An Exploration into the World of Designer Sewing Patterns

Month: September, 2012

Way Bandy: Designing the Face of Vogue Patterns.


Just recently I was flipping through some of my old issues of Vogue Patterns magazine from the 1970’s because I was hoping to find a certain pattern so that I could date it. My collection of Vogue Patterns magazine is far from complete so I didn’t find the pattern, but I did stumble upon an interesting article about the legendary make-up artist Way Bandy. I had read the article almost two years ago when I first received the magazine (an eBay purchase) but this time around I was more aware of who Bandy was and the impact he made on the fashion world of his time.

Bandy made-up the faces of many famous personalities and of the very best models for the best magazines. He was also hired by Vogue Patterns in the late 1970’s to do the faces for the covers of at least six issues which I have in my collection, one from 1977, one from 1978, and four from 1979.

In the November/December 1978 issue there is an article featuring an interview of Bandy by then senior fashion editor, Robert Turner. The article is really an advertisement for Way Bandy’s first-published book ‘Designing Your Face: An Illustrated Guide to Cosmetics’ (1977), however it does still give away some useful tips and advice to readers as a taste of what the book has to offer. The article (and the cover shot and index page of the issue it is from) is below:


Below: The covers and index pages of the other five issues with make-up by Way Bandy.

NOV DEC 1977   

MAR APR 1979   


Bandy also released another book in 1981 titled ‘Styling Your Face : An Illustrated Guide to Fifteen Cosmetic Face Designs for Women and Men’ (I wonder what he recommends for the guys? Very unusual). Both books can be purchased in used condition for a very reasonable price from (click on the images below for a direct link).


Below: Here is a special treat. It is a video clip of Way Bandy making-up a face and it’s from the HBO documentary ‘Beautiful Baby, Beautiful’ from 1980. I think it’s very exciting to watch and, in my opinion, it all looks great until the hair comes down! (I’m sorry that I’m unable to embed the clip, but the image links directly to the YouTube site).

I recommend watching the full documentary on YouTube, it’s fantastic!

I think it’s also interesting to note that Vogue Patterns had an advertising deal with Christian Dior cosmetics, with advertisements for Dior cosmetics and the ‘Miss Dior’ perfume appearing on the pages of most, if not all, of these issues, including a full-page back cover ad for ‘Miss Dior’ on the Nov/Dec 1978 issue. Dior cosmetics were used on each cover of Vogue Patterns magazine from some point in 1977 up until at least 1989, including all six issues mentioned here.


GUCCI Spring 2013 vs JEAN PATOU, 1970’s.

When I saw the first ‘look’ from the GUCCI Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear Collection I immediately thought “I’ve seen this before”, and the vintage Vogue pattern 1216 by Jean Patou came straight to mind. I’ve always liked the pattern but do not yet own a copy. It is from the mid 1970’s but I can not put an exact date on it (can you?). I’ve always thought that the tunic-over-pants look is a very sophisticated daytime style so I think it’s exciting to see it come back again at Gucci. You know what they say, fashion is cyclical.

There are other looks from the collection that remind me of other vintage patterns from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The lounge-wear tunics over loose billowing pants are very Emilio Pucci. The shaped rounded hems of some of the tunics are very Pierre Cardin or Nina Ricci, the high pointed collars are very late 1960’s Fabiani, the safari-style oversized patch hip pockets are very Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Patou, and bishop sleeves and side-buttoned shoulder/neck openings were done by many!

Will you be wearing the tunic-over-pants look?

HALSTON – McCall’s 5103 Spiral Cut Dress, 1976.


Well, this isn’t a ‘Vogue’, it’s a McCall’s and it’s by one of my favourite designers of all time, HALSTON.  I don’t collect patterns of any brand other than Vogue, except Halston for McCall’s patterns. There are patterns which I like by designers who licensed their designs to other brands, such as Bob Mackie for McCall’s; or Rifat Ozbek, Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors for Style patterns, but I have to limit myself to Vogue, and Halston for McCall’s, to keep my pattern collecting at a manageable and affordable scale.

The original company founded by Roy Halston Frowick was named ‘Halston Inc.’ and it was acquired in 1973 by the company of Norton Simon Industries, which also owned the McCall Pattern Corporation, so it is no surprise that Halston’s designs were licensed to McCall’s and not to Vogue Patterns, as some of Halston’s hat designs had been in the 1960’s. According to the book ‘Simply Halston’, by Steven Gaines, Halston’s patterns were ‘enormously popular’.

Many of the patterns have very interesting and ingenious pattern cutting and construction techniques and reflect Halston’s quest for ‘seamlessness’ in his designs, meaning that unnecessary shoulder, side and armhole seams were often eliminated so that the garment’s lines would continue from front to back ‘unbroken’ to give the appearance of seamlessness. Often this type of seaming was used for bias-cut garments.

The McCall’s pattern 5103 is from 1976. It utilises the ‘tube’ cut which first appeared in Halston’s Spring 1974 collection. The ‘tube’ cut could allow a garment to be made completely on the bias, all in one piece of fabric, by spiralling a single seam around the body.

I think the way that the pattern is cut is the most interesting aspect of the design of McCall’s 5103, as the dress appears rather unremarkable in the photograph on the envelope. This may be partly due to the fabric choices and styling, and I also think it has something to do with the sleeves (on the short-sleeved version). Perhaps the short sleeves would look better if they were made shorter. Perhaps an experienced dressmaker could eliminate the sleeves all together and substitute them with narrow shoulder straps and bind the lower armhole edge. Also, to make use of the bias, perhaps a fabric with a very soft drape such as silk charmeuse, tissue faille, or satin would draw closer to the body for a more flattering and lustrous evening look. A stripe or linear print would emphasise the spiral seaming, as is utilised for version A on the pattern envelope. An ombre printed or dyed fabric with the gradation running from selvage to selvage would really look amazing!

Below: The back side of the envelope and scans from the instruction sheet of the pattern list showing the shape of the pieces, and the first steps of construction for the dress showing how the spiral seam is sewn.

 Below: A diagram illustrating the concept of the ‘tube’ cut; a photograph of Karen Bjornson (who was once Halston’s house model and a ‘Halstonette’) modelling a tube dress in a  Spring 1976 fashion show held on December 4, 1975; and a photograph of the same dress on a mannequin. It is interesting that McCall’s 5103 is copywrited 1976, the same year as the collection from which that dress came. (Source: Diagram is from the book Halston: An American Original by Elaine Gross and Fred Rottman, Photographs are from HALSTON by Steven Bluttal and Patricia Mears).

Images and information were sourced from the following books (all are out of print except for a reprint of ‘HALSTON’ by Bluttal/Mears):



Steven Bluttal / Patricia Mears

Publisher:Phaidon Press Ltd, 1st Edition (2001)


ISBN-10: 0714841064 / ISBN-13: 978-0714841069

(A reprint of this book is now available at and I assume that the content is identical to the first edition)

Halston: An American Original

Elaine  Gross / Fred Rottman

Publisher: Harper Collins; 1st Edition (1999)


ISBN-10: 0060193182

 Simply Halston

Steven Gaines

Publisher: Jove (1993)


ISBN-10: 0515110159 / ISBN-13: 978-0515110159

Stay tuned for future posts on other HALSTON for McCall’s patterns!

Vogue Patterns Fashion Society – Fashion Pack 2, Fall/Winter 1980.

Here is your second fashion pack for 1980, featuring the ‘FRONT PAGE’ pattern booklet with the latest pattern styles, and a supplementary pattern catalogue (exclusive to Vogue Patterns Fashion Society members), a Fabric Swatch Folio with the latest fabric trends, and many special offers for Fall/Winter 1980. Below is another welcome letter from Edith Head.

Below: The ‘FRONT PAGE’ booklet featuring the latest Vogue patterns. I think the newspaper style/format lacks the sophistication of the Spring 1980 Designer Preview portfolio (in the previous post), anyhow here it is:



Below: Another Vogue Patterns fashion show, this time for Fall/Winter 1980/81.

Below: A special offer was available for members on all patterns in a supplementary catalogue of older and recent patterns. The pages of the catalogue are of the same size and paper quality as the store counter catalogue (I photographed the front and back covers and the designer pattern pages only).





Below: A ‘Fabric Folio’ of real fabric swatches. It all looks very Ralph Lauren, Town & Country, on the hunt, etc….



Below: An intriguing offer…

Below: For completing and submitting this very detailed survey, a member would be entitled to one free pattern of their choice, not a bad deal!


Below: A brief, yet interesting, history of the Vogue Patterns company, particularly the part about the English printing plant being fire-bombed in WWII.

And that’s all, folks. Sadly I don’t have any more material on this topic. I wonder when the ‘Vogue Patterns Fashion Society’ ceased?

Vogue Patterns Fashion Society – Fashion Pack 1, Spring/Summer 1980.

The famed costume designer-turned-pattern designer, Edith Head, welcomes you to the VOGUE PATTERNS FASHION SOCIETY!

Here is your first fashion pack for 1980, packed with fashion forecasts, trend reports from Paris, and designer pattern previews for Spring/Summer 1980.




Below: Report on the Spring/Summer 1980 Paris Prêt-à-Porter Collections (7 Pages).



Below: Report on European Street Trends for Spring/Summer 1980 (3 Pages).


Below: You could go to your nearest participating store to view Vogue’s latest pattern styles on parade and if you were lucky you might have met Edith head in person, and get your favourite ‘Edith Head’ Vogue pattern personally signed! Do any of these fabric shops still exist? Do tell…

Stay tuned, your Fall/Winter 1980 Fashion Pack will be arriving soon!

Antonio for Vogue Patterns, 1974.

There’s a new book about the legendary fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez which has just been released, it’s called  Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco. I thought I would take the opportunity to share two editorials that he illustrated for Vogue Patterns magazine in 1974 to coincide with the release of the book.

The first editorial ‘The Seductive Stole’ is a double page spread to promote the Vogue pattern 8867 for evening shawls, and is from the Spring 1974 edition.

The second editorial ‘The Seductive Players’ is a four page spread to promote three Vogue accessories patterns 9007, 8974, and 8975, and is from the Autumn 1974 edition. These illustrations really evoke the spirit of the 20’s/30’s Art Deco  revival of the early 1970’s. Silver-screen sirens… planes, trains and automobiles… women on the move!

These magnificent commissions show just how much Vogue Patterns were striving toward the high standards of imagery and content set by magazines such as Vogue and Vanity, for which Antonio provided many commissioned illustrations.

The Seductive Stole:

The Supporting Players:

I have yet to order a copy of Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco. I’m hoping that it is everything I imagine it to be, and a tribute worthy of one of the most unique fashion illustrators in history, who played a major part in shaping the fashion spirit and aesthetic of his times.

Vogue Original de Paris.

Bonjour! How’s your French?

Here is a curiosity, and what seems to be a rarity in the world of pattern collecting, at least to someone in Australia (i.e., me!). I acquired this pattern on eBay about 2 years ago and, just tonight, while sorting and culling some of my pattern collection I came across this pattern again. A ‘Vogue Original de Paris’ by Pierre Cardin, complete with label.

This pattern was never used and it is still wrapped in what I assume to be the original cellophane. I’ve noticed on eBay that some Vogue patterns that were made in England from 1960’s were also in cellophane, so I’m guessing that at one point it was common in Europe to receive your pattern in protective cellophane.

As this pattern was printed in England, the pattern tissue is of the white variety which has one side (the right side) which is glossy and seems almost waxy. It is also the same type of pattern tissue that was used to print Vogue patterns in Australia. I find that this tissue is stronger and less prone to tearing compared to the American brown tissue.

An interesting difference from the English language version is that there is a diagram on the back side of the envelope which shows the shape and grain of the main pattern pieces (the collar interfacing and pocket bag are the only pieces not pictured).

The main step-by-step construction sheet is in French, and there is a supplementary instruction sheet with advice on size selection, pattern alterations, cutting fabric, transferring markings and basting which is in four languages, including French, German, Dutch, and English.

I also have a ‘Vogue Grand Couturier’ pattern by Valentino and it is almost identical in its printing layout and language formatting. It is also printed in England. The Grand Couturier series had its own ‘Vogue Grand Couturier’ label.

I remember looking through fashion books back when I was in High School and being fascinated by the far-out ‘space age’ designs of Pierre Cardin, and by the geometric shapes and motifs of his clothes. I had no idea at the time that there were sewing patterns made available of the same designs!