American Boys' Clothing Pattern Companies: McCalls


Figure 1.--McCall's was a major American domestic magazine which began to inclue patterns in the 19th century. Here is a 1930s page showing some of the fashions available in company's patterns. It appeared in the "McCall Fashion Bimonthly".

McCall's was a major American domestic magazine which began to inclue patterns in the 19th century. We note a McCall's tunic suit in 1908. McCall's continues to be a major pattern company. McCalls continues to be a major pattern company. We note that by 1916 that they were publishing a catalog of their patterns which appared to emphasize clothing for women and children. McCall's continues to be a major factor in the pattern and home sewing business. The McCall's webite for Spring 2002 reads, "McCalls introduces the newst designs in glamerous evening and bridal dressing. Browse through the McCalls website and you'll find a great selection of brightly colored children's and infant's wear, cozy sleepwear, fleece-wear, and women's/large sizes. You'll also find fun accesories, hime decorating, crafts and even Renaissance costume patterns!"

McCall's Magazine

McCall's has been a leading fashion and women's domestic magazine. It was founded in the 19th century, although I have only limited details. It was founded as The Queen about 1880. It was at first primarily to sell patterns. The title was changed to The Queen of Fashion. The tirle McCalls was adopted about 1897. McCall's did not become a major mass-market publication until the turn of the century. The circulation peaked at 6 million in 1960. The content varied over time, but fashion was always an important element. The magazine included the work of impotyant authors like Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gelett Burgess, Ray Bradbury, Jack Finney, Anne Tyler, Tim O'Brien, and many more. Two of the major editors were: Harry Payne Burton (192128) and Otis L. Wiese (192849). McCalls was a major company publishing home sewing patterns. McCalls because it published an important woman's magazine could easily market its home sewing patterns.

Chronology

McCall's magazine began to inclue patterns in the 19th century. Unfortunately we do not know just when that began and we have not yet found any of the 19th century patterns to archive. We have found a few McCalls patterns from the early 20th century. An example is a tunic suit which McCalls calls a Russian suit. The patterns at the time cost 10-15 cents. A McCalls pattern published in 1908 is another example. We note that by 1916 that they were publishing a catalog of their patterns which appared to emphasize clothing for women and children. McCalls continues to be a major factor in the pattern and home sewing business. The McCalls webite for Spring 2002 reads, "McCalls introduces the newst designs in glamerous evening and bridal dressing. Browse through the McCalls website and you'll find a great selection of brightly colored children's and infant's wear, cozy sleepwear, fleece-wear, and women's/large sizes. You'll also find fun accesories, hime decorating, crafts and even Renaissance costume patterns!"

Marketing

McCall's had various ways of marketing its patterns. The company obviously used its magazines to sell its patterns. It also began issing a catalog, although I am mot sure when that began. We also note pages marked "McCall Fashion Bimonthly". We are not sure just what those pages represent. Were they pages in the magazine or perhaps there was a separate publication just for the patterns. I am not sure that this was the case as we see pages numbered in the 60s which would seem high for a bi-monthly publication. McCall's also opened outlet stores There were outlets in New York, Chicago, San Franciso, and Toronto. The Toronto outlet shows how closely tied the American and Canadian economies were and helps explain similarities in American and Canadian fashions. Of course McCalls now sells pattern on line.

Betsy McCall

One popular fearture of McCall's for children was a popular paper doll page. This fearure first appeared in 1904. The dolls included Jeremiah Crowley's animals and paper toys, Margaret Peckham's A.Z. Baker and Barbara Hale's Jack and Jill Twins, Mel Cummins' Teeny Town, Corrine Pauli's Waterall, Percy Pierce's villages, the Haders' dolls and furniture, Norman Jacobsen's the Nipper series, and Nandor Hanti's cut-and-fold McCall Family series. The best known McCall's paper doll was "Betsy McCall". The perky Betsy McCall was drawn by Kay Morrissey first appered in 1951. An unknown artist took over the job in 1955. Ginnie Hoffman was next in 1958. Betsy was not only a fun feature for girls, but she served as a model for the fashions available from McCall's own patterns. Betsy not only modeled fashions at home, but she traveled all over the United States. Since the 1960s Betsey has no longer been a regular feature, but still periodically makes appearances. The clothing modeled provide an interesting view of chnging fashions over time.







HBC






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Created: 5:21 PM 12/4/2006
Last updated: 5:22 PM 12/4/2006