1940s | 1950s | Dresses | Spadea | Vintage Sewing

Claire McCardell Dress from a 50s Spadea Pattern

By on December 10, 2014

This fall, I used a rare early 50s Claire McCardell pattern, released by Spadea, to create a copy of an original McCardell dress:

Janet in McCardell

 

There’s a version of this same dress in the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institutes’ online collection.

The dress was made from New Zealand merino wool jersey bought at The Fabric Store in L.A. I chose wool jersey because Claire McCardell popularized dresses in that fabric in the U.S. during the 30s and 40s.

 

Attaching piping

The dress is very wide, and gathered at the neckline. The front of the underbust is gathered, and 15 feet of self-fabric cording is attached to it, to be used to gather the waistline. McCardell created the concept for this adjustable design in the late 30s, when it became known at the “nada” dress.

 

 

 

I made this dress for my sister to wear while she was speaking at a “Dance and Fashion” event at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology last month, where one of the subjects was Claire McCardell. She even gave me a shoutout during the Q & A! Here’s more information about the making of the dress: JetSetSewing.com

Janet at FIT

 

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Vintage Sewing

Charles James Skirt and Claire McCardell Wrap

By on June 1, 2014

In honor of the Charles James exhibit “now playing” at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute in NYC, I made a Charles James skirt from a 1950s mail order pattern.


As you can see from the side view, the skirt wraps forward from the back, and the waistband starts low in the back and arcs up in the front. It’s a very elegant design. I’m wearing it with a wool jersey shrug from a 1951 pattern by Claire McCardell.
The multicolored top is made of vintage 50s wool challis, lined with silk crepe de chine. It’s made from a “frankenpattern” of a 60s “crushed boatneck” design that I created. Details are on my blog JetSetSewing.com.

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1950s | Swimwear / Sunwear | Vintage Sewing

McCall’s 4494: Claire McCardell Play Set

By on August 14, 2012

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.

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