October 9, 2012

Back in time again

I still haven't fully recovered my sewing and knitting mojo... So I thought I'd show you something else: My new addiction, vintage ladies' magazines.
I've shown you vintage pattern magazines before, and vintage fashion magazines but what I find most of is this stuff: ladies magazines from after World War II (older ones sometimes show up as well, but they tend to be either very expensive or nowhere near as richly illustrated. and I just like the aesthetic of the 1950's).
In those days in the Netherlands, Libelle, Margriet (both now published as monthly magazines) Goed nieuws voor de vrouw and Beatrijs were published weekly. Moeder was a monthly publication. These are the magazines I know of because I have bought some, I have also seen other, apperently somewhat rarer, publications: Eva, Butterfly, Het rijk der vrouw, De vrouw en haar huis (the latter two already existed in the 1920's or 30's but don't seem to have been published in the same numbers). And just in case you're wondering 'vrouw' is Dutch for 'woman', that's why that word appears in so many of the longer names. 
I suppose the sheer amount of publications makes sense if you keep in mind that this was very much a pre-television era. And Dutch society was still seperated along lines of class and religion, create different target audiences within the same age group. And real fashion magazines wouldn't be published in the Dutch language until the mid-1960's. 
Although the target reader is mostly a married woman, mother and housewife in her thirties, obvious effort is made to include all women in the chosen social circle. You will often find fashion features for women with office jobs, a regular advice column for teenage girls and sewing and knitting patterns for all, from infant to 'lady of a certain age'.

On the table are the latest additions to my collection: Libelle autumn 1947 - summer 1948 (less than a full year, but I just had to buy magazines from the year the New Look was introduced...) and Beatrijs 1951. 

I will show you the typical contents of this type of magazine, in this case from Libelle nr.14 from 1951. Of course, there is a lot more in it, but this is the stuff I read and look at, and I think it's also what you'll be most interested in.

There are usually two fashion articles. This is the first one, about the use of grey as a colour in spring fashion. The suit on the left is by Desses, the dress with the fabulous plissee skirt by Christian Dior. 

The suits on the right page are slightly more obtainable, they were made by French (top) and English (bottom) high-end fashion houses. 
Glorious, don't you think?

The other fashion article in this particular magazine bears the title 'a useful show' and is about a presentation by a Dutch ready to wear brand. It's less glamorous (and less tiny-waisted...) but still nice to look at. And I always love to find out how much ideas about the practical, presentable and comfortable have changed. 

I somehow managed to scan an empty page instead of an example of the featured knitting patterns. So let me just tell you there are five in this magazine, three of them for children. There are also stories, gardening tips, an article about selecting the right eggs for breeding chicken, pictures of the royal family, a Q&A and a puzzle.

And this review of the movie 'The woman in question', which is full of spoilers.

And this article about the only female zoo-keeper in Europe.

And of course, crafts. I scanned this bit, about making flowers from ribbons. There is also an embroidery pattern for a round table cloth with flowers and a little horse you can make from felt as kid's toy.

And there's the weekly free pattern. Unfortunately for me, this lovely blouse (like almost every single one of these scale patterns in all the magazines I've got) is in what was considered to be a proper woman's size, size 42, for a 96 cm bust...
There are usually also patterns-to-order but in this issue, those were just for nightgowns and the illustrations were nothing special. 

And that's all from one magazine... Can you understand why I'm hooked on these? 


  1. Thank you for sharing these. Lovely.

  2. Great to see the 'draft-it-yourself' top in its original context! Thanks for tracking this post down. It's very interesting, and also helpful to know the size for the pattern i 42/96cm. That's gonna help me fit it much more easily now!

  3. What a great post! I'm American living in the Netherlands for almost 8 years now, so I've thoroughly enjoyed reading these articles :) The blouse pattern is perfect as well. I will have to upsize, but it's very similar to the bodice of a dress pattern I have and make regularly, so I'm pretty familiar with the shaping and construction. Thanks for this, it really brightened my day!