You and Me and Rainbows

June 23, 2017 § 3 Comments

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:

Maija Isola Sateenkaari fabric for Marimekko, 1973

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.

Taste the Infinite

June 11, 2017 § 5 Comments

Eight ways to wear an infinity dress - sketch by Lydia Silvestry in Vogue

Eight ways to wear an infinite dress. Sketch by Lydia Silvestry in Vogue, October 1976.

Summer means weddings and infinity dresses—or, if a couple is particularly on-trend, infinity bridesmaid jumpsuits.

TwoBirds bridesmaid jumpsuits, 2016

TwoBirds bridesmaid jumpsuits, 2016. Image: Instagram.

China Machado’s summer 1973 resort set was a precursor to the infinity garments of the mid-1970s. Like the infinity dress and its cousins, Machado’s pieces call for two-way stretch knits; but Grace Mirabella’s Vogue featured the design in muslin, as worn by Beverly Johnson:

Very Easy Vogue 2881 by China Machado (1973)

Very Easy Vogue 2881 by China Machado (1973) Image: Sew Exciting Needleworks.

Beverly Johnson in Vogue, May 1973. Photos: Kourken Pakchanian

Beverly Johnson in Vogue, May 1973. Photos: Kourken Pakchanian. Image: Youthquakers.

Lydia Silvestry trademarked “The Infinite Dress” and licensed it with McCall’s in 1976. As the pattern envelope says, “One size dress can be worn an infinite number of ways. See enclosed guide sheet illustrating 13 ways dress can be worn, or try creating your personal version.” (See Carmen Bouchard / Carmencita B’s posts about this pattern here.)

McCall's 5360 by Lydia Silvestry (1976)

McCall’s 5360 by Lydia Silvestry (1976) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Silvestry also licensed her infinite jumpsuit as a pattern featuring Maud Adams. I think this pattern has my favourite fabric note: For best results use a Lightweight, Non-cling Stretchable Jersey-type Knit Fabric such as Rosewood Fabric’s LA GRAND QUE of 100% QIANA, Burlington’s AMBROSIA of 100% Dacron Polyester, Millikin’s SURE THING of 100% Dacron Polyester. (Click to view in the shop.)

1970s Infinite Jumpsuit pattern by Lydia Silvestry McCall's 5529

McCall’s 5529 by Lydia Silvestry (1977) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

From Carol Horn, this dress has strapless and colour blocking options:

1970s Carol Horn dress pattern Vogue 1573

Vogue 1573 by Carol Horn (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

Also one-size, the Seven Way Wonder Dress seems to have been Butterick’s answer to the Infinite Dress. A winter retail catalogue shows the Wonder Dress as black tie wear:

Butterick 5230 (ca. 1977)

Butterick 5230 (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Butterick Feb 1977

The Wonder Dress – Wear It 7 Smashing Ways! Back cover of the Butterick retail catalogue, February 1977. Image: eBay.

Meanwhile, Simplicity had the Wonder Wrap Jiffy Jumpsuit and Jiffy Multi-Wrap Dress:

1970s Wonder Wrap Jiffy knits Jumpsuit pattern Simplicity 7957

Simplicity 7957 (1976) Image: Etsy.

1970s Jiffy knits dress pattern Simplicity 8086

Simplicity 8086 (1977) Image: Etsy.

Vogue released two Very Easy infinite dress patterns in spring, 1977:

Vogue 1640 (1977)

Vogue 1640 (1977) Image: Sew Exciting Needleworks.

Vogue 1641 (1977)

Vogue 1641 (1977) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1641 is seldom seen, despite being illustrated by Antonio and photographed in Antigua for Vogue Patterns magazine:

1970s Antonio illustration of Vogue 1641, Very Easy Vogue news

Vogue 1641, Very Easy Vogue Patterns, May 1977. Illustration: Antonio. Image: Patterns from the Past.

Clotilde wears Vogue 1641, photographed by Albert Watson in Antigua, 1977

Vogue 1641 in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Model: Clotilde. Photo: Albert Watson. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Is that Patti Hansen modelling the Glamour Plus Dress?

It's the Glamour Plus Dress!! Butterick 5683 (ca. 1977)

Butterick 5683 (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Fast forward to 2000, when McCall’s released an infinite dress by Debra Moises (Debra and Moises Diaz). The envelope shows 5 variations:

Debra Moises dress pattern McCalls 2781

McCall’s 2781 by Debra Moises (2000) Image: eBay.

In early 2011, the New York Times ran a story about the trend for convertible garments (see Ruth La Ferla, “Convertible Clothing Is a New Twist for the Cost-Conscious“). Butterick featured an infinite dress (now out of print) on the cover of that year’s Spring catalogue:

The Infinite Dress: Drape it... Wrap it... Make it your own! Butterick 5606 on the cover of Butterick's Spring 2011 catalogue

Butterick 5606 on the cover of the Butterick catalogue, Spring 2011. Image: Issuu.

Butterick 5606 in the Butterick catalogue, Spring 2011

Butterick 5606 in the Butterick catalogue, Spring 2011. Image: Issuu.

Last summer, as part of their Archive Collection, McCall’s reissued their 1970s-era infinite dress and jumpsuit as a single pattern (still in print). These patterns are usually adapted somewhat from the vintage originals:

M7384 in McCall's lookbook, Early Summer 2016

’70s Chic with Infinite Looks: M7384 in McCall’s lookbook, Early Summer 2016. Image: Issuu.

It’s easy to see why infinity dresses remain popular, with their carefree resort vibe and minimal fitting requirements. And on the pattern envelopes, the hall of mirrors effect never gets old, does it?

For more discussion and links, see Michelle Lee’s post.

Donna Karan's Infinity Dress, 2011

Donna Karan’s jersey Infinity dress, 2011. Image: New York Times.

Pucci 70th Anniversary

May 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

McCall's 3980 by Emilio of Capri photographed on the beach by Howell Conant, McCall's Pattern Book, Spring 1957

A dress by Emilio of Capri in McCall’s Pattern Book, Spring 1957. Photo: Howell Conant.

Pucci has been in the news this week with the announcement that Josephus Thimister will consult on the next collection, following the departure in April of head designer Massimo Giorgetti. (See WWD.) The house of Pucci is also celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Before becoming a Vogue Couturier in the 1960s, Emilio Pucci designed exclusive patterns for McCall’s. Howell Conant photographed Pucci’s earliest pattern designs, including the harlequin dress above, for McCall’s Pattern Book. For more on Pucci see my Mad Men-era series post, The Europeans.

Happy 70th anniversary, Pucci!

1960s Pucci Vogue Couturier sewing pattern Vogue 1351

Vogue 1351 by Pucci (1964) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Black Fashion Designers at FIT

February 5, 2017 § 2 Comments

black fashion designers

Scott Barrie dress, ca. 1973, in MFIT’s exhibition Black Fashion Designers. Image: Museum at FIT.

The Museum at FIT’s current exhibition, Black Fashion Designers, showcases the often-overlooked work of more than 60 designers of African descent. (The show runs to May 16th, 2017). Monday’s symposium is sold out, but you can watch a livestream here.

Butterick 6680 by Willi Smith () Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Butterick 6680 by Willi Smith (ca. 1979) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Many of the designers featured in the FIT exhibit also licensed sewing patterns. Here are some highlights of patterns by designers of African descent, from the 1970s to now.

Sportswear designer Willi Smith (1948-1987) signed with Butterick’s Young Designer line in the 1970s; in the ’80s, he moved to McCall’s with his label Williwear. According to the exhibition notes, Smith branched into menswear in 1982, but this pattern is almost a decade earlier:

1970s Willi Smith menswear pattern Butterick 3254

Butterick 3254 by Willi Smith (1973) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Stephen Burrows (b. 1943) licensed designs with McCall’s Carefree line in the mid-1970s. This pattern combines two of his signature elements, colour blocking and lettuce hems:

Burrows

McCall’s 4091 by Stephen Burrows (1974) Image: Etsy.

Scott Barrie (1946-1993) began his career at Vogue Patterns, so his introduction to home sewers was also a welcome back. Chris von Wangenheim photographed Barrie with two models for a feature highlighting his work with matte jersey. The patterns are Vogue 1976 (on Gia Carangi) and Vogue 1994:

vogue patterns septoct 1978_barrie

Scott Barrie in Vogue Patterns, September/October 1978. Photo: Chris von Wangenheim.

Best known for his formal wear, British designer Bruce Oldfield (b. 1950) licensed his work with Style Patterns in the mid-1980s. (See my earlier post here). This dolman-sleeved dress could be made in cocktail or evening length:

1980s Bruce Oldfield dress pattern Style 4494

Style 4494 by Bruce Oldfield (1985) Image: Etsy.

Patrick Kelly (1954-1990) first appeared on the pattern scene in the late 1980s with this dramatic peplum suit. (Read my Patrick Kelly post here, or download the free one-seam coat pattern.)

1980s Patrick Kelly peplum suit pattern Vogue 2077

Vogue 2077 by Patrick Kelly (1988) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Gordon Henderson (b. 1957) was among the first designers in the ’90s Vogue Attitudes line. (According to a 1990 profile, his mother—a psychologist and single parent—used Vogue patterns to economize.) This 1990 design shows his interest in colour and silhouette:

1990s Gordon Henderson jacket, skirt and top pattern - Vogue 2566

Vogue 2566 by Gordon Henderson (1990) Image: Etsy.

Also in the Vogue Attitudes line, patterns by Byron Lars (b. 1965) remain popular today. (See my earlier post.) This shirt dress and leggings ensemble was photographed on the street in New York City:

1990s Byron Lars dress and leggings pattern Vogue 1529

Vogue 1529 by Byron Lars (1995) Image: Etsy.

Tracy Reese (b. 1964) has licensed her main label with Vogue Patterns since 2009; McCall’s added bridge line Plenty by Tracy Reese in 2012. Vogue’s most recent offering, Vogue 1512, is a dress from Reese’s Fall 2015 collection.

Plenty by Tracy Reese shirt dress pattern M6506

McCall’s 6506 from Plenty by Tracy Reese (2012) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Tracy Reese FW 2015 dress pattern Vogue 1512

Vogue 1512 by Tracy Reese (2016) Image: eBay.

Fall 2015 collection. Image: Vogue Runway.

Tracy Reese, Fall 2015 collection. Image: Vogue Runway.

For more on the Black Fashion Designers exhibit, see the museum notes and Alexandra Jacobs’ article in The New York Times.

Nae Cotillion

January 25, 2017 § 3 Comments

McCall 3324 detail

Detail, McCall 3324 (ca. 1923).

Today is Robbie Burns Day. This 1920s children’s pattern makes a full Scottish outfit, including the hat and sporran:

1920s children's Scottish ensemble McCall 3324

McCall 3324 (ca. 1923) Girl’s Scotch Costume.

Bad Girls Do It Well

January 12, 2017 § 1 Comment

Late 1950s Eastman Fibers Chromspun ad feat. McCall's 5020 and Pierre Cardin suit McCall's 5099

C’est Vous! 1959 Eastman Fibers advertisement featuring McCall’s 5020 and McCall’s 5099 by Pierre Cardin.

A 1959 Eastman Fibers ad brings a note of intrigue to McCall’s patterns by photographing them in a nightlife setting, on a pair of vampy women.

The patterns are McCall’s 5020, a strapless cocktail dress, and McCall’s 5099, a skirt suit by Pierre Cardin, both shown in Wesco Chromspun fabrics.

Chromspun is the trademark for Eastman colour-locked acetate yarn from Eastman Chemical Products Inc., then a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak—in those days headquartered on Madison Avenue.

Create Your Brilliant Season

December 21, 2016 § 2 Comments

Dovima wears McCall's 4425 for Celanese, 1959

Dovima wears McCall’s 4425 for Celanese, 1959.

A Celanese advertising insert from the late 1950s shows McCall’s festive styles in the latest synthetic silks—top models and more than one tiara from the multinational chemical company that brought you cellulose acetate.

"Create your brilliant season with opulent fabrics of Celanese Contemporary Fibers" - 1959 Celanese insert

Celanese Contemporary Fibers advertising booklet, Fall 1959.

The booklet frames small, full-length photos of McCall’s designs with close-ups showing off the “brilliant” textiles. Here, McCall’s 4999 is shown in Belding Corticelli’s rayon-acetate matelassé, with McCall’s 5057 in Cohama’s Arnel triacetate faille. The model on the right is Simone D’Aillencourt:

1950s dress patterns McCall's 4999 and McCall's 5057

Left, McCall’s 4999 in Belding Corticelli matelassé; right, McCall’s 5057 in Cohama faille. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

The blue ensemble on the left is McCall’s 5023, made in Celanese Celaperm acetate satin faille from the David Hecht Co. Anne St. Marie poses in McCall’s 5029 in Onondaga rayon-acetate brocade:

1950s dress and jacket ensemble patterns McCall's 5023 and McCall's 5029

Left, McCall’s 5023 in David Hecht Co. satin faille; right, McCall’s 5029 in Onondaga brocade. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

Here, Dovima wears a shimmering gold version of McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin acetate, while McCall’s 4870 evokes Princess Grace in aqua acetate satin from William Skinner and Sons:

1950s evening dress patterns McCall's 4425 and McCall's 4870

McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin; right, McCall’s 4870 in William Skinner and Sons satin. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

Dovima closes the booklet in McCall’s 5012, an at-home trouser ensemble shown in orange and tangerine Celaperm acetate satin peau from Wedgwood Fabrics.

Dovima wears McCall's 5012 in Wedgwood Fabrics' satin peau

Dovima wears McCall’s 5012 in Wedgwood Fabrics’ satin peau. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

For more on the history of Celanese (est. 1918), see the company website.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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