Silver Scissors: a pattern system (updated March 2018)

Silver00Lutterloh is probably the most famous and long-lived pattern system employing miniature pattern pieces that are enlarged based on one’s hip or bust size with the help of a special measure. While Lutterloh is still going strong, many more pattern systems of this kind existed in the past. Just this week there were auctions on eBay for booklets and systems of Der Thermo Schnitt, Frohne Modelle, Union Schnitt and Eclair Coupe Paris and I’m sure there are more systems out there that I don’t know about. Today’s post, however, is devoted to the Silver Scissors pattern system.

Silverscissorskit

Silver scissors ring binder in original box. Unfortunately, it is not easy to make out the date on the postmark, but the only numbers that could indicate a year are ’55’.

A couple of months ago, I visited a vintage fair here in Malmö where I happened to come across a little red Silver Scissors ring binder filled with fashion drawings and photographs, as well as the accompanying miniature patterns. Fortunately, the original French curve and tape measure were also included. The price tag said it cost 350 sek (about 37 Euro) and I remember thinking that seemed a bit steep for such a small binder, especially because I was not sure whether I could make it work.

Silverscissors

The contents of the box: a foldable cardboard French curve, a special tape measure and a ring binder with instructions and, of course, lots of patterns. Two pattern pieces made by a previous owner are also included.

After going a few more rounds while growing increasingly anxious that someone else would buy it, I decided to go for it. After all, the binder comprises no less than 120 patterns for women’s, men’s and children’s clothes and the whole kit is in more or less mint condition. A previous owner tried constructing some children’s pants of which the pattern pieces have been preserved. Apparently this was not a big success and it looks like the kit remained unused ever since.

SilverScissorstapemeasure

Close-up of the Silver Scissors tape measure. Point zero is 4cm and the punctured holes are spaced 3mm apart.

By special request, another image of the Silver Scissors tape measure, now pictured next to an ordinary tape measure. It should not be too difficult to recreate, methinks.

The Silver Scissors tape measure is fully retractable, which makes it extra nifty in my opinion. The case is made of red plastic, while the tape itself is some kind of metal. The dots next to the hip and bust measurments are punctured, so a pin can be stuck through it. The lowest measurement one can use is 50cm and the punctured holes are spaced 3mm apart, which is much like the Lutterloh system. However, Silver Scissors uses 4cm as ‘point zero’, while this is 8cm for Lutterloh.

DSCN3223

A random page showing the pattern pieces for dresses with matching bolero jackets.

SilverScissors05

Floating hands show us how it’s done.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any date in the booklet. As said, the postmark indicates that the kit was sold in c. 1955, something which corresponds to the dates I found on the internet for similar binders. On the other hand, I also came across a shop called Embonpoint Vintage that sells individual patterns that are also in the copy of Silver Scissors I have. This shop, which as far as I know does not mention the name Silver Scissors anywhere, dates these patterns to 1949.

Silverscissorssummerdresses

Several cute summer dresses. I am not really sure whether they would work for me, though. These are definitely some of the nicer drawings.

Although I am no expert on dating sewing patterns, I do get a late 40’s vibe from some of the drawings. I suspect that some of the patterns were already around for a while before being published in this particular Silver Scissors format. The pattern illustrations are an odd mix of – often bad quality – photographs, some of which are coloured, and drawings in various styles.

Silver11

Example of the various ways in which the patterns are illustrated: drawings in different styles and the occasional photograph. Although I am not impressed by the work of the person who drew the illustration to the far left, I must admit that I really like that dress. It seems like I have a thing for necklines with triangular cut-outs.

Silver09

The left page clearly shows how misleading fashion drawings can be, but seeing the dress on a real person actually makes me think it is something I would like to wear. As is visible on the right page, in some cases illustrations of the back of the models are included. More often they are not.

According to the information in the booklet, Silver Scissors was published by a German company and distributed in, amongst others, the Nordic countries, the Benelux and the United Kingdom. As with other pattern systems, regular updates were available. The booklet advertises, for instance, a special edition devoted to children’s patterns. I have seen a couple of past auctions on Tradera for these supplements, but they don’t seem to come around very often.

Silver10

To the left an advertisement for a supplement with children’s patterns (not the best translations, though). To the right a very elegant lady.

Anyway, it is not like I need any more patterns. It is difficult enough to pick one from this particular collection and like the booklet says, there are endless possibilities by varying bodices and skirts, cuffs and collars. I plan on sharing some of my favorite patterns in a future post, as well as my limited experience with using the Silver Scissors system. It would be great, though, to hear of other people’s experiences and don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested in swapping patterns.

 

11 thoughts on “Silver Scissors: a pattern system (updated March 2018)

  1. PinhouseP

    Hello Iris! Thank you for following my blog, so that I could find yours 😉
    I was amazed to find that you have the excact same Silver Scissors book that I have, what are the odds?
    Mine was gifted to me just recently, and I have no experience using it. I very much look forward to try, though 🙂 Maybe we could share our adventures!

    Best of luck,
    Siri 🙂

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi Siri, thank you for your comment and for following my blog! I only recently discovered your blog, so I have a lot of catching up to do. And now I see that we posted about the exact same Silver Scissors book on the exact same day, how weird is that? I have experimented a bit with mine so far, but can’t decide on what pattern to turn into an actual garment. There’s just so much to choose from. It would be great to see what you’re going to make! We should definitely share our adventures!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Experiments with Silver Scissors: skirt with pockets | IrisArctica

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  4. Vidah

    Hi iris I love your blog I just wanted to find out where I can find silver scissors I looked everywhere can’t find them anywhere I would really like to find because those patterns will keep me busy

    Vidah

    Reply
    1. iris Post author

      Hi Vidah, thanks for your comment! I just checked and there’s a listing on ebay right now. This version is a bit newer than the one I wrote about in this post and has an updated tape measure (my guess is that it still works the same way). I myself prefer to look at Tradera, the Swedish equivalent of Ebay, where there are two listings for Silver Scissors at the moment. The advantage is that Silver Scissors tends to go for lower prices than, for instance, Lutterloh. I probably overpaid a bit for this particular kit, but have found other books for much less. Good luck!

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Experiments with Silver Scissors part 2: day dress completed – IrisArctica

  6. Katie

    I don’t know if this helps, but I have purchased two of these off of ebay. I have noticed that they changed the enlargement ruler from the simple metal tape to a weirder contraption (that still traced out the patterns). Also, the older book, which is similar to the one you have, is clearly postmarked 1954. I would place them as early 1950s.

    Reply
    1. iris Post author

      Thank you, Katie, for this information! Unfortunately, I do not seem to get a notification when people respond to older posts, so I am sorry for my late reply. I actually found two other Silver Scissors binders after writing this post. One is certainly earlier (I wrote a blog post about that one) and the other certainly later (not blogged yet). The latter came without a ruler, but the instructions indeed show a strange contraption! Based on your information, I would guess that the earliest book I have is from the late 40s and the latest from the second half of the 50s, with the one shown in this post published in between.

      Reply
  7. Amitis

    Hej och tack för allt du delar med dig! Kan du ladda en bild av måttbandet bredvid ett vanligt måttband är du snäll ? Jag kan tyvärr inte hitta måttbandet men har mönsterna ☺️ Tack föriväg //Ami

    Reply
    1. iris Post author

      Hej Ami, roligt att höra att du uppskattar bloggen! Jag ska ta bilden i helgen och lägga ut den så snart som möjligt, det verkar vara många som saknar måttbandet. Kanske är det också dags för en ny bloggpost om Silver Scissors, jag har en bok som jag inte har visat än.

      Reply

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