Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dating Vintage Sewing Patterns

So I know this is a sticky topic because unless you've actually seen the year printed on the pattern you might not trust what others tell you. Well I completely understand that aspect because it drives me bonkers not being able to figure a year out but I have also noticed that any website I go to never gives an overly clear picture of multiple pattern companies. I've compiled information on Advance, Butterick, DuBarry,Hollywood, McCall and Simplicity patterns from the internet into one place so hopefully this helps someone trying to date a pattern. If you find something that is contrary to your knowledge please let me know so I can adjust this post to be more helpful. 

For all pattern a size 12 indicated a 30" bust until 1956 when a size 12 indicated a 32" bust and then in the 1960's sizes changed again and a size 12 changed to a 34" bust, this sizing continues today. Also from 1933 - 1935 a blue eagle emblem can be found on some patterns in support for the National Recovery Administration. NOTE: the number of the pattern is not always the best thing to look at because some companies reuse numbers or don't go in numeric order so look at the illustrations too. Since I'm a little OCD (CDO is what is should be) I will start with Advance patterns because it comes first alphabetically (but Butterick is the oldest tissue sewing pattern producer).
1934 or 1935

Advance patterns did not print the copyright date on their patterns. During the early and middle 1930's the Eiffel Tower is part of the logo. In the late 1930's the word Pattern was added next to the name, and then between 1944 and 1945 the word pattern is written under Advance. In the late 1940's the type face was changed from a script font. From various Advance pattern booklets  has gather these pattern numbers.

Advance 1933 Aug 896-1060
Advance 1941 Oct 2810-3540
Advance 1944 Jan 3419-3637
Advance 1946 Dec 4408-4423
late 1940's (1947?)

Around 1939

Butterick also didn't print the copyright of their patterns anywhere on the pattern. In the 1930's to the early 1940's the Butterick logo was across the whole top of the pattern or in script print anywhere on the pattern. During the mid 1940's the logo was placed in a black box and in the late 1940's the logo was fixed in the left hand corner. In the 1950’s Butterick added a color box around logo and eventually this just became a light  gray.

DuBarry patterns were printed from 1931 to 1947 by Simplicity Pattern Company. These are difficult to date because some have B, D, or T after their Pattern number. In the early 1930's the logo was a black with white lettering and featured a woman with a wig and three feathers in her hair. During the mid 1930's the logo became a square box at the middle right hand side. Then in the late 1930's the DuBarry logo moved to the bottom left hand corner with the price of the pattern above it. With the 5000 series the logo moved to the upper left hand corner and was written in a script font. The 2000 series and the 5000 series overlap for the years 1941 and 1942. Around 1945 the logo changed to white font in a black strip has compiled this list of pattern numbers.

1930's Lower than 2408 
1940 2408B-2561B 
1941 2562B-2666B and 5001-5126 
1942 2716B-2769  and 5273-5500 
1943 5501-5752 
1944 5753-5972 
1945 5973-6140
1946 6141-6212                                                                                                     

Mid 1930's 
1941 2000 series
1941 5000 series

Hollywood patterns are known for the radio and movie stars that have graced the pattern envelopes (including stars Bette Davis, Lucille Ball and Betty Grable to name a few.) These patterns were in print from 1932 - 1947.Not all Hollywood patterns had glamorous radio and movie stars on their envelopes though. During WW2 Hollywood patterns had a star in the upper left hand corner. and they also had patterns from the 1930's with four stars below the logo on the left hand side. Some patterns lacked any of these other special markings. Originally it appears that the logo was along the top of the pattern envelope and then in 1935 the logo was along the left hand side of the envelope. This is where it stayed until the war when the star was used. After that the logo was written in script and kept in the upper left hand corner. has compiled this list of pattern numbers.(They say 1932 - 1938 are estimates) I've found a pattern with the number 873 that is distinctly 1930's)
1932 1000-1099

1933 1100-1199 
1934 1200-1299
1935 1300-1399 
1936 1400-1499 
1937 1500-1599
1938 1600-1705 
1939 1706-1928 
1940 1929-1998 and 400-558 
1941 559-788 
1942 804-1021
1943 1022-1255
1944 1256-1489
1945 1490-1770 
1946 1770-1972 
1947 1972-2170

approx 1932


McCall was the name of the pattern company until it changed it's name to McCall's in 1952. McCall did print their copyright dates on their patterns it's just a matter of finding them because Dates printed on envelope they were printed in various location.During the 1920's it seems the dates were anywhere on the envelope back, in the 1930's it was moved to the flap of the pattern and then 1940's and later it was moved to the back edge of the envelope. During the 1920's pattern envelopes were not the size they are today, with these patterns the McCall name was on the top. It then moved  to the right side of the pattern envelope during the 1930's. At this point the type used was a regular font which changed to script in early 1940's and then back to a regular font in the mid - late 1940's. Accessory patterns had a different  position of the logo along the right side still but in the middle not toward the top as the other patterns were.



Simplicity printed their copyright dates on their instruction sheets with the exception of the early 1940's when they printed it on the front of the envelope. Their logo went through lots of changes through the years with the only exception being its location on the left side of the envelope. 1940 - 1941 Simplicity was in black font with Printed Pattern in yellow font with a black background. 1943 saw the introduction of the word Printed in red instead of yellow and the black background was dropped. Unprinted patterns cost .15 and printed ones cost .25. After 1944 all patterns cost .25 because there were no longer unprinted patterns and during  1951 the price increased to .35. There are also special designer patterns from simplicity that have larger pattern envelopes and cost twice as much as a regular Simplicity Patterns. Costumes during the 1930’s had their own sequence with numbers in the 7000 range and then there is the coveted S600 sequence of fabulous 1930's lingerie. had compiled this list
1940               3264-3625
1941               3625-4046
1942               4043-4479
1943               4480-4845
1944               4865-4999 1000-1177
1945               1178-1195
1946               1490-1882
1947               1823-2274
1948               2275-2688
1949               2689-3043
1950               3057-3379
1951               3380-3758
1952               3759-4136
1953               4137-4520
1954               4521-4956 1000-1026
1955               4957-4999 1027-1408
1956               1409-1865
1957               1866-2330
1958               2331-2791
1959               2792-3296
1960               3299-3734
Simplicity S605

I hope to add to this as is necessary and feel free to send me a message or comment if your research has turned up something different =] (PS I will get to Vogue but my eyes are starting to go cross eyed at the moment) I would also like to thank these websites for information on dating vintage sewing patterns


  1. Dear Chastity, I just found your blog some hours ago, when I was desperately looking for some info about the date of my newly bought vintage patterns. There used to be a rather complete list on ebay 1 or 2 years ago, but I don't know if by was by Cemetarian who now offers a guide (of course nor for free) to date patterns. However, I was very glad when I found your excellent post - I was so impressed that I (if you permit) re-wrote it in German (I didn't simply translate) while the kids have their afternoon-nap, and I posted it on my blog. Of course not without giving your blog as my appreciated source. I hope you don't mind. Of course I will add more pictures, as I have "some" vintage patterns as well that would be wonderful illustrations.
    I am not such an avid vintage seamstress currently. I mainly sew children's clothing and accessories, toys etc., the vintage sewing is just my own private obsession. My first vintage experience was - my weddings gown. Couldn't be a more humble project.

    I am looking forward to the last part of your exciting post about dating patterns for the Vogue company.

    Kindest regards from Switzerland, Doris (aka Frau Button)

    1. I am so sorry that I didn't see your comment earlier. I am thrilled that this helped you and I am honored that you wrote it in German. I am in college and finals are coming up soon so the section on Vogue will have to wait until the summer.

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