Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pattern Collecting - Past Present & Future

About 8-9 years ago I was neck deep into collecting vintage patterns. My era of choice was 60s Jackie Kennedy style suits and 60s mod fashions. I was also highly enamoured of Sybil Connolly patterns. I spent a lot of time on eBay and Etsy tracking down Sybil Connolly patterns...A LOT OF TIME! I was also a regular on a couple of vintage pattern sites...always searching to add more styles that I liked to my personal collection.



I'm writing about this because I was looking for a pattern recently amongst the piles of patterns in the sewing cave searching high and low in drawers, containers and the plastic file cabinets. I would say that patterns are the second most abundant item in the sewing cave, right after fabric!



Anyway during the search, I found my stash of vintage patterns.  They are stored in several out of the way drawers, probably because I rarely think about them now that they've been bought, received and admired. I know that it was mostly the hunt for them that gave me joy because I only sewed a couple of the patterns. 

The pattern used the most was this jacket pattern ~ Vogue 2285:



I loved this pattern so much that I made it in 2008 as an Easter Suit and then again in 2013 and would love to figure out a way to add it to my wardrobe now. Can you imagine this in a great denim?

Another pattern that I used and would love to make again is Vogue 5265. 



I made this dress in 2008 and wore it quite a few times that year even with the belt! It was an interesting learning experience. The journey is detailed here.

So the trip down memory lane made me realize that there are still an abundance of Vogue Couturier, Vogue Paris Original, Vogue Americana, Simplicity, Butterick, McCall's and by no surprise Donna Karan patterns on eBay. It's the wonders of the Internet's Greatest Garage Sale. This is not meant to omit other older patterns of every era. If you're willing to look, they can be found. I did start a Flickr album of some of the vintage patterns in my possession. You can see them here.

Why am I discussing this? Because patterns have been around for decades! Indie designers are nothing new. I found loads of indie patterns in my collection from the 80s & 90s, Purrfection (now Dana Marie Design Co.), Lois Ericson, LaFred, Loes Hinse Design, L.J. Designs - shown below.



Patterns like fabric, needle & thread, scissors and a sewing machine are all essential to making an item...whether it be a garment, a quilt, a toy or an accessory. Being an active member of the online sewing community, I'm often amazed at how "in the present" we are and how we seldom look back at what came before.  

Yes, there is an active vintage sewing community who focus on certain eras that they admire and sew from but that's just a portion of the community. What about the majority of the community?  Do we look back and recognize the past? Do we realize that some of those cool boho looks that indie designers are selling now have already been around?  And that those patterns can still be found at the great internet garage sale?

Sometimes as someone who's been sewing for over 46 years, its hard to reconcile. It's also hard not to sound like a dinosaur or the old lady under the tree telling history lessons in the middle of the village. Many times I just want to say if we love this artform so much, why don't we take the time to learn the history of it.  To appreciate the journey of those who've come before...to recognize the transformation of the pattern companies and how they've made the journey through the eras to still be here today providing inspiration for us?!

This post isn't to bash anyone or to praise the Big 4 pattern companies ~ though I do believe they are doing an admirable job these days reaching out to their customers ~ it's more to say, recognize the past.  Honor it and realize that we are standing on the shoulders of the sewists/sewers/seamstresses that have gone before. Don't be so quick to dismiss the past in your enthusiasm and realize that we ARE rooting for you to succeed and to carry our combined love of sewing forward to the next generation!

I would hate for 100 years from now that a sewing machine (in all it's forms) along with patterns and fabric are relics in a museum highlighting a dead artform.

...as always more later!



23 comments:

  1. great post! I learned how to sew and fit garments by starting on muslins from 1940s dress patterns. I'd love to incorporate them into my everyday wear but I'm not sure how without looking too costumey ... I'll have to figure out some way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, this post made my heart beat with excitement! I learnt to sew using those patterns, over 50 years ago, and I swear I made that Vogue 5265 around 1965 in a pale gold linen. Wow, how exciting to see that one again. Your Vogue jacket is absolutely beautiful, and I'm off to hunt for that pattern now :) Thank you for sharing your fab stash of patterns.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Two thoughts: 1] I'm off to the races for simplicity 6459 and 2] God I miss Fred Bloebaum. I met her at SewExpo and we had the most wonderful conversation that year, and years to follow. I've sewn that skirt, and several other of her patterns. She had a great pattern maker's brain.
    Thanks for the memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I find older patterns fit my plus size body better than modern patterns, most without darts or shaping, do.

    I buy huge boxes of older patterns at estate sales & church sales for maybe $2 a boxful. I love the early 60's styles, and it's what I mainly wear now since I make my entire wardrobe.

    I have no desire to make something that looks like current RTW. If I liked those styles (or looked good in them) I wouldn't be making my clothing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such an interesting post! I am a fan of slightly older Burda patterns, not so old that they have the massive shoulder pads. Even though, that is when I was introduced to them in the 1980's: It is so much fun to hunt for them! I remember loving the idea of being able to make your own European fashion. At the time I was working at the company that was the Canadian distributor for Burda and I think being exposed to the home sewing industry at that time made a massive impression on me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet - you should check out GMarieSews - she has some Burdas for sale. She's cleaning out her stash.

      Delete
    2. Janet - I'll send you an email! I have a few issues from 2009 left - sorta old ;) gMarie

      Delete
  6. I love your post. I teach sewing in my hometown. A student came in and ask if I would help her with a pattern. We set up a time and she came in. My surprise was that she had a pattern from the 1950's. It was an adorable dress with the full skirt. She also wanted to wear a crinoline. This was what perked my interest in vintage patterns.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post Carolyn. My favorite era is also the 60s. Instead of being a 'flower child' I was an office private secretary (now know as an administrative assistant) and sewed many classic/designer Vogue patterns for my wardrobe. I saved a few favorite patterns but wish I'd saved them all. You have a great collection - thanks for sharing. Karen

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post -- how I wish I had some of the patterns of my early days of sewing .

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Carolyn, I too love this post! What I really love is knowing I have kindred spirits out there in the sewing world! I've admired your makes for years now and always find your thoughts and posts so insightful. We must have many of the same vintage patterns as my favorite era ( probably nostalgia) is the 60s. And like you I enjoyed the hunt for them and reading the direction sheets for techniques. I even have a collection of Vogue and McCalls pattern magazines from that time. What I do notice with modern patterns is that they are quite simplistic compared with the vintage ones and details like those on your fabulous Boucle jacket are just not there. Most of today's selection would have been in the jiffy category back in the 60s Were we more accomplished sewers back then or were clothes overall more detailed and polished? Maybe both? Anyway, as always, you've touched on a great discussion topic!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't know if you've read the book by Marie Kondo "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up", and at first glance it would seem contradictory to bring it up. However, her method is all about keeping only that which sparks joy, and she emphasizes that this is individual for each person. These patterns spark joy for you and inspire you. She feels you should express appreciation for your things, whether you use them or not, and thank them for their service, whatever it was. These patterns have been of service to you, even if you didn't make anything from them, because they inspired and encouraged you. I'm so glad you took the time to revisit them!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Amen. We need to learn from the past so we can move forward. We also need to attribute our sources correctly. Ignoring the past is ageist.

    http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2013/04/grandma-sewing.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. So well put! We can learn so much from the past.

    Marie

    ReplyDelete
  13. Enjoyed your post. I have been sewing forever with patches of no sewing since the 60's. I have some of your vintage patterns shown above and they have a special drawer in my sewing room. I have quite a few of the "old" indie patterns-LaFred, Loes Hinses, Diane Ericson. Enjoyed going down memory lane from reading your post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post. I loved La Fred and Loes Hinse patterns. I was actually thinking of pulling out a few to make this fall.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a great post, and a beautiful collection of patterns. I have got the stage where I have more patterns than I will ever make up, but I am very interested in the history of fashion and I learn a lot from these patterns about designers, construction method and how women dressed in the past. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and collection. (Kate from Fabrickated)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I still have many patterns from the 70's that I bought when I first began sewing, then later finished my apparel design degree. My go to pattern for Classic women's wear is an Yves St. Laurent Vogue 1143, I think I have it in multiple sizes, $4.50 per size, quite an investment back then. This pattern gives you a tailored jacket, pants, skirt, and blouse in that impeccable YSL style. And I love those wide lapels! I have used this pattern numerous times over the past 4 decades for costumes, custom clothing, and research to study construction details in the instructions. It may be old, but it is a classic!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I just bought a stack of Stretch and Sew patterns at the Goodwill. I remember my mother making me a bathing suit using a stretch and sew pattern when I was a girl (A very long time ago I might add)LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Vintage patterns are so lovely. Looking at how the styles change and all the lovely detailing that used to be standard...
    The 40's, 50's and 60's are my favorite eras, but my absolute favorites patterns are those for very small children.

    ReplyDelete
  19. From Creative Horomone Rush: Loving your patterns! It's so great to keep the classic, stylish older ones that you know will look good on you; then it's just a waiting game until styles cycle back to them and you've already got goodies galore just waiting to go. As for the pretty white jacket, that jacket would definitely look fabulous on you in denim. I could even see it made up in a beautiful cool red or bright turquoise blue denim. Or even hot pink! (I already own all three of these colors in denim, per my "grab it the moment I electrically fall in love with it" and "It'll come to me" approach. Surprisingly, denim is now available in a whole rainbow of colors.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I too collect vintage patterns and repost the images on my blog. I haven't located any Indie ones yet. I mainly pick up patterns from the 1970s and earlier.
    Gave you a linkback on this post
    http://thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com/2016/09/national-sewing-month.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wonderfully put, Carolyn. I came back to sewing in the early 1990's when HGTV aired Sandra Betzina on cable. That lead me to ASG and my first sewing expo experience and the inspiration that came from these terrific teachers. My skills were minimal, my fitting was sad but I started learning from people who had been creating beautiful garments for decades and absorbed their enthusiasm and lessons. My own early 70's garments were very amateurish and home made looking so I eventually gave it up because my 80s corporate world demanded more business, formal attire and my sewing projects were no match for that world. Today's much more casual work environments don't have dress codes that are as demanding....a good thing in many ways ....but it also means that simpler styles (or "fast clothing") can make us overlook the designers and pattern makers of the past. Thanks for reminding us. I adored Fred Bloebaum and miss her gentle, encouraging ways tremendously.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! It is so appreciated.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails