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.

1920s

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)

1930s

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!

Third Blogiversary + Giveaway

July 11, 2014 § 36 Comments

1930s Vogue Patterns booklet, December 15, 1931

Vogue Patterns booklet, December 15, 1931. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Today marks three years since my first post on this blog. To celebrate my blogiversary I’m throwing a giveaway: one lucky reader will win 5 instant downloads from the PatternVault Etsy shop.

1930s T. Eaton Co. Paris and Style Patterns booklet showing Augustabernard pattern 2311

Paris and Style Patterns booklet, June 1934. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

To enter, leave a comment mentioning what you’d like to see more of on the blog. The giveaway closes Monday, July 14th at midnight EDT. The winner will be chosen at random and announced this Tuesday, July 15th.

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:

30sCoatPadstitching_a

30scoatcollar_a

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:

30schildcoat

30schildcoat_detail

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:

30schildcoat_buttons1

30schildcoat_buttons2

And the little back belt:

30schildcoat_backdetail

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

30schildcoat_side

30schildcoat+friend

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.)

30schildcoat_back

Schiaparelli Patterns, Part 1

January 22, 2014 § 10 Comments

Guinevere Van Seenus in vintage 1930s Schiaparelli, Vogue, May 2012. Photo: Steven Meisel. Image via vogue.com.

Guinevere Van Seenus in vintage 1930s Schiaparelli, Vogue, May 2012. Photo: Steven Meisel. Image via vogue.com.

Have you heard? The house of Schiaparelli, founded by the legendary Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and dormant since 1954, has been revived.

Schiaparelli label, summer 1938 - 21 place vendôme Paris

Schiaparelli label, 1938. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Last year Christian Lacroix presented a one-off couture collection for the house, and this week the new head designer, Marco Zanini, presented his first Schiaparelli collection at the Paris couture. (See the Spring 2014 collection on style.com, or read W’s coverage of Zanini’s appointment here.)

Christian Lacroix sketch for his Schiaparelli collection

Christian Lacroix sketch for his Schiaparelli collection. Image via WWD.

Stella Tennant in Schiaparelli by Marco Zanini, 2014

The opening look in Marco Zanini’s debut collection for Schiaparelli. Model: Stella Tennant. Image via style.com.

The high-profile revival follows the Costume Institute’s major 2012 exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations (see my earlier post here). And, timed to coincide with couture week, an auction of Schiaparelli’s personal collection takes place Thursday at Christie’s Paris:

Schiaparelli Christies

Collection personnelle d’Elsa Schiaparelli. Image via Christie’s.

Many of you will be aware of Schiaparelli’s licensed sewing patterns, since she was among the first designers of Vogue Paris Originals. There were also Schiaparelli knitting patterns. If you knit, you can download a free pattern for Schiaparelli’s 1927 Bowknot sweater, updated by Lisa Stockebrand (Ravelry page here):

Douglas Pollard illustration of Schiaparelli's bowknot sweater, Vogue, December 1927

Bowknot sweater by Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, December 15, 1927. Illustration: Douglas Pollard.

Like Vionnet, Schiaparelli also saw commercial sewing patterns for her designs in the interwar period, released by companies including the McCall Pattern Company, Pictorial Review, and the Paris Pattern Company. Here is a selection of early Schiaparelli patterns.

This McCall pattern is the earliest Schiaparelli pattern I’ve seen. Dating to the autumn of 1929, it’s a pattern for a blouse, skirt, and coat with angled pockets. It was still shown in a 1930 catalogue:

1920s Schiaparelli pattern - McCall 5839

McCall 5839 by Schiaparelli in the McCall catalogue, 1930. Image via echopoint.

Here is the illustration of McCall 5839 in McCall’s magazine:

1920s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - McCall 5839

McCall 5839 by Schiaparelli. McCall’s magazine, October 1929. Illustration: Blanche Rothschild.

This Schiaparelli pattern from the Paris Pattern Company has some unusual details. The wrap skirt buttons diagonally across the hips and has two slits through which the blouse’s attached scarf can pass, for a suspender effect:

Paris 1647

Paris Pattern 1647 by Schiaparelli (c. 1931)

McCall 6981 is a three-piece suit consisting of a jacket, cropped pussy-bow blouse, and sleeveless, bias dress:

1930s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - McCall 6981

McCall 6981 by Schiaparelli (1932)

Here’s an illustration of this design (centre, no. 14) in the summer 1932 issue of McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly. Elsewhere it calls McCall 6981 a “trick” ensemble, since the blouse and jacket disguise a dress suitable for tennis:

McCallBiMonthlyJulAug1932

McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly, July/August 1932. Image via carbonated on flickr.

This Benito illustration for Vogue shows a similar Schiaparelli ensemble, worn with a tomato red Sicilian cap:

1930s Eduardo García Benito illustration: Schiaparelli beige suit, blue blouse and Sicilian cap; pink jacket and brown skirt.

Schiaparelli beige suit, blue blouse and Sicilian cap; pink jacket and brown skirt, Vogue, May 1, 1932. Illustration: Eduardo García Benito. Image via Corbis.

This Pictorial Review Schiaparelli adaptation dates to late 1933. The dress has interesting details like shoulder flanges, diagonal waist darts, and inverted darts radiating from the neckline:

1930s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Pictorial Review 6764

Pictorial Review 6764 adapted from Schiaparelli (c. 1933) Image via Best Vintage Patterns.

Here’s the catalogue illustration for Pictorial Review 6764:

Illustration of Pictorial Review 6764 adapted from Schiaparelli

Illustration of Pictorial Review 6764 (c. 1933) Image via Best Vintage Patterns.

Paris Pattern 2286, illustrated in my 1934 Paris and Style Patterns booklet, is a jaunty ensemble consisting of a coat, skirt, and jacket blouse. The description reads, “A superb town and country suit. Just the thing for that week end vacation. Top coat can be worn over any dress. The skirt and jacket blouse make an ideal spectator costume”:

1930s Paris Pattern by Schiaparelli

Paris Pattern 2286 by Schiaparelli. Paris and Style Patterns leaflet, June 1934.

Also in this leaflet is the Schiaparelli dress and capelet ensemble available as a reproduction from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. The dress has shoulder yokes, puffed sleeves, and a skirt with pointed set-in panels and pair of buttons at the waist; the matching capelet is trimmed with pleating and buttons to the skirt front. Thanks to owner Deirdre Duggan for providing a scan of the envelope:

1930s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - Paris Pattern 2301

Paris Pattern 2301 by Schiaparelli (c. 1934) Image courtesy of the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

Finally, from McCall’s, this Schiaparelli dinner dress in two lengths dates to winter 1936-37. The bodice back extends into sleeves that are gathered into a heart-shaped bodice:

1930s Schiaparelli dinner dress pattern - McCall 9076

McCall 9076 by Schiaparelli (1936) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The pattern is illustrated in the January 1937 issue of McCall’s magazine, which made much of the new, street-length hemline:

McCall Jan1937 Schiap

McCall’s magazine, January 1937. Image via eBay.

Schiaparelli patterns from between the wars tend to lack the surrealist touches we associate with the designer, since many of these were based on couture embellishment, accessories, or notions. (Cricket buttons, anyone?) I remember reading a contemporary 1930s article that said Schiaparelli pieces were so simple, they were too easy to copy. Today one might say it’s her brand of dynamic severity that makes her clothes seem so modern.

Bonus: The Art Deco Society of California has posted instructions for Schiaparelli’s “Mad Cap” (via What Would Nancy Drew Wear?).

Next: Schiaparelli’s postwar Vogue Paris Originals.

Surrealist Summer, 1939

June 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

On the cover of the McCall Style News for July 1939:

Illustration of headless mannequins catching butterflies - late 1930s McCall Style News

McCall Style News, July 1939.

(The illustration shows McCall 3319, a set of boleros.)

Mirror, Mirror

January 10, 2013 § 4 Comments

Edwardian lady reflected in a mirror - McCall 1909 ad illustration detail

Happy New Year, everyone! This year I look forward to sharing more of my original pattern research and sewing projects, including my ’40s cape, an over-the-top ’70s Dior, and two by Alexander McQueen. For the moment I’ve been temporarily sucked back into academia, so my first post of 2013 is an images post.

Advertising for home sewing often involves women and mirror images. Promotional illustrations will show a woman standing before a mirror, or contemplating her reflection, as on these leaflets from Butterick and McCall:

Illustration of a woman in evening dress before a mirror - 1930s Butterick Fashion News cover

Butterick Fashion News, December 1936. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

A woman in a coat with leopard trim contemplates her reflection - 1940 McCall Style News cover

McCall Style News, September 1940. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

An Edwardian McCall’s ad shows an interesting variation: the mirror reflects a fashion plate, the idealized, well-dressed woman the dressmaker will become through her labour. The slogan spells out the idea of wish-fulfilment, promising the home dressmaker that she can “realize her dreams” with McCall’s patterns:

McCall1909slogan

The fashion plate also serves to promote a McCall’s pattern. Here is the full illustration:

McCall 1909 image of woman in mirror

Detail, advertisement for McCall’s magazine, 1909.

I know this isn’t the only sewing ad I’ve seen based on this concept. Can you think of others?

In other news, PatternVault is now on Twitter! Follow me for updates on the blog, shop, and vintage and designer fashion.

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