January 30, 2012

More about Marion 47

Just a short post to elaborate on the previous one and to clarify it. First of all, Melissa asked to see the pattern sheet... Well, hmm, of course you can but that really was a slightly masochistic question.

I just scanned a corner of the actual pattern sheet. Yes, this is what you were supposed to trace your patterns from (and I've been told that the value of these magazines on the collector's market is largely depended on their not having tracing marks on those pattern sheets...)

And as for instructions... Any woman can sew, right? It was part of your upbringing.
This was all you got in the way of instructions: some general information (seam allowance not included, some pattern pieces may be on the pattern sheet in two parts on the pattern sheets so you have to fit them together. that sort of thing) and drawings of the clothes with their size, which line to follow for the pattern, the amount of fabric needed (which sounds more useful than it really is because the standard width apperently used to be 90 cm) and a describtion of the pattern pieces. There aren't even any fabric lay-out drawings until the mid 1960's issues. A pattern with a truly unusual feature might come with some cryptic remark about how to accomplish that, but generally, you were on your own.
In fact, I'm happy to have the drawings of pattern pieces because that will allow me to try and borrow some little style tricks without tracing an entire pattern. Which may well be what I'll end up doing most.

Also, several of you commented on the nice clothes in the pictures I posted. However, there are only a few patterns with each magazine. Those were on pages marked with a picture of a tracing weel (pointed out in red here. don't worry that's photoshop).

In this page, the maturnity and baby clothes on the right page are on the pattern sheet, the lingerie on the left page isn't.
So, the nice swagger coats and those stylish dresses didn't come with patterns (and indeed I adore the pockets of dress 2 and the neckline of 3).

Also, just for fun:

This is the Marion 1952 sizing table. Top bracket are ladies sizes, with measurements for bust, waist and hips. the middle bracket is for childrens sizes, which are determined by chest size and 'overall length' (of what? the child? Probably not because I'm pretty sure no-one is only 1.02 meters tall at 14... It might be leg length or that of some unknown sort of standard garment). The third bracket is for menswear which was sized not only by chest, waist and hip measurement but also by collar size. I know that's a standard for men's shirts so I guess it makes sense.
We tend to think that sizes back then ran way smaller, but guess what... size 38 is for a 88 cm bust. So is size 38 in today's Burda. Ok, Marion assumes a smaller waist and a larger hip but the differences there are only 2 cm each, which is half a size. And Marion sizes went up as far as 52, for a 124 cm bust. And it seems like the 'average' size was 40 or 42...
I may study this a bit more and come back to it in a later post.


  1. Puts the new Burda sheets into perspective!

    I've never seen 90cm fabric. That's seriously narrow.

  2. Wow, that is a truly terrifying pattern sheet! 90cm fabric would be about 36"---not a very common width now, but pretty standard for older patterns to mention it.

    The North American Big 4 did their re-size in the late sixties, where everyone's size went down a number or two, but I guess that wouldn't apply to European sizing. I was thinking the chart looked pretty close to the Burda standard. (Also, I think Europeans' average size hasn't expanded quite as much in the last thirty/forty years as us North Americans has...)

    I like your idea of applying details you like to the slopers you already have. I'm coming to the conclusion that I really need to get myself a basic, darted bodice block worked out---the alterations I make to regular patterns are exhausting enough at this point that it would be much easier to just morph details with something I already knew fit... (which might be one of the reasons I sew up the same four patterns fifteen hundred times... ;) )

  3. Maybe it's just me, but I don't even know how anyone manages to trace those Burda magazine patterns.

  4. Your posts about Marion are great to read. It brings back memories for me. When I was young (it must have been in the early seventies) I remember we had some Marion's lying around in my house and my nextdoor-girlfriend and I were playing 'fashionshow'. One of us was the speaker, describing something out of Marion, and the other one was the runwaymodel, feeling very pretty in all those imaginary outfits. We had lots of fun that way. I also remember I didn't like the trouser-suits that were so fashionable those days (even in bridal wear!! - yikes!) and couldn't understand why any woman would want to wear them. The pretty dresses were more my style. (Sigh)....childhood-memories.
    Thanks for bringing these memories back.

  5. How interesting! Now I am a Burda 38, but always have to take the waist in... now I can see that I am a typical 38 by the older measurement standards...
    Also, I have some 1970's Burda's, that my mother bought back then, and the pattern sheets are way more terrifying than that!! Makes me smile when I read how people are intimidated by today's Burda's, today's are a cinch by comparison! Maybe I will picture some of my collection like you are doing... ?

  6. In another thought; In the 90's I bought lots of issues of a magazine called Topkids, a children's dressmaking series that I think is a renamed Dutch magazine, although I have no idea what its Dutch name might be. The garments in that only came in one or two sizes too, not multisized, and that is from the 90's. So maybe multisizing was not introduced until even later than then...

  7. Thanks for showing off the pattern sheet! It looks about as dense as modern Mannequim sheets, but of course the all-black lines would add an extra layer of complexity there!