Sunday, 5 December 2021

Vogue patterns from 1928

The good news is that I have made as many leaves as I think I need for the dress. The bad news is that I've decided to make a few more!

It struck me that if any of the leaves get damaged and have to be replaced, the chances of me being able to make something similar after a gap of several weeks or months are slim. So it makes sense to make a few extra now for possible future use - just like the spare buttons you get on clothes. (As an aside, I almost never buy RTW clothing nowadays, so does this even still happen - or is the assumption that if a button comes off, you'll just throw the garment away?)

Anyway, as I am still making leaves, I needed something else to post about. So here is the dressmaking content of one of my earliest copies of Vogue, from May 1928.

Garden parties and summer functions are the theme of this issue

As far as I can tell, even the issues of Vogue which did not have a Pattern Book supplement attached still contained some information about the latest patterns. It makes sense, as according to this book, the patterns formed an important part of Vogue's overall income. In total, five and a half pages were given over to patterns (click on any image to enlarge it).

Styles in lace and chiffon

Flared skirts in taffeta and silk crêpe

It's not totally clear to me what the four pieces of the ensemble are

Sports costume, separates and frocks

Evening and day wear with feature hemlines

Styles for teens

There is also a full page advertisement, listing all the pattern stockists in the UK, as well as South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland. But not, curiously, France. There was a French edition of Vogue at the time, I wonder if it had its own arrangements for patterns?

Details of Vogue's pattern service

Vogue clearly made no secret of the fact that their patterns were more expensive than other brands, but part of the appeal was that the designs followed the very latest fashions. So I compared some of the photographs elsewhere in the issue with the patterns featured.

More young styles, this time in cotton and linen

Hats made from a combination of felt and straw appear to have been popular at the time, several appear in this issue. This look resembles some of the features of the 'four-piece ensembles' above.

Crêpe de chine dress by Tora

Chiffon dress by Martial et Armand

Fashionable uneven hem on this chiffon dress

Straight to the hips and then flared, by Worth

Something which does not appear to have a pattern equivalent is this tulle frock from Chanel. Described as "the successful black dress of the season", apparently, it was "such a favourite that one frequently sees four or five women wearing it at one smart party". The horror!

The 'It' dress of 1928

If some of the finer details of dressmaking were beyond the reader, help was at hand.

All the tricky bits done for you

There are also a couple of advertisements for fabrics.

Washable silks for an active lifestyle

Also washable, but not silk

'Delysia' was an early 'art silk' (i.e. artificial silk, aka synthetic fabric) made by Courtaulds. If, like me, you are a fan of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day then you will know that it's also the name of one of the characters. Although it's a real girl's name, meaning 'delight', it also seems the perfect name for someone who is not quite who she appears to be.

Finally, and nothing at all to do with sewing, I came across this advertisement. Almost 100 years later, it has assumed a new relevance.

Wash your hands for protection


  1. Lovely fashions though I'm partial to the early to mid 1930s myself. Bang on with the soap advert!! Makes me shudder that people have to be reminded to wash their d**n hands.

    1. I'd love to make more early 30s stuff, but sadly the style of the period do me no favours.

  2. The cockade tutorial led me to you and I'm reading back through. My mother was an attractive lady of the 1930-40 era. She worked in an up-scale department store where she learned about fashion but being a not-so-well-paid shop girl she sewed her own garments. She kept up her stylin' through the 1950s when the care of a big family slowed her down. Your fashion shoot hair, make up and dress reminded me so much of her as my young mother. Your holly dress is a killer!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments! When I was researching my dissertation for my Masters, one thing which cropped up again and again was the pride which women with little cash but good sewing skills took from being able to dress stylishly on small budgets.