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Vintage Sewing Patterns

Discussion in 'Vintage Sewing Patterns 2005 By Laura' started by Laura, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h2 align=center>Vintage Sewing Patterns</h2>

    Good afternoon! My name is Laura Skidmore, and I sell original and reproduction sewing patterns and ephemera (related materials). My business is called VintageFashionLibrary.com, and I sell on eBay and through my website.

    I became interested in vintage clothing when I was about 12 years old, and I pored over every book I could find on the topic. I was also very artsy and crafty, and I spent a lot of time drawing, painting, and making things. Oddly enough, though, I didn't learn to sew until I was in college. I think it was natural for me to eventually combine vintage clothing and sewing patterns, and come up with a passion for vintage sewing patterns!

    I’ll be posting workshop information today, but you can ask questions at any point between now and Sunday. I’ll be checking in periodically through the weekend to answer your questions, so don’t be shy.

    Thanks for being here. Let’s get on to the good stuff!
  2. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>Pattern Companies</h3>

    There have been dozens of pattern companies over the years, from the big names like McCall and Butterick to small mail order companies that I have heard of but rarely (or never) encountered. In fact, sometimes the fun of buying a large lot of patterns is seeing what new companies pop up!

    This is a list of companies that I consider fairly common and their dates of operation, if known. Pattern companies that still exist are shown <b>in bold</b>.

    <li>Advance Pattern Co., 1930-1965
    <li>American Fashion Co., 1915-1935
    <li><b>Butterick Pattern Co., 1863-present</b>
    <li>Demorest Publishing Co., 1860-1900
    <li>Domestic Fashion Co., 1873-1896 (not really common, but I thought it was interesting because it is an early company)
    <li>Du Barry Patterns, 1930-1946
    <li>Excella Fashion Co., 1921-1936 (a division of Pictorial Review)
    <li>Hollywood Pattern Co., 1932-1947
    <li>Home Pattern Co., ?-? (produced patterns for Ladies’ Home Journal)
    <li><b>McCall Pattern Co., 1870-present (now McCall’s Patterns)</b>
    <li>May Manton Pattern Co., 1899-late 1920s
    <li>Modes Royal Patterns, 1943-early 1960s. This was a very fashion-forward line that competed with Vogue.
    <li>New Idea Publishing Co., 1869-1920
    <li>New York Pattern Co., 1930-early 1950s
    <li>Originator, 1940s-1950s. Similar to Modes Royale, it marketed fashionable, trendy and high-end patterns. They were produced on light weight paper instead of tissue.
    <li>Peerless Patterns, 1900-1950s
    <li>Pictorial Review, 1899-1939
    <li>Reader Mail Syndicate, a mail order company that sold patterns through newspapers and magazines
    <li>Anne Adams
    <li>Marian Martin
    <li>Prominent Designer, mid 1950s-?
    <li><b>Simplicity Pattern Co., 1927-present</b>
    <li>Spadea, 1950-?
    <li>Standard Fashion Co., 1888-1926
    <li><b>Vogue Patterns, 1899-present</b>
  3. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>A Brief History</h3>

    Ebenezer Butterick marketed the first mass-produced, sized tissue paper patterns in 1863. He began with men’s and boys’ patterns and expanded the selection to include women’s clothing around 1868. By “sized tissue paper patterns,” I mean that Butterick patterns were available in multiple sizes, and the seamstress simply had to choose the right size. Before Butterick, patterns were either diagrams or one-size-only patterns published in books and magazines.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/227-128_diagram.jpg" alt="1876 Pattern Diagram"> <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/227-128_illustration.jpg" alt="1876 Pattern Diagram">
    ABOVE: A pattern diagram for a cuirass waist. It was sold to me after being cut out from a book or small magazine, so I don’t know for sure which publication it was. I have seen the same pattern on another website, and they attributed to a March, 1876 publication without giving the publication’s title. The page’s actual size is 5.75” x 9.25”, and the seamstress would have to enlarge the pattern pieces to full size and then adjust them to fit a specific person.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/german_pattern_sheet.jpg" alt="1930s Pattern Sheet from Germany">
    ABOVE: This is a 1930s pattern sheet from a German magazine, but it is the same style that was sold in Victorian-era magazines such as <i>Harper’s Bazar</i>. To save paper, the publisher overlapped pieces from many different patterns and printed the outlines on one sheet of paper. Those outlines are what you see jumbled together here, along with a description and an illustration for each pattern (on the right side). It was up to the seamstress to trace off the pieces she needed to create a particular garment. However, this did represent an improvement from the diagram system, since all the pattern pieces here are full-size and don’t need to be enlarged. Unfortunately, they were printed in one size only, so the seamstress still had to adjust the pieces to the needed size.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_sizes.jpg" alt="Butterick Patterns were available in multiple sizes">
    ABOVE: This Butterick envelope shows that the pattern was available in six sizes (bust 31”-36”). The seamstress only had to select the proper size.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_3157_cover.jpg" alt="ca. 1880 Butterick Pattern">
    ABOVE: Butterick #3157, cape from the 1880s. This piece of paper was pasted onto one of the larger pattern pieces: Butterick patterns weren’t packaged in envelopes until the early 20th century. The paper originally said “THE BUTTERICK PUBLISHING CO.” at the bottom, but part of it has been torn away.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_early_piece.jpg" alt="ca. 1900 Pattern Piece">
    ABOVE: This is an example of an early 20th century Butterick pattern piece. It is made of a thin tissue paper, and the piece was cut to the correct shape and size at the factory. Holes and notches were added to help guide the seamstress in making the garment.

    Companies marketed their patterns through their own magazines and brochures. The magazines changed names and format over the years, but some of the most common were <i>The Delineator</i> (Butterick), <i>The Queen</i> (McCall), and <i>McCall’s Magazine</i>. Early on, patterns were mostly sold mail order through the magazines, but eventually the companies struck deals with retailers and sold patterns in stores.

    <h4 align=center>A Timeline</h4>
    <li>1863: Ebenezer Butterick marketed the first sized tissue paper pattern.
    <li>1916: Butterick applied for a patent on a separate instruction sheet called <i>The Deltor</i>. It included a cutting layout, construction sequence and finishing details. The patent was granted in 1919, but Butterick was probably producing patterns with <i>The Deltor</i> while the patent was in process (from 1916 on).
    <li>1919: McCall introduced the printed pattern with instructions printed directly on the pattern.
    <li>1921: Vogue introduced a separate instruction sheet.
    <li>1927: Pictorial Review introduced a separate instruction sheet called <i>The Pictograf</i>. It was also used for Excella patterns.
    <li>1927: McCall began using color illustrations on pattern envelopes.
    <li>1932: McCall introduced a separate instruction sheet.
    <li>1939: Simplicity began printing some patterns. Others were still pre-cut tissue paper with holes and notches.
    <li>1946: All of Simplicity’s patterns were printed at this point.
    <li>1950: Butterick began printing patterns.
    <li>1952 or 1953: Butterick and Simplicity began using outward-pointing notches on their printed patterns.
    <li>1956: Advance began printing patterns.
    <li>1957: Vogue began printing patterns.
  4. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>Dating Methods</h3>

    There are many clues to help you date patterns, and you’ll probably use a combination of them. Relatively few patterns are conveniently dated to help you out.

    First of all, I highly recommend Wade Laboissonniere’s books, “Blueprints of Fashion.” He wrote a book about <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/076430304X/qid=1133376754/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-2153571-1044613?s=books&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank>1940s patterns</a> and another about <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0764309196/qid=1133376754/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-2153571-1044613?s=books&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank>1950s patterns.</a> Both are currently in print. Not only do they have a wealth of photographs and information about pattern history, but they also contain an easy reference chart for dating 1940s or 1950s patterns by company and pattern number. Those charts are the easiest way to date patterns from the 1940s or 1950s, and it is the method I use. Why reinvent the wheel if someone has already done it for you?

    Second, a general knowledge of fashion trends and styles is very useful, and that’s the kind of thing you acquire over time by reading books, looking at photographs, and handling patterns and garments. Read every costume book you can, visit every clothing exhibit you have access to (many universities and museums have clothing collections and stage exhibitions once in a while), etc. The general knowledge you gain from practical experience will help you narrow down the time frame when you’re trying to date a pattern.

    <h4 align=center>What’s the difference between a copyright date and a patent date?</h4>
    A pattern envelope may have a copyright date, one or more patent date(s), or both. Often you’ll see inexperienced pattern sellers reference a patent date as the date the pattern was made. That’s not correct! Unfortunately, a lot of patterns have a patent date but no copyright date.

    A copyright date generally indicates when the pattern was first produced. However, you should keep in mind that patterns are often produced for several years without changing the copyright date. That doesn’t bother me, since I’m interested in when a pattern first appeared and not when it was discontinued.

    A patent date refers to a particular innovation, such as a new type of instruction sheet. It does <strong>NOT</strong> refer to when the pattern was actually produced, and therefore it is not reliable in pin-pointing a production date. A patent date will only tell you that the pattern was produced <i>after</i> that date; it does not tell you how much later it was produced.

    <h4 align=center>Quick Tips</h4>
    <li>Start by examining the pattern envelope for a <strong>copyright date.</strong> The envelope may be dated on the front or back. It is absolutely crucial that you reference a <strong>copyright date</strong>, NOT a patent date. If you don’t see a copyright date on the envelope, examine the instructions (if they exist) for a copyright date. If you find one, you’ve dated your pattern. If you don’t find one, you’ll need to use other clues to help you date it.
    <li>McCall dated their patterns with a copyright after the mid-1920s or so.
    <li>Simplicity put a copyright date on the instruction sheet between 1943 and 1959. They began dating the envelope in 1965.

    <h4 align=center>Other Clues</h4>
    If you’ve struck out on finding a copyright date on the envelope or instructions, you’ll need to look at less definitive methods of dating. They include:
    <li>Pattern company milestones
    <li>Is the pattern printed or unprinted?
    <li>Does the envelope have an illustration or a photograph? Is the illustration in black & white or color?
    <li>What type of logo, font and envelope design does the pattern use? Companies changed styles fairly often, and that can help narrow down the date.
    <br>EXAMPLES: Five Simplicity patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1328_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1328 from the 1930s">
    ABOVE: ca. 1933-1935 gloves and collar. Note “SIMPLICITY” positioned at the bottom of the envelope with the pattern number in the upper left corner and the size in the upper right corner.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1554_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1554 from the 1930s">
    ABOVE: ca. 1933-1935 nightgown. Note the changes from the previous pattern. The size, pattern number and company name are now positioned vertically along the left side of the envelope, and it is now “Simplicity Pattern” in a different font.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1743_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1743 from the 1946">
    ABOVE: 1946 dress. The company name is now in script (a cursive font). This is a partially printed pattern, and the line “Details Printed on Each Pattern Piece * Cut to Exact Size” has been added next to the company name. The size and pattern number are now positioned horizontally in the upper left corner, and the price (20 cents) is shown more prominently.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1795_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1795 from the 1956">
    ABOVE: 1956 dress. The envelope is largely unchanged from 1946, but it now says simply “Details Printed on Each Pattern Piece” next to the company name.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_2297_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #2297 from the 1957">
    ABOVE: 1957 dress. The envelope has changed a lot in just one year! “Simplicity” remains in script, but “Printed Pattern” is not. The pattern number and size are still in the upper left corner, but the pattern number is much larger and more prominent.
    <li>Pattern magazines, pamphlets and catalogues are good for narrowing down a pattern’s date to a specific year if you have a general idea of when it was published. You can buy original publications or you can buy reproductions to help you in your research. Old originals are generally expensive, so you can save a lot of money by buying reproductions on CD or the Dover republications of old catalogues.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_style_11-38_cover.jpg" alt="McCall Pattern Booklet from 1938">
    ABOVE: This copy of McCall Style News was given away free to store customers. It contains illustrations of new patterns that were available, including the description, an illustration, sizes available, and the price of each.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_style_6-38_14.jpg" alt="McCall Pattern Booklet from 1938">
    ABOVE: This page is from the 6/1938 issue of McCall Style News and shows pattern #9777. If I were trying to date McCall pattern #9705, it would be a safe bet that it was published in 1938. In this way, you can use pattern booklets to help you date patterns.

    <h4 align=center>Using Magazines, Catalogues and Photographs</h4>
    If you can’t find a copyright date on the pattern, and you’ve struck out finding close pattern numbers in pattern catalogues or brochures, then it’s time to move on to fashion magazines and catalogues and collections of <strong>dated</strong> photographs. You can start your research library by collecting originals or republished books, magazines and catalogues. This method assumes you have some idea (within a decade or so) of when the pattern was in fashion.

    I particularly like Dover books because I know Dover has researched the material and found it to be in the public domain. Unfortunately, many eBay sellers do not go to that trouble and reproduce things that are still under copyright. Personally, I don’t buy reproductions unless I know that the material is in the public domain or that the seller has researched the copyright status and found it to be in the public domain.

    Some books and catalogues that might interest you:
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486229904/ref=sib_rdr_dp/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8&me=ATVPDKIKX0DER&no=283155&st=books&n=283155" target=blank>Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar, 1867-1898</a>
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486404846/ref=sib_rdr_dp/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8&me=ATVPDKIKX0DER&no=283155&st=books&n=283155" target=blank>Full-Color Victorian Fashions : 1870-1893</a>
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486256545/qid=1133452150/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-5063915-7728050?s=books&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank>American Dress Pattern Catalogs, 1873-1909 : Four Complete Reprints</a>
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486291227/qid=1133451853/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-5063915-7728050?s=books&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank> Russell's Standard Fashions 1915-1919</a>
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486286282/ref=pd_sim_b_2/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank>Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920, as Pictured in Sears Catalogs</a>
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486241343/ref=wl_it_dp/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8&colid=2RCN3KMVP9274&coliid=I3CS512EVL0RXI&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank>Everyday Fashions of the Twenties As Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs</a>

    Some photograph collections that might interest you:
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486418146/ref=pd_bxgy_text_b/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8" target=blank>Victorian Fashion in America: 264 Vintage Photographs</a>
    <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486242056/ref=pd_bxgy_text_b/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8" target=blank>Victorian and Edwardian Fashion : A Photographic Survey</a>

    <h4 align=center>Using Other Sellers</h4>
    This is a tricky method, because you have to be sure you’re using a knowledgeable pattern seller as a reference. When I say “use other sellers,” I mean compare your pattern to what other dealers are selling. If you can find a similar fashion design or envelope style, and the seller is reliable, it can be very helpful in dating one of your patterns.

    One of my favorite sellers is <a href="http://stores.ebay.com/All-Original-Patterns-Vintage4me2_W0QQssPageNameZstrkQ3amewaQ3amesstQQtZkm" target=blank>Vintage4me2 on eBay.</a> I’ve found her dating to be well-researched and reliable, so when all else fails, or if I want to confirm a date I’ve tentatively given a pattern, I’ll take a look at her store and see if I can find something similar.

    <a href="http://www.vintagemartini.com" target=blank>VintageMartini.com</a> is another seller who’s dating I’ve found to be reliable.

    I’m sure there are other great sellers out there, but those are two stores that I use to help me date patterns occasionally.
  5. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>Company Specifics</h3>

    These company-specific timelines might help you date some of the patterns in your collection. I’ve included a photo timeline of envelope covers for several companies so that you can see the changes that took place in envelope design, and you can compare your patterns to these to help date them.

    <li>1948: Advance introduced the “Import Adaptations” line. These styles were based on Parisian designs.
    <li>1956: Switched to printed patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_2381_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #2381">
    ABOVE: Advance #2381, nightgown. 1940. Font (Advance Pattern) is leftover from the ‘30s.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_4011_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #4011">
    ABOVE: Advance #4011, blouse. 1945. New font and description has been removed from front of envelope.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_4617_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #4617">
    ABOVE: Advance #4617, blouse. 1947. New font and envelope design.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_5797_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #5797">
    ABOVE: Advance #5797, dress. 1951.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_5818_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #5818">
    ABOVE: Advance #5818, dress. 1951. American Designer series.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_7717_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #7717">
    ABOVE: Advance #7717, infant layette. 1956. New envelope design to go with the “new, printed pattern.”

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_9961_cover.jpg" alt="Advance #9961">
    ABOVE: Advance #9961, ice skating outfit. 1960s. New envelope design and fonts.

  6. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <li>1863: Began marketing a full-size tissue paper pattern available in multiple sizes for men and boys.
    <li>1868: Introduced women’s patterns to the Butterick line.
    <li>1916: Applied for a patent on a separate instruction sheet called <i>The Deltor</i>. It included a cutting layout, construction sequence, and finishing details. It was an innovative, illustrated instruction sheet, and the patent was granted in 1919.
    <li>1927: Butterick sued Conde Nast (Vogue) over Vogue’s illustrated instruction sheet, claiming patent infringement. Conde Nast won in 1931, making it possible for other pattern companies to illustrate their instruction sheets as well.
    <li>1930s: Introduced the <i>Starred</i> line.
    <li>1936-1949: Produced the <i>Companion-Butterick</i> line, which was a joint promotion with <i>Woman’s Home Companion</i> magazine.
    <li>1947: Introduced the <i>Companion Star Patterns</i>, which were styles copied from movies.
    <li>1950: Switched to printed patterns.
    <li>1952/1953: Began using outward-pointing printed notches.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_3157_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #3157">
    ABOVE: Butterick #3157, cape. 1880s. A piece of paper that was glued to the largest pattern piece: No envelope.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7035_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #7035">
    ABOVE: Butterick #7035, skirt. ca. 1914-1915.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_3421_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #3421">
    ABOVE: Butterick #3421, dress. ca. 1931.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_5268_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #5268">
    ABOVE: Butterick #5268, blouse. ca. 1933. Note green envelope and other design changes.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_2081_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #2081">
    ABOVE: Butterick #2081, dress. 1938.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_3051_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #3051">
    ABOVE: Butterick #3051, blouse. 1942.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_5674_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #5674">
    ABOVE: Butterick #5674, dress. 1950.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7987_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #7987">
    ABOVE: Butterick #7987, dress. 1956.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7610_cover.jpg" alt="Butterick #7610">
    ABOVE: Butterick #7610, sporting outfit. 1960s.
  7. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h4>Du Barry</h4>
    <li>Never switched to printed patterns. DuBarry was a budget line marketed through Woolworth’s, who didn’t want the additional production cost and higher sale price that would have been required by switching styles.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/dubarry_1035b_cover.jpg" alt="Du Barry #1035b">
    ABOVE: Du Barry #1035b, nightgown. ca. 1934-1935.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/dubarry_2415b_cover.jpg" alt="Du Barry #2415b">
    ABOVE: Du Barry #2415b, dress. 1940.
  8. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h4>McCall & McCall’s</h4>
    <li>1919: Introduced the printed pattern with instructions (called the <i>Printo Gravure</i>) printed directly on the pattern.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/printo_gravure_1.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/printo_gravure_2.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/printo_gravure_3.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/printo_gravure_4.jpg">
    ABOVE (4): The Printo Gravure. (I’ve cut the photograph into 4 parts for space considerations here.)

    <li>1920: Applied for a design patent on printed patterns. The patent covered such details as:
    <li>a printed outline of each piece;
    <li>tissue margin (what we would call a seam allowance) printed outside of the outline;
    <li>”tinted” pattern piece (colored blue) to distinguish it from the rest of the tissue paper.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_piece.jpg">
    ABOVE: The “tinted” pattern piece in the new McCall patterns.

    <li>1927: Began using color illustrations on the envelope.
    <li>1932: Switched to a separate instruction sheet.
    <li>1938: Patent on printed patterns expired, opening the way for other companies to print patterns in the McCall style.
    <li>1952: Introduced <i>McCall’s Italian Couture Adaptations</i>. The styles were copied from couture designs.
    <li>1953: Introduced <i>McCall’s Fashion Firsts</i>, which was a pattern line adapted from foreign designer styles. This was a premium line and more expensive to purchase.
    <li>1955: Introduced the <i>Instant Pattern</i> line. The idea was to reduce the amount of time spent laying out the pattern and cutting fabric. McCall did that by printing the pattern pieces on one piece of tissue and in the proper cutting position (relative to fabric grain and for best use of fabric).
    <li>1959: Introduced the <i>Proportioned Pattern</i> line. Each pattern in the line proportioned for short, average, and tall, all in the same envelope.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_1288_cover.jpg" alt="McCall #1288">
    ABOVE: McCall #1288, waist. ca. 1905-1910.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_5809_cover.jpg" alt="McCall #5809">
    ABOVE: McCall #5809, child’s coat. 1929.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_3053_cover.jpg" alt="McCall #3053">
    ABOVE: McCall #3053, boy’s suit. 1938.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_9024_cover.jpg" alt="McCall #9024">
    ABOVE: McCall #9024, nightgown. 1930s.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_3783_cover.jpg" alt="McCall #3783">
    ABOVE: McCall #3783, dress. ca. 1940.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_3503_cover.jpg" alt="McCall’s #3503">
    ABOVE: McCall’s #3503, dress. 1955. Note the name change, which first appeared in 1951.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_4898_cover.jpg" alt="McCall’s #4898">
    ABOVE: McCall’s #4898, skirt. 1959.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_9010_cover.jpg" alt="McCall’s #9010">
    ABOVE: McCall’s #9010, dress. 1967.
  9. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h4>Pictorial Review</h4>
    <li>1924: Introduced their version of printed patterns. It was similar to the McCall printed pattern with printed cutting lines.
    <li>1925: Modified the printed pattern. It was thereafter pre-cut with holes and notches and some instructions printed on the pieces. It also contained a separate instruction sheet. This form of printed pattern was patented by Excella/Pictorial Review. The patent covered such elements as:
    <li>the pre-cut pattern piece, printed at various points to aid in matching pieces together;
    <li>an instruction sheet with an illustration of the finished garment;
    <li>basic construction directions printed on each piece.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/pic_rev_piece.jpg">
    ABOVE: An example of the Pictorial Review style of pre-cut, printed pattern pieces. Note the pre-cut holes and notches, and the instructions printed directly on the pattern piece. Pictorial Review continued using this style until it ceased operations in 1939.
    <li>1927: Introduced the <i>Pictograf</i> instruction sheet. The Pictograf was also used for Excella patterns.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/pic_rev_6663_cover.jpg" alt="Pictorial Review #6663">
    ABOVE: Pictorial Review #6663, dressing sack. ca. 1916-1918.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/pic_rev_5102_cover.jpg" alt="Pictorial Review #5102">
    ABOVE: Pictorial Review #5102, dress. ca. 1930.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/pic_rev_8572_cover.jpg" alt="Pictorial Review #8572">
    ABOVE: Pictorial Review #8572, sailor suit. ca. 1936-1937. Note the photograph and full-color illustration. This is typical of Pictorial Review patterns during the mid- to late-1930s.

  10. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <li>Mid-1930s: Bought Excella/Pictorial Review. In doing so, Simplicity acquired the patent Pictorial Review/Excella held on its version of the printed pattern. That opened the way for Simplicity to begin printing patterns.
    <li>1939: Began switching to printed patterns. They were printed in the Pictorial Review style – “Cut to exact size with details printed on each piece.” The printed patterns cost 25 cents, while the older style (unprinted) cost 15 cents.
    <li>1946: All patterns were printed. No more unprinted patterns in the line.
    <li>1949: Introduced the <i>Simplicity Designer</i> line. It was more style-oriented than the standard Simplicity line, but it was designed by Simplicity staff, not foreign designers.
    <li>1952/1953: Began using outward-pointing printed notches.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1328_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1328 from the 1930s">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #1328, gloves and collar. ca. 1933-1935.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1554_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1554 from the 1930s">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #1554, nightgown. ca. 1933-1935.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_3508_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #3508">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #3508, nightgown. 1940.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1259_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1259">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #1259, dress. 1944.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1743_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1743 from the 1946">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #1743, dress. 1946.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_8088_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #8088">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #8088, dress. 1949. Simplicity Designer’s series.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_8301_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #8301">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #8301, girl’s dress. 1950. Simplicity Designer’s series.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_1795_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #1795 from the 1956">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #1795, dress. 1956.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_2297_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #2297 from the 1957">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #2297, dress. 1957.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_7262_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #7262">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #7262, poncho cape. 1960s

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_8060_cover.jpg" alt="Simplicity #8060">
    ABOVE: Simplicity #8060, dress. 1968.

  11. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <li>1921: Introduced a separate, illustrated instruction sheet.
    <li>1927: Butterick sued Conde Nast (Vogue) over Vogue’s illustrated instruction sheet, claiming patent infringement. Conde Nast won in 1931, making it possible for other pattern companies to illustrate their instruction sheets as well.
    <li>1930s: Introduced the <i>Special Design</i> line, which was fashion-forward, even for Vogue. It had a special woven label that could be sewn into the finished garment.
    <li>1931: Introduced the <i>Vogue Couturier</i> line. It had a special silk label that could be sewn into the finished garment. The customer had to request the label, though, first by mail and later at the store’s pattern counter.
    <li>1949: Introduced the <i>Paris Original Models</i> line, which it touted as “line for line” copies of couture designs.
    <li>1957: Switched to printed patterns, pre-cut in the Pictorial Review style.
    <li>1958: Switched to fully printed patterns in the McCall style.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/vogue_8072_cover.jpg" alt="Vogue #8072">
    ABOVE: Vogue #8072, dress. ca. 1938.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/vogue_5075_cover.jpg" alt="Vogue #5075">
    ABOVE: Vogue #5075, bolero jacket. 1944.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/vogue_7732_cover.jpg" alt="Vogue #7732">
    ABOVE: Vogue #7732, cape/jacket. 1952

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/vogue_9002_cover.jpg" alt="Vogue #9002">
    ABOVE: Vogue #9002, hat. 1956.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/vogue_1347_cover.jpg" alt="Vogue #1347">
    ABOVE: Vogue #1347, wedding dress. 1960s. Couturier design by John Cavanagh.

  12. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>Dating: Putting It All Together</h3>

    How detailed you get in dating a pattern depends on your purpose. If you’re just selling a bunch of patterns, it is usually sufficient to narrow it down to the right decade. In my business, I prefer to get as close to the right date as possible, since a lot of my customers are costumers or reenactors who are looking to represent a specific year.

    Now I’m going to go through a real example to show you how I go about dating patterns.

    <h4>EXAMPLE: Butterick #7035</h4>
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7035_cover.jpg">
    ABOVE: The front of the pattern envelope in its entirety.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7035_patent.jpg">
    ABOVE: The patent information.
    COMMENTS: First, I examine the envelope for a copyright date, and I determine that it doesn’t have one. However, the blurb at the bottom of the envelope does give some useful information. The last patent date mentioned is 1899, so I automatically know the pattern was made after that. Also, above the patent information it says “...FOR ILLUSTRATED INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING, SEE INSIDE.” That tells me there should be an instruction sheet inside the pattern, so that’s what I’ll look at next.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7035_instructions_1.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7035_instructions_2.jpg">
    ABOVE: Front and back of the instruction sheet.
    COMMENTS: So this is the illustrated instruction sheet mentioned on the envelope. It measures about 8.5” x 11”, and it is one page (printed front and back). Butterick introduced the patented <i>Deltor</i> in 1919, but this isn’t called <i>The Deltor</i>. They’re just calling it <i>Illustrated Instructions</i>, so this must be a precursor to <i>The Deltor</i>. Therefore, the pattern was published before 1919.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_7035_skirt.jpg">
    ABOVE: A close-up of the pattern illustration.
    COMMENTS: Based on general knowledge and experience, I’d guess that the pattern was published sometime between 1913 and 1916. I don’t have any Butterick pattern books from that period, so my next step will be to look at other pattern catalogues and fashion magazines for similar skirt styles. I’ll look through my library of research materials, and the first book I’ll look at is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486286282/ref=pd_sim_b_2/002-5063915-7728050?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank><i>Everyday Fashion 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs</i></a>.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/sears_1913.jpg">
    ABOVE: <i>Everyday Fashion 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs</i>: 1913
    COMMENTS: This isn’t a match for my pattern. The skirts are too narrow and columnar, and they don’t have the tunic effect of my pattern.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/sears_1914a.jpg"><img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/sears_1914b.jpg">
    ABOVE (2): <i>Everyday Fashion 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs</i>: 1914
    COMMENTS: Now these look a lot like my skirt pattern! The silhouette matches pretty closely, with the narrow underskirt and a fuller tunic overskirt. The overskirt length is all over the place, though, with some ending above the knee, some at the knee, and some well below the knee. I’ll keep looking in case something matches better.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/sears_1915.jpg">
    ABOVE: <i>Everyday Fashion 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs</i>: 1915
    COMMENTS: Some of the 1915 skirts still have the overskirt, but they all seem to end below the knee, like in my pattern. These skirts are a pretty good match, too.

    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/sears_1916.jpg">
    ABOVE: <i>Everyday Fashion 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs</i>: 1916
    COMMENTS: Whoa! I went too far. In 1916, the skirts seem to be billowing out around the ankles and the tunic overskirt is gone. These don’t match my pattern!

    So I think my skirt pattern is probably from 1914 or 1915. I’ll do some reading to see if I can confirm the trends I’ve seen in the illustrations.

    <i>Everyday Fashion 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs</i> includes an introduction that discusses the fashion changes during the period. Let me see what it says about 1914 and 1915...

    Next I’ll look at <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486291227/qid=1133451853/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-5063915-7728050?s=books&v=glance&n=283155" target=blank><i>Russell’s Standard Fashions 1915-1919</i></a>. In its introduction, it discusses fashion trends leading up to 1915.

    CONCLUSION: Butterick #7035 probably dates from 1914 or 1915.
  13. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>Merchandising Materials</h3>

    This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure there is a lot more material out there!

    <h4 align=center>Advance</h4>
    <li><u>Advance Fashion News</u> - A thin booklet, produced monthly, that stores gave away. The stores ordered them from the pattern company, and for an additional fee, the store’s name and address could be printed on the booklet. It contained illustrations and descriptions of new patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/advance_style_cover.jpg">

    <h4 align=center>Butterick</h4>
    <li><u>Butterick Barometer</u> - This was aimed toward store employees to help them sell patterns.
    <li><u>Butterick Counter Book</u> - A large format, thick book containing illustrations and descriptions of every current pattern. It stays at a store’s pattern counter for customers to browse. Generally updated quarterly for the changing seasons.
    <li><u>Butterick Fashion News</u> - A thin booklet, produced monthly, that stores gave away. The stores ordered them from the pattern company, and for an additional fee, the store’s name and address could be printed on the booklet. It contained illustrations and descriptions of new patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/butterick_style_cover.jpg">
    <li><u>Butterick Quarterly</u> - Similar to <i>Butterick Fashion News</i> but larger and printed quarterly. It was geared for the consumer, and it had to be purchased.

    <h4 align=center>Du Barry</h4>
    <li><u>Du Barry Patterns</u> - A thin booklet, produced monthly, that stores gave away. The stores ordered them from the pattern company, and for an additional fee, the store’s name and address could be printed on the booklet. It contained illustrations and descriptions of new patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/dubarry_patterns_cover.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/dubarry_prevue_cover.jpg">

    <h4 align=center>Hollywood</h4>
    <li><u>Hollywood Patterns</u> - A thin booklet, produced monthly, that stores gave away. The stores ordered them from the pattern company, and for an additional fee, the store’s name and address could be printed on the booklet. It contained illustrations and descriptions of new patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/hollywood_patterns_cover.jpg">

    <h4 align=center>McCall</h4>
    <li><u>McCall Style News</u> - A thin booklet, produced monthly, that stores gave away. The stores ordered them from the pattern company, and for an additional fee, the store’s name and address could be printed on the booklet. It contained illustrations and descriptions of new patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_style_cover.jpg">
    <li><u>McCall’s Magazine</u> - A true magazine full of fiction, fashion articles (including pattern illustrations and descriptions), home decor & homemaking articles, and other miscellaneous. McCall’s Magazine had wonderful, color fashion illustrations, and some dealers will cut them up to sell the illustrations separately.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_magazine_cover.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_magazine_a.jpg">
    <li><u>McCall Fashion Book</u> - A quarterly handbook of patterns.
    <li><u>McCall Counter Book</u> - A large format, thick book containing illustrations and descriptions of every current pattern. It stays at a store’s pattern counter for customers to browse. Generally updated quarterly for the changing seasons.
    <li><u>McCall Needlework</u> - A true magazine with articles and patterns for needlework (crochet, knit, embroidery, etc).
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_needlework_cover.jpg">
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/mccall_needlework_a.jpg">

    <h4 align=center>Simplicity</h4>
    <li><u>Simplicity Prevue</u> - A thin booklet, produced monthly, that stores gave away. The stores ordered them from the pattern company, and for an additional fee, the store’s name and address could be printed on the booklet. It contained illustrations and descriptions of new patterns.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/workshop/simplicity_prevue_cover.jpg">
    <li><u>Simplicity Counter Book</u> - A large format, thick book containing illustrations and descriptions of every current pattern. It stays at a store’s pattern counter for customers to browse. Generally updated quarterly for the changing seasons.

    Also, many independent magazines featured a specific pattern brand in their fashion departments.

    For example, in the 1940s:
    <li>Glamour featured Hollywood Patterns;
    <li>Ladies’ Home Journal featured Hollywood Patterns & Vogue Patterns;
    <li>Mademoiselle featured Advance Patterns.
  14. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    <h3 align=center>Care & Preservation</h3>

    This is the procedure I have for my pattern collection. Ideally, this should be done as soon as you receive a pattern.

    <li>Assess the condition of the pattern envelope, tissue pieces and instruction sheet. Make sure you are aware of any brittleness, crumbling or tears so you can avoid further damage.
    <li>Remove any problem materials left by previous owners, including pins, rubber bands, and string.
    <li>Copy the envelope front and back, especially if the original is fragile. This way you can avoid further damage to the original by handling it as little as possible.
    <li>Check the pattern for completeness if that is important to you. On the copy of the envelope back, note any missing pieces. Put the copies of the envelope aside.
    <li>Slip the pattern envelope, pieces and instructions into a protective sleeve. I use acid-free, archival-type sleeves and backing boards intended for vintage comic books. Some people prefer to store each component (envelope, pieces, instructions) in a separate sleeve to avoid cross-contamination of the different paper types, but that does take up more space and resources. The choice is yours. I store the envelope on one side of the board and the pieces & instruction sheet on the other, but in the same plastic sleeve.
    <li>I organize and store my patterns by company and pattern number. It is always possible to have a repeat from another year, but it is a problem I have rarely encountered.

    Organize your patterns by what matters to you. If your primary concern is dating, you can order them by publication date, then company and number.
    <li>I use a database (Microsoft Access) to keep track of my inventory and collection. A simpler method for smaller collections uses a 3-ring binder. Take the envelope copies you made earlier and put them in the binder, and organize the binder by the same method as you organized the patterns. That will make it easier to find a particular pattern.

    I recently found the website for <a href="http://www.uri.edu/library/special_collections/COPA/index.html" target=blank>the Commercial Pattern Archive</a>, and it includes a page describing <a href="http://www.uri.edu/library/special_collections/COPA/preserve.html" target=blank>pattern preservation.</a> It offers some additional information and tips that you might find useful.
  15. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    That's it for the formal part of the workshop. I'll be here today and through the weekend to answer questions. :)

  16. Two Piece Polka

    Two Piece Polka Registered Guest

    Wow. Fantastic information.
  17. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    Hi, Teresa! It's great to see you. :)
  18. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    Incredible information, Laura. I'll be back with my questions after I've has a chance to reread this.

  19. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    Laura, do you actually use your patterns? What if I have a pattern that is very old that I wanted to use to make a garment. What steps could I take to unsure that I don't destroy the pattern in the process?
  20. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Alumni +

    this is great!

    Laura, how long was the average pattern kept in production?


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