Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ugly vintage

I love vintage patterns.  I tend not to go before the 30s, and my favorite eras are mid thirties to fifties with a splash of 70s and 80s thrown in for good measure.  I've even been known to renovate 90s patterns to get what I want.  But the Ugly Pattern Party over on Simple Simon got me thinking.  I've got some winners in my collection--and probably more in the stack of four boxes of patterns I want to get rid of.  (They were mostly donated, I swear!  The ones that weren't came with ones I wanted in large job lots.)  I tend to divide patterns into categories--salvageable, 'what were they thinking?', and "They had to be smoking something!"--which has a subsection of creepy kids patterns.  And they're spread out in all eras, too.  Let's start with  a plain ugly one!
I usually love sailor dresses and outfits, but not this one. I mean, drop waists are coming back.  Maybe it's the gathers at the waist of the pants.  Maybe it's the balloon-like quality of said pants.  Or perhaps it's the oversized collar and complete shapelessness of the entire thing.  Sure it's from 1993, but that doesn't mean it's irredeemable... usually.  Now, I don't have this one--it's just one I keep running into trawling for vintage patterns.

Next on the list is a "what were they thinking" pattern! Don't get me wrong, I have a soft spot for McCalls Enchanted Forest/Little Darlings line from the late 70s-early 80s. Some are costumey, some are still attractive, and some, well... somebody got into the crack.  Apparently, McCalls bought out an indy company, because it's fairly easy to find older versions printed on thicker paper in ziplock bags as well.   Some of the more crack patterns happened after McCalls started making them, though, this isn't one of them.  A lacy peignoir for a toddler?  Really?  Okay, so it's actually kinda pretty.  But why in hell would you make something like that for a four-year-old?  And we hear complaints now about sexualizing kids!  And yeah, I have about three copies of this one in my "I-want-to-sell-it" pile.

And while we're on the subject of Enchanted Forest/Little Darlings patterns, here's a crack pattern--

Okay, the view on the right is redeemable.  But the giant flower?!  It's McCalls, so it's early 80s, and I suppose they were trying for whimsy, but it just gives me the impression that they were obviously doing crack when they designed it!  This is one I don't have and definitely don't want!  And luckily, Gracie hasn't seen this one.  You'll see why later.

Since the last one was partially redeemable, though crack ridden, let's move backwards to 1968.  Simplicity 8669.  I've actually made this one.  Honestly, when I came across it, I thought that they'd drawn it wrong.  I mean, why would they put the dresses on backwards?  So I changed the back to the front and turned out something cute

And onto another redeemable pattern. Sure, it's ugly, but IIRC, there was a fairly big western trend in 1987.  And back then, I would've killed for that red plaid skirt.  (Hey, I was nine!)  Nowadays, though, the pants and jean jacket aren't bad, though the rest can go back to fashion obscurity where it came from.  This one just struck me as ugly in my weekly search through the new offerings on ebay.

I actually own this one in multiple sizes.  The sundress is why I kept it because the heart-shaped bib combined with a bubble romper is a "What were they thinking?" pattern in my book.  Butterick 4243 is from the 70s.  I just don't get the mob cap or the rompers!  The too-short sundress doesn't phase me, because vintage is usually too short!

Back in the early 90s, my sister had a blue jumpsuit.  She loved it, despite the difficulties she had going to the bathroom.  So I sorta get jumpsuits.... but not this one!    Simplicity 7227 is from 1975.  Honestly?  It looks like something my mechanic would wear in uglier fabrics.

As a transition into what I call creepy patterns (that Gracie has been begging me to make for her) let's look at a 1952 mail order pattern.  Now this one isn't as creepy as some, but I'm still sooo not into it.  Grace loves this, but I'd have to spent a long time doing embroidery for a sundress that I don't like.  She thinks it's cute and I'm almost in agreement... it's the following ones that she's in love with and I refuse to touch with a ten foot pole!

This is what I've labeled as creepy.  They're both mail order patterns from 1948, and there's a huge selection of these.  Most of what I've seen are copies of these and, well...

Yes.  Decapitated animal head clothing.

I've found dresses, rompers, overalls, bibs... in sizes up to 8.  Would your eight-year-old want one of these?

Or this?

I get that in post WWII years, perhaps people were looking for whimsy for their kids, but this isn't whimsy... it's creepy!  Gracie would like nothing more than for me to buy these creepy patterns and make her some for summer, but hell will freeze over first!

I have been sewing, it's just that with Mom's illness and trying to keep the family going, blogging has slipped by the wayside.  Yes, it's cancer, and she started chemo this week.  Unfortunately, she's had a bad reaction and had to be hospitalized for dehydration because she couldn't stop throwing up.  Considering all the people and their various problems that I have to take care of, sewing is keeping me sane.  I'll try and post soon about the lovely boy sewing I've been doing for Alex!


  1. I would be terrified that I child would trip over that McCalls nightgown. It is a pretty picture but defiantly not functional.

  2. Loved this post! What a great collection of terrible patterns! So fun to look at and read! My favorite is that pattern where the dress looks like it's on backwards! That is hilarious! I love what you did with it!

  3. Oh my goodness! I made a decapitated animal head sunsuit with one of those vintage patterns for my daughter last summer!! But she is far shy of 8......

    I am very sorry to hear about your Mom. I'm glad that you were able to share a love of sewing and creating. I hope that your family had a blessed Easter celebration.