We're back! Last week Abby and I traveled to The East Coast to attend Rufflecon and spend a few days in New York City afterwards.
While we were sipping hot toddies at the hotel bar, we met Ginny from Simplicity, a Rufflecon sponsor, and had a great chat that, among other things, resulted in a visit to the Simplicity headquarters on Madison Avenue the following Monday. How exciting! I had just sent off The Red Dress before we left, and of course I've always been curious what the inner sanctum of one of the major sewing patternmakers was like.
|New York! The view from our Times Square hotel|
|We enjoyed several 1940s catalog, a 1937 catalog, and a few 1950s too.|
Then the tour. We did a quick whirl around to see each department. There's a large area where patterns are cut and tested (*all the testing*) and sample garments are made for the pattern envelope photos. In addition, a great lot of work goes into writing and illustrating the instructions for each pattern, all the grading, marking, and laying out, the graphic design and information for each pattern, the catalog, and advertisements. It's quite intense! Typically a pattern, from concept to completion, takes about 5 - 6 months, which is faster than ever thanks to digital technology, and passes through myriad hands to become the best version of itself.
|Many dress forms chill in the cutting room hallway. They had all sorts of shapes and sizes, even a tiny infant dress form.|
It was a wonderful experience, and there are many good things that came out of our meeting with The Patterning Powers That Be. One major thing we noticed is that Simplicity really cares about the fashion subcultures using their patterns - for example, the Lolita community, Steampunk costumers, and vintage fashionistas.
|Original print from the 1937 Simplicity pattern catalog|
|Simplicity 8247 - 1930s dress with jacket.|
|Simplicity 8248 1930s dress with two views. This green sample dress was so beautifully made I was nearly convinced it was real vintage.|
|From the 1937 Simplicity Pattern catalog|