Vintage Nurse’s Uniforms

Detail, McCall Special R & S Red Cross operating gown and helmet in McCall’s, July 1917.

As a salute to our health care workers, this post is dedicated to vintage patterns for nurse’s uniforms.

1910s

Claire Avery WW1 illustration: Woman's Place is in a Uniform, Vogue, July 1918
Red Cross nurse with Red Cross worker, Vogue, July 1918. Illustration: Claire Avery. Image: Vogue Archive.

During the First World War, McCall’s sold commercial patterns for war work, including nurse’s uniforms, as well as official Red Cross patterns.

World War 1 nurse uniform pattern McCall 7845 with apron and cap pattern McCall 7847 in McCall's magazine, July 1917.
“The Nurse Fitted with Her Uniform and Apron”: nurse uniform pattern McCall 7845 with apron and cap pattern McCall 7847 in McCall’s, July 1917.

Few of these antique patterns seem to have survived, but the Commercial Pattern Archive has the unisex Red Cross operating gown:

McCall Special R (1917) Red Cross Surgeon's and Nurse's Operating Gown in Two Lengths
McCall Special R (1917) Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s Operating Gown in Two Lengths. Image: Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry.

This illustration shows a nurse dressed for surgery in the gown, McCall Special R, and helmet Special S. (For more, see Patterns for the Great War.)

McCall Special R and S - Red Cross gown & helmet (1917)
McCall Special R and S (1917) Operating gown and helmet.

Nurses wore similar protective wear during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19. This archival photo shows a local Hamilton estate, Ballinahinch, that was donated for conversion to a hospital during the pandemic.

Ballinahinch Relief Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, ca. 1918. Image: Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library.

1920s

Twenties-era patterns for nurse’s uniforms always seem to include the cap. This design dates to circa 1921, just before McCall’s patented the printed pattern.

McCall 2207 (ca. 1921) Nurses’ uniform (with cap). Image: eBay.

This drop-waisted uniform was still available two years later, but with a much higher hemline.

McCall 3524
McCall 3524 (ca. 1924) Nurses’ uniform and cap. Image: eBay.
1920s Nándor Honti paper doll illustrating McCall's patterns - nurse uniform and cap 3524, infant dress and petticoat 4252, bonnet 3105, embroidery 1339 - in McCall's magazine
“Baby McCall Goes for a Ride.” Paper doll by illustrator Nándor Honti in McCall’s, March 1926. Image: Pinterest.

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library sells reproductions of this late 1920s design. Swap in a contrast Peter Pan collar and cuffs and it doubles as a maid’s uniform.

McCall 5805 (1929) Nurse’s & service uniform. Image: VPLL on Etsy.

Andrea Cesari has several nurse patterns in her collection. The description for this one reads, “A uniform whose trim lines always look smart. The absence of fussy detail assures perfect laundering.”

Simplicity 7006 (ca. 1929)
Simplicity 7006 (ca. 1929) Nurses’ Uniform. Image: Unsung Sewing Patterns.

1930s

This early ’30s uniform is similarly sensible. (View on Etsy.)

McCall 7052 (1932) Nurses’ & service uniform. Image: eBay.

From Vogue, a late ’30s uniform that also includes a pintucked shirtdress:

Vogue 8106 (1938) Nurse’s uniform or dress. Image: The Blue Gardenia.

1940s

During the Second World War, dressmakers could again sew Red Cross nurse’s uniforms, as well as commercial designs. This back-buttoned nurse’s uniform from Simplicity includes the apron, but not the cap.

Simplicity 3882 (1941)
Simplicity 3882 (1941) Nurse’s uniform or dress with apron.

As in the previous World War, Red Cross patterns were available from many companies. McCall’s and Simplicity both sold patterns for the Red Cross Volunteer Special Service Corps. Here, the envelope stipulates: “Must be made in poplin; veil may be made in chiffon, georgette, voile, or lawn.” This uniform was not intended for hospital workers.

McCall 4641 (1942)
McCall 4641 (1942) American Red Cross Volunteer Special Service Corps washable uniform. Image: eBay.

The next year, the veil and white contrasts were gone. (Compare Cesari’s equivalent, Simplicity 4626.)

McCall 2501 (1943) American Red Cross Volunteer Special Service Corps washable uniform. Image: eBay.

This McCall’s retail catalogue shows the Special Service Corps uniform with two other Red Cross patterns, with a note that they were only available by special order.

Red Cross patterns McCall 2500, 2501 - December 1944. "The three Red Cross Patterns shown on this page are not carried in stock but can be ordered for you."
Red Cross patterns in McCall’s catalogue, December 1944. Image: Unexpected Necessities.

After the war, patterns for nurse’s uniforms return to their peacetime selves, fashionable yet practical — in this case with a three-piece shoulder pad. Do you have any uniform patterns in your collection?

Update: Instructions for no-sew masks (The Guardian) | Mask-making for the fashion industry (Business of Fashion Professional)

McCall 7517 (1948)
McCall 7517 (1948) Nurses’ Uniform or Ladies’ & Misses’ Dress.

Spring 2020 Designer Pattern Highlights

Tatyana Cooper wears bodycon dress pattern V1674 on the cover of the Spring 2020 Vogue Patterns lookbook
Vogue Patterns lookbook for Spring 2020. Model: Tatyana Cooper. Photo: Jack Deutsch. Image: Issuu.

It’s nearly the equinox: time for my Spring patterns report. As I mentioned back in December, I’ve been busy with other projects. I’m happy to share that my campaign to save Hanrahan’s, a historic Hamilton hotel turned tavern, was successful! (Read my latest op-ed | front page news | local news coverage.)

Huge thanks to now-retired columnist Paul Wilson, who first got the word out about this fascinating Edwardian hotel.

Recently, there’s also been some major pattern industry news. More on that in a moment — but first, a look at the first patterns of the decade.

Vogue’s second pattern by Richard René, the new designer for Laroche, is an oversized, colour-blocked pantsuit from the Spring 2019 collection.

Guy Laroche by Richard René, Spring 2019 collection
Guy Laroche by Richard René, Spring 2019. Image: Vogue Runway.
Guy Laroche colour block pantsuit pattern by Richard René - Vogue 1687
Vogue 1687 by Richard René for Guy Laroche (2020) Image: McCall’s.

Last June, British Vogue’s Venetia Scott paired the Laroche jacket with trousers by Issey Miyake.

Rianne van Rompaey in Guy Laroche and Issey Miyake, photographed by Theo Sion & styled by Venetia Scott, British Vogue, June 2019
Pieces by Guy Laroche and Issey Miyake in British Vogue, June 2019. Model: Rianne van Rompaey. Photo: Theo Sion. Editor: Venetia Scott. Image: Vogue UK.

From Rachel Comey, the Agave pantsuit, as worn for the Spring 2019 lookbook by Guinevere van Seenus.

Guinevere van Seenus in Rachel Comey Spring 2019 – Agave jacket and Divide pant. Photo: Annie Powers. Image: Vogue Runway.
Rachel Comey Agave jacket and Divide trousers pattern V1688 as worn by Amber Mitchell
Vogue 1688 by Rachel Comey (2020) Model: Amber Mitchell. Image: McCall’s.

The Divide pant also comes in cropped and colour-blocked versions, or embellished with sequins:

Rachel Comey Divide pant in black and white wool.
Rachel Comey Divide pant in black and white wool. Image: The Dresslyn.
Rachel Comey Divide pant in red wool with sequin embellishment.
Rachel Comey Divide pant in crimson red wool with sequin embellishment. Image: Moda Operandi.

Comey’s licensing with Vogue Patterns began in Spring, 2010. A decade later, the company finally gave the popular designer a catalogue cover.

V1688 by Rachel Comey on the cover of the Vogue Patterns lookbook, Spring 2020. Model: Amber Mitchell. Photo: Jack Deutsch. Image: Issuu.

Last fall, Zandra Rhodes celebrated her jubilee with a retrospective and catalogue from Yale University Press, Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion by Dennis Nothdruft with Zandra Rhodes and Iris Apfel, Yale 2019
Dennis Nothdruft, Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion (Yale University Press 2019) Image: Zandra Rhodes.

The new Zandra Rhodes pattern is a boho bias dress with contrast sleeve and hem flounces. Fine finishing details include narrow hems and a bias-bound neckline.

Zandra Rhodes dress pattern V1676
Vogue 1676 by Zandra Rhodes (2020) Model: Tatyana Cooper. Image: McCall’s.

McCall’s has a fresh new logo for 2020, when the company celebrates its 150th anniversary. But thus far, no new designer patterns.

M8049
McCall’s Early Spring 2020 lookbook. Image: Issuu.
M8089
McCall’s Spring 2020 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.

And this month, Britain’s IG Design Group Plc completed its acquisition of CSS Industries, the parent company of McCall’s and Simplicity. (Details at Design Group’s site and Business Wire.) CSS acquired The McCall Pattern Company in 2016 and Simplicity Creative Group in 2017.

Will Design Group revive Vogue Patterns Magazine, a storied publication that dates back a century, or divest the pattern side of the business entirely? Stay tuned for more coverage of McCall’s 150th and other milestones for 2020!

Guy Laroche Spring 2019 in Schön! magazine
Guy Laroche Spring 2019 in Schön! magazine. Model: Tetiuksha. Photo: Dylan Perlot. Editors: Sofia Giordano and Hugo Asensio. Image: Instagram.

Patterns in Vogue: Shimmering Sensations

Ariane Koizumi photographed by Bert Stern in Vogue 1651 by Yves Saint Laurent and Vogue 1654 by Emanuel Ungaro, 1985
Ariane Koizumi wears Vogue patterns by Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro, Vogue, November 1985. Photo: Bert Stern.

In 1985, Bert Stern captured Ariane Koizumi in two Vogue Paris Originals, made in metallic velvet for festive evenings.

The patterns are a wrap dress by Yves Saint Laurent and tunic/skirt ensemble from Emanuel Ungaro (Vogue 1651 and Vogue 1654), both shown in silk blend panné velvet from Lafitte. (Earrings, Lecour Johnson and Pellini Bijoux; bracelets, Debra Fine Yohai and Wendy Gell Jewelry; Charles Jourdan body stocking. Shoes, Manolo Blahnik and Yves Saint Laurent.)

Paco’s post about YSL wrap dresses.

Happy new year, everyone! All the best for 2020.

Winter 2019 Designer Pattern Highlights

Guy Laroche FW 2018 by Richard René - V1666
Detail, Guy Laroche Fall 2018 by Richard René. Image: Vogue Runway.

My Winter patterns report comes a little late: I’ve been busy working to save a historic hotel-turned-tavern here in Hamilton. (Read my op-ed | #SaveHanrahans) Without further ado, here’s a look at the last patterns of the decade.

Vogue Patterns Winter/Holiday 2019 lookbook with V1656 gown by Badgley Mischka
Vogue Patterns Winter/Holiday 2019 lookbook with V1656 by Badgley Mischka. Image: Issuu.

Vogue’s cover look is a white jersey gown from Badgley Mischka. As worn on the pattern envelope by new model Shaya Ali:

Vogue 1656 by Badgley Mischka (2019)
Vogue 1656 by Badgley Mischka (2019) Model: Shaya Ali. Image: McCall’s.

The new Guy Laroche — a minimalist pantsuit with contrast trim — is the company’s first by Richard René.

Vogue 1666 by Guy Laroche
Vogue 1666 by Richard René for Guy Laroche (2019) Image: McCall’s.

René’s second collection for Laroche was inspired by art brut and the graphic potential of a blank sheet of paper. According to Vogue, he showed structured pieces for strong personalities, with details like “stand-up edging that adds a cape-like extra inch or two to the shoulders.”

Guy Laroche Fall 2018 by Richard René. Image: Vogue Runway.

From Cynthia Rowley, a pattern for the Eden dress and top.

Simplicity 9012 (2019)
Simplicity 9012 by Cynthia Rowley (2019) Image: Simplicity.

The original Eden dress in polished cotton. (The top version is a lightweight printed cotton: webstore | Rent the Runway.)

Cynthia Rowley’s Eden dress in polished cotton. Image: Cynthia Rowley / Pinterest.

This flounced dress by Cynthia Rowley is seen variously in the designer’s Inverness Fish print and bias-cut silk lamé.

Cynthia Rowley Sea Breeze dress pattern - Simplicity 9013
Simplicity 9013 by Cynthia Rowley (2019) Image: Simplicity.

Rowley’s longtime collaborator William Eadon photographed the lookbook in her hometown of Barrington, Illinois. The lookbook was styled by her daughter, Kit Keenan.

Sasha Belyaeva photographed by William Eadon in Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019
Silver Lake bias silk dress, Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.

For a subtle variation, close the front bodice seam.

Sasha Belyaeva photographed by William Eadon in Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019
Inverness Fish mini dress, Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.

These pleated trousers are adapted from Celine by Hedi Slimane.

Vogue 1661 after Celine by Hedi Slimane
Vogue 1661 after Celine by Hedi Slimane (2019) Image: McCall’s.
Hedi Slimane for Celine Fall 2019 Model: Marland Backus. Image: Vogue Runway.

McCall’s chic cover look is a version of Max Mara’s hooded cape coat.

McCall's lookbook, Winter 2019
McCall’s lookbook, Winter 2019. Image: Issuu.
McCall’s 8029 after Max Mara (2019)

Here’s the Max Mara original in cashmere twill:

Max Mara Pugnale cape in blush cashmere. Image: Matches Fashion.

Vogue Couturier patterns are the original Vogue designer knockoffs. The new Vintage Vogue is a Couturier coat from 1949:

Vogue 490 (1949)
Vogue 490 (1949) Image: eBay.
“Fashions for the life she leads” – Vogue, September 1949. Illustrations: Dagmar Freuchen-Gale.
Vogue 1669 (2019)
Vogue 1669 (2019) Image: McCall’s.
Vintage Vogue 1669 on the cover of the Vogue Patterns Winter/Holiday 2019 lookbook. Image: Issuu.

The new Custom Fit patterns are also designer adaptations. View A of V1654 is after Gucci.

Vogue 1654 after Gucci
Vogue 1654 after Gucci (2019) Image: McCall’s.
Gucci grosgrain-trimmed stretch-ponte mini dress. Image: net-a-porter.

And V1667 is a version of Prabal Gurung’s tulip sleeve jacket. (Trousers not included.)

Vogue 1667 after Prabal Gurung (2019)
Vogue 1667 after Prabal Gurung (2019) Image: McCall’s.

Vogue noted Gurung’s “sharp-yet-curvy, cherry-red pantsuit.”

Prabal Gurung Resort 2018
Prabal Gurung Resort 2018. Image: Vogue Runway.

The tulip-sleeve suit comes in many variations, such as zebra print, sequins, and an ecru check. The latter is a very fine houndstooth in stretch poly-viscose.

Prabal Gurung Pre-Fall 2018
Prabal Gurung Pre-Fall 2018. Image: Vogue Runway.
Prabal Gurung ecru check tulip sleeve jacket. Images: Moda Operandi.

With a few tweaks you can sew the look, as worn by Beyoncé.

Beyoncé in Prabal Gurung, October 2018. Image: Twitter.

Patterns in Vogue: Anna Wintour Birthday Edition

Vogue 8155 cotton kimono in Vogue, January 1989
Kara Young, Carré Otis, and Jennifer Noble in Vogue, January 1989. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Editor: Grace Coddington.

Happy birthday to Anna Wintour, who turns 70 today.

Wintour included Vogue patterns in U.S. Vogue from her first issue as editor. Above, the models’ white cotton kimonos were made with a unisex robe pattern (Vogue 8155). Below, in Wintour’s first issue, Cathy Fedoruk wears a Very Easy dress (Vogue 7146) in cotton piqué.

"Hot Prospects" Vogue Nov 1988 Wintour 1st issue. The new colors for resort: gunmetal and white. Make the dress that may make your summer: for A.M./P.M., city/ resort, a textured cotton piqué dress with a square-necked front. Vogue Pattern no. 7146. Fabric, Batex S.P.A. Beauty and the back: sun protection from Ultima II ProCollagen SPF 4. Plain geometry: bold crisscross straps on dresses
Cathy Fedoruk in “Hot Prospects,” Vogue, November 1988. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Editor: Jenny Capitain.

In Wintour’s first Holiday issue, “Skirts are layered for a romantic ballerina look.” Carré Otis’ skirts (Vogue 7267) are cream polyester chiffon from Symphony Fabric Corp and blue Stehli Seiden silk-polyamid georgette; the Chanel-style jacket is a Vogue Career design (Vogue 7316) in linen from Hamilton Adams, worn with a Very Easy top (Vogue 7128) in Jasco matte rayon jersey. “Sewing tips: eliminate cuff and finish sleeve… Cut skirt to desired length.”

"Sheer Effects" Vogue Dec 1988 7267 skirt, 7316 jacket, 7128 top (1988). Skirts are layered for a romantic ballerina look. Two chiffon skirts give a classic jacket and top an unexpected twist. Skirts, Vogue Pattern no. 7267. Cream chiffon, Symphony Fabric Corp.; blue chiffon, Stehli Seiden at Gordon Textiles International. Jacket, Vogue Career Pattern no. 7316. Linen, Hamilton Adams. T-shirt, Vogue Pattern no. 7128. Jasco rayon matte jersey.
Carré Otis in “Sheer Effects,” Vogue, December 1988. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Jenny Capitain.

Vogue Australia at 60

Elle Macpherson, Vogue Australia, March 1995. Photo: Andrew Macpherson. Image: Vogue Australia.

It’s spring in the southern hemisphere, and Australian Vogue is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The festivities kicked off in Canberra last week with the opening of Women in Vogue: Celebrating 60 years in Australia (at the National Portrait Gallery to November 24, 2019). A special anniversary issue of the magazine will hit newsstands in December.

Fernanda Ly, Akiima, Charlee Fraser, and Andreja Pejić on the cover of Vogue Australia, 2018
Fernanda Ly, Akiima, Charlee Fraser, and Andreja Pejić on the cover of Vogue Australia, April 2018. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Editor: Christine Centenara. Image: Vogue Australia.

The late Tania Mallet graced the cover of Vogue Australia’s first issue in spring, 1959. (Click the image for a history published for the magazine’s 55th anniversary.)

Vogue AU Spring Summer 1959
Tania Mallet on the cover of the inaugural issue of Vogue Australia, Spring/Summer 1959. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Vogue Australia.

Vogue Australia editor Edwina McCann sits on the board of directors of the new Australian Fashion Council, and the magazine’s cover archive is a gallery of famous faces, especially Australians like Cate Blanchett.

Vogue Australia, January 2006
Cate Blanchett on the cover of Vogue Australia, January 2006. Photo: Richard Bailey. Image: Vogue Australia.

Vogue Patterns counts two Australians among its current designers: Rebecca Vallance and Nicola Finetti.

V1524 by Rebecca Vallance design on the cover of Vogue Patterns lookbook, Winter 2016
A Rebecca Vallance design on the cover of Vogue Patterns lookbook, Winter 2016. Image: Issuu.
V1587 by Nicola Finetti on the cover of the Vogue Patterns lookbook, Summer 2018
A Nicola Finetti design on the cover of the Vogue Patterns lookbook, Summer 2018. Image: Issuu.

Vogue Australia was still in its first decade when Butterick introduced two Aussies—Norma Tullo and Prue Acton—to its Young Designers line.

Butterick 5126 by Norma Tullo
Butterick 5126 by Norma Tullo (ca. 1968) Image: Etsy.
Butterick 5617 by Prue Acton (1969) Image: Etsy.

In the 1980s, Carla Zampatti and Frederick Fox both signed licensing deals with Style Patterns. The milliner to the Queen contributed more than one bridal design in classic Eighties style.

1980s dress pattern by Carla Zampatti - Style 4438
Style 4438 by Carla Zampatti (1986) Image: Etsy.
1980s Frederick Fox bridal hat pattern Style 1249 with the royal warrant
Style 1249 by Frederick Fox (1987)

In the 1990s, Richard Tyler briefly designed for Anne Klein. It’s possible that an Anne Klein pattern or two showcases Tyler’s work.

Nadja Auermann in Richard Tyler for Anne Klein, Vogue February 1995
Nadja Auermann in Richard Tyler for Anne Klein, Vogue, February 1995. Photo: Juergen Teller. Editor: Camilla Nickerson.
Australian model Gemma Ward in Junya Watanabe, 2005. Photo: Nick Knight
Australian model Gemma Ward in Junya Watanabe, 2005. Photo: Nick Knight. Image: SHOWstudio.
Vogue coverup photographed by Helmut Newton at Wanda Beach, Australia (May 1964)
Vogue coverup (Adolfo hat), Wanda Beach, Australia. Photo: Helmut Newton. Vogue, May 1, 1964.