Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Queen of Fashion

 Photo via Tom Folio
McCall patterns have a fascinating history.  The McCall Pattern Company was started in 1870 by a Scotsman.  Starting in 1873 until 1884 he published a short four-page leaflet called "The Queen" to advertise his patterns.  I've found references to two different taglines both "The Queen: Illustrated Magazine of Fashion" and "The Queen: Illustrating McCall's Bazaar Glove-Fitting Patterns".   I haven't been able to find any image scans from these earliest publications.

From 1884 to 1897 he began publishing these leaflets under the name 'The Queen of Fashion'.  In 1897 the name changed to 'McCall's Magazine: The Queen of Fashion' and that tagline remained on the magazines until the spring of 1911 when they dropped the tagline on the magazine covers.

 Photo via Digital Changeling

The Queen of Fashion magazine and the subsequent McCall's Magazine: The Queen of Fashion extended the publication length (from 4 pages to approximately 15).  Each magazine included a colour cover and another black and white inside cover and pages detailing the fashions of the times and the McCall patterns available for purchase (such as the photo above).

Photo via what-i-found

One or more colour fashion plates (like the one above) were also included in the magazines.  I'm not sure if these colour fashion plates appeared in the Queen of Fashion magazines or only started in the McCall's Magazine: The Queen of Fashion.

Want to see more?  Check out these amazing resources for McCall's Magazine: The Queen of Fashion
I'll be covering more on the evolution of McCall's magazines and patterns up until the end of the 1930's this week.  Please contact me (myhappysewingplace[at]googlemail[dot]com) if you have any additional resources or knowledge of these early McCall magazines and patterns!

Information Sources:


  1. Great information Debi. The life of a dressmaker during that time period must have been a busy one.

  2. Wooowww! *____* Love them all! My favorite is the new suspender dress!

    Oh,I have a question for all seamstresses in my blog:
    I need some help,because I would like to make a sewing pattern collectiona and I have some doubts!

  3. Was he a Scotsman who immigrated to America and that's why it's now an American company? or did he sell the company to Americans?

  4. Oh my, I am in love with the pleating detail on the suspender dress.

  5. I love that you're researching this. It's so interesting! Thanks for sharing the info. :)

  6. Thanks for the mention Debi. I appreciate it. But you also have gathered some goodies. I especially love that skirt with the pleats caught up with buttoned tabs. Lovely stuff!

  7. People railed at Ralph Lauren for the photoshopping in their infamous campaign last year but clearly 'micro pelvis' syndrome is a condition that goes back a century or more. You'd need a corset just to keep standing if you were Lady in Blue in that bottom illustration!

    Love the historical research. Hopefully you'll be able to find plenty more. I don't think I'd realised the company was that old.

  8. Second Hand RoseMarch 26, 2012 12:21 PM

    Wow this is all fascinating! Thanks for all the great info, I love learning about this type of thing and I adore all the pictures! XxxX


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