Thursday, August 28, 2014

Emilio Pucci - January 1957 McCall's Featured Patterns

McCall's January 1957
Emilio Pucci, Italian born designer for whom "Capri" pants are attributed, was a designer with fantastic flair.

Pucci was born into a wealthy and influential Italian family. He attended the University of Milan but received most of his education at American Universities and Colleges such as Athens, Georgia and Reed College in Oregon. He was a Facist and when World War II began he joined the Italian Air Force and rose to the rank of Captain as a torpedo bomber. In an attempt to help his friend, the daughter of Mussolini, he was captured by the Germans and tortured by the Gestapo. He would remain in Switzerland until the end of the war designing skiwear.

After the war ended he set up a haute couture salon on the Isle of Capri. From there he established salons in Rome and New York. His use of stretch fabrics and bold designs would be worn by Jacqueline Kennedy and Sophia Loren. Marilyn Monroe was buried in one of his creations.

When Pucci died in 1992 his daughter took over and expanded the business. Today the Pucci label remains a highly respected forward fashion design house.

These festive designs by Pucci for the McCall Pattern Company in 1957 reflect a playful use of color and shape. The bold designs are a glimpse into where Pucci would take pattern with the development of stretch fabrics in the 1960's. One wonders if his wartime experience as a pilot influenced his sense of pattern. Surely he encountered Dazzle painted ships in his air runs. The patterned landscape of farms in the countryside may have also attributed to his sensibilities. However they came to be, we are lucky to have these amazing designs to enjoy today.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gifts to Make for Those Who Sew

It may seem too early to be thinking about Christmas, but lo and behold, Christmas is but 4 months away. For those of us who have always preferred to make something special to give rather than something store-bought, the time is nigh to get cracking on some of these DIY presents.

The October 1954 issue of Woman's Day Magazine featured the perfect DIY gifts to make for those who sew. And, if the growing number of sewing blogs is any indication, you may very well have quite a few on your list.

Whether your friends are seamstresses, quilters or needlework sewists, there are patterns for thoughtful gifts to make and give. You could even make one for yourself!

For those who do counted cross stitch or crewel work, this handy floss caddy keeps all the floss strands separate and free from tangling. 

Find more sewing aids to make and give this Holiday Season. Download instructions HERE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Western Shirt - The Iconic Symbol of American Individualism

               McCall's 2118 Men's Western Shirt                           McCall's 2119 Boy's Western Shirt

The "Western" shirt is often attributed to the cowboy; that rugged individualist who forged the path across America at a time of great discovery. That early "Western" shirt was an incarnation of what we now recognize as the "Cowboy" shirt. The embellished, yoked shirt really began as a costume for the singing cowboys of the 1940's and 50's like Gene Autry.

Gene Autry - Singing Cowboy

My father was a singing cowboy of sorts too. He was a square dance caller in Milwaukee from the 1950's until his death in 1995. He wore "Cowboy" shirts with pearl snaps and a "Bolo" or string tie. Of course my mother wore the full skirt dresses with the layered crinoline underneath. It was quite a spectacle to watch from the bleachers when their club would perform their routines .... all the twirling and swirling skirts ... a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes.

The Western shirt has never fallen out of favor. It is the mainstay in many a man's (and boy's) wardrobe. No doubt Hollywood has romanticized the whole "Western" culture with cowboy movies, and TV shows that we all grew up with like Bonanza, Branded and The Lone Ranger. John Travolta gave the Western shirt a bit of a giddyup in Urban Cowboy and fashion followed with Western wear everywhere. 

             McCall's 2367 Kid's Western Shirts                                               McCall's 2366 Men's Western Shirts 

But a personalized shirt, in your choice of fabrics and trim, is the ultimate statement of individualism. And wouldn't it make the most cherished gift for that special boy or girl in your life? Original patterns from the 1950's give you the authentic look while offering total artistic license. Do Western shirts really have to be plaid or gingham? Mix your Rockabilly with a bit of calico or China silk. Irish linen with an Ultrasuede yoke? The sky is the limit. 

These father and son or daughter shirts are classic Western styles with wonderful flourishes that would be great beginnings for adding your personal touch.

These 70's Western shirts have the basic elements of the classic 50's Cowboy shirt updated for a more homogenous look. Whatever the look you are comfortable with, the cowboy shirt has a place in everyone's wardrobe.

Find these and more at my CynicalGirl shop on eCrater.