1930s | Vintage Sewing

McCall’s Archive Collection

By on May 30, 2014

We have quite a bit of fun over on the WeSewRetro Facebook page (have you been playing our vintage pattern dating game over there?) and when I posted this 1940s McCall pattern, reader Carla wondered why we don’t see any reissued vintage McCall’s patterns similar to the Vintage Vogue and Retro Butterick lines.

Pretty good question, right? I thought so too, so I had a little chat with the lovely Meg from the McCall Pattern Company to find out…and got an exciting exclusive scoop in the process – guess what McCall’s will be releasing in June? Read on to learn more…

Hi Meg! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Can you tell us about the process of taking a single-sized vintage pattern and rereleasing it as a multisized pattern? How do you approach the sizing, considering modern women tend to run slightly larger and often wear less restrictive undergarments than in, say, the 1940s?

Ok, so the process we undertake depends on the brand:

“Vintage Vogue” patterns

These are authentic patterns, reissued just as they were originally published. We take the pattern pieces and resize them to today’s size 10, and then we follow the normal grading process from there.

Sewing one of our reissued Vintage Vogue patterns is the best way to have an authentic vintage sewing experience, just the same as when your grandmother or great-grandmother first sewed this pattern. We go through a complete process to re-create these patterns.

Anyone with an old Vogue Pattern who thinks it might have wide appeal for today’s sewers is welcome to send us a photo of the envelope front and back toeditor@voguepatterns.com. All pattern pieces and the instructions must be accounted for, nothing can be missing or damaged beyond use. If we decide to use your pattern, we’ll ask you to send the entire pattern to us so we can work with it to re-create it. In return, you’ll receive a credit on the pattern envelope and on the catalog page, plus you can choose five free patterns. And we return your pattern to you.

We get asked all the time why we don’t reissue designer patterns, like DVF’s iconic wrap dress pattern. We would LOVE to do this, but it all boils down to licensing agreements with each designer, and these agreements were negotiated years ago and are no longer in effect. It bums us out as much as it does you. Negotiating licensing agreements with designers these days is a far more complex process than it was back in the 1940s-1980s, but that’s a story for another time.

 “Retro Butterick” patterns

We go into our archives and re-create the pattern from the illustration and line drawings. Since we are basically starting from scratch without a pattern, we can follow our normal sizing and grading process for today’s women.

“McCall’s Archive Collection” patterns

This new pattern line will debut with a pattern from the 1930s in the McCall’s Early Fall catalog, coming in June. We follow the same process here as we do with Retro Butterick—we go into our archives and replicate what’s in the pattern illustration.

Awesome! A new retro pattern line from McCall’s – I can’t wait to see the first offering!  I know you have an archive room at McCall Pattern Company headquarters and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would fistfight a moose to get a peek in there. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

We do have an archive room, though it’s not very big, more like a large walk-in closet. But it has the coolest stuff in it! Tons of old pattern catalogs for Butterick, Vogue Patterns and McCall’s. Old Delineator magazines going back to the late 1880’s. (Delineator was created to market Butterick patterns but then grew into a general interest magazine for women.) Sewing books. Company newsletters. Original artwork. At one time we had an actual archivist who maintained our archives. If you’d like glimpses of what’s in the archive room, visit our Pinterest boards featuring photos of old pattern catalog pages  (mccallpatternco).

This is going to make you sad, but we do not have paper copies of our patterns that were created in the pre-digital days. It’s unfortunate, but we just don’t have the space to store the thousands of patterns we’ve issued in the decades we’ve been in business. We have donated many old patterns to museums and educational institutions, though, and we do maintain a huge collection of our brands’ pattern catalogs through the years.

With such a long and amazing back catalog of patterns to choose from, how do you go about choosing which patterns to reissue?

We are very influenced by popular culture when it comes to deciding what patterns to reissue, and customer feedback plays a big role here too. In fact, thanks to customer feedback, we’re issuing Downton Abbey-inspired sewing patterns in the Fall issue of Butterick, coming this July. If there is a particular type of vintage pattern or era you think we should bring back, then by all means let us know! You can send an email to facebook@voguepatterns.com, leave a comment on one of our pattern brand’s Facebook page (we have Facebook pages for Vogue Patterns, McCall’s, Butterick and Kwik Sew), or tweet us (@mccallpatternco).

Thanks so much for this opportunity to chat with We Sew Retro. We love seeing what you sew with our vintage patterns, and you inspire us. Happy sewing!

So there you have it, readers. The new McCall’s Archive Collection will start in June with a reissued pattern from the 1930s. Which 1930s McCall pattern do you think it will be? I’ll be sharing some of my very favorite McCall patterns from the 1930s over on our facebook page today and I’ve had an obscene amount of fun creating a ginormous 1930s McCall pinterest board which you can find by clicking here. What’s your favorite McCall pattern from the 30s?  Have you sewn something from a 30s McCall pattern? Pop a link in the comments so I can pin it…

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