Thursday, 31 March 2016

Late 90's & Early 00's Sewing Patterns

Simplicity's Grooves, McCall's Junior NY and Butterick's Teen Patterns

I started sewing on and off when I was young but I didn't start lessons until high school when the opportunity presented itself, and boy did I miss out on owning some awesome sewing patterns. I've always been the type of girl to wear things after the trend is over or before it even began. I never liked being "on trend". I hated it. I'm very much an individualist and looking like everybody else was the bane of my existence (hence why I love sewing my own clothes now). In the beginning of high school I was wearing all the fun colorful shirts and pants of the 90's. When I wore raver pants or bell bottoms, everyone else started wearing jogging pants with words embroidered on the ass. When I used matte plum eyeshadow, other girls were wearing this ugly bright thick white eyeliner. Needless to say I did not mesh with the in crowd. I really didn't start obsessing over 90's fashion until I met one of my best friends. We used to skip school all the time to go shopping at the nearby thrift store. It was a blast! I still have a lot of the items that I had accumulated back then. But the one thing I didn't think to collect was sewing patterns. I didn't sew that much back then and I wasn't very confident in my sewing abilities. Nowadays, if I see a pattern from the 1990's or 2000's that I like I buy it. Which lead me to a previous purchase; two patterns featuring two different wide leg cargo pants and jersey knit tops with gathered sweat skirts (main photo above).

It all started with my longing for those awesome drawstring cargo pants. Do you remember those? They were so comfortable. A few weeks ago I realized that I wanted another pair of them. I missed feeling comfortable and like I could throw on a pair of pants and relax in them and not feel restricted or overheated (gone are my days of skinny jeans). When I was browsing for possible pants patterns I discovered that both McCall's and Simplicity had a series of patterns that were specifically designed for teens/juniors. What caught me off guard about this is that there isn't anything like that today. Both companies do not have teen or junior pattern sizing. There are patterns for children but nothing else. I suppose teenage girls are supposed to use the patterns designed for women?? Or maybe teenage girls just don't give a shit about sewing any more! I can't speak to whether that's the truth, but surely a lack of sales must have resulted in the cessation of the teen and junior lines. Even Burda had a "Young Burda" line which appears to have fizzled out. 

I could give a shit if they bring these lines back. I'm only interested in the past. Lately we've been seeing hot trends from the late 90's re-emerging. Now I can make cool new shit using old patterns. That's awesome! I marvel at the patterns that were available when the big 4 companies actually gave a rat's ass about being in fashion. Just feast your eyes on these goodies!

McCall's Junior NY NY

The McCall's Junior NY NY line appears to have run from the very late 90's to about the mid 2000's. One of the latest designs I could find was 2005. It's a shame it didn't start earlier because there was a lot of potential for great patterns in '95-'98. Most of the patterns I could find in this collection began in 1999, but the McCall's company did explore teen fashion a little earlier than that in their Butterick Teen Style line. McCall's has some pretty crazy looking shit in this collection so it's worth looking into. There's a wide variety of style.

McCall's 2572 & 4038
Juniors' Tops & Wrap Skirt (2000) / Juniors' Skirt & Pants in 2 Lengths (2000)

Well who could forget handkerchief tops, cultural appropriation and comfy pants?! I recall the days of Asian brocades, tops with kanji that nobody could read, and skirts with beaded trims that sometimes had little embroidered mirror pieces that would fall off over time. Yes, this was my childhood. Sadly, I lost a lot of my old favorites due to wear and tear. I still have one top with Geisha girls on it, but I no longer have my comfortable wrap skirts and my favorite pair of cargo pants didn't fit me to begin with. I would loooove to own these patterns.

McCall's  3099 & 2578
Juniors' Top & Pull On Pants (2001)/ Juniors' Tops, Pants & Shorts (2000)

I recall capris and cut offs becoming pretty damn fashionable in the early 2000's. We also had these pants that had drawstrings around the cuffs, so you could adjust your length. I think the big trend at the time was casual relaxed attire. There was definitely an emphasis on looking beachy. Not surprisingly, Hawaiian prints were in. I still own a halter dress with a drawstring neckline and I love it. Check out the handkerchief in the girl's hair, I think I still have my black one somewhere too.

McCall's 2294 & 2296
Junior Lined Jacket, Top & Pants (1999)/Junior's Hooded Dress or Top & Pants (1999)

Oh lordy, this takes me back. Bell bottom pants with embroidered trim. I had the best pair of these. I got them when I was just starting to explore fashion and my personal style. They were denim bell bottoms with silver embroidered flowers, rhinestones and mirrors. I also bought a pair of silver pleather pants around the same time, because it looked so fucking hot on D'arcy Wretzky. I remember the hoodie dress, too. I'm pretty sure a childhood friend of mine had one. I'd love to try it if it weren't so clingy. I think you have to have the right body type to pull that one off. But check out the model's boots * drool*.

Butterick Teen Style

This has to be my favorite collection and I'm not a big Butterick girl. I feel that McCall's was way more successful with this line than the NY NY one. The photographs are nicer, the designs really reflect what was popular at the time, and they even worked with the editors of Teen Magazine to develop the line. It looks dead on, exactly what I remember from this period in fashion.

Butterick 5758 & 5757
Juniors' Dress (1998) / Juniors' Dress (1998)

Love the crushed velvet dress. I had a bicolor two tone purple velvet shirt like this. There's an old school photo of me wearing it somewhere. Likewise, I had a similar style slip dress. I love how basic these designs are, I could see them being very easy to sew which would appeal to those just starting sewing (like teenagers).

Butterick 6358 & 3948
Juniors' Jumper (1999)/ Juniors' Top & Skirt (2000)

I had the most psychedelic looking jumper growing up. It was white with multi coloured neon flowers. I guess I outgrew it but I wish my mom had kept it so I could refashion it into something else. It's funny to look back and see these shapeless garments and compare it to today's youth who seem hell bent on wearing their underwear to school. What happened to taste? You can see in the second pattern there's another wrap skirt and drawstring tank. I remember Indian inspired prints were huge and often times skirts and dresses resembled saris. I still have seven meters of hot pink and orange paisley fabric that my mom bought for me when I was little, I don't know what to do with it, it's not quite drapery fabric but it's meant for interior decorating because it's heavy duty. Perhaps it'll become a fashionable duvet cover whenever I have a spare bedroom.

Butterick 5760 & 6840
Juniors' Jacket (1998)/Juniors' Duster, Top, Skirt & Pants (2000)

I recall these jackets, back when girls dressed like they were boys. And now I have that Blur song stuck in my head. While I personally won't be bringing this trend back I can see it happening. Puffy jackets and vests were a big deal when I entered high school. I don't know why, people just thought they were hot shit. I could see it happening again. Vests and turtlenecks. Only in the fall mind you. The duster and the feather boa trimmed top were also big when I went to school. The damn feather boa would molt and go to shit after you cleaned it so it was hardly worth buying. Who doesn't love duster cardigans? Because I only owned like ten of them in my lifetime. Thanks to the Matrix these things were everywhere. It was for people who wanted to wear a trench while indoors without looking sketch. The duster has already come back but I haven't seen the frou frou feather boa tops since. Hmmm, I wonder why....

Simplicity's Grooves

Simplicity's Grooves might have began in 1999 and continued into early to mid 2000's. There's a lot of patterns that have multiple garments in them, so Grooves is great for wardrobe building. That being said though, a lot of the patterns are pretty basic. There are tons of pajama patterns in this collection and it's unnecessary. They offer similar patterns to McCall's but some of them are more watered down. I think the biggest piss off with this collection is that they photograph the clothing on models that are in their 30's or 40's. It's not a very good marketing strategy to photograph cool clothes on someone who looks like a mom. Here are my favorites:

Simplicity 9061 & 9508
Juniors' Pants & Knit Top (1999)/ Juniors' Knit Dress (2000)

Another decent looking cargo pants pattern WITH the drawstring cuffs. I would have liked to own this pattern had it not been for the odd pocket placement and fitted waist (I prefer a drawstring waist and I already purchased two cargo pants patterns before I saw this one). As you can see the other pattern has the drawstring halter dress I mentioned before. I like that many of the patterns available in these junior collections are knit. I would have liked to start learning sewing with knits. I mean, when you think about it, knits make up the majority of our wardrobe.

Simplicity 8574 & 9271
Juniors' Pants, Shorts, Bag, Knit Cardigan & Tank Top (1999)/Juniors' Tops (2000)

Another great wide leg pants pattern, this one comes with a lot of stuff which I like. It even has the messenger bag and those were hugely popular. I owned a Scooby Doo one and a furry leopard print one. The pants are drawstring!! Love that. I like that it features a cropped tank and cardigan, very cool. The second pattern has handkerchief style tank tops with cardigans. I had many of these, mind you I'm not sure I ever wore any that only had one tie back. I could see teenage boys pull this top off way too easily. Most of my shirts had the cropped back, it had a tie at the bottom but was joined at the top so nobody could undress me AND I could wear a bra!


I think the collections are cool and I wish there were more patterns like these. Other than the ones shown here, I know that McCall's and Simplicity both had some awesome patterns that weren't labeled Junior, so you might have to do some digging. Case in point, I have a raver pants pattern from around the same time as the NY NY collection but McCall's didn't put it under that label (see it in my pattern stash). This is the right time to buy these kinds of patterns because they're not super popular yet. People think that these are too outdated, even though you can clearly see that's not the case. A lot of sellers haven't caught on to this yet, so you can still find them online ranging from $1-$10 each. I paid a little more than I wanted to for mine but that's the life of a Canadian buyer, you're screwed no matter what. You can still find a lot of these sewing patterns in thrift stores, sometimes in bunches. I saw a couple formal wear ones once but passed them up only because I didn't need a prom dress, now I kind of regret it lol. I think a lot of these styles will come back and many already have, which could drive the costs of these patterns up even higher over time. Tell me what you think of these old collections! Is there a cool vintage 90's pattern in your stash?



  1. I was still a kid in 90's, but when I watch television programmes from the nineties I see gorgeous outfits or clothing, which has a stunningly beautiful gothic aesthetic. I remember when being 12 when I had an outlandish taste for wearing a purple sheepskin afghan with Russian braid imagery, pink and blue paisley skirts and Mary Jane chunky high heels. I loved wearing polar neck jumpers.

    Now at 27 years old, I hate most fashion nowadays nothing ever appeal to me, most of clothing rarely appeals. Most clothing seems to be the same or in garish colours. I've been shopping in charity shop since the age 11 and still swear by them now; I dread shopping in regular stores, yet I get thrilled thrifting because I neve know what to expect.

    Now, I have developed a collection of clothing as I tend to retain a lot of clothing. Currently, I'm more focused on making my own clothing, as I tend to purchase more expensive fabric to make the garments last longer. Especially, as it's difficult finding clothing to fit my frame off the rack. For example, long skirts I find sewing my skirts easier to make than buy.

    1. I'm very much the same! For the last fifteen years I haven't really cared for what's in fashion so I just collected as much clothing as I could find from thrift stores. Now I sew because I want more individuality as well as better quality clothing. All my old clothes from the 90's are wearing out and I can't wear them as much as I'd like to, so now I have to remake some items lol.

  2. O.m.g. I made the wrap skirt from 2572. I always wanted to make baggy pants, but those seemed way too complicated or made you look like a stoner. Actually a surprising number of 90s looks make you look like a stoner.

    1. Dude, I love that skirt, that's awesome. I figure the drawstring baggy pants won't be too difficult, they look like pajama pants but with pockets. In the seventh and eighth grade I didn't know too many stoners lol, but in high school I remember a lot of them wearing mod robes, tearaways and hoodies. Then that whole FUBU thing went crazy and everyone looked like they dropped out of rainbow.

  3. Oh the memories! Tank tops and full length skirts! I am very nostalgic about the 90's.

    1. I love 90's fashion, I've never gotten over it. It's funny because when I was a little girl I pictured myself as a teenager wearing the fashion of the 90's, I thought I'd look like D'arcy and I didn't think that fashion would change. When high school came around I was wearing 90's fashion, only it was just me and my friend wearing it lol. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

  4. What a fun post! I really enjoyed looking at all these patterns! I loved the draw string cargo pants! I had a couple of pairs with the draw string bottoms!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this post! I was excited to share these finds with everyone. I never gave it much thought that there could be so many of these patterns from the 90's, it's so cool!


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