Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sewing with Vintage French Patterns

I have lately been working on drafting beautiful corset/ corselet and garter belt patterns from an old French diagram and it's been an interesting experience.

The measurements are given in centimeters, which I prefer because it makes drafting that much more exact. The only problem is, the pattern was simply noted as being a size 44. A size 44 in 1940's France could mean any number of things and I immediately set out to research exactly what kind of size I was dealing with.

I could find almost nothing and resorted to digging up my French pattern stash (very girl should have one). I have yet to use any of my vintage French patterns yet, as they require some skill and patience, which I'm gaining, and lots of translating of text, which I love doing but seldom have the time for.

I dove into researching the differences between a size 44 by one company and a size 44 by another. All of that is below if you're looking to learn the same thing some time, some day. But first, lets just ooh and aaaaah over some pretty patterns, shall we?

You can see some beautiful Patron-Modèle patterns here at Patterns of History.
Here is what I have been able to discern about French pattern sizing using measurements given by my patterns. I'm posting not because it will be an interesting read, but maybe I'll be able to save someone the headache of figuring it out themselves some day.

Patron Modele 1940's (associated with Le Petit Echo de la Mode)

Size 44                                 
Poitrine: 96 cm                      Bust: 37.75"
Taille: 75 cm                         Waist: 29.5 "
Hanches: 103                         Hips: 40.5"

Size 48
Poitrine: 104 cm                     Bust: 41"
Taille: 83 cm                          Waist: 32.5"
Hanches: 111 cm                    Hips: 43.75"

Marie France 1940's
Size 44
Poitrine: 96 cm                        Bust: 37.75"
Taille: 72 cm                           Waist: 28.3"
Hanches: 100  cm                    Hips: 39.4"

Modes et Travaux 1940's
Size 44

Poitrine: 95 cm                         Bust: 37.4"

Taille: 75 cm                            Waist: 29.5"

Hanches: 100 cm                      Hips: 39.4"


  1. I can't wait for the corselet pattern! I only have one French pattern myself, which is a Femmes D'aujourd'hui (magazine) blouse pattern from the 50s. For reference it is a size 44: bust 37.5", waist 29.5".

    The tie-neck blouse pattern is lovely. I really like the shaping of the back yoke. Something to experiment with on my next pattern draft I think.

  2. FABULOUS post! I've been intrigued by French patterns lately!!

  3. hello Anna,
    are you going to post the french bathing suit pattern on etsy? (the first pic after the corset)
    I have been looking for one like that for a looong time..

  4. Hello-I have just started a website with guides and information on using vintage french sewing patterns
    Hope its of interest!