Boys' Clothing Patterns: Sewing and Knitting Companies

Figure 1.--Sirdar was an important British knitting pattern company. Among their fashions were schoolwear--primarily sweaters. Here are some of school sweaters, probably from the early 1980s.

We do not yet have very much information on companies offering sewing and knoitting patterns. We are not yet sure just where and when companies began selling sewing patterns. A major American company was Buterick. Another important company was Simplicity. We begin noticing Simplicity patterns in the 1930s, but still know little about the company. It is a major distributor of patterns and sewing books in the 2000s. There were of course also companies in sevral other countries, but we have very little information on these companies. A large number of companies have made patterns, but at this time we only have infomation on a small number of the more important companies. We believe that these larger companies have dominated the market. Knitting pattern catalogs appeared later than the sewing patterns. We also note companies offering knitting patterns.

Advance (United States)

The Advance Sewing Pattern Company was founded as a house brand for the J.C. Penny Company (1932). The Advance Pattern Company distributef sewing patterns under the Advance brand name (1933-66). Advance Patterns of New York were sold at J.C. Penney stores. The price was at firt 10 cenrs, but increased to 75 cents by the 1960s. We are not sure why Penny did not use their own name. The patterns are undated, so we have to estimate the dates by the clothing styles and hair styles as well as the price and cover styling. Dated patterns were harder to sell after the date passed. One estimate suggests that 15 million women used Advance patterns, The Advance Pattern Co. was sold to Puritan Fashions (1966). They stopped using the Advance name.

Bairns (England)

We notice Bairns patterns booklets. We do not know much about the Bairns company yet. I think the name is based on the Scottish term for child which appears to have German origins. Perhaps this meant a focus on lambs wool. There This appears to have been an important company durung the 1940s-60s. They created many stylish ptterns for both children and adults. The most important garment was sweaters, but they were other items like caps and mittens. We are not sure when they were founded. I think they were a wool company which sold yarn. To increase demand they seem to have begun creating knitting patterns. I think they were an English company. There may have had an Australian subsidiary which would make sense since Australia was a major wool exporter.

Beehive (United States)

We note a pattern company called Behive. We think it was an American company offerng knitting patterns. We note pattern books made over a long operiod. The first ones seem to date from the 1940s. We have found quite a number of Behive pattern books, but very little about the company.

Burda (Germany)

Burda is a major German pattern company. We do not know when they were established. They continue to be a major company today. We believe that they did both sewing and knitting patterns. We note that they have a relationship with Simplicity which distributes its patterns. They publish Burda Kids' Fashions twice annually in 2002. It was foremerly called Burda Toddlers. The magazine is also published in English and Russia. Hopefully our German readers will ptovide us more information about the company.

Butterick (United States)

Butterick was founded by Ebeneezer Butterick, a taylor in Stirling, Massachusetts during the Civil War in 1863. He revolutionized the home sewing when he created graded sewing pattern. The inspiration was his wife Ellen who complained that it would be eassier to sew with a pattern. We do not yet have any of the earliest patterns. We do have a 1900 pattern for a 1900 fancy Fauntleroy blouse. The company continues to be a major force in home and still offers patterns for home sewing. The company in itspromotional literature says that it continues to lead the way in make-it-yourself fashions. I'm not sure just when Butterick began marketing patterns.

Chadwick's Red Heart Wool Yarn (United States)

We notice quite a number of knitting booklets from Chadwick's Red Heart Wool Yarn. The booklets procided all kinds of patterns for \sweates and other cold weather items like caps, mittens, shawls, and socks. They seemed to have been particularly active during the 1940s when msnt knitting booklets were published. We are not sure at this time if they jus did the booklets are also produced the yarn. There seems to be a connection of some sort with the spool Cotton Compny which also produced yarn. Chadwick's today is a clothing company.

Copley's (England)

Copley's was an English company prociding instruction packets in the 1940s-50s. We have relatively little information in the company. They offered knittig patterns. We do not known when the company was founded. We think the company has 19th century originsd. We note Esther Copley published the The comprehensive knitting book (1849). We have found patterns from the 1940s-70s, but believe the company operated over a wider period. We note sun-suits from about 1950 (No. 3074). We also note a pencil sweater, probably from the 1970sor even the 80s (No. 987).

(The) Delineator (United States)

I believe the first magazine to do this was The Delineator. Actually, The Delineator was created by Butterick to sell their patterns. As a result of the The Delineator's success, patterns became areglar feature in most fashion magazines. The magazines were soon full of illustrations for patterns which could be purchased.

Du Barry Patterns (United States)

Du Barry was a trade brand name. The manufacturer was the Simplicity Pattern Company. The first DuBarry patterns appeared in the Woolworth five and dime stores (1931). They were made excclusively for sale by Woolworth. They continued to be sold at Wooworth through 1947. The prices were at first 10-15 cents which can help date them. Dating is a problem as for the most part there are no dates on the pattern. Price is helpful. Early patterns can also be identified by the New Deal National Recovery Act (NRA) eagle (1933-36). The original patterns were identifoed as 'du Barry', but this was changed to 'DuBarry'. We are not sure just when this change occurred, but we think kn the late 1930s. This needs to be confirmed. The Du Barry patterns were primarily womens' and girls' fashions, but we havefound some boys' patterns. Unfortunarely the pattern numbers are not very helpful in dateing. They seem to fluctate randomly. Some have B behind the number and some have a D in front of the number. This seems to be Simplicity's way of numerically identifying the DuBarry patterns. Some had a T. We are not sure if Simplicity marked these patterns are similar ones under their own brand.

Home Pattern Company (United States)

The Home Pattern Company was making patterns at the turn of the 20th century. They were the sole supplier for the Ladies Home Journal, at least in 1905. We are not sure hiw this association lasted. A good example is a boy's button-on blouse outfit in 1905.


We know nothing about the history of Kwiksew at this time. They have a wide range of patterns for the entire family, including all types of stretch and woven fabrics and a variety of craft patterns. There are selections for children, men, lingerie, swimwear, and sportswear. KWIK SERGE patterns are easy, fast and designed to be used with the Serger machine. KWIK START patterns are especially designed for children and adults who wish to learn how to sew. They have simple designs and the instructions are more explicit with more illustrations. KWIK SEW patterns are known for their great styles and fit.

Ladies Home Journal

One of the major women's magazines in the United States was the Ladies Home Jouurnal. We note patterns offered in the magazine. They may have even included some actual patterns. A example is an add for boys blouses in 1910. We know that the Home Pattern Company was making the patterns at the turn-of-the 20th century. We are not sure how long this association lasted or if the Journal developed associatioins with other pattern companies.

McCalls (United States)

McCalls was a major American domestic magazine which began to inclue patterns in the 19th century. We note a McCalls tunic suit in 1908. McCalls continues to be a major pattern company. McCalls continues to be a major pattern company. We note that by 1916 that they were publishing a catalog of their patterns which appared to emphasize clothing for women and children. McCalls continues to be a major factor in the pattern and home sewing business. The McCalls webite for Spring 2002 reads, "McCalls introduces the newst designs in glamerous evening and bridal dressing. Browse through the McCalls website and you'll find a great selection of brightly colored children's and infant's wear, cozy sleepwear, fleece-wear, and women's/large sizes. You'll also find fun accesories, hime decorating, crafts and even Renaissance costume patterns!"

Paton's and Baldwin's/P&B Wools (England/Australia)

Paton's and Baldwin's was a British company. It was initially a British manufacturer of knitting yarns. A British reader writes, "Paton's Fair Isle Fingering was a type of knitting yarn produced by Messrs Paton, a renowned British Knitting Wool producer. They produced a wide variety of knitting yarns, eg 3-ply, 4-ply, Arron etc. The Fair Isle Fingering was a variety used to knit Fair Isle pattern garments. I remember as a child seeing the name on mother's knitting yarns. 'Fingering' is a weight of knitting yarn sometimes called 'sweater weight'. Presumably the company began publishing books and patterns to help stimulate yarn sales. We note P&B Wools marketing sweater knitting patterns. We notice a father and son sweater pattern in 1950. The company also established an Australian subsidiary. We have found an Australian publication. we are not sure if the images and patterns are Australian or British images. Probably they are patterns developed by the British parent compasny. They may me material workdup in Britain and just printed locally. We do not know if there were any specifically Australian patterns.

Pictorial Review (United States)

The Pictorial Review was founded as a magazine designed to market William Paul Ahnelt's American Fashion Company's patterns. The first edition was published September 1899. It gradually evolved into a respected fashion/woman's magazine with much more than just home sewing patterns. It became one of the major American women's magazines (1920s). As the magazine developed, it came to include excellent fiction, women and children issues, homemaking and recipe ideas, fashions of the time, and advertising. A popular feature was the Dolly Dingel paper dolls. It was a little treat mothers could give to their daughters. The magazine included some patterns, but wa a useful platform for selling patterns.

Robin (England)

We notice Robin publishing a pattern catalog. The catalog we have seen looks like the 1970s or early 80s. It had school uniform items, primarily the jumpers (sweaters). We are not sure when Robin began publishing knitting catalogs. We note patterns as late as 1987. We see vintage Robin patterns being sold on the internet. The company does not appear to be in businessat this tome, but we have no further information on the company.

Simplicity (United States)

Simplicity is one of the most important manufactuerers of patterns. The company appears to sell its patterns primarily in fabric stores. Some of the most important are: Fabric Depot, Fabric Place, MaryJo's, Villtex/Fields Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, Jo-Ann, Hobby Lobby, BouClair, Fabricland, Le Moulin Blanc, and Fabric and Home Bonanza. We have little historical information about Simplicity. We note that most of their modern offerings for children are for girls' outfits. Simolicity marketed some of its patterns through the DuBarry brand at the Woolsworth five and dime stores.

Sirdar (England)

A British reader has mentioned Sirdar to us. We know nothing about the company at this time, except that it offered knitting patterns. The image here shows school fashions offered by Sirdar. Unfortunately it is not dated. Our reader writes, "I'm afraid I have no year for the catalog here, but at a glance I'd date it to the early-1980s. Girls use to go school like that in grey pleated skirts and white lacy knee socks and black strap shoes." We note that many companies did not date their catalogs, perhaps so users would not think that patterns from older issues were dated and out of fashion.

Standard Pattern Company (United States)

We know little about the Standard Pattern Company at this time. We do note Sandard patterns in the early 20th century. An example is sailor suit. These early Sandard patterns were done in only one size and had limited explanatory text.

Vogue (United States)

Vogue is another fashion magazine which offered patterns. Vogue began offering patterns in 1905. At first, however, they were not size graded. Conde Nast purchased Vogue in 19??, determined to make it the leading American high-society fahion magazine. Vogue patterns became a major feature of the magazine. The patterns were primarily for women's fashions. Butterick purchased the pattern business in 1961, but retained its seperate identity. We note in 2002 that Vogue was owned by McCalls.

Weldon (England)

We have not been able to find out much about Weldon patterns yet. We do notice their pattern booklets, Welson Fashion Series from the 1920s-40s. The company presumably operated along a wider time frame, but we are sure about this time span. They offered patterns on a wide range of garments for the entire family. A good example is a 1940 booklet for underwear.

Other Companies

Quite a number of companies offer patterns. Here is a list of companies with internet sites. We note very little historical information, but the sites include a descrotion of their current operations and offerings. Most of these companies appear to be relatively new American companies.


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Created: October 26, 2002
Last updated: 7:57 PM 2/16/2014