Happy birthday to Bob Mackie, who turns 80 today!
Celebrate with some of my posts on Bob Mackie’s McCall’s patterns:
In honour of Burns Night, a guide to Outlander patterns.
Outlander is now in its fourth season; it’s been renewed for two more. Adapted from the popular series by Diana Gabaldon, the time-travelling romance has plenty of source material: Gabaldon is currently working on her ninth Outlander book.
Sunday’s season finale will be the last episode to feature costumes by Terry Dresbach. Trisha Biggar is the new costume designer for season 5. Biggar, who is from Glasgow, is best known for her work on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
In 2017, Simplicity’s unofficial Outlander patterns prompted Dresbach to take down her website. (It’s back now.) The next year, McCall’s started releasing official, licensed Outlander patterns.
Simplicity’s adapted-from-Outlander patterns are by American Duchess, a historical costuming company based in Reno, Nevada. The three patterns are based on Claire’s costumes in seasons 1 and 2: 18th-century Highland dress and an unusual court gown. There’s also a free pattern for her crocheted cowl.
It was this version of Claire’s red dress that caused such consternation online. Claire wears the original during her visit to Versailles in “Not in Scotland Anymore,” the episode that earned Outlander its first Emmy nomination for costume design. It was also seen in promotional materials for season 2 (see top of post). The pattern is still in print, but as with Simplicity’s Game of Thrones patterns, the colour was soon changed to a less provocative teal.
McCall’s started licensing official Outlander patterns in 2018. (Company founder James McCall was a Scottish immigrant, and McCall’s UK — McCalls Ltd — is not a pattern company, but a Highlandwear outfitters.) McCall’s Outlander patterns cover both women’s and men’s costumes, with many available as instant downloads. For the first few releases this meant Claire and Jamie Fraser, or 18th-century Scottish highlander garb.
Next came the couple’s wedding clothes: Jamie’s frock coat and Claire’s wedding dress.
Outerwear was the focus of the Summer release, with patterns for Claire’s fur-trimmed riding jacket and Jamie’s leather coat.
Jamie is still wearing the coat in season 2, when he joins up with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Dresbach suited the latter not in the Stuart, but the MacQueen tartan.
This fall, we finally saw a costume for British officer Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, plus Claire’s blue riding jacket-and-waistcoat combo from season 3’s Emmy-nominated episode, “Freedom & Whisky.” The title is a Burns quote, and the episode sees Claire sewing the outfit herself, for time travel. A costume book lies open by her sewing machine, and her ensemble looks to be based on a memorable riding habit in Janet Arnold’s classic, Patterns of Fashion.
This year, McCall’s Outlander patterns caught up to the show with this caraco jacket and skirt. The jacket looks to be one of Claire’s remade outfits, courtesy of Jamie’s aunt Jocasta.
Slàinte! To freedom and whisky.
Update (April 2019): This new release includes Claire’s peplum jacket and fichu (scarf), plus a chemise:
Red lips, black manicure, and no mention of the holidays. Is anyone else watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina?
The pattern is McCall 8564. This copy is from the Sydnor-Spainhour Company of North Carolina.
This Sunday is the centenary of the Armistice of 1918, marking the end of World War I.
On the November 1918 Delineator cover shown above, two women wear military uniforms that could be sewn from a Butterick pattern. (Also pictured in the late Joy Emery’s book. Look inside the issue here.) Click the images below for my 1914 centenary post, Patterns for the Great War, and other patterns for war work.
In memory of Eiko Ishioka, who would have been 80 this year, a look at costume patterns based on her work.
Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012) is best known as the costume designer for The Cell and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which she won an Academy Award in 1993. Her last film project was Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.
McCall’s and Simplicity both released patterns based on the film. McCall’s 6629 came in adult and children’s sizes. (Out of print, but details still on the Cosplay by McCall’s site.)
On the left—view D with collar E and feathered backpiece F—is Julia Roberts’ wicked queen. Ishioka’s original gown has panniers and miles of cartridge pleating:
The gown features white peacock embroidery and a molded basque with four-piece cups.
View B (top right) is clearly Lily Collins’ Snow White, but so is view A. It’s the dress with floral basque and skirt, seen early in the film, which Ishioka topped with one of the most memorable capes in cinema.
Simplicity also offered Snow White’s dress from the film’s Bollywood finale, moving the giant bow down from the shoulders.
The Costume Designers’ Guild gave Ishioka a posthumous award for Mirror Mirror. (For more on the production, see Wired.) And since her on-screen version, all yellow capes seem to point back to Snow White’s.
There are only two weekends left to catch Balenciaga: Master of Couture at the McCord Museum. Anne St. Marie’s look (above) was inspired by Balenciaga.
From the inside note: “The new straight-coat fashion favored by Balenciaga, fall and winter coverage for its own sheath dress and everything else in your wardrobe. In colorful Anglo tweed and coordinated red wool, interfaced with Armo hair canvas to hold its line. Earl-Glo Sanitized taffeta lining; B.G.E. buttons. Emme hat; Mark Cross bag; Superb gloves.”
Pattern: McCall’s 3793.
Olivia Hussey has an autobiography out, reminding us of a legendary bomb: the musical Lost Horizon. Naturally, there was a pattern tie-in.
Ross Hunter’s Lost Horizon (1973) was adapted from James Hilton’s bestselling novel about Shangri-La, with costumes by the great Jean Louis.
There had been another Lost Horizon, in the 1930s, but it didn’t have music by Burt Bacharach.
McCall’s released at least ten patterns in its Lost Horizon-inspired series. The film opened in March, but the patterns came out later in the year. Two Carefree and Extra-Carefree styles from the series in the Fall 1973 Carefree catalogue:
The pattern envelopes bear a tiny version of the film graphics.
Did the hippie trail reach Tibet? Some of the Lost Horizon-inspired patterns look like contemporary western clothing, but most nod to Jean Louis’ fantasia of traditional Tibetan dress, textiles, and embellishment.
Of the two designs for men and women, this robe was the most popular. The men’s and women’s caftan came with its own embroidery transfers.
Unfortunately there’s no pattern for Hussey’s saffron robes.