Winter/Holiday 2017 Designer Highlights

A look from Adam Andrascik's Fall 2015 collection for Laroche. Photo: Yannis Vlamos
A look from Adam Andrascik’s Fall 2015 collection for Laroche. Photo: Yannis Vlamos. Image: Vogue.com.

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:

Vogue 1573 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche
Vogue 1573 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche (2017) Image: McCall’s

The ensemble is the first pattern to be drawn from Adam Andrascik’s debut collection for Laroche.

V1573 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche on the runway
V1573 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche on the Fall 2015 runway. Photo: Yannis Vlamos. Image: Vogue.com.

Gleaming tartan jacquard is the star of this ensemble from Anne Klein, now designed by Sharon Lombardo:

Vogue 1571 by Sharon Lombardo for Anne Klein
Vogue 1571 by Sharon Lombardo for Anne Klein (2017) Image: McCall’s.

Guinevere Van Seenus wore a similar look for the Fall 2016 campaign, photographed by Annemarieke van Drimmelen:

Anne Klein Fall 2016 ad campaign. Photo: Annemarieke van Drimmelen. Model: Guinevere Van Seenus. Image: Behance.

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 1566 by Zandra Rhodes
Vogue 1566 by Zandra Rhodes (2017) Image: McCall’s.

Shot by Andrew Woffinden, the collection lookbook was styled by Grace Woodward with Nicholas Kirkwood shoes and a turban by Piers Atkinson:

Zandra Rhodes’ Songket dress, FW 2016. Photo: Andrew Woffinden. Editor: Grace Woodward. Image: Zandra Rhodes.

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.

Vogue 1572 by Zandra Rhodes
Vogue 1572 by Zandra Rhodes (2017) Image: McCall’s.
Zandra Rhodes’ Songket top, FW 2016. Photo: Andrew Woffinden. Editor: Grace Woodward. Image: Zandra Rhodes.
Zandra Rhodes’ Songket trousers, FW 2016. Photo: Andrew Woffinden. Editor: Grace Woodward. Image: Zandra Rhodes.

Paco Peralta’s latest design for Vogue is a dolman-sleeved knit top and handkerchief skirt. Festive and versatile, the skirt even has pockets:

Vogue 1567 by Paco Peralta
Vogue 1567 by Paco Peralta (2017) Image: McCall’s.

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.

Amanda Murphy photographed by Lachlan Bailey in Laroche by Adam Andrascik, for Vogue Paris September 2015
Amanda Murphy wears Laroche by Adam Andrascik, Miss Vogue supplement, Vogue Paris, September 2015. Photo: Lachlan Bailey. Editor: Géraldine Saglio. Image: Guy Laroche.

Fall 2017 Designer Highlights

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016
Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016. Photo: William Eadon. Image: Vogue.com.

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.

Cynthia Rowley pintuck ruffle dress pattern Simplicity 8414
Simplicity 8414 by Cynthia Rowley (2017) Pintuck ruffle dress. Image: Simplicity.

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.

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016. Photo: William Eadon
Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016. Photo: William Eadon. Image: Vogue.com.

Vogue’s new Guy Laroche pattern is an off-the-shoulder dress from the Spring 2016 collection, Adam Andrascik’s second for the house.

Vogue 1559 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche
Vogue 1559 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche (2017) Image: McCall’s.
Looks 9 and 15 Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection
Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection. Photos: Yannis Vlamos. Images: Vogue.com.

For a biker look—an Andrascik trademark—try it in leather with chain accents:

Look 30, 32 Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection
Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection. Photos: Yannis Vlamos. Images: Vogue.com.

Or cut off below the waistband to make a jacket:

Look 23 Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection
Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection. Photo: Yannis Vlamos. Image: Vogue.com.

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:

Rachel Comey's Karloff coat (V1563), Vogue Patterns lookbook, Fall 2017
Rachel Comey’s Karloff coat (V1563), Vogue Patterns lookbook, Fall 2017. Image: Issuu.
Vogue 1563 by Rachel Comey (2017) Karloff coat
Vogue 1563 by Rachel Comey (2017) Karloff coat. Image: McCall’s.
Rachel Comey's Karloff coat, Fall 2014 collection
Rachel Comey’s Karloff coat, Fall 2014 collection. Photo: Gus Powell. Image: Vogue.com.

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.

Vogue 1556 by Rachel Comey (2017) Sleeveless dress and belt
Vogue 1556 by Rachel Comey (2017) Sleeveless dress and belt. Image: McCall’s.
Rachel Comey Fall 2016
Rachel Comey Fall 2016. Image: Vogue.com.
Rachel Comey's Cumberland dress (Pre-Fall 2016)
Rachel Comey’s Cumberland dress (Pre-Fall 2016) via The Frankie Shop. Image: Instagram.

The pleated, bishop-sleeved Bartram dress is pure sewist bait in silk jersey.

Vogue 1558 by Rachel Comey (2017) Bartram dress
Vogue 1558 by Rachel Comey (2017) Bartram dress. Image: McCall’s.
V1558 by Rachel Comey on the cover of Vogue Patterns, October/November 2017, and Sew Today, October 2017
V1558 by Rachel Comey on the cover of Vogue Patterns, October/November 2017, and Sew Today, October 2017. Images: McCall’s, sewdirect.
look 27 Rachel Comey Fall 2016
Rachel Comey Fall 2016. Image: Vogue.com.
Rachel Comey's Bartram dress, Fall 2016
Rachel Comey’s Bartram dress, Fall 2016. Image: Instagram.

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.

Dress by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche photographed by Greg Lotus for Vogue Italia, May 2016
Guy Laroche dress (V1559) in Vogue Italia Suggestions, May 2016. Photo: Greg Lotus. Editor: Valentina Serra. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Game of Thrones Costume Patterns

Game of Thrones costume patterns M6941 and M6940 in McCall's Spring 2014 lookbook
Queens of the Game in McCall’s lookbook, Spring 2014. Image: Issuu.

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.

Game of Thrones / The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug costume pattern S1347 in a 2014 lookbook
Fantasy Play in Simplicity’s lookbook, 2014. Image: Andrea Schewe.
Sansa Stark / Game of Thrones costume pattern S1137 in Simplicity Summer 2015 lookbook
Dark Faerie Tales in Simplicity’s lookbook, Summer 2015. Image: 3D Issue.

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.)

Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in HBO's Rome (2005) - costumes by April Ferry
Still of Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in Rome (2005) Image: HBO / IMdB.

Update: Michele Clapton returned as costume designer during season 6, winning two more Emmys for “The Winds of Winter” and season 7’s “Beyond the Wall.”

Daenerys Targaryen's coat from "Beyond the Wall" - Game of Thrones season 7
Costume for Daenerys Targaryen from “Beyond the Wall.” Image: Making Game of Thrones.

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.)

Cersei Lannister's red and gold court dress - Game of Thrones season 1-2
Cersei Lannister costume from Game of Thrones, season 1-2. Image: Bell Media.
Givenchy ensemble, fall/winter 1997–98 silk, feathers, metal, synthetic; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of the Costume Institute Gifts, 2013 (2013.564a, b)
Alexander McQueen for Givenchy haute couture, Fall/Winter 1997-98 (Eclect Dissect). Image: The Costume Institute.

McCall’s

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.)

Game of Thrones / Cersei costume pattern McCall's 6940 (2014)
McCall’s 6940 (2014) Cersei Lannister costume.
Game of Thrones / Daenerys costume pattern McCall's 6941 (2014)
McCall’s 6941 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen costume.

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:

Cloak X: Jon Snow / Night's Watch / Sansa Stark cosplay pattern, Cosplay by McCall's 2016
Cosplay by McCall’s 2016 (2016) Cloak X
Hooded view of McCall's 2016 - Sansa Stark cloak
Hooded view of McCall’s 2016 (2016) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.

Simplicity

Simplicity’s Game of Thrones costume patterns emerge in full plumage, but quickly change colours to evade capture.

Simplicity Game of Thrones costume patterns, before and after - S1347 / S1010 and S1246 / S1008

Simplicity Game of Thrones costume patterns, before and after - S1487 / S1009 and S1137

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 1347 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen / Tauriel costume
Simplicity 1347 (2014) Daenerys Targaryen / Tauriel costume.

Simplicity 1487 includes court dresses for Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. (Now out of print, but see S1009.)

Game of Thrones Cersei / Sansa costume pattern S1487
Simplicity 1487 (2014) Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark costumes. Image via Etsy.

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.)

Game of Thrones / Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys costume pattern Simplicity 1246
Simplicity 1246 (2014) Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys Targaryen costumes.

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 Sansa Stark / Dark Sansa pattern Simplicity 1137
Simplicity 1137 (2015) Sansa Stark costumes.
Sansa Stark dress, bodice flower detail
Sansa Stark costume, Game of Thrones, season 1. Image: Michele Carragher.
Dark Sansa collar detail - goth Sansa / Alayne Stone costume in "The Mountain and the Viper," episode 8 of Game of Thrones S4
Dark Sansa collar detail, Game of Thrones, season 4. Image: Fashionably Geek.

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):

Game of Thrones + Star Wars / Sand Snakes + Rey costume pattern Simplicity 8074
Simplicity 8074 (2016) Warrior costumes: Sand Snakes and Rey.
Sand Snakes costumes from Game of Thrones S5
Sand Snakes costumes from Game of Thrones, season 5. Image: Making Game of Thrones.

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.

Update (June 2018): Game of Thrones and Star Wars meet again in S8718 — season 7 Arya Stark with Rey from Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017):

Game of Thrones + Star Wars / Arya Stark + Rey costume pattern Simplicity 8718
Simplicity 8718 (2018) Warrior costumes: Rey and Arya.
Arya Stark sketch for Game of Thrones, season 7. Image: Making Game of Thrones.

Update (August 2018): evil queen Cersei and Dragonstone Dany were among Simplicity’s fall costume patterns:

Cersei Lannister and S7 Daenerys costume pattern Simplicity 8768 by Andrea Schewe
Simplicity 8768 (2018) Cersei and Daenerys costumes.
Queen Cersei pattern S8768 - Simplicity catalogue Autumn 2018
Cersei Lannister costume on the back cover of Simplicity’s Autumn 2018 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

And Burda’s new Renaissance costumes work for characters like Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister. Game of Thrones wedding, anyone?

Sansa Stark wedding dress pattern Burda 6398 (2018)
Burda 6398 (2018) Image: Simplicity.
Game of Thrones men's costume pattern Burda 6399 (2018)
Burda 6399 (2018) Image: Simplicity.

Update (September 2018): Just in time for Halloween, McCall’s released Game of Thrones season 7 costume patterns for Dany, Arya, and mad queen Cersei. Winter is coming…

Game of Thrones S7 Dragonstone Daenerys Targaryen costume pattern McCall's 7854
McCall’s 7854 (2018) Daenerys Targaryen. Image: McCall’s.
Game of Thrones S7 Arya Stark Winterfell costume pattern McCall's 7855
McCall’s 7855 (2018) Arya Stark costume. Image: McCall’s.
Game of Thrones S7 Cersei Lannister costume pattern McCall's 7856
McCall’s 7856 (2018) Cersei Lannister costume. Image: McCall’s.
Battle of the Throne: Game of Thrones-inspired costumes in the McCall's Fall 2018 lookbook
Battle of the Throne: Game of Thrones-inspired costumes in the McCall’s Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: Issuu.

New Year, Vintage You

Vogue 2321 illustrated by Lamont O'Neal on the back cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, Sept/Oct 1999
Timeless Style… Vintage Vogue. Vogue Patterns catalogue, September/October 1999. Illustration: Lamont O’Neal. Image: eBay.

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.)

Simplicity 1777 on the cover of the Simplicity catalogue, Early Autumn 2012
Simplicity 1777 on the cover of the Simplicity catalogue, Early Autumn 2012. Image: eBay.

Vintage Vogue

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”:

1930s Vogue Patterns1Dec1931
Vogue S-3543 and Vogue 5849 in Vogue Patterns, December 1, 1931.

Butterick donated the original to the Commercial Pattern Archive:

At CoPA; donated by Butterick Archives. Original B36, hip 41, 1931.
Vogue S-3543 (1931) Image: Commercial Pattern Archive, URI collection. For research purposes only.

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:

Quick and Easy 1940s evening dress and hooded scarf pattern - Butterick 4391
Butterick 4391 (1948) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

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:

1920s coat pattern illustration - McCall 5057 (M7259)
McCall 5057 by Agnès (1927)
1920s Agnès coat pattern illustration - McCall 5057
McCall 5057 by Agnès in McCall Quarterly, Winter 1927-28.

The Archive Collection’s Deco evening dress, M7154, is based on a design from spring, 1930: McCall 6057. An original copy sold on eBay in June, 2014 for over $800 US.

1930 evening gown pattern illustration - McCall 6057 (M5154)
Catalogue illustration of McCall 6057 after Patou, 1930. Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

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”:

No. 6057. 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.
No. 6057 after Patou, McCall’s, April 1930. Illustration: Lebrun.

For more on the McCall Pattern Company’s vintage lines, see We Sew Retro’s interview.

We Can Be Heroes

Lynda Carter in the Wonder Woman tv show, 1975
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, 1975. Image: Warner Bros / Getty Images via IMDb.

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.)

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977): Onlookers:
Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977). Image: Talking Comics.

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.

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy exhibition catalogue by Andrew Bolton (with Michael Chabon)
Andrew Bolton with Michael Chabon, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008) Book design: Abbott Miller, John Kudos at Pentagram. Image: John Kudos.

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.

1960s

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.

Robin (Burt Ward) and Batman (Adam West) in the 1960s Batman show
Robin (Burt Ward) and Batman (Adam West) in Batman (1966) Image: Wikipedia.

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:

1960s Girls' or Boys' Batman, Robin and Superman official costumes McCall's 8398
McCall’s 8398 © National Periodical Publications, Inc., 1966. Girls’ or Boys’ Batman, Robin and Superman official costumes.

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):

Magical Costumes for the Wonderful World of Make-Believe - McCalls Home catalogue, Fall/Winter 1966-67
McCall’s 8398 in McCall’s Home Catalog, Fall-Winter 1966-67.

1970s

In 1978, the Wonder Woman TV series was still running, and December saw the release of the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve.

Christopher Reeve as Superman against the New York City skyline, 1978
Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978. Image: Keystone / Getty Images via IMDb.

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:

1970s children's Batman, Robin, and Superman costume pattern - Simplicity 8714
Simplicity 8714 (1978) Batman, Robin, and Superman.
1970s Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl costume pattern - Simplicity 8720
Simplicity 8720 (1978) Batgirl, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman.

1980s

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).

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984
Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984. Image: Pinterest.

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:

1980s children's Supergirl and Superman playsuits Butterick 5862
Butterick 5862 (1987) Supergirl and Superman playsuits. Image: Etsy.
1980s Superman costume pattern - Butterick 5874
Butterick 5874 (1987) Superman costumes.

(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:

1980s Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6313
Butterick 6313 (1989) Bat Man costumes. Image: Etsy.

1990s

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.

Batman Returns Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6377
Butterick 6377 (1992) Batman Returns costumes. Image: Etsy.
Batman Forever Batman costume pattern - Butterick 4172
Butterick 4172 (1995) Batman Forever costumes. Image: Etsy.
1990s official Batman Returns Catwoman costume Butterick 6378
Butterick 6378 official Batman Returns Catwoman costume (1992) Image: Etsy.

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):

Girls' and boys' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle playsuit pattern - Butterick 5143
Butterick 5143 (1990) Image: Etsy.

On the other hand, this Captain Planet pattern for children and boys includes a grotesque ‘muscle’ suit. The second character is called Verminous Skumm:

1990s Captain Planet and Verminous Skumm costume pattern - McCall's 5642
McCall’s 5642 (1991) Captain Planet costumes. Image: Etsy.

’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:

1990s children's Sailor Moon costume pattern McCalls 7859
McCall’s 7859 / P310 (1995) Sailor Moon costumes. Image: eBay.

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:

1990s children's Spiderman costume pattern - Simplicity 7543
Simplicity 7543 (1991) The Amazing Spider-Man costume. Image: eBay.

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:

1990s X-Men costume pattern - Wolverine and Storm - Simplicity 7246
Simplicity 7246 (1996) X-Men costumes. Image: Pinterest.

Current patterns

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):

Saturday Spooktacular! Simplicity costumes for Halloween 2015
Simplicity Costumes 2015. Image: Simplicity.
Women's Wonder Woman costume pattern - Simplicity 1024
Simplicity 1024 (2015) Wonder Woman costume.

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?

Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl pattern Simplicity 1035
Simplicity 1035 (2015) Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl pattern. Image: Etsy.

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:

Marvel Avengers Captain America costume pattern - Simplicity 1030/0225
Simplicity 1030/0225 (2015) Captain America costume. Image: eBay.

(S0225 is the advance version; the S1030 envelope seems to have some strange retouching of the man’s crotch.)

Marvel Avengers Thor costume pattern - Simplicity 1038
Simplicity 1038 (2015) Thor costume. Image: Etsy.

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:

Official DC Comics The Joker costume pattern - Simplicity 8195
Simplicity 8195 (2016) Joker costume. Image: Simplicity.
Official DC Comics Bombshells Wonder Woman pattern - Simplicity 8196
Simplicity 8196 (2016) DC Bombshells Wonder Woman costume. Image: Simplicity.
Official DC Comics Bombshells Batgirl pattern - Simplicity 8197
Simplicity 8197 (2016) DC Bombshells Batgirl costume. Image: Simplicity.
Official DC Comics Bombshells Supergirl pattern - Simplicity 8185
Simplicity 8185 (2016) DC Bombshells Supergirl costume. Image: Simplicity.

Update, summer 2017: Simplicity’s Early Fall catalogue added more DC patterns: Harley Quinn and DC Bombshells Black Canary, Stargirl, and Batwoman.

Simplicity early autumn 2017
Authentic costumes from DC Comics. Simplicity catalogue, Early Autumn 2017. Image: Simplicity.
Harley Quinn costume pattern Simplicity 8434
Simplicity 8434 (2017) Harley Quinn costume. Image: Simplicity.
DC Bombshells Black Canary costume pattern Simplicity 8431
Simplicity 8431 (2017) DC Bombshells Black Canary costume. Image: Simplicity.
DC Bombshells Batwoman costume pattern Simplicity 8432
Simplicity 8432 (2017) DC Bombshells Batwoman costume. Image: Simplicity.
DC Bombshells Stargirl costume pattern Simplicity 8433
Simplicity 8433 (2017) DC Bombshells Stargirl costume. Image: Simplicity.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Simplicity 8720 detail

(For more see Dorian Lynskey, Kapow! Attack of the feminist superheroes, and Jill Lepore, The Last Amazon.)

* As I wrote this post, spellcheck failed to recognize the names of female superheroes. Please fix this, WordPress!

A History of the Paper Pattern Industry

Book cover - A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The home dressmaking fashion revolution by Joy Spanabel Emery
Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution. Image: Bloomsbury.

The new book by the curator of the Commercial Pattern Archive is the first comprehensive study of the sewing pattern industry. Published through Bloomsbury’s academic imprint, Joy Spanabel Emery’s A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution traces the history of commercial patterns from their beginnings in early modern tailors’ drafting systems to the 21st century.

Emery is Professor Emerita of Theater at the University of Rhode Island, where she also taught in the fashion department. In addition to her articles on commercial sewing patterns, she is the author of Stage Costume Techniques (Prentice-Hall, 1981).

The materials found in the University of Rhode Island’s Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) and the personal archive of CoPA founder Betty Williams are the main sources for the book, which focuses on the pattern industry and its role in the production of everyday clothing. Emery presents her research in short, textbook-style chapters, ending each chapter with a brief summary. In the back, readers will find an index, endnotes for each chapter, and a detailed bibliography with sections for primary sources, secondary sources, and archival collections.

The first Vogue pattern: Louis XV Jacket, Vogue 1 (1899)
The first Vogue pattern: Louis XV Jacket, Vogue 1 (1899). From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).

As a special inducement to those who sew, the book also includes an appendix with nine patterns, each laid out on a grid by Susan Hannel, the chair of the University of Rhode Island’s fashion department. The gridded patterns range from an 1850s Demorest basque [bodice], originally published as a pattern sheet supplement in a ladies’ fashion gazette, to a 1960s men’s Nehru jacket from Spadea.

Recent academic books on sewing have used the framework of gender studies to examine sewing as a cultural practice. Barbara Burman’s collection, The Culture of Sewing: Gender, Consumption and Home Dressmaking (Berg, 1999, to which Emery contributed a chapter, “Dreams on Paper: A Story of the Commercial Pattern Industry”), and Sarah A. Gordon’s “Make It Yourself”: Home Sewing, Gender, and Culture 1890-1930 (Columbia University Press, 2007) both present social histories of sewing that take into account changing understandings of femininity and women’s work.

Emery’s book takes a more conservative approach to the material culture of sewing patterns, aiming to lay the groundwork for further study by focusing on the historical timeline of commercial production and technical development. Each chapter traces the industry’s new technologies and companies, mergers and closures as the pattern business landscape shifted from early diversity to today’s conglomerates.

CoPA’s holdings are so extensive that they show not only the industry’s response to dramatic developments in fashion, like the New Look or youthquake, but also to historical events like the First and Second World Wars. A 1918 issue of Butterick’s magazine, The Delineator, shows two women in naval uniform (Butterick pattern no. 1101), while a 1943 McCall’s pattern for Victory aprons is printed with patriotic verse:

Official Yeowoman's Costume of the U.S. Navy, Butterick 1101. The Delineator, November 1918
Official Yeowoman’s Costume of the U.S. Navy, Butterick 1101. The Delineator, November 1918. From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).

(For more on Butterick 1101 see Michelle Lee’s blog post.)

Ladies' and Misses' Victory Aprons: McCall 1090 (1943)
Ladies’ and Misses’ Victory Aprons: McCall 1090 (1943). From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Industry players competed to improve the sewing customer’s experience. We have McCall’s to thank for the printed pattern. Other pattern companies couldn’t duplicate the technique until McCall’s patent expired—although Pictorial Review found a creative workaround with patterns that were both printed and perforated.

"Why the ordinary pattern CANNOT be accurate / Why the McCall Printed Pattern MUST be accurate"
McCall Printed Pattern announcement, McCall Quarterly, Spring 1924. From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).

It was during the economic boom of the 1920s that the industry produced the first fully conceived designer patterns. As Betty Williams found in her research, McCall’s interwar couture patterns were based on garments purchased from Parisian couture houses for copying purposes. When Williams shared an early McCall Patou pattern with staff at the house of Patou, they agreed that the design looked like the couturier’s work, but were unable to find documentation of a McCall-Patou relationship (Williams 1995).* Intriguingly, Emery mentions a business agreement model along the lines of today’s licensing, but does not go into further detail.

1920s couturier evening dress pattern by Madeleine Vionnet, McCall 5055 (1927)
A couturier evening dress pattern by Madeleine Vionnet: McCall 5055 (1927). From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Infelicities of layout and organization occasionally disrupt the flow. Including the discussion of interwar couture patterns in the 1920s chapter means that we read about the 1933 closure of the Paris Pattern Company, and see a 1930s example of a Paris Pattern, before reaching the 1930s chapter. Paris Patterns in fact survived beyond 1933: by the following year, the company seems to have merged with Style and was still releasing patterns for June, 1934.

A couturier dress pattern by Lucile Paray with cloth label: Paris Pattern 2243 (1933)
A couturier dress pattern by Lucile Paray with cloth label: Paris Pattern 2243 (1933). From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).
An Augustabernard design on the cover of a Paris and Style Patterns booklet, June 1934, from the T. Easton Co. Ltd, Canada
Paris and Style Patterns booklet, June 1934.

The text is sometimes marred by typographical errors, as well as errors traceable to data entry errors in the pattern archive. Schiaparelli’s first Vogue Paris Original (no. 1051) is included in the chapter devoted to World War 2 rather than the postwar chapter, and its date is given as 1947 when it should be 1949—the year Vogue Patterns, still owned by Condé Nast, launched its Paris Originals with great fanfare. (See my postwar Schiaparelli post here.)

Vogue 1051
Schiaparelli’s first Vogue Paris Original: Vogue 1051 (1949). From Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Countering the claim that commercial pattern designs are already out of fashion, Emery argues that patterns historically allowed their customers to keep abreast of trends, giving some interesting before and after examples of patterns adapted to reflect the new proportions of the postwar New Look.

The question of the relationship between high fashion and the commercial pattern industry is an interesting one. Contemporary high fashion adaptations in pattern form are relatively current. Roland Mouret’s Fall 2005 blockbuster, the Galaxy dress, was adapted in 2006 as Vogue 8280, and Carven’s dress for Spring 2013 was adapted for that season as Vogue 8900 (see As I Said…). Current adaptations can be seen in McCall’s #sewthelook series on Instagram.

Roland Mouret and Carven
Roland Mouret FW 2005 and Carven SS 2013. Images: style.com.

But licensed designer patterns are a different story. While trend-setting styles such as those from Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian and Ballets Russes collections could count on expedited production, more often there seems to have been a seasonal lag. A 1950s Laroche pattern discussed as typical in a contemporary report, Vogue 1450, is a design from the Spring 1959 couture that was released a season later, in late 1959.

Today, when the production time for a commercial pattern has been cut to as little as four weeks,** it’s still unusual for a new designer pattern to represent the current season. To take some recent examples: of Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley patterns from the Summer 2015 release, Simplicity 1105 is unusual for being from the current season, Spring/Summer 2015:

Simplicity 1105 by Cynthia Rowley (2015) Tent dress with trapunto stitching and back ties, SS 2015
The originals for Simplicity 1105 by Cynthia Rowley (2015) – tent dresses with trapunto stitching, Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Images: style.com.

In Vogue Patterns’ Fall 2014 release, the Donna Karan, Guy Laroche, and Rachel Comey selections are from the Fall 2013 collections, while the Ralph Rucci coat, Vogue 1419, is from the Pre-Fall 2013 collection:

Vogue 1419 Ralph Rucci Pre-Fall 2013
Vogue 1419 (2014) from Ralph Rucci’s Pre-Fall 2013 collection. Images: Etsy / style.com.

The fashion industry has changed, and fewer designers are willing to enter into licensing agreements for commercial patterns, let alone license current-season designs. Historical analysis of the pattern industry shows how it has adapted in response not only to economic and social trends, but also to home sewers’ changing relationship with fashion. Emery has taken a much-needed look to the archives in this essential resource.

(Press release and interview here.)

Publication details:

Joy Spanabel Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution, London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

ISBN (cloth): 9780857858306

ISBN (paper): 9780857858313

9780857858313
9780857858313

ISBN (ebook): 9781472577450 (PDF) / 9781472577467 (EPUB)

Available online from Bloomsbury or your favourite independent bookstore. (Why I never link to Amazon.)

* Betty Williams, “1920s Couturier Patterns and the Home Sewer,” Cutters’ Research Journal 6.4 (Spring 1995).

** According to a Forbes article cited on p. 201.

For review purposes I received a complimentary copy from the publisher.

Envelope Fail: Vogue 2893 by Donna Karan

Erin Wasson photographed by Peter Lindbergh - Donna Karan Spring 2005 advertising campaign
Donna Karan Spring 2005 ad campaign. Model: Erin Wasson. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

When I first started collecting sewing patterns, Naomi was baffled. She couldn’t understand my interest when the styling on modern pattern envelopes was bland or worse. This new, occasional series looks at designer patterns that fail to convey the strengths of the original—not as an end in itself, but in the hope of provoking reflection and discussion of the frequent disparity between designer fashion and the licensed versions offered to home sewers.

(You can see an earlier discussion in the comments on my Alber Elbaz post.)

Launching the series is Vogue 2893, a top and skirt pattern by Donna Karan from 2006. The off-the-shoulder, back-laced ensemble is drawn from Karan’s Spring/Summer 2005 collection, and was the centrepiece of the Peter Lindbergh advertising campaign starring Erin Wasson.

Erin Wasson photographed by Peter Lindbergh - Donna Karan Spring 2005 advertising campaign
Donna Karan Spring 2005 ad campaign. Model: Erin Wasson. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

The look was even chosen to open the Spring 2005 runway presentation. The second photo shows the top’s contrast mesh inserts, elasticized shoulders, and decorative zigzag stitching detail:

Gemma Ward - Donna Karan Spring 2005 collection
Model: Gemma Ward. Photo: Marcio Madeira. Image via style.com.
Detail - Gemma Ward, Donna Karan Spring 2005 collection
Model: Gemma Ward. Image via style.com.

Now consider the pattern envelope:

Donna Karan off-the-shoulder top and skirt pattern - Vogue 2893
Vogue 2893 by Donna Karan (2006) Top and skirt.
Technical drawing for Vogue 2893
Technical drawing for Vogue 2893

The envelope replaces the original’s bared shoulders, open back, and slight flare at the hips with a much higher décolletage and tightly laced back. The result is a more covered-up, middle-of-the-road, body-con look that lacks the original’s confidence and wit.

What do you think? Did Vogue Patterns assume the original styling wouldn’t appeal to their customers?