designers, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing

Fabulous Friday: Not Really Vintage, but…….

Vogue

OK, so it’s not really vintage and I’m late to the game today, but I got up at 4am the last two days, to watch two wild toddlers, so I need a bit of a break here. Nonetheless, I’m working through listing the 10,000 patterns I got a couple of weeks ago, and came across this one.

It’s Vogue 2940, by Anna Sui. Anna Sui is a very underrated designer who you don’t hear a lot about, but she has made some gorgeous stuff, including this little beauty from 2007. It’s got a very Pride & Prejudice vibe to it, and considering that the Kiera Knightley version of the movie came out in 2005, I guess that’s why. The regency vibe is unmistakable, but it would fit in perfectly for lovers (like myself) of Gunne Sax and cottagecore garments. It also may just be the perfect summer dress, as I could see it going from shopping to a wedding to church, and just about everywhere in between.

So forgive me if this one isn’t actually vintage. It’s not even quite listed in the shop yet, though it should be this weekend. It’s not even my picture. But I do feel that it is too lovely to ignore. What do you think?

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage fashion

I’m Famous (Anonymously)!

If you don’t follow Stephanie Canada on YouTube, why not? She’s a fellow weirdling and really funny, and is a vintage sewing fan as well. Her most recent video featured a dress I shared on the Vintage Sewing Patterns Nerds group on Facebook. It’s the 50s one that she says you’d wear so your friends can drag you around by the handle if you get too drunk at a party. (See what I mean?) Anyway, the video features weird patterns over the years, and there are some doozies. Keep in mind that one of the New York ones she mentions in the video is available in my shop, and I’ve had at least one other over the years proving, of course, what I’ve always said: that there is a person for every pattern.

A couple of others that I shared in Stephanie’s comments:

McCall’s 8190. Because why wouldn’t you want to look like you’ve had a lady accident?
McCall’s 5309. Just gonna leave this here without comment.
1950s fashion, sewing patterns, vintage fashion

Fabulous Friday

As you might imagine, after last week’s arrival of 10,000 patterns — no joke, folks, it is 10,000 — one could probably surmise that I’ve been just a wee bit busy. It’s actually been like Christmas in May here, with all of the beautiful designs I’ve seen. I’m slowly working my way through them, as well as building another website, because hey, who’s a glutton for punishment? THIS GIRL.

I may have squealed a little bit when I came across this beauty. I’d imagine that there is a fair bit of handwork in it, but it’s glorious, nonetheless.

Vogue Couturier Design 748, from 1953.

Isn’t it lovely? On that note, I’m off to bask in more patterns. Click here to shop. Have a great weekend.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing

New York Pattern 120

New York pattern 120. Mid-1930s.

This is a beautiful pattern from the 1933-1936 range. It has the small NRA (National Recover Act) seal on the bottom left front of the envelope. NRA patterns were from the 1930s-1940s. This one has the smallest logo I’ve seen. It’s a fabulous style — look at those cuffs! Interestingly, it also does not say “Gold Seal Pattern” like many New York patterns do, so this is an early one.

The thing I find most interesting is that it has Joan Bennett written on the front. When you compare it, you can see that it’s actually done in her signature:

Photo: History for Sale.

This is interesting to me because I’ve never seen a pattern of this era that was associated with an actress except Hollywood Patterns and Star Patterns. Hollywood, of course, was known for their patterns with stars’ photos in an oval on the front right cover, and they included them in their catalogs too. Star Patterns often had full body photographs of the actress. I’ve only seen a few over the course of time. But I’ve never seen a New York pattern associated with an actress, so this is kind of cool.

Joan Bennett was an immensely popular actress of the era, so I’m not surprised that they chose her. I’m just wondering how many more of these there are out there. Sadly, this one is missing the instructions, so I don’t know if there is anything on the instruction page about Ms. Bennett. If you know anything about them, drop me a line, because I’d love to know.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing

My Day

This is what my afternoon looks like. This truck is currently heading toward my house, ETA in two hours, straight from Texas. It contains five sewing pattern cabinets (YAY – I need them!) and ten thousand new-to-me vintage patterns.

TEN THOUSAND PATTERNS.

Dear Lord, what have I done to myself? Oh well, one grabs these things when one grabs these things, so I’m actually pretty excited. Husband, not so much, but he hasn’t really spoken badly of it. No matter, it’s my work to do anyway. It’s taken six months of planning this in the middle of a pandemic and a broken supply chain (and a knee replacement for the person at the other end of the delivery), but we persevered and now it’s happening. I’ll be interested to see what I find in there, and you’ll be seeing more lovelies, I’m sure.

Pray for me. Light a candle. Send good juju. I’m gonna need it in order to fit all of this into my workspace! More will be revealed after the unloading.

designers, sewing patterns

Dazian’s Patterns

I’ve come across a few Dazian’s patterns over the years, and they’re always unique. Dazian’s produced some sewing patterns, always for dancewear or theatre costumes. The patterns I’ve seen have been for both women and children, though there are some even harder to find men/boys ones out there. I think the actual pattern line was pretty short lived, and although the ones I’ve seen always appear to be late 40s and early 50s, the company’s website states that they actually didn’t start putting out patterns until 1961. I would have never guessed.

Dazian’s as a company was pretty cool. They actually started with theatre costumes in 1842, and the company lasted over 100 years. It was started by Wolf Dazian, said to be the most knowledgeable costumer in history, though he also designed stage props. Dazian’s costumes were worn by such notables as Sarah Bernhardt, Caruso, Anna Pavlova, Al Jolson, and Maude Adams. Mr Dazian was known.

Dazian’s created costumes for Ziegfeld, of Follies fame. It was said that Ziegfield would walk into the shop carrying armloads of sweet peas, demanding the color be replicated into fabrics. He did the same thing with butterflies. He was a creative genius, but seemed to have trouble paying his bills once the costumes were done, according to Emil Friedlander, the manager of the company in the early 40s. Another customer was P.T. Barnum, who bought custom-made costumes for Mademoiselle Fanny — an orangutan.

He created a military style coat for Maude Adams that was trimmed in 14 carat gold — his most expensive costume by 1941, at a cost of $1350. Legend also had it that he created a fountain for a performance of Anna Pavlova. When she sent her rep to threaten to kill Dazian due to the noise of the water, he offered to remedy by changing the water from “hard water to soft water.” After banging around on the pipes for a while, Ms. Pavlova declared the noise to be much improved. The man was a genius at costuming and handling people.

Dazian’s expanded to the West Coast in 1929, so that they could serve not only the New York clientele, but the growing Hollywood scene as well. Wolf Dazian had pretty much locked up costuming nationwide by this time. Though he died in 1902, his son Henry had been heading the business for some years, and it continued to grow. Henry was quite the aficionado as well. He was director of the Maurice Grau Opera company, and was such a foodie that he was known to travel abroad just to taste a particular dish. Though the company remained in business for years after his death in 1937, Henry Dazian’s will stipulated that many of the company’s assets be converted to start the Dazian Foundation for medical research. He died after a long illness of heart disease, finally succumbing to pneumonia and the effects of diverticulitis. He had never married.

Dazian remains in business today as a fabric seller, primarily for curtains and drapes for theatres, including Las Vegas. That the company has managed to thrive for 180+ years is nothing short of amazing, and the diversity of their business is fascinating to behold.

The illustration above is one of a group I acquired recently. Several are signed by “Fern,” and though I have no idea who she is, I do admire her expertise. They all include cute notes about what fabrics to use and other details. I think that these are actually costume illustrations and not patterns, but I can’t be sure, given how few of the patterns are out there. Aren’t they adorable?

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing

I found them!

No sooner had I posted the last post about Cut-Ready to Sew week, then I found the five patterns the store would cut for you. These are all Pictorial Review, from 1931.

Pictorial Review 5506, pajamas ensemble of silk shantung. Sold for $7.62.
Pictorial Review 5514, sport ensemble of white shantung. Sold for $5.09.
Pictorial Review 5701, afternoon frock of printed voile. Sold for $1.01
Pictorial Review 5755, town frock of Picardy crepe. Sold for $3.46.
Pictorial Review 5391, play suit of Zephyr print. Sold for 95 cents.

I think I’d buy both the 5506 and the 5701. I love the seams in that dress, but picture myself lounging in those pajamas. Keep in mind that the prices listed included the pattern AND the fabric, and the cutting was done for free. What a deal!

sewing, sewing patterns

Cut-Ready to Sew Week

I was looking around in the newspaper archive, trying to date a Pictorial Review pattern, and came across a fun little article. The week of July 14, 1931, was Cut-Ready to Sew week.

What was this, you ask? This was the week that Pictorial Review offered five different patterns that you could purchase, and the store would cut the fabric for you. Why, you ask? Here was their reasoning:

  1. Beginning sewists could just start sewing, without the intimidation of cutting the fabric.
  2. Experienced sewists who were hesitant to cut fabric could just sew, without the fear.
  3. Expert sewists could consult with the reps to learn shortcuts and new techniques.

Both the patterns and the fabrics were pre-chosen, so the fabric definitely matched the pattern, but also limited choices. I’d love to know how this went over. Personally, I hate cutting, so perhaps it would work out ok for me. I even buy my patterns previously cut, because I hate cutting so much. I’d think that this probably didn’t allow expert sewists to adjust the pattern prior to cutting though, so perhaps it was more appreciated by beginning sewists.

Either way, it was a great marketing technique to get people to use the patterns. Window displays were created with the five dresses and fabrics, to show sewists the final product. I’d love to know what the five patterns were, wouldn’t you?

sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Centennial Promos

1970 was the 100th anniversary of McCall’s Patterns. To celebrate that milestone event, McCall’s put out a promo ad in its patterns, advertising color prints of Godey’s Lady/s Book illustrations from 1870.

For the unenlightened, Godey’s Lady’s Book was the Vogue of it’s day. It was not actually a book, but instead a monthly magazine published specifically for women. It was published from 1830 to 1878, after which it was sold, continuing to be published as Godey’s Magazine until 1896. It was significant for the scope of its contents, which included poetry, art, and articles, including those about political causes. Its significance cannot be denied, due to its huge readership.

Each issue contained a beautiful fashion illustration in the front, and these are what McCall’s reissued in 1970 for its anniversary. In addition, each issue also included a pattern and instructions for a dress, much like other women’s magazines did later, such as Beldon’s in the UK, Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s in the US. Looking at these magazines gives a huge insight into the evolution of fashion.

As far as I can tell, there is no true connection between James McCall and Godey’s, but the flyer for the prints notes that Mr. McCall came over to the US from Scotland in 1870, when he started his pattern company. Perhaps they chose Godey’s prints because they were in the public domain, so the cost of doing the prints would be less than if they paid an artist to do a rendition. Perhaps they chose not to put out historical patterns of 1870 for the centennial because there wasn’t a big revivalist/reenactor movement at the time. They were probably anticipating the 1976 bicentennial revival, so perhaps they didn’t want to jump the gun. Regardless of the reason, they chose some of the most beautiful fashion illustrations of fashion history to print, so it was a nice choice, for those who love fashion and art.

The prints that McCall’s sold for their anniversary were “printed in Italy,” which I suppose made them fancy to women of the day. The printer was in Milan, and was Amicare Pizzi S.P.A. They were done in eight color prints, as opposed to the normal 4 color prints of the day. They were embossed as well and were said to be ready for framing without a mat. They were sold for $2, including postage, which converts to about $13.50 today — a bargain! As far as I know, McCall’s did not do a 150th anniversary promo in 2020. Perhaps they think that putting out their retro reprinted patterns is enough. What do you think?

Take a look at the Godey’s Book illustration examples on Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Home Patterns

I was trying to date this particularly beautiful Ladies’ Home Journal pattern, and came across some interesting information. Note that the envelope says that Ladies’ Home Journal patterns are manufactured exclusively by The Home Pattern Company. This company was apparently dreamt up in 1904 by the people at Ladies’ Home Journal — probably trying to jump on the burgeoning sewing pattern business.

In 1907, the company held a dinner for “men in the pattern trade” — can you imagine? Only men were allowed? Sheesh. But I digress. Over 200 people attended. The toastmaster was the head of Home Patterns, Theron McCampbell. Mr. McCampbell said in his speech that his company was the “first to issue fine draft patterns,” and also the first to invite customers to meet with the officials face to face. He said that after three years in business, the Home Pattern Company now had 400 employees, sold in 2000 merchants across the country, and that in the last quarter, their printing bill had been nearly $150,000. Not a shy host, he. Apparently the biggest complaint amongst the speakers of the group was that “women were not made to fit their clothes, as designers of patterns insisted that they ought to be.”

Think about this. I’m not 100% sure what they mean, but I take it that they didn’t think women fit their patterns, or knew how to fit them, but they didn’t invite any women to the dinner where they complained about it. How does this make any sense? As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said “women belong in every place where decisions are being made.”

In 1910, Home Patterns had an ad out, stating that they thought that American women could dress as stylishly as the French, and offering the chance for any woman who submitted a design to them to have her pattern printed for distribution. All they had to do was send in a rough sketch. Indeed, Home Patterns put themselves out there as being progressive, and really played down “old fashioned patterns.” It appears that the experts that they sent out to meet with women about their patterns were women themselves, but the officers of the company were always men.

It all appears to be rather short-lived, however. The Home Pattern Company disappeared from packaging certainly by 1920, and likely before 1915, when mentions of them disappeared from the newspaper. Ladies’ Home Journal continued to issue patterns into the 1970s though. It’s likely that the Home Pattern Company was absorbed somehow into the larger company. They continued to issue patterns for years, just under the Ladies’ Home Journal name.