Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Equestrian

July 24, 2015 § 4 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a 1930s equestrian pattern.

Equestrian. This Depression-era pattern for fall-front jodhpurs has jaunty cuffed trousers, the requisite reinforced inner leg, and three pocket pieces, including one for a watch pocket:

1930s jodhpurs sewing pattern - Butterick 5647

Butterick 5647 (ca. 1934) Image via Etsy.

(Click the image to see sold listing with back of envelope.)

Interestingly, this copy of Butterick 5647 is stamped Pattern Made in Canada. Although the pattern was produced in women’s, misses’ and girls’ sizes, the early equestrian patterns that survive are usually in smaller sizes—intended for riding lessons, perhaps?

For more vintage equestrian patterns see my Year of the Horse post.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Cycling

July 23, 2015 § 3 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a pattern for cycling.

Cycling. This cycling illustration graced the cover of the summer 1938 issue of Vogue Pattern Book:

Late 1930s Vogue Pattern Book with cycling illustration

Vogue Pattern Book, June/July 1938. Image via eBay.

The pattern is Vogue 8014, a sport or evening frock, bolero, and calot (hat) in the collection of CoPA:

1930s sports dress, bolero, and hat pattern - Vogue 8014

Vogue 8014 (1938) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive. For research purposes only.

Pam Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Gymnastics

July 21, 2015 § 5 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a pattern for gymnastics.

Rhythmic gymnastics. This early 1930s gym and dance costume was available in misses’ and juniors’ sizes. The costume includes a long-sleeved or sleeveless blouse with elasticized lower edge and two styles of tap pant:

1930s gym and dance outfit (blouse and tap shorts) - McCall 6498

McCall 6498 (1932) Gym & Dance Costume.

Like other sportswear patterns, McCall 6498 stayed in print for several years: Allison Marchant/carbonated’s copy is copyright 1934.

Pan Am Games 2015 – Vintage Pattern Edition

July 20, 2015 § 6 Comments

This week the Pan Am Games continue in Toronto. In honour of the Games, here’s a look at vintage patterns and illustrations showing women’s sports.

First up: Pan Am sports that have already concluded for 2015.

Archery. From a 1933 issue of McCall’s magazine, this archery scene was illustrated by Jean des Vignes:

Jean des Vignes archery illustration in a 1930s McCall's magazine

“Taking Aim,” McCall’s magazine, March 1933. Illustration: Jean des Vignes.

Golf. Ben-Hur Baz (later known for his pin-ups) illustrated this golf scene for McCall’s magazine, circa 1930:

Ben Hur Baz ladies' golf illustration in McCall's magazine, spring 1930

McCall 6078 and 6074 in McCall’s magazine, April 1930. Illustration: Ben Hur Baz.

Donna Karan designed these mid-1970s golf separates, hat included, when she was at Anne Klein. You can buy it for your own golfing needs from the PatternVault shop.

1970s Donna Karan for Anne Klein for Penfold golf pattern - Vogue 1415

Vogue 1415 by Donna Karan for Anne Klein x Penfold (ca. 1976) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Roller skating. Simplicity 3890, a World War 2-era skating pattern, includes this roller skating illustration:

1940s roller skating pattern - Simplicity 3890

Simplicity 3890 (ca. 1941) Image via Etsy.

Sailing. This 1930s sailor dress has a contrast collar and big buttons at the side-front closure:

1930s sailor dress pattern - New York 217

New York 217 (ca. 1930s)

Swimming. This chic, cuffed swimsuit (previously featured in my Heat Wave! beachwear post) dates to the late 1940s:

1940s bathing suit pattern - Vogue 6709

Vogue 6709 (1949) Image via Oodles and oodles.

The swimsuit was photographed by Richard Rutledge for Vogue Pattern Book:

1940s Richard Rutledge photograph - Vogue pattern no. 6709

Vogue 6709 in Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

Tennis. The cover of the McCall Quarterly for Spring 1932 has this tennis-themed illustration featuring two dresses by Bruyère:


Bruyère patterns McCall 6804 and 6819 on the cover of McCall Quarterly, Spring 1932. Illustration: Blanche Rothschild.

(For more tennis patterns see my Tennis, Anyone? post.)

Stay tuned for more vintage sports wear… I’ll be looking at a different Pan Am sport and related vintage pattern every day this week.

Go Ask Alice (Patterns)

May 4, 2015 § 7 Comments

Natalia Vodianova as Alice in Annie Leibovitz's 2003 Alice in Wonderland Vogue editorial, styled by Grace Coddington

Natalia Vodianova as Alice in Vogue, December 2003. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Fashion editor: Grace Coddington. Image via HBO.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Liberty London is celebrating with an Alice-inspired Spring/Summer 2015 fabric collection. At the V&A Museum of Childhood, an exhibition on Alice’s influence on fashion, The Alice Look, runs to November 1, 2015, and on Saturday the museum is also hosting a conference, Alice & Fashion. (Read the press release.) The exhibition and conference are part of curator Kiera Vaclavik’s larger research project, Addressing Alice: The Emergence of a Style Icon.

Theo C Tana Lawn cotton by Tamara de Peon - Liberty SS 2015

Theo C Tana Lawn cotton by Tamara de Peon. Image via Liberty London.

Checkmate A Tana Lawn cotton, inspired by an archival 1965 design - Liberty SS 2015

Checkmate A Tana Lawn cotton, inspired by an archival 1965 design. Image via Liberty London.

To celebrate Alice’s 150th, here’s a look at some rarely seen vintage Alice in Wonderland patterns.

This Alice in Wonderland doll pattern with flamingo, McCall 145, dates to 1933:

1930s Alice in Wonderland Doll with Flamingo (Stuffed Doll 19 Inches High) - McCall 145

McCall 145 (1933) Image via eBay.

The costume of the McCall Alice doll seems to refer to Charlotte Henry’s Alice in Paramount’s Alice in Wonderland (1933). According to Vaclavik, the film appears to have “prompted the adoption of the Alice band as hair accessory of choice at hunt balls and wedding processions across Britain” (see her article in the Independent):

Alec B. Francis and Charlotte Henry in Paramount's 1930s Alice in Wonderland

Alice (Charlotte Henry) with the King of Hearts (Alec B. Francis) in Alice in Wonderland (1933). Image: Getty Images via Caren’s Classic Cinema.

Nearly two decades later, Walt Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland (1951) set the image of Alice as we picture her today. Disney licensed two Alice patterns with McCall’s: McCall’s 8626, a girls’ Alice ensemble, and McCall’s 1643, unisex children’s costumes for the Mad Hatter and March Hare. McCall’s 8626 includes a puff-sleeved dress, apron, coverall, and jacket with rabbit-shaped pocket:

1950s Disney Alice sewing pattern - McCall's 8626

McCall’s 8626 (1951) Image via the Vintage Disney Alice blog.

You can see the back of the pattern envelope here.

The Alice pattern was promoted in the August 1951 issue of McCall’s Style News with additional sketches of the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. It’s worth quoting the original description: “Alice-in-Wonderland dress, inspired by Walt Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ motion picture. Not a fancy-dress costume, but a 4-part ensemble to wear any day of the week. Straight-from-Wonderland ruffled apron that can accompany the little puff-sleeved, full-skirted dress everywhere—to school, to church, to parties. For helping Mother around the house, a jumper-like coverall. And to complete the ensemble, a reversible jacket with the ‘White Rabbit’ in pocket form”:

1950s Disney Alice in Wonderland pattern in McCall's Style News leaflet - McCall's 8626

“Alice in Wonderland” Dress – McCall’s 8626 in McCall’s Style News, August 1951.

This photo from McCall’s Pattern Book shows the March Hare costume and Alice outfit made up:

Alice in Wonderland costume patterns in McCall's Pattern Book, Fall 1951

Alice in Wonderland costume patterns in McCall’s Pattern Book, Fall 1951. Image: Wade Laboissonniere, Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s (Schiffer, 1999).

It’s interesting that the 1950s Alice pattern isn’t a costume pattern, but a set of pieces for everyday wear. The pattern adds ruffles to the pinafore, but is otherwise close to Disney’s animated Alice, whose style was based on Mary Blair’s concept art:

Alice in Wonderland concept artwork by Mary Blair - Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair

Alice in Wonderland concept artwork by Mary Blair. Image: Walt Disney Family Foundation.

For more on McCall’s 1950s Disney Alice patterns, including a minikin display version, see the Vintage Disney Alice blog.

Happy anniversary, Alice!

Lanvin at 125: Jeanne Lanvin

December 30, 2014 § 14 Comments

Lanvin 125: 1889-2014

Lanvin anniversary logo. Image via WWD.

Lanvin celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. Founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin, the house marked the occasion with an extensive look into its archives on InstagramPinterest, Facebook, and the new Lanvin Heritage website. (See WWD’s article here.) In 2015, Paris’ Palais Galliera will host a major exhibition devoted to Jeanne Lanvin.

1920s Lanvin hand embroidery

Lanvin hand embroidery, ca. 1925. Image via Instagram.

Commercial sewing patterns based on Lanvin originals were produced between the 1920s and the 1970s. Four head designers presided over the house during that period; I’ll be devoting a post to each designer.

The interwar Lanvin designs available as sewing patterns are by Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946), who was known for her romantic, youthful dresses with couture embellishment, particularly her robe de style, a full-skirted alternative to the 1920s tubular silhouette.

Lanvin label, été 1926, from a robe de style at The Costume Institute

Lanvin label, 1926. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


From McCall’s earliest couture patterns, this robe de style with a big bow at the waist and skirt with beaded appliqués was modelled by film star Hope Hampton:

Hope Hampton wears a 1920s Lanvin evening dress, McCall 3935, in McCall Style News January 1925

Hope Hampton in Lanvin, McCall Style News, January 1925.

A version of this dress is in the collection of The Costume Institute:

Lanvin robe de style, Fall/Winter 1924-25 in the collection of The Costume Institute

Lanvin robe de style, Fall/Winter 1924-25. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McCall 4856 is a short evening or afternoon dress with sheer overlay. The version on the right is in Lanvin blue:

Illustrations of a 1920s Lanvin dress pattern - McCall 4856

Illustrations in McCall Quarterly, Summer 1927. Images courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

(McCall’s also sold transfer patterns for beading and embroidery; the catalogue illustrations show nos. 1558 and 1388.)

This simple double-breasted coat from Pictorial Review was adapted from a Lanvin design:

1920s Lanvin adaptation coat pattern - Pictorial Review 3978

Pictorial Review 3978 adapted from Lanvin (1927). Image via vintage4me2.

Pictorial Review’s catalogue illustration shows the coat with contrast lapels and fur cuffs and collar:

Illustration of Pictorial Review 3978 coat adapted from Lanvin in a 1920s pattern catalogue

Illustration from Pictorial Fashion Book, Winter 1927-28. Image via vintage4me2.

Trim is an important feature of this Lanvin day dress, which is shown in my 1929 Paris Pattern leaflet (available in PDF from my Etsy shop):

1920s Lanvin dress pattern - Paris Pattern 1122

Paris Pattern 1122 by Lanvin (1929)


McCall 7711 is a day dress with drape-necked bodice and bow-trimmed sleeves. View A, with long sleeves and contrast bodice, has topstitched sleeves and belt that are characteristic of 1930s Lanvin:

1930s Lanvin dress pattern - McCall 7711

McCall 7711 by Lanvin (1934) Image via VPLL on Pinterest.

Here’s the illustration from McCall’s Advanced Paris Styles catalogue:

Lanvin illustration in McCall Advanced Paris Styles, March 1934

Illustration by Blanche Rothschild in McCall Advanced Paris Styles, March 1934. Image via vintage4me2 on eBay.

In late 1934, McCall and Pictorial Review both produced versions of the same Lanvin afternoon dress: a slim, full-sleeved gown with back cutouts. A reproduction of the McCall version is available from Past Patterns:

1930s Lanvin afternoon dress pattern - McCall 7959

McCall 7959 by Lanvin (1934) Image via Petite Main on Pinterest.

In Blanche Rothschild’s illustration for McCall’s magazine, the dress is shown with McCall 7954 by Georgette Renal:

"Afternoons this Autumn," illustration showing dresses by Lanvin and Renal, McCall's magazine, September 1934

Illustration by Blanche Rothschild, McCall’s magazine, September 1934. Image via Vintage123.

The text for McCall 7959 reads, “Lanvin’s long skirted afternoon dress has a new feeling of formality. The back of the bodice is suspended in folds from a cross shoulder band, slit in triangles to expose the back. Raglan sleeves provide material contrast. The skirt spreads, bell shape, into a hesitation hem.”

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library has a reproduction of the Pictorial Review adaptation of the dress, Pictorial Review 7363:

1930s Lanvin-adapted evening gown pattern - Pictorial Review 7363

Pictorial Review 7363 adapted from Lanvin (1934). Image via VPLL on Pinterest.

Here’s an illustration of the Pictorial Review adaptation from the Winter 1934 catalogue:

Illustration of a Lanvin-adapted evening dress pattern Pictorial Review 7363 in a 1930s pattern catalogue

Illustration from the Pictorial Fashion Book, Winter 1934-35.

McCall 8591 (previously featured in my goddess gowns post) is a glamourous evening dress with pleated shoulder draperies. This illustration is from the McCall catalogue:

Illustration of Lanvin evening gown McCall 8591 in a 1930s McCall pattern catalogue

McCall 8591 by Lanvin (1936) Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

Marian Blynn illustrated McCall 8591 for McCall’s magazine (the other gown is by Ardanse):

Marian Blynn illustration of couturier evening patterns McCall 8591 and 8597 in 1930s McCall's magazine

Illustration in McCall’s magazine, January 1936. Illustrator: Marian Blynn. Image via eBay.

The caption reads: “Long scarfs, drifting down from the shoulders, are used by Lanvin. The scarf dress here is hers, and when you dance it is supposed to make you look as though you were floating. These scarfs are also worn wound once around the arm.”

Just for fun, here are two photos by Horst P. Horst and Albert Harlingue showing Lanvin designs from the 1930s:

Model wearing lame draped cowlneck blouse with rolls like corrugated pipe around deep armholes by Lanvin, and black skirt, holding vanity case by Boucheron

Lamé blouse by Lanvin, ca. 1934. Photo: Horst P. Horst. Image via Corbis.

Jeanne Lanvin with model, ca. 1930s, photographed by Albert Harlingue

Jeanne Lanvin with model, ca. 1930s. Photo: Albert Harlingue. Image: Roger-Viollet via Catwalk Yourself.

Next in the series: Marie-Blanche de Polignac’s early Vogue Paris Originals.

Happy New Year, everyone!

1930s Children’s Coat – Pictorial Review 6128

March 10, 2014 § 12 Comments

30s coat pocket

1930s child’s coat detail — Pictorial Review 6128.

I made our little niece a vintage ’30s coat as a Hannukah gift. For the pattern I used Pictorial Review 6128, a double-breasted coat with optional back belt and pockets.

1930s child's coat pattern - Pictorial Review 6128

Pictorial Review 6128 (1932) Child’s Coat.

Here’s the diagram and description from the envelope back. It’s a unisex coat for small children, and was available only in sizes 1 to 6:

Envelope back with technical drawing of 1930s child's coat - Pictorial Review 6128. Child's coat. Snug, sturdy and comfortable is this little double-breasted coat with straight fronts and a belted back. The fronts may be worn closed to the neck or rolled to form revers. Belt and inserted pockets are optional.

Technical drawing and description, Pictorial Review 6128 (1932)

The recommended fabrics were flannel, camel’s hair, piqué, velveteen, cheviot, and serge. We had a length of purple Woolrich tweed that felt the right weight for a coat. (Established in 1830, Woolrich is North America’s oldest woolen mill. Today, Woolrich tweed is a wool-nylon blend for durability.) I cut some leather trim for the welt pockets from an old pair of leather gloves, and my modest button stash yielded a set of one-inch vintage Civil Defence buttons for the front and belt.

Since the pattern is the old die-cut type and needed no alterations, I tried cutting using the original tissue pieces held down with weights.

I’m new to tailoring (and coat-making), so throughout the process I referred to Paco Peralta’s tailoring tutorial and my 1970s Vogue Sewing Book on tailoring techniques. The coat collar gave me the opportunity to try out pad stitching. The pattern even gave instructions; the undercollar is to be interfaced with muslin and pad stitched, with the collar stand first worked with a running stitch:

1930s instruction diagrams for undercollar - Pictorial Review 6128

Instruction diagrams for undercollar – Pictorial Review 6128

Here are some progress photos of the pad stitched undercollar:



This is the undercollar attached to the coat body:

30s coat collar

Pad stitched undercollar on Pictorial Review 6128

You could call my approach to the coat half-tailored—somewhere between the pattern’s Depression-era muslin collar interlining and modern tailoring’s padstitched hair canvas interfacing, all catch-stitched along the seam lines. As a compromise between vintage and modern methods I used a sew-in interfacing on coat facings, belt, and pocket welts. (None was called for in the pattern.) To handle the heavy tweed, I had no tailor’s clapper, so I pounded the steamed seams and edges with a small cedar block we had on hand. Paco’s tip of making a few stitches across lapel corners worked wonders for my first-ever lapels.

I bagged the lining and added handworked keyhole buttonholes—fanned at one end, with a bar tack at the other. Partway through making the coat we decided against the convertible collar, so I omitted the lapel buttonholes. (As with many vintage patterns, there were no button/buttonhole markings.) It was my first stab at handworked buttonholes on heavy fabric; I love how the hand stitches create an edge that curves out to the ridge of knots that lines the buttonhole opening.

Here are some photos of the finished coat:



I think of Civil Defence buttons as ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ buttons since the font and crown are similar to those on the WW2 propaganda poster originally produced by Britain’s Ministry of Information. (More on the Keep Calm font here.) Some closeup views of the buttons and buttonholes:



And the little back belt:


Our loft’s walls have some mysterious industrial hardware that proved useful in showing the scale of the coat:



Cutting straight from a die-cut pattern was an interesting experience, but I still prefer printed or traced tissue for cutting and marking. An oft-cited drawback of unprinted patterns is that the notches and other markings don’t always line up. This was true of the coat pattern, but it wasn’t hard to correct.

It’s always a pleasure working with wool, and I really enjoyed the challenge of trying out tailoring with a heavy fabric. The finished coat is something our niece will grow into, especially in the shoulders. But she does love the pockets! I see more coat-making in our future…

(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)


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