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Nov 29, 2011

Highlights from the MPB Vintage Pattern Collection!

Friends, before we get started today, I simply must share with you a most extraordinary experience I had yesterday.

I happened to stumble upon the Yahoo home page and, well, see for yourselves...

Note anything unusual, readers? 

Can you imagine my delight -- me, who still thumbs through The National Enquirer in hope of finding a recent photo of Barbara Eden or Mitzi Gaynor -- to discover that Hedy Lamarr is back in the news?!  I actually had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  Who's next -- Ann Rutherford?

But let's get down to business.  I was digging through my extensive vintage pattern collection yesterday in search of the perfect pattern to use for Michael's next shirt, when I decided it might be fun to share with you a few highlights from my collection.  Some of these patterns will be familiar to you; some of them were surprises even to me!

I'll start with a few vintage men's patterns.

I love the artwork from vintage Forties and Fifties McCall's patterns the best.  I also love the quality of the pattern envelopes, which were slightly glossy.  I'll likely be using this 1957 pattern for Michael's new shirt and we both are keen on the slightly boxy, preppy look of it.  I am also fond the pants, and if the shirt turns out well maybe I'll make the whole outfit for myself.  So sporty, especially with white bucks.

Here's another gorgeous men's McCall's.  I already have a few Western-type shirts and, outside of the rodeo, how many do you need?  But this pattern from 1956, which includes a transfer for the applique designs, is a classic. 

I'm also fond of this sports shirt from 1960.  Casual but classy, in a very Gregory Peck way.  This was a wonderful period for men's patterns.

I never considered Desi Arnaz to be a fashion icon, but wouldn't it be fun to sew up a replica of his I Love Lucy bathrobe, especially if you had Lucy's robe to go with it?  You could climb into your adjacent single beds and who knows what would happen?  Babaloo!

And now on to the women's patterns:

As you know, I've really been feeling the early-to-mid Forties separates lately.  I love this Simplicity suit pattern, complete with classic blouse.  But what's up with version 2 -- the long sleeved blouse and the 3/4 sleeve bolero?  That looks funky to me but I guess it was the fashion.

Though not truly vintage, this mermaid-style gown appeals to me.   I'm not sure about those long princess seams, however.  Is this the mermaid gown I want to make for Cathy for her New Year's extravaganza? We'll see.

Another Forties classic, this time with a very film noir vibe, is this Advance pattern.  I love both versions and I already have the ginormous shoulder pads for it!

I think this Hollywood Forties pattern is my all-time favorite.  I love both versions, though I find Version 2, the long-sleeved solid, more chic and I only wish I had a pattern for that turban!

Wouldn't Hedy Lamarr -- who is no longer trending on Yahoo today, sadly, but was apparently responsible for inventing the technology that led to the cell phone -- look fetching in any of these outfits -- or her brunette-to-blonde doppelganger, Cathy?

Do you have a favorite vintage pattern you've been dreaming of sewing one day?  Maybe it's time for a vintage sew-along!

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. i have more vintage patterns than i'll ever manage to actually sew, but i'll give it a darn good go.

    I've just received a 40's or 50s brunch coat pattern that i'll be making up in a printed cotton for those hot steamy summer mornings when i'll be eating out on the back patio.

    I especially love vintage wedding gown patterns, but hey that boat's already sailed so i guess i can sew them up in print for special occasions?!

    I'm really liking that Hollywood dress pattern; both versions have my heart beating a little faster than normal.

  2. Heddy Lamarr was featured on Slate yesterday. They built on how she was so intelligent and went as far to say she designed WMA's

  3. Your vintage patterns are in such great condition! Mine range from torn and stained to crumbling into dust. How do you store them?

  4. I love the gathered shoulders detail in the Hollywood pattern!

  5. I especially like the Advance pattern - the skirt is so sleek beneath the drapeds hips. Vintage sew along? Yes please!

  6. i'm pretty sure i own the female-counterpart to your male western shirt pattern: although mine was printed a year later, in 1957.

    this also answers your question - yes, i've been meaning to make this up, but have put it on hold in favor of waiting for the right color combination to come to me. i think i might just go with the red & white, actually. i already have western shirts that are red/black and brown. i mean... i do live in nashville :)

  7. Hedy Lamar was a total babe...I agree with you on the 40's McCall's patterns they are my favorite as well. The artwork is fabulous and I like the envelope format and material, even the directions are cool!

  8. "me, who still thumbs through The National Enquirer in hope of finding a recent photo of Barbara Eden or Mitzi Gaynor"

    Refreshing to know there are others out there :)

  9. Did you read Barbara Eden's autobiography? I really enjoyed it!

  10. I am making this for my holiday dress is Emerald Green taffeta. I was thinking of doing the neck disc and belt in the same color - but velvet!

  11. I have a whole collection of portraits that I have downloaded from the internet of her, and other starlets.

    I don't really have any vintage pattern, just a few for my daughter. I know I will never make them, and I don't know who would wear them. My niece loves 40's clothing, but she buys them from a retro shop.

    I did have some very elegant 30's patterns for evening wear, however, I gave them away a few years ago. They were stunning. I have seen Ginger Rogers in one of the designs, or similar.


  12. I think a vintage sew along would be fantastic. Funny, I was looking at that "Cary Grant" shirt yesterday on Etsy and talked myself out of it! Can't wait to see what you do with it. I've, oddly, been looking at 70's safari suits and thinking "what the hell, why not?!" Maybe a sew along would push me in that direction. It could be great fun.

  13. The drawing of the suit with a bolero worn over a long-sleeved blouse reminds me very much of Ruth Hussey in "The Philadelphia Story," than whom there was no one chic-er in 1940.

    Short sleeves over long made a comeback in the early '70s, as every fan of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" can attest. That go-round was short or cap-sleeved pullover sweaters over long-sleeved shirts, but it was the same idea.

  14. Tried to post this once before and it disappeared - that has happened another time, too:

    Actually, that drawing of the suit with a bolero worn over a long-sleeved blouse reminds me very much of Ruth Hussey in "The Philadelphia Story," than whom there was no one chic-er in 1940.

    And short sleeves over long made a comeback in the early '70s, as fans of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" can attest. That go-round, short or cap-sleeved sweaters were worn over long-sleeved shirts, but it was the same idea.

  15. I am thinking of making a 1940's type suit with big shoulders and pegged skirt. I really like that Advance pattern of the dress in both variations!

    But first, I believe I will make a coat for myself; double-breasted, fitted top with a full swingy bottom. Black/grey wool-cashmere blend with black velveteen collar, pocket trim, and covered buttons!

  16. P.S.,

    The mermaid gown is great if Cathy's going to sing "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" from "White Christmas."

    I honestly think bouffant skirts (meaning from the waist down, not the knees down) are her thing; she looks divine in them. Just MHO.

  17. Oh Hedy Lamarr- gotta love her. That last picture looks quite a bit like Zooey Deschanel too. And like she shredded Joan Crawford's missing cabbage.(just cracking myself up) ha!

  18. Hedy Lamarr and George Anteil are co-inventors of a frequency hopping system.

    It's a way to transmit signals by changing frequency frequently according to a pattern. Unless you know the frequency change pattern, eavesdroppers can't extract information from this signal (in a nutshell, it's crypted). It was used to guide missiles during the war, and now to transmit cell phone signals.

    As a side note, she had a very hard time being respected for her scientific mind, because she was such a beautiful and glamorous actress (and we all know that female scientists are all bespectacled, ugly, bitter maids, right ? /sarcasm). She wanted to contribute to the war effort as a scientist, but was told to use her actress fame instead.

  19. There was an article in the sunday times here about her, sounds like a fascinating woman, but a shame to hear that she became a recluse after alot of plastic surgery.

  20. Yes! I have a vintage western shirt pattern (Simplicity Pattern #6693) that I am in the process of sewing right now. It is my first time sewing with this pattern but I love it. The instructions are very detailed and it takes great care to insure that the shirt is very finished and looks professional. I cannot wait until I can whip up a western shirt in no time, thanks to this great pattern. It does come with the original transfers, which is great, but I don't have any experience with them so I am chickening out of trying them this time. :) I will have to do some research and test them out next time.

  21. I believe I have an answer to why Hedy Lamarr was so high on the search list this day.

  22. Thanks, Elle. Sounds like a fascinating read!

  23. (Glad I scrolled through the old posts and found this one)

    First of all, I have to say that Hedy Lamarr is The Most Gorgeous Woman Who Ever Walked The Earth, IMO. She is Helen of Troy and Cleopatra and all rolled into one. The woman is freaking gorgeous but her smoldering sensuality is what sets her apart from the runners up...Liz Tayor and Ava Gardner. She kind of puts me in mind of an amped up Vivien Leigh. So enough for the Hedy Lamarr worship.

    I have a vintage blouse I want to make - but no pattern. With your vast resources of vintage patterns maybe you can help me. I want to make the paisley blouse Ingrid Bergman wore in Casablanca. Love, love, love that blouse! I've found patterns "almost" like it and I could maybe adapt something similar. But believe it or not, finding the right fabric is an even bigger challenge. This is my dream project!

  24. God, I love the Internet! I Googled "Ingrid Bergman Casablancana" and found a pic of the blouse. Then I went to Etsy and searched under "vintage blouse jabot."

    How about this Butterick? It looks very close to me, though you'd want to make the jabot a little narrower.

  25. Yes, wow, that is great! (without the little bow, of course!) All the modern ruffle front blouse patterns I found weren't "quite" right. And of course it has to have the gathered yoke.

    Of course I have a problem which is modern sizing. I have a *ahem* 38" bust. Apparently women in the 40's were quite tiny with their waifish 30" bustlines.

    Also, it has been a bitch to find the perfect paisley pattern - I have looked at fabric samples until I'm cross-eyed. And the fabric needs to be light and soft, but with enough body to form the lovely ruffles. Not even sure what that would be.

    But isn't it a BEAUTIFUL blouse??? :)

  26. You might have an easier time just digging up the original. Have you written to Isabella Rossellini?

  27. "Dear Isabella, will you look through your Mom's old clothes and see if there is a blouse I can have? She wore it in one of her pictures, but that was a long time ago and it probably isn't worth much now. I'd be glad to pay for the shipping if you will send it to me." LOL!!!

    (And its probably equivalent to today's size 2 while we're at it!) ;)


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