1920s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

Excella and Pictorial Review

I found out a few months ago that there was a connection between Pictorial Review patterns and Excella patterns. I verified this over the weekend when I realized that I had a men’s pattern from Pictorial Review that I’d also had in the past as Excella.

I don’t know the year on these, and would love to know if they were published at the same time. Look closely at the Pictorial Review, and “last pattern 1928” is written on it. I don’t know if that pertains to this pattern, and it would be hard to say. Though sewing pattern catalogs included some men’s patterns, they didn’t include many, so finding a reference to them from now-defunct companies would be a difficult task.

I saw an article at some point that mentioned the connection they had, but darned if I can find it now. I went searching, and here is what I found. This first mention of Excella in ads was in 1922. Excella patterns were touted as being simple, and that completed projects would exactly match the illustrations. They even had ads saying that if you incurred any loss in creating a garment with Excella patterns, they would reimburse the customer for every penny of loss. Imagine that today!

In1924, Excella began advertising their “Pictograf” which was similar to Butterick’s Deltor, in that it was the name they gave to the instruction sheets. Pictograf later became associated with Pictorial Review. In fact, in 1927, ads are seen for “Excella Pictorial Review” patterns.

In 1934, ads are seen saying that some stores contracts had ended with Pictorial Review, and that they were selling Excella patterns in their place. Pictorial Review patterns were still being sold however, as ads were seen for them up until

Excella ads were seen up until early 1938, though not as frequently as in the earlier years. In contrast, Pictorial Review liquidation sales were seen as early as 1939 and Pictorial Review Magazine isn’t seen after 1940.Any mention of the pattern line disappeared in late 1942. My grandmother worked for Pictorial Review as a fashion editor in the early to mid 1920s, and I believe, from family history, that they were absorbed into McCall’s when they closed.

I would consider this parallel selling of patterns to what Butterick and Vogue did. Vogue would issue patterns, and when sales cooled, they were changed to Butterick and sold with different pattern numbers. I haven’t dived into this practice far enough to show an example, but I know it happened. I’m not sure if it still happens today. Interesting, huh?