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!

Krizia Playsuit – McCall’s 6624

September 30, 2014 § 9 Comments

Krizia_coverup

It’s officially fall now, but the recent warm weather gave Naomi and me the chance to photograph my late 1970s Krizia playsuit, made using McCall’s 6624. (See my post on Krizia patterns here).

McCall's 6624 by Krizia - 1970s playsuit and wrap skirt

McCall’s 6624 by Krizia (1979) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

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.

We photographed the playsuit by a local graffiti mural by Anser and Chou.

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979) - Noble St. mural in Parkdale, Toronto

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

The sparkle only shows up close:

1970s Krizia playsuit pattern - McCall's 6624

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

Here’s a view of the back pleats:

Krizia_back

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.

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

(Sandals: Gareth Pugh for Melissa)

(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)

Krizia: McCall’s Patterns

August 28, 2014 § 5 Comments

Model with Superman figure - Krizia ad campaign for Fall 1979 photographed by Barry Ryan

Krizia Fall 1979 advertising campaign. Photo: Barry Ryan.

Krizia was already an established label when McCall’s licensed Krizia patterns in the late 1970s. Designer Mariuccia Mandelli (b. 1933) co-founded the company with her friend Flora Dolci in the 1950s, naming it after Plato’s unfinished dialogue Κριτίας (Critias)—Crizia in Italian. The label is known for eclectic, youthful designs that play with pattern and contrast. (For recent coverage of the brand and its influence see the W article, Crazy for Krizia.)

From spring 1979, this two-page spread in L’Officiel shows three Krizia trouser ensembles featuring magenta, orange, and fuchsia satins (click to enlarge):

3 Krizia trouser ensembles in L'Officiel, February 1979, photographed by Michel Picard

Three Krizia looks, L’Officiel, February 1979. Photos: Michel Picard. Image via jalougallery.com.

This Krizia sweater set (short-sleeved pullover, bolero, and skirt) appeared in a Vogue editorial on the new knitwear:

Krizia knits in "The New Knitting" Denis Piel editorial Vogue August 1979

Krizia sweater set, Vogue, August 1979. Model: Kim Charlton. Photo: Denis Piel. Image via Corbis.

Between 1979 and 1981, McCall’s released a number of Krizia patterns, including a few children’s patterns. Here’s a selection of Krizia patterns for women’s wear.

McCall’s 6624 is a bias wrap skirt and playsuit with shorts and bodice pleated into a midriff band:

1970s Krizia playsuit and skirt pattern - McCall's 6624 - Carefree patterns

McCall’s 6624 by Krizia (1979) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

McCall’s 6629 combines a short-sleeved, V-neck bodysuit with a midi-length trouser skirt and wrap shorts:

1970s Krizia bodysuit, skirt, and shorts pattern - McCall's 6629 - Carefree patterns

McCall’s 6629 by Krizia (1979) Image via Etsy.

This pattern is a set of four tops for stretch knits:

1970s Krizia tops pattern for stretch knits - McCall's 6633 - Carefree pattern

McCall’s 6633 by Krizia (1979) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

McCall’s 6805 is Krizia’s take on the wrap dress, with soft pleats at the shoulder and neckline and lightly puffed sleeves in long and three-quarter lengths:

1970s Krizia wrap dress pattern - McCalls 6805 - Petite-able

McCall’s 6805 by Krizia (1979) Image via eBay.

This sleek skirt suit, reminiscent of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, pairs a straight skirt with a fitted jacket with shaped hemline and two-piece sleeves with pleated caps. The notched collar has an optional lapel buttonhole:

1970s Krizia skirt and jacket pattern - McCall's 6808 - Petite-able

McCall’s 6808 by Krizia (1979) Image via Etsy.

From 1980, this casual summer ensemble includes bias shorts or culottes and two tops trimmed with tubular knit:

1980s Krizia bias shorts, culottes, and tops pattern - McCall's 7099

McCall’s 7099 by Krizia (1980) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The more formal McCall’s 7307 is a pattern for polished separates: a jacket with two-piece sleeves, skirt in 2 lengths, and flowing, cuffed pants with matching camisole:

1980s Krizia evening separates pattern - McCall's 7307

McCall’s 7307 by Krizia (1980) Image via Etsy.

Just for fun, here are two more images from Krizia’s Fall 1979 advertising campaign, photographed by Barry Ryan:

Model touching up lipstick with Superman figure - Cantoni - Krizia - Creeds Fall 1979 advertising campaign photographed by Barry Ryan

Krizia Fall 1979 advertising campaign. Photo: Barry Ryan.

Model reading Superman comic - Bini/Ideacomo Group for Krizia at Sakowitz Fall 1979 advertising campaign photographed by Barry Ryan

Krizia Fall 1979 advertising campaign. Photo: Barry Ryan.

Coming soon: my version of the Krizia playsuit.

Make the Clothes that Make the Woman (Part 2)

August 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or are a connoisseur of 1950s sewing advertising, you’ve seen images from McCall’s mid-1950s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign. (See my earlier post here.)

I’ve found another ad from the campaign. The model is Jean Patchett, and the pattern is McCall’s 3635 —an “Italian drawstring top” and “saucy in-between-length Jamaican shorts” (click to enlarge):

Advertisement for McCall's Printed Patterns, 1956. Model: Jean Patchett.

Advertisement for McCall’s Printed Patterns, 1956. Model: Jean Patchett.

Vintage Jumpsuit Patterns

July 25, 2014 § 10 Comments

1970s jumpsuit or playsuit pattern - Vogue 8331

Vogue 8331 (1972) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Versatile and contemporary, jumpsuits and their cousins, playsuits and rompers, have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Jumpsuits—or all-in-ones, if you’re British—seem poised to move beyond a trend this summer.

The modern women’s jumpsuit has origins in two different garments: beach pajamas and the boiler suit. These twin origins mean jumpsuit styles range from fluid loungewear to utility-inspired or tailored designs. (See Vogue Italia for a short history of the jumpsuit.) Here are some favourite all-in-one patterns from the 1930s to the 1990s.

1930s–1940s

Beach pajamas, often worn with a matching bolero, had become one-piece by the early 1930s. This McCall’s design combines flowing trousers with geometric seaming details in the bodice and hip yoke. A reproduction is available from the Model A Ford Club of America:

1930s beach pajama pattern - McCall 6432

McCall 6432 (1931) Image via the Model A Ford Club of America.

(See my earlier beachwear post here; for more on beach pajamas, see the FIDM Museum blog and Amber Butchart’s essay for British Pathé.)

The boiler suits of wartime utility wear are said to have made bifurcated clothing more acceptable for women. This Vogue pattern from ca. 1940 includes both a hooded mechanic suit with cuffed trousers and a more casual, short-sleeved version shown in a dotted print:

1940s Rosie the Riveter all-in-one hooded boiler suit pattern - Vogue 8852

Vogue 8852 (1940) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This early 1940s pajama ensemble with T-back halter bodice was not just for the beach—the envelope says it’s for “beach, dinner or evening”:

1940s pajama ensemble pattern - McCall 4075

McCall 4075 (1941) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1950s

In the postwar period, more tailored jumpsuits emerged as a choice for casual sportswear. This early 1950s pedal-pusher coverall has cuffed sleeves and pants and a front zipper closure:

1950s pedal-pusher coverall pattern - McCall's 8520

McCall’s 8520 (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

From the late 1950s, this trim, one-piece slack suit from Vogue came in two lengths and with a matching overskirt:

1950s jumpsuit and skirt pattern - Vogue 9898

Vogue 9898 (1959) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1960s

The jumpsuit—sometimes called a culotte or pantdress—truly comes into its own in the later 1960s. Here Birgitta af Klercker models Vogue 2249, a loungewear design by Emilio Pucci (previously featured in my goddess gown post):

1960s Pucci lounge pajamas pattern - Vogue 2249

Vogue 2249 by Pucci (1969) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

In this late 1960s Butterick Young Designers pattern, Mary Quant combines a trim, zip-front jumpsuit with a low-waisted miniskirt for a sleek, futuristic look:

1960s jumpsuit pattern by Mary Quant - Butterick 5404

Butterick 5404 by Mary Quant (1969) Image via Etsy.

1970s

Both pajama and menswear-inspired styles continue into the 1970s. Famous for her palazzo pajamas, Galitzine designed this bi-coloured lounge pantdress with criss-cross halter bodice:

1970s Galitzine lounge pantdress pattern - Vogue 2731

Vogue 2731 by Galitzine (1972) Image via the Blue Gardenia.

From Calvin Klein, Vogue 1453 marks a return to the boiler suit style. With cargo pockets, self belt, and wide, notched collar, the jumpsuit could be made long or short, with long or short sleeves:

1970s Calvin Klein jumpsuit pattern - Vogue 1453

Vogue 1453 by Calvin Klein (1976) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1980s

This Bob Mackie disco jumpsuit or evening dress pattern for stretch knits dates to 1980. (See my earlier Bob Mackie post here.) The jumpsuit has a plunging neckline, waistline pleats, and tapered, bias pants designed to crush at the ankles:

McCall's 7134 1980s Bob Mackie disco jumpsuit or evening dress pattern

McCall’s 7134 by Bob Mackie (1980)

An instance of the late 1980s jumpsuit trend, this shirtdress-style jumpsuit by Donna Karan has a notched collar, welt pockets, and cuffed or seven-eighths length kimono sleeves:

1980s Donna Karan jumpsuit pattern - Vogue 2284

Vogue 2284 by Donna Karan (1989) Image via eBay.

1990s

Also by Donna Karan, Vogue 2609, ca. 1990, is a long-sleeved, tapered jumpsuit for stretch knits with neckline variations, front pleats, and stirrups. View C has a contrast bodice with self-lined hood:

1990s Donna Karan jumpsuit pattern - Vogue 2609

Vogue 2609 by Donna Karan (1990) Image via the Blue Gardenia.

From 1996, Vogue 1821 by DKNY is almost vintage. It’s a novel suit consisting of a single-breasted jacket and wide-legged, halter jumpsuit:

1990s DKNY jumpsuit pattern - Vogue 1821

Vogue 1821 by DKNY (1996) Image via eBay.

Finally, this pattern is not yet vintage, but a jumpsuit collection would be incomplete without Vogue 2343, Alexander McQueen’s tailored, tuxedo jumpsuit for Givenchy haute couture Spring/Summer 1998 (earlier post here):

1990s Alexander McQueen for Givenchy couture jumpsuit pattern - Vogue 2343

Vogue 2343 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1999) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

With their demanding fit, jumpsuits are ideal for home sewers. And they’re not just for the tall and leggy: many of the later jumpsuit patterns are marked as suitable for petites.

If you’d like to try your hand at an early all-in-one, Wearing History has a repro pattern for 1930s beach pajamas, and Simplicity 9978 includes a 1940s boiler suit.

Mad Men Era 8: McCall’s New York Designers

April 14, 2014 § 1 Comment

Jane and Roger at the Drapers' party, Mad Men season 5, episode 1-2

Jane and Roger Sterling (Peyton List and John Slattery) in Mad Men, season 5. Image via AMC.

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):

Meet McCalls New Designers 1965

Meet McCall’s new designers. McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965–66.

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.

Bill Blass

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:

1960s Bill Blass dress pattern - McCall's 8927

McCall’s 8927 by Bill Blass (1967) Image via Etsy.

Geoffrey Beene

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:

McCalls 1028 (1968)

McCall’s 1028 by Geoffrey Beene (1968) Image via Etsy.

Anne Klein

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:

McCalls 1020 (1967)

McCall’s 1020 by Anne Klein (1967) Image via MOMSPatterns.

All three New York designers would later make the switch to Vogue Patterns: Blass in 1967, Beene and Klein in the 1970s.

Next: Butterick’s Young Designers: Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with McCall’s at PatternVault.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 747 other followers

%d bloggers like this: