Schiaparelli Patterns, Part 2

March 5, 2014 § 13 Comments

Vogue 15 Nov 49_a

Paris Originals by Schiaparelli (left) and Jacques Heim (right). Vogue, November 15, 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

This week, the second part of my series on commercial sewing patterns by Elsa Schiaparelli. (See Part 1 here.)

Schiaparelli was one of the eight couturiers who licensed designs for the first Vogue Paris Originals in 1949. Vogue’s first Schiaparelli pattern was a skirt suit with double pockets and one-sleeved blouse, Vogue 1051:

1940s Schiaparelli suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1051

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli (1949) Image via the Blue Gardenia blog.

The suit was photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin:

Vogue 1 Mar 1949 Schiaparelli

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, March 1, 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

The photo that opens this post shows Vogue 1074, a Schiaparelli dress and shortcoat from Vogue’s fourth series of Paris Originals. The original coat was lined with astrakhan. (The suit on the right is Vogue 1076 by Jacques Heim.)

1940s Schiaparelli coat and dress pattern - Vogue 1074

Vogue 1074 by Schiaparelli (1949) Image via Pinterest.

New Look curves characterize this Schiaparelli suit pattern from spring, 1950, which was photographed in Paris by Norman Parkinson. The short-sleeved jacket has rounded, stiffened hips, while the kimono-sleeved blouse buttons its curved fronts to one side. Vogue recommends making the blouse from the suit’s lining fabric:

1950s Schiaparelli suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1098

Vogue 1098 by Schiaparelli (1950) Image via eBay. Photo: Norman Parkinson.

Vogue 1133 is a vampy, short-sleeved dress with hip-enhancing pocket flaps and convertible collar at both front and back:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1133

Vogue 1133 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via eBay.

Arik Nepo’s photograph plays up the dress’ severity:

Vogue 1133 15Feb1951

Vogue 1133 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, February 15, 1951. Photo: Arik Nepo.

Vogue 1142 is a faux suit, an asymmetrical dress with a skirt front extension that creates the illusion of a jacket on one side. (Much like Galliano’s Givenchy jumpsuit, Vogue 1887.) The shaped projections of the big, rounded collar, skirt extension, and off-kilter double-breasted closure playfully destabilize the garment:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1148

Vogue 1148 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Schiaparelli evening dress pattern, Vogue 1144, includes a petticoat and diaphanous kerchief. Look closely, and you can see that the oversized, decorative pockets extend almost the length of the skirt:

Vogue 1144 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s a closer look at Henry Clarke’s photo:

Vogue 1144 15 May 1951

Vogue 1144 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, May 15, 1951. Photo: Henry Clarke.

In 1952 Schiaparelli showed inverted heart necklines for spring; with its pointed, stand-away neckline and narrow shawl collar, Vogue 1179 allowed the home dressmaker to be right up to date. The cocktail dress closes with not one but two side zippers:

Vogue 1179 (1952)

Vogue 1179 by Schiaparelli (1952) Image via eBay.

Vogue magazine showed an alternate photo by Robert Randall:

Vogue 1179 15May1952

Vogue 1179 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, May 15, 1952. Photo: Robert Randall.

Frances McLaughlin photographed Bettina in Vogue 1198, a short evening dress with what Vogue called “a big pleated bandage—like an outside order ribbon” wrapping over one shoulder and around the waist. The original was made in black silk brocade:

Vogue 1198 15 Oct 1952

Vogue 1198 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, October 15, 1952. Model: Bettina. Photo: Frances McLaughlin.

Here’s a catalogue page for Vogue 1198, with illustration and alternate photo:

Vogue 1198 catalogue

Vogue 1198 in a 1950s Vogue Patterns counter catalogue.

Vogue 1231 is a day dress with a single patch pocket and bloused bodice gathered to a dramatic convertible collar:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1231

Vogue 1231 by Schiaparelli (1953) Image via Betsy Vintage.

The dress was photographed in Paris by Robert Randall:

Vogue 1231 15Aug1953

Vogue 1231 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, August 15, 1953. Photo: Robert Randall.

Finally, Vogue 1245 is a long evening dress with an attached stole that passes through the bodice front:

Drawing showing details of Schiaparelli evening dress pattern - Vogue 1245

Illustration for Vogue 1245 by Schiaparelli (1954)

The stunning gown was photographed by Roger Prigent:

Vogue 1245 1Jan1954

Vogue 1245 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, January 1, 1954. Photo: Roger Prigent.

If you don’t have the budget for an original Schiaparelli pattern, a reproduction of the one-sleeved stole from Vogue 1068 is available from Decades of Style:

Vogue 1068 by Schiaparelli. Sketch by David

Vogue 1068 by Schiaparelli. Sketch by David, Vogue, August 1, 1949.

Rosie the Riveter, 1942

September 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

Rosie the Riveter on the cover of McCall's magazine, September 1942

McCall’s magazine, September 1942. Image via Envisioning the American Dream.

During World War 2, women engaged in wartime work could choose from a variety of sewing patterns for work wear. The array of coveralls available included the mechanic suit, a close cousin to the siren suit or air raid suit (see my earlier post here). This 1942 pattern from Simplicity shows a khaki version paired with a garrison cap:

1940s WW2 military coverall pattern - Simplicity 4104 (1942)

Simplicity 4104 (1942) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

(You can see a contemporary photo of View 1 at Unsung Sewing Patterns.)

Happy Labour Day, everyone!

There’s a War On: Weldons So-Easy Patterns

January 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

Bomb with lipstick kiss in Bomb Girls' munitions factory - Jumping Tracks

Bomb Girls is back. For me, much of the show’s interest lies in its portrayal of women’s wartime fashions, both on and off the factory floor. One line of sewing patterns that I associate specifically with the Second World War is Weldons So-Easy patterns.

1940s Weldons So-Easy 34 - English coat pattern

Weldons So-Easy 34 (c. 1940) Two smart coats. Image via Vera Venus.

Founded in 1879, Weldon’s was England’s first major pattern company. The So-Easy line seems to have been introduced during World War 2. Weldons So-Easy patterns included a range of designs, from day wear to toys; the earlier women’s So-Easy designs tended to be available in only three sizes.

So-Easy patterns don’t bear copyright dates, but some include the war rationing notice, “Professional dressmakers are reminded that they must comply with the Making of Civilian Clothing (Restriction) Orders.” These measures were passed in 1942-43. (For the text and discussion see Cargo Cult Craft’s posts.) According to U.K. vintage dealer Tracy of Wickedlady Collectables, Weldons did not promote So-Easy patterns in their magazine, but the mention of purchase tax, introduced in late 1940, can also help with dating.

One thing that distinguishes wartime So-Easy patterns is their pinup-style illustrations straight out of Mrs Henderson Presents. Here is a selection of World War 2 Weldons So-Easy patterns, with an emphasis on lingerie.

This ‘Pretty Undies’ set includes a brassiere, full slip, and knickers with pointed yoke:

1940s British lingerie pattern, Weldons So-Easy 50

Weldons So-Easy 50 (c. 1942) Pretty undies. Image via Vintage British Style.

These ‘Slim Line Undies’—a full slip and knickers—are held in the National Trust Collections:

1940s British lingerie pattern for slips and knickers, Weldons So-Easy 64

Weldons So-Easy 64 (c. 1942) Slim-line undies. Image via eBay.

These ‘Simple Undies’ include a nightgown and slip with seam interest:

Weldons So-Easy 72 (c. 1942) Simple undies. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This pattern includes a bra and knickers in two styles, French and Directoire (bloomers), the last with interesting details:

Weldons So-Easy 85

Weldons So-Easy 85 (c. 1942) Brassière and two knickers.

This two-piece bathing suit with skirt was available in four sizes:

Weldons So-Easy 154

Weldons So-Easy 154 (c. 1943) Two-piece bathing suit and skirt. Image via eBay.

My personal favourite must be the Two-Way Siren Suit, an air raid coverall with options for a hood and gathered ankles:

Weldons So-Easy 19 (c. 1940) Two-way siren suit. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

For fans of Bomb Girls, which films in the Toronto area, it’s possible to visit some of the locations for the show. Victory Munitions and other sets were built in an old furniture factory in Etobicoke, while street scenes were shot in Hamilton. The Witham mansion is Oshawa’s Parkwood estate, the former home of General Motors founder R.S. McLaughlin. (Read an interview with the cinematographer here; download production notes here.)

How Do You Take Your Vintage Vogue?

December 31, 2011 § 5 Comments

This Christmas, while browsing my mother’s back issues of Vogue Patterns magazine, I was interested to see how the Vintage Vogue pattern line has evolved since its launch in 1998. Two repro patterns that were made up more than once for the magazine’s editorials are especially revealing of Vogue Patterns’ choices in promoting its vintage line. A look at the magazine’s different versions of these patterns seems the perfect opportunity for end-of-year reflection on different approaches to sewing—and wearing—vintage.

Vogue 2241, an early 1930s evening gown pattern, has been made up twice for the magazine. (See the pattern on flickr here.) This pattern is one of the earliest Vintage Vogues: it was released soon after the initial batch, which was photographed in black and white for the September/October 1998 issue.

The 1998 holiday issue’s “Vintage Vogue: Past Perfect” feature shows two evening designs, one Fifties, one Thirties, with an old-fashioned dressing screen. The headline promotes the ‘romance’ and timelessness of vintage, and the accompanying copy relates both designs to the “spare, romantic elegance of modern eveningwear,” but the shoot’s dress-up concept makes the garments look static and costumey. Here’s the first Vintage Vogue 2241, in washed silk charmeuse:

Vogue 2241 Vogue Patterns November/December 1998

Vogue 2241 (1931 reissue) in Vogue Patterns, November/December 1998.

Six years later, the same design was remade for another holiday editorial, this one called “Vintage Nights.” This shoot features lush ‘vintage’ set design, with the model conveying a glamorous hauteur. The emphasis is more on dramatic style and interpretation: the headline reads, “Relive the glamour of a bygone era. Dressing for evening takes a cue from the past in Vintage Vogue.” Here’s the second Vogue 2241, this time in sueded silk charmeuse:

Vogue 2241 Vintage Nights Vogue Patterns December 2004/January 2005

Vogue 2241 in Vogue Patterns, December 2004/January 2005.

The second Vintage Vogue pattern, Vogue 2787, a Forties reproduction, is still in print. For its initial release in spring 2004, Vogue 2787 was made up in two versions, a printed and a solid silk charmeuse, each paired with a retro hat and gloves. The pattern was released with another Forties design, and the editorial gives a fairly direct rendition of Forties glamour; as the headline says, “Forties and still fabulous—take it from us, classic couture gets better with age.” Here are the first two versions of Vogue 2787:

Vintage Vogue Vogue Patterns April/May 2004

Vogue 2787 (1948 reissue) in Vogue Patterns, April/May 2004.

Vogue 2787 photo Vogue Patterns April/May 2004

Vogue 2787 in Vogue Patterns, April/May 2004.

A few years later, Vogue 2787 reappeared in a garden party-themed editorial of Forties and Fifties designs called “Well Cultivated Vintage Vogue.” (The cover shows a Fifties top from the same shoot.) The headline promotes the designs’ freshness and timelessness: “Firmly rooted in the elegance of the past, these perennial beauties make a perfect pick for today.” Vogue 2787’s next incarnation was made up in silk crepe de chine in a pink-dotted print:

Vogue 2787 Well Cultivated Vintage Vogue April/May 2007

Vogue 2787 in Vogue Patterns, April/May 2007.

And just this fall, Vogue 2787 opened a feature called “Beyond Vintage,” in which Vogue Patterns’ staff adapted and modernized their reissued patterns. Creative Director Jelena Bogavac updated the Forties dress by raising the hemline and altering both sleeves for an asymmetrical bodice. Here it is in iridescent green and pink velvet:

Vogue 2787 Beyond Vintage October/November 2011

Vogue 2787 in Vogue Patterns, October/November 2011.

Has our thinking about vintage changed since the ’90s? When the two reissued patterns first came out, their straight period styling was appealing enough for me to get them both. Today I prefer the interpretation of the “Vintage Nights” shoot, and the updating and play of the fall vintage feature.

If you sew vintage, do you make it straight up, or with a twist? Do you adapt your style to accommodate vintage pieces, or make vintage adapt to you?


In case you missed it, I’m We Sew Retro’s featured member for December—you can see my interview here.

All the best for 2012!

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