Clowns Keeping Us In Stitches – Time Travel Thursdays

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Fabulous Forties Costume Pattern – Clown Around Vintage -Style at Momma Black Sheep on Etsy.

My mother was always a crafty woman, where my dad had a ‘workshop’ in the basement, she had a ‘sewing room’. My dad’s workshop was filled with every imaginable tool, like most men he had multiples of many things that he forgot he already had, hitting Canadian Tire or Lansing Build All was a weekend staple destination for him back in the mid-1970s.  My father, no slouch in the fix-it department, actually build us a full ‘play house’ in the backyard of our North York, Ontario home. It was big enough to have the entire neighborhood’s children all inside it and still have room for a table and chairs.

McCall 2833, 1920s Girl’s Clown Suit Costume at Fripperie on Etsy.
Vintage Advance Clown Pattern 701 – Men’s and Women’s – Size Large 18-20 at Dream Weaver 1954 on Etsy.
Simplicity 4864 Clown Costume 1960s for Children Vintage Sewing Pattern at Mrs. Depew Vintage on Etsy.

My mother was someone who could sew, so it seemed absolutely natural to me that she would have a ‘sewing room’. I though every home had one, just like a kitchen or bathroom, little did I know.  My mother was famous for putting patches inside the knees of our worn-out play jeans, for shortening the cuffs on our hand-me-down pants, and for mending our cloth toys and blankets.  She also made costumes for us, for Halloween, for our endless themed birthday parties [there were four of us kids after all], and for our dance recitals.

Vintage 1950s Delightful Children ‘s Clown Costume Sewing Pattern – Hat, Neck Ruffle, Pom Poms – Size Medium RARE at Farfalla Design Studio on Etsy.
Kid’s Vintage Clown Costume Pattern Simplicity 6363 Size 12 at Kandiieee on Etsy.
Vintage Clown Costume 1976 Simplicity Sewing Pattern 9051 Medium at Claudette’s Vintage Vault on Etsy.

In the early 1980s, my mother actually stitched up a Care Bear costume for not only my little sister, but one of her dance class-mates. The were unbelievably detailed, and my mother still has the one she made for my sister. A full head-to-toe costume, the child’s face actually peeks out of the mouth of the Care Bear in question. A pastel mint faux-fur body suit with an emblem stitched on the white belly, and a giant ‘head’ that went over the child’s head, the scale was just as the stuffed dolls we had. Can you imagine an entire dance class of 12 six year-old girls trying to dance to “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” in that huge and likely over-heated costume. You have to love it.

Vintage 1984 Butterick Pattern 6814 Care Bears Costume Size 2-6x at Gran’s Treasures on Etsy.
McCall’s 1940s Clown or Jester Pattern at Retro Recycle on Etsy.
Vintage 1965 Simplicity Sewing Pattern – Clown Costume Boy’s Girl’s Size 4-6 at Oh Vintage Threads on Etsy.

My mom also made us costumes for Purim, the Jewish holiday where dress-up is part of the fun. This year it falls on Thursday, March 8th/2012, so there is still time to get your costumes ready. Clown costumes are one option for Purim, as are the characters from the story the holiday is based on, including a princess of course. One year my mother made clown costumes for each of us kids, I must have been around 9 or 10 years old at the time, because I know she made them for myself and my twin sister, my brother, who was likely 7, and my youngest sister who was maybe 5 in her kindergarten class.

Kids Clown Costume Butterick Sewing Pattern 3169 – Size 8 at Garden In The City on Etsy.
Costume Clown Simplicity 0664 Size BB 2-12 Children’s Sewing Pattern at NANCE’S NOSTALGIA on Etsy.
1972 McCall’s Sewing Pattern 3353 – Clown Costume Children’s Size 10-12 at Full Circle Studios on Etsy.

The costumes were amazing. She made these huge ruffled neck pieces that went with them, a startling white compared to the colorful two print combo of the suit, trimmed with a lovely bright rickrack.  We also had matching hats, yarn pom poms accents and all. Too adorable for words. My mother went on to make a couple for adults, and then for many friends of the family, they became famous. My mother somehow found time for this with four young children of grade-school age, going to a school with no busing, cooking every meal we ate, and being a full-time homemaker.

Vintage UNCUT Simplicity Sewing Pattern – Size Large 40-42 Adult’s Clown Costume and Hats – Dated 1980 at In Grandma’s Attic on Etsy.
Clown Costume Pattern Size Adult Medium – McCall’s 4944 – Circa 1990 at Miss32Act on Etsy.
McCall’s Crafts Boy and Girl Clown Costume Pattern 2623 UNCUT Size 2,4 at Lingonberries And Moss on Etsy.

People would call to ask to borrow them for all sorts of events, and they were generously sized so we got a good few years use out of them. I think it was quite an ingenious strategical move on the part of my mom to make the two oldest children’s costumes, mine and my twin sister’s, out of fairly gender neutral colors and prints, they lasted my siblings a long time in the years to follow. They pulled duty on trick or treat nights, Purim carnivals, and a themed birthday party where every child in attendance wore a similar costume.

Clown Halloween Costumes Pattern for Children Adults at Regency Cottage on Etsy.
1980 McCall’s Pattern 7230 for an Adult’s Clown Costume – Size Large at Lakeview Arts on Etsy.
Sewing Pattern Simplicity, Clown – Jester – Hobo Halloween Costume: Adult Medium UNCUT at Sew Alike on Etsy.

I could go on and on, but what today’s Time Travel Thursday post is really about is those envelopes of patterns that you could buy at the fabric store, along with all your fabric and findings. It’s about the days when people made their own clothing and costumes as the norm, and not the exception.  It is about those homes that included such things as ‘sewing rooms’, where magic happened in the hands of everyday people.  When your mother or grandmother would make you a costume that had never been worn by anyone else, that looked absolutely professional and fabulous, that no one else had, that was a treasured thing.  I have just gotten my first sewing machine, a very basic Singer model, just for making a few time saving stitches now and then.  My mother still has her first Singer too, it still works and she still uses it occasionally, and I know it is likely 40 years old, maybe more.

McCall’s 9212 Vintage Sewing Pattern Child’s Boy’s Girl’s CLOWN COSTUMES Size 6-8 at KatyBugVintage on Etsy.
Butterick 5073, Vintage 1990 Baby Jumpsuit Pattern UNCUT – Newborm – M at Vintage Vice on Etsy.
Halloween Costume Pattern Clowns Simplicity 7120 Size Small at AuntPittyPats2 on Etsy.

I would love to know how to use a pattern, to know how to use fabric so that the threads run the right way for stretch or fit, to know what seam technique to use, to  be able to create professional looking garments and costumes, just like my mother did. So few of us have the time or inclination to make things by hand, but I have found just the little bit of doll making I have been doing lately to be so therapeutic. To see a finished result, something tangible, something you can hold in your hands or give to a child to cuddle, it is a totally WOW moment. It’s nice to see something through to the end, there is so much in our world that has become conceptual or intangible.  Whether you sew, knit, crochet, scrapbook, cook, or have some other hand-made hobby, you know exactly what I mean. The ability to create something is just as satisfying as it ever was.

Vintage 1961 Girls or Boys Clown, Devil, Little Prince Costume Halloween McCall’s Pattern 2459 Size 6-8 at Lakeview Arts on Etsy.
VERY RARE 1960s Vintage Pattern UNCUT McCall’s 7912 Size Medium Girl’s Boy’s Clown – Bullfighter – Devil – Bandit Costumes at GREAT SCOTT on Etsy.
McCall’s Costumes Clown Pattern 6719 at KidLee on Etsy.

Today’s post features a bounty of amazing vintage sewing patterns, almost entirely Clown Costumes all for sale on Etsy, along with hundreds of other patterns for every look you can image.  They are fun to look at, collect, even stitch up for yourself or a friend. Take the links under the images to reach the shops and listings, and have a look around.  Even if you don’t have a dedicated sewing room, crafting room, or studio, any room can become one if you use it for that purpose.  This is a celebration of an nearly lost art, fabric stores are harder and harder to find, patterns for modern styles just don’t exist the way they did in the past, it is so much easier just to go to the mall when you need new clothing. Just because something is easier, doesn’t mean it is better.  As for these clowns, maybe one will be your first sewing project from a pattern. They are very easy to make and they are great for play and holidays alike. You can even get all your fabric and finishing elements on Etsy. Give it a think, and for now, sew long.

Butterick Kid’s Clown Costume Pattern 4154 at Gothabilly 13 on Etsy.
Vintage Costume Sewing Pattern 1982 Boy’s and Girl’s Clown Costumes and Hats, Simplicity 5740 Sizes 2-4 at The Half House on Etsy.

About Ketsy

Amateur Artist and Writer, Professional Procrastinator, and a Die-Hard Insomniac. A Child of the 70s, an Identical Twin with a Rampant Fondness for all things Cake and Candy. Equal parts Rockabilly Pin-Up, Sad Eyed Vixen, Kawaii Kitten, Sloppy Geek, Paranormal Dreamer, InterNOT DJ, Book Glow Worm, Punk Racketeer, and Retro Headed Hoarder. Lover of Things Sweet & Sour, Teeny Tiny, Rainbow-Tastic, and Ugly Cute. Tendency to Over-Use Capitalization. The Internet is my Source of Endless Inspiration. Everything I See, Read, Listen To, and Watch Helps To Fire My Creativity Boosters and Gives Me Fuel To Dream.

4 responses »

  1. Hello Ketsy what a fantastic review on all of these amazing out of print patterns. I have to say thank you for adding my pattern to your wonderful collection. You sure did a nice write up on them. I wish you lived closer… I would be more than happy to show you how to use one of those patterns. I can say to you … Youtube has a large collection of sewing instructional videos…Maybe you could get a start from there… First project something easy :O) I have just join your web site. I look forward to more of your amazing and informative posts. Watch for me… I am going to FB you ;O) I also have several sites under the Aunt Pitty Pat name.Blogger, Facebook, Pinterest, and eCreator.

  2. Ketsy, Thanks for featuring my clown pattern on your blog! We must be in the same age group – my mom sewed for me from the mid-1960s up until the early '80s, but unfortunately she did not pass that skill on to me. The best costume ever was the penguin costume she sewed, one for me and one for my little sister, when I was in kindergarten. Our faces were framed by the penguin's bill. Can you imagine how popular THAT pattern would be today, in the era of Happy Feet, if only we could find it?Susan (Miss32ACT on Etsy, eBay, amazon.com, half.com)

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