Star Wars Costume Patterns

October 9, 2015 § 3 Comments


Trisha Biggar, Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams, 2005) Image via Abrams.

Anticipation is high for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opens in December. For fans of costume design, it helps that Michael Kaplan, who began his career with Bob Mackie and Blade Runner (1982), is designing the costumes for the new film. (Read Vanity Fair’s post here.) Here’s a look at Star Wars costume patterns.

Star wars couture 3

“Star Wars Couture,” Vogue, April 1999. Model: Audrey Marnay. Photo: Irving Penn. Fashion editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image via the Fashion Spot.

Star Wars’ costumes must be among the most discussed in cinema. In 2005, LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) organized the exhibit Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, accompanied by a book by Trisha Biggar, the costume designer for the prequel trilogy (Abrams, 2005; still in print). Last year saw the publication of Brandon Alinger’s Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy (Chronicle Books, 2014). And a new travelling exhibit, Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, will open in New York next month.


John Mollo’s final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.


John Mollo’s design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.

John Mollo’s costumes for Star Wars, which won an Academy Award in 1978, have immortalized a certain strand of ’70s style. Compare Princess Leia’s iconic hooded dress with a 1976 Dior evening gown available as a Vogue pattern; both were made in white silk crepe de chine:

Left: Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1976. Photo: Chris von Wangenheim. Right: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Image via PatternVault on Twitter.

(I’ve made the Dior in red; photos coming soon.)

The year after The Empire Strikes Back (1980), McCall’s began releasing children’s costume patterns licensed with Lucasfilm.

McCall’s 7772 includes costumes for five characters from the first two films: Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda, Jawa, and Lord Darth Vader. The Vader view calls for one single serving cereal box. I have several sizes available in the shop:

Vintage 1980s licensed Star Wars pattern - McCall's 7772

McCall’s 7772 (1981) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

After Return of the Jedi (1983), McCall’s released a children’s pattern for Ewok costumes. And not just any Ewok: the envelope back names “Wicket the Ewok”:

1980s children's Ewok costume pattern - McCalls 8731

McCall’s 8731 (1983) Image via Etsy.

In the 1990s, Butterick took over the Lucasfilm licensing. Butterick 5174 and 5175, official Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker costumes for adults and children, included an order form for the wig and light sabre:

1990s Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker pattern - Butterick 5174

Butterick 5174 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s children's Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia pattern - Butterick 5175

Butterick 5175 (1997) Image via Etsy.

Butterick also released two official Darth Vader costume patterns for children and adults. Butterick 5176 and 5186 included instructions for breastplate appliqués made from coloured, foam sheet remnants, and an order form for the helmet and light sabre:

1990s boy's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5176

Butterick 5176 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s men's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5186

Butterick 5186 (1997) Image via Etsy.

There were only unofficial costume patterns based on the prequel trilogy. The year of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), McCall’s released McCall’s 2433, a “Space Nomads” pattern for adults and children with a version of Sith warrior Darth Maul:

McCalls 2433

McCall’s 2433 (1999) Image via Etsy.

Based on costumes from Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Simplicity 4433 includes Padmé Amidala’s combat suit, which doubles as an Aayla Secura costume (but two-sleeved and without the headpiece):

Andrea Schewe women's Star Wars combat pattern - Simplicity 4433

Simplicity 4433 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Although Padmé’s Peacock dress was cut from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), it was widely seen in promotional materials for the film:

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress. Image via Pinterest.

Andrea Schewe produced two versions of the Peacock dress and headddress for children and adults, Simplicity 4426 and Simplicity 4443. The adults’ pattern includes both Padmé and Princess Leia, while the children’s has Leia, Padmé, and young Anakin and Obi-Wan:

Padmé, Leia, Anakin, and Jedi costume pattern - Simplicity 4426

Simplicity 4426 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Women's Padmé and Leia costume pattern - Simplicity 4443

Simplicity 4443 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Men’s costume pattern Simplicity 4450/059 includes Anakin and Obi-Wan Jedi costumes, together with an unidentifiable warlock:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi tunic and cloak pattern - Simplicity 4450/0579

Simplicity 4450/0579 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Based on Padmé Amidala’s nightgown in Revenge of the Sith, McCall’s 4995 is a dress with boned bodice, separate drape, chain or bead trim, and tassels made with three sizes of beads:

McCalls 4995 (2005)

McCall’s 4995 (2005) Image via eBay.

Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, perhaps there will be more licensed Star Wars patterns…

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Vanity Fair, June 2015. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Image via Vanity Fair.

Zandra Rhodes: Style Patterns

September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments

Zandra Rhodesand Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014

Zandra Rhodes and Rembrandt’s portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014. Image via the National Gallery.

Last week, Zandra Rhodes returned to London Fashion Week for her Spring 2016 collection. Famous for her colourful, hand-drawn prints, the bohemian cult favourite is also new to Vogue Patterns for Winter/Holiday 2015: Vogue 1472 is the first new Zandra Rhodes sewing pattern in thirty years. For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment - Rowan 58 (Winter 2015)

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment in Katy Bevan, “Dame Zandra’s Knitting Circle” in Rowan Knitting & Crochet 58 (Winter 2015). Image via Rowan.

Born in Chatham, Kent, Zandra Rhodes (b. 1940) trained as a textile designer at Medway College of Art, where her mother was a lecturer, and London’s Royal College of Art. Rhodes founded her own label in order to build garments around her prints. Her first, 1969 collection, Knitted Circle, was famously worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue magazine; the evening coat is now in the collection of the V&A:

Natalie Wood wears a screen-printed felt evening coat and silk chiffon dress, both by Zandra Rhodes. Vogue, January 1970. Photo: Gianni Penati. Image via Youthquakers.

Rhodes became known as the Princess of Punk following her Spring 1977 torn and safety-pinned Conceptual Chic collection, which was partly inspired by Schiaparelli’s Tears dress.

Wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes' Spring 1977 collection

A wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes’ Spring 1977 collection at the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibit, 2014. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the 1980s Rhodes was designing for Princess Diana. The princess wore this pink chiffon dress, embellished with crystal beads and pearl droplets, during her 1986 state visit to Japan (now in the collection of Historic Royal Palaces):

Zandra Rhodes sketch for Princes Diana. Image via SDNews.

In 1985, Style Patterns released a handful of Zandra Rhodes sewing patterns. Rhodes was among the first designers to be included in the company’s short-lived designer line. (See my earlier posts on Bruce Oldfield and Frederick Fox.)

Style 4399 is a pattern for a wedding or evening dress in two lengths with characteristic serated frill:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4399

Style 4399 by Zandra Rhodes (1985) Image via Etsy.

Style 4399 schematic

Back view for Style 4399 (1985)

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Lined Wedding Dress or Evening Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has shoulder yoke with serrated frill and pointed cape effect on bodice. Skirt has elasticated waistline. Model 1 bead trim is used on yoke and neck tie. Suggested fabrics: Lightweight silk types, crepe de chine, chiffon, shantung, lace, voile, batiste, organza. Lining: Jap silk, crepe de chine. Trim: wide ribbon and pearl beading or narrow ribbon.

Style 4400 is an off-the-shoulder wedding or bridesmaid’s dress with separate petticoat:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4400

Style 4400 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4400 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4400 (1985)

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Half-Lined Wedding Dress or Bridesmaid’s Dress and Petticoat — Dress has flounced bodice with elasticated waist. Skirt has layered net frills, with gathered net and ribbon trim. Bride and bridesmaid’s dress has petticoat in fabric and net. Suggested fabrics: Dress, Models 1 and 2: Organza, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, lightweight lace. Lining: silk types, taffeta, satin (nap irrelevant). Net or tulle: silk, nylon. Trim: wide ribbon, sequin trim, narrow ribbon.

The third dress design, Style 4400, has a low back décolletage and multi-tiered skirt:

1980s Zandra Rhodes dress pattern - Style 4495

Style 4495 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4495 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4495 (1985)

You can see the same pattern with updated envelope here.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has fitted bodice with elasticated waistline. Models 1 and 3 have bodice frill to waistline. Model 2 has shorter bodice frill. Models 1 and 2 have four-tiered skirt flounce. Model 3 has three-tiered skirt flounce. Suggested fabrics: Chiffon, georgette, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, organza. Also: lightweight lining fabric. Trim: wide ribbon; pearl trim (views 1 and 2).

The designs seem to be from Rhodes’ Spring 1985 collection, Images of Woman:

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 a

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 b

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

The trim and fabric specifications are catalogues of girliness: lightweight, floaty fabrics to be trimmed with the ribbon, sequins, and pearls. I love how Style 4495 suggests lining fabric as an alternative—perhaps with a budget-conscious youth market in mind.

For more on Zandra Rhodes, see the V&A’s article.

Patterns in Vogue: It’s a Long Story…

August 11, 2015 § 2 Comments


Detail, Vogue, November 1996. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Paul Cavaco.

“It’s a Long Story…” is a 1996 editorial by Mario Testino featuring Nadja Auermann, Kylie Bax, and Chandra North in the season’s long, lean silhouettes. Two photos in the editorial show a Vogue dress pattern.

The first is a detail shot showcasing the Chanel cosmetics and Judith Leiber minaudière. Auermann’s white, viscose jersey dress is Ralph Lauren Collection, while Bax’s “black reversible-to-blue column dress” was made from a Vogue pattern:

"Fashion goes to great lengths to toe the long, thin line. For evening dressing or urbane outerwear, the lean look continues to rule." Mario Testino for Vogue, November 1996.

Vogue, November 1996. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Paul Cavaco.

The second photo shows the minimalist dresses in full length. The caption reads, “Although they lean to the glamorous, this season’s matte-jersey dresses are essentially spare, understated designs”:

VogueNov1996_V9469 Cuff: Janis Savitt for M+J Savitt. Sandals: Stuart Weitzman and Calvin Klein.

Right, Ralph Lauren Collection; left, Vogue 9469. Vogue, November 1996. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Paul Cavaco.

The pattern is view C of Vogue Easy Options pattern Vogue 9469, as always “edited by Vogue.” The edits seem to consist of lengthening the dress to below ankle length, making it reversible, and removing the back slit for a hobble silhouette. (Jersey from New York’s B&J Fabrics.)


July 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Iman photographed by Norman Parkinson for the cover of Vogue Italia, March 1976

Iman on the cover of Vogue Italia, March 1976. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image via eBay.

Iman (b. 1955) turns sixty today. Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid in Mogadishu, Somalia, she and her family fled to Kenya after the 1969 military coup, where she was discovered while a student in Nairobi by photographer Peter Beard. She soon became the first African supermodel, later founding Iman Cosmetics. (For more on Iman’s early career, watch Vogue Italia’s video interview, or read a 2014 Guardian profile here.)

Iman in Chanel couture with David Bowie, photographed by Bruce Weber for Vogue Italia, 1995

Iman and David Bowie in Vogue Italia, August 1995. Photo: Bruce Weber. Image via

Iman can be seen on a handful of Vogue Patterns, circa 1980, as well as pattern editorials in Vogue Patterns and Vogue magazine.

From Jean Muir, Vogue 2399 is a long-sleeved, blouson dress with matching scarf:

Iman wears a blue Jean Muir dress pattern - Vogue 2399, circa 1980

Vogue 2399 by Jean Muir (ca. 1980)

Vogue 2400 is an Emanuel Ungaro skirt suit with striped, quilted jacket and tucked blouse:

Iman on the cover of a 1980s Emanuel Ungaro suit pattern - Vogue 2400

Vogue 2400 by Emanuel Ungaro (ca. 1980) Image via Etsy.

From Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 2404 is a skirt suit with contrast standing collar and turn-back cuffs:

Iman wears an Yves Saint Laurent skirt suit, circa 1980 - Vogue 2404

Vogue 2404 by Yves Saint Laurent (1980) Image via Etsy.

In a 1977 Vogue Patterns editorial in Vogue magazine, the young Iman wears a top (Vogue 9798) and drawstring pants (Vogue 9493) with a Liberty-print sarong:

Iman photographed by Bob Richardson in Vogue 9798 and 9493 for Vogue magazine, May 1977

Iman in Vogue 9798 and 9493, Vogue, May 1977. Photo: Bob Richardson. Image via the Fashion Spot.

(Reposted from the Fashion Spot Iman thread.)

Iman also appears with Karen Bjornson in a Vogue Patterns blouse editorial by Patrick Demarchelier from summer, 1979. Here she wears Vogue 7413 (with Bjornson in Vogue 2185 by Renata):

Iman and Karen Bjornson in blouses Vogue 7413 and Vogue 2185 by Renata, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, 1979

Iman and Karen Bjornson in Vogue Patterns, July/August 1979. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier.

On the left, Iman wears Vogue 7234 (the envelope shows Gia Carangi; with Bjornson in Vogue 7392); on the right, her wrap-front blouse is Very Easy Vogue 7373 (with Bjornson in Vogue 7435 – click to enlarge):

The New Suitors, 1979: Vogue 7234 and 7392; Very Easy Vogue 7373 and Vogue 7435

Iman and Karen Bjornson in Vogue Patterns, July/August 1979. Photos: Patrick Demarchelier.

Just for fun, here’s another early Iman cover from the same period as her commercial pattern work (photographer unknown; later used by German Cosmo):

Iman Italian Cosmopolitan cover, June 1980

Iman on the cover of Cosmopolitan Italia, June 1980. Image via Modelinia/Fashion Bomb daily.

Happy birthday, Iman!

With thanks to vegas4001 for the Vogue Italia photographer credit.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Equestrian

July 24, 2015 § 4 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a 1930s equestrian pattern.

Equestrian. This Depression-era pattern for fall-front jodhpurs has jaunty cuffed trousers, the requisite reinforced inner leg, and three pocket pieces, including one for a watch pocket:

1930s jodhpurs sewing pattern - Butterick 5647

Butterick 5647 (ca. 1934) Image via Etsy.

(Click the image to see sold listing with back of envelope.)

Interestingly, this copy of Butterick 5647 is stamped Pattern Made in Canada. Although the pattern was produced in women’s, misses’ and girls’ sizes, the early equestrian patterns that survive are usually in smaller sizes—intended for riding lessons, perhaps?

For more vintage equestrian patterns see my Year of the Horse post.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Cycling

July 23, 2015 § 3 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a pattern for cycling.

Cycling. This cycling illustration graced the cover of the summer 1938 issue of Vogue Pattern Book:

Late 1930s Vogue Pattern Book with cycling illustration

Vogue Pattern Book, June/July 1938. Image via eBay.

The pattern is Vogue 8014, a sport or evening frock, bolero, and calot (hat) in the collection of CoPA:

1930s sports dress, bolero, and hat pattern - Vogue 8014

Vogue 8014 (1938) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive. For research purposes only.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Bowling

July 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a mid-century bowling pattern.

Bowling. This early 1960s pattern from Simplicity includes an “action back” shirt and skirt in two lengths. The skirt has inverted pleats in front and back; the shirt, which may be monogrammed, has pleats at the back shoulder seams:

Early 1960s women's bowling pattern - Simplicity 4648

Simplicity 4648 (ca. early 1960s) Image via Etsy.

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