Pattern Catalogs

Lingerie leads to babies, and other pretty patterns.

April 1, 2011

I have been living in Norway for a year and a half now, with another 2 1/2 to go. The entire time we’ve been here I’ve been on the hunt for any trace of the seamstresses of 50 years ago. Allow me to explain. Sewing patterns never show up in thrift shops here. They all get thrown away. Sick, wrong, and horrible, I know. The only traces that anyone used to sew things for themselves is the occasional hand made dress popping up in a thrift shop from time to time.
I started to think for some reason that sewing things disappeared from Norway like the dinosaurs did in a mysteriously massive sewing cataclysm that wiped all traces of patterns out in one fell swoop. So I’ve been on a sort of pseudo-archeological hunt to track down the history of sewing in this mysterious land of the knitted sweater.

 Today I had my first breakthrough. A tiny, dusty and dim antique shop that had a small stash of sewing patterns, and tucked haphazardly underneath that stash, were some of the most gorgeous sewing pattern catalogs from the 1940’s I’ve ever seen. It’s all in Norwegian, of course, but that’s just a better incentive for me to pay more attention in my weekly Norwegian courses.
So for about $40 (dirt cheap by Norwegian standards) I bought it all up and raced home to carefully examine each page of my loot.

 I just wanted to share the great pictures of my amazing find with you all. There are a ton more pictures on my blog A Few Threads Loose.
Happy Sewing!

  1. Wow! I can easily imagine your frustration. My local thrift store uses old patterns to WRAP THINGS IN. Like packing paper. It's unbelievable and they refuse to let me buy them instead.

  2. Great finds!!! oooh, lucky girl, you!

    Oh, Blackberry, I can't imagine using vintage patterns as wrapping paper…soooo sad! xoxo Beth

  3. I buy tons of great patterns in the thrift stores here for pennies. I found one shop that was using them for wrapping, and they let me have whatever I wanted for free! But I too have heard stories from people who threw out their mother's entire collection, or gave them all away to someone who wasn't me 🙁 It really is sad. Glad you found such a great stash!

  4. Our village school was closed some years ago, and the old teacher couple moved away. The teacher's wife had been an avid sewer, and I found lots of 50's patterns and 30's to 50's crafts and fashion magazines thrown away… (I'm a real dumpster diver!) Here in the Finnish countryside people think they are just garbage, and they also use to throw away vintage clothes and shoes! I've made lots of great findings.

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