We interrupt your regularly scheduled entries for a quick feature: When Patterns Lie. I was browsing through the McCall’s Catalog in anticipation of a $1.99/pattern sale at JoAnn’s next weekend and came across a recent addition that I hadn’t seen: pattern M6097, billed as a “Misses’ Victorian Costume.” Misses? Sure. Costume? Definitely. Victorian? Only to whoever named the pattern.
Update: I ran by the fabric store tonight (I needed some bobbins desperately), and found it in the wild!. It’s even worse—they call it “Victorian Splendor” in the printed catalog.
Now, I’ll admit, most of my recent and most in-depth research has focused on Elizabethan clothing, but I also read up on later periods, including Victorian. I really love some Victorian fashions—most even—except for ridiculous gigot sleeves. McCall’s M6097 is not even close to Victorian. It’s like the bastard child of gowns from the mid-1500s and mid-1800s, with some late 1900s/2000s Faire gown and Wedding dress design genes thrown in for good measure. There might even be some 1600s and 1700s aspects.
What were they thinking, labeling this “Victorian?” Once again, I’d love to see research done by the big-name pattern companies for these types of costumes. Luckily, they didn’t sink so low as to put this in their “Historical” lineup, just the run-of-the-mill Halloween costumes, so I suppose you can’t expect too much.
If you’re looking for a Victorian pattern—even for Halloween—this is not the one to choose. Both McCall’s and their subsidiary Butterick have retired all patterns that are even remotely Victorian. Regardless, if you’re serious about making a Victorian costume or reproduction, you’ll get much higher-quality patterns and results from a reputable small company that focuses on historical patterning. Search engines and historical costuming blogs are your friends in finding those. Reconstructing History is one company I’ve heard good things about, and they recently started stocking Victorian patterns, although I’ve never used one of their patterns personally.
Have you come across any patterns that lie?