Sunday, 12 February 2017

Vogue Pattern Book, 1955

She's done it again! I've posted before about my friend F, who volunteers at a charity bookshop in town, and frequently alerts me to things I 'might be interested in' when they come into the shop. Well this time she's excelled herself. She texted me to say that they had four 1950s issues of the Vogue Pattern Book, and did I want to have a look? Naturally I replied with the enthusiasm I normally reserve for the question, "Would you like a cup of tea?", and am now the very happy owner of one issue from 1955, and three from 1957.

Suits for you and your mini-me, 1955

For this post I'm just looking at the 1955 issue, which is for August-September (the magazine was published six times a year). Although only 66 pages and a cover, the magazine is quite thick. It is also stapled through all the pages rather than just at the centre. This made it quite hard to lay open to photograph, so some of the images include my pattern weights to hold the pages down.

Inside front cover and page 1, showing the two staples

As with a modern magazine, there are a lot of advertisements at the front. Jacqmar have a full-colour image on the right, and a smaller section listing stockists on the left.

Jacqmar, Coats threads and Aero 'zipp' fasteners

Naturally it's mostly sewing-related adverts, plus one for Vogue magazine, and one for children's underwear.

Another ICI company (see Ardil Fabrics above)

More child-related advertising, plus Vilene.

I find this sock-wearing caterpillar quite disconcerting

It is page 11 before any editorial content appears.

The dress is made from a Vogue pattern

This edition features designs for 'children and teen-agers'. The very childish dolls in the swatch photograph form an interesting contrast to the very formal clothes on the opposite page.

A suit for 'going visiting', and an 'all round' coat

This red suit is described as "A suit to "go places in", be it college, town or country". I must admit that I never go to college dressed like this.

Clearly I need to up my game!

We are so used to magazines now being all photographs, that it's interesting to see the quantity of drawing in this one.

"Drawings by Maclean" is just visible at the spine

A different style of drawing, by "Freeman"

One of the magazine's publicity staff got married in July 1955 (the same month as my parents!), and this article is about her wedding dress and trousseau - all made from Vogue patterns, of course. The photograph is the bride herself, in her going-away outfit.

The wedding dress is the main drawing

As with current sewing magazines, there are 'how-to' articles, such as this one on lining a winter coat.

Lining a coat, and that start of the 'Paris Originals' spread

This is followed by a section on Vogue Paris Originals patterns, including one which I own.

The Patou pattern is at the top right

Clearly the magazine didn't just reuse the line art from the pattern envelope

Then there's a 10-page spread on this season's colour, marigold, with a bold use of coloured backgrounds.

Bright marigolds

Pale marigolds

The instruction sheets of all my vintage Vogue patterns stress the importance of wearing the correct foundation garment when you are fitting whatever you're making, so it's not really surprising that underwear also features in the magazine.

Scary undies!

More line drawings, this time very plain. The artist is still named however.

'Drawings by Longden'

Towards the back of the magazine there is general information, and more advertisements.

'Darling' sewing machines - no, me neither

More undies, and different stockings for day and evening

Knitting and small ads

Impossible to imagine an advert like this today

The back cover - for those times when you want your dress to match your lampshade

Next time - 1957.


  1. Wow, what a find! I bet you couldn't believe it when your friend text you. I love that you actually have one of the patterns from the catalogue, that really would've been the icing on the cake for me. xx

    1. Yes, she's found some interesting things in the past, but this was definitely the best so far.

      I think the Patou pattern would definitely be a challenge - I need to do more tailoring before I attempt it! xx