Some of you may have read already about Vogue's ongoing search for vintage patterns for their "Vintage Vogue Reproductions" series. The basic info is this: you scan or send a copy of the pattern envelope to Vogue at Vintage Vogue Search, Vogue Patterns
Magazine, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271 or [email protected]. Put 'Vintage Vogue Search' in the subject line. If they decide to use your pattern, they'll ask you to send it in and you'll be credited on the envelope and get your original pattern back, plus 5 free Vogue patterns of your choice.
Curious to know more, I donned my (imaginary) reporter's hat and fired off an email to Vogue, peppering them with questions. Were there certain patterns they were looking for? Certain eras they favored? How often did submissions end up being used as reproductions? And why oh why did they need to search for the patterns? Why was their archive depleted? I threw out my pet theory -- that sewing patterns, being women's work, have traditionally been viewed as disposable. I feared that Vogue might not respond after my little rant, but their lovely merchandising manager, Carolyne Cafaro, wrote back with lots of great information:
Most of the Vintage Vogue
patterns in the catalog are a result of the search. If you look at the Vintage
pages, there are copies lines that give credit to the owner of the pattern. It
will say: Pattern source courtesy of…… We borrow the original
pattern for approximately 9 months so that the replication can be exact.
We are never looking for a
particular design. We like to try all looks but have found that styles from the
40’s and 50’s generally perform the best. However, as we never know,
we review all time periods. We file the submissions by decade and when the time
comes, we look through all of them to see what best fits the total issue. We
generally input 4 Vintage designs a year – two in our Summer issue and
two in our Winter/Holiday issue.
We actually have wonderful
archives of Vogue catalogs. Our archives are located in our New
York office and the vintage catalogs have a hard
binding with the month and year on them for easy identification. We are
extremely careful with the books and try to disturb them as little as possible.
We do not have an archive of actual patterns which is why we are always on a
While I wanted to follow up with questions like "Can I move into your New York office and sleep next to the pattern archives?", I tamped down the crazy and simply asked what changes they made to the patterns besides multi-sizing them and including modern instructions. I know many people, for example, make adjustments to 1950s patterns to account for today's girdle and longline-bra free times. Did Vogue do this as well? Interestingly, the answer is no:
As you noted, the pattern has to be
multi-sized and we do use modern instructions, but we try to stay with the
original fit. We do not accommodate for previous undergarments, but the reason
we require the original pattern is to match the fit as closely as possible. The
standards for sizing in home sewing has not changed much over the years –
they certainly do not match ready to wear!
A big public thank you to Carolyne for her answers and to Vogue for soliciting customer input on their vintage lines! I know I'll be going through my patterns and scanning away!
Between some fantastic reader submissions and new releases from Simplicity, McCall's and Vogue, it's like Christmas over here at Pattern Junkie HQ! Sadly a case of the stomach flu has slowed my posting ambitions, but I awoke today ready to jump right back into it. So much to share! Let's jump over to Vogue's new patterns, shall we?
Lately there have been some fascinating blog discussions as to whether or not dressing/sewing vintage equals embracing the feminine oppression of the era. I fall squarely in the "fashion is fun/embrace the freedom to wear what you want" camp, but I have a feeling the artist for Vogue 8643, Vogue's latest contribution to its vintage reproduction category, feels differently:
The aprons strike me as 1950s/early 1960s styles, but these aren't fun rockabilly chicks or sunny 1960s bakers. Check out the black and white mod sheath dresses and the short haircuts on most of them. These are mod girls! Mod girls who've been plucked off the streets of London and Rome and forced into Happy Housewifery School.
Asian Print Apron is the headmistress. She reminds me a little of the head ballet instructor from Suspiria, and if you've seen Suspiria you know that that's a scary thing. Heavy-lidded Red with her egg-beater print apron (egg beaters!) forlornly carries drinks, while Yellow searches her gigantic pockets for keys to escape the asylum. Polka Dot (with her broken wrist! My wrists bend like that, but I have hyperextended joints) calls for help on the Phone with the Cord to Nowhere, while Green Flowers presents her Cake of Despair. That cake has gray icing on it, people. Gray.
Still not convinced? If you click to see the pattern description on Vogue's website you'll be treated to an actual model shoot they did for the pattern. Tell me the real title of this isn't "Hopes Drowned in Palmolive and Chardonnay:"
I guess I've been looking for outside motivation to help me get to the sewing machine lately, because I seem to have gone a little competition-mad. First I signed up for Pattern Review's Wardrobe Contest (10 coordinating pieces in 2 and a half months), then I jumped on the Wardrobe Refashion bandwagon.
Now Sew Retro has to go and complicate things by announcing their November Party Time Competition. I won't sign up (repeat to self: "I won't sign up, I won't sign up") because A) I don't think I'll finish the PR contest, as I've only done 2 garments and am in the midst of a big work project and B) I live in Southern California, where wearing anything more formal than lounge pants and flip flops is viewed with suspicion. I jest -- a little -- but the truth is, I won't be needing loads of flirty dresses for the upcoming party season.
Still, it's fun to imagine a life that demands a whole fleet of party dresses. Here are the dresses -- and by extension, the alter egos -- I'm wanting right now:
Mmm. Here I'm an absolutely fabulous upper crust fashionista with a dash of bohemian flair. It's New York in the late 1960s, and I'm dashing across a Central Park West drawing room to deliver a scathing bon mot to Andy Warhol. Nico and Twiggy may have shorter dresses, but they don't have my wit.
I've had this pattern in my collection for a long time, and I really want to make it -- although it falls squarely into the category of patterns I should avoid at all costs. I look best in things that emphasize my waist. Flowy mod 60s-era dresses designed for Twiggy silhouettes generally make me look like a block of cheese. Witty bon mots generally aren't enough to set off that look.
If I'm Red there, I'm hosting one awesome mid-70s party for the block. So confident, so assured! I've whipped up 300 canapes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and styled my hair perfectly, despite having misplaced one of my feet. Plus, I'm wearing an actual "hostess dress," a concept in dressing that should definitely make a comeback. (If I'm Blue? Then I'm in a fern bar, about to give a no-good man a piece of my mind.)
I've had Vogue 1116 for a while and will make it one of these days -- it looks like a blast to wear. The only thing that scares me? That's gotta be one monster hem.
Here's another fantasy party dress, Vogue 1227, found on the Vintage Pattern Wiki:
Clearly I'm an international superspy, perhaps even James Bond's nemesis. It's a cocktail party in Monaco, and this slinky little number doesn't have a hiding place for guns and secret documents -- that's what my poufy hair and chignon are for, silly goose.
This pattern fascinates me: it's from 1953, and so different from the big skirted dresses we associate with that time. Toreador pants, a cummerbund, a ruffled blouse -- what party demands this outfit? If I'm wearing this, I must be in Pamplona at the running of the bulls -- although with that wasp waist, I'm certainly not eating anything.
Sigh...it's in a B36. If it were a B34, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. (I know, I know, I could grade it down...but given that I've got plenty of B34 patterns waiting for their moment on the sewing table, I've got to attempt some self control).
Of course, I'd have to make it in an outrageous Pucci print. Maybe the same fabric used on this chair:
Of course, then I'd have to move to a fabulous Italian city. Rome? Florence? And I'd need that chair in my living room. Actually, I'd need a whole swinging space age pad.
Who am I kidding? A dress like this demands even more. I'd have to become a character in Mario Bava's 5 Dolls for an August Moon. I'd spend a decadent weekend at a remote, hip beach house with three fabulously wealthy couples. We'd do nothing but smoke, drink, steal each other's lovers and kill each other off.
See? Tell me Edwige Fenech isn't wearing a Pucci scarf when she discovers something horrific on the beach right there...
Have you heard that Vogue Patterns is looking for suggestions for vintage patterns to reproduce? I can't seem to find much about it online, but here's a blurb from a recent issue of their magazine:
"Do you have a vintage Vogue pattern with all the pattern pieces and the instructions intact? Would you like to see it become a Vintage Vogue pattern? Send us a photocopy of the front of the envelope. Do not send us the pattern. (Unsolicited patterns will not be returned.) If yours is selected, we will ask you to send the original. In appreciation, we will give you five free Vogue Patterns of your choice, on-page credit in our catalog, and return your pattern. Mail a photocopy with your name, address, and daytime phone number printed on the back to: Vintage Vogue Search, Vogue Patterns Magazine, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271. You can also email a scan of the envelope front to [email protected]. Please put 'Vintage Vogue Search' in the subject line."
My only problem with this is the "send in the pattern" part. Sure, they promise to give it back...but the thought of sending off a beloved pattern into the great unknown is too scary for me! Why not just send your toddlers off into the woods to play with bears?
Still, if I had this great pattern, I might consider it. I'd love to see Vogue 487 reproduced:
I love the gathered bust, collar detailing and the way the back bodice is shaped. Of course, the fact that the back ruffles remind me of Leanne's lovely winning dress from last night's episode of Project Runway doesn't hurt! (If only I had $650 to spare and a reason to wear that dress!)
If you're a 32 bust, you can grab the Vogue pattern on eBay today. And if you have a B34, let me know..