Homemakers in the 1960s often used clothing patterns to sew clothes for themselves, their husbands and their children, according to vintage resource website Alana's Vintage Collectibles (alanasvintage.com). Mail order patterns, in particular, were popular at the time, and could be found in newspapers, catalogues and magazines across the United States. In the 1960s, there were several clothing pattern companies that dominated the market.
The McCall Pattern Company, which began producing sewing patterns in 1870, is one of the oldest still in existence, according to the company's website. Through the 1960s, the company produced many different kinds of patterns including women's, men's and children's fashions, accessories, costumes, crafts and home decor. In the 1960s, McCall's competition in the clothing pattern sphere included Butterick and Vogue patterns, but in 2001, the McCall Pattern Company acquired these competitors.
Butterick, which started in 1863, first specialised in men's and boys' clothing, according to the company's website. In 1866, the company began producing women's patterns as well, and these proved to be so popular that the company expanded its women's line to include dresses, jackets and capes in 13 sizes and skirts in five sizes. In 1961, Butterick was going strong, and the company licensed the name and trademark "Vogue Patterns" from Conde Nast and purchased its pattern division, according to the Butterick website.
According to the Butterick website, Vogue Patterns was the only pattern company licensed to produce designs from the world's leading fashion designers. In the 1960s, best-selling Vogue patterns were based on French designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy. This trend continued until the mid-1970s when Italian and English designers were added. The Butterick website states that because First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashion trendsetter of the 1960s, Vogue patterns introduced its "Americana" line in 1967 that featured such designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, who made the First Lady's fashion accessible to the public.
Founded in 1927, Simplicity Patterns was a producer of clothing patterns in the 1960s, but differentiated itself from its competition by providing sewing education and support to its customers. This began in the early 1940s, when the company hired travelling representatives who taught sewing education across the United States through fashion shows, educational books and literature, according to Simplicity's website (simplicity.com). Simplicity was so successful throughout the 1960s that in the following years the company acquired New Look Patterns and The English Pattern Company.
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