I spotted Hollywood

Some of you might remember my slight obsession with Bette Davis.

Well, most of the time this makes me watch her films and read books about her. But sometimes I can’t resist and buy memorabilia. My most treasured item surely is an autograph my boyfriend bought me for my birthday two years ago.

The framed autograph on my vanity table. Note the box I showed you in my last post in its natural habitat.

But there is another kind of memorabilia that I am itching for. Do you know Hollywood Patterns? The company was founded in 1932 and sold patterns connected to stars and starlets (source). Simply by putting a little photo and the name of a movie star on the envelope turned a standard pattern into a collectible (a method that applies still today, though maybe not anymore for patterns). And as you can imagine, today they are worth even more.

Bette Davis had a total of 16 patterns named after her. Every now and then they pop up on ebay or etsy. To the more or less high prices of the patterns themselves adds the postage from the US to Europe, so to buy one of these is alway quite an expensive pleasure. (Now please don’t link to any pattern you found for sale on the internet, I don’t look at the mentioned websites very often, simply because I don’t want to tempt myself to spend that much money too often ;-). If I am in the mood and the position to buy one, I will search for it.)


Last year in late autumn I spotted a beautiful one on etsy, Hollywood 1221, published in 1934. And my boyfriend was so kind to give it to me as a christmas-present (darling, I love you!).

I already copied the pattern a few days after the holidays (because the pattern is so old I don’t want to use the original pattern pieces anymore), but it wasn’t until before our Sicily-trip I finally decided for a fabric and started cutting (this is the mentioned dress I wanted to sew for the trip but didn’t finish).

The choice of fabric wasn’t that intelligent in hindsight. I used a white spotted green cotton print I bought a few years ago in the odds-and-ends-box of a nearby fabric store that doesn’t exist anymore. I had already planned to use it for my Fall-for-Cotton-dress, but I had too little of it (appr. 1,5m). I chose it because I thought it was close enough to the spotted fabric on the envelope drawing and could look good (but it is not really appropriate for this time, in the sewing magazines I own polka dots don’t appear earlier than late 30ies, in earlier issues I only found them to be used for children’s clothing).
For this project it was just enough, I had to cut the lower back in two pieces, otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.

Well, the resulting dress is really…dotty. The matching of the pattern is at some seams better than at others, unfortunately where it didn’t fit was in the centre front (in contrast to the text on the linked page, it is a two-piece skirt. There is no seam in the pleat and I didn’t think of adjusting the width of it to match the dots).

Can’t help it, but I absolutely love this photo!

The pattern asked for two zippers, on at the side and one in the centre back. I used a white nylon zipper in the neck and a light cream one in the side seam (because I had them in stock, I do know they aren’t authentic for the 30ies)  Both zipper-seams are hand-sewn as is the hem.


I used white thread for all seams, this seemed to be a better match than green one.

The size is a straightforward 12, only thing I changed is I shortened the hem by 7cm.

Because the pattern was too weird with the stomacher in between I applied a rest of white cotton ribbon after having already finished it, now it is a lot better.

yes, too lazy to match my nail polish

I used every bit of it. As you see, it wasn’t enough to attach it on both ends of the stomacher-part in the back as well, the rest I had was just enough to form the button-loop for a button in the neck above the zipper.


As I said, I didn’t change anything. Like the most american patterns, the seam allowance is  included, something still unusual for me, because it makes it difficult for me to imagine how large it will be in the end (and in this case it was difficult to match the pattern as well). When looking at the result it seems as if the bodice is a little too long, when making it again I should try to shorten the stomacher-part.

I decided to take the photos outside, because it was quite a strange light and the appartment pretty gloomy. The day had been hot and only a little later there was a huge thunderstorm. So this may explain why our camera changed the ISO to several thousands without me noticing it (don’t know why it was set in the automatic-mode) and why the white is so flashy.

Well, to end this post: I love it! It looks quite special and still I think the fabric wasn’t the best to use for this pattern and to make it suitable for everyday-use I should reduce the volume of the sleeves a little, they are a bit on the emormous side.

(dress: Hollywood Pattern 1221/ette, shoes: Siemes Shuh Center, fragrance: Stella McCartney – Sheers)

So much for today, love


11 thoughts on “I spotted Hollywood

  1. Oh Ette! This is so lovely — the outfit, the styling, you! I think the sleeves are my favorite part. Even though you had a lot of issues and you were unsure of the fabric, in the end, it was all worth it!

  2. That is so adorable, Ette. Now I think we need to call you Bette! You did a beautiful job on a difficult pattern, and it looks great. What a nice boyfriend you have, too!

  3. Thank you so very much! When I had inserted the sleeves I was like “oh, laaarge”, but it really fits the design, so when wearing it they don’t feel that large anymore. And besides of the included seam allowance issue, which is more unfamiliar than a real issue it came together surprisingly easy.

  4. Yes, he doesn’t support all my caprices, but some. Though in fact I bought the pattern, all he did was paying and wrapping it, but that’s all right^^
    Thank you very much. It is funny that I judge this as a more complicated pattern (maybe because it is 80 years old?) when it is in fact classified as a “sew-simple-design”.
    And to be like Bette I need a least blonde hair, aside from so many other things. Maybe I would be closer to her today if I hadn’t stopped acting at the theatre due to university. Well, you can’t have it all in life *sigh*

  5. I love the Hollywood Patterns too. They seem so glamourous. Yours came out well and even if you find the flaws, it is a learning experience on how to use the patterns. I think it came out really well and is flattering.

  6. I noticed that you are a member of The Monthly Stitch, me too! Your dress is so pretty! Your vintage look turned out really nice and I like the fabric you chose. I have a a favor to ask, maybe you might know. I just received a Hollywood Pattern 1711, but the instructions are missing. I think I can figure out how to put it together, but I’m not sure what the seam allowance might be. I think it’s included, right? I’m guessing 3/8 inch. Would you happen to know for sure?

  7. Hello Barbara!
    Well, yes, I am a member, but I only have been for a few weeks, so I haven’t even written my first post on the blog. But I will watch out to see you over there, too.
    Thank you very much for your kind words.
    Unfortunately I have to admit that I have been searching the pattern for the past hour and couldn’t find it. I know I put it somewhere save, but I can’t remember where and all the places I searched for it weren’t fruitful.
    If I come across it any time soon I will check the seam allowances for you. But I have found this blog, she used a Hollywood pattern for the 2013-Fall for Cotton-Sew-Along, she writes the seam allowances are 1/2 inch:

  8. https://agirlinwinter.wordpress.com/tag/hollywood-patterns/
  9. Maybe this does already help you? And as it dates from 1944, maybe this could serve you even better than mine, as mine is 10 years younger and they may have changed the allowance over the years.

Comments are closed.