Mary Quant: Butterick Patterns

Tania Mallet wears Mary Quant and James Wedge on the cover of British Vogue, October 1, 1963
Tania Mallet wears Mary Quant (hat by James Wedge) on the cover of British Vogue, October 1, 1963. Photo: Brian Duffy. Image: eBay.

Nothing says Swinging London like Mary Quant. The pioneer of the Chelsea Look will receive a major retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2019. (An earlier exhibit, Manchester Art Gallery’s Mary Quant: Fashion Icon, had to close early due to conservation issues.)

Design for a cowl neck minidress with mustard yellow tights by Mary Quant, about 1967, London. Museum no. E.525-1975. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Mary Quant sketch, ca. 1967. Image: V&A.

The V&A is seeking vintage Quant for the show, including garments — or even photos of garments — made with Mary Quant patterns. See here for more details, or email the curators at maryquant@vam.ac.uk. Update: submissions are now closed.

Ensemble of bolero waistcoat and skirt, Mary Quant, about 1964. Museum no. T.34-2013. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Celia Hammond and Jean Shrimpton in Mary Quant, ca. 1964. Photo: John French. Image: V&A.
Mary Quant London - Made in England for Lord & Taylor 100% PVC label at the Costume Institute
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Butterick licensed Mary Quant patterns from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s. (See my Mad Men-era post.)

Mary Quant pantdress pattern 4779 in the Butterick retail catalog, November 1969
Right: Mary Quant pantdress pattern 4779 in the Butterick retail catalogue, November 1969. Image: Etsy.

For knitters, there were also ultra-mod knitting patterns. Some of these vintage booklets are available as official reissues, like these ones from Mary Maxim. (More on Ravelry.)

1960s Patons Courtelle knitting patterns by Mary Quant
1960s Patons Courtelle knitting patterns by Mary Quant. Images: Mary Maxim.

Mary Quant and her husband were profiled in Life magazine as early as 1960. (View story here.)

Mary Quant and Alexander Plunkett-Greene photographed on Park Avenue by Ken Heyman for Life magazine, 1960
Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket Greene on Park Avenue, LIFE, December 5, 1960. Photo: Ken Heyman. Image: LIFE archive.

For his 1963 Life feature on the Chelsea Look, Norman Parkinson photographed Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington in these Mary Quant dresses:

Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington photographed by Norman Parksinson in Mary Quant's Bank of England and Eton striped wool dresses, LIFE magazine, 1963
Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington in Mary Quant’s Bank of England and Eton dresses, LIFE, October 18, 1963. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Iconic Images.

Butterick released its first Mary Quant patterns in fall, 1964. Here’s Celia Hammond on the cover of the retail catalogue:

Butterick catalogue cover showing 3288 by Mary Quant - October 1964
Butterick 3288 by Mary Quant. Butterick catalogue, October 1964. Photo: Terence Donovan. Model: Celia Hammond. Image: eBay.

The Butterick Home Catalog hailed Quant as the originator of the Chelsea Look.

London: Mary Quant. A new group of Butterick designs by the originator of the Chelsea Look and winner o the International Fashion Award for Great Britain. Butterick Fall 1964 Quant
Mary Quant in the Butterick Home Catalog, Fall 1964.

The earliest Mary Quant patterns pre-date the Young Designer line. This dress pattern even includes the rosette:

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 3499
Butterick 3499 by Mary Quant (1965) Image: PatternVault shop.

British copies of this dress pattern say “featured in Queen magazine.” Jill Kennington wore this and other Butterick Young Designers in what was billed as “The Queen’s first ever make-it-yourself fashion.”

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 3716
Butterick 3716 by Mary Quant (ca. 1965)
1960s Jean Muir of Jane & Jane and Mary Quant dress patterns Butterick 3722, 3707, 3716
“How to be a self made sensation.” Right, Jill Kennington in Butterick 3716 by Mary Quant. Queen magazine, August 11, 1965. Image: eBay.

Here Moyra Swan models a mod scooter dress. Suggested fabrics include linen, jersey, lightweight wool, and knits.

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 4578
Butterick 4578 by Mary Quant (ca. 1967) Image: PatternVault shop.

This jumpsuit or playsuit came with a matching mini skirt — “the latest put-togethers”:

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

What to wear with a Mary Quant mini dress? Why, go-go boots, of course:

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 5475
Butterick 5475 by Mary Quant (1969)

By 1970, a Quant jumpsuit was more fluid, with a pointed collar; this pattern also includes a maxi-length cardigan. The catalogue gives a better view of the inflatable chair:

1970s Mary Quant jumpsuit and cardigan pattern Butterick 5857
Butterick 5857 by Mary Quant (1970) Image: Etsy.
Mary Quant's Butterick 5857 jumpsuit in the Fall 1970 catalogue
Mary Quant’s Butterick 5857 jumpsuit in the Fall 1970 catalogue. Image: tumblr.

Mary Quant in a more romantic mode means a sheer tunic worn with knickers. View B is a maxi dress.

1970s Mary Quant pattern Butterick 6256
Butterick 6256 by Mary Quant (ca. 1971)

After 1971 or so, Butterick Young Designer patterns had illustrations, not photos. This Mary Quant dress dates to circa early ’73.

1970s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 6916
Butterick 6916 by Mary Quant (ca. 1973) Image: Etsy.

Have you made anything from a Mary Quant pattern?

Maren Greve in Butterick 4128 by Mary Quant, 1966
Butterick 4128 by Mary Quant, Butterick catalogue, October 1966. Model: Maren Greve. Image: Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Mary Quant: Butterick Patterns

  1. Thank you so much for featuring these beautiful Mary Quant patterns. I was 13 when 3288 was first issued in late 1964, and my mum made me 2 versions for Christmas. I loved those dresses probably more than anything else that I’ve ever worn, and I wore them for about 8 years, though at some point (1968?), I lopped off 6 or 8 inches to make them mini-dresses.

  2. Mary Quant was the first clothing designer whose name and look I could recognize. One girl in my neighborhood had a Quant coat her father had bought her in London, there was much drool and envy.
    Your links seem to have failed for some of these images. I will return to check them out. I am curious to seek out what the conservation issues were.

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