In 1846, the four-year-old Albert Edward, Prince of Wales was given a scaled-down version of the uniform worn by ratings on the Royal Yacht. He wore his miniature sailor suit during a cruise off the Channel Islands that September, delighting his mother and the public alike. Popular engravings spread the idea, and by the 1870s, the sailor suit had become normal dress for both boys and girls all over the world. Patterns for sailor suits and dresses can be found as early as the 1870s and are still popular today.
This is a very early example, maybe from the 1890s. This tiny illustration and a few paragraphs of text were all the directions you got in a pattern of this era. And, of course, the pieces were unprinted tissue!
This girl's Sailor Dress pattern is from about 1910. It was common to attach the skirt to a sleeveless top and wear the Middy over it.
This May Manton's boy's pattern is from 1913. The size range for a boy's sailor suit went from about 2 to 14 years of age, so this was a style that boys could wear from babyhood to their teens.
This pattern is a very classic Sailor Suit from about 1920. This Middy top was worn loose over the knee trousers. The trousers usually had buttonholes at the waist which would attach to the child's undergarment to keep them up in the days before elastic.
This McCall pattern has such a nice color illustration. It is probably from the early 1930s. The saffron color is not very traditional for a Sailor Suit. I wonder if that was a popular color back then?
I first saw this pattern selling for $30 and didn't buy it even though I loved it. I recently found one for only $6, a much nicer price! The detail I love on this one is the button-flap pants. Oliver+S makes a modern pattern with pants like this that I've been wanting to try. It will be interesting to see if the sewing methods are the same.
Here's a nice New York pattern from the 1940s. I love the nautical toys the boys are playing with. Notice the embroidery on the arm. I've noticed that in most vintage photos of boys in Sailor Suits, there is a military emblem on the arm. Occasionally, I have seen a nautical/military transfer come up for sale. I wonder how the Moms chose what design to embroider?
This girl's dress is probably from the late 50s or early 60s. Advance was the proprietary pattern brand of JC Penney from 1933-1966. Sears had the Superior pattern brand in the 30s and 40s. I wish department stores still had patterns and fabric for sale!
Though I mainly collect children's patterns, there were many dresses and blouses for women in Sailor style as well.
And now, for a lovely segue between reasons #6 and #7, we have these adorable brother-sister sailor suits!
Reason #7: What Could Be Cuter than Matching Brother-Sister Outfits?
I am a matchy-matchy girl. I love the "Family Collections" of holiday clothing at Gymboree. I like to find a fabric line with 8 coordinates for a quilt. I adore sewing patterns with girl and boy versions!
Isn't this set sweet? For the boy, a button-on suit (love that nautical collar!). For the girl, a coordinating dress with opposite side button-front. I wouldn't have thought of plaid for this type of outfit, but I like it.
This set is subtle in its matching details. The yokes both have that princess seam with tab at the shoulder. This probably isn't one I'd make, but aren't the kids cute?
I was thrilled to find this pattern in an antique store. This is such an unusual coverall. It is on my "to do" list. I like the gathered blouse. Isn't his beanie cute? My vintage patterns often came with adorable hats or bonnets.
I think that many Mommies must have made winter coats for their little ones, because dress coat patterns are quite common. It is a shame that not many children wear these today, because they are so elegant. I love the various legging patterns that often accompany the coats. The very old ones have buttons all the way down the leg. That must have taken a lot of time to put on.
For my last pattern tonight, I will share what I consider to be the "last word" in brother-sister patterns. I haven't found this one at a reasonable price yet, but I LOVE the pictures on it! The title at the top of this pattern is, "Infants' and Toddlers' Twin Nightwear". I think it's the only instance of "twin" clothing I've ever seen on a pattern. I would definitely make these little nighties for boys or girls!!
Back tomorrow with my final installment.