April 15, 2018 § 11 Comments
The new designer patterns for Summer 2018 play with texture and special fabrics. Lace, seersucker, matelassé, waffle georgette, even a laser-cut textile makes an appearance.
Vogue’s summer cover look is by Nicola Finetti.
The matelassé cocktail dress with shaped hemline and flounce sleeves is from Nicola Finetti Fall 2016.
Finetti also showed a longer, front-zip version of V1587. Just trim down the A-line skirt and add a midriff panel:
This season’s backless showpiece is by Adam Andrascik for Laroche: a long-sleeved dress with front bodice drape and slim, layered skirt. Use a semi-sheer fabric for the full effect.
The original is textured silk georgette in a chartreuse-tinged shade of La La Land yellow.
Andrascik showed two takes on the backless V1589 dress. (A famously backless, ’70s Guy Laroche gown is a perennial inspiration for today’s Laroche designers. French actor Mireille Darc’s gown, worn in the 1972 comedy Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire, also informed Hilary Swank’s Oscar dress.) Here, the V1589 dress is seen backstage:
On a black, sleeveless version, bead chains dangled from silver appliques:
Judging from the pattern number, the second Laroche may have been delayed from Vogue’s spring release. From Marcel Marongiu, it’s a long-sleeved dress with contrast collar, cuffs, and curved contrast panels in front and back.
Revered American designer Claire McCardell was the inspiration for Marongiu’s last collection for Laroche. The V1577 dress was shown both long-sleeved and sleeveless:
As a grey and white coat dress, it swaps the button placket for jumbo exposed zippers:
Marongiu’s shift dress version, with giant paillettes, was featured in the Laroche advertising campaign by Steve Hiett. Hiett also photographed the V1589 dress for Spring ’17:
New from Rachel Comey: the Popcorn dress. The Comey staple is shown in Spring 2017’s seersucker.
The pullover dress works for both solids and prints—even print-mixing with contrast skirt inserts. The current version is black rayon.
In her Spring 2007 collection, presented at the Altman building during New York Fashion Week, Comey showed the dress both loose and belted.
A closer look reveals the print-mixing. There are only two prints here, with one, reminiscent of Biba’s famous banana print, in three colourways:
The Summer patterns include two lace looks from Rebecca Vallance: a cutout dress and the Dolce Vita jumpsuit. (There’s one dress left at the Outnet.) The Dolce Vita is a cropped, wide-leg jumpsuit tied with grosgrain ribbon:
The jumpsuit is from Rebecca Vallance Summer 2016.
Simplicity’s latest from Cynthia Rowley is a flounce-sleeved lace dress with two neckline variations. Choose from off the shoulder or scoop neck.
Rowley presented her Spring 2017 collection in a “feathered snow globe” at her West Village townhouse. (See WWD.) As photographed by frequent collaborator William Eadon, the S8599 dress is layered, maximalist-style, under an appliquéd satin smock:
The original dress had a contrast back bodice:
Seeing designers’ alternate looks for the Spring/Summer pattern designs, it’s striking how Vogue no longer provides variant views in their designer line, whereas for Simplicity, it’s built in to the business. But armed with reference photos, it’s easy to transform a design.
January 25, 2018 § Leave a comment
Have you seen the new designer patterns for Spring 2018?
Badgley Mischka are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary this March, so it’s a treat to see their work on the cover of Vogue’s Spring lookbook. (Click their portrait for my 2013 Just Married post.)
The Spring collection also marks the return of Tracy Reese. (The Detroit native was last seen in Vogue Patterns in 2016.) The new Reese design is a dress with contrast yoke and sleeves—great for those matching sheer/opaque print combos:
Sew Today’s latest issue tipped us off to Reese’s comeback:
The dark floral was a signature print in her Fall 2016 collection, where it could be seen on dresses, sheer blouses, and a long, cuffed skirt:
Reese was inspired by Detroit for this collection, and she opened her presentation with a short film starring local model Catherine Nako:
The film stills are by Detroit-based cinematographer Ray Rushing.
Bonus: I published my Winter/Holiday post before the McCall’s Winter release, which included two Nicole Miller patterns. This asymmetrical top and flared trousers look to be from the Spring 2017 collection:
Miller’s Gladiator gown uses contrast binding to punctuate the classic goddess dress. (Still available in white from the designer’s retail site.)
The original was silk chiffon.
See you in the arena!
October 19, 2017 § 6 Comments
From Guy Laroche to Paco Peralta, Vogue’s designer patterns for Winter/Holiday 2017 offer a range of festive looks for the coming season.
The new Guy Laroche is a skinny jean and party top, recommended for lamé:
The ensemble is the first pattern to be drawn from Adam Andrascik’s debut collection for Laroche.
Gleaming tartan jacquard is the star of this ensemble from Anne Klein, now designed by Sharon Lombardo:
Guinevere Van Seenus wore a similar look for the Fall 2016 campaign, photographed by Annemarieke van Drimmelen:
Like fall’s V1561 jacket, the two Zandra Rhodes offerings are from the Fall 2016 collection, which was sponsored by Kraftangan Malaysia. (Kraftangan is Malay for ‘handicraft.’) As always with Rhodes’ work, the focus is on textiles, here on a double-sided fabric such as metallic jacquard:
Vogue chose three of Rhodes’ Songket pieces—a dress, peplum top, and trousers—for the Winter/Holiday collection. Songket is a traditional metallic brocade produced in Southeast Asia.
Paco Peralta’s latest design for Vogue is a dolman-sleeved knit top and handkerchief skirt. Festive and versatile, the skirt even has pockets:
I have some Lurex in my stash, don’t you?
If you’re fresh out of shiny fabric, you might be interested in Gorgeous Fabrics’ farewell sale. Last weekend, owner Ann Steeves announced that she is closing shop after 11 years in business.
August 7, 2017 § 4 Comments
Have you seen the new Fall patterns? I post the designer photos to the @PatternVault Twitter. From now on, they’ll also have a more permanent home here on the blog.
(Speaking of Twitter, I’ve started posting non-fashion tweets to a new, personal account: @DrSarahSheehan.)
Simplicity’s latest Cynthia Rowley pattern came out after the Summer 2017 release and branded for the company’s 90th anniversary celebrations. The pintuck ruffle dress was seen in short and maxi lengths in Rowley’s Resort 2016 collection.
The setting for William Eadon’s photos might look familiar from The Royal Tenenbaums: the grand staircase of Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall was the location where Margot went out for ice cream.
Vogue’s new Guy Laroche pattern is an off-the-shoulder dress from the Spring 2016 collection, Adam Andrascik’s second for the house.
For a biker look—an Andrascik trademark—try it in leather with chain accents:
Or cut off below the waistband to make a jacket:
Rachel Comey fans are spoiled for choice with three new Rachel Comey patterns. Vogue’s Fall lookbook cover shows Comey’s Karloff coat in Pre-Fall 2016’s floral brocade. One of the coat’s earliest incarnations was in buffalo plaid with camel contrast:
Two of the Comey patterns are from the Fall 2016 collection—which will be familiar to those of you who follow Anne at Pretty Grievances.
V1556 is a raw-hemmed, sleeveless dress shown worn as a jumper. With sleeves it becomes the Cumberland dress.
The pleated, bishop-sleeved Bartram dress is pure sewist bait in silk jersey.
Update on shopping local: Thanks to everyone who’s provided me with updated information about designer royalties from pattern sales. Since publishing this post, I’ve learned that Simplicity pays royalties to all licensed designers, including on web sales.
For other brands: if you would like to know whether royalties are being paid for online sales of designer patterns, you could contact the companies directly for more information.
March 15, 2016 § 11 Comments
Dear HBO, Have you considered costume pattern licensing? With a new trailer for season 6, and season 5 out on DVD, here’s a look at
completely official Game of Thrones sewing patterns sewing patterns inspired by Game of Thrones.
Costume designer Michele Clapton won three Emmys for her work on the first five seasons of Game of Thrones. Season 6 will see a new costume designer for the series: April Ferry, who designed the Emmy Award-winning costumes for HBO’s Rome (2005-2007)—which also starred Tobias Menzies, Indira Varma, and Ciarán Hinds. (Read a Costume Designers Guild bio here.)
Given the two-way relationship between Game of Thrones’ costume design and fashion, the costumes are interesting even if you don’t watch the show. (Full disclosure: I’ve made more than a few Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire costumes, including S2 Daenerys, book Quaithe, and Lyanna Stark.)
In spring, 2014, McCall’s released patterns for the most popular women’s Game of Thrones costumes, Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister. Both M6940 and M6941 are available as printable downloads. (I made M6940 for my Lyanna Stark costume; preview here.)
Last month, the company launched a new Cosplay by McCall’s line with three patterns including a unisex Westerosi cloak, M2016, “for those for whom winter can’t come soon enough” (press release here). Their pattern for the cross-fastened cloak worn by the people of Westeros (including Jon Snow, Eddard Stark, and the Stark children at Winterfell) includes an optional fur capelet. There’s also a hooded version similar to Sansa Stark’s hooded cloak:
Simplicity’s Game of Thrones costume patterns emerge in full plumage, but quickly change colours to evade capture.
Andrea Schewe’s Game of Thrones adaptations for Simplicity also started appearing in 2014. Simplicity 1347 combines three Daenerys outfits—wedding dress, Dothraki Khaleesi, and Qarth court dress—with the elf Tauriel from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). (Now out of print, but see S1010.)
Simplicity 1487 includes court dresses for Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. (Now out of print, but see S1009.)
Simplicity 1246 has costumes for Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys, specifically the split dress and cape she wears as leader of the Unsullied. (This version out of print, but see S1008.)
Simplicity 1137 includes two Sansa Stark costumes. Michele Clapton conceived both as showing Sansa’s own handiwork: the dress with flower-embellished neckline from season 1 and ‘Dark Sansa’ from the end of season 4. The necklace refers to Sansa’s needle—“a jewelry idea of [Arya’s sword] Needle.” (See Fashionista’s interview; for more on Game of Thrones’ embroidery see Elizabeth Snead’s article in The Hollywood Reporter and embroiderer Michele Carragher’s website.) Andrea Schewe has posted tips on making the feathered neckpiece. (Still in print with new envelope, S1137.)
Game of Thrones meets Star Wars in Simplicity 8074, a pattern for season 5’s Sand Snakes Obara and Nymeria with Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) (still S8074):
HBO is owned by Time Warner, which has existing pattern licensing for DC Comics. Do you think HBO should license Game of Thrones patterns? I’d be first in line for a King’s Landing halter dress or Varys’ kimono…
January 11, 2016 § 5 Comments
Happy New Year! Vintage reissues give a taste of the pleasures of sewing vintage, without the bidding wars and grading. Here is an overview—with rarely seen archival images—of the contemporary vintage pattern lines from Vogue, Butterick, and McCall’s. (Simplicity responded to requests for comment with promotional copy.)
Launched in time for Holiday 1998, Vogue Patterns’ Vintage Vogue line provides true reproductions of vintage patterns borrowed from private collectors. (See my earlier post and discussion, How Do You Take Your Vintage Vogue? or get the details on the Vintage Vogue Search.) Alas, the terms of the old licensing agreements mean that Vogue can’t reissue designer patterns.
Deco evening dress pattern Vogue 2241 remains a favourite; I recently came across a version at Toronto’s Spadina Museum. I found an illustration of the original, Vogue S-3543, in a Vogue Patterns news leaflet from December, 1931. The description reads, “Here is a frock that expresses the newest movement of the mode, its originality and charm. It has a slender moulded look from the décolletage to the circular panels that trail slightly on the ground”:
Butterick donated the original to the Commercial Pattern Archive:
Retro Butterick and McCall’s Archive Collection
Both Retro Butterick and McCall’s Archive Collection patterns are recreated and sometimes adapted from archival materials, not the original patterns. With archival images, sticklers for accuracy can restore these adaptations to the original vintage design.
Early Retro Butterick pattern B6408 is based on Butterick 4391, a “Quick and Easy” late 1940s design for an evening gown with hooded scarf:
McCall’s introduced The Archive Collection for Early Fall, 2014. The recent 1920s coat pattern, M7259, is based on McCall 5057, a 1927 design by Agnès:
The McCall 6057 gown is a couture adaptation: the design is after Patou. Here is the description from McCall’s magazine: “The Patou silhouette is beautifully exemplified in a formal evening gown which has curved bands at the neckline and hipline, a short bolero and inserted panels lengthening the skirt”:
For more on the McCall Pattern Company’s vintage lines, see We Sew Retro’s interview.
October 30, 2015 § 9 Comments
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman isn’t set to open until 2017, but audiences will get a glimpse of Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Marvel’s feminist superhero, Captain Marvel (originally Ms. Marvel) will also get her own movie in 2018. (Guardian story here.)
Since the 1930s and ’40s, when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman made their first comic strip appearances, superheroes have occupied a special place in popular culture. The 2008 Costume Institute exhibit, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, explored the influence of superhero costumes on fashion.
With Halloween around the corner, here’s a look at licensed superhero costume patterns from the 1960s to today, with a focus on the place of gender in children’s costuming.
In 1966, the Batman television show premiered on ABC; just the year before, the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel, had returned to the airwaves in syndication.
From 1966, McCall’s 8398 is a pattern for “Girls’ or Boy’s Batman, Robin and Superman Official Costumes.” The pattern is copyright National Periodical Publications, Inc., an early version of DC Comics:
The Fall 1966 McCall’s Home Catalog promoted McCall’s 8398 with McCall’s 8562 as “Magical Costumes for the Wonderful World of Make-Believe.” The text reinforces the idea that these superhero costumes were intended for imaginative, active children, regardless of gender: “Now that active young lad or lass with the vivid imagination can be Batman, Robin or Superman at the switch of a colorful costume. Only McCall’s has official patterns for the costumes of these swashbuckling heroes of comic books and TV…” (click to enlarge):
In 1978, the Wonder Woman TV series was still running, and December saw the release of the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve.
That year, Simplicity released two patterns for children’s superhero costumes: Simplicity 8714, Batman, Robin, and Superman costumes for children and boys, and Simplicity 8720, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman costumes for girls. (‘Child’ often refers to unisex pattern sizing for younger children.) The introduction of female superhero costumes seems to have prompted a sex-division on the pattern envelopes—although the categories could always be subverted by individual children and their parents:
Later official superhero patterns tend to be movie or TV tie-ins. As in contemporary popular culture, the balance shifts toward male superheroes, but there’s also an oscillation between strict gender categories and more inclusive costuming. The 1980s were the decade of Superman and Supergirl: Supergirl opened in 1984, and there were three more Superman movies ending with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
In 1987, Butterick released two superhero patterns, both with iron-on transfers: a Superman and Supergirl play suit for small children (sizes 2 to 6X), and a Superman costume for men and boys. I couldn’t find a corresponding women’s and girls’ Supergirl pattern. The small children’s is a pyjama or jogging suit-style top and pants for stretch knits, with separate cape and skirt; the men’s and boys’ is a spandex stirrup jumpsuit and briefs:
(With thanks to Jan Lamm.)
Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) launched a new superhero franchise. Late 1980s Batman pattern Butterick 4201/6313, for men and boys, appears to have been timed to the Tim Burton film, but reflects the now-retro Batman. Like the Butterick Superman, it’s also a stirrup jumpsuit and briefs for spandex blends:
Butterick licensed costumes from Batman Returns (1992) and Batman Forever (1995): Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin, and Batman, Robin, and the Riddler. The Batman costumes reflect the movies’ increasingly hypermasculine armour, while Catwoman’s sexy, home-sewn catsuit is the only design for women and girls.
Maybe because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t human, this Ninja Turtles pattern is gender-inclusive, labelled as for both girls and boys. The design is called a playsuit, not a costume (click the image for envelope back, or see it made up on flickr):
On the other hand, this Captain Planet pattern for children and boys includes a grotesque ‘muscle’ suit. The second character is called Verminous Skumm:
’90s costume patterns start to show the influence of Japanese television shows—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Masked Rider, and Sailor Moon. This Sailor Moon costume pattern came in children’s and girls’ sizes:
Marvel doesn’t seem to have ventured into pattern licensing until the 1990s, when Simplicity’s children’s costume patterns were gender-inclusive. Simplicity 7543 is a child’s Spiderman costume with sleeve webs made from fishnet:
Before the X-Men and Spider-Man movie franchises of the 2000s, there were ’90s animated TV shows based on the comics: X-Men from 1992 and Spider-Man from 1994. In the mid-1990s, Simplicity released several more Marvel patterns, all labelled as unisex Child’s costumes: Spider-Man and Venom (Simplicity 7241), Wolverine and Storm (Simplicity 7246), and Cyclops and Magneto (Simplicity 7251). Wolverine and Storm is my favourite:
This fall, Simplicity released five licensed costume patterns for Marvel and DC superheroes. The women’s DC costumes are featured on the cover of the Halloween catalogue: Wonder Woman (Simplicity 1024) with Batgirl and Supergirl (Simplicity 1036):
The women’s costumes match those of the comic-book characters, but for the corresponding children’s pattern (Simplicity 1035), all three costumes have been altered to become knee-length, long-sleeved dresses. Batgirl loses her catsuit and Wonder Woman is virtually unrecognizable. What message does this send to children comparing the comic-book illustrations on the envelopes?
The two Marvel patterns, Captain America (Simplicity 1030) and Thor (Simplicity 1038), have a different format. Both from Marvel’s Avengers, the adults’ and children’s sizes share the same envelope, which includes an illustration of the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America down the left-hand side and a superimposed image of the pattern pieces with the text Sew It Yourself. Both are labelled as boys’ and men’s. The Thor should really be unisex if he’s now a woman:
(S0225 is the advance version; the S1030 envelope seems to have some strange retouching of the man’s crotch.)
It’s great to see Wonder Woman making a comeback, and the increasing popularity of costuming means we’re likely to see more licensed superhero patterns in the near future. Here’s hoping there will be a Black Widow or Mystique—and it’s not a dress.
Update: Simplicity released several new DC patterns for Fall 2016, including an official Joker pattern and three DC Bombshells patterns—Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl:
Update, summer 2017: Simplicity’s Early Fall catalogue added more DC patterns: Harley Quinn and DC Bombshells Black Canary, Stargirl, and Batwoman.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
* As I wrote this post, spellcheck failed to recognize the names of female superheroes. Please fix this, WordPress!