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!

Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s

April 17, 2015 § 1 Comment

The Museum at FIT’s exhibit, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s, closes this Saturday. (See Bridget Foley, “That Real Seventies Show.”) If you can’t make it to New York to see it, a catalogue is available from Yale University Press.

Patricia Mears and Emma McClendon, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s. Image via Yale University Press.

The MFIT exhibit organizes the two designers’ 1970s work in three thematic sections: menswear influence, exoticism, and historicism. Since both Yves Saint Laurent and Halston had licensed sewing patterns in the ’70s, I thought it would be fun to present three pairs of patterns in the exhibition’s format.

Menswear

From Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 1143 is a ’70s version of the famous Le smoking. Helmut Newton photographed Charlotte Rampling in a similar, Prince of Wales check pantsuit for Vogue (with original text here):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit, blouse, and skirt pattern - Vogue 1143

Vogue 1143 by Yves Saint Laurent (1974) Image via Etsy.

According to the curators, Halston’s most famous garment is the Ultrasuede shirtdress. McCall’s 4391 is a zip-front shirtdress that includes special instructions for working with synthetic suede:

1970s Halston dress pattern, view A for synthetic suede - McCall's 4391

McCall’s 4391 by Halston (1975) Model: Karen Bjornson.

Exoticism

Yves Saint Laurent’s interest in “exotic,” non-Western dress is perhaps best remembered from his Russian collection (Fall 1976 haute couture). From Vogue’s Ballets Russes patterns, Vogue 1558 is a Russian ensemble consisting of blouse, vest, bias skirt, and braid-trimmed jacket—hat and babushka scarf not included (see more at Paco’s blog):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent Ballets Russes pattern - Vogue 1558

Vogue 1558 by Yves Saint Laurent (1976) Model: Karen Bjornson. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

During the 1970s, both Saint Laurent and Halston showed non-Western influence in their caftans and pajama ensembles. Halston pattern McCall’s 3590 combines both:

1970s Halston caftan, top, and pants pattern - McCalls 3590

McCall’s 3590 by Halston (1973)

Historicism

Inspired by the 1940s, Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 haute couture collection, Libération, launched the decade’s vogue for vintage. Although the 1971 collection was poorly received, Saint Laurent’s subsequent vintage-inspired efforts were very influential. From 1973, Vogue 2930 is a Forties-inspired dress-and-coat ensemble:

1970s Yves Saint Laurent dress and coat or jacket pattern - Vogue 2930

Vogue 2930 by Yves Saint Laurent (1973) Image via eBay.

Halston’s historicism focused on the interwar couture of the 1930s, especially the work of Grès and Vionnet. McCall’s 4046 is a slinky dress for stretchable knits. It has only one main pattern piece and is shaped by gathers and side darts:

1970s Halston cocktail or evening dress pattern - McCall's 4046

McCall’s 4046 by Halston (1974)

As the curators note, Halston and Yves Saint Laurent have been seen as embodying two separate styles: minimalist ready-to-wear vs. fantasy couture. Yet comparison of their work shows how their stylistic experimentation led them to common ground, particularly in the earlier ’70s. Interestingly, some Saint Laurent and Halston garments can be hard to tell apart until you examine the construction—something home sewers can certainly appreciate.

Designs by Halston and Yves Saint Laurent on the cover of W magazine, September 3-10, 1976. Image via WWD.

Rock the Caftan

February 21, 2015 § 11 Comments

Vogue 15 Sept 1963 Gres

“Arab déshabillé from Grès.” Vogue, September 1963. Photo: Irving Penn.

Caftans, long, loose-fitting tunics with origins in ancient Persia, have been gaining momentum as an alternative to more structured formal dress. With any luck, there will be some caftans among the goddess gowns at tomorrow’s Academy Awards ceremony.

They say Tsarina Alexandra was the first westerner to make a fashion statement in a caftan, when she dressed as a seventeenth-century Tsarina for a costume ball in 1903. Paul Poiret also advanced the caftan cause, but it was not until the 1950s that the garment really began to influence western fashion. Here’s a look at caftan patterns from the 1950s to now.

Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as the 17th-century Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna. From the album of the February 1903 fancy dress ball at the Winter Palace. Image via the Hermitage Amsterdam.

Tsarina Alexandra’s Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna masquerade costume. Image via the Hermitage Amsterdam.

1950s

In the mid-1950s, Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga’s experiments with silhouette were partly inspired by eastern traditional dress. Dior’s Fall 1955 couture collection (Y line) included caftan-inspired ensembles—coats with high, side-front slits that reveal a slim dress underneath:

1950s Gruau illustration on the cover of Vogue Paris

A Dior caftan design on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1, 1955. Illustration: Gruau. Image via Librairie Diktats.

1950s Dior caftan-inspired designs in L'Officiel

Three designs from Christian Dior’s Fall 1955 haute couture collection. L’Officiel, September and October 1955. Photos: Pottier. Images via jalougallery.com.

You can see echoes of the Dior caftan look in contemporary sewing patterns like McCall’s 3525 and 3532, both from late 1955:

1950s dress and unlined coat pattern - McCalls 3525

McCall’s 3525 (1955) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 3532, called a “slim caftan-and-dress ensemble,” was featured on the cover of McCall’s news leaflet and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign.  According to the ad, the design is ideal for the season’s “Oriental” fabrics, such as silk twill and raw silk tussah:

McCalls March 1956 3532

McCall’s news, March 1956. Image via eBay.

McCalls ad 1956

“Make the clothes that ‘make’ the woman”: McCall’s printed patterns ad, 1956. Model: Sunny Harnett; hat by Adolfo of Emme. Image via eBay.

A Vogue version of the Dior caftan ensemble, Vogue 8759, is available as a reproduction from EvaDress.

1960s

Caftans became popular in the 1960s in tandem with the increasing interest in eastern cultures. The Madame Grès version at the top of this post is cut on the bias, producing geometric seaming detail. The caption reads, “Coup of bias-work by Grès—because this piecing-together of bias angles is sinuous, stark, ravishingly Moroccan.”

This dress from Jean Patou by Michel Goma, Vogue 1699, has what the envelope calls a “caftan neckline.” The model is Beate Schulz:

1960s Patou caftan dress pattern - Vogue 1699

Vogue 1699 by Patou (1967) Model: Beate Schulz. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This circa 1968 Vogue caftan pattern has optional flexible trim:

Vogue 7497

Vogue 7497 (ca. 1968) Image via Etsy.

Other patterns from the late 1960s and early 1970s also reference eastern dress. From 1967, McCall’s 9026 is labelled as an abba in two lengths. Abba is an alternate spelling of aba, commonly abaya: a traditional Arab garment, long, loose-fitting, sleeveless, and made from a single rectangle of fabric. (Today, caftans often function as abayat.) The model is Veronica Hamel:

1960s abayat pattern - McCalls 9026

McCall’s 9026 (1967) Model: Veronica Hamel. Image via Etsy.

Burnoose patterns were marketed as resort wear. A pompom-trimmed version of McCall’s 2377 was photographed for the cover of McCall’s Summer 1970 catalogue:

1970s burnoose pattern - McCall's 2377

McCall’s 2377 (1970) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Marola Witt models Simplicity’s burnoose in the July 1967 issue of Simplicity Fashion News (thanks to Mary of PatternGate for the reference). The text promotes the design’s ‘Arabian’ exoticism: “be exotic in a JIFFY: … the burnoose, born in Arabia, brought up to date here”:

“Be exotic in a JIFFY.” Marola Witt models Simplicity 7173 in Simplicity Fashion News, July 1967. Image via Etsy.

1970s

This Halston caftan pattern from McCall’s also includes a top and pants (you can buy yourself a copy from the shop):

1970s Halston caftan, top, and pants pattern - McCall's 3590

McCall’s 3590 by Halston (1973)

This flowing Dior caftan, modelled by Billie Blair, has lots of neckline detail, full-length sleeve openings, and pockets:

Vogue 1346

Vogue 1346 by Christian Dior (1975) Model: Billie Blair. Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci is a caftan that’s open in front and attached at the neckline to a handkerchief-hemmed underdress:

1970s Nina Ricci caftan pattern - Vogue 1515

Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci (1976)

1980s

It’s harder to find post-1970s designer caftan patterns. This wide-sleeved, Oscar de la Renta caftan is trimmed with contrast bands. When worn, the side seams swing forward to raise the hemline in front:

1980s Oscar de la Renta caftan pattern - Vogue 1027

Vogue 1027 by Oscar de la Renta (ca. 1983) Model: Alva Chinn.

1990s

From Issey Miyake, Vogue 2315 is a caftan-inspired summer dress:

1990s Issey Miyake dress pattern - Vogue 2315

Vogue 2315 by Issey Miyake (1999) Image via Etsy.

2000s

Caftan patterns started making a comeback (of sorts) in 2009. Simplicity 2584, a caftan-inspired tunic by Cynthia Rowley, is out of print but still in demand:

Cynthia Rowley dress or tunic pattern - Simplicity 2594

Simplicity 2584 by Cynthia Rowley (2009) Image via Etsy.

Ralph Rucci’s floor-length caftan, Vogue 1181 (now out of print), has an abaya silhouette and interesting construction details—overarm darts, shaped lower sections, and a hook and eye above the low neckline:

Chado Ralph Rucci caftan pattern - Vogue 1181

Vogue 1181 by Chado Ralph Rucci (2010)

The design is from Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009:

Rucci Resort 2009 caftans

Two caftans from the Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009 collection. Model: Alexandra T. Images via style.com.

Matthew Williamson’s short caftan, available as a free pattern from the Guardian, is also a 2009 design:

A caftan look from Matthew Williamson’s Spring 2009 collection. Photo: Jason Hetherington. Image via the Guardian.

And Heather Lou’s printed chiffon caftan is a Fashion Star pattern by Nikki Poulos, McCall’s 6552 (now out of print):

Nikki Poulos caftan pattern - McCall's 6552

McCall’s 6552 by Nikki Poulos (2012) Image via Etsy.

Would you sew a caftan?

Schuss! Vintage Skiwear Patterns

February 11, 2015 § 5 Comments

Couverture ski - Vogue Paris décembre 1951 janvier 1952

Vogue Paris, December 1951-January 1952. Image via Etsy.

Winter carnival festivities are underway at Winterlude and the Carnaval de Québec. Here’s a look at vintage skiwear patterns—perfect for hitting the slopes, sleigh racing, or snow golf.

1960s ski resort fashions in The Pink Panther

Fran Jeffries and other spectators at Cortina d’Ampezzo in The Pink Panther (1963).

1920s

The first Winter Olympics in 1924 contributed to the growing popularity of skiing, which had been around since the late nineteenth century. I have not yet seen any 1920s skiwear patterns, but contemporary magazine covers attest to the sport’s fashionability. Helen Dryden illustrated this ski-themed cover for Delineator magazine:

1920s ski illustration by Helen Dryden for the cover of Delineator magazine

Delineator, January 1928. Illustration: Helen Dryden. Image via EasyArt.

The following winter, Jean Pagès illustrated a ski scene for the cover of Vogue’s holiday issue:

1920s ski illustration by Jean Pagès for the cover of Vogue magazine

Vogue, December 22, 1928. Illustration: Jean Pagès. Image via Condé Nast.

1930s

This McCall skiwear pattern for ski jacket, pants, and separate hood dates to winter 1932-33. The catalogue text reads, “The hood fits cozily about the throat. The jacket gains freedom through two pleats in the back”:

A 1930s skiwear illustration - McCall 7195

Skiwear illustration in McCall Fashion Book, Spring 1933.

McCall 7195 was also illustrated on the cover of the McCall Style News for January 1933:

1930s skiwear illustration - McCall Style News January 1933

McCall Style News, January 1933. Image via Etsy.

The 1936 Winter Games were the first to include Alpine skiing, and we see an increase in skiwear patterns from the mid-1930s. (Before 1936, Olympic ski events were limited to Nordic, or cross-country, skiing and ski jumping.) A page in the December 1936 issue of Butterick Fashion News shows women’s and children’s patterns for winter sports, complete with fabric recommendations—wool, suede cloth, snow cloth, and corduroy. The patterns are Butterick 7033, 5927, and 7062 (click to enlarge):

1930s winter sports illustration - Butterick Fashion News December 1936

“Wear ski clothes for all outdoor sports.” Butterick Fashion News, December 1936.

EvaDress has a reproduction of a 1930s snow suit pattern, Hollywood 1236. (The original is a Ruby Keeler pattern.)

1940s

The cover of Butterick Fashion News for February 1940 shows an alpine chalet scene featuring a ski suit pattern, Butterick 8793. The text inside reads, “Snow fun in a ski suit… When you zip off the reversible jacket, your monogrammed suspenders will be muchly admired.” (More scans at witness2fashion.) The pattern calls for snow cloth with poplin lining:

1940s ski resort illustration - Butterick Fashion News February 1940

Butterick Fashion News, February 1940. Image via witness2fashion.

A copy of Butterick 8793 is found in the Commercial Pattern Archive, where it is dated to 1939. The pattern includes the cap:

Late 1930s ski suit pattern - Butterick 8793

Butterick 8793 (1939) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive. For research purposes only.

Postwar skiwear retained the slimmer silhouette that had been prompted by wartime fabric rationing. From 1946, Butterick 3985 is a ski suit with jaunty cropped jacket and detachable hood:

1940s ski suit pattern - Butterick 3985

Butterick 3985 (1946). Image via vintage4me2 on eBay.

1950s

From the later 1950s, Vogue 9332 is a ski suit consisting of hooded overblouse and slim stirrup pants, for flannel, worsted, gabardine, alpaca, and poplin. I plan to make this one up for après-ski purposes:

1950s skiwear pattern - Vogue 9332

Vogue 9332 (1957) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

McCall’s 4788 is a ski jacket with drawstring hem, stirrup pants, and separate hood. Recommended fabrics are corduroy, poplin, serge, jersey, and twill:

1950s ski suit and hood pattern - McCall's 4788

McCall’s 4788 (1958) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Unfortunately, no-one seems to have licensed Emilio Pucci skiwear patterns. This British Vogue cover features a Pucci ski ensemble:

Vernier photo of a 1950s Pucci ski suit on the cover of British Vogue

A ski suit by Emilio Pucci, British Vogue, January 1959. Photo: Vernier. Image via Vogue UK.

1960s

The only 1960s skiwear pattern I’ve seen is Vogue 6044, a hooded parka and slim stirrup pants for stretch fabrics. The envelope back notes that, for the view A parka, allowance has been made for quilting narrow fabrics. The fur cloth version is a fun alternative:

1960s ski suit pattern - Vogue 6044

Vogue 6044 (ca. 1963) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1970s

From Daniel Hechter, Butterick 4370 is a designer ski suit consisting of straight leg pants and a belted jacket with drawstring hood. The fabric recommendations range from pinwale corduroy and double knits to synthetic leather and suede:

1970s ski suit pattern - Butterick Young Designer 4370

Butterick 4370 by Daniel Hechter (ca. 1976) Image via Etsy.

Butterick also had two his and hers skiwear patterns, Butterick 5110/5111, a jacket or sleeveless jacket and jumpsuit (really overalls) for water repellent, quilted fabrics. The jacket and overalls have elasticized snow guards at the wrists and ankles and contrast yokes and front bands in poplin or ciré:

1970s men's skiwear pattern - Butterick 5111

Butterick 5111 (ca. 1977) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1980s

From 1980, Simplicity 9785 includes overalls in full or knicker length, a ski jacket with detachable sleeves, and legwarmers—all for quilted, double-faced, water-resistant fabrics:

1980s skiwear pattern - Simplicity 9785

Simplicity 9785 (1980) Image via Etsy.

I’ll close with this mid-1980s, ski-themed Vogue Knitting cover:

1980s Nordic ski sweater on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine

Vogue Knitting magazine, Fall/Winter 1985. Image via eBay.

For more on the history of skiwear, see Lizzie Bramlett’s post, A Short History of Ski Clothing, or the recent Guardian gallery.

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!

Patterns for the Great War

November 11, 2014 § 6 Comments

PRJul1917. Image via eBay.

Pictorial Review magazine, July 1917. Image via eBay.

This year marks the centennial of the beginning of World War 1. In honour of Armistice Day, this post looks at commercial sewing patterns associated with the First World War.

Vogue, May 1918. Illustration: Porter Woodruff. Image via Vogue UK.

This illustration from the July 1917 issue of McCall’s magazine shows McCall patterns suitable for war work: a nurse’s uniform, apron, and cap, and outdoor workwear including women’s overalls (patent pending):

nurses’ uniform 7845, apron and cap 7847, overall suit 7860, sun hat 7850, waist 7073, skirt 7011 - McCall's magazine,  July 1917

“Responding to the Country’s Call.” McCall’s magazine, July 1917. Image via eBay.

Official Red Cross patterns exemplify the volunteer production of clothing and medical supplies that formed part of the war effort. American Red Cross patterns were published by multiple American pattern companies, while in the U.K., British Red Cross sewing and knitting instructions were available in several books by Emily Peek.* In Canada, volunteers sewing for the Canadian Red Cross may have used both British and American resources.

Practical instruction in cutting out and making up hospital garments for sick and wounded (approved by the Red Cross Society)

Working Uniform (B.R.C.S.) in Emily Peek, Practical Instruction in Cutting Out and Making Up Hospital Garments for Sick and Wounded (1914) Image via the University of Southampton.

Women sew for the war effort in the old University of Toronto library

Women sew for the war effort in the old University of Toronto library. Image via U of T Magazine.

The McCall Fashions for February 1918 gives a list of American Red Cross patterns for garments to be used in hospitals and refugee camps; the cover illustration shows three women dressed “For the visit to the camp”:

WW1 McCall Fashions (Style News) for February 1918

“For the Visit to the Camp.” McCall Fashions, February 1918. Image via eBay.

The inside front cover lists two types of official American Red Cross pattern: “for the relief of refugees and repatriates in the war-stricken countries, particularly in France and Belgium” and for hospital garments. The illustrations show an infant’s layette, unisex children’s cape, reversible bed jacket, and trench foot slipper (click to enlarge):

Red Cross patterns and hospital garments in WW1 McCall Fashions (Style News) for February 1918

New Official American Red Cross patterns. McCall Fashions, February 1918. Image via eBay.

A news article from June, 1918 discusses the most needed hospital garments and supplies corrections for two refugee garment patterns. It seems the “helpless case shirt” (for patients with arm injuries) was available in two versions:

Drumright Evening Derrick 17Jun1918 RedCross

Drumright Evening Derrick, June 17, 1918. Image via the Oklahoma Historical Society.

(Full archived version here.)

Andrea of Unsung Sewing Patterns has a copy of the “helpless case shirt,” Red Cross 35—more sensitively called a taped hospital bed shirt:

WW1 McCall Red Cross taped hospital bed shirt pattern - Red Cross 35

McCall Red Cross 35 (ca. 1917) Image via Unsung Sewing Patterns.

(See Unsung Sewing Patterns for more Red Cross refugee patterns.)

A 1917 article in McCall’s magazine describes the Red Cross relief effort and seven new patterns for hospital work. It presents sewing as an alternative to nursing, for which fewer women were qualified, arguing that “[s]ewing may not seem to many as romantic as nursing the wounded upon the battlefield, but without it the nursing might be useless.” Interestingly, official American Red Cross patterns were at first distributed through the organization’s national headquarters, but later became available directly to the public (click to enlarge):

McCalls July1917 RedCross

“How to Help the Red Cross–Now!” McCall’s magazine, July 1917.

On the right, readers found descriptions of the new patterns, accompanied by photographs showing Red Cross officials Jane A. Delano and Clara D. Noyes, and women in a Red Cross chapter at work:

McCalls Jul1917 photo crop

“Throughout the country, in Red Cross chapter, in club, church guild, and small home, women are doing their ‘bit’ for the soldiers.” McCall’s magazine, July 1917.

The illustrations of the new patterns seek to include the Red Cross sewing effort in the romance of nursing. Here a nurse serves a meal to a patient who is wearing McCall Special C, a hospital bed shirt:

McCall Special C (1917)

McCall Special C (1917) Red Cross hospital bed shirt.

McCall Special P is a pair of pajamas:

McCall Special P (1917)

McCall Special P (1917) Red Cross pajamas.

To be made from one or two blankets, McCall Special O is a bathrobe or convalescent gown:

McCall Special O (1917)

McCall Special O (1917) Red Cross bathrobe or convalescent gown.

McCall Special R is a Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s operating gown—a unisex medical uniform available in two sizes:

McCall Special R (1917)

McCall Special R (1917) Red Cross operating gown.

The illustration of the Red Cross nurse also shows the McCall Special S operating helmet:

McCall Special R helmet (1917)

McCall Special R and S (1917) Red Cross operating gown and operating helmet.

The Commercial Pattern Archive has both sizes of McCall Special R its collection. The larger is reproduced in Joy Emery’s new book:

1910s WW1 Red Cross pattern - McCall Special R

McCall Special R (ca. 1917). Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s operating gown. Image: Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry.

Do you have any World War I patterns in your collection?

* Seligman, Cutting for All! (Southern Illinois UP, 1996), pp. 123-24, cited in Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014), p. 91. A digitized version of Emily Peek, Practical Instruction in Cutting Out and Making Up Hospital Garments for Sick and Wounded: Approved by the Red Cross Society (British Red Cross Society, 1914), is available through the University of Southampton.

Preview: Lyanna Stark Costume – McCall’s 6940

November 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

Stark pin

This Halloween I went as Lyanna Stark. Full post to come when I’ve had the chance to do a real photo shoot…

If you’d like to see a preview, I used a commercial pattern, McCall’s 6940, so was eligible to enter McCall’s Halloween costume contest. You can find my photos here.

McCall's 6940 with White Walker mini figurine

If you’re on Facebook, you can view and vote for the entries on McCall’s Facebook page. (The entries are divided into 3 categories: adult, children’s, and infants/toddlers.)

Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

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