Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hollywood Patterns (1940's)

Good morning!

As I might have mentioned before, I've been trying like the devil to clean out the utility room in the finished basement of my house, which has become a tiny, horribly overcrowded "catch-all" for floating vintage ephemera, rather than the laundry room it was originally intended to be. Over the past five years, a pair of metal shelves, bolted to the wall in said room, have filled up with as varying items as Barbie and Ken doll cases from the fifties', Billboard magazines from the seventies', records, fabric scraps, discarded vintage textbooks, tv tie-in board games, seventies' stereo equipment, boxes for old Kodak cameras that are in the green room, and wall hangings, to name a few things. It's neatly arranged, but for goodness sake! There's nowhere to put the laundry, much less the things that are supposed to go on the shelves (detergent, odds and ends landscaping equipment, etc). So I've undertaken a massive re-distribution project for the junk that has accumulated where it shouldn't have accumulated.

Out of one pile of newspaper-y stuff, these three, I'm guessing late forties' patterns floated out, two of which are Hollywood patterns, and one of which is a Simplicity from the same era. Aren't they the living end?

On the left, I'm interested in the drapey blouson-style bodice of the dress, with your choice of belled or fitted sleeves-- OR, for the particularly glamorous-minded seamstress, there's a third option trimmed in what looks like either sequins or persian lamb. THIS WE LOVE. How about the girl in green's beautiful proto-Bjork up do? On the right, we have the owner's name penciled-in near the top seam of the pattern envelope: "Lula Ann Waller". What a name to go with the fashions, right? I love the little darts at the waist to give you an even more dramatically tapered little thorax, and every girl's hairstyle choice is adorable. Naturally.

For you actual dressmakers out there, here's what the specifications look like on the back of the envelope. The bell sleeves I described earlier are termed "lantern sleeves" in the description, which I think I like even better! Also listed, "novelty belt" material allowances.

The Hollywood Pattern Company (or Service, as it's listed on the left) made patterns from 1932 until just after the second World War, and sold well largely due to the similar-to-what-you-saw-in-the-movies styling of the patterns, as well for having, in earlier versions, printed pictures of the movie stars each pattern was meant to represent. I mentioned in a "things I wish I had" post a million years ago that I wanted two dresses styled after Olivia de Havilland and Barbara Stanwyck...and guess what? I STILL DO.

Ones that are blowing my mind, online? This Scarlett O'Hara style evening dress, and this sadly sold earlier this month BOOK of Joan Crawford patterns. Be. STILL! Little! Heart! I wanna dress like La Crawford in a big way!

Whose NOSE is that they put on Joan Crawford's face? The eyes are right, but GOOD GOD, what is with the nose?

There's a WEALTH of scanned images of the covers of these Hollywood patterns, and links to some you can buy, on the vintagepatterns.wikia.com Hollywood patterns page. I borrowed these from there, and aren't they a pair of huuuuumdingers? I can't believe how sweet the one with the heart appliques is!

I'm more and more into bow-fronted vintage blouses lately. Something about it tucked tightly and belted into a skirt, then paired with a black velvet blazer looks so French schoolgirl at the same time as being elegant-- I picked one in black at the Charlotte Goodwill this weekend for with a half price color tag (YES) and have another prim-as-a-pin, sheer, pink one from the Hendersonville Goodwill that has tiny rhinestone buttons (so. cute)...and am tempted to add about five more to the bunch so I can wear them full-time! This Simplicity blouse looks to be from the same time period as the earlier patterns, and just as smart as can be (though I like the cutout neckline as well).

And the specifics:

I still think it's funny that to those of us uninitiated in the ways of clothesmaking that a lot of the text on the back of this reads like my television set's instruction manual (which I also, stubbornly, refuse to understand). Gussets and yokes and neckbands, oh my!

Ready to get started on your own Hollywood Pattern collection? There's to-o-o-ons on etsy and ebay. Go check 'em out!

Do you have any vintage patterns hanging around the house that you hope to one day get around to making a reality? Have you seen the Hollywood pattern series before or own one yourself? If you could choose one thirties' or forties' starlet to make a movie-copy of their wardrobe at home, which one would you choose? Any organization tips for the woefully inept home manager such as myself? Let's talk!

That's all for today, more vintage snips and snaps tomorrow. See you then!


  1. you can never go wrong with a bow blouse...which explains why I have 5!

  2. Oooh, these are gorgeous!! I have been meaning to learn to sew for a-g-e-s now; seems like the most practical & fun skill ever. I have a late '50s cigarette pants pattern that I bought, envisioning myself making a million pairs in all different colors and patterns. Someday!

    1. See! That's the best part, I think-- that you can make a time period authentic version of something, and you can make twenty of them if you want! But you just have to have the skill for it (as I curse my own maladroit little hands). I second your someday! We WILL learn!

  3. Replies
    1. Right? Did you see the measurements on them? I know a size 12 is not similar to a today's 12, but JEEZ LOUISE, a 30'' bust and a 33'' hip is RIDIC. I wish someone would genetically fly me back in time so I can be about half the size I am today!



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