Armistice Centenary

Illustration of women in uniform on the cover of Butterick magazine The Delineator, November 1918
Women in uniform on the cover of The Delineator, November 1918. Image: eBay.

This Sunday is the centenary of the Armistice of 1918, marking the end of World War I.

On the November 1918 Delineator cover shown above, two women wear military uniforms that could be sewn from a Butterick pattern. (Also pictured in the late Joy Emery’s book. Look inside the issue here.) Click the images below for my 1914 centenary post, Patterns for the Great War, and other patterns for war work.

Responding to the Country's Call: patterns for war work in McCall's magazine, July 1917.
Responding to the Country’s Call, McCall’s magazine, July 1917. Image: eBay.
McCall 8125 dress, McCall 8130 aviation cap / McCall 8121 dress - cover of McCall Fashions for January 1918
Wartime skating in an aviation cap (left). McCall Fashions for January 1918.

Free Designer Pattern: Callot Soeurs Pyjamas

Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913
Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913. Image: LACMA.

This week, a free couture pattern from Callot Soeurs.

Callot Soeurs was one of the old couture houses of Belle Époque Paris, founded in 1895 by the four Callot sisters. Not many Callot Soeurs garments survive, and the house is best remembered for its role in the early career of Madeleine Vionnet. But in 2015, the New Yorker published an article on a collection of Callot Soeurs dresses found stored in Villa La Pietra, a Florentine villa that was once home to American heiress Hortense Mitchell Acton. (See Jessamyn Hatcher, “Twenty-One Dresses.”) Click the image below to see the gallery of Acton’s Callot Soeurs gowns.

Callot Soeurs label inside one of Hortense Mitchell Acton's commissions found at Villa La Pietra, Florence. Photo: Pari Dukovic
Callot Soeurs label inside one of Hortense Mitchell Acton’s commissions found at Villa La Pietra, Florence. Photo: Pari Dukovic. Image: The New Yorker.

LACMA’s Callot Soeurs pyjama ensemble includes a delicate top and harem pants—a radical element of the new women’s silhouette. (See my sarouel post here.)

Here are the museum notes:

This thoughtfully crafted hand-sewn and machine-stitched lounging pajama was made bifurcated by the attachment of the skirt length from the center front of the waist to the center back through the legs. Vertical side-front seams of the skirt were sewn with openings for the feet to create a stylized harem pant. The silk charmeuse skirt draped and outlined each leg while silk tassels at the foot openings would have drawn attention to the wearer’s ankles as she walked. A bifurcated garment of any style during the early 1900s was a provocative fashion that challenged ideas about established gender-appropriate dress.

Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913
Detail, Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913. Image: LACMA.
Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas; silk satin embellished shoes, London, England, ca. 1913
Detail, Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913. Image: LACMA.
Callot Soeurs sketch by Thomas John Bernard
Callot Soeurs sketch by Thomas John Bernard. Image: LACMA.

Download the pattern here.

Note: Gridded pattern. Does not include seam allowance.

Back waist length: 52 3/8″ (133 cm)

Notions: 10 spherical buttons, 4 5″ (12.7 cm) tassels, cord, 1/2″ (1.3 cm) bias tape, 3/4″ (1.9 cm) trim, ribbon for plackets, hooks and eyes.

For more historical patterns, see the LACMA Costume and Textile Pattern Project.

McCall Fashions for January 1918

Illustration of two women skating on the cover of a McCall Pattern Company news leaflet, winter 1918 (McCall 8125, 8130, and 8121)
McCall Fashions, January 1918.

Now that the temperature has dropped, I wanted to share a near-antique McCall News from winter 1917-18.

The cover illustration shows two women skating on a frozen lake. The fur-trimmed dress on the left is McCall 8125, with ‘aviation cap’ McCall 8130; the dress on the right is McCall 8121.

Inside the leaflet are some interesting patterns for war work. You may recognize overall suit McCall 7860 from my Great War post. Here we see the sleeveless view worn over a blouse:

World War 1 McCall 7860 overall suit pattern in McCall Fashions leaflet
McCall 7860 overall suit in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

‘The Conservation Uniform,’ McCall 7970, is a dress apron designated “Official Food Conservation Uniform; for the use of women signing the Conservation Pledge of the Food Commission.” (Often called a Hoover apron—for more, see witness2fashion’s post.) The cap and cuffs were included in the pattern:

World War 1 dress apron / conservation uniform pattern McCall 7970 in McCall Fashions leaflet
The Conservation Uniform: McCall 7970 dress apron in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

The ‘aviation cap’ from the cover is shown with McCall 7897, a ladies’ military dress with optional cape:

World War 1 patterns: Military dress McCall 7895 and aviation cap McCall 8130 in McCall Fashions leaflet
Military dress McCall 7895 and aviation cap McCall 8130 in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

Patterns for the Great War

Red Cross worker on the cover of Pictorial Review magazine, July 1917
Red Cross worker on the cover of Pictorial Review magazine, July 1917. Image: 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.

Porter Woodruff illustration on the cover of British Vogue, May 1918
British Vogue, May 1918. Illustration: Porter Woodruff. Image: 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: 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: University of Southampton.
"Sewing for solidarity" - Women sew for the war effort in the old University of Toronto library, Canada
Women sew for the war effort in the old University of Toronto library. Image: 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: 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: eBay.

Update: Weldons, the British pattern company, had similar patterns “for our troops”:

Embed from Getty Images

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:

What the Red Cross Is Doing and What You Can Do - Drumright Evening Derrick, 17 Jun 1918
Drumright Evening Derrick, June 17, 1918. Image: 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: 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):

"How to Help the Red Cross--Now! Army and navy look to the women of the country to provide for the comfort of the wounded and convalescent" McCall's July 1917 Red Cross patterns
“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:

"Throughout the country, in Red Cross chapter, in club, church guild, and small home, women are doing their 'bit' for the soldiers." McCall's Jul 1917 photograph
“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:

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

McCall Special P is a pair of pajamas:

Red Cross pajamas pattern illustrated: 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:

Red Cross bathrobe or convalescent gown illustrated: 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:

Red Cross operating gown pattern illustration: 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:

Red Cross operating gown and operating helmet pattern illustrated: 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.