The Simplicity Pattern Company is a manufacturer of sewing pattern guides, under the "Simplicity Pattern," "It's So Easy" and "New Look" brands. 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 as sewing machines, doll house kits, and sewing supplies.
Each Simplicity pattern has step-by-step instructions for the cutting, stitching, and assembling of clothes. Simplicity aims to emulate fashion designer clothing, and the company currently produces over 1,600 patterns.
Simplicity Patterns, like most home sewing patterns, consist of 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) was the founder and first 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 in 1927. 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, Fashionable Dress, that the elder Mr. Shapiro worked for in New York.
Some of the licensed brands that Simplicity Patterns carry are: Cynthia Rowley, Project Runway, SUEDEsays™ - (Suede from Season 5 of Project Runway) & SUEDEsays™ Studio by New Look, Khaliah Ali - Muhammad Ali's daughter
- The Simplicity Pattern Company home page
- "About" Simplicity, with some history
- Vintage Sewing Pattern Wiki's Simplicity category page
- Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele, America: What Went Wrong? Andrews McMeel Publishing (1992).
- Robert McG. Thomas, Jr., James Shapiro, 85, Innovator In the Home Sewing Industry The New York Times, June 3, 1995