1910s Pajamas, Butterick 1893

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, few women were wearing pants, even when sleeping.  World War I did did bring the idea of wearing pants to women though, partly because wartime work made pants so much more practical than dresses.  But it took World War II with thousands of women entering factories before pants began to really be acceptable wear for women.

And that is why I fell in love with this early pants for women pattern.  Yes, it is for pajamas, but they are very similar to the styles of pants that some women had adopted for factory and farm work during WWI.

The top takes its cue from a popular sports style top – the middy.  It is easy to see how this could have been inspired by the bloomers and middy sports ensemble of high school and college girls of the 1910s.

I got this mainly for historical interest, not really to sew, though I might try my hand at a pair of pajamas from 95 years ago.  Unfortunately the directions are missing, but I think I could muddle my way through.  As my grandmother often reminded me, the directions are for people who don’t know what they are doing.

A bit of icing for this cake – the original sales slip was tucked into the envelope.  This pattern was purchased at J.Lurie in Chicago, on January 15, 1920.


Filed under Sewing

26 responses to “1910s Pajamas, Butterick 1893

  1. Teresa

    Fabulous and it looks really comfy! Looking forward to seeing you making these. 🙂


  2. I can only immagine how excited you were to find the actual receipt with the ‘jammy’ pattern. That is the great find.

    Hope you will prove to your Grandmother that you are one of those who knows what she is doing with or without directions. Good Luck, Liz. smile.


    • My grandmother was a superb sewer, and she was always making fun of my home ec teachers in high school. I told her once that she needed to pin the pattern pieces to the fabric (she just weighted them down using knives) and she said she didn’t have all day to waste like the teacher did!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Many Cha Cha Michelle

    I’m crazy about vintage pyjamas… so hard to get a nice pair these days. I’d love to see how you go if you do test this pattern!


  4. Although they’re bloomer style (though I always think of bloomers as being shorter), the pants pattern reminds me of Indian salwar that are very roomy at the top and narrow at the ankle. Very comfy and what I often wear around the house as part of a salwar kameez.
    In the right fabric, those tops would work for casual wear as well.
    Lovely drawings. I can barely sew but I seem to have an obsession with sewing patterns. I think it’s the drawings. As a child I loved looking through sewing pattern catalogs and thinking of all the possibilities. See– there you go again getting your readers all nostalgic…


    • There was that Paul Poiret “harem pants “ thing going circa 1911-1914, so that could be an influence.

      I’ve been known to buy a pattern just for the illustration. I could absolutely collect those 1970s Betsey Johnson ones you were showing on your blog.


      • Christina

        Paul Poiret – orientalism via the operas and Ballet Russes is commonly cited as the introduction of “trousers” being worn by women when they weren’t working or involved in sports. I also think there was a merging of influences happening during the period leading up to WWl. As to women wearing trousers or pants when working there is an early English Victorian reference, a photo of a Wigan Pit Brow Girl. The girls worked in the coal mines and rolled up their skirts revealing pants or trousers. The photo of the girl with the shovel is I believe from that period;


        Do the Marc Jacobs Lizzie.


  5. Love those gathered ankles! Wow! I’ve never seen such an old paper pattern. It’s done well to last all these years – even without the directions. Do your grandma proud Lizzie. I’ve got a feeling you will! 😉


    • I’ve had a few from this era, and a bit older, but they were not made from high quality paper, and the envelopes especially are prone to disintegration. You can see how ragged the edges of my envelope are, and it was never used.


  6. That’s a wonderful find! The receipt is the icing on the cake. Enjoy!


  7. Oooh. Having a ‘thing’ about pyjamas lately..something is in the air… xxx


  8. An absolute treasure.Imagine lazy Sunday mornings lounging in one of those sets. I think the pattern would work well as daywear too, perhaps in a soft, floppy linen fabric


  9. I would love to see these made up! Please post about them if you do!


  10. I love the top especially. It would be such a pretty pattern made up in a lightweight spring time jacket a la Easter with a round collar as the modification shows. Linen would be excellent because of its texture; however, I might choose a blend so that it would be more easy care. Definitely need a fabric with body and drape so that it would fall ‘just so.’ Lizzie, I think the consensus is you MUST make the pattern so we can enjoy it vicariously :). Like you don’t have enough to do than satisfy your readers!


  11. Love this style. I’d happily make a pair for myself.


  12. I keep hearing about all these words of wisdom that people remember from their grandmothers. This statement makes me laugh – and these pajamas are amazing. Soldier on, Lizzie – make them up!


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