Friday, June 24, 2011

Hollywood Stars and Sewing Patterns

At the height of film star Gene Marshall's popularity, Ashton Drake and Mel Odom partnered with Vogue Patterns to produce a line of sewing patterns exclusively for Gene and her rival Madra Lord.

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I found the original patten (Vogue 5317) illustrated in my copy of the Dec-Jan 1944-45 issue of Vogue Pattern Book.  The article was titled "Six Good Little Black Dresses".

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Gene is Traveling First Class in my color-blocked version of the pattern.  I re-positioned the bodice and yoke seaming and used 100% merino wool jersey.  The hat, jewelry, and gloves are from The Couture Touch.  The fur drape from PD Root.  Shoes from Ashton Drake.  The gloves are a new design based on an actual pair of 1940's gloves that I own.  My model/muse is Covent Garden Gene with her hair restyled.

Our love affair with movie stars is certainly not new and many companies including the home sewing industry capitalized on the public's fascination with these film icons.

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In the 1930's, Butterick obtained the exclusive rights to market patterns based on the clothing worn in specific films by well-known stars such as Katherine Hepburn.  These patterns were called Butterick "Starred Patterns".


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Hollywood Patterns (1932 - 1947) featured stars publicity photos on the cover of their pattern envelopes.  Carol Lombard, Claudette Colbert, and Katherine Hepburn were just a few A-list stars that were used.  These patterns were not exact copies of the stars' costumes as were the earlier Butterick "Starred Patterns".

In the late 1940's, the short-lived Companion Star Patterns (1947) featured costumes copied from the movie wardrobes of popular actresses such as Lucille Ball and Jane Wyman.

Resources:

If you're interested in sewing and/or vintage fashion, I highly recommend Wade Laboissonniere's books titled Blueprints of Fashion, Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940's and Blueprints of Fashion, Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950's.  They are excellent resources for the history of the home sewing industry as well as an archive of pattern envelope illustrations that document the fabulous styles of the 1940's and 1950's.

Hollywood Patterns are available to purchase at  So Vintage Patterns.  They have an amazing selection of original vintage sewing patterns from the 1900's - 1980's with emphasis on the 1940's and 1950's.

2 comments:

  1. Love the color-blocked shoulders and the triangle cuffs you added. Lovely! How is the fit on the commercial patterns? Is one company better than another (Vogue, Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick all made Gene patterns, right?)

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  2. Thanks so much for your comments Bree! The cuffs are actually part of the gauntlet gloves that I based on an actual pair I have in my collection. They have such an unusual shape. Vogue patterns is the only one to my knowledge that was designed especially for the Gene doll. This is the only pattern I actually made up as I usually draft my own. The fit was good. Simplicity also made patterns for 15.5" fashion dolls. I have used parts of their patterns and the fit is not bad. I usually had to make adjustments for Gene. I highly recommend making it up first in a muslin or cheaper fabric to fine tune the fit. Hope this helps.

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