Butterick Pattern Catalog, 1937 – A Few Faves

Butterick, 1937

Some time ago I went on a bit of a bender looking for original sewing pattern counter books. One of the counter books I had the good fortune to snag was a 1930s Butterick.

This book is *enormous,* much larger than the two 1940s Simplicity books in my collection. It also wasn’t in the best shape – the original staples were rusted and just screamed “tetanus,” some of the pages were stuck together, and a portion of the book is missing. Flaking away, I decided to preserve the book as best I could and sleeved the entire thing in two large binders. It took a couple days to very carefully separate the pages, but now the book is easily flipped through with no worry of additional deterioration.

Powder blue and soft yellow and white, oh my! I’ll just take every dress here, please. Butterick, 1937

This lil’ plaid number. Butterick, 1937

There’s an entire section on just suits. Butterick, 1937

It’s both exciting and painful to flick through one of these vintage pattern catalogs. I’m at once inspired and wistful, wanting literally everything on every page. Original 1930s patterns are available throughout InternetLand, but are becoming harder and harder to lay hands on, particularly in larger sizes.

Stunning “Sky Captain” lapels in tan and black. Butterick, 1937.

The coats section is fantastic. Butterick, 1937.

Aren’t these sleeves amazing? Butterick, 1937.

There is also a beefy section of just blouses. So many of these have amazing designs – SO different from the super-simplified blouse designs that came later. I want them all. Butterick, 1937.

Often with vintage makes I feel confident drafting my own pattern based on the drawings, but this ’37 Butterick is crammed full of amazing, complex Art Deco seams, shapes, alternatively placed darts, interesting yokes, nebulous necklines, and mysterious sleeve designs. So in the case of ole ’37 here, a paper pattern of *any* size would be an invaluable starting point.

Yoke, gathers, balloon sleeves, peplum. My goodness. Butterick, 1937.

A gored skirt and a soft, drapey blouse is an excellent place to start a ’30s wardrobe. Butterick, 1937.

One of my favorite types of vintage pattern – the sleeve pack. All of these sleeves were designed to fit in just about any Butterick bodice pattern. Just imagine the possibilities! This page also gives useful information on the standard armscye measurements for this era. We know that 18th and 19th c. armscyes were much higher, but so were the vintage decades. To compare, a modern armscye for size 14-16 is about 17″ – 5″ larger than stated here!!

Some day I will make myself a proper set of 1930s undies. Working with charmeuse and the like scares me, but repro designs like these are impossible to find. Butterick, 1937.

I wish I could share every page of this book with you. It is truly a work of art. In the meantime, these few snaps will have to do while I dream of a late ’30s wardrobe. <3


I love this one for the birds – doesn’t this combo seem so modern? Butterick, 1937.

The color combo on this suit is amazing, but also check out the sleeves+yoke design. Wow! Butterick, 1937.

Sweet as pie. Butterick, 1937.

Doesn’t this chick look like she’s awkwardly posing for a tripod selfie? I swear I’ve taken this weird “am I dancing?” pose before. Butterick, 1937.

Heckin’ adorable. Butterick, 1937.

Both of these are stunning. Imagine rollin’ up to the party in that black number. Let’s say it’s silk velvet. My oh my! Butterick, 1937.
Sleeves and yoke cut in one. This yellow and white number with the buttons is adorbs x 10000. Butterick, 1937.

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