I have embarked on a project of seeming epic proportions. I started trying to catalogue my vintage patterns this time last year but found the process slow going, not to mention distracting! I wanted to sew the patterns, not look at them & go through them & write about them!! So the project moved to the back burner to await a time when I’d be more motivated to faff, rather than sew. As if there really is such a time!! Fortunately for the patterns, these last two weeks have been exactly that time.
I had surgery on my right wrist two weeks ago tomorrow, effectively rendering me completely useless at any of my normal tasks. So what can you do when you can just sit around?? You upgrade your Evernote to Premium and get out the boxes of patterns! It took me two weeks to get the first box done. That’s the 30s, 40s and 50s.
I tried to start the 60s on Saturday but weekends aren’t good for concentrating on a task like this, so I’m continuing today. I have found, (rediscovered?) so many lovely patterns, many still factory folded. Thing is, they’re the ones I’d love to see made up!! Husband, being a collector too, says their value is in their current state, they should stay like that. He’s the sort who doesn’t take his stuff out of boxes… I certainly wouldn’t cut the patterns – they’d definitely be traced, but does he have a point? Should they be left in pristine, factory folded condition??
Take this one for example. It’s soooo gorgeous, I’m itching to find a suitable fabric, silk, chiffon – you get the picture, and make it up. Should I disturb the factory folds to trace it out, or does it stay “in original condition”?
Or this sexy looking Vogue pattern? That one is definitely way too good to never see the light of day as a finished, wearable garment!!
The best moments are finding previous owner’s notes, adjustments or fabric scraps in the envelopes. I’ve found a fair few rusty pins holding folds in place where the patterns needed to be shortened, as well as pencil or pen lines marking new seamlines. My favourites were finding a receipt for the original purchase of this pattern, 50c & 2c tax! It was bought in 1956 from Willian Taylor Son & Co, Ohio.
Or this pattern that came with a receipt for a dressmaking course run by the Dursley Technical Institute in 1960 in Gloucestershire.
Then there was one that was pretty interesting. I unfolded the pattern pieces for a pretty hostess apron from McCalls, 1952, to find a strip of cotton organza to make the trim edge of the apron, and a newspaper that had been cut to form a section of the apron skirt. It had no date, but an article caught my eye. Apparently it was 1971, as the article announced design house Chanel were facing their biggest backlog of orders, citing the recent death of the great lady and the fact that this collection was the last designed by her. So even in 1971 someone was using what was effectively a “retro” pattern.
I’ve been photographing the envelopes, front and back to add to the Evernote entries. To prevent my phone getting completely clogged up, once they’ve been uploaded to Evernote, I’ve added them to a new Pinterest board and then deleted from the phone. You can see how far I’ve got on the board, My Vintage Pattern Collection. I also ordered a pack of acid free sticky topped cellophane envelopes to keep the patterns safe. Up to now I’d improvised with plastic wallets, folded over and taped down. Not really the best, but at least they accommodated all shapes and sizes of envelope! I got the cellophane envelopes from Amazon, just over £5 for 200, and free posting! Of course the free posting came courtesy of a new book and cd, but I digress. I did make rather a mess of the dining table doing all that repackaging, but it’s definitely worth it!
The Sixties is going to take me a while, there are two boxes of those!! How do you like those hat patterns sitting on top? They came in a box of all-sorts last year, factory folded and completely un-touched.
So for a while this will be my sole task, but as soon as I can sew again, I know I will have a very interesting and varied queue of patterns to sew!!