It's the rare pattern model who looks embarrassed to be caught in the clothes she's wearing:
White is the sorority girl who doesn't know there's a voyeur at the window, but Red? It's as if she wandered in and gasped "You're drawing?! I had no idea!" Now she's stuck there for eternity in her babydoll dress, standing awkwardly while clueless White preens away.
Poor Red. You would have been happier modeling scrubs and ponchos, wouldn't you?
First, let me say I adore the bold title Butterick gave this 1960s pattern, 5490:
"The Multi-Mini: A Short Span of Skirt with Many Variations."
What a perfect description for a mini! In fact, I think from now on I'm going to refer to all of my skirts like this. Maxis will heretofore be knows as "long spans of skirt." Pencil skirts as "medium spans of skirts." (This, to borrow from THE BIG LEBOWSKI, will make me "not a fan of brevity," so I guess my new all-purpose term for "skirt" will be "el skirtirino.")
Anyway, I think the "many variations" of the multi-mini are darling. Those pockets! The mock wrap! Where I question it is View B. See, on the far right there?
Yeah. It's made out of fake fur.
Oh, I think it would be cute. But is it wise? First, there's the danger of what might get stuck in it -- God forbid you spill ketchup or accidentally sit on a piece of chewing gum. But what worries me more is the unwanted attention it might bring from unsavory strangers who can't resist "petting" the skirt. Is this really something you'd want to wear on a New York subway?
I love that this 1930s pattern, Butterick 8670, comes with a guarantee. See the little certificate of fashion freshness on the right?
Here's a close-up:
This is one of those little details from the past that makes me inexplicably happy. The faux wax seal with "Butterick" on it, the ribbon on the certificate... I imagine a Butterick employee strolling by the patterns like a teacher at a science fair, sticking a ribbon on one and declaring, "Yes! It's FASHION FRESH!"
Now take a look at the back. Modern Vogues may give us triangles and rectangles to puzzle over when we try to decide if a pattern will complement our body shape, but in the 1930s Butterick just laid it on the line:
"Coat for Shorter Women of Larger Hip." It's certainly more to the point than "Pear," "Triangle," "Teepee," or whatever other label is in style at the moment.
What's interesting, though, is that the pattern does have a larger bust to hip ratio than I've seen before. Most modern B34s run 36" at the hips, and you can find B34s from the 1940s that measure 37" at the hip. This B34? It has a 29 inch waist and a 38 inch hip. Could Ezra Butterick have made patterns in different proportions in the 30s? Some for Short Women of Larger Hip, some for Tall Women of Smaller Bust, others for Average Women of Thick Waist? It seems unlikely, but what an interesting thought. Anyone out there have Butterick patterns from this era that we can compare?
In the meantime, may all your sewing projects be Certified Fashion Fresh!
There have been many contenders for most astounding pattern illustration, but I declare this one the hands down winner for best pattern description. Readers, meet Butterick 7162, the Blouse of Many Moods:
Here is the ACTUAL PATTERN DESCRIPTION, which has to be seen to be believed. (Click on the image to enlarge the text):
Where to begin? First, the Blouse of Many Moods is so zany with its "wonderfully split personality" that it has no respect for order. What's with this crazymaking View A for afternoon, View B for dinner, and View C for morning? And frankly, I'm confused by the description "Dinner appetizer with deep cut yoke, short sleeves." Is the Blouse of Many Moods the appetizer? Or the woman wearing it?
The pattern illustration only confirms all the crazy going on here. This is a crime caper in progress if I've ever seen one. View C is the breezy breakfast "Goodbye dear, I'm just taking my pocketbook and running off to do a few errands." In View A, our blouse and its wonderfully split personality shift into serious mode, marching into the bank and clearing out the accounts. (Note the glasses in hand -- a sure sign of Seriousness, though they would be put to better use covering the clear Crazy in the eyes.) By the time we shift to View B for dinner, our heroine's hair is a different color. I suspect she and the Cape-Yoked Blouse are cavorting in Mexico, ready to work their crazy wiles on the next poor schmuck who crosses their path.
A big thank you to Connie of the Pattern Peddler on etsy, who was kind enough to provide me with the back view of this pattern! Unfortunately someone already jumped on this pattern from her shop (and who could blame them?!), but she's got tons of great stuff -- check it out!
Welcome to THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. These are a few of the men's vintage patterns I've found that count as my "goods." If Mr. Pattern Junkie, the rebellious ex-early 80s punk rocker, did not strictly adhere to his own unique dress code (black, black, black; Vans shoes with skulls; shirts never smaller than way too big and shorts never shorter than 5 inches below the knee), these are patterns I'd make for him. Of course, tastes vary -- you might call these your "bads" or "uglys"! Enjoy.
First: I've got to tip my hat to Butterick 3960 for making plain shorts more interesting with the stripes variation on view B. Both Mr. View As seems quite jealous, don't you think?
I really love this mod shirt and pant combo from McCall's 8475, not to mention the pattern illustration itself. Yeah, baby!
Butterick 5738 has a deep V-neck vest with a low-slung belt. Everything about it screams bad polyester and hideous 70s fashion. So why do I like it so?
McCall's 5628 is easy to love: it's a classic car coat. Even Mr. Pattern Junkie might go for this one:
Here's a car coat updated for the 1970s, McCall's 2981. I thrifted a coat much like View B in college and wore it to death until my mother "accidentally" donated it to Goodwill. She's still in trouble for that one.
Remember the old joke about the fortune cookie fortune that read, "Help! I'm trapped in a fortune cookie factory"?
Occasionally I run across patterns that remind me of that. See, it's easy for me to forget the people behind the pattern illustrations: the trained artists who made a living by turning out drawing after drawing of wrap dresses, button down shirts and fly-front pants. But sometimes an illustration comes along that -- whether through its composition, color or subtext -- is the equivalent of that fortune cookie message. Pick up the envelope and listen. You'll hear a soft whisper: "I studied at the Sorbonne. I have more in me than another zip-front housedress. I have things I want to say."
Here's one example: Butterick 2305, circa early 1960s. I lack the artistic training to explain just why the composition is striking, but it really does jump out. (Maybe it's the way the men face different ways, their arm gestures almost mirroring each other?) Sure, it's an illustration for a shirt design -- and an interesting design for the view B hemline, at that.
But look closer. Can't you imagine it hung in a gallery as a 50s suburban update on the happy/sad drama faces? It would be titled "You wouldn't believe what the little woman did this time!" -- the first instance having a wacky sitcom interpretation, the second a more sinister Belle de jour one:
Yeah. That made me feel sort of icky, too.
Let's move on to Simplicity 4971, also from the early 1960s. If Butterick 2305 is compelling, subtle and disturbing, this is...wow. This is the kind of thing you get in freshman art class. Look:
The sensitive young boy in capris and espadrilles touches the elbow of
the jacket-wearing tough as the Pants of Oppression look on in
disapproval! This isn't a pattern illustration -- it's a coming out story.
Tomorrow: The Men's Week wrap-up begins with Day One of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY!