Happy New Year! Vintage reissues give a taste of the pleasures of sewing vintage, without the bidding wars and grading. Here is an overview—with rarely seen archival images—of the contemporary vintage pattern lines from Vogue, Butterick, and McCall’s. (Simplicity responded to requests for comment with promotional copy.)
Deco evening dress pattern Vogue 2241 remains a favourite; I recently came across a version at Toronto’s Spadina Museum. I found an illustration of the original, Vogue S-3543, in a Vogue Patterns news leaflet from December, 1931. The description reads, “Here is a frock that expresses the newest movement of the mode, its originality and charm. It has a slender moulded look from the décolletage to the circular panels that trail slightly on the ground”:
Butterick donated the original to the Commercial Pattern Archive:
Retro Butterick and McCall’s Archive Collection
Both Retro Butterick and McCall’s Archive Collection patterns are recreated and sometimes adapted from archival materials, not the original patterns. With archival images, sticklers for accuracy can restore these adaptations to the original vintage design.
Early Retro Butterick pattern B6408 is based on Butterick 4391, a “Quick and Easy” late 1940s design for an evening gown with hooded scarf:
McCall’s introduced The Archive Collection for Early Fall, 2014. The recent 1920s coat pattern, M7259, is based on McCall 5057, a 1927 design by Agnès:
The Archive Collection’s Deco evening dress, M7154, is based on a design from spring, 1930: McCall 6057. An original copy sold on eBay in June, 2014 for over $800 US.
The McCall 6057 gown is a couture adaptation: the design is after Patou. Here is the description from McCall’s magazine: “The Patou silhouette is beautifully exemplified in a formal evening gown which has curved bands at the neckline and hipline, a short bolero and inserted panels lengthening the skirt”:
For more on the McCall Pattern Company’s vintage lines, see We Sew Retro’s interview.
Vintage bridal patterns offer a unique alternative to modern bridal designs. Even if you’re already married, they provide a glimpse into past bridal fashions’ sometimes exotic vintage details—making them tempting even for those not in need of a wedding dress. (Can we expect Debi Fry to make her 1940 bridal pattern, McCall 4004?)
Now that wedding season is in full swing, here’s a selection of vintage bridal patterns, from the Twenties to the Eighties.
In the Twenties and Thirties, bridal patterns usually did double duty as patterns for formal dresses. This 1920s Peerless Patterns sign features a wedding illustration promoting a number of patterns:
This fantastic bridal or evening dress is short, in keeping with the current fashion, and may have one or two extended side panels that give the effect of a train:
Thirties bridal patterns have the same glamour we associate with the decade’s evening wear. This pattern for a bridal gown or dinner dress dates to circa June 1934:
A copy of McCall 8331 recently seen on eBay was accompanied by this wedding portrait, which shows the dress made up:
In the Forties the bride begins to take centre stage on pattern envelopes, although evening and bridesmaid versions are still included. This bridal or evening dress was reissued in the Vintage Vogue line as Vogue 2384:
This strong-shouldered, postwar design has a sweetheart neckline and waist piping detail. The pattern also includes a bridesmaid’s dress with short, shirred sleeves (click image for the technical drawings):
By the 1950s the bride, in her full-skirted glory, dominates the pattern envelope. This Jacques Fath design for a bride’s or bridesmaid’s dress has a bustled back and tiny shawl collar. The bridesmaid’s version simply lacks a train:
John Cavanagh was known for his connection to the English court. He licensed several bridal patterns with Vogue, and designed the Duchess of Kent’s wedding dress in 1961. (See my earlier post here.) This short-sleeved Cavanagh design has a simulated train; the smaller figures show bridesmaid’s and evening versions:
Also by John Cavanagh, this 1960s bridal design with a cathedral-length Watteau train was modelled by Jean Shrimpton:
No bridal pattern survey could be complete without this Halston pattern for bridal headpieces:
From the early 1970s, this Pierre Cardin bridal gown, shown in a silk knit, has an optional overskirt with handkerchief train:
Although it isn’t for everyone, Yves Saint Laurent’s couture bridal design for a gathered, bias dress, filmy coat, and five-yard veil distinguishes itself by showing the bride as wayward Vestal virgin (see Paco Peralta’s post here):
Released in 1980, this opulent Dior design for a bell-skirted bridal gown, complete with bias necktie, cummerbund, and bow-embellished headpiece, is drawn from the Christian Dior Haute Couture collection for Fall 1979 (read Dustin’s post here):
Perfect for steampunk weddings, Vogue 2180 by Bellville Sassoon has an elaborate bustle that gives it a neo-Victorian flair:
Vogue Patterns doesn’t have an archive of their old patterns, so the company is calling on the sewing public to lend patterns from their collections for reissue in the Vintage Vogue line.
Reissued Forties and Fifties patterns have done best with customers, but they’re interested in patterns from all periods. The only exception is designer patterns credited to a named designer—these can’t be reissued due to licensing issues. This means that Vogue Couturier patterns are fair game unless they have a designer credit.
(The illustrations show a selection of Vintage Vogue reissues from 1928 to 1960. Hover for pattern numbers and dates, or click to enlarge.)
If you have vintage Vogue patterns that you’d be willing to lend, you can send images of your patterns by e-mail (Subject: Vintage Vogue Search) to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Vintage Vogue Search, Vogue Patterns, 120 Broadway, 34th floor, New York, NY 10271, USA.
If your pattern is chosen, you will be asked to lend your original for about 9 months. When the reissue is ready, your original is returned to you, and you receive a copy of the new Vintage Vogue release, a credit on the pattern envelope, and 5 free patterns.
Even if you aren’t contacted right away, one of your patterns could still be chosen to become a new Vintage Vogue pattern. Staff keep the pattern images on file and choose two each season, tailoring their choices to current trends. I sent in my scans about 16 months before I was contacted about lending my Fifties pattern. Happy scanning!
Congratulations to the winners! I’ll be in touch by e-mail to get your mailing addresses.
Thanks again to Vogue Patterns for providing the patterns. If you’re new to my blog, you might be interested in my earlier post, How Do You Take Your Vintage Vogue?, for discussion of the Vintage Vogue pattern line since 1998 and changing approaches to vintage.
As it turns out, this is actually the second time Vogue S-4595 has been reissued. After I added my pattern to the Vintage Patterns Wiki, admin Petite Main noted that it was reissued in 1957 as Vogue S-4771:
Last June a Vogue Patterns representative contacted me about borrowing a pattern from my collection, to be reissued in the Vintage Vogue line.
Because Vogue Patterns doesn’t have all their patterns archived, the company runs an ongoing Vintage Vogue search to find patterns for reproduction. (More details in pattern junkie’s post here.) I had e-mailed a few scans of my vintage, non-designer Vogue patterns (designer patterns are ineligible due to licensing issues) and they chose this 1950s Vogue Special Design:
The envelope description reads: One piece dress and redingote. Slim skirt joins the bodice at waist-line. Low, oval neck-line. Short kimono sleeves. Fitted redingote flared below hip-line. Shawl collar and detachable top collar. Tied closing at waist-line. Below elbow length sleeves cut in one with front and back.
The updated description reads: Misses’ dress, belt, coat and detachable collar. Dress has close-fitting bodice with side front/side back seams, inside belt, front pleated skirt, side zipper, and self belt with buckle. Fitted and flared coat has front extending into back collar, detachable collar, princess darts, hook/eye closure and tie ends. A and B: front and back cut-in-one with sleeves.
Recommended fabrics: A (dress): crepe, shantung and tissue taffeta. B (coat):wool crepe, flannel and worsted.
To celebrate the new Vintage Vogue release, I’m giving away two copies of V8875, one in each size range—B5 (8-10-12-14-16) and F5 (16-18-20-22-24).* To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below by midnight on Thursday, February 7th (deadline extended), and mention your preferred size range. (Size chart here.) The winners will be announced on Friday, February 8th. Good luck!
* Copies of V8875 courtesy of Vogue Patterns; worldwide shipping costs covered by me.
** This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated! **
This Christmas, while browsing my mother’s back issues of Vogue Patterns magazine, I was interested to see how the Vintage Vogue pattern line has evolved since its launch in 1998. Two repro patterns that were made up more than once for the magazine’s editorials are especially revealing of Vogue Patterns’ choices in promoting its vintage line. A look at the magazine’s different versions of these patterns seems the perfect opportunity for end-of-year reflection on different approaches to sewing—and wearing—vintage.
Vogue 2241, an early 1930s evening gown pattern, has been made up twice for the magazine. (See the pattern on flickr here.) This pattern is one of the earliest Vintage Vogues: it was released soon after the initial batch, which was photographed in black and white for the September/October 1998 issue.
The 1998 holiday issue’s “Vintage Vogue: Past Perfect” feature shows two evening designs, one Fifties, one Thirties, with an old-fashioned dressing screen. The headline promotes the ‘romance’ and timelessness of vintage, and the accompanying copy relates both designs to the “spare, romantic elegance of modern eveningwear,” but the shoot’s dress-up concept makes the garments look static and costumey. Here’s the first Vintage Vogue 2241, in washed silk charmeuse:
Six years later, the same design was remade for another holiday editorial, this one called “Vintage Nights.” This shoot features lush ‘vintage’ set design, with the model conveying a glamorous hauteur. The emphasis is more on dramatic style and interpretation: the headline reads, “Relive the glamour of a bygone era. Dressing for evening takes a cue from the past in Vintage Vogue.” Here’s the second Vogue 2241, this time in sueded silk charmeuse:
The second Vintage Vogue pattern, Vogue 2787, a Forties reproduction, is still in print. For its initial release in spring 2004, Vogue 2787 was made up in two versions, a printed and a solid silk charmeuse, each paired with a retro hat and gloves. The pattern was released with another Forties design, and the editorial gives a fairly direct rendition of Forties glamour; as the headline says, “Forties and still fabulous—take it from us, classic couture gets better with age.” Here are the first two versions of Vogue 2787:
A few years later, Vogue 2787 reappeared in a garden party-themed editorial of Forties and Fifties designs called “Well Cultivated Vintage Vogue.” (The cover shows a Fifties top from the same shoot.) The headline promotes the designs’ freshness and timelessness: “Firmly rooted in the elegance of the past, these perennial beauties make a perfect pick for today.” Vogue 2787’s next incarnation was made up in silk crepe de chine in a pink-dotted print:
And just this fall, Vogue 2787 opened a feature called “Beyond Vintage,” in which Vogue Patterns’ staff adapted and modernized their reissued patterns. Creative Director Jelena Bogavac updated the Forties dress by raising the hemline and altering both sleeves for an asymmetrical bodice. Here it is in iridescent green and pink velvet:
Has our thinking about vintage changed since the ’90s? When the two reissued patterns first came out, their straight period styling was appealing enough for me to get them both. Today I prefer the interpretation of the “Vintage Nights” shoot, and the updating and play of the fall vintage feature.
If you sew vintage, do you make it straight up, or with a twist? Do you adapt your style to accommodate vintage pieces, or make vintage adapt to you?
In case you missed it, I’m We Sew Retro’s featured member for December—you can see my interview here.