Tag Archives: Butterick

1934 Summer Fashions from Butterick Patterns

Last fall luck was with me and I found a Butterick counter catalog from 1934. I say lucky because these are so hard to find these days, and when they appear online they always come with a hefty price tag. What’s really amazing about a resource like this catalog is that every time I look through it I notice something new. So I hope this post will be somewhat focused, without me running here and there with a hundred different observations.

Of course I’m most interested in the sportswear, and this catalog is full of superb examples. But because the catalog offers a wide range of clothing, comparisons between sportswear, day clothing, evening gowns, and even lingerie, can easily be made. One of the best tips I know of when it comes to dating sportswear is to look at a piece as though it were fashionable day or evening wear. Things like swimsuits and tennis dresses often have the same sort of fashionable details you’d see in other clothing.

You can see that the design above is the same play set at the top of this post. The pattern actually contained all four pieces, so a woman could easily turn a play look into streetwear. It’s a little too early for the one-piece playsuit with matching skirt, but it’s easy to see how sportswear was headed in that direction. The shorts look almost exactly like the lingerie panties so commonly seen in the early 1930s.

It would not be long before the pleated shorts as seen on the right became the most popular type.

Have you noticed the bare backs? It wasn’t just popular in sportswear. Halter tops were fashionable, as were tops that fastened at the shoulder, and were bare in the back like the top on the right…

and like this evening gown.

By looking at these drawings you might think that no woman in 1934 had hips, and that all were very tall. That’s partly due to the elongated scale of the drawing, but also because by 1934 dress waists had become shortened as skirts got longer. Of course, “waistlines” were actually at the hip in 1927 and then they began the journey up toward the waist. This didn’t happen over night.

I read somewhere that before the mid 1930s waists tended to draw the eye down with seams and piecing like the downward pointing yoke of the shorts in the first photo. But by 1934 or so waists started moving and pointing toward the face. Skirts became very slim and quite plain. The details were mostly on the bodice, above the waist.

What makes pattern books especially helpful in seeing trends like this is that unlike catalogs of ready made clothes that feature just what was designed and made for that season, pattern books would carry a popular pattern for several years. Because the patterns are numbered pretty much consecutively, it’s easy to tell the older designs from the newer ones. The dress above with the piecing below the waist is an older design.

I had to show this pattern because it reminds me so much of the nautical pant set I recently added to my collection.

This one is interesting because it’s one of the very few designs in the catalog that calls for a zipper.

It’s hard to understand the logic behind having a dress that buttons up the back, but regardless, I love this look so much. It came with a little jacket, as that V-neck in the back is a bit too bare for the street.

Most of the dresses could be made very sporty, or slightly less so. The two dresses in the center could be made from the same pattern, with a choice of collar, sleeves, and belt.

One of the oldest designs offered in this catalog is this romper. Judging by the number of the pattern and the hair styles of the models, my guess is that this one dates from 1929 or 1930. Maybe Butterick continued to sell it because it was popular with dance students.

 

 

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Vintage Sewing – Butterick 9612

I recently sewed another of the fabrics I bought when Waechter’s went out of business.  This one is an Italian linen, light blue and white tiny gingham check.  My idea was to make a tunic to wear over a bathing suit and shorts in order to be “dressed” for lunch or cocktails.

I had several patterns from which to choose but ended up using this one for a man’s  beach shirt.  I think I was seduced by the stripes.  Actually, there were a lot of things I liked about this one, from the straight collar to the side vents at the hem.

I also loved the pockets and how they sat right on the hem.  In the directions the pockets were attached as they were top-stitched, but I geve them a second line of stitching at the edge.

The side vents were a bit tricky, though they turned out well.  Actually they overlap incorrectly, but I really don’t think anyone will care that the front laps over the back.

I’m blaming the instructions.   They show the vent in the process of being sewn, and it says to finish the same as View A.  The problem is that View A did not have the vents!  So I just worked through it, and they look fine.

Inside, all the seams are flat felled.  The fabric was just too ravelly to leave unfinished.

Since I planned on only wearing this tunic over another garment, I was not too concerned with the length of the front opening.  If I had it to do over, I’d have made the opening several inches shorter.  On one recent chilly evening I grabbed this tunic to wear on a walk and realized that I loved the way it looked and felt.  I’ve since closed the opening a bit so as not to be over-exposed!

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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.

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Designer Sewing Patterns

Today’s post is an updated version of an article I wrote for my website, Fuzzylizzie.com.  I’ve been transferring these articles to The Vintage Traveler mainly because there is no interaction on the website, and it’s just more fun for things to be here where people can discuss them if they wish.

For a home sewer, the best way to get “the look for less” has always been to buy and make a dress from a pattern designed by her favorite designer.  And since the 1950s, there has been a large variety of designer patterns from which to choose.

Possibly the first designer patterns were published by the Paris Pattern Company.  Starting in 1929 this company released the designs of more than a dozen Paris couturiers.  They were sold through the Ladies’ Home Journal and in department stores.  Today these patterns are a rare find.

Advance patterns had some of the best ready-to-wear designers working for them in the 1950s.  Among the designers in their American Designers series were Anne Fogarty, Adrian, Madeleine Fauth and Tom Brigance.

In the 1960s Butterick did a line of designer patterns, Young Designers, which capitalized on the Youthquake trend.  Two of the best known designers in this group were Mary Quant of London and Betsey Johnson, but other bright Young Designers such as Jean Muir and Deanna Littell also did patterns for this series.  It continued into the 1970s, with designers such as Kenzo, Clovis Ruffin, Jane Tise and John Kloss.

I have quite a few of these patterns shown on a page I’ve made on the  Young Designers series.

McCall’s produced a line of designer inspired patterns in the 1920s and 30s. These are quite rare, but it is possible to find patterns by designers such as Patou and Schiaparelli.  In the 1950s, McCall’s started featuring some designers, such as Pucci (or Emilio of Capri, as his patterns were labeled) and Givenchy.  These Givenchy creations are very much in the style of the dresses he was making for Audrey Hepburn.  And in 1966, four designs from the Hepburn movie How to Steal a Million were adapted by McCall’s into patterns.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, McCall’s also had patterns designed by American fashion designers.  Claire McCardell did designs for McCall’s, as did Geoffrey Beene and Pauline Trigere.

Vogue is probably the pattern company most associated with designer patterns and they continue to be a leader in this area. Vogue began doing designer adaptations in 1937, calling them “Couturier” patterns.

It was not until the late 1940s that Vogue began the Paris Original line, with designers like Schiaparelli, Patou and Lanvin. The Couturier line eventually was designed by other European designers such as Pucci and Simonetta, and it was not until 1967 that Vogue featured American designers in their new Americana line. Among these were Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Diane Von Furstenberg.

Besides the major pattern companies, there were a few mail order companies that specialized in designer patterns.  Probably the best known is Spadea, originally called American Designers Patterns, which had a large and impressive list of designers working for them; Ceil Chapman, Jo Copeland, Philip Mangone, Tina Leser and Helen Rose were just a few.  Another brand, Prominent Designer Patterns, featured Oleg Cassini, Estevez and David Crystal.

While adapting this writing for the blog I was surprised to see how many times I’ve actually written about designer patterns.  I’ve done a bit of linkage so if any of the designers I’ve mentioned here sound interesting, just give them a click and you’ll be taken to an older post.

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Butterick 3126

Well, I’ve got a new sewing project to share.  Seems like I always gravitate toward those 1970s Butterick Young Designers, and this time was no exception.  I was looking for a fairly straightforward shirtdress, and this pattern from Daniel Hechter fit the bill.

As with so many designs from the 70s, the collar looked huge in the drawing, so when I cut the piece, I made it considerably smaller.  Still, after stitching up the thing, I still thought it was just too large.  If you are a sewer, you know that at that point, the thing to do is to take the collar off and recut it.  But after removing the collar, with the band still attached, I decided that I liked the look of the dress with just a collarband.

Too big…

so a whole new look.

And here is the finished product.   I didn’t make the self-belt.  They always come off as looking too matchy-matchy for my taste.  And I have about a dozen belts and scarves that will work nicely at the waist.  When I think of chambray, I automatically think of red accessories, but what other color would make this look a little fresher?

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Latest Sewing Project – Stephen Burrows Dress

I’ve had this 1974 pattern by designer Stephen Burrows hanging on my idea board for some time, and last week I finally got around to making it.  Burrows was one of the bright young designers who designed clothes that were perfectly in step with the late 1960s and into the 70s.  I’ll be writing more about him this week, as I feel like he is not as well known as he should be.

I fell in love with this pattern the minute I spotted it.  I did have concerns about the collar, as I usually don’t like anything quite that big.  But it didn’t *scream* 1970s, so I made the decision not to alter it.  I’m glad I did, because it is just right with a scarf tied beneath.

And that, dear friends, is why Burrows is a designer and I am not.  Just because one wears clothes does not mean one can design them.  (Are you listening, celebrity-designer-wannabes?)

I made this from a wonderful double knit cotton jersey I had stashed away.  Don’t hear double knit and think , “Yuck!”   This fabric is a very far cry from the double knit polys of the 1970s, though I’d bet that most incarnations of this pattern were actually made in poly double knit.  Double knit merely means that the fabric is knit with a double stitch that makes the knit the same on both sides.  There honestly is not a wrong side to this fabric.  It was knit as a tube, and is probably the nicest cotton knit I’ve ever sewn.

Note that the pattern cover features this dress in bright colors and in white.  1974 was not a big year for the little black dress, and Stephen Burrows was known for his use of exciting color.

The pattern, McCall’s 4089, was simple to make, and went together in just a few hours time.  I really recommend it if you are in the market for a simple, but not plain, knit dress.

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Clovis Ruffin, Young Designer

It’s no secret that I love these Young Designer patterns published by Butterick in the 60s and 70s.  After all, I even have a web page devoted to them.  Some of the designers are well known –  Mary Quant, Betsey Johnson – but others have sort of fallen off the fashion history radar.

One doesn’t hear much about Clovis Ruffin these days, but he was a brief but shining star in the 1970s.  From the VFG Label Resource:

Clovis Ruffin started out to be a photographer, but realized he was more interested in the styles he was photographing than the photography.

His first designs were tee shirt dresses which he cut out himself, hiring a few ladies to do the sewing. He took his dresses to stores like Bloomingdales and before long, he had his own label. Established in 1972, he called it Ruffinwear. His forte continued to be tee shirt dresses, and other casual dresses made from jersey knit.

Eventually Ruffin included a dressier line of clothing, as well as loungewear and handbags. A Coty Award Designer who was at his peak in the 1970s, he died in 1992.

“I thought of clothes in the round, and I also thought of basic styles that would enable women to put the mark of their personality on them.” Clovis Ruffin, 1978.

I’m not sure how many patterns Ruffin did for Butterick.  I’ve only seen two different ones, but it appears that the patterns were in sets of four, so I’m hoping there are others.  Both of ones I’ve had were designed to be made of jersey knit.

I actually made this dress last spring, but it was too warm to wear it until now. I used a medium weight cotton/poly blend jersey to make it. I usually prefer vintage fabrics, but for some reason I’ve found vintage knits (except 100% poly doubleknits!) hard to find, so I used new fabric in a great dark teal color. It’s really soft, washes well, and is warm on a chilly fall day!

I made a tie belt, and then found some beautiful ribbon for a belt (which I have not yet made). I had already sewn the buttons on using red thread, but I’ll redo them in brown. The buttons are vintage; they are carved from wood, made in Czechoslovakia.



Comments:

Posted by The Red Velvet Shoe:

If only I could sew like you! I had never heard of this designer, thanks for sharing the info.
Best wishes,
Michelle 

Monday, October 19th 2009 @ 6:26 AM

Posted by Joules:

Count me in on the Clovis Ruffin fan appreciation club. This dress came out so beautifully, and the buttons and belt add that certain extra appeal. Lovely, and it looks like the picture on the envelope too. That’s cool! Keeping my eyes open for the patterns, as always.

Monday, October 19th 2009 @ 9:45 AM

Posted by Miss Peelpants:

I’m still waiting to find my Clovis dress…I love his work but haven’t managed to acquire one yet!

Tuesday, October 20th 2009 @ 7:39 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Michelle, you should take lessons. It really is not so hard. Honest.

I’m glad there are others who appreciate Clovis Ruffin.

Tuesday, October 20th 2009 @ 7:52 PM

Posted by Petite Main:

another pattern by Clovis Ruffin: http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Butterick_3800

Wednesday, November 4th 2009 @ 7:59 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Oh, my, but I love that one. And it is available at a very good price. I need a little larger size, but this one goes on the Lizzie Must Have List!

Wednesday, November 4th 2009 @ 8:24 AM

Posted by Vannie Ryanes:

As I type this, I am wearing an old Clovis Ruffin, red velour(sp?) lounge thingie. It is a favorite piece because it is comfortable. It always reminds me of a different time in my life. The early 70’s 😉 For some reason, A decided to seazch his name toneght, am delighted I found youv site. I will check out the sites you list. And definately, list your blog as a fav. on mine.

Friday, January 22nd 2010 @ 3:39 PM

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