McCall’s 4494: Claire McCardell Play Set

by The Vintage Traveler on August 14, 2012 · 8 comments

in 1950s,Swimwear / Sunwear,Vintage Sewing

I’ve been a fan of designer Claire McCardell and her sportswear aesthetic for years.  I was lucky enough to run across one of the few designs she did for McCall patterns in 1957 and 58, just before she died.  I recently got around to finally making some of the pieces in the pattern, a halter top and shorts, and I tried to make them as authentically McCardell as I could.

Before starting my project, I studied similar garments by Claire McCardell that are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute collection.  This was made easy by the Met’s on-line gallery of their collections.

I chose a cotton kettlecloth in indigo blue because she often worked in cotton using a textured dark fabric.  She was also a fan of top-stitching and metal buttons which I also used.  Note that the pieces were cut on the bias, another McCardellism.

I have a few more  photos of the project and of the inspiration pieces on my blog, The Vintage Traveler.

This post was written by...

– who has written 2 posts on

I'm "Lizzie" Bramlett, aka Fuzzylizzie, a former teacher and long-time collector and lover of vintage clothing. The Vintage Traveler™ is where I tell about the interesting finds I make; whether it is an article of clothing, a travel destination, a tidbit of history or an obscure fashion history fact, I’m always on the hunt for the next old thing.

The Vintage Traveler's posts / The Vintage Traveler's website

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne August 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

just fab. Love the hint of red lining.


K-Line August 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

What an awesome pattern. I’m knitting a McCardell pattern right now. Can’t say the instructions are particularly detailed :-)


Joni August 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Oh, goodness. Claire McCardell patterns are WONDERFUL.


Katherine August 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Confession time: topstitching is my favorite thing about sewing. I have a completely unhealthy attachment to it. Looks very sharp here. Nice work!


Lianne August 15, 2012 at 1:30 am

That’s lovely. It’s great to hear you researched it too. I am all for faithful historical reproduction.


jax black August 15, 2012 at 5:03 am

good job, well done… i wish i could get away with something like that.


jax black August 15, 2012 at 5:05 am

P.S. love the dress version , I would make it in a check wool for the british summer :)


The Vintage Traveler August 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Thanks so much for all the lovely comments.


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