What's in My Vintage Pattern Stash? #vintagepledge

Welcome to my first official post as co-host of the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2015! If you are new to my blog, I hope you will enjoy it.

As we will be featuring interviews with vintage pattern lovers throughout the year, it seemed only fair that we would kick off by showing you our own collections. Marie has already posted about her enviable collection of vintage sewing patterns. You can see her post here, if you would like to eye up some truly gorgeous patterns - those 30s and 40s illustrations are just to die for. My collection is quite different but certainly reflects my favourite eras.

How and when I started collecting vintage sewing patterns
I started sewing in 2010 and it would have been during that year that I bought my first vintage pattern, in a charity shop:
At that stage, I was so clueless that I didn't even look at the size when I was buying it, but luckily it fit me. I have made my own 'nifty skimmer', which is essentially a tunic without a zip - my first version was way too big (partly so you could get it on, having no fastening) and I slimmed it down so I could still squeeze it over my head. I did wear it a few times (see here) but it's been relegated to scrap now. I'd like to note that despite the simplicity of the pattern I was so conscientious that I made a muslin! After that, discovering more and more sewing blogs got me into vintage (and indie) patterns, and that's where my sewing interests have remained.
How many patterns do I have, and how are they stored?
I have 190 sewing patterns, of which 159 are vintage. I was pretty shocked when I counted them and also surprised that vintage made up such a large percentage of my collection. Individually, most of my patterns are in plastic zip-loc bags. This is great for a bit of protection and also because I hate trying to cram patterns back into envelopes once I have taken them out, it's handy just to put them in the larger plastic bag. To my shame, I have tended to shove a lot of patterns into the upright containers so they are getting a little bashed (compared to Marie's pristine-looking patterns some of mine look appalling!). Please don't judge too harshly, vintage lovers! One day, I will rehouse them all in comic book sleeves and with backing board. Promise.

What attracts me to collect the patterns I have?
When I started sewing and collecting I fell hard for 50s patterns. Those illustrations sell you an elegant lifestyle. I have made a few 50s patterns but I've found that it's the 70s-80s that I really love. You cannot beat this era for practical day wear. Looking at my favourite 80s patterns though, they do have a real 50s influence. I think the 70s marks a shift from the beautiful and detailed illustrations of earlier decades - you still find nice illustrations but they aren't quite as detailed as earlier eras. Plus photos were being used more too, and they don't have the same romance as illustrations. With less attractive cover art, you have to look at the pattern diagram to get a truer sense of whether a pattern will work for you.

The plus side of loving the 70s-80s era is that many of the patterns are cheap because it is not an era which is as immediately appealing as the 40s or 50s, for example. Obviously there are some people who recognise the true fashion genius of this era (like me, ha!), who are looking for bargains among the eBay chancers who list very average 80s patterns as 'RARE' at £6.99 each. Sure, there are some comically hideous patterns but also some classic gems. Although I know where my preferences lie, I don't discount patterns from any era and love nothing more than spotting a box of tatty patterns in a charity shop to root through. I always have a good look at the pattern diagram before purchase - this is absolutely key and can show the potential behind ugly cover art.

What I love about vintage patterns is that you can pick up great classic shapes but also patterns with unusual and interesting details. Over time, I have become more skilled at honing in on interesting designs and details in patterns.

Favourite style eras?
1950s - You cannot beat this era for ladylike glamour. I definitely need more of this in my life. Although my dislike of ironing usually scuppers any hope of that. I love the top dress but it's a 32" bust so, grading (bah). I've made both of the dresses in the middle picture (here and here). The bottom skirt pattern is a good old workhorse - love the pocket detail, but have yet to make it.
1960s - A great era for sweet and classic shapes - these are the patterns you can use over and over. The top left pattern is a dress I sewed (and loved) twice back in 2012 (here and here) and below that is a gorgeous and versatile McCalls pattern I love but haven't cracked the fit on. YET. I've also made an unblogged version of the top right skirt.

1970s - There are SO MANY great style influences in the 70s. The 30s and 40s are mixed in there, along with some pure 70s original magic. I've only made the top right pattern, here.
1980s - Easy now. I think the early 80s, before things get too 'shoulder pads and hairspray', are the time I like. None of my beloved New Look Maudella patterns have dates so I am guessing that many date to this era of end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s. All of the above are New Look Maudella, and I love some of details - the kimono sleeves, the gathers, the skirt yokes and pockets. There is a real influence of 50s style in many of these designs, which would perhaps explain why I have gravitated towards them. I haven't made any of these patterns - yet!

The oldest pattern in my collection, and have I made it?
I have 4 or 5 patterns from the 40s. Here are 2 I would like to make:
I think both are sweet and not too stylised to work as part of a modern wardrobe. 

Three favourites - and have I made them?
It's so hard to pick! But I've gone for a couple that I've made which have attracted a lot of interest, and one that I have been intending to make
My one-seam skirt is a classic, and it got a lot of love on the blog in 2011/12. I have made it 3 times (here's one), but none of them fit any more so maybe I'll have to resurrect it.
I've got to include the pattern used to make Horatio, who was also very popular. I'm definitely hoping to make the elephant as a footstool one day too.
One that's been on my to-sew list for a couple of years is this 80s does 50s shirtdress. I got it from Scruffy Badger in a swap - I love shirtdresses and am still looking for the elusive perfect pattern. Is this it? Maybe this will be the year I make it, and find out. Just look at the sleeveless version on the left - swoon!

A pattern I think I'll never make, but will never get rid of 
This is one of my 40s (I presume) patterns. It was 29p in a charity shop and it's really sweet but I can't imagine myself making it and doing the smocking. Cute and easy kids dresses are easy to find, and I have plenty in my stash.

Where do I get my patterns from?
Mostly by browsing Ebay and charity shops. Occasionally Etsy, if I am searching for a specific pattern by its number. I miss Miss Betty's Attic, which was my favourite vintage pattern shop on Etsy. Most Etsy pattern sellers are in the US though and the postage costs are high, especially as the patterns I like are often cheap!

Also, people have very kindly given me patterns too. My mother in law gave me some patterns as well as blog readers like The Vintage Knitter, Sue of Sewin' Steady and Red Silvia, who have sent me vintage patterns they thought I would like (If anyone else has, I'm so sorry if I forgot you).

The more I look through my patterns the more I think that I must make more and more of them. As I looked through my patterns I found it hard to pick any that I thought were not worth keeping, because each one seems to have some interesting feature or detail I like. Although I have favourite eras, there are common features in the patterns I have chosen and I have definitely become more discerning over time and able to choose ones which fit the aesthetic I have in mind. If only I had enough time to make them all! In any case, they are great inspiration. I hope this post has been an inspiration for some of you too.


I'll be back on the 1st February, hosting the Vintage Pledge for the month, with details of a giveaway and discount code for you all.

K x

44 comments:

  1. Great collection! I love the 70s, too - so many easy to wear clothes and beautiful dresses. I wish I could get Maudella patterns. They all look so cool!

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    1. Thanks, nice to hear from another 70s fan :-)

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  2. Great collection. You have some really lovely patterns there. I've never seen patterns in charity shops where I live, but then again I've never really looked for them. Might have to start!

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    1. Sometimes they are stuffed in a box on the floor along with other random things - most shops don't seem to know what to do with them and I'm sure some just throw them away because they think they aren't worth anything.

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  3. I just LOVE reading about people's vintage pattern collections, they're so personal, which makes really fascinating reading. I've made two successful vintage pieces after seeing them first on your blog (the one seam skirt and the bow blouse pattern you kindly lent me). You've also just reminded me of how much I like Simplicity 4903 - I seem to have accidentally bought it whilst reading this post! x

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    1. Glad to hear it - we will have more interviews in the months to come! Glad you've got the Simplicity pattern too, I hope to see one from you this year. I should probably revisit it myself too.

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  4. Thanks for sharing some of your patterns. I love vintage ones too and am seriously coveting your Butterick 9080, especially the yellow blouse on the front. I buy some from charity shops but it is mostly eBay these days. I did ask in one shop and they said that they had none in but that they normally use them for wrapping china as they didn't think that anyone would want them. I could have cried. :( xx

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    1. Argh sacrilege! What a shame, it seems like most charity shops don't know what to do with patterns, how sad.

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  5. What a lot of lovely patterns. I agree with Jane, I love Simplicity 4903 and your two versions of it. x

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    1. Thank you, the pattern is a real favourite

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  6. Spooky - I just bought Style 1565 today! Good to come across another Maudella fan as well.

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    1. Oh really! I got that from Scruffy Badger too and it's long been on my list to make. This year - honest!

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  7. Wow Kerry! You have so many more vintage patterns than you let on originally ;o) Such a varied collection...and I must say, you maybe slightly swaying me on the 70s front too! Thanks for sharing and co-hosting of course!

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    1. I couldn't believe it - I guessed at 150 overall with maybe 110 vintage so I was shocked. When I got the patterns from storage I found more than I expected and some I had forgotten about.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your collection with us! I have a massive soft spot for 80s vogue designer patterns - not all of them obviously, but quite a few of them! -but I also enjoy styles from the 20s up to the present. I think I need to join the challenge this year!

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    1. I bet there are some gems in 80s Vogue designer patterns. I hope you do join in with the Vintage Pledge

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  9. Thank you for sharing your collection with us! I have a massive soft spot for 80s vogue designer patterns - not all of them obviously, but quite a few of them! -but I also enjoy styles from the 20s up to the present. I think I need to join the challenge this year!

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  10. Lovely collection. Can't beat a vintage pattern I say, and even if the pattern doesn't work out so well, the envelope illustration is always worth having!
    Simplicity 7995 was one of my first sewing projects in 'big' school and it came from my grans pattern stash. I'm really looking forward to this sewing pledge and seeing what patterns other sewers have in their collections.x

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  11. Lovely collection! Reading yours and Marie's posts have made me decide to start my own collection. Just won several 'job lots' on eBay. Can't wait to sort through them:) I too love the 1970s and 80s. I couldn't see myself making any from 1940s and 50s.

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    1. How exciting, I've got some great patterns in job lots and have often found that if I'm bidding for a lot to get one or two from it, the rest of the lot often throws up something interesting. It's often the basic/classic patterns which end up being your favourites too.

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  12. Awesome collection! I'm very jealous at the moment :)

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  13. I'm with you! I have patterns from every decade from the 30s upward, and I can find something awesome about them regardless of the envelope art. There are a lot of 80s patterns that rock my world. I feel like they get a bad rap, because it's hard to look past the hair to see the design. :-D

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    1. Oh yeah, some of the drawings are so distracting that they really hide if a pattern has great potential. But some of the illustrations are also amazing too :-)

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  14. What a lovely collection! Thanks for sharing them. there's lots of charity shops rounds way, I need to remember and look for patterns as well when I'm looking for toys & baby books!

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    1. I find they're often shoved away underneath a shelf or something so you need to have a good hunt. I haven't found any good ones for ages though

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  15. You have some really lovely and useful looking patterns there. I sew from every era as well. Now I have been sewing a bit longer I am getting better at picking out patterns that have potential for actual use instead of those that just look pretty. I am in complete agreement regarding line diagrams. I know photographs aren't as cute to look at as drawings but I do think they are better than illustrations for seeing what a garment looks like. Having said that a photograph can be misleading depending on how it's styled...so I always look at the line drawing now. I haven't signed up for the pledge as I am not sure how my sewing year is going to be yet, but I am following along and really looking forward to seeing what every one makes.

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    1. Great, you can sign up at any time so see how you get on - hope you are able to join us. I think it's really satisfying to make a great, contemporary-looking garment from a vintage pattern, particularly a very unpromising pattern!

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  16. Love your collection! I think in part because we have different styles, so it's so much fun to peek into your stash! It's also so interesting to see some of the earlier influences in the 70s and 80s patterns. And I love your comment about the lifestyle sell in the 50s patterns, that is so true. No matter what I'll never match up to the elegance that they project (nor would I really want to), lol!

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    1. Thanks - I love a good nosey at someone else's pattern stash. It's so interesting to see what someone else collects

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  17. Oh gosh, some of those patterns are amazingly great! I wish you the time and energy to make some of them up so I can enjoy them with you. I find that the older patterns are well drafted and it's so much easier to use them with just the one size to contend with. No line hunting or trying to remember if it's dot/dash or dash/dash on this style.

    Happy vintage sewing!

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    1. Me too - if only I had the time :-) I agree that's it's good to have just one size to contend with and also that the fit is true to size as they don't have as much in built ease as contemporary patterns

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  18. Lovely pattern stash you have there; the Simplicity 3427 1950s dress pattern is a real beaut. I probably veer towards the '70s more with my patterns - I just love those maxis! By the way, thanks for the link to my blog and also I'd be happy to do a 'Flash My Stash' post like yours and Marie's.

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    1. Thanks! I'll keep you in mind for the stash posts too x

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  19. Lovely pattern stash you have there; the Simplicity 3427 1950s dress pattern is a real beaut. I probably veer towards the '70s more with my patterns - I just love those maxis! By the way, thanks for the link to my blog and also I'd be happy to do a 'Flash My Stash' post like yours and Marie's.

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  20. There are some really fun patterns in your collection! That last little dress is so sweet. I have a few vintage kids' patterns that I'll probably never make, but they're just so sweet that I love looking at them. :)

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    1. They are sweet aren't they? I actually have quite a few kids patterns that I think would be hideous made up but are very cute to look at

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  21. What a great collection! I used to hate 70s fashion, but looking at sewing patterns has made me realise it's not the clothes I dislike, it's the fabric. As you say, the styles are so easy to wear. Plus, if you are a bit smaller on top like me, the empire line is really quite flattering. ;) Perhaps I will sew one of the 70s patterns I have this year. Will be posting my commitment to the #vintagepledge very shortly on my blog. :) Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks - nice to hear from another 70s fan. Glad to hear you are joining in the pledge too

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  22. 70s patterns rule! Like you say, I think the appeal is that they have the influence of the 30s and 40s, but are just so much more wearable for us ungirdled modern young things. I love the (pink/floral) sundress on the bottom left of your first 70s grid--any ideas what company/number that is?

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    1. Sorry for the late reply - I kept forgetting to check the pattern! The dress is New Look Maudella 6146. It reminds me a bit of the Sewaholic Cambie dress.
      You make a good point about the 70s being more suitable for modern underwear too, it's annoying to make a vintage pattern and find that the bust darts are waaaaayyyoff :-)

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    2. Thanks! And don't worry about it, there was definitely no rush! Yeah, it is very similar to the Cambie, but I like the plainer view with the pockets too. Saved in my eBay searches now...

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  23. Oooh, it was fabulous having a nice at your pattern collection, thank you!!! Makes me want to go and remind myself what's in my own stash xxx

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  24. Fabulous collection! I have been collecting patterns with the intent to sew, for years now! Just found the Vintage Pattern Pledge so will be sharing my work soon! Great inspiration!

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Thanks for reading and commenting - I love to hear what you have to say