Outlander Costumes

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "Not in Scotland Anymore" Outlander s2 e2
Promotional image for Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

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.

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Devil's Mark" Outlander S1 e11
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

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.

Scottish costume designer Trisha Biggar's Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (2005)
Trisha Biggar’s Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams 2005)

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

Fall Through Time - Simplicity Outlander costumes by American Duchess
Fall Through Time – American Duchess’ Outlander costume, Simplicity 8161. Image: Simplicity.

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.

Claire Fraser dress pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.
Claire's underthings pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8162 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.

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.

A pattern version of Claire Fraser's scandalous red dress - Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017)
Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017) Image: Simplicity.

McCall’s

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.

Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.
Outlander season 2's shirtless and kilted MacKenzie men
Alternate look for kilt M7736. Image: Starz.

Next came the couple’s wedding clothes: Jamie’s frock coat and Claire’s wedding dress.

Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Wedding," Outlander s1 e7 (2014)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Outerwear was the focus of the Summer release, with patterns for Claire’s fur-trimmed riding jacket and Jamie’s leather coat.

Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall's Summer 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall’s Summer 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe) goes riding in Outlander, season 1 e4
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Terry Dresbach.
Scottish laird Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

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.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and Jamie Fraser in "Prestonpans" Outlander season 2 episode 10 (2016)
Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

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.

Outlander costumes M7823 and redcoat uniform M7824 in McCall's Early Fall 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7823 and M7824 in McCall’s Early Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Tobias Menzies in his redcoat uniform as Outlander's Black Jack Randall
Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) in Outlander. Image: Starz.
Snowshill Manor riding habit in Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold
The Snowshill Manor riding habit in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1 (1964). Image: Pinterest.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 3 (2017). Image: Starz.

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.

Outlander costume M7916 in McCall's Early Spring 2019 lookbook
Outlander costume M7916 in McCall’s Early Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19)
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19). Image: tumblr.

Slàinte! To freedom and whisky.

Update (April 2019): This new release includes Claire’s peplum jacket and fichu (scarf), plus a chemise:

Outlander costume McCall's 7940 (2019)
Outlander costume M7940 in McCall’s Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.

Armistice Centenary

Illustration of women in uniform on the cover of Butterick magazine The Delineator, November 1918
Women in uniform on the cover of The Delineator, November 1918. Image: eBay.

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.

Responding to the Country's Call: patterns for war work in McCall's magazine, July 1917.
Responding to the Country’s Call, McCall’s magazine, July 1917. Image: eBay.
McCall 8125 dress, McCall 8130 aviation cap / McCall 8121 dress - cover of McCall Fashions for January 1918
Wartime skating in an aviation cap (left). McCall Fashions for January 1918.

McCall Fashions for January 1918

Illustration of two women skating on the cover of a McCall Pattern Company news leaflet, winter 1918 (McCall 8125, 8130, and 8121)
McCall Fashions, January 1918.

Now that the temperature has dropped, I wanted to share a near-antique McCall News from winter 1917-18.

The cover illustration shows two women skating on a frozen lake. The fur-trimmed dress on the left is McCall 8125, with ‘aviation cap’ McCall 8130; the dress on the right is McCall 8121.

Inside the leaflet are some interesting patterns for war work. You may recognize overall suit McCall 7860 from my Great War post. Here we see the sleeveless view worn over a blouse:

World War 1 McCall 7860 overall suit pattern in McCall Fashions leaflet
McCall 7860 overall suit in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

‘The Conservation Uniform,’ McCall 7970, is a dress apron designated “Official Food Conservation Uniform; for the use of women signing the Conservation Pledge of the Food Commission.” (Often called a Hoover apron—for more, see witness2fashion’s post.) The cap and cuffs were included in the pattern:

World War 1 dress apron / conservation uniform pattern McCall 7970 in McCall Fashions leaflet
The Conservation Uniform: McCall 7970 dress apron in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

The ‘aviation cap’ from the cover is shown with McCall 7897, a ladies’ military dress with optional cape:

World War 1 patterns: Military dress McCall 7895 and aviation cap McCall 8130 in McCall Fashions leaflet
Military dress McCall 7895 and aviation cap McCall 8130 in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

Patterns for the Great War

Red Cross worker on the cover of Pictorial Review magazine, July 1917
Red Cross worker on the cover of Pictorial Review magazine, July 1917. Image: eBay.

This year marks the centennial of the beginning of World War 1. In honour of Armistice Day, this post looks at commercial sewing patterns associated with the First World War.

Porter Woodruff illustration on the cover of British Vogue, May 1918
British Vogue, May 1918. Illustration: Porter Woodruff. Image: Vogue UK.

This illustration from the July 1917 issue of McCall’s magazine shows McCall patterns suitable for war work: a nurse’s uniform, apron, and cap, and outdoor workwear including women’s overalls (patent pending):

nurses’ uniform 7845, apron and cap 7847, overall suit 7860, sun hat 7850, waist 7073, skirt 7011 - McCall's magazine, July 1917
“Responding to the Country’s Call.” McCall’s magazine, July 1917. Image: eBay.

Official Red Cross patterns exemplify the volunteer production of clothing and medical supplies that formed part of the war effort. American Red Cross patterns were published by multiple American pattern companies, while in the U.K., British Red Cross sewing and knitting instructions were available in several books by Emily Peek.* In Canada, volunteers sewing for the Canadian Red Cross may have used both British and American resources.

Practical instruction in cutting out and making up hospital garments for sick and wounded (approved by the Red Cross Society)
Working Uniform (B.R.C.S.) in Emily Peek, Practical Instruction in Cutting Out and Making Up Hospital Garments for Sick and Wounded (1914) Image: University of Southampton.
"Sewing for solidarity" - Women sew for the war effort in the old University of Toronto library, Canada
Women sew for the war effort in the old University of Toronto library. Image: U of T Magazine.

The McCall Fashions for February 1918 gives a list of American Red Cross patterns for garments to be used in hospitals and refugee camps; the cover illustration shows three women dressed “For the visit to the camp”:

WW1 McCall Fashions (Style News) for February 1918
“For the Visit to the Camp.” McCall Fashions, February 1918. Image: eBay.

The inside front cover lists two types of official American Red Cross pattern: “for the relief of refugees and repatriates in the war-stricken countries, particularly in France and Belgium” and for hospital garments. The illustrations show an infant’s layette, unisex children’s cape, reversible bed jacket, and trench foot slipper (click to enlarge):

Red Cross patterns and hospital garments in WW1 McCall Fashions (Style News) for February 1918
New Official American Red Cross patterns. McCall Fashions, February 1918. Image: eBay.

Update: Weldons, the British pattern company, had similar patterns “for our troops”:

Embed from Getty Images

A news article from June, 1918 discusses the most needed hospital garments and supplies corrections for two refugee garment patterns. It seems the “helpless case shirt” (for patients with arm injuries) was available in two versions:

What the Red Cross Is Doing and What You Can Do - Drumright Evening Derrick, 17 Jun 1918
Drumright Evening Derrick, June 17, 1918. Image: Oklahoma Historical Society.

(Full archived version here.)

Andrea of Unsung Sewing Patterns has a copy of the “helpless case shirt,” Red Cross 35—more sensitively called a taped hospital bed shirt:

WW1 McCall Red Cross taped hospital bed shirt pattern - Red Cross 35
McCall Red Cross 35 (ca. 1917) Image: Unsung Sewing Patterns.

(See Unsung Sewing Patterns for more Red Cross refugee patterns.)

A 1917 article in McCall’s magazine describes the Red Cross relief effort and seven new patterns for hospital work. It presents sewing as an alternative to nursing, for which fewer women were qualified, arguing that “[s]ewing may not seem to many as romantic as nursing the wounded upon the battlefield, but without it the nursing might be useless.” Interestingly, official American Red Cross patterns were at first distributed through the organization’s national headquarters, but later became available directly to the public (click to enlarge):

"How to Help the Red Cross--Now! Army and navy look to the women of the country to provide for the comfort of the wounded and convalescent" McCall's July 1917 Red Cross patterns
“How to Help the Red Cross–Now!” McCall’s magazine, July 1917.

On the right, readers found descriptions of the new patterns, accompanied by photographs showing Red Cross officials Jane A. Delano and Clara D. Noyes, and women in a Red Cross chapter at work:

"Throughout the country, in Red Cross chapter, in club, church guild, and small home, women are doing their 'bit' for the soldiers." McCall's Jul 1917 photograph
“Throughout the country, in Red Cross chapter, in club, church guild, and small home, women are doing their ‘bit’ for the soldiers.” McCall’s magazine, July 1917.

The illustrations of the new patterns seek to include the Red Cross sewing effort in the romance of nursing. Here a nurse serves a meal to a patient who is wearing McCall Special C, a hospital bed shirt:

Red Cross hospital bed shirt pattern ilustrated: McCall Special C (1917)
McCall Special C (1917) Red Cross hospital bed shirt.

McCall Special P is a pair of pajamas:

Red Cross pajamas pattern illustrated: McCall Special P (1917)
McCall Special P (1917) Red Cross pajamas.

To be made from one or two blankets, McCall Special O is a bathrobe or convalescent gown:

Red Cross bathrobe or convalescent gown illustrated: McCall Special O (1917)
McCall Special O (1917) Red Cross bathrobe or convalescent gown.

McCall Special R is a Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s operating gown—a unisex medical uniform available in two sizes:

Red Cross operating gown pattern illustration: McCall Special R (1917)
McCall Special R (1917) Red Cross operating gown.

The illustration of the Red Cross nurse also shows the McCall Special S operating helmet:

Red Cross operating gown and operating helmet pattern illustrated: McCall Special R helmet (1917)
McCall Special R and S (1917) Red Cross operating gown and operating helmet.

The Commercial Pattern Archive has both sizes of McCall Special R its collection. The larger is reproduced in Joy Emery’s new book:

1910s WW1 Red Cross pattern - McCall Special R
McCall Special R (ca. 1917). Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s operating gown. Image: Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry.

Do you have any World War I patterns in your collection?

* Seligman, Cutting for All! (Southern Illinois UP, 1996), pp. 123-24, cited in Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014), p. 91. A digitized version of Emily Peek, Practical Instruction in Cutting Out and Making Up Hospital Garments for Sick and Wounded: Approved by the Red Cross Society (British Red Cross Society, 1914), is available through the University of Southampton.