Tuesday, November 3, 2015

1949 Fashions: Simplicity Sewing Patterns

This vintage 1949 August brochure for Simplicity sewing patterns shows diverse new silhouettes available to home sewers that year, for 25 cents each.  The company provided a wide range of styles suitable for it's readers who would be making their own clothes for summer and fall.

The longer length silhouette that followed Dior's presentation of the "New Look" in 1947 was becoming accepted by 1949. This fashion trend was supported by more fabrics and trims available following the war, and a need in general for a new fashion style after so many years of fashion trends being nearly 'frozen' in time.

The cover shows shirt dresses, probably in cotton, having gathered or flared skirts with wide winged collars that would be so popular throughout the following decade. Shirt dresses were a comfortable alternative to the usual skirt and blouse ensemble so commonly worn during the World War II era. These would be widely adopted and worn until silhouettes dropped the natural waistline in the late 1960's.

Probably the cutest illustrations in this brochure are of these three dresses, whose back views are so important that they rate an illustration as well as the front view. The hourglass silhouette is accented with seamlines and fullness that give a nod to Victorian gowns.

The pages of this brochure show many different kinds of details used to create individual styles at the time: winged collars and sleeve cuffs, kimono sleeves, button closures and skirt pockets. You'll notice a page dedicated to the mature figure who was looking for slimming styles, and the younger junior sewer who wanted cute, young silhouettes with full skirts.

This was clearly the start of "1950's Style" as we know it today. The wonderful shapes, hourglass silhouettes and soft shoulders gave fashion its distinctive look for that era.

Do you sew or collect this era of fashion?  Have you found many home sewn dresses like these?  While today top labels from this time are more valued, it is the many hand made dresses that were so popularly worn in the daily lives of real women and girls during the late 1940's and 1950's. When you find a home sewn dress today, you can be sure there's a story behind it.

Patterns Shown, most are missy sizes 12 - 20:
Cover: 2920, 2923
Front and Back views: 2917 (Junior sizes), 2925, 2927
Softly Tailored, Now and Later: 2920 (Junior sizes), 2918
Fall Forecasts a Slim Silhouette: 2919, 2924
Slimming Variations of the Button-Fronter: 2922, 2926, 2921, 2923 (Womens and Half sizes)
Full-Skirted Frocks with Young Necklines: 2928, 2929 (Teen sizes 10-16)


Lynn said...

I've read somewhere that the conversion of the high style New Look silhouette to the full skirted shirtwaist was a creation of the fifties--but here it is already in 1949! I always appreciate your attention to the patterns for older women, and am pleased to add a new word to my vocabulary--button fronter!

Michelle Braverman said...

My mother undoubtedly carefully looked through this booklet, as well as others put out by the pattern companies and available in the fabric department of our local department stores (no Michael's or JoAnn's back then). She sewed for the creative expression as well as the savings. Picking out patterns and fabrics was a big deal and— yes— every dress had a story!

Jen O said...

I remember the last of those wonderful department store sewing sections with gorgeous fabrics to look at, so much more elegant than the big box craft/fabric stores we have now.

Kit Decker said...

This was fascinating, thank you!

Jen O said...

Thanks Kit, It's always nice to find out a reader learned something new about fashion or sewing during that time.

Jessica Cangiano said...

One of each, pretty, pretty please! :) Seriously though, these are some very lovely frocks and there isn't a single one here I wouldn't wear. Thank you for the engaging, swoon worthy image filled post.

♥ Jessica

Jen O said...

Thanks Jessica, I actually checked online and several of this patterns are available. Amazing to think that it's possible to sew up something from this catalog today!