It’s no secret that I love vintage patterns. And not pattern reprints, specifically originals. I love the connection to another human being that you get through their sewing patterns. The notes, markings, alterations, seeing how someone you never knew looked at the construction of the same dress. A small note on yardage makes me giddy. Changed seam allowances? I’m ecstatic. I especially love seeing patterns that have been shortened or lengthened. I like to sit and wonder who the garment was being made for. I love to discover that said person had short arms or a long torso.
Sometimes if you’re lucky you get an even closer look into the world of the previous seamstress. One of my favorite patterns isn’t the most attractive design, but the note scribbled on the front of the Butterick 2110 envelope makes it wondrous. The note reads “Ramona, dear — My conscience would not permit me to finance the wearing of pants by a girl, not event to the small extent of furnishing a pattern, so I have removed that portion.” The lady did indeed remove the pants portion, but apparently Ramona didn’t particularly enjoy the skirted version of the outfit. The pattern remains uncut.
I recently came into possession of a huge box of patterns. About 41 pattern envelopes or so. The patterns were from an estate sale and very likely were owned by the same lady. The markings and handwriting on the various patterns confirm that most of them had been used by this lady. As I open and use each pattern I feel like I’m learning something more about her. For example. She only purchased Simplicity patterns or she kept all her patterns organized by brand and I happened to receive her simplicity supply. I know she lived in Florida. She also very often bought the same pattern in multiple sizes. I assume she had children or grandchildren that she made matching clothing for. The box included four patterns for a men’s shirt/vest combo. One in boy’s size 1, one in boy’s size 8, one in boy’s size 10 and one in an adult 15 inch neck.
She was a very talented sewer and she took very good care of her patterns. Each is folded very carefully and not one of the patterns is showing its age. I very often find her alterations to the patterns and the pattern that I’m working with now (Simplicity 5616) is no exception. You can see a close up of some of her alterations on one of the facing pieces.
And on the shoulders of the back and front pieces.
You can read more about this project at my blog: $25 Vintage, but what I’d really like is to ask this group a question.
Why do you sew vintage? Do you like to touch the past like I do? Or do you absolutely love vintage styling? Do you make dresses that remind you of your mother or grandmother? I’d love to know, please share!