May Day Outfit Suggestions

Modern Graphic History Library wishes you a Happy May Day!

In order to celebrate, you will need something nice to wear.  Why not make a paper dress?  It’s economical and easy to make, plus very fashionable. (Just be careful sitting down, so your hard work doesn’t get crumpled or torn!)

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Ladies Home Journal, May 1913

To create these dresses, you will need:

  • paper
  • stiff netting
  • ribbon
  • appliqués
  • paste (to glue the appliqués on the paper)
  • strong thread (to sew the paper onto a white slip)

This assumes you have a white slip to use as the foundation for the dress.  If not, you can easily buy one at a local department store for 75¢, or you can just use an old white dress you no longer want.

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Ladies Home Journal, May 1913

The violet dress is the least expensive to create at $1.10.  The rosebud dress only costs $1.45, but you save 25¢ if you can leave off the rose leaves on the hat.  The most expensive outfit is the daisy dress, at $2.60.

A leaflet with full instructions for the dresses is available by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to the magazine.

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Ladies Home Journal, May 1913

The children and teens will also need outfits, but paper dresses probably aren’t the best option.  For something more durable, check out these “May styles” from Butterick.

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Delineator, May 1929

Patterns (with instructions and finishing ideas) range between 30¢ – 50¢, with most costing just 35¢.  You can order your patterns through the mail, or stop in at the Butterick store in St. Louis (located on Pine.)

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Delineator, May 1929

Now that you have something to wear, you can enjoy the May Day Festivities, courtesy of University Archives.

All of the dress images are from Modern Graphic History Library’s Periodicals Collection.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.