Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The 1940 McCall Project: Details

You guys rock! Thanks for all the birthday wishes and amazing comments on my 1940 McCall Project post!  I am so excited!!

So, I went and got myself on pinterest and have uploaded my entire 1940 McCall pattern collection (except for a handful of patterns for which I need to take better pictures in daylight).  Go have a look and let me know if you are on pinterest and I'll follow you.  I'm still getting the hang of it but I'm liking how easy it is to organize pictures.  The next step is to get these all up on the Vintage Pattern Wiki and also on flickr.

Many of you were asking about The 1940 McCall Project, which patterns are included and how you can help out.  Here's some more details....

The Included Patterns
The patterns included are those that have a copyright date of 1940 (unlike the Blueprints of Fashion books which list the 1940 dates according to the patterns featured in the McCall Magazines--i.e. the January 1940 McCall's Magazine lists all 1939 patterns, etc.).  McCall patterns are amazing in that they published the copyright date right on the pattern during this time period.  The date is usually located on the pattern cover flap:

I've narrowed down that the year 1940 starts with either McCall 3552 or McCall 3553.  I've narrowed this down because McCall 3551 is a slip pattern featured on the Vintage Pattern Wiki which is dated 1939 and I have McCall 3554 which is a button-down blouse pattern dated 1940.  If any of you have either of these patterns, definitely let me know what if they are 1939 or 1940!  As a side note, all of the patterns during 1940 will say "McCall" rather than "McCall's".  The name wasn't changed to "McCall's" until the early 1950s.  It's a good way to know if you've got a pre-1950s pattern if it says 'McCall' on the cover.

This is McCall 3553.  Is it the first pattern of 1940??

As for the end of 1940, that's a bit more difficult as I have less resource material to draw upon but it's somewhere between McCall 4005 and 4009.

Which means there are between 452 to 457 main patterns for the year 1940 alone.  Yee-haw!  Told you this challenge will take me a decade or two (or more)!  Those aren't the only patterns from 1940.  There are a whole series of transfer patterns which have an entirely different numbering system.  I know for sure that the year 1940 starts with McCall 742, which is this adorable little boy's Pinnocio costume:

The year ends with either McCall 829, 830 or 831.  This adds up to an additional 87 to 89 patterns, bringing the grand total of 1940 McCall patterns to somewhere between 539 to 546 patterns!

So, how many patterns do I have now?  According to my last count, I have 117 or approximately 25% of the main patterns and 26 or 30% of the transfer patterns.  Phew! Crazy!  I just love Clio's comment on the previous post:
OMG you have NO idea how excited I am for your 1940 project! I feel like the sewing blogosphere has collectively decided that 2013 is a back to basics sort of year. Not that there's anything wrong with basics; there isn't. It's just incredibly inspiring to see a big hairy audacious goal with a real point of view and some fashion risk taking involved! YAY!
YAY indeed! I'm so excited too!

How You Can Help
I've had several people ask how they can help.  There's several ways:
  1. If you see a 1940 McCall pattern for sale, let me know!  Email me at: myhappysewingplace[at]  I've been pretty good at tracking ebay and etsy but I always miss things!  I've got my eye on a few things at the moment but have to wait until my budget catches  Likewise, if your a pattern seller let me know if you have any upcoming 1940 McCall patterns.
  2. Do you have a 1940 pattern in your stash?  Wanna swap patterns?  I've got some really great 30s, 40s and 50s patterns and am happy to swap patterns (plus you can make a copy of the 1940 pattern before the swap--so you get the best of both worlds!)
  3. I also take presents.  hahahaha.  If you find a 1940 pattern in your home and don't feel you can give it the love it needs, don't hesitate to send it my way!   Just email me.
  4. I'm also interested in links, photos of any fashion or pattern related item from the year 1940!  I hope to do a bit more delving into the year including looking at other pattern companies--so feel free to email me anything you think I might find interesting.
  5. Lastly, I'm hoping to find some people who have themselves or whose family members worked at McCall's during this time period!  Send me your family stories!

Yippeee...can't tell you how excited I am to do this!


  1. Yay! Love fashion from 1939/1940! I'll be working on some early 40s sewing myself this year. Your pinterest boards are going to be great inspiration. Here's me on pinterest! :

    I love the idea of having a pin board of all of my vintage patterns so I think that is on my to do list!

  2. Oh my goodness how exciting! I love 1940s fashions so I will be keeping a close eye on this project :-)

  3. Oh, Debi. I'm simply drooling over your boards on Pinterest. How elegant. How classic. You're going to be the best dressed gal in the U.K.(probably beyond). Will you have a list somewhere of the patterns you are searching for? I love being on the lookout for specific patterns. I'm constantly harassing Anna at Miss Depew everytime I find a Simplicity S-Series pattern for sale. I'd love to be on the lookout for you also, especially since I'm trying not to add to my own vintage pattern collection this year. 

  4. I'm now following you on Pinterest :-) I'm Gabrielle Corbett = corbeau on Pinterest - and you've inspired me to set up a vintage patterns board too! I seem to have mostly kids vintage patterns because I love the envelope art (and I have kids).

    I'll let you know if I come across patterns in this range on Etsy... I think I've seen a few of them before but they looked expensive! 

  5. I posted my McCall's 1940 bathing suit pattern to my "Vintage Swimsuit Project" board on Pinterest.  I'd be happy to trace it for you and copy the instructions.   It's a Size 14.

    sorry I am so jealous right now. Mccall 1940s are my FAVE patterns ever.
    I've probably got a couple of 1940 patterns - I will have to check my stash. Do you need the actual original envelopes etc or I could trace the ones I have (wanting to keep the originals if thats cool)

  7. Alyssa OpishinskiJanuary 10, 2013 3:27 AM

    I looked through the COPA database and the earliest 1940 they have is #3555 the last is #7313. However, 7313 looks misdated. The next lowest highest one is #5772, then #4270. The curator is usually very accurate.
    I truly wish I had any 1940s McCalls but I don't. My 1940s are about 99% Simplicity! Either way I'm SO excited. I'll be keeping my eyes open when I etsy/ebay.

  8. I checked all my patterns, and sadly, all my 1940's are Simplicity, and my earliest McCalls are 1942. I'll still keep a look out. I'm going to look at your pinterest board now. This is so much fun!

  9. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 7:52 AM

    It takes time to upload all the pattern photos but it's FABULOUS to have all the photos in one space!! Love it!  Can't wait to see your patterns!

  10. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 7:54 AM

    That's so sweet! It's funny because I also email Miss Depew when I see an S-pattern...I get so excited to find them :)  I'm going to put together a top 20 list this week...yay! so excited!

  11. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 7:54 AM

    Oh goodie! Can't wait to follow you on pinterest!  I've been able to find some fabulous deals on these patterns but it takes lots of patience :)

  12. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 7:55 AM

    Thanks Clio! I definitely have plenty to keep me going!! :)

  13. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 7:56 AM

    O-M-G. That would be amazing.  You have one of the best from the year!!!!  super exciting!

  14. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 7:59 AM

    I know, right??  I love 1940 McCall patterns!!!!  Copies are totally amazing...thank you SO MUCH....and if you like this time period then I have some goodies I can send you!!

  15. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 8:00 AM

    Thank you so much! I'm really curious about #4270...I will have to check that one out!!!  

  16. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 10, 2013 8:00 AM

    YAY! thank you SO much!!!

  17. Wow, What a mammoth task!!  I had no idea there were so many.  I'm so jealous, it's my absolute favourite era - I WANT all these patterns too!

  18. Debbie this is such an inspiring goal! We are all cheering you on!!!

    Just followed you on Pinterest (Buckingham Road) - be warned it is a little addictive.I simply cannot wait to see all the amazing garments you will make. And if I do spot a McCall pattern floating around these webs, I will definitely give you a yell. Happy new year! Sam xox

  19. I've only been to the front page of your pinterest so far (aka I haven't dove into the boards yeat) and I'm already jealous!! I'm hoping you are going to pin the finished projects with these as you go?

    I'm also really really excited to see what you come up with! I really need to get back into sewing for myself... maybe it'll make sewing fun again...

  20. I'm not enterly sure why that posted without my name.... but oh well!! I guess it doesn't really matter!! 

  21. I'm so exciting for this project! My favorite vintage sewing patterns all date between 1938 and 1941. There is just something about that period of time that is so enjoyable. I have a few MaCalls patterns but I'm not sure if they are from 1940. I will check and let you know!

  22. What a wonderful project.  I will look out for patterns for you.  I have just caught up on reading your blog and it is beautiful - so well laid out and lots to read and look at.  I enjoyed your review of 2012 which has some lovely photos.  Best wishes for 2013 and I will be following your quest for McCalls 1940s.  

  23. This is going to be such an amazing project! But now I want to know which pattern you're making first! Good luck!

  24. This is such an exciting project, Debi! I am so looking forward to seeing your progress.  I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for any and all McCall 1940 patterns.  I love your idea for listing them on Pinterest - I'm going to steal that, if you don't mind!  I primarily sew with patterns from 1950-1962 and would love to swap my 1970's patterns for some from my years of choice!

  25. Hi Debi.  What a lovely collection.  I'm shadyflower on Pinterest.

    I have McCall 3551 and it is dated 1939.

    Can't wait to see all your creations.

    Tia (sydcam123)

  26. This is the coolest sewing goal ever! I don't think I have any 1940 McCall but I will definitely check. It may take a while as I have 4 Rubbermaid tubs full.

    Are you interested in any years surrounding 1940 for inspiration? I have a 1942 Sears catalog that I could post some images from to Flickr if you'd like. 

  27.  This is Rebecca from Tales of a Wannabe Seamstress. I'm not sure why my name isn't showing up.

  28.  McCall 3838, which I think is from 1940 is on Etsy right now for $14 from a seller named "midvale cottage". I didn't see that one on your Pinterest board. :]

  29. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:36 PM

    Hi Tia!!! Can't wait to follow you on pinterest!  You'll recognize more than a few of the patterns from your shop :-)  Do let me know if you run across any others!!

  30. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:43 PM

    Thanks Rebecca! I do have that one but I hadn't seen it on etsy!!! It's such a gem!  I am also interested in the surrounding years for inspiration and comparison and would LOVE to see some of that 1942 sears catalogue! I bet it's a gem!

  31. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:44 PM

    Hi Tia!!  YAY! So happy to follow you on pinterest! You'll recognize a lot of the patterns in my collection from your shop :)  

  32. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:45 PM

    I think it's such a great idea!  Plus, it's nice to have my patterns where I can see them all online :)  I think I might have a pattern or two you would to go look!  xoxoxo

  33. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:46 PM

    Thank you so much!! What a lovely comment!!  I'm definitely very spoiled as Scotland is such a great backdrop for photos!

  34. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:47 PM

    Fabulous!! Thanks Emily!  There's something about that time period which is so fashionable and innovative!  

  35. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:48 PM

    I'll definitely be posting up some of the finished photos! I can't wait!

  36. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:48 PM

    p.s. Disqus has been acting funny lately....I'm thinking of going back to blogger comments....hmmm...

  37. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:49 PM

    Thanks so much, Sam!!!  I'm super excited and omg, pinterest IS addictive.  Glad I finally got on board the picture

  38. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 11, 2013 8:49 PM

    I may be having some giveaways in the near future..... :)

  39. Gosh, I don't think I have any patterns that you're looking for as for some reason I tend to have a lot of Simplicity. But I'm going right now to my stash box to make sure. You really are inspiring me to look for more 1940s McCall's patterns (not 1940-- I'll let you hunt them all down with no competition, lol).

  40. I think this is an exciting and ambitous project and I hope we all can celebrate with you at it's completion. Can you imagine what blogging or just the Internet in general will be like in a decade or so?

    I've resolved to go through my little collection of patterns to see if I have one you might need. It would be so cool if I could help the project along. Would there be any difference between the McCall's catalogs for the USA and the UK? Also, are you going to do the patterns for children's clothes, too?

    And PS--I lovelovelove your banner, or header, or logo... you know, that pretty graphic up at the top of the page. Oh dear, my cluelessness is showing.

  41. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 12, 2013 12:42 PM

    Thanks so much Tasha!!  The Simplicity ones from the same time period are fabulous too...I'm hoping I can do a bit of pattern comparison between all the pattern companies!  Dying to know who was really ahead of the times fashion-wise!

  42. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJanuary 12, 2013 12:46 PM

    I can't even imagine what the internet will be like

    I don't think there would be any difference between the USA and UK catalogues but now I am dying to know.  I do know that McCall printed pattern envelopes in black and white in the UK and colour in the US...but now I want to know if there were any differences!  There might be for some of the more local pamphlets like the McCall Style News.

    I am going to sew up ALL the patterns from the year....children's, men's (though I don't think there are any men's except for a tie the wedding dresses (there are two of those...I might have to have a contest and sew one up for a reader!  The wedding dresses are very difficult to come by...)  So excited!

    Thanks for the comments on the husband did it and I just love it so much!  He's got a great eye!

  43. I have a McCall from 1940! It's McCall 3964, a jumper dress and blouse, size 16, and I'm happy to do a swap if you need it! Just let me know!

    1. That is so amazing! This pattern must be calling my name because another blogger is sending me this exact pattern in the same size! I think I know what I'll be making for the Sew Grateful Week!! Thanks for looking through your patterns for me!!!

  44. I'm all about enabling, so have had a rummage through the patterns I can immediately lay my hands on (everything's currently packed in boxes due to complete house renovation) and I have McCall 7160 (ladies coat) in size 14. I'm happy for you to borrow it and trace it off so long as I get it back eventually. Drop me an email if you want me to post it up to you. Good luck!


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!