Saturday, September 14, 2013

McCalls 7126: 1961 Sewing Pattern for Research & Inspiration

Dated 1961, this home sewing pattern by McCalls 7126 is a great example of sportswear in the early 1960s. This look was a bridge between 1950's silhouettes where an hourglass figure was important, to the loose "A" line and 'hip hugger' silhouette of the later 1960's.

There was a strong Asian design influence through out the 50's. Starting during the WWII era, this trend was influenced in part by American fashion designers Claire McCardell, Rudi Gernreich, Bonnie Cashin and others. Their work often shows very simple tunic styles over a slender trouser, as this sport set from 1961 shows. The feature here is a very flat tunic top design with classic front slit down to a 'yoke' seam line across the upper bust line. Hinting of a smock or peasant top, this was a popular look for both resort and sports wear.

Of additional interest are the fabric colors: blue and green. This combination was growing in popularity during this time influenced by bright tropical and Asian color schemes. Often these were seen in strong graphic and abstract floral patterns such as those from the popular Scandinavian design house Marimekko. A flat tunic top was the perfect shape to showcase these colorful and graphic textiles.

The schematic drafts of this ensemble show clearly how the back views appeared and how the patterns were designed. It is interesting to see that what appears to be a casual dress made by belting a longer version of the tunic, is actually a fitted skirt with the bulky tunic tucked into the waistline.

The bodice of the tunic is artfully fitted with a dart shaping that has been integrated into the horizontal mock yoke seam line. This would reduce extra underarm bulk and help the side seam to hang neatly.

This pattern design has potential today made up in solid linens, larger scale prints and graphics. The clean lines and simple shaping are perfect for our current silhouette trends, worn with slender pants or leggings.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vintage Bridal Gowns: on view at the Pasadena Historical Museum

This lovely satin bridal gown opens an exhibition of wedding dresses currently on display at the Pasadena Historical Museum. Carefully edited, this collection of gowns shows bridal designs from the WWII era through current styles as worn by brides from Pasadena.

This first gown shown was designed and sewn in 1944 by Seamstress Auntie Nui of slipper satin. It was worn by Chiyoi Marumoto Ogawa, one of the young women who were married in the WWII Japanese concentration camps here in California. This dressmaker went on to provide many more gowns for the brides in this camp, as well as in Pasadena after the war. Typical of all gowns during the war tie, it is a simple dress with long sleeves and flattering shirred bodice that was typical of the draping worn during that era.

The post war years saw an explosion in marriages as the GIs returned home again. While the expense of a wedding gown was often beyond the budget of many young couples, wedding gowns grew in importance. Often one gown would be shared by many brides. From 1948, this gown by bridal designer William Cahill of Beverly Hills shows what the best in wedding gowns looked like. Of shiny slipper satin, the neckline is framed in a lace bertha collar. Like most gowns of this time, it has modest long sleeves suitable for wearing in church. This dress was worn by bride Jane Campbell Wells of Pasadena.

Of special local interest, this gown was the first bridal ensemble sold at Bullock's, Pasadena when it opened in 1948. Later this high end chain of department stores would be sold. Now the original building is owned by Macy's, who recently rehabilitated the architecturally significant building.

This curvy 1952 Cahill gown of nylon lace and tulle was paired with a small, fitted lace skull cap that had a veil attached. It has many features similar to crinoline gowns of the mid-1800's. The silhouette has a dramatic shirred "V" neckline and the classic "New Look" hourglass full skirt. The ensemble was worn by bride Marilyn Hubbard Roberts.

In 1955, the Governor of California's daughter Carolyn Knight Weedman wore this William Cahill gown for her wedding in the governor's mansion, Sacramento. It shows alencon lace, satin, and silk chiffon. The lace bodice with Elizabethan collar is fitted, with long sleeves and an hourglass silhouette that has a dropped waistline with a slight curve in front. To create the ballerina length skirt (which Cahill was famous for designing), there were four layers of fabric: silk chiffon with decorative stitching (top layer), nylon netting nylon bobbin net, and ribbed acetate (slip layer).

From 1958, this dramatic debutant dress with draped skirt and textured bodice by Cahill shows how far formal gowns evolved in just a few years. The gown of silk taffeta has a draped bubble skirt with train in back. The bodice is textured with layers of fabric flower petals and dips low in the back. It was worn by Janet Curci who wore a silk and tulle, beaded gown for her wedding later in 1962.

This exhibition of wedding gowns is displayed in the galleries of the Pasadena Historical Museum. The show also includes gowns from the 1960s to present day. The museum itself is worth a visit, as it is on the grounds of a large mansion located on the famous Orange Grove section of old Pasadena. This exhibit is on view through November 3, 2013.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fall Fashion, 1949: Claire McCardell does Tartan Plaids

Taking a look back to the fall of 1949, fashion of the late 1940s was showing dramatic and inventive silhouettes that followed Dior's New Look. American designers such as Claire McCardell would see a huge rise in their fashion star as the post war economies allowed for greater experimentation and design creativity than had been possible during the war years.

Back to school fall fashions have always included plaids in the mix. Warm wool plaids would appear in the fall magazine issues that hit newstands during the hottest weeks of late summer, providing the reader with an exciting change from hot weather wear.

While the classic, preppy kilt and other plaid skirts seemed to dominate, there have always been those who explore plaids just a bit further. Case in point: Claire McCardell's knife pleated plaid dress on the left with push up sleeves and a dramatic shawl collar (Miron worsted wool, $59.95 at Lord & Taylor). On the right is a dress designed by Dorothy Cox. Her design shows a traditional plaid made up as a wonderful cape collar over a circular skirt ($55 at Henri Bendel). Both are from the fall of 1949, when skirts were wide, hems longer, and gorgeous textiles were becoming more plentiful. These would be the seed of style for the next decade to come, the 1950s fashion silhouette.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Simplicity 6387: 1966 Sewing Pattern for Research & Inspiration

Vintage Sewing Pattern: Simplicity 6387, date: 1966, item: Dress and Coat, size: half-size pattern

This simple sewing pattern is the first in a series showing an historical or vintage commercial home sewing pattern envelope in detail. As part of an ongoing project of mine, I will be sharing pattern covers from my collection for research and design purposes. It is hoped that by posting these online, designers, collectors of vintage fashion, sewing patterns and periodicals may be able to use this information for dating apparel, photos and garments. The cover illustrations also provide examples of how this garment style would have been worn in its day, complete with accessories, makeup and hair style.


One-piece dress and coat in women's sizes and misses' and women's half-sizes:
Sleeveless dress with slightly lowered round neckline and back zipper has an A-line skirt. V.1 has self or purchased belt, Lined. V.2 has purchased belt, Lined coat with slightly lowered round neckline has below-elbow set-in sleeves. V.1 is top-stitched, V.2 has novelty braid trim.
Suggested fabric types--V.1 in cottons and blends: pique, linen, silks, synthetics and blends: brocades. V.1 coat also in lightweight wools and blends. V.2 dress and coat coat in lace, eyelet and sheers only.


This pattern is available for purchase in my shop: PintuckSew on Etsy