It’s not surprising that patterns for these 1917 skirts, which take a lot of fabric, were also sold separately from their “waists”, i.e. blouses. This allowed women a great deal of originality in their costume, and made it possible to use one elaborate skirt with several top variations, as shown in these Delineator illustrations featuring Butterick skirt pattern 8875.
The simplest (and barest) version of both skirt and waist were shown in an editorial illustration:
[I was able to identify the pattern numbers because they were featured in more detail elsewhere in the magazine. Butterick didn’t usually specify the patterns used for the full-page editorial illustrations that began Delineator‘s pattern pages every month.]
In this illustration, the surplice [wrap] waist is very bare, and trimmed with embroidery at shoulder and waist:
On a different page, the same waist has short lace sleeves to match its more elaborate skirt:
Waist 8901 requires a “French lining,” which would have been close-fitting and supported the loose folds of the fashion fabric layer. Pattern 8901 was sold in sizes 32 to 46 inches bust measurement.
Butterick Skirt pattern 8875, from 1917
Skirt pattern 8875 can be made relatively simply, as on page 37:
Here, the sides of the panels are open at the natural waist and the front and back panels are connected with a button. The underskirt appears to be finely pleated chiffon, matching the fabric seen at the bodice underarm. [This skirt could also be made with the underskirt and overskirt of the same silky fabric — see color illustration below.]
The version with short lace sleeves was shown with matching lace — yards and yards of it — for an underskirt.
A closer view of this version of skirt 8875:
Butterick 8875: “The skirt has an extremely graceful drapery at the front and back which gives a cascade effect at the sides. The underskirt is cut in two pieces and can be made with a flounce having a straight lower edge. The skirt is 39 inches long in front and has a slightly raised waistline.”
To make the skirt as illustrated would not be cheap. “A medium size requires 4 1/2 yards of taffeta silk 36 inches wide, 1/2 yard lace 22 inches wide, 7 1/2 yards edging 16 inches wide, 1 3/8 yard of narrow edging, 2 1/2 yards material for underskirt. Bottom foundation skirt measures 2 1/2 yards.” When I was studying this illustration, I wondered how the underskirt could have galloon edged lace on three sides; apparently, the lace we see is the seven-plus yards of 18″ wide edging. The skirt shown here has at least three layers: silk top drape, lace under-drape, and and opaque “foundation skirt.” This skirt pattern was available in waist measurements 22 to 36 inches, for 20 cents.
Waist Pattern 8863 with Skirt pattern 8875
Skirt pattern 8875 was also illustrated with a completely different bodice, No. 8863, which had its own variations.
Butterick waist pattern 8863 with Skirt 8875:
This is a day or afternoon version of the look. In this case, the skirt has been made with panels and underskirt of the same fabric, and trimmed with beading and tassels, which match the points of the bodice. “Satin, charmeuse, taffeta or crepe meteor” are recommended. This two-piece outfit is described as a “smart frock.”
Butterick Waist pattern 8863: “The waist has a draped front which is in one with the sash ends — a very new and effective arrangement for the back. The closing is made at the left shoulder and at the seam under the arm. Two different types of long sleeves with one seam are offered, or you could use the shorter length if you prefer. [The color illustration shows long, sheer sleeves with a cuff, and the black and white views show a tight long sleeve, left, and a below elbow sleeve, right. “The lower edge of the waist can be cut in a single [black and white illus.] or double pointed effect [color illus.]
“The chemisette and collar can be omitted, but not the French lining, which is extremely important.” [I believe “French lining” refers to a close-fitted lining that does not have exactly the shape of the outer garment; it supports blouson or ruched and gathered effects on the outer layer and was very common on 19th century bodices.]
In 1917, one skirt pattern and two bodice patterns provided many variations; a woman could really feel that her choices would give her a unique look. Careful planning could also give her several “frocks” which used just one skirt. A second, more workaday, skirt pattern made from coordinated fabric could really multiply her wardrobe.
Simpler Skirts, January 1917
Since taffeta and silk were worn in daytime, as well as evening, one of these skirts might also be combined with the waists shown with skirt 8875.
I can’t resist pointing out the chi-chi balls / ball fringe trimming the hat on the right. Ole!