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In search of Mary Quant sewing patterns

We are so excited that the V & A Museum in London will be exhibiting the first Mary Quant exhibition for 50 years in April 2019. Find out on our blog today how you can get involved and help bring this exhibition to life with digging out Butterick sewing patterns and handmade garments from the 1960s. For the first time making it possible for the home dressmaker to recreate Mary Quant’s designs on a budget.

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Mary Quant at her apartment in Draycott Place, Chelsea,London, c.1965 © Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

Born in 1930, Mary was an fashion designer and style icon. After studying at Goldsmiths College, Mary continued her fashion career as a milliner apprentice Mayfair, London. She then opened her own fashion boutique and is most well known for the designs which have become symbolic of the the 1960s Mod culture, including the miniskirt and hot pants.

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Three models wearing underwear designed by Mary Quant, c. 1966 © Otfried Schmidt/ullstein bild/Getty Images

In the 1970s and 1980s Mary expanded her design range to include more fashion items, interiors and accessories. Her designs revolutionised high streets across the UK. Many of these designs, not previously exhibited before, will be curated for the exhibition. Items will be sourced from the V & A Museum archives, Mary Quant’s personal collection and loans from around the world.

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Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967 © PA Prints 2008

Jenny Lister, curator of Mary Quant at the V&A, said: “Mary Quant liberated fashion in the late 1950s and early 60s. Known for establishing high street fashion, inventing hot pants and popularising the miniskirt, she freed women from rules and regulations, and from dressing like their mothers. This long-overdue exhibition will show how Mary made high fashion affordable for working women, and how her youthful, revolutionary clothes, inspired by London, made British streetstyle the global influence it remains today.”

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Fashion model Ika posing with Mary Quant’s new collection of shoes, 6 April 1972 © Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images

Dame Mary Quant said: “The V&A is such a precious and iconic organisation for which I have the utmost admiration and respect, and it is a huge honour to be recognised by them with this dedicated exhibition and book. It was a wonderfully exciting time and despite the frenetic, hard work we had enormous fun. We didn’t necessarily realise that what we were creating was pioneering, we were simply too busy relishing all the opportunities and embracing the results before rushing on to the next challenge! Friends have been extremely generous in loaning, and in many cases, donating garments and accessories to the V&A which they have lovingly cherished for many years, so it will be fascinating to see what else will emerge! I am enormously grateful to have been involved with so many talented people whose contribution to that ground-breaking, revolutionary and memorable era will also be recognised.”

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Satin mini-dress and shorts by Mary Quant, photograph by Duffy, 1966 © Duffy Archive

How can you get involved?

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The exhibition will not only show iconic fashion pieces but also share real stories from those who love the Mary Quant brand. The V & A Museum has issued a public call out to gather these personal stories and items. The Museum is specifically looking for garments made using Butterick sewing patterns that were designed by Mary Quant. The first pattern to launch from this collaboration was in 1964. If you have any garments please contact [email protected], and share your pictures and memories on social media, using the hashtag #WeWantQuant.

Mary Quant is at the V&A from 6 April 2019–8 March 2020

Looking for vintage sewing pattern inspiration?

Check out our vintage pattern collection to find amazing designs in 1960s style!

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