Until I have a chance to dig deeper into Butterick's history, I'll date this one after 1887, but prior to 1903, as that was the year the company's New York offices moved to a new building at Spring Street in New York City. Undergarments are notoriously hard to date. The illustration looks earlier rather than later to me.
In some of the comments for earlier posts we've discussed how home sewing patterns sometimes survive more by chance than by design. My local Goodwill store uses sewing patterns for wrapping glassware, for example.
This one seems to have just barely avoided being destroyed by time and inattention. Typically these early Butterick patterns arrive folded into a packet that measures about 5 inches square. Envelopes don't seem to have been supplied, and separate instruction sheets won't appear for another twenty years. (The Shawl and Traveling Case 4514 pattern dates to about the same time.) My guess is that at some point this pattern was rolled up and subsequently became squashed at the bottom of a drawer or shelf. Mice or bugs or both could have attacked the glue used to attach the label to the pattern.
Here is how the pattern looked when I first unfolded it.
And here it is after a careful pressing with a cool, dry iron. (I've rearranged the pattern pieces to reflect the way the chemise would be put together.) The pattern pieces actually show few signs of use. Outside of the damage caused by poor storage conditions, there are almost no tears or pin holes, and the notches are still crisply cut. Note the notch at the bottom indicating the hem line.
This is about as simple a pattern as you can get for a chemise, and home dress-making books of this period usually give ample instructions for drafting a chemise pattern on your own.
|From Needlework, Knitting, Cutting Out, by Elizabeth Rosevear, 1894|
The Sears and Roebuck Catalog for 1902 offers chemises for ladies ranging in price from 98 cents to $1.89. Even the low-priced model offers lace edgings and insertions (though probably not of very high quality.)
Let's wander over to the yard goods department of the catalog and see what it'll cost us to make up the Butterick chemise in the most economical way possible. (I'm assuming that white sewing thread and needles are always kept on hand in the household.)
Pattern (price is obscured by damage, but looks like about) 20¢
2 and 3/4 yard of lawn, 32" wide, @ 20¢/yard 55¢
3 3/8 yards of lace trimming @ 4¢/yard 14¢
lace insertion, sold @ 12 yards for 18¢ 18¢
Considering only the materials and not the value of the maker's labor, the home-made chemise is nine cents more than Sears least expensive purchased chemise, but 82¢ less than the most expensive one.