Vintage Sewing

Pattern Help, Please!

June 4, 2013
disentigrating instructions

disentigrating instructionsHi, everyone! I’ve been admiring your work for some time now and decided it was time to join. I have a question. I bought a great pattern but the instruction sheet is in terrible shape – it’s falling apart and leaves little bits behind when I unfold it. What is the best way to preserve it while still being able to use it?
Thank you so much! Happy sewing!

  1. Do you have a scanner? I would scan it and work from the scan.

    If not, grab a digital camera and a tripod (preferably) and take some photos of it. You can photograph it in sections and then stitch them together in whatever photo editing software you have.

  2. There is a special sticy tape available “Neschen – Filmoplast P” to repair old papers and books. You may prepare and save the damaged parts before scanning. To avoid further paper loose.

    1. Hi, I don’t speak english very well, so excuse me, but I would say : filmoplast is a very very bad idea, because the fiber of the paper will disappear as a result of the adhesive, not in few month but in few years, there will be nothing !!! I’m archivist and I saw several documents restored with this product : it’s a disaster. The ink is still there, but the paper has disappeared!
      I prefer scan the document, use the copy and preserve the original in a free-acide pocket.

  3. You will not be able to preserve this and use, preserving would require professional techniques. I have the same issue and I have now scanned all my pattern directions and I also have copied the pattern pieces onto swedish tracing paper, which is the most wonderful paper I have come across. You can make your patterns, sewing this paper to make a template if you wish first, iron it if creased, great stuff. Hope this helps.

  4. For one of my crumbling instructions I decided to laminate it. It won’t fit the pattern envelope anymore, but I don’t have to worry about fragility and bits of paper everywhere if I touched it. Lighter weight for the laminate is good.

    Scanning is good, but harder when yellowed and crumbly.

  5. I’m not an archivist but I work in an archive and handle stuff like this all the time.

    Don’t do anything.

    Xerox or scan the instruction sheet and then put the original away and handle it as little as possible. There are no time-tested ways to restore paper, and pattern instruction sheets weren’t intended to last 75 years: They’re printed on cheap, high-acid, paper that was never going to age well and what has happened to it cannot be reversed or repaired without risking further damage.

    For storage, I’d recommend keeping it in a folder or envelope bigger than the original pattern packet–legal size would be great, but letter will do if that’s what you have, and ideally it should be sandwiched in acid-free paper (which you may be able to get at your local office-supply store. Otherwise, Amazon has some archival products listed).

    Above all: Do not use tape or glue. I cannot stress this enough. Adhesive is hands-down one of the most destructive things you can do to paper, and there is nothing that can be done to “fix” it once it’s touched the paper. We don’t even allow Post-Its here where I work because they can leave residue on book pages, etc.

  6. I would recommend taking pictures of your instruction sheet with a digital camera and having it printed. 🙂 Scanning it may be difficult to do if you have a standard size scanner, and if you are like me you might end up with your instruction sheet in even poorer shape than before from handling. In the past I have taken pics of my instructions and printed them out in black and white (lightened with the contrast stronger). Works great!

      1. I have that pattern and can scan mine for you if you need a digital copy. I haven’t digitized it yet, but have been planning to do that with all my vintage patterns eventually. You can email me if you want a copy (link on my blog). =)

  7. You might want to take it to a copier place, Kinkos for example. They can scan it in its entirety and print it out on a large sheet. This way it will be very close to the original. This can also be done for the pattern pieces.

  8. I heard recently that a good way to get more use out of a delicate sewing pattern (apart from copying it) is to use some lightweight fusible interfacing and iron it onto the back of your pieces. Keeps it pinnable and easy to handle, but gives it some strength.

    1. I always trace patterns. Always. I never use originals unless it’s a modern pattern I can easily replace.

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