Battle On, Xena!

Lucy Lawless in "Return of Callisto," episode 5 of Xena: Warrior Princess, season 2, 1996
Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess, 1996. Image: NBC Universal/Movie Pilot.

Before Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, there was Xena: Warrior Princess. The Hercules spinoff starring Lucy Lawless as a Thracian warrior became a cult hit, thanks partly to that iconic leather armour by Ngila Dickson.

Lucy Lawless' Xena: Warrior Princess costume at the Museum of New Zealand
Image: Museum of New Zealand.

Best known today for her work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dickson won a New Zealand Film and TV Award for Xena in 1998. The same year saw both an animated Hercules and Xena and official licensed costume patterns from Butterick. (Simplicity had done unofficial Xena patterns in 1997.)

The Butterick costumes call for synthetic leather for the dress and accessories, metallic cord and marker, and cotton Lycra to make your own undershorts. Chakram not included.

1990s official adult's Xena: Warrior Princess costume, Butterick 5726
Butterick 5725 (1998) Official adult’s Xena: Warrior Princess costume.
1990s official children's Xena: Warrior Princess costume, Butterick 5726
Butterick 5726 (1998) Official children’s Xena: Warrior Princess costume.

Happy Halloween!

You and Me and Rainbows

Early 1970s juniors/teens' bolero, skirt, and hip-hugger pants pattern Simplicity 9376
Simplicity 9376 (1971) Image: Etsy.

Happy Pride! This year you can celebrate all summer with 2017’s rainbow trend. (See Lauren Cochrane, “The rainbow’s not over – it’s the style symbol of the season.”) It’s a vintage motif with roots in the ’70s and ’80s.

The ’70s rainbow trend was well underway before Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag in 1978. (Read MoMA’s interview.) The groovy teens’ pattern shown above came with rainbow appliqués. Maija Isola’s Sateenkaari (Rainbow) print for Marimekko appeared the same year as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon:

1970s Maija Isola Sateenkaari printed fabric for Marimekko
Maija Isola Sateenkaari printed fabric for Marimekko, 1973. Image: Etsy.

As did this Time-Life sewing book entitled Shortcuts to Elegance:

Shortcuts to Elegance: The Art of Sewing
Shortcuts to Elegance: The Art of Sewing (1973) Image: Etsy.

From McCall’s Carefree line, this iron-on alphabet transfer pattern lets you spell whatever you like in rainbow caps:

1970s iron-on rainbow transfer alphabet McCall's 5567
McCall’s 5567 (1977) Set of full colour iron-on transfers.

Meredith Gladstone’s circa 1980 children’s décor pattern, “Cloud Room,” includes a rainbow pillowcase and rainbow-lined sleeping bag:

Early 1980s Meredith Gladstone children's decor pattern Vogue 2360
Vogue 2360 by Meredith Gladstone (ca. 1980) Cloud Room. Image: Etsy.

With the right print, home dressmakers could sew everything from rainbow dresses to coverups:

Early 1980s dress and bolero pattern Butterick 3767
Butterick 3767 (1981) Image: Etsy.
Early 1980s one-piece bathing suit and coverup pattern Butterick 3902
Butterick 3902 (1981) Image: Etsy.

For those making their own Cheer Bear Care Bear, Butterick’s envelope explained the rainbow’s significance as a “traditional symbol of hope,” as well as “a cheerful reminder that things are getting better and even bad times can bring something beautiful”:

1980s Care Bears pattern for Cheer Bear toy Butterick 6230 ©American Greetings Corporation
Butterick 6230 (1983) Cheer Bear. Image: Etsy.
1980s Cheer Bear pattern envelope back, Butterick 6230
Envelope back, Butterick 6230 (1983). Image: Etsy.

Hallmark’s Rainbow Brite licensing with McCall’s included a children’s costume, Rainbow Brite and Twink toys, and a set of mobiles.

Rainbow Brite costume with Rainbow Brite and Twink dolls - McCall's 9231, 9254, 9238 - McCall's Crafts patterns, 1984
Rainbow Brite patterns on the cover of McCall’s Crafts catalogue, ca. 1984.
1980s Rainbow Brite doll pattern McCall's Crafts 9238
With a Rainbow Brite doll—share in the power of the rainbow. McCall’s 9238 (1984) Image: Etsy.
1980s Rainbow Brite Twink doll pattern McCall's Crafts 9231
With a Twink doll—create some color of your own. McCall’s 9231 (1984) Image: Etsy.
1980s official Rainbow Brite costume pattern McCalls 9254
McCall’s 9254 (1984) Rainbow Brite costume. Image: ecrater.
1980s Rainbow Brite mobile pattern McCall's 9523 / 769
A rainbow for your own—McCall’s 9523 / 769 (1985) Image: Etsy.

Of course, there’s no need to find the perfect rainbow fabric. All it takes is the right array of colours…

Eugenia Volodina photographed by Steven Meisel in an Alexander McQueen dress from Irere, Vogue Italia, February 2003
Alexander McQueen dress (Irere, SS 2003), Vogue Italia supplement, February 2003. Photo: Steven Meisel. Model: Eugenia Volodina. Image: The Fashion Spot.