Vintage Nurse’s Uniforms

Detail, McCall Special R & S Red Cross operating gown and helmet in McCall’s, July 1917.

As a salute to our health care workers, this post is dedicated to vintage patterns for nurse’s uniforms.

1910s

Claire Avery WW1 illustration: Woman's Place is in a Uniform, Vogue, July 1918
Red Cross nurse with Red Cross worker, Vogue, July 1918. Illustration: Claire Avery. Image: Vogue Archive.

During the First World War, McCall’s sold commercial patterns for war work, including nurse’s uniforms, as well as official Red Cross patterns.

World War 1 nurse uniform pattern McCall 7845 with apron and cap pattern McCall 7847 in McCall's magazine, July 1917.
“The Nurse Fitted with Her Uniform and Apron”: nurse uniform pattern McCall 7845 with apron and cap pattern McCall 7847 in McCall’s, July 1917.

Few of these antique patterns seem to have survived, but the Commercial Pattern Archive has the unisex Red Cross operating gown:

McCall Special R (1917) Red Cross Surgeon's and Nurse's Operating Gown in Two Lengths
McCall Special R (1917) Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s Operating Gown in Two Lengths. Image: Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry.

This illustration shows a nurse dressed for surgery in the gown, McCall Special R, and helmet Special S. (For more, see Patterns for the Great War.)

McCall Special R and S - Red Cross gown & helmet (1917)
McCall Special R and S (1917) Operating gown and helmet.

Nurses wore similar protective wear during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19. This archival photo shows a local Hamilton estate, Ballinahinch, that was donated for conversion to a hospital during the pandemic.

Ballinahinch Relief Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, ca. 1918. Image: Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library.

1920s

Twenties-era patterns for nurse’s uniforms always seem to include the cap. This design dates to circa 1921, just before McCall’s patented the printed pattern.

McCall 2207 (ca. 1921) Nurses’ uniform (with cap). Image: eBay.

This drop-waisted uniform was still available two years later, but with a much higher hemline.

McCall 3524
McCall 3524 (ca. 1924) Nurses’ uniform and cap. Image: eBay.
1920s Nándor Honti paper doll illustrating McCall's patterns - nurse uniform and cap 3524, infant dress and petticoat 4252, bonnet 3105, embroidery 1339 - in McCall's magazine
“Baby McCall Goes for a Ride.” Paper doll by illustrator Nándor Honti in McCall’s, March 1926. Image: Pinterest.

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library sells reproductions of this late 1920s design. Swap in a contrast Peter Pan collar and cuffs and it doubles as a maid’s uniform.

McCall 5805 (1929) Nurse’s & service uniform. Image: VPLL on Etsy.

Andrea Cesari has several nurse patterns in her collection. The description for this one reads, “A uniform whose trim lines always look smart. The absence of fussy detail assures perfect laundering.”

Simplicity 7006 (ca. 1929)
Simplicity 7006 (ca. 1929) Nurses’ Uniform. Image: Unsung Sewing Patterns.

1930s

This early ’30s uniform is similarly sensible. (View on Etsy.)

McCall 7052 (1932) Nurses’ & service uniform. Image: eBay.

From Vogue, a late ’30s uniform that also includes a pintucked shirtdress:

Vogue 8106 (1938) Nurse’s uniform or dress. Image: The Blue Gardenia.

1940s

During the Second World War, dressmakers could again sew Red Cross nurse’s uniforms, as well as commercial designs. This back-buttoned nurse’s uniform from Simplicity includes the apron, but not the cap.

Simplicity 3882 (1941)
Simplicity 3882 (1941) Nurse’s uniform or dress with apron.

As in the previous World War, Red Cross patterns were available from many companies. McCall’s and Simplicity both sold patterns for the Red Cross Volunteer Special Service Corps. Here, the envelope stipulates: “Must be made in poplin; veil may be made in chiffon, georgette, voile, or lawn.” This uniform was not intended for hospital workers.

McCall 4641 (1942)
McCall 4641 (1942) American Red Cross Volunteer Special Service Corps washable uniform. Image: eBay.

The next year, the veil and white contrasts were gone. (Compare Cesari’s equivalent, Simplicity 4626.)

McCall 2501 (1943) American Red Cross Volunteer Special Service Corps washable uniform. Image: eBay.

This McCall’s retail catalogue shows the Special Service Corps uniform with two other Red Cross patterns, with a note that they were only available by special order.

Red Cross patterns McCall 2500, 2501 - December 1944. "The three Red Cross Patterns shown on this page are not carried in stock but can be ordered for you."
Red Cross patterns in McCall’s catalogue, December 1944. Image: Unexpected Necessities.

After the war, patterns for nurse’s uniforms return to their peacetime selves, fashionable yet practical — in this case with a three-piece shoulder pad. Do you have any uniform patterns in your collection?

McCall 7517 (1948)
McCall 7517 (1948) Nurses’ Uniform or Ladies’ & Misses’ Dress.

Spring 2020 Designer Pattern Highlights

Tatyana Cooper wears bodycon dress pattern V1674 on the cover of the Spring 2020 Vogue Patterns lookbook
Vogue Patterns lookbook for Spring 2020. Model: Tatyana Cooper. Photo: Jack Deutsch. Image: Issuu.

It’s nearly the equinox: time for my Spring patterns report. As I mentioned back in December, I’ve been busy with other projects. I’m happy to share that my campaign to save Hanrahan’s, a historic Hamilton hotel turned tavern, was successful! (Read my latest op-ed | front page news | local news coverage.)

Huge thanks to now-retired columnist Paul Wilson, who first got the word out about this fascinating Edwardian hotel.

Recently, there’s also been some major pattern industry news. More on that in a moment — but first, a look at the first patterns of the decade.

Vogue’s second pattern by Richard René, the new designer for Laroche, is an oversized, colour-blocked pantsuit from the Spring 2019 collection.

Guy Laroche by Richard René, Spring 2019 collection
Guy Laroche by Richard René, Spring 2019. Image: Vogue Runway.
Guy Laroche colour block pantsuit pattern by Richard René - Vogue 1687
Vogue 1687 by Richard René for Guy Laroche (2020) Image: McCall’s.

Last June, British Vogue’s Venetia Scott paired the Laroche jacket with trousers by Issey Miyake.

Rianne van Rompaey in Guy Laroche and Issey Miyake, photographed by Theo Sion & styled by Venetia Scott, British Vogue, June 2019
Pieces by Guy Laroche and Issey Miyake in British Vogue, June 2019. Model: Rianne van Rompaey. Photo: Theo Sion. Editor: Venetia Scott. Image: Vogue UK.

From Rachel Comey, the Agave pantsuit, as worn for the Spring 2019 lookbook by Guinevere van Seenus.

Guinevere van Seenus in Rachel Comey Spring 2019 – Agave jacket and Divide pant. Photo: Annie Powers. Image: Vogue Runway.
Rachel Comey Agave jacket and Divide trousers pattern V1688 as worn by Amber Mitchell
Vogue 1688 by Rachel Comey (2020) Model: Amber Mitchell. Image: McCall’s.

The Divide pant also comes in cropped and colour-blocked versions, or embellished with sequins:

Rachel Comey Divide pant in black and white wool.
Rachel Comey Divide pant in black and white wool. Image: The Dresslyn.
Rachel Comey Divide pant in red wool with sequin embellishment.
Rachel Comey Divide pant in crimson red wool with sequin embellishment. Image: Moda Operandi.

Comey’s licensing with Vogue Patterns began in Spring, 2010. A decade later, the company finally gave the popular designer a catalogue cover.

V1688 by Rachel Comey on the cover of the Vogue Patterns lookbook, Spring 2020. Model: Amber Mitchell. Photo: Jack Deutsch. Image: Issuu.

Last fall, Zandra Rhodes celebrated her jubilee with a retrospective and catalogue from Yale University Press, Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion by Dennis Nothdruft with Zandra Rhodes and Iris Apfel, Yale 2019
Dennis Nothdruft, Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion (Yale University Press 2019) Image: Zandra Rhodes.

The new Zandra Rhodes pattern is a boho bias dress with contrast sleeve and hem flounces. Fine finishing details include narrow hems and a bias-bound neckline.

Zandra Rhodes dress pattern V1676
Vogue 1676 by Zandra Rhodes (2020) Model: Tatyana Cooper. Image: McCall’s.

McCall’s has a fresh new logo for 2020, when the company celebrates its 150th anniversary. But thus far, no new designer patterns.

M8049
McCall’s Early Spring 2020 lookbook. Image: Issuu.
M8089
McCall’s Spring 2020 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.

And this month, Britain’s IG Design Group Plc completed its acquisition of CSS Industries, the parent company of McCall’s and Simplicity. (Details at Design Group’s site and Business Wire.) CSS acquired The McCall Pattern Company in 2016 and Simplicity Creative Group in 2017.

Will Design Group revive Vogue Patterns Magazine, a storied publication that dates back a century, or divest the pattern side of the business entirely? Stay tuned for more coverage of McCall’s 150th and other milestones for 2020!

Guy Laroche Spring 2019 in Schön! magazine
Guy Laroche Spring 2019 in Schön! magazine. Model: Tetiuksha. Photo: Dylan Perlot. Editors: Sofia Giordano and Hugo Asensio. Image: Instagram.

Free Designer Pattern: McQueen Dress

Akuac Thiep photographed by Nick Knight in Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Akuac Thiep in Alexander McQueen SS 2020 by Sarah Burton. Photo: Nick Knight. Image: SHOWstudio.

In memory of Paco Peralta.

SHOWstudio’s latest Design Download is an Alexander McQueen dress.

Back view: Akuac Thiep photographed by Nick Knight in Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Akuac Thiep in Alexander McQueen SS 2020 by Sarah Burton. Photo: Nick Knight. Image: SHOWstudio.

A current-season design, it was the opening look in Sarah Burton’s Spring 2020 collection for McQueen.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton. Model: Vilma Sjoberg. Image: Vogue Runway.
Detail, Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Detail, Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton. Image: Vogue Runway.

This romantic collection drew comparisons with the couture, featuring reworked old patterns and past-season fabrics, as well as Irish linens, damask or beetled, fine wool suiting from the north of England, and hand embroidery worked by the entire McQueen studio.

“I love the idea of people having the time to make things together, the time to meet and talk together, the time to reconnect to the world.” – Sarah Burton

The dress re-envisions its show-opening counterpart in Alexander McQueen’s Eshu, named for the Yoruba trickster god and presented 20 years ago in a disused Hitchcock studio. (See Suzy Menkes, “London Crowns Its Fashion Kings,” and Savage Beauty.) As SHOWstudio notes, Burton’s “articulated puff-sleeve dress [is] a reimagining of the Autumn/Winter 2000 Eshu dress, originally crafted in calico with a focus on the silhouette.”

Alexander McQueen Fall 2000 - Eshu
Alexander McQueen Fall 2000 (Eshu). Image: Vogue Runway.

Steven Klein photographed Björk in a denim variation for Vogue’s September issue:

"A Brave New Björk," Vogue September issue 2000
Björk in a distressed denim dress from Eshu, Alexander McQueen FW 2000, Vogue, September 2000. Photo: Steven Klein. Editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image: bjork.fr.

In the same issue, the designer portfolio opens with a group portrait of McQueen and his team for Eshu, including model Liberty Ross, Isabella Blow, jeweller Shaun Leane, and the young Sarah Burton.

"How Many People Does It Take to Design a Dress?" Alexander McQueen and team, with Sarah Burton, near right, and Liberty Ross and Isabella Blow in looks from the Eshu collection, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Vogue, September 2000
Alexander McQueen and team, with Sarah Burton at near right, Vogue, September 2000. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Editor: Camilla Nickerson. Image: Vogue Archive.

Burton’s dress makes repeated appearances in the Spring 2020 campaign:

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 ad campaign. Model: Felice Noordhoff. Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth. Art direction: M/M (Paris). Image: Alexander McQueen.
Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 ad campaign. Model: Vivien Solari. Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth. Art direction: M/M (Paris). Image: Alexander McQueen.

Also worn by Imaan Hammam in Masha Vasyukova’s campaign video (music by Isobel Waller-Bridge):

The pattern download comes in A4 sheets, with a test line to check the scale.

Image: SHOWstudio.

Download the dress pattern (18 pieces)

Size: Sample size. Update: Model Akuac Thiep is wearing the sample size. She is 5’10” and wears a size 8/36. (34″ bust | 25″ waist | 35″ hip) Source: Nevs Models.

Notes: Prints on 220 A4 sheets.

Notions: Back zipper.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 campaign
Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 ad campaign. Model: Vivien Solari. Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth. Art direction: M/M (Paris). Image: Alexander McQueen.
With thanks to Emily Knight.

Patterns in Vogue: Shimmering Sensations

Ariane Koizumi photographed by Bert Stern in Vogue 1651 by Yves Saint Laurent and Vogue 1654 by Emanuel Ungaro, 1985
Ariane Koizumi wears Vogue patterns by Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro, Vogue, November 1985. Photo: Bert Stern.

In 1985, Bert Stern captured Ariane Koizumi in two Vogue Paris Originals, made in metallic velvet for festive evenings.

The patterns are a wrap dress by Yves Saint Laurent and tunic/skirt ensemble from Emanuel Ungaro (Vogue 1651 and Vogue 1654), both shown in silk blend panné velvet from Lafitte. (Earrings, Lecour Johnson and Pellini Bijoux; bracelets, Debra Fine Yohai and Wendy Gell Jewelry; Charles Jourdan body stocking. Shoes, Manolo Blahnik and Yves Saint Laurent.)

Paco’s post about YSL wrap dresses.

Happy new year, everyone! All the best for 2020.

In memoriam: Emanuel Ungaro

Anh Duong and models in Emanuel Ungaro Haute Couture photographed by Deborah Turbeville, 1985
Emanuel Ungaro Couture at the Château de Raray, Vogue, December 1985. Photo: Deborah Turbeville.

Farewell to Emanuel Ungaro, one of the great couturiers to emerge from the twentieth century.

Read his Vogue obituary.

Emanuel Ungaro photographed by Irving Penn, 1985
Emanuel Ungaro photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, December 1985. Image: Vogue.com.

Disney Hercules Patterns

Hercules, the Nemean Lion, and chorus in the Disney Hercules (1997)
Still from the Disney Hercules (1997) Image: IMDb.

The Saturnalia begins today. To mark the ancient Roman festival, here’s a look at patterns inspired by Saturn’s grandson, Hercules.

Poster for Disney's Hercules (1997)
Poster for Disney’s Hercules (1997) Image: IMDb.

Rumours are swirling about a live-action Disney Hercules. The studio’s animated Hercules came out over two decades ago in summer, 1997. By the fall, the pattern companies were ready with Hercules-inspired costumes for children and adults.

Hercules and Megara is still a popular couple’s costume. Here is Butterick’s unofficial costume pattern:

Butterick 5108 (1997)
Butterick 5108 (1997) Image: Pinterest.

The easier-to-find children’s version:

Butterick 5109 (1997)
Butterick 5109 (1997) Image: Etsy.

Before Simplicity held the Disney license, the company combined unofficial Hercules costumes with its take on Xena, Warrior Princess.

Simplicity 7851 (1997)
Simplicity 7851 (1997) Image: New Vintage Studio.
Simplicity 7834 (1997)
Simplicity 7834 (1997) Image: eBay.

Meanwhile, McCall’s had this design — “Princess, Gladiator, and Female Warrior.”

McCall’s 9000 (1997) Image: eBay.
McCall’s 9001 (1997) Image: Etsy.

Happy Saturnalia!

Hercules ©1997 Walt Disney Pictures
Disney’s Hercules (1997) Image: IMDb.