You might associate the McCall Pattern Company and its products with your pre-digital childhood (if you had a crafty mother) or even some hazy midcentury Before Times. But sewers will inform you that they’re very much still kicking, and they apparently love the Internet.
It’s true that decades of developments—widely available ready-made clothing and cars and suburbs and fast fashion and online shopping reaching into even the most rural corners of America—slowly rendered home sewing a practical necessity for fewer and fewer families. And now McCall faces challenges like Hancock Fabrics, a major distributor, closing. But enthusiasts have been a core audience forever, and they’re no less enthusiastic in 2016. And crafty types are now able to display the fruits of their DIY labors at a wider scale than ever before, convincing many of the rest of us that yes, that does look soothing and satisfying.
That said, those working at McCalls seem a pretty irrepressible crew, considering how often they appear to get the question, “Oh, that still exists?”
The New York Times catches up with company (owners of Butterick and Vogue Patterns, too) which has enthusiastically taken to social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest:
Meg McDonald, who two years ago became the company’s first social media manager, said she was troubled recently when she came across a photo of one of McCall’s distinctively illustrated envelopes in a nostalgic “Do You Remember?” post on Facebook. There it was, a representation of the company she works for, alongside rotary phones and carousel slide projectors taken from the collective cultural attic.
“So here’s a perfect example of the ‘Huh, you guys are still in business?’ thing that happens to us all the time,” Ms. McDonald wrote in an email.
Rather than allow frustration to drive them to run shrieking into the night, the company embraces those vintage vibes and mines its archives for social media fodder. For instance:
The Times notes that, hey, the McCall Pattern Company has outlasted McCall’s, the legendary women’s magazine it created in the 19th century as a kind of early experiment in sponsored content that, as one of the “Seven Sisters,” took a place in the cultural mainstream more powerful than its DIY parent. But McCall’s would eventually become Rosie magazine—as in Rosie O’Donnell—before finally biting the dust in 2002. Meanwhile the pattern business continues to cruise along.