Sunday, 22 November 2020

Bestway patterns - again

Thanks to a particularly long-lasting migraine and other health issues, I have done absolutely no sewing this week. So today's post is mostly a 'pretty pictures' one.

I recently acquired this eight-page "Special Fashion Supplement". There is no indication of what it is a supplement to, but as the address for orders is "21, Whitefriars St., London, E.C.4", it was obviously an Amalgamated Press publication. My guess is that it was Good Needlework because, according to the (very) small print on page seven, this monthly magazine carried a "full list of London and provincial paper pattern agents" in every issue. There is no date anywhere, but summer is mentioned several times. Although the styles have a 1940s look, it must have been before clothes rationing was introduced as there are no references to coupons.

The 'bargain pattern' has several different views

Some clues to the date appear on page two. The Amalgamated Press had clearly done a deal with Advance Patterns, and four of their patterns were listed in the supplement. Judging from the entries on the Commercial Pattern Archive, these patterns were issued in either 1938 or 1939.

Page 2 - Advance patterns

The fourth Advance pattern

Bestway patterns were in the 11,000 to 12,000 range in February 1938, and 16,402 is the highest number in this supplement so, even allowing for the huge number of patterns which Bestway produced, I'm tending towards 1939.

Pages 4 and 5 - the Advance pattern is star of the show

The international cachet of the Advance patterns had its price. Most of the Bestway patterns featured cost 1/- (£3.39 today), and the 'bargain pattern' on the front page was just 4½d (£1.27), while the Advance patterns cost 1/6 (£5.08). But, as the supplement points out, these patterns are from "AMERICA".

All of the patterns have a main illustration plus a line drawing of the back view, and smaller drawings of any other views. There is also some indication of the yardage required, although I can't work out which size this relates to.

Pages 2 and 3 - lots of different views

Most of the dresses are fitted but 16,319 is loose-fitting and shaped with a belt. Described as "Blessedly easy to make", I wonder if it was maternity wear in disguise, or just a simple pattern for beginners?

16,319 is on the right, with a sketch of the unbelted version

Some of the descriptions give an idea of the age range the dress is intended for, with phrases such as "young look" and "youthful charm". My particular favourite might not pass advertising standards today: apparently you will "acquire slenderness" in the dress on the left - not just the appearance of slenderness, but the real thing!

Vertical lines make the pounds just drop away!

Meanwhile pattern 15,900 has "ageless charm" and is "particularly becoming to a mature figure".

15,900 is second from the left

An entire double-page spread is devoted to patterns for "Larger Figures". While the models are drawn to look vaguely older, there is not a wrinkle on any of them.

Pages 6 and 7

Most Bestway patterns were available in 32, 34,36, 38 and 40-inch bust sizes, while matrons' patterns were in 36, 38, 40, 44 and 48-inch busts (so if you were a 42 or 46-inch bust, you had to be good at altering patterns). 15,809, described as "for all ages in all sizes" was also available in 32 and 34-inch sizes. Unlike those on earlier pages, none of these patterns come with any collar or sleeve variations.

Patterns in matrons' sizes only

Some of these patterns were also offered in shorter versions. 15,374 was one of them, but for 44-inch bust only. 15,876 and 16,343 were available in 32, 34,36, 38, 40 and 44-inch bust sizes "for figures 4 inches shorter than average". As it is only in this section that shorter patterns are mentioned, this may have been an early attempt at what would eventually become half-sizes.

Patterns with size and height variations

The back page is devoted to separates, and the sole advertisement. Sparva Fabrics was one of the many British textiles firms which closed in the 1970s - at some point I will get round to a blog post about some of them.

Page 8

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