The Simplicity Pattern Company is the maker of the "Simplicity Pattern,"
"It's So Easy" and "New Look" brands of sewing pattern guides. The company,
now owned by Wrights, began in 1927 in New York City. During the Great
Depression, Simplicity allowed home seamstresses to create fashionable
clothing in a reliable manner. The patterns have been manufactured in Niles,
Michigan since 1931, but the products are distributed and sold in Canada,
England, and Australia. In some markets, the patterns are sold by Burda, and
they are sold by third party distributors in Mexico and South Africa. The company licenses its name
to the manufacture of non-textile materials such
doll house kits, and sewing supplies.
The appeal of the Simplicity Pattern is that each
pattern has step-by-step instructions for the cutting,
stitching, and assembling of clothes. Simplicity
emulates fashion designer clothing, and the company
currently produces over 1,600 patterns.
Simplicity Patterns, like most home sewing patterns,
tissue paper with numbers and instructions written
on it. This paper is pinned on the fabric to be
sewn. The hobbyist then stitches and cuts along
the printed lines to create the finished clothing.
Novelist and short story author Eudora Welty claimed
that she used Simplicity Patterns for her short
stories, that she would re-use the paper and pin
her paragraphs to the paper and rearrange passages
for greatest effect.
James J. Shapiro (1909-1985) helped revolutionize
the home sewing industry as a founder and president
of the Simplicity Pattern Company. His father, Joseph
M. Shapiro (1888 Russia-1968 California), a magazine
ad salesman, developed the idea to launch the firm
At the time, producing dress patterns for the home
sewing market was the exclusive province of McCall's
and other women's magazines, including one long-forgotten
publication that the elder Mr. Shapiro worked for
in New York.
^ Donald L.
Barlett, James B. Steele, America: What
Went Wrong? Andrews McMeel Publishing
Robert McG. Thomas, Jr., James Shapiro,
85, Innovator In the Home Sewing Industry
The New York Times, June 3, 1995