14 thoughts on “Movie Costumes & Sewing Patterns, 1930-1980

  1. I still have the Simplicity “Rob Roy” pattern. I made it in 1973-74 for my mother as a Hallween costume. We gave it a detachable high neck and a drawstring bag for her carry a tap recorder in that was playing “With her head tucked underneath her arm”. She was also carrying my sister’s Barbie head (the one you could do its hair). I know, not even close to period.

    I wore it in 1975 as Marie Anoinette for Halloween.

    It finished life a costume for the Charwoman in Christmas Carol. My mother wore it fore several years doing that. It did get ripped and dirtied for that application.

    It was made from cheap remnant fabric. A large scale floral print that was predominately pink with pale pink panniers. In retrospect I can’t believe I made something that hideous that was used so far out of period. Although when you are a teenager and your mother says make this for me there really aren’t many other choices.

    1. I would love to see pictures if you have them! I can’t discount the HUGE influence those patterns have had on my childhood… I have worn many outfits made from them in my lifetime, from awful upholstery chintz fabric that came straight off a couch!

      1. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures. I wish I did.

        When I was in high school I wanted be either a dress designer or a doctor. I ended up being being a nurse who loved to sew, especially costumes. These patterns were jumping off places for me frequently.

        Odd coincidence? My middle name is also Lorraine.

    1. Hahaha! I love it! I’m planning on doing a follow up post at some point strictly focused on patterns influenced by sci-fi/fantasy/historical movies in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. I had to limit this post to just 1930-1980ish because there was SO MUCH from 1980-onward that this post would have massive!

  2. In 1977 my roommate canceled her wedding, leaving her with a ton of lightweight lining satin, so we decided to make costumes to wear to the Renaissance Faire. The one on the left was an attempt at Tudor, and was based on the Simplicity Bicentennial pattern shown above. The yellow and black thing I’m wearing was made from the McCall “Centennial” dress, and its embellishments and the entire costume worn by the gentleman on the right came from my vague memories of various old movies. We thought we were the bomb.

  3. Well I don’t believe there’s a photo of it, but when I was 8 or 10, my mother made me a “Colonial” costume. I don’t remember the neckline, but might have had a fichu. The sleeves went just past the elbows and ended in a ruffle. The skirt was long, and gathered at the waist, and I believe I chose a calico-type cotton print in a turquoisey blue. I also had a mob-cap. I loved that dress. This would have been around 1964 or 1966. Well before the bicentennial, but eagles were already springing up everywhere in home decor.

  4. My mom had the bicentennial patterns, both adult and kids size, and when we would volunteer to be docents every year in the Beaufort Old Homes tour, she would make me a new “colonial” dress. A new dress, usually of some sort of calico, happened about every other year from when I was about 5 years old until I became and teenager and could borrow my grandmother’s fancy dress (that was somehow associated with/initially made for someone at Tryon Palace in New Bern). Your posts about all the anachronistic back lacing in 18th century gowns on film makes me think of the Tryon Palace gown because it opens in the front and has a stomacher, but then is secured by giant strips of velcro, LOL.

  5. My mom made the Simplicity Bicentennial costumes for me & my sister. They were red floral calico, with ecru eylet bodice inserts & mobcaps. I was born in 68, so I got to fully enjoy1776 mania.
    I guess it made an impression, because now I love cosplay.

  6. Those 70s pattern illustrations are totally my jam. I spent so many hours rummaging around in my mom’s pattern box as a kid…

  7. having survived the bicentennial year, I must add you forgot the HUGE miniseries “The Kent Family Chronicles” based on the books by John Jakes. it started with “the Bastard” and then “the Rebels” and so on. it was interesting watching. and of course the books were better, I think the series might be a good look into for your snark week considering all the 1970’s hair and costuming that went on.

  8. Well, now I’m on a quest to find those first two “Gone With the Wind” patterns or at least something that looks like them as I have never felt a more powerful need.

  9. Oh lawks I have made so many WTF costumes for shows in my time, but once upon a time we had no internets, little access to extant garments (especially down here in NZ) and only some BBC TV shows to work from. And not much fabric choice. But whatever kindles a passion and an interest is awesome. It’s good to laugh at the synthetic, dodgy attempts of the past however!
    I don’t have photos but oh my, the number of wedding dresses I made in the early 90s with “corset” bodices, with fake boning channels rounded out by piping cord, lacing up the front with a zip in the back – those were the days!

  10. If I had known that Sound of Music pattern existed when I was a kid, I would have been sewing up a storm! Until I was 10 and learned to sew, most of our backyard musical costumes were hand me down formal dresses, except for one wedding dress which was Cinderella’s ball gown. My lucky cousin had a mother who made her one of the bicentennial dresses. I was so jealous!

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