Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Pattern leaflet designs

It's been four weeks since my last post - in the meantime we have been on holiday on Greece, for two weeks,and it always takes me at least a week to catch up with life when I get back.  We had a wonderful time, with Naturally Greece, visiting two of the islands, Ikaria and Samos, and then after the official end of the holiday we had a few days in Athens.  Maybe I'll post some photos later. Maybe not.

Now I'm back to work on the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection.   Yesterday we were sorting a box of Patons & Baldwins patterns, and found this pattern for gloves and mittens - there were several copies of it.  It was published around 1950, I think.

Paton's leaflet 652

It looks at first glance as though the people in the photo are looking at an important document - perhaps architects on a site visit, looking at the plans for a building.  Or maybe engineers looking at the blueprints for a new jet aircraft.  Definitely something significant.

But when we looked more closely, the drawings on the paper are nothing like that.

Here's one that I have made clearer - it's a cartoon of a small girl who has tied up her father (?) and laid him across the model railway so that she can run over him with the train.  And the gloves in the pattern are children's, so it looks as though they are considering whether or not this is a feasible plan.

Whoever designed the covers of Patons pattern leaflets at that time evidently thought that straightforward illustrations of gloves would be too boring.  The next two leaflets were also glove patterns.  Leaflet 653 has a surreal illustration of four gloved women's hands bursting though a page of The Times.

Paton's leaflet 653

And leaflet 654 shows (the hands of) three men poring over a street map. One of the men has the inevitable pipe.  The image looks slightly sinister somehow, as though they are planning a bank robbery.

Paton's leaflet 654

Patterns for other types of clothing usually have more straightforward leaflet illustrations, though not always.  Leaflet 694 shows the model buried up to her waist, like a scene from a Samuel Beckett play.

Paton's leaflet 694

The glove patterns must have sold well - copies turn up over and over, and leaflet 652 was reprinted at least once, with the same cover illustration.  But I think I have only seen one copy of leaflet 694, in the Patons archive, though the jumpers are perfectly nice (in a 1950s way), it's a useful pattern with several options, and the bright colours are attractive.  Perhaps the idea of being buried up to the waist spoilt its appeal.


  1. I like that slightly surreal style. Makes me think of Erwin Blumenfeld's work for Vogue.

    1. I hadn't heard of him, but now I have looked him up I see what you mean. I agree that these designs are more interesting than the usual type.


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