These images are taken from a 1977 dressmaking pattern magazine of unbranded dressmaking patterns from a weekly paper of the era. In my opinion the majority
of styles shown are actually more typical of fashion worn 4 to 6 years earlier from 1971 or so.
These dress and trouser patterns
were aimed at an older market of women 40 plus, who did not wish to wear some of
the briefer fashions of the day and were not then as concerned as many 40+ women
are today about being ultra 'trendy'. They followed the general line of the day
and are the sort of styles ordinary women wore to work in the early/mid 1970s.
The fashion styles also feature popular 1970s long maxi evening dresses and some
1970s dress and trouser patterns for girls. The children's patterns are
very representative of clothes girls wore in addition to jeans and T-shirts.
I bought this pattern book when I
was in my twenties and it was to show my mother so that I could make her some
But when I glanced through it I recall the styles were rather dowdy for me or someone younger than me. Even my mother was not that impressed. We felt there were only 2 or 3 patterns that reflected a
style fashionable enough that either of us would consider wearing. Seeing the patterns now I do however think they are very representative of certain trends within the 1970s and I can see lots of styles
very typical overall of the 1970s decade.
Looking back at them I see how
strongly the magazine highlighted real fashions of the 1970s and it is real
costume history as many women wore it. All too often fashion history
books record highlights from fashion shows, whereas in fact dressmaking patterns
and catalogue books are often far more a real record of what the average women
wore. I believe those preparing fashions for theatrical or costume set
events of the 1970s will find these fashion pictures very useful.
The princess line dresses and A
line dresses also reflect the era. Notice that on these three pages
of pattern pictures there is not one straight
skirt line among these patterns. The only way you would see a straighter
skirt was as a long empire line maxi dress. The pencil straight skirt did
not come back into mass fashion until around 1978/79. Throughout the 1970s
the skirt style was A line. So too, the mini of the 1970s was also A-line. Anyone who goes to a 1970s fancy dress party wearing a straight line 1990s mini
skirt style has missed the point. 1960s and 1970s mini skirts were all cut
with flare and a shaped. They were A-line, flared princess seamed or based on a
circle with flip. The A-line was achieved by cutting extra flare on the side
panels or built into princess seams. This dress was also commonly worn as
a pinafore with a shirt, tie blouse or polo roll neck finely ribbed sweater
A-lines or princess seams, yoke
seams at the chest or hips, keyholes, empire yokes, raglan neck yokes, inset
side panels, ties or tie necks, white collars and white cuffs, contrasting
colours, big square patch pockets, self fabric belts, tie belts, frills or
ruffles are all strong 1970s costume points.
The thumbnail pictures in this
main chart all enlarge to A4 size when clicked.
Pinafore dresses were very popular in
the early and mid 1970s. They were often a princess line panel style
like the green dress left above or waisted with a fitted bodice and
very flared skirt like the red maxi pinafore.
Maxi pinafores would be worn out at
night and were dressed up with masses of jewellery such as long gold
chains or pearls and chains.
Shirts teamed with them were made
from lustrous satin polyester new to the marketplace or crinkled
cotton shirts. Fine polyester georgette blouse with tie bows were
also teamed with pinafores. Mock pinafores like the last
image right above were also popular.
Princess line dresses easily gave added flaring
fullness and could be
useful to introduce sudden extra skirt swing. Sometimes
dresses were two tone panelled with a light centre and dark side
panels. Floral and abstract bold prints were usual as were
strongly coloured plain fabrics. Oranges, browns and purples were
all very strong fashion colours of the seventies. Strong
colours were a good foil for a classic brooch, aurora borealis
crystal tassel, gold tassel pendant or fob watch pendant.
Many princess line dresses were finished at the neck
with ties, ruffle frills or contrast collars. This popular style was
also used for tunic shapes to team with flared trousers.
Chinese mandarin or granddad stand collars were used in the sixties
and seventies. Frog fastenings helped create an oriental feel
which was inspired by all the Boho and ethnic influences of people
travelling abroad so much.
The princess line was very versatile as it gives
good figure. It was worn sleeveless, short or long sleeved and
often plain simple round necked making it perfect to team with large
pendant necklaces or long ropes of pearls. It produced a classic
dress that could be worn with various jacket styles such as the
loose cerise jacket above or the bomber rust jacket.
Yokes were also exceptionally featured through the
1970s. Above you can see 3 versions of yokes and two are
teamed with princess line skirts. The 2 mauve and lime dresses above
are exactly like dresses I recall wearing in 1972. The
princess line could also be used in skirts like the cerise one above
An alternative to princess seams were side panels
which are drafted on a similar principle. These dresses above
have contrast collar and cuffs or a tie neckline.
Contrast white collars and cuffs like those above
were popular since Mary Quant featured them so much in her designs.
They created a fresh youthful look. Mostly they were
detachable and washable. people were happy to remove the detachable
collar and cuffs, launder them and hand stitch them back into place.
This is something you hardly ever see today. Yet we were all happy
to have the items detachable rather than have to clean the whole
dress. To keep a dry clean only dress pristine, protective
underarm pads were sewn into the dress so they could be detached,
laundered and reinserted without the dry cleaning expense and at the
same time protect the outer fabric.
The two shift dresses with side darts to the right
above are simple lines typical of seventies styles.
Flared A-line dresses were also cut with a central
seam and a front zip with a decorative ring pull zipper end could be
made into a feature of a dress. Large patch or gently rounded
pockets made for a utilitarian dress.
These last 2 styles above are very much like dresses
I recall of 1974/5. The skirt has begun to reach its maximum
fullness for 1970s flared skirt fashion. Four panels
which basically made a circle, gave the required lower volume at the
hemline. The blouson sleeves have a lot of bloused flop at the
cuffs. Narrow belts sharpened up the waistline.
Please note - I do not have the full patterns, just
these cover pictures. I do not know where you might buy these
particular paper patterns, so please do not write asking for extra
information on them.
See more fashion history pictures of 1977s patterns
including 1970s skirts styles, long dresses and dresses for young
girls on the next page. See fashion history pictures of
1970s trousers suits
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