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Vintage Sewing Patterns

Discussion in 'Vintage Sewing Patterns 2005 By Laura' started by Laura, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. decadesgal

    decadesgal Registered Guest

    Thank you so much for a very informative discussion on vintage patterns!!!

    I use the CDs from the Commercial Pattern Archive to date patterns for my company, Decades of Style. I just purchased the one that was from the years 1868 to 1943 and at $150 I felt it was a good investment. I use Wade Laboissonnier's books to date my older patterns and found them to be very informative. The gorgeous photos of patterns I don't have just kill me, but it is fun to look and dream!

  2. decadesgal

    decadesgal Registered Guest

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I have traced off and stitched up garments from those Harper's Bazaar pattern sheets that Hatfeathers posted about. It is a bit tricky and requires 1) a strong cup of coffee, 2) a sharp pencil and good tracing paper, 3) good lighting, 4) patience.

    I photocopied the pattern sheet which helped some with the other printed side showing through. Then, I found each of the peices for the design that I was tracing off (these sheets often have 10 or so complete patterns on them!). I traced off each piece and carefully labeled them. Some things to look for are 1) the numbers printed in the corners of the pieces which help match up which seams sew together and also (2) look for interior design details to have a line from the outside line pointing to them. You then just need to add seam alowances and have fun putting together your puzzle!

    It is a great way to learn about the differences in fit and style for the late victorian and early edwardian eras. I think they stopped putting the pattern sheets in sometime in the Teens. I have found copies of Harper's Bazaar pattern sheets and magazines on Ebay as well as the French verions, "La Mode Illustree".

  3. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Hi Julianne!

    Welcome (if you put http:// before your website it will become a clickable link)

    Wow..(yikes!) yes you would need sharp concentration for that. I can imagine it would take someone with extra skill and patience.

  4. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President


    Obviously "everyday" patterns don't go for as much as evening gowns, because they are common as you have stated, but is there a point where they become less common and therefore more desirable and we should be kicking ourselves for not having held onto them? If everyone thinks alike and only preserved the evening gown patterns, etc it is bound to happen. (some of the really old patterns i am sure it doesn't matter much what the actual garment is..someone will want it).

    Case in point. There is some "everyday stuff" particular 1940s blouses and SOME 50s shirtwaist dresses that you wouldn't think would be that rare, but they end up commanding higher prices because of the gals that sew and are re-enactors or devotees or rockabilly or swing (depending on the actual style of the item) want them. Particularly certain 40s blouses if the right bunch of folks see them as people want the right fit and can't always find multiples of the same style in actual clothing. (and then some folks do have businesses where they make repro clothing etc, too with them).

    I know one "can't keep everything" but if one finds something everyday and in great shape, is it something we should be thinking long term on?

    A personal Q:

    Just like collecting many other areas of vintage, it is really impossible to "have every one ever made". is there a specific type/company/style/era that you prefer to collect/hang onto for yourself - not specifically what is perceived as valuable (but that would be just a bonus) but just some particular area that attracts you on a personal, sentimental, or other sort of interest level?


    PS Thanks again for a great workshop!
  5. Hattysattic

    Hattysattic VFG Secretary

    finally back from a pile of patterns! well thanks to this laura i know the majority i have are late 30's early/40's. when i am felling like i have more time (hah!) i will put them in chronological order as best i can.

    lizzie sort of already asked my question regarding mens and childrens patterns. i have no mens, but quite a lot of childrens. would it be more viable to sell them in a lot , or - as you say the everyday ones are not particularly sought after - maybe sell them individually incase i have any good ones?

    i do believe i have some vintage costume patterns in the kids (i'd already seperated them and only looked properly at the women's patterns). how do they fare generally? or is it subjective again?

    thank you for this, again you've done such a great job and sorry to come back in at the last minute (just when you thought you could put your feet up - i hope you are doing!!) :)
  6. ClubVintage

    ClubVintage VFG Member

    What about vintage doll clothing patterns, is their any interest in them?<p>Cat
  7. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    Hi, Julianne! It's nice to see you here. I've got my eye on that '50s wrap blouse pattern you're selling... :)

    It's good to know that the Commercial Pattern Archive CDs are useful. I think I'm going to get at least the first one. It would be so nice to have an easy way to date patterns, particularly the older ones! Did I understand the site correctly that the CD contains an illustration and pattern diagram for every pattern on the CD?

    Thanks for the tips on using the pattern supplements, too! I've got a couple filed away for future use, but I haven't gotten to them yet.

  8. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Cat, I have sold early Barbie patterns (the official ones from Mattel) and they have done well, but i am curious to find out what Laura has to say on others too.
  9. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    Well, that's true to a certain extent. I've seen it happen with antique patterns - pre-1915 or so. The question is, how long do you want to hold onto this stuff and how much storage room do you have? ;)

    Case in point from my life. I've got four or five boxes of late '60s-early '90s patterns I've picked up in various box lots over the years. I'm starting to be able to move '60s patterns. I'm guessing it will be another 15-20 years before '70s patterns are selling well enough to be worth spending time on. Yeah, in 15-20 years I'll be able to sell them...But should I let them take up space in my little house for that long?

    I don't know the answer. I haven't decided yet. I'm leaning towards NO -- 20 years is a LONG time. Nevertheless, they're still here while I try to figure it out which way to go...

    I'm not one to kick myself too much on long-term stuff like this - "It might be worth something **some** day." On the other hand, I recently threw away a Victorian dress by mistake, confusing it with some scrap fabric. (Don't ask!! Blame it on the pregnancy brain drain!) THAT is something I kick myself over!

    Well, there isn't too much that I'm not willing to sell. For the most part, I'm content to buy a pattern, make a copy, and sell the original again. For me, the important part is to have all the components so that I can study it or make it if I choose.

    One thing I often buy and don't usually resell is fashion/pattern catalogues and the old Woman's Institute sewing manuals. I can spend hours looking through the old catalogues...I'm in the process of scanning my whole collection so that I don't have to worry about damaging the originals when I look through them, but I'll probably still hold onto the originals. I guess that's where my sentimentality lays.

    I *love* Victorian patterns. The bustle eras are my favorites. This is one of my absolute favorite patterns I've ever owned -
    <img src="http://www.VintageFashionLibrary.com/images/ebay/domestic_1033_cover.jpg">

    And I'm a sucker for unusual design details. For me, that usually means '30s, '40s or '50s. Here are a few of my favorites.

    I love the tucks on this '30s Pictorial Review gown.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/pic_rev_8192_cover.jpg">

    Great draping on this 1945 evening gown by Vogue.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/vogue_s4674_cover.jpg">

    Fabulous '30s styling on this Simplicity collars & gloves pattern.
    <img src="http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/images/ebay/simplicity_1328_cover.jpg">

    :) Laura
  10. Laura

    Laura Alumni


    I sold a single lot of children's patterns earlier this year, and I was very happy with the final price. I think I had around 100 patterns in the lot, which is a good number. I also had a good mix of patterns, dating from the 1890s to the 1980s. I think most of the patterns were '50s and '60s, though.

    I would suggest laying out all the patterns and taking several group photos. IMO, it's important to show everything. You don't have to do close-ups, but the envelopes should be clear enough for a viewer to see what's there. I think 20-30 patterns per photo is a good average.

    You might want to pull out any '30s or earlier patterns that you have in the lot and try selling them separately.

    I haven't tried selling many costume patterns...Going by memory, I don't think I did any better with those than with the usual children's patterns. The exception to the is pre-1930 costume patterns - they seem to do well.

  11. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    Cat, I haven't sold more than one or two doll patterns, so I don't really have any experience to share. I know there are a lot of doll & doll pattern collectors, so I think there is a market for them.
  12. Doll patterns seem to do pretty well if they are complete and 50s or earlier or rare/unusual. Doll sewers also like the size 3 vintage 50's early 60's era toddler dresses as that size fits the Patty playpal dolls.

  13. decadesgal

    decadesgal Registered Guest

    To answer your question about the Commercial Pattern Archive CDs: Yes, they have the pattern illustration as well as a piece diagram for most patterns. The resolution is only 72dpi so it is not really that good.

    One thing I was dissapointed about is that the cover illustration is cropped to just show the garment image, so you dont get to see the pattern company logo. I found the pattern company logo typeface changes to be very helpful in getting to the correct decade or so as you suggested in your post. Oh well, it still works really well to date the patterns. I just make a guess about the decade and go looking for the correct number sequence and make sure the style of the model is similar.

    I love great details too! We try to find patterns that are of unique and interesting design as well as being very wearable by today's woman. Janet and I are both suckers for wrap things so expect to see more of them soon! Including a lovely 1935 wrap evening gown that is so Myrna Loy!

  14. lauren

    lauren Registered Guest

    I made one up from a German pattern sheet from 1930. It's not that hard, really, once you get the hang of it. It's best with dotted pattern paper and the proper pattern making rulers (s curve, armscye, and l square), a pencil, and good lighting. Then I had to resize it for the gal. It's kinda tricky to figure it out at first if you don't know german, or the original language!

    Here's a pic:

  15. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    How cute is that, Lauren!

    I know that technically, this workshop is over, and I've got to say THANKS again to Laura for such a fun discussion!

    I want to show a pattern I just found. In years of collecting and selling patterns, this is the only Paris Pattern I've ever found. Laura, I'd appreciate any information, if you know anything about the company.

    Anyway, it's a reproduction of a Vera Borea (who???) design, and it is really great!

    <img src=http://members.sparedollar.com/fuzzylizzie/paris2194.jpg>

  16. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    Thanks for the additional information about the CDs, Julianne. I know what you mean about wanting to see the entire envelope, so I'm disappointed to hear they cropped the images to show only the garment. It still sounds like a great resource, though.

  17. Laura

    Laura Alumni

    Lizzie, I've seen Paris patterns for sale (on other sites), but I've never owned one and I don't have any information about the company. Does it happen to say anything on the envelope about Ladies' Home Journal? I did once see a seller reference LHJ, saying that Paris patterns were illustrated in the LHJ magazines. If true, that would lead me to believe it was a mail order company.

  18. Roxy De La Lune

    Roxy De La Lune Registered Guest

    Wow, this thread is really interesting for me:roll:

    I thought I was just a bit of a nutter collecting patterns!

    I pick them up for around 10 or 20 pence in the charity shops:USETHUMBUP:

    Good to know there are plenty of people doing the same:party:

    May I ask if it's OK to print off these workshop threads to read offline?

    Many thanks,

  19. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Yes, Roxy -

    You may :)
  20. coffeegrl

    coffeegrl Registered Guest

    Wow, what a great thread, I can't believe I never noticed this section here before tonight! So glad I stopped in here!

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