Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I heart McCall

I think I'm in love....with vintage McCall patterns.  Turns out the McCall pattern company was founded in 1870.  The Cemetarian vintage pattern website had some interesting information on the history of the McCall company.  It was started by a Scottish guy named James McCall (I knew there was a reason I felt drawn to these patterns!).  Mr. McCall worked as a U.S. agent for the English pattern company 'The Royal Chart' in NYC.  I've never seen any of the Royal Chart patterns...have you?

Mr. McCall then began to design his own patterns and published a magazine called "The Queen" to promote and advertise the patterns.  James McCall passed away in 1884 but his company has continued to this day.  The magazine changed its name to "The Queen of Fashion" during this time period.  You can view pages from the June 1905 'The Queen of Fashion' magazine here.

What I especially love about the McCall patterns is that they are in beautiful color.  The McCall pattern company was one of the first that made colored covers for their patterns (in 1920's!) and they made printed patterns even before then (1919).  They are so lovely.  Here is a pattern from 1939 I got for my birthday that I can't wait to make up:

The other great thing about vintage McCall patterns?  They are almost all dated with the copyright year they were produced.  I find this really helpful in terms of dating fashions.  I've run across a few that are undated and I'm not sure if there is a rhyme or reason to this.  But as far as I know, they are the only pattern company to have consistently dated their patterns.

Lastly, I just love their designs.  They seem to fit my tastes really well. I wonder if there was a lot of brand loyalty with patterns back in the day?  I definitely consider myself a McCall gal.  Is there a vintage pattern company that you feel drawn to?


  1. Wow, that is just a gorgeous pattern -- I can't wait to see it made up!

  2. Beautiful dresses! When you make it up, can I put in a vote for some Scottish wool?

  3. What a lovely pattern, you lucky duck. I wrote a whole history of the main pattern companies last year in French for a presentation...maybe someday I'll get around to translating it and putting it up online.
    I too, have often wondered about brand loyalty for patterns. I'm always drawn to DuBarrys personally, but I love the limited palette on the covers of Advances (even if I've never had good luck with the patterns themselves).

  4. I completely agree! My favourites are all the 40s ones, some of which are simply stunning. I feel they started to lose their edge round about the same time they added the 's' at the end of the name in the 50s (at which point Simplicity and Vogue take over in my view). The pattern above is a beauty. Really looking forward to seeing it made up!

    Re. Alyssa, you should post it anyway, even if it's in French! It sounds really interesting.


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