1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

The McCall’s Sew For Fun Series

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McCall’s 4376, ©1974

I listed this pattern the other day in the Etsy shop. I’d never seen this series before. It’s called the Sew for Fun series, and the patterns came out in 1974 and early 1975. The styles are the cute boho/cottagecore patterns so popular in the time. This one features a maxi dress with Gunne Sax vibes. It can be made in the shorter mini length as well.

Note: I had a pair of clogs exactly like the ones in the photo.

The patterns featured mainly dresses and tops, are were made in both Miss and Misses’ sizes, with different pattern numbers for each. There are at least two that are unisex: one is a top and the other is for a swimsuit/swim trunks. But the funny thing is those little extra patterns.

This particular one features a stuffed mouse, because every cottagecore girl of the seventies wanted a stuffed mouse, right? I thought at first that it was a pincushion, which obviously any sewist could use. And a young beginning sewist might be pleased to create her own personalized mouse pincushion, right? Only it’s not. It’s a stuffed animal, which seems a little odd paired with the cute dress. But it gets weirder.

McCalls 4416, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki

Some of these patterns are paired with hats or purses, which makes sense to me. Hats were big in this era, and everyone can use a sun hat. Purses are also a no-brainer. But there are also odd items like garment bags, a wind breaker (for sitting on at the beach, not the jacket), and even a tent. Each of them has a little sewing lesson with it, which is great, but the projects they include are so weird. Like the wind breaker one. If you want to teach someone to make a casing, have them make a pair of elastic waist shorts. But I don’t make those decisions.

McCalls 4429, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki

I wonder who came up with these little extras, cause they just seem so odd. I get that they were trying to make sewing fun, especially for the Miss crowd, but somehow I am not sure that they thought it all the way thru. It’s one of the more random ideas put out by the sewing pattern companies.

McCalls 4428, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki
sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Good Housekeeping Clothing

I like to read vintage magazines with my husband. He loves to cook, so we have lots of interesting discussions about the recipes and presentation ideas women’s magazines have. I was thumbing through an issue of Good Housekeeping from 1946, and wow, was it interesting. It is a thick issue — 334 pages! It includes everything from short stories to recipes to the macabre articles about how to avoid suffocation (!) and what you should do if your house is on fire.

Important side note, from someone who has had a house fire in the middle of the night: the fire department said that sleeping with your bedroom door closed gives you and extra ten minutes if a fire breaks out, because it decreases your exposure to smoke. But I digress.

I was looking, of course, at the sewing patterns they advertised which, surprisingly, were Simplicity, not Good Housekeeping. Since McCalls and Ladies’ Home Journal had their own lines of patterns, I’m surprised that they weren’t doing the same. They did at some point, because I have a few from the sixties, including this Geoffrey Beene delight:

Good Housekeeping pattern 2, 1960s.

But what I found most interesting was that Good Housekeeping put out their own clothing line. I thought at first that the article was just hawking different designer labels, like most do, but when I read it in detail, I realized that they had their own Good Housekeeping Facts First label. In looking around, they applied this label in some of their ads for patterns, and I can’t find any clothing for sale with this label. Interestingly, the article does not tell you where you can buy them locally, or even by mail order. You had to write to the magazine to ask where they were available locally. This seems very cumbersome, especially in today’s click and buy world, and I wonder how long this sales model was sustainable. In looking around, they applied this label in some of their ads for patterns, and I can’t find any clothing for sale with this label, so perhaps it was not for long.

sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Gown of the Year

As the fashion industry began to hit its stride after World War II, new fashions began to be seen. Dior’s New Look, of course, was one. Dresses began to be made with voluminous amounts of fabric that weren’t allowed during wartime rationing. In New York, a contest for “Gown of the Year” was held.

14 designers were asked to submit their designs, and they were worn by socialites at the ball. The jury was all men (!), and included Basil Rathbone, Richard Aldrick (a producer), and singer Morton Downey. The winner? Jean Desses, who had not only never been to the US before, but had never exhibited a dress here.

The ball gowns were worth a total of $7650 and were designed by Sophie, Jo Copeland, Christian Dior (New York), Henri Bendel, Ceil Chapman, Mme. Garnett, Desses, Carrie Munn, Lilly Dache (who I didn’t realize designed dresses, as she was known for hats), Oleg Cassini, Charles James, Omar Kiam, Nettie Rosenstein, and Adrian. Shown here (designers as listed above, from left to right).

The winning gown, with Msr. Desses on the right.:

Photo: Life Magazine.

The Christian Dior, New York dress, constructed 80 yards of lace and tulle just in the skirt:

Photo: Life Magazine

The Carrie Munn design. Is that skirt quilted?

Photo: Life Magazine.

The (fantastic) Adrian dress:

Photo: Life Magazine.

No word on the criteria for design or judging, other than it needed to be considered as Gown of the Year. I don’t know if they continued this contest yearly, or if it was just to jumpstart the fashion industry, but I’d love to see something like this today. I doubt we’d see it, as designing for a contest is probably too cost prohibitive for today’s fashion houses, but it sure would be interesting to see. With some female judges this time, please?

sewing

I Have Questions.

McCalls 6592, ©1962

I love this little blue robe. I’d trim it in eyelet, because I just love eyelet. That being said, the shorter version is cute too, isn’t it?

My first question is about the pocket placement. It seems high, especially on the blue one. I think that the way it’s cut means that they need to be placed high, but doesn’t it look a bit wonky?

My other question is, what the heck is that girl pouring? Purple Kool-Aid? Was it a Netflix and chill day, or was she giving Sissy Kool-Aid for breakfast? Is it some weird science experiment? I need to know.

1910s

What Do You Think of This 1914 Blouse?

I came across this whilst trying to date another pattern for collar, cuffs and vests from the same time period. I find it fascinating.

May Manton 8462, 1914.

I thought at first that the “vest” is a different garment, but it’s not. It’s attached, and only gives a vest effect. A faux-vest, if you will. I like it in theory, and it’s interesting to look at, especially with the contrasting fabrics, but I think in reality it wouldn’t lay right when you sit, and would probably bunch up at the waist. What do you think?

Description in the ad: “Here is a blouse which shows distinctly new features. It is quite simple and severe enough to be made of linen or pique and is well adapted to the various tub silks and to combinations of materials. Since the washable silks launder quite as well as cotton and linen, it is easy to combine them and the combination is extremely handsome. In the illustration, striped tub silk is made with vest, collar and cuffs of pique but in the back view, white linen is combined with colored. The long plain sleeves are exceedingly fashionable but, in spite of that fact, many women prefer the shorter length and these can be cut off as shown in the back view. There is just fullness enough in the blouse to be becoming while the plain stitched vest gives a tailored finish.”

I have so many questions. First, combining linen and silk when laundering would be a nightmare, yes? Add colors and whites together and how in the world did they make this happen? What kind of laundry wizardry was involved here?

sewing

Call the Pelisse

I’m reading some classic books right now, because there are so many I’ve never read. I started Pride and Prejudice, loaned it to my mom (who didn’t like it and returned it without finishing it), started Jane Eyre (which she gave to me – no word on how she liked it), so now I have both going. I find it hard to restart a book once I put it down, so I’m going to finish Jane Eyre before going back to Pride and Prejudice.

I know the story of Pride & Prejudice, having seen the Kiera Knightley version of the movie. I love it, though I know, everyone says to watch the Colin Firth version. I’ll get there eventually, but I’m not much of a TV/movie person, except when hubby and I watch our British TV at night. I can’t get him on board with period dramas, so it’ll be a while. But I digress.

I know nothing of Jane Eyre, except that it’s about an orphan. I’m learning so much though. I’m still in the early part of the book. Jane just left for school, and the book mentions that she went to the gatehouse wearing her pelisse. What the heck is that? I had no idea, but now I have a name for the wonderful garment I’ve always seen and loved (including in Pride & Prejudice). Here it is.

Pelisse, circa 1809. Photo: V & A Museum, London.

Basically, it’s a dress that’s like a coat. It was of the Regency era, and was often worn for walking. See some worn here, in the Colin First Pride & Prejudice version.

I have always been in love with these, but never knew what they were called. Now I really want one, but being a fluffy middle aged woman, I doubt it would be very flattering. But I still want one. And though as a fair redhead, I’m not much for blue, I really want one in a powder blue, like the one on the left.

The thing that makes this funny is that I haven’t worn a coat in over three years. I’m SO warm blooded — probably why I hate summer so much — that it’s very unusual to see me wearing anything more than a light jacket, even when it’s freezing outside. I carry a coat in my car in case I get stuck in the winter, but I never, ever wear it. I’m the one you’ll see driving in gloves with no coat, because my hands get cold, but the rest of me doesn’t. But seriously, I want a pelisse, please.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Fabulous Friday: So Pretty

Simplicity 3444.

I came across this pattern this week and just sighed. It’s so softly feminine. What a pretty look for both a wedding dress and a going away dress, back in the day. I imagine it in a soft gray, kind of like it’s shown in the long length, and maybe a pale blue in the shorter version. I can’t stop staring at it.

I question the lace on the collar and pockets in View 1. I think it’s a bridge too far. I questioned the pockets as well, until someone pointed out that it would hold a hankie. I suspect however, that as my mother would say, “they are just for show.” I think that with where they hit on the hip, anything you’d put in them would fall out. Skip the extra lace and the pockets, and get yourself a cute little bag to carry. It’s all you need. This type of dress doesn’t need the extra embellishments.

Am I right? Click here to purchase.

1950s fashion, 1970s fashion, Celebrity, designers, Hollywood, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

70s Does 30s

Vogue 2286, from 1979.

When people mention something is 70s does 30s, or 80s does 50s, for example, do you know what they mean? Fashion has a great way of repeating itself, as seen in this iconic scene from The Devil Wears Prada, where Miranda dresses Andy down like no other:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja2fgquYTCg&w=560&h=315]

So when someone says 80s does 50s, they mean that it’s an 80s style, done in the vibe of the 50s. This is how I actually realized I loved vintage, because all of my 80s dresses were done in a 50s vibe, with a few 80s does 40s thrown in for good measure. I had a wonderful white peplum dress with red polka dots that was a particular favorite, which my ex also dumped coffee on during a five hour drive to Boca Raton for a wedding. Nothing like showing up with a huge coffee stain across you lap. But I digress.

This beautiful Bill Blass patter is a great example of 70s does 30s. The disco era is full of echoes from the 30s, with the beautifully cut bias maxi dresses, and this one is no exception. It also has a great tuxedo vibe, which is reminiscent of the Annie Hall look of the same time period. It’s a beautifully draped menswear inspired dress, and that is one hard thing to pull off. Also, because of the jacket, you can wear it in winter if you’re daring, and taking off that jacket would give you a great Grace Kelly “Rear Window” reveal vibe, seen here at :57, in her 50s does 30s top:

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but still — you’d catch everyone’s eye when that jacket comes off.

What do you think? Click here to purchase.

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

Fabulous Friday: Happy 4th of July

McCall’s 3142

Do you have plans for the holiday weekend? We don’t, as usual, but that’s fine with me. Our neighbors will be shooting off fireworks way too late in the evening and driving our dogs crazy, but the weather is supposed to be nice so we will enjoy the outdoors during the day and hide with the dogs huddling in fear at night at all the booming around us.

So in honor of the holiday, I wanted to show you this flippy little sailor dress, which is perfect for the holiday weekend. The sleeves and skirt are flared, so it’s perfect for most shapes, and it’s quick to make too. Click here to buy.

Have a great weekend and stay safe with the explosives, please.

sewing patterns

One of Those Days

Sew Knit N Stretch 209

Yesterday was just one of those days. I usually use Sunday afternoons to do administrative stuff on the website, like update my records, add and delete links from the wiki, and tedious not-fun stuff like that. I think I sat in my office chair for four hours straight, just working on it. Ugh.

When I finally took a break, hubby asked me to drive him up to Walgreens. He’s currently not allowed to drive, because his defibrillator gave him a huge zap last week, and that takes away driving privileges for three months. I told him fine, as long as he went to my mom’s house with me afterward. Contrary to a lot of guys, he loves my mom, though they rib each other a LOT. Off we went to Walgreens. Halfway there (about a mile), I noticed that my battery light was on in the car. I’ve never seen it come on, but I’ve also never replaced the battery in the nine years I’ve had it, so I figured it was probably ready to be replaced. It was, because when I put the car into reverse to leave, it promptly died. As in that dreaded clickclickclickclickclick of death that you get when the battery is truly dead. Ugh.

Called my son. He was out of town with his girlfriend. Called our bestie. No answer. Texted one of our friends, no answer. No Uber in our town. So I resorted to the Buy Nothing group for our town on Facebook. If you’ve never participated, it’s great. You can offer stuff up to give away, request stuff, ask to borrow something or services, all kinds of things, but there can be no mention of money. Everything is totally free. So, for the first time ever, I posted a request to see if someone could rescue us, and man, did she come through! Showed up five minutes later, with her MECHANIC husband. They jumped us, he gave us some suggestions, and we got his card. All for free. And they were great people. Off we drove to Auto Zone, where we were waited on by a guy who I’m pretty sure was a robot, because he had the most flat affect of anyone I’ve ever seen, and he simply would not engage in any type of conversation. Their tester was broke, so I just paid for a battery, which Mr. Robot installed for me. (Husband had gone in to talk to them originally, and I sat in the very roughly idling car, which promptly died after a few minutes. That battery was DEAD dead.)

Well, the battery light is still on, so I’m thinking now that it’s probably the alternator, which sucks because yeah, more money. Ugh. But we do have a backup car so I’ll be driving that till I can get the main car looked at. Never did get my husband over to my mom’s, but I unwound with her by doing a new puzzle. If you’ve never bought a puzzle from Puzzle Warehouse, do. We found that it really helps with my widowed, elderly mom’s anxiety and it’s fun too. When I order from them, I get the puzzle the next day! They have excellent customer service too. And no, I do not get a kickback from them for this. I just really like the company and what they have to offer.

This was definitely a day to put a bag over my head and hide, so of course I thought of this amazing Sew-Knit-N-Stretch pattern from the 60s. It’s perfect for those days where you just don’t want to interact, or when you want people to stare, or when you want to impersonate a Japanese beetle in your tree. I’ve truly never seen anything like it before, though I did have a gorgeous makeup cape at one point. If you love this, and you want to help a girl out with an alternator, you can purchase it in my shop here.