Rachel Comey: Vogue Patterns

October 18, 2016 § 4 Comments

Rachel Comey's Bowtie poplin top and printed pants (Vogue 1507), Spring 2015

Rachel Comey’s Bowtie top and printed trousers, Spring 2015 collection. Image: Instagram.

Last month, Rachel Comey celebrated her label’s 15-year anniversary with an outdoor presentation of unisex looks for Spring 2017. For home sewers, Comey’s ongoing licensing with Vogue Patterns has made her one to watch. Here’s a look at highlights of her patterns so far.

Dan Stevens in Rachel Comey's Pierrot dress, Pre-Fall 2013

Dan Stevens in Rachel Comey’s Pierrot dress. Image: Instagram.

Born in Manchester, Connecticut, Rachel Comey (b. 1973) originally trained as a sculptor. After moving to New York, she consulted for Theory while designing clothes for local performers like Gogol Bordello—a connection that led her and the band to the Whitney Biennial. She launched her menswear collection in September, 2001, followed by women’s wear in 2004. Comey has developed a cult following for her footwear, prints, and general “bullshit-free kookiness.”

Courtney Love photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino in a men's lipstick print shirt by Rachel Comey

Courtney Love wears a men’s lipstick print shirt by Rachel Comey, The Face, April 2002. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Image: eBay.

Ceramics-inspired Rachel Comey Stoneware print

Rachel Comey’s Stoneware print, inspired by Lena Beug’s ceramics. Image: Instagram.

Comey was introduced to home sewers in the February/March 2010 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine with two patterns, Vogue 1161 and 1170:

Rachel Comey article with V1161, Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

“Cutting edge: Rachel Comey,” Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

Rachel Comey article with V1170, Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

Vogue 1170 by Rachel Comey, Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

The originals showcase Comey’s leopard and man-with-umbrella prints, both from the Fall 2009 collection.

Leopard-print dress from Rachel Comey's Fall 2009 collection, as worn by Timoxa Timoschenko

A leopard-print dress from Rachel Comey’s Fall 2009 collection. Model: Timoxa Timoschenko. Image: vogue.com.

Powerhouse Vogue 1247 includes an A-line miniskirt and the Navigator top, a design that was produced over multiple seasons (available in the shop):

Rachel Comey Navigator top and skirt pattern Vogue 1247

Vogue 1247 by Rachel Comey (2011) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 1298 is a pattern for Comey’s Tippet dress. (She also designed an open-backed Tippet top.) The Tippet is an apron dress with raised hem and straps drawn together in back:

Tippet apron dress pattern by Rachel Comey, Vogue 1298

Vogue 1298 by Rachel Comey (2012) Tippet dress.

The dress was shown in a different print in the Spring 2011 collection:

Mariana Santana wears Rachel Comey's Tippet dress on the Spring 2011 runway

Rachel Comey’s Tippet dress on the Spring 2011 runway. Model: Mariana Santana. Image: vogue.com.

Also from 2012, Vogue 1323 is a top and pants ensemble consisting of the Syndicate blouse and cuffed Saunter pant. The trousers were also produced in textured velvet and various prints:

Rachel Comey top and pants pattern Vogue 1323

Vogue 1323 by Rachel Comey (2012) Image: Etsy.

Alexandra Tretter in Rachel Comey Saunter pant, Fall 2011

Rachel Comey’s Saunter pant, Black Wood silk-wool print, Fall 2011 collection. Model: Alexandra Tretter. Image: vogue.com.

Bianca Luz in Rachel Comey's Saunter pant, Fall 2011

Rachel Comey’s Saunter pant in semi-sheer, textured velvet, Fall 2011 collection. Model: Bianca Luz. Image: vogue.com.

Vogue 1406, known as the Surveillance dress, has an asymmetrical neckline, back godet, and ruched waist detail:

Rachel Comey Surveillance dress pattern Vogue 1406

Vogue 1406 by Rachel Comey (2014) Image: eBay.

Here’s the original star-print Surveillance dress on the Fall 2013 runway:

Rachel Comey's star-print Surveillance dress, Fall 2013

Rachel Comey’s Surveillance dress, Fall 2013 collection. Image: vogue.com

Comey’s batwing Wades dress is available as Vogue 1482. The diagonal front seam conceals a pocket:

Rachel Comey Wades dress pattern Vogue 1482

Vogue 1482 by Rachel Comey (2016) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Rachel Comey's Wades dress, Spring 2015

Rachel Comey’s Wades dress, Spring 2015 collection. Image: vogue.com.

From the same collection, Vogue 1507 includes the Bowtie top and slim pants with an asymmetrical front closure:

Rachel Comey top and pants pattern Vogue 1507

Vogue 1507 by Rachel Comey (2015) Image: Etsy.

Rachel Comey's Bowtie top and pants, Spring 2015

Rachel Comey’s Bowtie top and pants, Spring 2015 collection. Image: vogue.com.

Vogue 1501 is a pattern for the Delane dress, a sleeveless, mock two-piece dress with pleating details. The original shows off Comey’s Collage print; the design was also produced with a contrast front bodice and in a single, solid colour:

Rachel Comey's Delane dress pattern Vogue 1501

Vogue 1501 by Rachel Comey (2016) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Rachel Comey's Delane dress in solid navy

Navy Delane dress by Rachel Comey.

The latest Rachel Comey pattern is a long-sleeved jumpsuit, Vogue 1523 (click to view in the shop):

Rachel Comey jumpsuit pattern Vogue 1523

Vogue 1523 by Rachel Comey (2016) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The Botanical-print jumpsuit was part of the Fall 2015 collection’s closing look:

Rachel Comey jacket and Botanical print jumpsuit, Fall 2015

Rachel Comey jumpsuit, Fall 2015 collection. Image: vogue.com.

Interestingly, Comey was quoted in the New York Times’ recent article on the McCall Pattern Company (“Needle, Thread, Instagram“):

The New York designer Rachel Comey has licensed her patterns to McCall since 2010, where they appear under the Vogue Patterns brand. She didn’t do it for the money. “I just like the tradition of it,” Ms. Comey said. “Sewing is a great craft. It’s exciting and confidence building. I wanted to support it.”

Now if only we could source those Rachel Comey prints…

Artist and activist Sarah Sophie Flicker at the White House in Rachel Comey's Surveillance dress

Artist and activist Sarah Sophie Flicker wears Rachel Comey’s Surveillance dress at the White House, 2015. Image: Instagram.

Oscar de la Renta: Vogue Patterns, Part 2

July 28, 2016 § 3 Comments

Sarah Mower's Oscar de la Renta, with cover from “Couture’s Glorious Excess” (Vogue, October 1997) showing Balmain Fall 1997 haute couture

Sarah Mower, Oscar de la Renta (Assouline, 2nd ed. 2014) Photo: Peter Lindbergh. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: my luscious life.

Oscar de la Renta was born in July 1932; he would have turned 84 last week. In honour of his birthday, I’ll be looking at Oscar de la Renta sewing patterns from the 1990s and 2000s. (See Part 1 here.)


Vogue 2460 on the cover of Vogue Patterns March/April 1990

Vogue 2460 by Oscar de la Renta on the cover of Vogue Patterns, March/April 1990. (Patricia Underwood hat.) Photo: Otto Stupakoff. Image: eBay.

The 1990s marked Oscar de la Renta’s fourth decade with Vogue Patterns. From 1990, Vogue 2500 is a dress with pleated overlay and asymmetrical bias collar, chic in a polka dot print. De la Renta was pictured with a model wearing this design in Vogue Patterns magazine (May/June issue); the photo also made the cover of the counter catalogue:

1990s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern, Vogue 2500

Vogue 2500 by Oscar de la Renta (1990) Image: Etsy.

Oscar de la Renta with model in V2500 on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue, June 1990

Oscar de la Renta on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue, June 1990. Image: Karsten Moran for the New York Times.

In 1992, de la Renta became the first American to take over a French couture house when he was appointed chief designer at Balmain. He had begun presenting his own collection in Paris the previous year. (See Suzy Menkes, “De la Renta Joins Balmain.”) The cover of the Assouline book pictured above shows Balmain haute couture; a similar tableau was created for the de Young retrospective.

Vogue 1638 is a brightly coloured skirt suit from Oscar de la Renta’s Spring 1995 collection (full video on YouTube here). Its tailored details, like the jacket’s back pleats and martingale belt, won it an Advanced skill rating. The design was featured in a Vogue Patterns suits article (see The Overflowing Stash) and on the cover of the counter catalogue:

1990s Oscar de la Renta suit pattern Vogue 1638

Vogue 1638 Oscar de la Renta (1995) Image: eBay.

Suited up! Oscar de la Renta suit pattern on the cover of a Vogue Patterns catalogue, October 1995

Vogue Patterns catalogue, October 1995. Image via Etsy.

This double-breasted skirt suit, shown on the runway in pink satin, must be from the Fall 1995 collection. The recommended fabrics are satin, damask, and gabardine:

1990s Oscar de la Renta satin skirt suit pattern - Vogue 1863

Vogue 1863 by Oscar de la Renta (1996)

Ellen von Unwerth photographed Stella Tennant in a corseted lace Oscar de la Renta dress with flamenco dancer Joaquín Cortés for Vogue’s 1996 September issue:

Stella Tennant in Oscar de la Renta, from "This Side of Paradise," photographed in Arles by Ellen von Unwerth with Grace Coddington

Stella Tennant in Oscar de la Renta, with Joaquín Cortés, Vogue, September 1996. Photo: Ellen von Unwerth. Editor: Grace Coddington.

Two years later, Hillary Clinton wore Oscar de la Renta for her Vogue cover (more here):

Hillary Clinton in custom Oscar de la Renta on the cover of Vogue magazine, December 1998

Hillary Clinton in custom Oscar de la Renta, Vogue, December 1998. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Editor: Paul Cavaco. Image: eBay.

Vogue 2361 is a formal dress from the Spring 1998 collection. The skirt is cut on the bias, the bodice and hemline flounces are finished with self fabric binding, and view A has an asymmetrical train. Kirsten Owen modelled the original on the runway:

1990s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 2361

Vogue 2361 by Oscar de la Renta (1999)

Kirsten Owen wears Oscar de la Renta on the Spring 1998 runway

Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 1998. Model: Kirsten Owen. Image: firstVIEW.

Just for fun, here’s another editorial photo showing de la Renta’s couture work at Balmain. Ruven Afanador photographed this lace-embroidered gown with matching chihuahua:

Robe en faille de soie brodée de dentelle et pierres de jaïs, sur jupon en tulle de soie. Malgosia Bela in Pierre Balmain couture by Oscar de la Renta

Pierre Balmain haute couture by Oscar de la Renta, Vogue Paris, September 1999. Photo: Ruven Afanador. Image via The Fashion Spot.


This floral print evening dress is a design from de la Renta’s Spring 2000 collection. Piping defines the waist, and the bias train is trimmed with waist pleats and flounces. The original was modelled on the runway by Carmen Kass:

2000s Oscar de la Renta gown pattern Vogue 2541

Vogue 2541 by Oscar de la Renta (2001)

Oscar de la Renta SS2000 look51Carmen Kass.

Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 2000. Model: Carmen Kass. Image: vogue.com.

The Fall 2001 collection included two “decidedly gothic black opera coats,” and Vogue Patterns chose one of them for its customers. Vogue 2714 is a full-sleeved, floor-length opera coat trimmed with frog closures and pleated ruffles. The pattern is sometimes numbered “P935 – Best Seller”:

2000s Oscar de la Renta opera coat or coat dress pattern Vogue 2714 / P935

Vogue 2714 / P935 by Oscar de la Renta (2002) Image: Etsy.

Natalia Semanova wears an Oscar de la Renta opera coat on the Fall 2001 runway

Oscar de la Renta Fall/Winter 2001. Model: Natalia Semanova. Image via vogue.com.

From the Spring 2005 collection, strapless gown pattern Vogue 2889 evokes flamenco with its tiered skirt and draped, drop-waist bodice. The design was shown on the runway with length and bodice variations:

2000s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 2889

Vogue 2889 by Oscar de la Renta (2006)

Caroline Ribeiro and Caroline Winberg in Oscar de la Renta SS 2005

Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 2005. Models: Caroline Ribeiro and Caroline Winberg. Image: vogue.com.

Vogue 2928 is a grand, off-the-shoulder ballgown complete with boned foundation, attached petticoat, and self fabric flowers and appliqués. The gown was the penultimate look in de la Renta’s Fall 2005 collection:

2000s Oscar de la Renta evening gown pattern Vogue 2928

Vogue 2928 by Oscar de la Renta (2006) Image: ecrater.

Nataliya Gotsii wears a gown from Oscar de la Renta's Fall 2005 collection

Oscar de la Renta Fall/Winter 2005. Model: Nataliya Gotsii. Image: vogue.com.

For more on the late designer, see Vogue’s retrospective. Have you made any Oscar de la Renta patterns?

Kirsten Dunst wears Oscar de la Renta custom-designed for Vogue's Marie Antoinette editorial, 2006

Kirsten Dunst in custom Oscar de la Renta, Vogue, September 2006. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: vogue.com.

Goodbye Donna Karan, Hello Urban Zen?

July 6, 2016 § 8 Comments

Ingrid Sischy, Donna Karan New York (Assouline 2005) Image via Pinterest.

Have you heard? Vogue’s Donna Karan and DKNY patterns will no longer be available after next Wednesday, July 13th. According to the McCall Pattern Company, the licensor of the Donna Karan trademarks [the LVMH-owned Gabrielle Studio Inc.] has decided to end all pattern licensing. (Source: Facebook.)


Image: voguepatterns.com.

Vogue Patterns has been publishing Donna Karan patterns since 1987. The company added DKNY patterns in 1989.

Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987

Donna Karan patterns on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987. Image via eBay.

DKNY patterns 2373, 2371, 2375, 2372, 2376 - Vogue Patterns catalogue, November 1989

DKNY patterns on the Vogue Patterns catalogue cover, November 1989. Image via eBay.

The end of both licenses makes the Spring 2016 releases the last DKNY and Donna Karan patterns.

A dress in DKNY Pre-Fall 2013 - Vogue American Designer 1488

Vogue 1488 by DKNY is based on a dress from the Pre-Fall 2013 collection. Image: vogue.com.

A dress from Donna Karan Spring 2014, the original for Vogue American Designer 1489 (2016)

The original for Vogue 1489 in Donna Karan’s Spring 2014 collection. Model: Kati Nescher. Image: vogue.com.

Donna Karan announced her departure from Donna Karan International just over a year ago, saying she means to focus on her new, privately owned company, Urban Zen. Parent company LVMH will not be hiring a replacement. Instead, LVMH will be developing DKNY, which is designed by Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. (See Vanessa Friedman and Jacob Bernstein, “Karan Leaving Brand That Carries Her Name.”)

After thirty years of Vogue patterns—closer to forty, if we count her work at Anne Klein—Karan’s absence will be keenly felt. But could she return soon with Urban Zen patterns? Under her agreement with LVMH, Urban Zen’s “distribution … [can]not compete with any of the Donna Karan brands.” (See Donna Fenn’s interview for Fortune.) This could account for the unprecedented end-date for the Donna Karan and DKNY patterns, just in time for the Fall 2016 pattern launch. Update (July 7): the Fall 2016 patterns were released today, too early to avoid a distribution conflict. Perhaps for Winter 2016?

It would certainly be in keeping with Karan’s ethos if July 14th marked not just an end to the old pattern licensing, but also a new beginning. As her program notes always read, To be continued

Urban Zen, Modern Souls collection

Urban Zen, Modern Souls collection. Image: Urban Zen.

Game of Thrones Costume Patterns

March 15, 2016 § 9 Comments

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.

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.


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’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…

Red Carpet Fashion: Evening Pantsuits

February 23, 2016 § 5 Comments

Amy Poehler in Stella McCartney at the Golden Globes, January 2013. Image via bustle.com.

Will you be watching the Oscars on Sunday? In past years I’ve posted about goddess gowns and caftans. This year, a look at red carpet-worthy pantsuits.

Milena Canonero at the 87th Academy Awards, February 2015

Milena Canonero at the 87th Academy Awards, February 2015. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty.

The Best Actress winners who have accepted their award in trousers can be counted on one hand: Barbra Streisand (1969, in Arnold Scaasi); Jane Fonda (1972, in Yves Saint Laurent); Sissy Spacek (1981); Jessica Tandy (1990, in Armani); and Jodie Foster (1992, also in Armani). But then, Katharine Hepburn never attended.

Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972

Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972. Image via tumblr.

Celebrity style icons Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Kate Moss started appearing on the red carpet in pantsuits in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Gwyneth Paltrow during 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Gwyneth Paltrow in Gucci by Tom Ford at the MTV Video Music Awards, September 1996. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc.

Angelina Jolie in Dolce & Gabbana at the Academy Awards, 2001

Angelina Jolie in Dolce & Gabbana at the 73rd Academy Awards, March 2001. Image via Glamour.

NEW YORK - MAY 01: Model Kate Moss and photographer Mario Testino (behind her) attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala: Anglomania at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 1, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Kate Moss, in Burberry, with Mario Testino at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, May 2006. Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty.

Recently, more and more female celebrities have been choosing tuxedos and jumpsuits for formal events.

Kirsten Dunst in Patrik Ervell, CFDA awards, June 2011. Image via elle.com.

Lupita Nyong'o in Veronica Beard at TIFF, September 2013

Lupita Nyong’o in Veronica Beard at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 2013. Image via Fashion Bomb Daily.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at The Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Saint Laurent at the EE British Academy Film Awards, February 2014. Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage.

Anna Kendrick in Band of Outsiders at the Grammy Awards, February 2015. Image via elle.com.

Here are some patterns—now available in the shop—that would be perfect for your next gala appearance.

The year Jane Fonda won an Oscar for her performance in Klute, Vogue Patterns released this Valentino design for an evening jumpsuit and jacket:

1970s Valentino evening jumpsuit and jacket pattern - Vogue 2775

Vogue 2775 by Valentino (1972) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Calvin Klein had the Annie Hall look nailed before Woody Allen’s movie started filming (in spring, 1976). Vogue 1369, a designer wardrobe pattern, highlights the three-piece pantsuit:

1970s Calvin Klein pantsuit and wardrobe pattern - Vogue 1369

Vogue 1369 by Calvin Klein (1976) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Fast forward to 1999, when Alexander McQueen presented a futuristic millennium collection for Givenchy (Fall 1999 prêt-à-porter; post here). The long, detailed jacket was designed for shimmery fabric:

Vogue 2478 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (2000) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

This tunic and pants ensemble is from Donna Karan’s Fall 2007 collection (as worn by Jessica Stam on the runway). The strapless tunic has outside darts, pockets, and foundation with padded bra and boning:

Vogue 1076 by Donna Karan (2008) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

For more red-carpet pantsuits, see Elle magazine’s slideshow here or this People article. Or see that handy viral infographic here.

Free Designer Pattern: Yohji Yamamoto Top

December 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Yohji Yamamoto top photographed by Nick Knight

Photo: Nick Knight. Image via SHOWstudio.

SHOWstudio’s first Design Download, in May 2002, was a top by Yohji Yamamoto.

I couldn’t find a runway photo of the top, but it’s consistent with those seen in Yohji Yamamoto’s athletic wear-inspired Fall-Winter 2001 collection (full collection at Vogue Runway):

Yohji Yamamoto FW2001 look 48

Model: Colette Pechekhonova. Image via firstVIEW.

Here’s the collection image from L’Officiel 1000 modèles (click to enlarge):

L'Officiel Yamamoto FW2001

L’Officiel 1000 modèles no. 17 (2001). Image via jalougallery.com.

This collection was Yamamoto’s first collaboration with Adidas. The year 2001 also marked the 20th anniversary of Yamamoto’s first Paris collection, in the fall of 1981. (See Suzy Menkes, “Fashion’s Poet of Black: Yamamoto.”)

Download the top pattern (2 pieces)

Recommended fabric: wool

Yardage requirements: approx. 1.25 yards (1.2 m) of 60″ fabric *

Notions: 21 mm button snap closure

See the submissions gallery here; Alabama Chanin post here. For more on Yamamoto, see Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A and the related article on processes and techniques.

* Source: Craftster discussion

We Can Be Heroes

October 30, 2015 § 9 Comments

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 via 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 via 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.


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 Batman (1966) Image via 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

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):

McCalls Home catalogue, Fall/Winter 1966-67

McCall’s 8398 in McCall’s Home Catalog, Fall-Winter 1966-67.


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, 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)

1970s Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl costume pattern - Simplicity 8720

Simplicity 8720 (1978)


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 via 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:

Butterick 5862 (1987) Image via Etsy.

1980s Superman costume pattern - Butterick 5874

Butterick 5874 (1987)

(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) Image via Etsy.


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) Image via Etsy.

Batman Forever Batman costume pattern - Butterick 4172

Butterick 4172 (1995) Image via Etsy.

Butterick 6378 official Batman Returns Catwoman costume (1992) Image via 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 via 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) Image via 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:

McCalls 7859

McCall’s 7859/P310 (1995) Image via 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) Image via 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) Image via 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 via Simplicity.

Women's Wonder Woman costume pattern - Simplicity 1024

Simplicity 1024 (2015)

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?

Simplicity 1035 (2015) Image via 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) Image via 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) Image via 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)

Official DC Comics Bombshells Wonder Woman pattern - Simplicity 8196

Simplicity 8196 (2016)

Official DC Comics Bombshells Batgirl pattern - Simplicity 8197

Simplicity 8197 (2016)

Official DC Comics Bombshells Supergirl pattern - Simplicity 8185

Simplicity 8185 (2016)

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!

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with 2000s at PatternVault.

%d bloggers like this: