Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Add a Sewing Pattern to the Vintage Pattern Wikia.

Hello my dear readers. Today I have an updated tutorial for you on how to add a sewing pattern to the Vintage Pattern Wiki.
When I first started collecting vintage sewing patterns I found the Wiki page a useful resource for researching, buying and selling sewing patterns. While it has its limitations (it's not the most user-friendly template) once you get the hang of it, it can be rather handy.
Not to mention, when you add a pattern that wasn't there before, it feels a bit like a public service to other future pattern collectors.

So let's get started. Once you've created an account and logged in, you're ready to add your patterns!
First, search for the pattern you want to add and make sure it's not already there. This can happen sometimes. The search might not pull up your pattern, you might have typed the name/ number wrong, etc. With McCall's patterns, it's important that you pay close attention to whether your pattern says McCall or McCall's on the envelope, as this will make a difference.
For example, McCall 3581 is the 1940's Women's windbreaker pattern I'll be adding in our tutorial, and McCall's 3581 is a 1970's menswear pattern.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Using Evernote to Catalog Your Sewing Pattern Collection

Today, my dear readers, I'm going to talk a bit about keeping track of a large pattern collection. If you've been collecting as long as I have, you know that you can loose track of whether or not you have a specific pattern in your collection. More than once over the years, I've bought a pattern on Ebay or Etsy, only to realize later that I already have the same one in some box or other I've forgotten about.

Recently, at the suggestion of a friend of mine, I downloaded an app called Evernote to my iPad and tried cataloging 15 patterns to see how I liked it. This was on a Friday afternoon, and I liked it so much, that I then spent the rest of the entire weekend photographing and logging a vast section of my collection. It has taken me a while (months, really, the hoard is that big), but slowly and surely I have added my entire collection of sewing patterns and I am so glad that I did (more on that later).

(I'm just going to point out quickly that this isn't a sponsored blog post - I haven't been compensated for writing this, I just really love this app!)

The app is pretty user friendly and can sync across your mobile and desktop devices quite seamlessly once downloaded. To give you an idea of how handy that is, a few days ago, I was killing time in a doctor's office waiting room and scrolling through patterns on Ebay using my phone to pass the time. I found a great dress pattern and thought, I should buy that, but it does look a bit familiar... So I switched to my Evernote app briefly and typed in the pattern name and number, and sure enough, there it was in my collection! I saved $20!

The pattern in question... though having two of this gem wouldn't be the worst thing ever...
Before I go into the many benefits of having your collection catalogued, let me show you how easy it is.

Once you've downloaded the app to your chosen device (phone, tablet, or computer) you create a notebook. Think of the notebook as a file, and in that file, you can add multiple items. I have my whole pattern collection in one notebook, and other notebooks are dedicated to my pattern catalog collection, my Fashion Service magazine collection, my sewing book collection, etc.

Just some of my notebooks, most of them not fully catalogued yet.
 Simply click on the notebook you'd like to add to and get started. You can select "create new note..."

Then as a title, use the pattern company and number - in this case Vogue 7989...

 Drag and drop a photo of your pattern below the title...

And once you have that, you can type notes along with it, like where you bought it (you can include links, too!), for how much, the condition, if the pattern is missing pieces, etc.

And you can even add tags if you like, which will act as search keywords. If you have 300 patterns and you want to quickly find a 1950's short sleeve dress, this can be handy!

This is done on my desktop computer, but the process is almost identical for mobile devices as well.

And now, let's look at the benefits of cataloging your collection.
  • If, God forbid, your home should fall victim to disaster, you have an online, backed up catalog of your collection for your home/ renter's insurance so that you can be accurately compensated for your losses. I plan on cataloging my antique/ rare book collection next - that's gonna take me a while...
  • If you loan patterns to friends occasionally, it's easy to add a note to your collection about who has what pattern so you can keep track. 
  • The searchable database is great for hard-core collectors to research their patterns and learn even more about their favorite pieces.
Case in point: last month I was working on a reproduction pattern and I wanted to make sure that I had the dates correct for it. I did a search for the pattern name/ number in question, and not only did I find a scan of a 1927 McCall's Magazine page featuring the pattern in full color (from my magazine collection notebook), Evernote also pulled up an image of one of my Fashion Service magazines from 1927 that featured how to make the design mentioned with scalloped trim. How did Evernote know that the pattern was mentioned in my magazine? IT SEARCHES PHOTOS FOR TEXT.
That's right. I searched for McCall 4932 and since I had previously photographed the list of patterns featured in the back of my magazine and added it to the note, I found this:

Which when I pulled the magazine in question out, showed me this:

The bottom design 6A, that's the pattern i was searching for!
Pretty handy, eh?
If you're a pattern nerd like I am (as my clever friend Miss Y calls herself) then Evernote will be your best friend for pattern research - if you take the time to build up your collection and photograph your patterns, catalogs, and what-have-you.

All of that lovely research meant that I could not only offer a pretty pattern, but very accurate historical references and sewing tools to go along with it!

Pattern #3065 can be found here.

And that's all I have to gush about for now. How about you? Do you have a tried and true method for keeping track of your stash? Have you used Evernote to catalog your button hoard or rare French magazine collection (yeah, I'm getting to it).

Happy sewing,

A Free French Turban Pattern from 1932

 Hello my dears. I woke up this morning with the strongest urge to play in my vast (scary, like found one day dead, crushed under a stack of magazines, VAST) collection of vintage French magazines.

While enjoying a particularly lovely edition of C'est La Mode from 1932, I found a charming little turban-making lesson that I had previously overlooked.

The lesson is of course in French, but being of a mood to share, I translated the instructions for you over my morning coffee, (oh, freshly-roasted Costa Rica beans from Acme Coffee in Seaside, how I adore thee!) cleaned up the illustrations for you, and voila!
We have a pattern/ tutorial for a lovely French turban that you can make out of square scraps of slightly stretchy fabrics.

I would recommend using matte jersey, or perhaps even a stretch silk charmeuse blend. You might try it with woven fabrics, or even ribbon, but you'll want to braid the body more loosely, I imagine. The pattern doesn't include any suggested yardage so I would say you'll need at least half a yard of fabric to be safe, and about 1/2 yard of matching grosgrain ribbon for the band.

Anyhow, I'm off to get a haircut, do some shopping, and enjoy the rest of my hopefully relaxing weekend.

Happy sewing!

Happy Independence Day and Free Pattern Winners!

Hello everyone!
I'm happy to announce that we have some giveaway winners! If you're on the list below, email me at to let me know where I can send your prizes!

Our 6 winners, as chosen by a random number generator are:

Monday, June 27, 2016

What Constitutes a Sewing Pattern... with Freebies!

Hello my dears. Today I would like to opine a bit about sewing patterns (quelle surprise!). Seriously though, I feel like many of us are missing out on the wide variety of sewing pattern types that history has given us, so here is a bit of a Sewing Pattern types 101. A pattern is defined as "a model or design used as a guide in needlework and other crafts". These designs might not always be what you'd expect when you read the word pattern.

Standard: We're all familiar with a standard sewing pattern. By this I mean a full-sized, cut it out and lay on your fabric pattern. These were made popular by the big 4 pattern companies over the last 100 or so years but they have become so standard that many have never heard of other types of patterns at all. 
For example, this reproduction of a 1920's McCall's standard pattern:

Depew #3062

But what else is available today and throughout history to the average seamstress?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sew Expensive - Butterick 6527 1930's Evening Gown

Hello my dears,
Today for your viewing pleasure, I have another edition of Sew Expensive. We've has some truly lovely evening gown patterns showcased in the past but today we have a rare Butterick pattern, of all things.

Usually we don't see too many Butterick patterns going for nearly as high as say Vogue or McCall's and that's usually because Butterick didn't spend as much time on their artwork and often didn't bother with color envelope illustrations until the late 1930's - early 1940's. A lot of a pattern's value will hinge on both truly beautiful artwork, and the more unusual design aspects of the pattern itself. Butterick managed to meet both of those criteria without coloring the envelop illustration with this pattern.
Very recently, Butterick 6527 sold on Ebay for a shocking $362.

Butterick 6527

This pattern is a very unique design from around 1936 and features some amazing and sought after design details including a rounded low-cut back neckline with halter or strap options, an interesting panel of shirring at the skirt resting just over the pelvis (not sure I would want to draw attention there myself but it looks nice in the illustration), and an eye-catching gathered center-front bodice. And then of course there is the lovely and diminutive capelet that looks like it attaches at the shoulders and gives a bit more modest options for shoulder coverage. Having the pattern in a very friendly size 38" bust is also a big factor.

It's fun to take a look at the envelope back when you can to see how the pattern was drafted and assembled... you know, if you're a pattern geek like I am...

If you wanted to draft up your own pattern like this and didn't have a lot of time, you could always use Depew #4235 as a starting point and make a few adaptations from there.

1940’s Evening Gown #4235A (1947)

How about you? Do you think that the pattern was worth over $350 or would you rather pay that for a finished gown?

Happy sewing,

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

La Mode Francaise and Pretty French Costumes from 1932

Today for your viewing pleasure I have pictures from one of the my favorite French magazines. This breathtaking, rare 16 page magazine is full of chic costume (Travestis) fashions from January, 1932. The pages contain advertisements, amazing full-page color fashion illustrations, photographs, and articles. This issue features costumes with some of the most colorful and mind-blowingly beautiful illustrations I have ever seen. Please pardon some of the photo quality - these were taken a long while back with my old, lousy camera...