More McCall Hats and Bags, 1946

My copy of the McCall Needlework store catalog for December 1946 shows many delightful patterns for hats and handbags. I’ve already described three patterns from the 1946 catalog that were successful enough to still be included in a store catalog at the end of 1950.

McCall 1228 pattern for hats and handbags. 1945. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946.

McCall 1228 pattern for hats and handbags. 1945. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946.

When dating styles from sewing patterns, it’s good to be reminded that it takes a while for a new style to gain acceptance, so that pattern companies continue to feature some patterns over a span of several years. The following group of patterns debuted between 1944 and 1946, and were out of print by November of 1950 (the latest McCall Needlework catalog I happen to have.)

This, No. 1115, is the oldest hat pattern from the 1946 catalog — originally issued in 1944. It has been dated by the Commercial Pattern Archive.

McCall 1115, Pattern for Hat and Handbag

McCall hat and bag pattern 1115, from the Dec. 1946 Needlework catalog. Pattern issued in 1944.

McCall hat and bag pattern 1115, from the Dec. 1946 Needlework catalog. Pattern issued in 1944.

View (B), a beret worn tilted far forward on the head, has a pretty extension at the back in place of the more common 1940’s band. The purse has straps which act as a drawstring, passing through sewn-on metal rings.

MC 1115 txt 500 hats bags dec 1946

The close-fitting cap (A) is described as a calot, meaning a close-fitting hat without a brim. It was more commonly called a “Juliet cap.” (See pattern 1293, below.) There are many illustrations of modern royalty wearing “calots” at the Royal Hats blog. In the 1920’s a hat type called a callotte was also brimless, but not close to the scalp. See a twenties version here.

McCall 1193, Hat Patterns

McCall hat pattern 1193 dates to 1945. McCall Needlework Catalog, Dec. 1946.

McCall hat pattern 1193 dates to 1945. McCall Needlework Catalog, Dec. 1946.

Frankly, View (A) looks to me to be too small for the model. The caved-in crown is a bit of a surprise — but handy as a base for a bowl of fruit… :). Version (B) evokes 1930’s hats like this one from 1936. From the rear, View (C) suggests a matador’s hat.

MC 1193 text hats bags dec 1946

“Turban A has a bias-fold crown. . . marvelous in stripes, and plain, too. The widow’s peak hat B and the beret-type C are soft hats, too. C is machine stitched and trimmed with ribbon bows. All are snug-fitting hats.”

“They can be worn with high or low hair-dos.” But, obviously, the extreme pompadour hair styles of the early 1940’s are not going to work with these hats.

There are more views on the pattern envelope at CoPA.

McCall 1200 Hats and a Bag for Very Young Women

McCall hat and bag pattern 1200, from 1945. Imge from McCall Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946.

McCall hat and bag pattern 1200, from 1945. Image from McCall Needlework catalog, Dec. 1946.

The round bag is a perennial style. Ridiculously small hats worn very far forward were a chic forties’ style.

McCall 1200 hat for young women. The green one is an "Eton cap" or schoolgirl's cap.

McCall 1200 hats for young women. The green one is an “Eton cap,” or schoolgirl’s cap. It was copied from uniform caps worn by schoolboys.

“The Eton cap (B) and the brim hat (C) are tops for young casuals, especially when matched up with suits or dresses.”

McCall 1228, Hats and Bags

McCall 1228 pattern for hats and handbags. 1945. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946.

McCall 1228 pattern for hats and handbags. 1945. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946.

MC 1228 hats TXT 500 bags dec 1946351

“Wonderfully smart dressmaker hats with bags to match. So easy to run up! Nothing but stitching and a self-bow on the hats. Companion bags in two styles carry out the stitching trim. Both styles have loop handles and are finished with slide fasteners [zippers.] One is a large carry-all, the other a small, compact model.” The blue bag is a “large carry-all” by 1945 standards, but not today! There are additional views on the pattern envelope. If you love to enter the zen state of decorative machine stitching, these really could be fun to make….

McCall 1252, Flat Hat Patterns circa 1945

McCall hat pattern 1252 circa 1945-46. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946.

McCall hat pattern 1252 circa 1945-46. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946. Views A, B, and back of C.

McCall hat pattern 1252 circa 1945-46. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946

McCall hat pattern 1252 circa 1945. Image from McCall Needlework catalog Dec. 1946. Views C and D.

“Making hat news, these four clever models are designed to open out for washing or cleaning. A — modified peach basket, ties together.  B — Coolie type, snaps to position at top and brim.  C — a drawstring beret.  D — pouchy turban that snaps to crown…. No blocking required.” Like No. 1228, Versions A and  B are stiffened with extensive machine top stitching.

[Sidenote:  the word “coolie” — often applied to Asian workers who did hard manual labor like building the Transcontinental Railroad, digging canals, and toting heavy loads — comes from two Chinese words meaning “bitter” (ku,) and “strength” (li.) It describes a person whose strength is “bitter” because it condemns one to a life of hard labor. This is not a word to use casually, although many people did not consider it offensive in 1946. “Ku” can also mean an agricultural worker. ]

Hat designer Agnes had already experimented with hats that can be unzipped or un-snapped and folded flat for packing, back in 1937.

McCall 1293, Patterns for a Beaded Halter Top, a Vestee, a Juliet Cap and a Handbag

McCall pattern 1293 for a halter top, a vestee, a Juliet cap, and a beaded handbag. 1946.

McCall pattern 1293 for a vestee (A), a halter top (B), a Juliet cap, and a beaded handbag. 1946.

The pattern envelope shows a second way to decorate the vestee.

MC 1293 blouse text hat bag dec 1946 72

“For festive occasions sew sequins on a vestee, Juliet cap, purse.” It was a Victorian custom that Juliet’s stage costumes often included a small, head-hugging cap made of pearls — not authentic to Renaissance Italy nor Shakespeare’s England, but pretty.  (Click here for silent screen star Lillian Gish wearing one.) The sideless vestee would be worn over a slip and under an open suit jacket (which you couldn’t take off in public, of course.) This glittering vestee might go with you to the office in your handbag, and be exchanged for your workday blouse in the ladies’ room at 5 p.m., turning your business suit into a cocktail or date outfit.

McCall 1298, Pattern for Hat and Bag

McCAll hat and bag pattern 1298. 1946 McCall catalog.

McCall hat and bag pattern 1298. 1946 McCall catalog. The handbag has grommet holes for the drawstring strap to pass through.

The back of that enormous beret is quite impressive, with an interesting top stitching pattern “for style and firmness.”

MC 1298 text hat bag dec 1946

“The trim spectator sports hat with clever visor brim A,  the popular big beret B, are easy to wear, simple to make.” [Just remember to duck when approaching a doorway.] Outsized berets and tams had been popular during World War I, too. Click here for an image from 1917, or here for a brief history of Tam-o’-Shanters and the difference between a tam, a toque, and a beret. And here is Joan Crawford wearing a big, dome-like hat, in 194o.

Hattie Carnegie suit and big straw beret hat, Vogue 1940.

Hattie Carnegie suit and big straw beret-type hat, Vogue 1940.

 

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5 Comments

Filed under 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, bags, Hairstyles, handbags, Hats, Purses, Sportswear, Vintage patterns

5 responses to “More McCall Hats and Bags, 1946

  1. I’d love to see some of these hats sewn up, since making them look professional would really depend on absolutely accurate sewing. All those top stitching lines! But that sequined vestee is really a brilliant idea–maybe one to try to dress up a jacket and pant set. You would just have to remember not to remove your jacket.

    • My aunt was an office manager at the Southern Pacific Railroad headquarters in the 1940s – 1960s, so she must have worn a suit to work often; when she died, I found several lovely organza vestees with lots of ruffles in her dresser. So, either she changed to a more feminine look before going out after work, or they were “too pretty to wear,” which is why they survived intact!

    • I’ve seen a lot of hats which were sewn by home sewers, and some of them are real disasters! On the other hand, I have a lovely late 1930s or early 40s sports hat that appears to be home made, and its construction is stellar. I guess it just depended on the skill of the sewer.

      • You’re right: Making cloth hats is not as easy as the patterns imply — for one thing, you need proper interfacings to stiffen the hat and other millinery supplies — millinery wire, padding to prevent the buckram mesh from showing through or wearing out the fashion fabric, millinery needles, etc. And you have no way of knowing whether the hat will be flattering to your face until you’ve put in a lot of time on it. When I’ve watched theatrical milliners at work on brimmed hats, they make a mock-up of stiff brown craft paper taped together to decide on the hat proportions. Of course, felt hats need even more specialized equipment. I am much too lazy to want to make hats! (Or gloves.) I notice that Jane Austen’s characters buy the hat and then make new trimmings for it. Much easier!

  2. I find this completely fascinating. I wish we all wore hats – proper hats – not just things to keep our heads warm. I would love to make up some of these and wear them. Maybe being older gives us the opportunity to do something a bit outrageous in the head wear department.

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