left is the back view; on the right is the front view.

Waist 6823 with skirt 6824. Wide hips were obviously very much in style in 1914 — in spite of those corsets.

Three views of waist 6823. Again, the plaid version looks much less formal. It could be worn with a plain skirt.

Skirt 6824 is elaborately draped in a “pannier effect.” The color image gives the back view.

A skirt like this required a shorter interior lining made of sturdy fabric, which supported the weight of the “bustle.”

Description of the blue-gray waist 6823 and skirt 6824. Delineator, April 1914. A “short four-piece foundation skirt” eliminated the need for a waistband.

The surplice-style waist/blouse was also made with a “French lining” to support and control the fullness. I’ll write about French linings some other day.

Here are written descriptions of the other three outfits (I’ll refer to them by color.)

Gold-colored Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Description for the gold-colored “suit” made by combining coat 6790 with skirt 6806.

This skirt also had a “short four piece foundation skirt.”

In addition to the color illustration, skirt 6806 was shown in a plaid version with a different coat on page 24.

Butterick wine-colored waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

Description of the wine-colored outfit made from waist 6791 and skirt 6792. “The double tunic and one-piece lower part area attached to a short three-piece foundation skirt in regulation waistline.” [As you can see, these skirts have no obvious waistband.]

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800 apparently in brown silk or taffeta.

Description of brown waist 6799 with skirt 6800. Delineator, April 1914. “A short three-piece foundation skirt is given in regulation waistline.”

I don’t think “regulation” had any legal status — it was just the usual no-visible-waistband technique for making skirts.

I can’t resist ending with closer views of the hats:

She’s wearing a wristwatch.

Whew! long post….

 

 

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Hats, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, World War I

Work Clothes: Bib Overalls and Coveralls

Story illustration by George Giguere, Delineator, February 1924. A young man in bib overalls receives a visit from two pretty girls. Notice the house across the street. This is not necessarily a farm.

When I began writing witness2fashion, I wanted to focus on everyday clothes, clothing for working class people. All the men in my family did manual labor — skilled labor, but impossible to do without getting dirty.

My mother (in light dress) with her older sister and her two brothers. About 1913, judging from their ages. My Uncle Harris, wearing a coverall on the right, would have been working in his family’s ice house by then.

I grew up seeing bib overalls on my father and my uncles. This is not a scholarly history of overalls, but a little tribute to a 20th century classic.

Both overalls [the word I use to refer to bib overalls] and coveralls [by which I mean mean a one piece garment with sleeves which covers the body from neck to ankle] have been around for a very long time. Early Levi jeans were called “waist overalls.”

Waist overalls from Sears, Spring 1896. The construction is like that of men’s wool trousers, with a high back and a buckle for adjusting the waist fit. “Overalls” meant a work pant — with or without an “apron” or “bib,” front. The top two were also available in a bib version: “Same as above, with apron front … and strap suspenders.”

For farmers and other men (and sometimes women) doing manual labor, the bib overall was almost synonymous with “work clothes.” It was also an ideal garment for active children.

My great-aunt with my Aunt Dorothy, my Uncle Mel, and my Uncle Harris. Dorothy was born in 1901, so this is probably before 1906. My grandmother has very sensibly dressed her boys in bib overalls.

Sears Roebuck sold overalls for children “4 to 14” as early as Spring of 1896. They called them “Brownie suits.” The model is not wearing a shirt: “Let your boy play in the healthy outdoor air this summer, dressed in a Brownie Suit. They are all the style this season.”

In 1907 the style had changed slightly.

From a Sears catalog, 1907. Overalls were made of durable fabrics and allowed a boy to “play without being afraid of spoiling his best clothes.”

The pockets seem a bit small to me, but a boy wearing these could answer the call of nature without adult assistance, since the bib suspenders unhooked from the front.

In 1907, the boy who didn’t wear overalls might wear something like this:

Clothes for boys from Sears catalog, 1907. Not really suitable for playing in the dirt.

Since overalls were made of heavy fabrics, and available at low prices from catalogs, I was a little surprised to see Butterick sewing patterns for them:

Butterick pattern 5410, for men’s overalls/coveralls, and Butterick 5365, a very similar “play suit” for young boys. Both from Delineator, 1924. Note: the word “jumpsuit” dates to World War II and is American in origin; in England they were called siren suits.

Butterick pattern 5780 for men’s bib overalls [also called apron overalls,] Delineator, January 1925. This man is a mechanic carrying a pipe wrench. My Uncle Mel, a plumber, still wore striped overalls in the 1940s and 1950s.

Overalls for boys two to twelve; Butterick 5258 from June 1924. He may be gardening, but professional farmers wore overalls, too. [And, more than 20 years later,  my Grandma bought me sandals exactly like those he is wearing. Mine were always red, bought new at the start of each summer.]

Some children wore overalls as a matter of course:

A farm family in 1934; photo from a Nujol ad in Delineator, April 1934.

For a well-illustrated article on bib overalls, as worn by farmers and others, click here.

Overalls for a “youth” and a grown man, from Sears, Spring 1929. “Fellows! The real thing! … just like Dad’s!” Left, bib overalls and a matching jacket in “Sturdy 2.20 white back denim.”

My uncle, the plumber, wore dark, denim, indigo blue overalls with narrow white stripes — and a matching jacket — in 1950. Unlike modern plumbers who wear jeans, he could crawl under a sink without exposing cleavage in back.

Sears overalls and matching jacket, Spring catalog, 1929.

“Heavy reinforcements where reinforcements are needed. Securely bar tacked at all points of strain.”  Levi Strauss used rivets to reinforce stress points — and held a patent.

One of the great things about bib front overalls was the specialized pockets.

From the Sears Catalog, Spring, 1950. Carpenters overalls, left, have ample pockets for nails, a carpenter’s rule, carpenters’ pencils, and a loop on the side seam of the leg for carrying a hammer. Painters’ and paperhangers’ overalls have room for paint rags, etc. House painters traditionally wore white overalls.

Sears overalls for painters and paperhangers, 1897. “Two pockets and knife pocket.”

If you’ve ever hung wallpaper, you’ll appreciate the knife pocket.

My father wears [once white] carpenter’s overalls in 1950. His foreman, at left, preferred dungarees and a blue work shirt. Note the foreman’s felt hat.

1956: Sears’ coveralls and overalls from Everyday Fashions of the Fifties. Coveralls were favored by auto mechanics; they had to lie on their backs to reach the undersides of cars. There’s not a baseball cap to be seen on these working class men from the 1950’s — they are wearing their old “good” felt hats.

In this illustration, a traveling salesman shows his wares to a woman he (understandably) mistakes for the farmer’s wife:

Story illustration, Delineator, February 1936.

However, overalls could be beach pajamas or play suits for women in the 1930s:

Masthead illustration by Leslie Saalburg for Delineator, March 1932. She’s not wearing a top under her overalls.

These pajamas were suggested for tennis in an ad from Delineator, June, 1932. They look like a trip hazard to me.

Women had worn men’s overalls when doing factory work in the First World War.

American woman in Ladies' Home Journal, August 1917.

American woman, Ladies’ Home Journal, 1917.

They also wore them during World War II, but this 1940’s sewing pattern is for work or play:

Anne Adams sewing pattern 4350 circa 1942.

My father still wore overalls from time to time after he retired in the 1970’s. This striped pair have big, removable pockets attached with a zipper.

Striped overalls worn on a fishing trip, 1970s — better than gutting fish in your good trousers and shirt!

He’s  standing in a basement laundry room. Automatic washing machines may explain why many workers now wear chinos or jeans instead of overalls.

Here are some overalls for children from the 1940’s:

Overall-styled play suit (with matching jacket) from Butterick Fashion News, October 1943.

An overall/play suit very like the back-baring beach pajamas of 1932, with narrower legs. Butterick Fashion News, August, 1948.

Overalls for children continue to be popular. These brand new striped overalls from OshKosh are faded and aged before being sold.

I don’t remember these, but here’s proof that I used to wear overalls, too:

Witness2fashion in overalls, early 1950s. The curls and the hair bow were my mother’s idea.

What’s with the dirt piles? My father was a housemover; the house behind me is “up on blocks” and on its way to a new location.

A house being moved from one location to another, California, 1950s.

In England, “housemovers” move furniture, but in my part of the world, where wooden houses survive earthquakes better than stone or brick ones, housemovers could separate a house from its foundation and move it to a new location, often miles away, while keeping it perfectly intact. It was definitely skilled work.

P.S. The Vintage Traveler supplied a link to the article in Paris Review: The Jumpsuit That Will Replace All Clothes Forever. We’re not convinced.

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Skirts and Blouses, July 1917

Delineator, July 1917, top of page 51. Butterick patterns.

I’ve been collecting images of women’s blouses from 1917; this particular page shows such a variety of skirts, blouses and hats that it deserves a closer look.

Butterick Blouse-Waist 9203, Delineator, July 1917.

This blouse was also featured in a color illustration in June:

Left, Butterick Blouse-Waist 9203, Delineator, June 1917.

And in a different version in August:

Butterick 9203, as illustrated in August 1917.

The same blouse, trimmed with filet crochet lace. July 1917. in 1917 a blouse could be called a “waist,” a “blouse,” a “blouse-waist,” or a “shirt-waist.”

Butterick 9203 was shown with a relatively simple stitched-down pleat skirt (No. 9276) , but the skirt was enhanced with a checked cotton belt and matching checked border:

Butterick skirt 9276 and bag 10625. July 1917.

Blouse 9203 could be made with a high-necked insert; the blouse has a sailor collar in back. The posture of 1917 is very high-waisted in back — caused by the shape of the corset.

Four “blouse-waists” and one “shirt-waist,” Butterick 9153. July 1917.

I’ve spent hours trying to figure out the difference between a blouse, a blouse-waist, and a shirtwaist. I haven’t found any consistency yet. Sometimes a “blouse” is pulled on over the head, and sometimes a “shirt-waist” has a button front, but — not always. More about that on another day.

Butterick blouse-waist 9280. Delineator, July 1917. The blouse is trimmed with smocking. That interesting belt/pocket is part of the skirt pattern.

Butterick skirt 9281, July 1917.

This view shows blouse 9280 in a single breasted version, with an optional high neck and the popular sailor collar in back. Skirt 9281.

Shirt-waist 9513 and blouse-waist 9116. Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1917. No. 9116 has “the new collarless neck.” The hat at right looks very much like a flower pot.

Blouse-waist 9116 with skirt 9290. Women who were not comfortable wearing the relatively new bare necklines could make the blouse with a high collar instead.

Both skirts have interesting details. The medieval-influenced belt at right isn’t included.

Butterick skirt patterns 9266, left; and 9290, right. This was the era of the “barrel” skirt; wide hips were in style.

Shirt-waist 9513 and blouse-waist 9116. Butterick’s Delineator magazine, July 1917.

Another sailor collar.

Not related to these patterns — except for its sailor collar — is this vintage embroidered lace waist.

This vintage “waist,” which literally ends at the waist, reflects the custom of selling dress patterns as separate waist and skirt patterns. This gave the buyer more style options.

Butterick blouse-waist 9289 and a skirt (9286) with a [“paper-bag”] waist that tried to come back into style quite recently. July 1917.

Butterick skirt 9286,from 1917. 100 years later, this paper bag waist was back.

Another high-necked blouse option, sailor collar, and a back view of the skirt with gathers above its waist.

And the “most unusual hat” award goes to….

Summer hat, 1917. She also has “bee-stung” lips, usually associated with the 1920s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fashions for Children, October 1927

Butterick patterns for girls, October 1927. Coat 1609, flanked by dress 1613 (left) and dress 1702 (right.) Butterick also sold hat patterns, like Tam-O-Shanter 5416.

There are some good looking coats among these illustrations of Butterick patterns for 1927. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to see the children’s double-breasted coats today. This plaid one doesn’t scream, “I’m ninety years  old!”

But the many-buttoned winter leggings worn by boys and girls are no longer seen.

Clothes for a small boy, left, a child’s coat for boys or girls, and a dress for a small girl. Delineator, October 1927. They all wear high leggings (not tights, but separate legs, like long gaiters) that button up the sides — a nightmare for getting a child dressed in winter.

Shorts for little boys buttoned to their shirts in front and in back, so a trip to the restroom must have required assistance. Small boys had to suffer freezing temperatures in shorts; apparently this practice was so universal that it was unquestioned. (Zippers were introduced into children’s clothing in the late 1920’s.)

Alternate views for boy’s “suit” 1680. coat 1670, and girl’s dress 1615. Butterick patterns for 1927. The legging pattern was included with the coat, which was recommended for “brother and sister” dress-alikes.

Similar leggings (really, extended gaiters) for toddlers were still pictured in McCall catalogs in 1950 — but by then, they closed with zippers.

1927 dresses and a coat for girls up to age ten: Butterick dress 1664, coat 1666, and dress 1662.

Alternate views of Butterick patterns for girls, 1927.

Patterns for older girls and pre-teens look very much like clothes for grown women. In fact, these look the way I mentally picture the “twenties;” girls’ clothing was always shorter than clothes for women, but rising hems for women in the late twenties seemed to follow the lengths worn by girls. (These also “look right”because the proportions on these drawings are closer to a normal human body than the super-slender fashion figures used for women’s styles.) For similar women’s styles from 1927, click here.

Butterick patterns for girls aged 8 to 14 or 15 years. From left, dress 1599, coat 1601, and two-piece dress 1676. From 1927. Surprisingly, the two piece (1676) was “smart for evening” if made “without sleeves and with a low neck.”

Alternate views of Butterick patterns for girls 8 to 15. The skirt of number 1676 is “flared-in- front”but straight in back, like many twenties’ dresses; the skirt hung from a bodice top, so it did not need a waistband or any shaping at the waist.

For those who like to read the pattern descriptions, here are the others, with their illustrations:

Butterick patterns for girls, dress 1613, coat 1702, dress 1609. 1927. No. 1702 is “quaint” like a figure from a children’s book by Boutet de Monvel.

Little girls wore matching “French panties” or bloomers under their short dresses. No. 1702 is “gathered at the normal waist,” or so it says.

Butterick boy’s suit 1680, coat 1670 “for both brother and sister,” and dress 1615. From 1927. Pattern 1670 included coat, hat and leggings. “The leggings are elastic at the back.”

1927 party dresses and a coat for girls up to age 10 years: Butterick dress 1664, coat 1662, and dress 1666.

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Smocking for Girls and Boys, Forties’ and Fifties’ Patterns, Part 1

McCall 692, a smocked dresses for toddlers, dates to 1939, but this image is from a 1946 catalog. It was in the needlework catalog for November 1950, too, eleven years after it was issued.

Smocking was a part of traditional dress long before it became associated with clothes for children. However, as a way of expressing devotion through hand sewing, smocking patterns like these remained popular: most of these patterns were featured in the McCall Needlework catalogs year after year.

McCall 692 is one of the few patterns that mentions the pleasure to be had from smocking: “Fascinating to do and very attractive….”

Very loose, full dresses with smocked yokes were made for young children in the 1920’s, too:

Butterick smocked dresses 1963 and 1955, Delineator, April 1928. “Handwork is the only trimming in good taste for very small frocks even when they will be worn to dancing school.”

This pattern is from 1936 –and was still for sale in  1950.

McCall smocked dress pattern 442, for very young children. It appeared in 1936 and was still in catalogs for 1946 and 1950 — perhaps longer.

Smocks for toddlers were often loose, but smocked dresses for older girls followed the lines of adult fashion in the nineteen twenties and in the nineteen forties:

At top left, a young girl is in a pale blue dress smocked with blue thread; right, an older girl’s smocked dress has a 1920’s hip band in red and black. Delineator, July 1925.

Butterick smocking pattern 16046 is used at the yoke, wrists, and low waistline of a girl’s dress from 1929. “This is the first time a  modernistic design has appeared in smocking.” — Delineator, June 1929.

McCall 786, a smocked dress for toddlers, dates to 1940, but was in the catalogs for at least ten years after that.

Honeycomb is one of the oldest smocking techniques, with many variations.

McCall 705, originally from 1940, shows a more fitted smocked dress — a style I remember from the 1950s.

McCall 705 was suitable for a “sub-teen” — up to age 10 — in the 1940s.

Also suitable for schoolgirls was this dress using honeycomb smocking — I believe this is one of the stitches that has some horizontal stretch. It gives interesting effects when worked on stripes or checks.

McCall 857, early 1940s. “For little girls, omit the waistline smocking, if desired….”

Detail of McCall 857. “Schoolgirl simplicity.”  For sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12.

McCall 878 for toddlers, from 1941. In the catalog for May, 1950.

McCall 1125 smocked dress for girls, 1944. Image from May, 1946. For ages 2, 4, 6.

McCall 1164, a smocked dress for toddlers, circa 1945. The sunbonnet was still a common feature of girls’ clothing.

Another toddler dress with smocked yoke and loose fit: McCall 1189, from 1945, still in the needlework catalog for Nov. 1950. “Smocking and small clothes just naturally ‘belong.’ “

McCall 1175 for school-age girls. 1945. “Send her off to school with a shining face and a smocked two-piecer…. The button-on skirt is pleated back and front.” Sizes 4, 6, 8, 10.

Detail of McCall 1175.

Boys — very young boys — could wear smocked outfits, too.

McCall 1195, a smocked suit for young boys from 1945 (Image from Dec. 1946.) Buttoning shorts or a skirt to a young child’s blouse (at ages when the tummy is about the same size as the hips) was seen in the 1920’s, too. For sizes 6 months to 3 years.

Mid-forties’ dresses for girls old enough to attend school were fitted at the waist. This horizontal yoke echoes the wartime wide shouldered-look for women.

McCall 1234 for girls, image from 1946. A “school-ager’s classic” for ages/sizes 6 through 12.

McCall’s 1270, image from 1946 catalog. Note the shoulder-widening yokes and puffed sleeves.

A similar style was offered for younger girls:

McCall 1308 for toddlers and “nursery-school age” girls, 1946.

McCall 1350, a smocked dress for girls, with a fitted bodice, a yoke, and puffy sleeves. Ages/sizes 2 through 8.

Detail of elaborate smocking on McCall 1350. Image from May, 1950.

A doting parent or grandmother could even smock a coat for her toddler — or a blouse, or a combination sunsuit/pinafore.

McCall 1311 is smocked coat for a toddler, 1946-1950.

McCall 1259 is a smocked blouse for toddlers, from the catalog for December 1946, also in Nov. 1950.

This “sunsuit” could also be made as a pinafore to wear over a dress. McCall 1245, from 1946. It includes patterns for panties and a sunbonnet.

I confess that I am charmed by the illustrations, as well as the smocking. More about smocked dresses for girls, and smocking patterns, in Part 2.

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Peasant Blouses, 1940’s to 1950’s

McCall pattern 1254 for a Mexican-influenced embroidered peasant blouse. Circa 1945, illustrated in May 1950 needlework catalog.

When full, puffy sleeves returned to fashion in the late 1930’s, the “peasant blouse” reappeared. This Hollywood pattern from the Commercial Pattern Archive for a peasant blouse is from 1938.

A “Tyrolean ski suit” available in stores in January, 1936. Woman’s Home Companion, p. 55.

A “yodeler” type hat. December 1937, WHC. Note “the gay embroidery on the mittens.”

A “Yodel Apron” featured in July, 1937. WHC. “Go very Swiss-peasant….”

“Tyrolean” hats, ski clothes, and embroidery were briefly popular in the late thirties, until WW II tainted anything German or Austrian for U.S. consumers.

“The Peasant Note is Popular:” A “Swedish” embroidered headscarf, a “Carnaval” apron (over a peasant style blouse), and a “Tyrolean” knitting bag. Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937.

Wool embroidery decorated this Companion-Butterick Triad pattern for schoolgirls.

Left, yarn embroidery adds “Peasant” chic to Butterick pattern 7589 for girls 8 to 15. WHC, October 1937.

The difficulties of travel during the Second World War led many Americans to seek sunshine and a complete change of scene in Mexico, resulting in a fashion influence which lasted for several years after the war. I have already written about Mexican embroidered jackets

McCall "Mexican" coat pattern #1399, May 1950.

…and “Russian” blouses.  A Mexican blouse pattern, McCall 990, at CoPA, dates to 1942.

McCall peasant blouse pattern 1385, from a 1950 Needlework catalog, has “heavily Mexican” embroidery.

Some peasant blouses incorporated smocking and embroidery:

McCall “fiesta-mood” peasant blouse pattern 1317, from about 1947. The illustration is from a 1950 catalog.

The smocking resembles the pattern on this blouse:

McCall pattern 1221 for a smocked blouse. This image is from the Dec. 1946 catalog, but the pattern dates to 1945.

This smocking pattern, 1315, was featured in the same issue as the “fiesta-mood” blouse, pattern 1317 :

McCall smocking pattern 1315. Circa 1947.

Detail of McCall 1315.

Detail, McCall 1315.

For those who were willing to embroider a blouse, but not to smock it, McCall 1386 offered the option of shirring the blouse and applying very fine rickrack to imitate smocking.

McCall 1386, a peasant blouse that could be smocked… or not.

Detail of rickrack on McCall Mexican blouse pattern 1386. Circa 1947.

We tend to think of 1947 dominated by Dior’s New Look, but comfortable, unstuctured casual clothing was still popular in the pattern books.

Smocking continued to be associated with high-end clothing for girls. So did the peasant look:

McCall 1255, circa 1945, is a smocked and cross-stitched peasant dress for a little girl. “The cross-stitch is optional but very “peasanty.’ “

I went looking for a forties’ photo of my mother in a peasant blouse and found a “twofer:”  She’s wearing a peasant blouse and skirt, and I am wearing a smocked dress!

American woman in a simple peasant blouse and skirt, with toddler in a smocked dress. Circa 1947.

Although this 1950’s pattern for children is not “peasanty,” it can be smocked.

 

Artists’ smocks for girls and boys. McCall 1402, illustrated in May 1950. [I could live in that blue outfit, in a grown-up size!]

In fact, McCall 1402 actually is a smock — a painter’s smock — which reminds us that embroidered smocks were originally worn for work by shepherds and country folks — peasants.

A group of country gossips. Punch cartoon from The Way to Wear’em.

 

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Smocked Blouses for Women, Late 1940’s

McCall pattern 1221 for a smocked blouse. This image is from the Dec. 1946 catalog, but the pattern dates to 1945.

“One smocked blouse leads to  another….”

After showing smocked dresses from the 1920’s for both women and children, I remembered that I have three vintage McCall Needlework catalogs. I found them, along with several used patterns, at an estate sale just down the block from my house. The woman who lived there had made this blouse pattern, McCall 1221, at least three times, in three different sizes. I like to think she made matching blouses for her daughters; perhaps she made one for herself, too. What a nice family photo that would have made.

She had other used patterns for smocking, as well, so I’m guessing she enjoyed this craft, and was good at it.

McCall smocking transfer 441 first appeared in 1936. It was still in the Needlework Catalog in November of 1950, and probably later than that.

This illustration gives you an idea of one basic smocking technique. It has many, many variations.

McCall 441, description from the December 1946 Needlework Catalog.

McCall smocking transfer 131 first appeared around 1934. It was in my catalogs for 1946 and 1950, too.

Smocking was long a sign of quality (or of doting parents and grandparents) in children’s clothing. Click here for a child’s smocked dress from 1934. Click here for a child’s smocked Simplicity pattern from 1981. But there have been decades when smocking was also worn by grown women.

The Commercial Pattern Archive at University of Rhode Island has McCall smocking transfer 1910, dated to 1931.  It also has a smocked blouse pattern from Butterick, dated 1948. As a way of controlling and decorating gathers, smocking appears on several McCall patterns for women from the late 1940’s.

McCall blouse pattern 1187 included an embroidery transfer for smocking (a grid-like pattern of dots) and smocking instructions. Image from Dec. 1946 catalog.

“Smocking is always good style…. Work it in some of the new color combinations, purple on green or lime, for instance.” (Yes, that’s the color combination illustrated on the right.)

McCall smocked blouse pattern 1136. Image from Deember 1946 catalog.

(I’ll be showing more “peasant styles” in another post.)

McCall smocked blouse pattern 1197, originally issued in 1945. It included a “smocking lesson.”

Details and description of smocking pattern 1197. “Peasant-style smocking, strongly influenced by Russia. It has real old-world charm.”

Russia was allied with Britain and the U.S. in the defeat of Nazi Germany, and suffered terrible losses. In 1945, America was not yet in the grip of anti-communist hysteria, so Russian-style embroidery was admired.

This smocked bed jacket appeared in 1944. This image is from the 1946 McCall needlework catalog, but it’s also in the catalog for November 1950, six years later.

Description of McCall pattern 1133, Needlework Catalog for December 1946.

Once people started watching TV in their bedrooms, you’d think bed jackets would have made a comeback. They’re not just for people who are served breakfast in bed.

Once I started looking, I found about thirty smocking patterns — for the embroidery transfers or for clothing — just from those three McCall catalogs. I’ll concentrate on children’s patterns in other posts. And I’ve requested a book about smocking from my local library:  A-Z of Smocking edited by Sue Gardner, published in 2016.

To get an idea of the range of designs that can be created using smocking techniques, visit this Pinterest page. 

Katafalk, a WordPress blogger, has a clearly illustrated demonstration of one kind of smocking. Click here.

 

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Filed under 1930s-1940s, 1940s-1950s, Vintage patterns