Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby…

Greetings from NYC!Sarah Gunn of Goodbye Valentino at Mood Fabrics with Swatch, the Mood Fabrics dog

Hubby invited me to accompany him on a short business trip, and as you might guess, I made a beeline to Mood Fabrics.

Here I am with the charming owners of the store, Eric and Phil Sauma.

Sarah Gunn of Goodbye Valentino with Eric and Phil Sauma, Mood Fabrics owners

 Eric, on my right manages the store, and Phil wearing orange, buys the fabric. Mood was bustling with customers during my 2 ½ hour visit. I even met a Goodbye Valentino follower, Anne Martin, from Spokane, WA who was nice enough to introduce herself to me and pose for a photo.


After leaving Mood, I had the pleasure of touring the McCall Pattern Company.


… is the first word that comes to mind describing my afternoon at the iconic corporation.  The tour was truly enlightening as I was walked through the steps of pattern conception to completion, as well as introduced to the people who make it happen.

Did you know the McCall Pattern Company owns Butterick, McCall’s and Vogue patterns? The entire process happens in this one office with the exception of pattern printing.

equitable building

Located on the 34th floor in the historic Equitable Building near Wall Street, I was immediately captivated by the views from nearly every office!


The vast amount of information I received during the tour is impossible to recall exactly, but following are highlights I found interesting:

  • Butterick is the first and original pattern company, founded by Ebenezer Butterick in 1863.  In the 1960s Butterick purchased Vogue Patterns and in 2001 The McCall Pattern company acquired Butterick and Vogue.
  • Dressforms spanning every shape line one of the halls. Misses Patterns are designed on a size 10 dressform. Below is the perfect size 10. Is that you? It’s not me  :)


How cute is this!


  • Each pattern company has its own designer who designs all of the patterns (minus the designer patterns) for its respective company. It’s true! One person designs all of the Vogue patterns…… another all of the Butterick and another all of the McCall’s.
  • The fabric and pattern design play a huge role in the fabric stores. Once the patterns are finalized with fabrics for the pattern books, the information is shared with sewing stores thus influencing fabric selections.


  • Maybe you already know the company works a year in advance.  It was quite exciting to see the preview for Winter 2014, but understandably photos were not allowed.
  • After the pattern is designed, the muslin is made by one of six sewers. After the designer approves the muslin it is sent to the next department where the actual garment is constructed. The department was working on 2014 Halloween costumes as I passed through.
  • All photography is handled in-house by one photographer in one studio!


  • The largest department appeared to be the one transforming the original paper pattern to the retail pattern complete with instructions and illustrations.
  • Below are files of the company’s current patterns, and guess what?


This area is staffed with an employee ready to help customers facing pattern issues.

  • The company regularly reads the Pattern Review website and truly values thoughtful interaction with its customers.
  • Vogue Patterns Magazine is also housed in the McCall Pattern Company offices. I had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Kathy Marrone, the Editor in Chief.

While the behind-the-scenes treat provided insight into this well oiled machine, I left slightly dumbfounded, saturated with information and awestruck by the details of manufacturing over 200 patterns a year by a  moderately sized staff.

Many thanks to the McCall Pattern Company for such a fabulous tour!

And now, what better way to conclude my eventful day than meeting up with two Mood Sewing Network bloggers so full of life and creative energy?

Goodbye Valentino, Male Pattern Boldness and Oonaballoona!

Oonaballoona and Peter from Male Pattern Boldness.

Just how good can a day get?

This entry was posted in Butterick Patterns, McCall's Sewing Pattern, Mood Fabrics, sewing bloggers, sewing blogs, Vogue Patterns Magazine, Vogue Sewing Patterns and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

133 Responses to Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby…

  1. Great blog. I really enjoyed a sneak peek into the pattern industry. :)

  2. Art Attack says:

    Wow…talk about the perfect day!

  3. Louisam says:

    What an amazing day you had…..oh how I wish I could have seen all of it too!!!!!

  4. Treva Putsche says:

    Wow. I’m thinking as a designer how overwhelming, and surprised they don’t have more design talent on board. What a day.:-)

  5. Julie Starr says:

    What an absolutely fascinating view behind the scenes! How amazing that so few people are responsible for putting out the patterns that we all use. Loved this post, Sarah. I’m sure they all enjoyed meeting you as much as you did them.

  6. jillybe says:

    Oh my goodness, what a fantastic day! Meeting Swatch is on my bucket list (yeah OK, call me weird….), and that tour! Wow! And if I ever make it back to NY & meet Swatch, I’d better add Peter & oonaballoona to that bucket list too! :D (probably not as weird as wanting to meet Swatch, eh?)

  7. Hilma Jones says:

    Very interesting…who knew that so few make such an impact! Somehow this kind of info makes the fashion world more friendly…along with Tim Gunn and Mood! Thank you…you started inspiring me with V8766…then Shannel!

  8. Miriam says:

    Oh my goodness, what an incredible day you had. Thanks for sharing it with us, it was very informative and interesting!

  9. Angela says:

    That was a great day! I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes-tour of McCalls–very interesting:)

  10. Amy says:

    Lucky you! A trifecta of NY sewing experiences! And, since this lovely day followed your week with Susan Khalje, I’m not sure what I should be expecting next… Paris?!

  11. How exciting! Mood AND learning about the pattern industry?! So neat. I know it was a great trip – thanks for sharing some tidbits with us!

  12. Cindy says:

    Fabulous trip! Thank you for the fascinating pictoral trip through Vogue/Butterick/McCall! You sound like you soaked up every single minute for posterity. Harumph, I suppose we’ll just have to WAIT to see what was in that huge, heavy suitcase you lugged home from Mood . . . . . . :=D

  13. Kleintjie says:

    Thanks for sharing this absolutely eye-opening experience at McCalls! Love your top in last photo … pattern number?

  14. Rose in SV says:

    What a wonderful recap of what goes on behind the scenes. Thank you for sharing the stories and the pics!

  15. Suzanne says:

    One person designing all those patterns! Crazy. I realize as bloggers you guys don’t even have real names to me anymore. I saw that picture before I saw the caption and I was like “Ooh, its Oonaballoona and Male Pattern Boldness with Goodbye Valentino!”.

  16. AllisonC says:

    How interesting, I thought it was a much bigger operation too.

  17. Debi says:

    what a fabulous day!! It is my DREAM to tour the McCall pattern company!!

  18. A day to be jealous of!!! Fabric and patterns – what more could you ask for when it comes to hobbies at least. Nice to see the pictures from you visit to Mood Fabrics and Mc Call Pattern Company.

  19. I forgot to say that I really like your skirt too.

  20. Dilliander says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing! What a fun day and I spied your fabulous houndstooth/leather skirt too :)

  21. Lexley- Brisbane AU says:

    I am totally blown away by your very honoured tour. To think that a sole person is responsible for the designs is unfathomable to say the least! How wonderful to have had this golden opportunity- and to meet other bloggers especially Peter whose blog I also follow. If I was lucky enough to see you, I’d be bounding up to u with a huge hug! mind you, I do live in Au so that’s not going to happen…..thank you for sharing your experience! You’re the best!!! PS. I am still mesmerised by your oustanding Shanel jacket…no words can describe how magnificent this garment is…..and the fabric is sublime!

    • Thank you for your fabulous comment, Lexley! You never know when you might meet someone – the world is much easier to maneuver these days ;) ….. and you better give me a huge hug should we ever meet!!!!

  22. Lexley- Brisbane AU says:

    Loving that houndstooth skirt too…..

  23. abailey0674 says:

    Looks like fun! Can’t believe your only an hour drive away from me :) and you met someone from my childhood town of Spokane Wa!

  24. Kim Dimond says:

    Yes,just how much better can a day get! As always, I so enjoy your posts.

  25. Jean says:

    Wow, what a fabulous day you have had. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  26. ewellons says:

    Can you just imagine how green with envy I am? Sounds like a day from heaven!

  27. Sharon says:

    My kind of day! I knew a little bit about the founding of Butterick, but to think that one company (McCalls) owns it all (Butterick and Vogue). More astounding is that the patterns of those 3 companies are significantly different. Thanks for sharing your day.

  28. For those of us who don’t have the chance to get to NYC, this was a great story of your visit. Thanks for sharing!

  29. What a great day! How did you manage to get a tour of McCall’s? Do you know someone on the inside? I love how the internet allows us ordinary mortals to see the inside of so much!

  30. sewbusylizzy says:

    Wow! Fabulous, thank you so much for sharing, fascinating!!

  31. Sarah. Jo says:

    So fascinating! I ordered a load of fabric from Mood during their 20% off sale in late August and I’m pleased with every piece. It was great to order fabric online and not have a dud in the bunch! Loved hearing about the interworkings at McCalls.

  32. Donna says:

    Very interesting post! Thank you!

  33. dara says:

    Wow Sarah, thanks so much for sharing all this information with us! you are a sweetheart .I look forward to meeting you and visiting New york in the near future.

  34. Liz says:

    Thanks for sharing Sarah. I’m blown away by the fact that only one person is responsible for the designs of each of the major pattern brands. The creativity! Mind boggling.

  35. Jane M says:

    What a fun and so very interesting virtual tour. I’m sitting here humming the old NYC ad tune….”I love New York……”

  36. gingermakes says:

    Wow, what a fun day! I’m so sad I missed you– hope to meet you soon!

  37. Becky says:

    A great day, and a busy day! You packed a lot into one day. I am anxiously awaiting the post about your fabric selections, but I guess I may have to wait until the garments are done. Oh well….. Thanks for sharing all that information. Somehow I had pictured an army of people behind all these patterns.

  38. Shams says:

    Thanks for this fascinating post!

  39. lisa g says:

    thanks for sharing this, i’m floored that only one person designs an entire brand’s patterns! that’s insane! ooh i would have had so many questions for them… and nice to know that they do hear our feedback. what a great day.

  40. LinB says:

    It’s like seeing one of those old movie mags from the 1940s, in which several film idols are caught in a candid shot together! Be still, my beating heart. No, really, slow down — I don’t want to have to call out for the defibrillator, lol.

  41. Laura Casey says:

    Holy Cow what a wonderful tour…..and also to meet the owners of Mood! Going to NYC for Thanksgiving week-end (Dh has the parade on his bucket list) with my grown up family, and wives…it should be great fun. Have carved out time for Mood on Friday….
    Keep up the good work… your BLOG…Laura from Waechter’s

  42. James says:

    So Sarah – I gotta tell you that I am in awe of you. I am a relatively new sewist (self taught/teaching) and am loving every minute of it. When I read you blog posts and see your photos, I am so inspired….I’ve only been at it a year, so in comparison I have a long way to go. But…this recent post of your trip to Mood and McCalls is making me smile so much! Thanks so much for being there and encouraging me (and others!). You are one of a kind!

    • Thank you for the lovely comment, James! It’s easy to learn a lot in a short period of time. I was shocked to learn that Peter from Male Pattern Boldness has only sewn for four years and his clothes are perfect! Good luck and hope you’ll keep at it :)

  43. sewruth says:

    A grand day out, no doubt about it! What no fabric????

  44. Mary Lynn says:

    You’ve come a long way from Spartanburg :-) Who’d a thunk it when you started your blog? AND, it’s all so well deserved! You have really struck a chord with so many people in so very many places. We all feel we’ve found a great new friend who’s really talented and fun and we’re happy for your success. On another note………. I wish someone would ask them when the models pose for those
    catalog pictures why they are in such odd poses! Do any of us, unless we fall down or pass out, really lie down in our clothes with our legs in the air? It’s hard to even tell what the clothes look like some times. If you go back, please ask! Anyhow, thank you so much for a great, fun tour.

    • Such a nice comment, Mary Lynn! I had no idea my blog would grow this way, and I had no idea I would enjoy sewing clothes so much again after a 30 year break!
      Come visit me in Spartanburg one day – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the level of sophistication found in the burg :)
      I agree with you about those poses, but I seriously suggest writing to the McCall Pattern Company as I believe they were very sincere in wanting to hear from customers. Let me know and many thanks for writing!

      • Mary Lynn says:

        If I get to Spartanburg I also have to go by Converse and see if Pell Hall is still standing.
        Went there my freshman year and it seemed like a fire trap lo those many years ago! Went sailing on Charleston Harbor at sunset today – if you get a chance you must go – it was so fantastic – beautiful seeing the city at night from the water.

    • Lol! I bet I get back to Charleston before you get back to Spartanburg!

  45. Pam says:

    What an exciting opportunity. Thank you for taking the time to document your adventure and share it with us.

  46. needless to say, I know you treasure the time spent at Mood and McCalls…………I am a ‘little’ jealous,,,,,,,,,,,,,great pictures…………

  47. I do have a personal question,,,,,do you use a dress form when sewing your clothes??

  48. Anne Martin says:

    Meeting you was so exciting. Wish we had more time to talk. Made my day and trip.

  49. Vivian says:

    All I can say is WOW! My dream since I was 8 years old! Thanks for the photo visit, I really enjoyed it and am so jealous.

  50. Faye Lewis says:

    That was some real interesting pattern company information. I am in total shock that they all have only one pattern designer! He or she must be extremely well paid.

  51. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the pictures of McCalls in NY. I work at the Kansas facility where all the printing and distrubution is done. Don’t get to see pictures of NY very often. One day I will take a vacation there and take a tour.

  52. twotoast says:

    Looks like a fun day out! Having just returned from a month in Australia & New Zealand, I don’t think I am going to make a trip to NY this year, but next year . . . with an empty suitcase for all those lovely fabrics and notions, is on the list!!

  53. Sharon says:

    Very impressive visit and amazing that only 1 person per company designs their patterns. Looks like you had the most perfect time during your short trip to NYC.

  54. sewsy says:

    Sarah, thanks so much for sharing your visit to NYC with everyone! I had a blast just reading about your adventures! I was wondering…did you happen to note what kind of sewing machines the sample makers used?


  55. Sally says:

    What a wonderful day! As an fyi,Vogue & Butterick were a seperate company until 2001 when they were purchased by McCalls.

  56. Robin says:

    What a great post – great photos – big smile on my face! :-D

  57. Carolyn says:

    WOW! I am so so envious! What a simply brilliant opportunity! What I would give to take that tour…. :) If I had, I would very politely have begged them to re-issue the vogue individualist designs of the 80’s please ;)

    • Carolyn,
      Thanks for your comment! After spending my afternoon at the offices I am convinced the company appreciates hearing from its customers. I believe you should communicate your wishes and suggestions :)

  58. LLADYBIRD says:

    I have nothing to say here except that I am SOOOO JEALOUUUSSSSSS. Ughhh can we plan a group field trip to NYC/Mood? I want I want!

  59. June says:

    Trena (Slapdash Sewist) calls them McVoguerick or something like that. A single person does the designing for each company, that’s really interesting. They must be schizophrenic, LOL. I’m glad they read PR, they’d be crazy not to. Thanks for the peek inside!

  60. Trish says:

    That sounds like the perfect day in NYC! Wow…!

  61. Thanks for this peek into the McCall company. I wouldn’t have a guessed what a small staff they have in certain departments.

  62. What a great day. Your tour of McCalls is so interesting, I’m not sure I even had a thought about what went on but I would have thought that they would have had more than one designer for each brand. Those designers must be so creative.

  63. Cindy says:

    So when exactly does the train making its way down the coast to South Carolina with the Empire State Building sized package from Mood on the roof arrive?

  64. velosewer says:

    Thank you for sharing your visit with us all.

  65. SunGold says:

    You met my other two favorite Mood Sewing Network bloggers!

    • Such wonderful people they are!!
      I met Oonaballoona last year briefly – was thrilled to spend a little time with her and I love meeting Peter. I’ve also met Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic :)

  66. Ro says:

    Hi Sarah. I have a question: Is the tour of the McCalls Pattern Co open to the public? I realy would like to go there :)

    • Ro – To my knowledge the tour is not open the to public, but why don’t you write and ask. On the website is a “How to Reach Us” tab, and based upon my tour, the company is sincere about communicating with its customers and will answer you quickly.
      Let me know!

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