Tag Archives: Vogue

Sewing Brochures from 1961 and 1962

I recently received a group of early 1960s pattern company brochures from friend Rebecca.  How did she know I’d want these?  Am I that transparent?  I certainly hope so.

They all date from June, 1961 to January of 1962, and are from Simplicity, Vogue, McCall’s, and Advance.  As much as I love a great vintage Vogue or Bazaar magazine, these little newsprint treasures reveal much more about what the “average” American woman was wearing.

When I started sewing for myself in the late 1960s, I could not wait until the latest editions of the pattern brochures arrived at the pattern counter.  I would spend hours carefully planning my next sewing project.  Maybe it’s partly due to that fond memory that I have such a weakness for these.

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Here are the play options from Simplicity for June, 1961.  The bathing suit in the middle is what was considered a bikini in 1961.  The playsuit of the right with the skirt cover up is also described as a bathing suit.

Pointed hem top patterns for all the women in the family.  Actually, I’ve seen this hem on men’s things as well.  And it makes me want to sew some chevroned stripes.  McCall’s, June 1961.

A note about that hat: I have several examples of this bucket-shaped hat in my collection, but none are nearly as exaggerated as these.

From the same McCall’s brochure is a grouping of swimwear, including a bathing/play suit very similar to the Simplicity one, right down to the skirt.  This bathing suit with matching skirt really was a great idea.  It also shows how swimwear can often be dated by imagining a skirt over the trunks.  Fashion does extend to swimwear.

The January 1962 issue of McCall’s Fashion Digest shows several examples of that most marvelous early Sixties wardrobe staple – the dress and jacket ensemble.  The beige example with the fantastic neckline was from designer Hannah Troy.  And note how similar the pink print dress is to the bathing suit and skirt in the previous picture.


The more high fashion home sewer also had the choice of a designer look from Europe.  These dress and jacket ensembles were designed by Guy Laroche, Ronald Paterson, Jacques Griffe, and Gres.  These were more than just a little more complicated that the designs in McCall’s and Simplicity.

The Vogue Young Fashionables line was quite fashion forward.  January, 1962.

These designs from Advance are labeled “Sew Easy”, but I can see several techniques that might give even an intermediate sewer fits.

And finally, could there be any other looks that sum up 1962 better than these four?  On the left we have three streamlined dresses and suits that have the Jackie Kennedy look bared down to the essentials.  And on the right, the ever popular shirtwaist, though with a slightly less full skirt than just a year or two before.


Filed under Collecting, Sewing

Vogue, December 15, 1915

I love vintage fashion magazines, and one of the things I love the most is the cover art.  From the 1910 and into the 1930s, covers were illustrations instead of photographs, with some of the best commercial artists of the times working for Harper’s Bazar, Vogue, and other fashion and women’s magazines.

The illustration above is by artist Helen Dryden who did many covers and inside illustrations for Vogue during the 1910s and early 1920s.  Dryden had been trained as a landscape artist, but gave it up for fashion and Conde Nast.  Later in life she turned to industrial design and worked designing decorative objects for the home, as well as car interiors.

But it is for images like the one here that Dryden is best remembered.  I love how the focus is on the lighting of the tree, even though there is a nod to the more commercial aspect of Christmas as you can see in the gifts scattered on the floor, in the background really.  But my favorite part is the dog, a feature that is not immediately noticed, but which adds so much to the feeling of the picture.

Contrast this 1915 cover with that of the 2014 December Vogue.  It is a photograph of the celebrity of the month, Amy Adams, wearing a sheer Valentino couture dress.  Out of the five headlines on the cover, three of them are about celebrities, including Kendell Jenner of the family formerly scorned by Anna Wintour (the Kardashian/Jenners), but now being praised to the hilt for their selling power.

To some degree Vogue has been about celebrity since it was first published in 1892.  This 1915 issue has article on the Ballet Russes, a feature on the latest stars in the theater, and photos of the latest society brides.  But the great majority of the editorial pages are all about fashion, exactly what one might hope to find in a fashion magazine.


Filed under Fashion Magazines, Viewpoint

Vintage Sewing – New Look 6838 and Vintage DVF Fabric

For most of my sewing projects I use vintage patterns, but I found this modern pattern, New Look 6838 when I was looking for one with which to make pajama pants.  I also loved the style of the top, which is designed for knits only, and I put cotton jersey on my fabric shopping list.

I knew that I did not need stripes, as I already have quite a few in this style.  Besides, though the drawing of the matching at the sleeves looks nice and tidy in the illustration, I know that would be easier drawn than sewn. So I started thinking about dots.  But then I got distracted cleaning and sorting my existing fabrics.  And in the middle of my “reds” bin, I pulled out this vintage fabric from designer Diane von Furstenberg.

I found the fabric in an antique store in one of the many little towns in the piedmont of North Carolina that for years survived off the making of cotton textiles.  These towns were a source of the best fabrics for a home sewer as well, as the factories often sent remnants and “seconds” to their factory outlet for sale to the public.  I suspect that is what happened with this fabric, as there was a small wrinkle in it that caused a bare spot in the print.

In 1976 Vogue Patterns magazine did a feature on Diane and her printed dresses.  As you can see, the patterns were by Vogue, and the fabrics were made by Cohama.

I never did finish my sorting job because I laid out the fabric piece and realized I had just enough of it to make the boat-necked top. I spent the rest of the afternoon sewing, and before long my new top was finished.  As the pattern envelope promises, it was easy.  There were only three pieces, the front, the back and the sleeves.  The back has a center seam, which I like because it makes for a smoother fit.

The neck was to be finished simply by turning under the seam allowance and topstitching, but I made a little facing using the selvage of the fabric.  I just could not see “wasting” that Diane von Furstenberg signature.

And here is the finished product.  It is perfect for the early fall weather we are having.


Filed under North Carolina, Sewing, Textiles

Vogue 7092, Beach Cover Up

Ever since I found the vintage nautical print terry cloth seen above, I knew it was destined to become a swimsuit cover up.  I had several patterns from which to choose, but I was favoring Vogue 7092, which is dated 1950.  I liked it because it is not a jacket, it is a stole with the sides open.  My plan was to use the terry on the inside and to use a solid white on the outside.

When I found that $2 bolt of vintage white pique, I knew I’d found my other fabric.

The pattern was listed as “one size” which meant I needed to make a few adjustments, especially for length.  I shortened the front and the back, but I also decided to take out some of the fullness in the back, mainly because I was using such a bulky fabric for the lining.

I had finished the stole except for attaching the belt when I showed it off to my husband.  He said he didn’t think I ought to hide the print on the inside as it was so nice.  And while I wanted it for the inside because of the absorbency, I could see his point.  So instead of attaching the belt to the back, I made belt loops (not seen in photos) so I could wear it either way.  I do love a reversible garment.

I love this vintage terry, which I found at the Goodwill outlet.  So with the amount of pique and the cost of the pattern and the terry, I have about $3 invested in this project.   I’ll probably use the money I saved to buy more fabric.


Filed under Sewing

Sewing Project – Vogue 8804

Almost two months after starting work, I’m happy to say that my “French Couture” jacket is finished.  Well, almost anyway.  I wore it today for the first time, and there is a bit of tweaking I want to do.   First, I’m going to put a large hook at the collar so I can fasten it.  Also, I’m going to do another dart of shaping on the front.  And the fringe needs a bit more cleaning up.

Of all the dozens of tasks associated with this jacket, by far the most time consuming was the making of the fringe.  I love the way it looks, but I’m really glad I did not know how long it was going to take to make so much of it.  And I thought I had it trimmed nicely, but you can see how shaggy it is after I wore it.  I probably need to take a wide-tooth comb to get all the yarns straight before another trimming.

I decided on two pockets, which are perfect for a cell phone and a twenty dollar bill.

I’m glad I added the collar.  I think it gives the jacket a more casual look.

That silk is so beautiful, but so slippery.  I know that if I were to ever have to work in a couture atelier, I’d be in the tailleur rather than the flou – working with wools rather than silks.

I’ve read so much about how light and comfortable this style jacket is, and I’ve got to agree.  This is a very easy to wear garment.  There is no constriction at all in the arms and across the back.  It is light-weight, yet warm, and the silk feels simply luxurious against the skin.

This jacket is one of the popular sewing projects of the moment.  I have a word – or two – of warning to anyone considering this undertaking.  First, you absolutely have to be confident about your hand sewing skills.  You may have years of experience on the machine, but unless you have a neat slip stitch, forget it.  Also, patience is definitely a virtue.  All that hand stitching takes time, so this is not immediate gratification sewing.

If you insist on continuing on, then I highly recommend Claire Shaeffer’s book and dvd, Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket.  You might also want to get the pattern, Vogue 8804, if for no other reason than to have Claire’s step-by-step directions.  I referred to both the pattern directions and to the book.  Or better yet, attend Claire’s Sewfari  if you are on the west coast, or Susan Khalje’s class which is in Baltimore.   I’ve heard that both are excellent.

I’ve been sewing for close to 50 years, but this project proved that I have so much still to learn.  Some of the things are so simple that I’m crying that it took so long to find out about them.  Probably the biggest revelation was the marking of the top of a pattern piece on the right – as opposed to the wrong – side.  How did I not know to do this?  Claire uses a little stitched X to show the top of the piece and the right side.  This is invaluable when the fabric looks the same on both sides.

I know that many people whine about all the basting that Claire suggests, but basting really is the sewer’s friend.  The one time I skipped the basting, I ended up having to rip and restitch.  Also, thread tracing the seam lines was a huge help in matching corners.  I’ll always thread trace corners from now on.

A big thanks to all of you for being so encouraging and interested.  It helped keep me going when I was all stitched out!



Filed under Sewing

Sewing Project – Vogue 8714

I really do prefer to sew with vintage patterns, but I do buy new ones on sale and when I find them at my not-so-secret shopping place.  After losing my old stand-by sweater last week, I had to scurry to make a replacement once it became obvious I was not going to find anything I liked in the stores.

This is where it pays to “collect” fabrics.  Most sewers call it their “stash” but I’m a little too 1970s to apply that word to fabrics.  At any rate, I do love shopping for fabrics, both new and vintage.  For the past five years or so my favorite not-so-secret place for finding fabrics is my local Goodwill Outlet.  The outlet is not a regular Goodwill thrift; it is where the sorters pile the rejects into big bins and sell the contents for $1.10 a pound.  It is an incredible bargain.  The Goodwill stores in my area do not sell fabrics and patterns in their stores, so sewing supplies always end up in the bins.

For my jacket I used a black wool and poly blend twill, and for the lining I used a vintage black and white mini gingham.  I wanted something light and casual that can substitute for a sweater.  Just throw it on over whatever else I’m wearing.  I like the combination, but to be honest, the outer fabric is a bit on the synthetic side, and if I were shopping today I probably would have passed on it.  But it sewed up nicely, and it looks like it will wear well.

I added a bit of colorful trim on the inside waist, just for fun.

I used only one button.  This one came from my button box.  Yes, I do collect buttons as well.

I put vents at the ends of the sleeves, and they can be turned back to show a bit more of the check.

And finally, a quick look at the supermodel and her new jacket.  I’ll be making another jacket, this time from jersey knit.  I’m still trying to find just the right pattern, but for now at least I have a jacket to warm up things a bit.

I want to add a small plug for my Instagram photos.  I find that I like this photo format very much, due to all the interaction and the fact that 95% of the photos seem to have been made by the poster.  And there is no re-posting, so the ownership of the photos is not so questionable.  I’ve been posting little previews of my blog posts, along with with lots of things that never make it here.  It’s a fun format.


Filed under Sewing

Vogue, October, 1971

This cover from the October 1971 issue of Vogue, was one of the first under the direction of Grace Mirabella as editor.  If I did not know better, I’d have guessed that it was one of Diana Vreeland’s last, as the colored fur and flamboyant makeup are more of Vreeland than of Mirabella.  Under the editorship of Vreeland, Vogue had long been featuring just a head and shoulder shot for its covers.  Mirabella kept up the practice, though with predictably more beige results.




Filed under Fashion Magazines