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Oct 14, 2014

Prepping Simplicity 1820, a 30's Jacket Pattern

I still have outerwear on the brain as you can see.

This week, I want to try out Simplicity 1820, a boy's size 18 jacket pattern I picked up last spring on Etsy.  Since the chest and waist measurements are identical to a men's Small, I don't expect any fit issues.

I'll probably make Version 1, the one with the knit waistband, since I've found great sources for rib knit in the garment district.  I'm not sure if I'll opt for a knit collar like you'd find on a baseball jacket (also known as a letter jacket or varsity jacket), a knit collar like the Valstarino jackets I discussed last week, or just opt for the one that comes in the pattern.

I love opening vintage pattern envelopes: it's like uncovering buried treasure.  While the pattern envelope was worn and split in spots, the pattern pieces themselves are in excellent shape, albeit a little discolored.  Simplicity 1820 is nearly eighty years old, dating from somewhere around 1935-1937 judging by the price (15 cents) and the look of the envelope.  (If you know better, please chime in!)

I pressed open all the pattern pieces with a dry, cool iron.  It's all there.

Seams allowances are 1/2" -- glad I noticed that before sewing anything.

As with most patterns from this period, the instructions are brief, densely written, and well illustrated.  No hand-holding back then; it was assumed you knew how to sew.

As with any pattern, I read the instructions carefully before getting started to make sure there won't be any surprises along the way.  Vintage patterns usually include a fair amount of hand-stitching to anchor facings and things like that.  In the parka I made last month, there was no hand stitching at all.

I'm not sure I'll bother making a muslin but, rather, may make a trial version with inexpensive fabric.  I'm excited to get started.

In other news, I got to hang out yesterday with MPB reader Stephanie P., who was visiting NYC from Arkansas this last weekend.  We met at her hotel and, after coffee, swung by here so she could meet the dogs (she has five of her own!) and play with my sewing machines (she has countless).

She also helped Michael get a tick out of his arm (don't ask) with a sewing needle -- guests never know what surprises await at our house! 

Stephanie gifted me this lovely hand-sewn cover for my Singer 15-91, as well as a matching pin cushion in the shape of a dress form.  Thank you, Stephanie!

Meanwhile,  I couldn't resist picking up this 1987 unisex jacket, sweatshirt and sweatpants pattern, McCall's 3373 (below), which I found cheap on Etsy yesterday.  It's a borderline Eighties atrocity (that styling!), but I love the lines of the jacket.  And look -- more rib knit.

It's branded "French Fryzz NYC," whatever that was.

It's remarkable that, when it comes to menswear, both a Thirties pattern and an Eighties pattern can still work today.   So very little has changed.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Wow! That pattern makes me wish I was a size small! I would take one in every color and pattern - timeless!

  2. I bought the red wool cashmere and mink fabric to make a similar jacket when I was in NYC for MPB day. It is coming along slowly. I'm lining it with silk from Perron. I'll call it the MPB jacket. It wouldn't have happened without you.

  3. Aaah, I asked Google nicely and this is what I found about French Fryzz NYC: The trade mark was abandoned in 1987 but the company sold fabrics, sportswear namely shorts, blouses etc,etc (basically anything that wasn't underwear). I assume that the patterns - it looks like there were several different ones - were produced by McCalls under licence. I know, I'm a geek...Deep and meaningful questions such as what was French Fryzz need to be answered!

  4. In my experience, patterns for teenagers can be different in length from those for adults with the same bust measurement. And not always in a predictable way: 1950's Marion patterns assume all teenagers are shorter than adults while in Knipmode magazine in the early 2000's, the largest teenager sizes were for people taller than the those the standard size adult patterns were for.
    And, at least for women, the bust to waist to hip ratio for teenagers is always smaller than for grown-ups. I'm not sure how the assumption of a yet not fully developed figure would translate to menswear. Narrow shoulders maybe.

    Oh, and are you sure that pattern is from the 1930's? I don't know how to date vintage Simplicity patterns but it's a full-colour envelope and the style of the illustration doesn't look particularly 1930's to me. And I'm not so sure I've ever seen rib knit (without knitting instructions for making your own) used in patterns from that era. In fact, zippers were still pretty special and special mention would be made of their use in a design.
    I would rather date this to the 1950's.
    That said, it is hard to date menswear patterns because so many styles are so classic and have been like that for a long time. Although, if garments made from the patterns fit like the envelopes suggest, I reckon the 1930's/50's jacket would look less dated today than that 1980's one (how did you manage to look through the styling of that one??).

    1. I think you're right about the date of this pattern. Even tho I wasn't born in the 30's I was born in the 40's and I remember this style jacked being called an Eisenhower jacket. When my uncle was in Korea during the 50's his MP uniform was the Eisenhower jacket. I Googled it and found one (military jacket) that has the information label showing and it said 1954.

    2. I agree on the length comment, definitely make sure you check that first because it is usually shorter than adult patterns.

      The pattern is definitely from the 30's though: 1950s Simplicity envelopes look different in a couple subtle ways and are priced 35 cents in stead of 15 :) (and 25 cents in the 40s)

  5. Your date on that pattern sounds about right to me, judging by the number and envelope style. I have #1724, from about 1935 (has the National Recovery Act logo so can't be later) and #2142, which shows up in a Simplicity leaflet from September 1936. Typeface and prices are the same as on yours.

  6. Better make a muslin, and use some inexpensive rib knit to develop the right amount of stretch needed at the waist. If you're still not convinced, measure the pattern pieces and compute chest, shoulder width, and center back length and compare with other patterns or garments. John Y

  7. I love the exuberance of the 1980's. Fashion could be a bit excessive, but it was fun. Love the jacket pattern. The sweatshirt and sweatpants would work today also in different fabrics and color blocking, although one might go down a size for the sweatshirt.

  8. That jacket is dreamy! Can't wait to see it!

  9. Ticks are horrible! I hope it was extracted OK, with head intact. We have special tools at work that all the ecologists use - I'd be happy to send one over if they are a recurring problem for you both (or your dogs)! Looking forward to seeing what fabric combo you use for the jacket. Rachel ☺

  10. My Google search found the site below, which gives some helpful clues. Based on their information, I would say your pattern is from the 1930’s.

    Looking forward to your creation!

  11. Hi Peter
    Love the Simplicity jacket pattern and very excited to see the 9d printed on there which means that the pattern was probably intended for sale in Great Britain.
    Look forward to seeing how it turns out

  12. Love the pattern you have chosen. That sewing machine cover and pincushion dress form are adorable!

  13. Does anyone know where to find harlem type pants. The rugged authentic African djembe drum player ones. My husband is looking for when he performs on his drum.


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