February 17, 2015


Most of my vintage style sewing, and most of my vintage pattern and magazine collection, focusses on the period after 1947. Last year, I tried to use the Vintage Pattern Pledge to explore some other eras but I still steered clear from late 1930's and early 1940's. Those big shoulders just really put me off. And yet... I do quite like some of those interestingly draped styles (this is probably why I love 1948 to about 1952: round shoulders and long skirts but still quite a bit of that interesting stuff). And 1940's looks can look quite good on other people, so why not on me... I will definitely try it for this year's pledge and I guess I'm now starting to 'get my eye in' by looking at some early 1940's magazines from my collection.

Of course, there is another issue with the first half of the 1940's: I've occasionally read posts on other blogs in which 1940 was mentioned as a "favorite year in fashion" (apparently, McCall's had a really good year back then)  and that always seems strange to me. The reason is simple: To me, 1940 is not a  year in fashion, just in history. Of course, I realize that's a local view: I live in the Netherlands. For people here, the Second World War started with the nazi invasion of the country on 10 May 1940. 
In other places, the war came at different points in time.

Interestingly, among the other publications in the two boxes which contained my Gracieuse magazines, there were some German magazines. My theory about the whole collection is that it belonged to a professional seamstress. That alone can explain the sheer volume of magazines from just before 1920 to the early 1960's and the obvious preference for magazines with pattern sheets. The majority of the German magazines are of this brand: Beyer's. The earliest one is from 1937, there are a number from 1940 to 1942 and some from the mid-1950's. She must have liked this publication, probably because a lot of the designs in each issue are included on the pattern sheet.   
I should also add that there is only one reference to nazi rule in the entire collection: A small black-and-white advertisement at the back of one of the 1940 magazines, which promotes thriftiness in support of the war effort, carries a logo of a swastika in an iron cross. 

The images I will show you here today are from February 1940 (so, from a time at which there was nothing special about that year yet). 

Although Beyer's magazine gets thinner throughout the war, it always includes photographs, which I really like.

This issue includes quite a lot of designs which are promoted for their limited use of fabric (oddly, more so than later issues)

And there is a bit of everything: Mostly day dresses but also coat, suits and separates,

evening wear,

and even wedding gowns.

From the 70 designs in this magazine, 45 are included on the pattern sheet. I'm not sure I have all of those because there is only one, double sided pattern sheet while the 1937 magazine has two (although 60 patterns are included with that one). As usual with vintage sewing magazines, each pattern is only given in one size and Beyer defines its sizes by bust measurement (which is nice because it's clear what they're talking about. And there's even a sizing table which tells how what waist and hip measurements go with which bust sizes). The pattern sheet is scarily densely printed though...


  1. That pattern sheet gives me a headache just looking at it! And I find that I like 40s clothes on others but I have never been drawn to it myself. It may just be that the 40s are overshadowed by the 50s/60s/and 70s in the media and so I don't have a lot of exposure to these fashions.

  2. Beyer maqgazines are great, I own a large bunch myself, dating from 1937 to 1944 (I wrote about them here: http://www.parvasedapta.ch/?p=1402 ), the one dress I made needed some alterations but is a lovely design ( http://www.parvasedapta.ch/?p=1907 ).
    Being born in Germany I had many issues with the 30ies and 40ies, as you can imagine. And of course I still have, but I learned to see the fashion of this time seperated from the castastrophes these decades saw. The Beyer magazines are really pleasently unpolitical, I once bought a Vobach-magazine and the first thing I saw was a large drawing of patriotic women greeting the german flag, this event spoiled this magazine completely for me.
    Today I live in Switzerland and I love to buy old pattern magazines here. Of course they mention the war and struggled with it as the whole western world did. But you never run danger to come across brown mud politics and opinions.
    I have read your posts on We Sew Retro for a while but your blog always slipped my attention, now that I found it I promise to come back :-)