September 30, 2014 § 9 Comments
The playsuit bodice and shorts are pleated into a pointed, one-piece midriff band, and the whole thing closes at the front with a zipper and buttons. I love the shaped side vents on the shorts.
I used a black glitter stretch knit from my stash, found at Fabricland’s old downtown location. The pattern needed extensive resizing. Due to the mid-1970s unofficial sizing change (thanks to Peter for drawing my attention to this) the 10 was fine on top. (That’s my copy on the wiki.) I added some ease to the midriff band and adjusted the bodice and shorts to match up to it. I also lengthened the rise, added to the crotch length, and slashed to add some room in the hips. Yes, it’s a stretch knit, but I was trying to be faithful to the ease of the original.
This was my first time sewing a McCall’s “Carefree” pattern, and I found the instructions involved a little guesswork. I have also made up a ’70s Vogue pattern with similar design elements—midriff band, pleated dirndl skirt—and can vouch for Vogue’s more extensive markings and instructions. The McCall’s didn’t even have markings for the buttonholes. I carefully followed Vogue Sewing Book’s buttonhole instructions, but I suspect I made them too big. Perhaps vertical buttonholes would solve the problem?
If I were to make the playsuit again, I would add markings to the midriff piece to help line up the side seams etc., and also ease stitch across all the pleats (rather than just hand basting) to keep everything in place. The instructions say to finish the shorts with a narrow hem; I couldn’t see that working with my knit and the shaped side vents, so I did my best to mimic a serger finish (zigzag, trim, topstitch) and pressed the sides into relative submission. If I were making it again I would use fusible stay tape.
The sparkle only shows up close:
Here’s a view of the back pleats:
The playsuit is so strappy, short, and unstructured that it falls more into the realm of loungewear. It’s a bit more practical when worn with a coverup.
(Sandals: Gareth Pugh for Melissa)
(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)
June 17, 2014 § 5 Comments
Ascot begins today. To celebrate, this post is dedicated to commercial patterns by the late milliner to the Queen, Frederick Fox.
(Last year I featured a free pattern for a Stephen Jones hat; see it here.)
Born in Australia to a large family, Frederick Fox (1931-2013) showed an early interest in millinery, refashioning hats for his mother and five sisters in rural New South Wales. After training with several milliners in Sydney, in 1958 he moved to London. By 1964, Fox had taken over Langée to open his own salon.
Fox’s royal commission for Queen Elizabeth II grew out of his work with Hardy Amies in the mid-1960s. Shortly before this commission began, he designed the white leather crash helmets in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Fox was known for his witty designs, made with fine materials and great technical skill; he is credited with inventing the fascinator. (For more on Frederick Fox, see the recent D*Hub article and Stephen Jones’ reminiscence for British Vogue.)
In the mid- to late 1980s, Frederick Fox millinery patterns were available from Style Patterns. Frederick Fox patterns display the Royal Warrant,* which he held from 1974 until his retirement in 2002.
Style 4788 is a pattern for bridal headpieces and veils. Included are both double- and single-layered veils, attached to three bases: a rose circlet edged with Russian braid, a beaded Juliet cap, and a twisted fabric headband. (The rose circlet may be worn alone.) View 1 was photographed with Style 4787, a bridal gown by Murray Arbeid, Fox’s companion of over 50 years:
Style 1072 is a pattern for a set of hats, including a beret, a turban, and a turban headband:
Do you remember the ’80s hair ornament trend? Style 1157 is a pattern for a set of hair ornaments: a rosette with attached veil, a hair slide with large or small bow in 2 fabrics; and a headband with 2-fabric bow with optional diamante trim:
Style 1249 is a unusual for offering a set of bridal hats: a hat with attached veil and narrow brim turned up at the back, and two wide-brimmed, crownless hats (both attached to headbands):
The original owner of my copy of Style 1249 had enclosed magazine pages showing these bridal designs; the text reads, “Head Turners: Hats for that special day by Frederick Fox exclusively for Style.” It may be that, like McCall’s designer patterns in the 1950s, these hats, veils, and headpieces were designed especially for Style Patterns.
* The Queen’s current milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan is the only milliner on the current list of warrant holders.
June 15, 2014 § 5 Comments
It’s been some time since Vogue offered designer menswear patterns. In the 1970s and 1980s, home sewers could choose from licensed designs for everything from men’s shirts to outerwear and three-piece suits. In celebration of Father’s Day, here’s a selection of vintage menswear patterns from Vogue Patterns.
Vogue introduced designer menswear patterns in the early 1970s with designs by Bill Blass and Pierre Cardin. From Cardin, Vogue 2918 is a double-breasted coat in two lengths:
1975 saw the release of some his-and-hers Valentino patterns. Vogue 1180, a men’s jacket and pants pattern, was photographed with a women’s Valentino ensemble, Vogue 1178:
Polo by Ralph Lauren was introduced to Vogue customers in the summer of 1975. The safari-style Vogue 1237 and 1238 were photographed in India:
Also by Polo Ralph Lauren, Vogue 1581 is a double-breasted trench coat with detachable lining:
This Christian Dior shirt-jacket and pants is the only men’s Dior pattern I’ve seen:
This snappy three-piece suit is by Bill Blass:
There were two menswear patterns by Yves Saint Laurent: safari suits photographed by Chris von Wangenheim (see Paco’s related post here):
Givenchy licensed a trim three-piece suit, Vogue 2112:
In 1979 the company released a trio of menswear patterns by Calvin Klein—separate patterns for a shirt, jacket, and pants. Vogue 2256 is a pattern for slim, tapered men’s pants; view B is low-rise and flat-front:
The menswear releases tapered off in the 1980s. 1980 saw the release of two Bill Blass men’s patterns, for a three-piece suit and close-fitting shirt:
In 1988 Vogue released three menswear patterns by Perry Ellis, for a jacket, shirt, and pants. Vogue 2207 is a loose-fitting jacket:
Just for fun, I’ll close with this Pierre Cardin robe and pajamas, which included a logo appliqué:
With menswear sales catching up with womenswear, perhaps Vogue Patterns will capitalize on this trend by restoring menswear to its designer licensing. I’d be first in line for a Saint Laurent pattern…
Happy Father’s Day!
May 5, 2014 § 5 Comments
As part of its current exhibition, Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is sharing a pattern for a one-seam coat designed by Patrick Kelly in 1984. (See my post on Patrick Kelly’s Vogue patterns here.)
After Kelly moved to Paris in 1979, he worked as a costume designer for Le Palace nightclub while also selling his coats on the sidewalk of the Boulevard Saint-Germain. When he secured a stall at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, the famous Porte de Clignancourt flea market, his raw-edged jersey tube dresses caught the attention of his first backer, Françoise Chassagnac of Victoire. Thanks to Chassagnac’s connections, Kelly’s entire collection was featured in Elle magazine:
Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s coat dates to 1985, the design is the same as those Kelly sold on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Kelly’s one-seam coat would become a recurring feature in the designer’s work. A rethinking of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s iconic 1961 one-seam coat, it may have been inspired by Issey Miyake’s cocoon coat—Kelly was once the house guest of Miyake’s publicist, Victoria Rivière, in Paris.
The original coat is a quilted cotton knit. It has a simple revers opening in front, box pleats in the back, and batwing sleeves formed by the shoulder seam:
These technical drawings show the coat front and back:
Size: One size fits all
Fabric requirements: About 3.5 yards (3.2 m) of 60″ (~150 cm) fabric
Recommended fabrics: Fabrics with a good hand and drape, e.g. double knits and double-faced fabrics. The original is a quilted single knit.
Finished length: 52″ (132 cm)
Pattern length from top to bottom: 57.5″ (146 cm)
Tips, caveats: No separate instructions; scale and seam allowances are not marked. The coat must be cut on the cross grain. The original coat has a simple turn and stitch finish, with a sleeve binding piece for the sleeve openings.
A Parisian friend of Kelly’s has posted instructions to make a doll-scale version based on her Patrick Kelly original.
Thanks to Monica Brown, Senior Collections Assistant, Costume and Textiles, for answering questions about the project, and Paula M. Sim, Costume and Textiles intern, for drafting the pattern.
April 29, 2014 § 6 Comments
This past weekend, the exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Read WWD’s coverage here.) The show is the second Patrick Kelly retrospective since the designer’s death from AIDS in 1990. (The first was the Brooklyn Museum’s Patrick Kelly: A Retrospective in 2004.)
Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Patrick Kelly (1954-1990) found success as an expatriate in Paris: he was the first American, and also the first black designer, to be elected to the Chambre syndicale du prêt-à-porter. Much of Kelly’s work references his southern, African-American heritage through the use of vibrant colour, buttons and bows, and reappropriated black memorabilia motifs such as watermelons and golliwogs. (Patrick Kelly shopping bags emblazoned with his golliwog logo, as seen in the above photo, were deemed too controversial to be used in the United States.)
Between 1988 and 1991, Vogue Patterns licensed Patrick Kelly designs, first in the Individualist line and later as Paris Originals. Here is a selection of Patrick Kelly sewing patterns, grouped by collection.
1. Patrick Kelly Spring/Summer 1988 prêt-à-porter
Vogue Patterns’ licensing began with Kelly’s Spring/Summer 1988 collection, his first under contract with Warnaco. This collection played with the culture and racial stereotypes of the American south. (Watch a YouTube video of the collection starting here.) Vogue 2077, the first of several Patrick Kelly patterns featuring African-American model Gail O’Neill, is a flamboyant peplum suit with back bow:
The suit seems to have made the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine:
Vogue 2078 is a tiered, off-the-shoulder dress for stretch knits:
More knit dresses from this collection can be seen in this photo by Oliviero Toscani, the photographer best known for his controversial Benetton ads:
2. Patrick Kelly Fall/Winter 1988-89 prêt-à-porter
Variations on the heart motif characterized Kelly’s Fall 1988 collection, entitled More Love; the collection was later included in “Heart Strings,” a touring fundraiser for the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). Vogue 2165 is a long-sleeved, colour-blocked dress with heart-shaped bodice:
A version with red contrast can be seen in Toscani’s ad campaign; the red bodice also appeared in the bridal look that closed the collection. Given the ‘love’ theme, it’s surprising that the red version was not photographed for the Vogue pattern:
Vogue 2304, a stretch-knit dress with Kelly’s trademark buttons applied in a rainbow triangle, is visible in the Toscani photo at the top of this post:
3. Patrick Kelly Spring/Summer 1989 prêt-à-porter
Having just been elected to the Chambre syndicale in June 1988, Kelly showed a Mona Lisa-themed collection for Spring 1989 in the courtyard of the Louvre. Vogue 2286 is a pattern for a full skirt, wide-legged pants, and a double-breasted top with notched shawl collar:
The red version of the top can be seen in this campaign photo by Oliviero Toscani:
4. Patrick Kelly Fall/Winter 1989 prêt-à-porter
Presented the year of the bicentenary of French Revolution, Kelly’s final collection was conceived as a celebration of France and America. Vogue 2385 is a shawl-effect dress designed for stretch knits; the contrast front inset extends into a shoulder drape. The illustration’s red drape version may be seen in Runway of Love:
The grey stripe version was featured in the Fall/Winter 1989 ad campaign:
Vogue 2556 is a button-studded ensemble consisting of jacket, skirt, and coat. The design requires forty-one buttons for the jacket alone:
The Vogue 2556 jacket and skirt were photographed for this Apollo Landing-themed campaign image:
A hot pink version, included in the Philadelphia exhibit, has a matching hat and cape, and rainbow buttons:
Despite covering only two years, the sewing patterns are an excellent sample of Kelly’s bold and playful work.
Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love runs through November 30th, 2014.
April 24, 2014 § 2 Comments
My series on Mad Men-era designer patterns concludes this week with three Butterick Young Designers: Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh.
In 1964, Butterick launched its Young Designers line, appealing to the youth market by licensing the work of up-and-coming, international fashion designers. The line would continue through the 1970s with the addition of new designers like Betsey Johnson, Jane Tise, and Kenzo. (For more on the Young Designers line see The Vintage Traveler’s Butterick Young Designers page.)
Mary Quant (b. 1934) was the first designer to be signed to the new pattern line. Born in London, Quant met Archie McNair and her future husband, Alexander Plunket Greene, at art school; together they opened a boutique on the King’s Road, Bazaar, in 1955, selling Quant’s fun, youthful designs. Quant is perhaps most famous as a pioneer of the miniskirt. Butterick released its first Quant patterns, featuring Celia Hammond photographed by Terence Donovan, in the fall of 1964.
Butterick 5475 is a mini-length shirt dress with plenty of details including epaulets, side slits, and a self-buttoned belt:
Also born in London, Jean Muir (1928-1995) showed an early talent for dressmaking and needlework. During the 1950s, after working her way up from the stockroom at Liberty, she was hired as designer for Jaeger; she stayed with Jaeger until 1962, when she founded her first label, Jane & Jane. She launched her eponymous label in 1966. Muir was known for her fluid dresses with charming dressmaker details.
Butterick introduced Jean Muir patterns in the spring of 1965. This short, high-waisted dress dates to the late 1960s; the bodice front and slashed, modified raglan bell sleeves fasten with rows of tiny buttons:
Born in Paris as Renée Mésière, Emmanuelle Khanh (b. 1937) married avant-garde industrial designer Quasar Khanh in the late 1950s, around the same time that she began working as a house model for Balenciaga and Givenchy. Turning her hand to fashion design, Khanh was soon at the forefront of yé-yé fashion (Paris’ answer to Youthquake), designing for brands including Cacharel and Missoni before launching her own label in 1969. (Read a 1964 LIFE magazine article about Khanh here.) Today her company focuses on accessories, particularly eyewear.
Butterick introduced Emmanuelle Khanh sewing patterns in the fall of 1965. This turquoise, suit-effect dress creates interesting effects with topstitching and collar details:
The pattern is Butterick 3718. (Thanks to Jessica Hastings of myvintagevogue for confirming the number.) This photo shows a full-length view of the dress:
It’s interesting to see an established company like Butterick responding to contemporary Sixties youth culture, facilitating access to Youthquake and yé-yé fashion in the process.
April 14, 2014 § 1 Comment
With Mad Men entering its final season, my Mad Men-era series concludes with two posts on fashion designers whose work became available to home sewers in the mid-Sixties. (Browse the series by clicking the Mad Men era tag, or start at the beginning.)
Before the Vogue Americana line there was McCall’s New York Designers’ Collection. In the fall of 1965, McCall’s introduced a new pattern line: New York Designers’ Collection plus 1. (The “plus 1” refers to one foreign designer, Digby Morton; later, as McCall’s added designers to the line, it became “New York Designers’ Collection Plus.”)
The Fall/Winter 1965 issue of McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating introduced readers to the new designers. According to the catalogue, the new line featured “the most outstanding fashions of seven leading American designers and one famous London couturier” (click to enlarge):
The original list of designers consisted of Larry Aldrich, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Laird-Knox, Digby Morton, Originala, Mollie Parnis, and Pauline Trigère, whose agreement with McCall’s dated to the mid-1950s. (Trigère was already featured in an earlier Mad Men era post.) Later additions would include Anne Klein, Jacques Tiffeau, and Rudi Gernreich.
This post looks at three of the best-known American designers in McCall’s new line: Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Anne Klein.
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bill Blass (1922-2002) showed an early talent for fashion design, studying briefly at Parsons before enlisting in the U.S. military in 1942. After the war he returned to New York to work in the fashion industry; by 1959 he was head designer for Maurice Rentner—then a conservative, established Seventh Avenue label. (McCall’s patterns credit the designer as ‘Bill Blass for Maurice Rentner, Ltd.’) In 1970 he purchased the company and renamed it Bill Blass Ltd. Blass was known for his sophisticated but youthful designs favoured by high society. He retired in 1999.
McCall’s 8927 is an asymmetrical, sleeveless shift dress with applied bands and an inverted pleat on the left-hand side:
Born in Louisiana as Samuel Robert Bozeman Jr., Geoffrey Beene (1924-2004) trained at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York and École de la Chambre Syndicale in Paris, where he also apprenticed with a tailor. Returning to New York, he worked at Harmay and Teal Traina before founding his own company in 1963. Beene was renowned for his innovative, modern designs, as well as his iconoclasm.
Veronica Hamel models McCall’s 1028, a dress cut in seven panels with seven-eighths kimono sleeves and triangular, bias collar:
Born in Brooklyn as Hannah Golofsky, Anne Klein (1923-1974) also trained at the Traphagen School of Fashion. The pioneer in American sportswear worked in petites and juniors before founding Anne Klein and Company in the late 1960s. Her final collection was completed by Donna Karan, who had begun work at the company in the summer of 1967 as Klein’s intern.
McCall’s 1020 is a sleeveless shift dress with angular armholes and fabulous standing (and convertible) collar. The model is Hellevi Keko:
All three New York designers would later make the switch to Vogue Patterns: Blass in 1967, Beene and Klein in the 1970s.