Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vintage Patterns

Busy, busy!  I didn't mean to take an unscheduled break, but it seems that when it rains, it pours!  Last week and this week are turning out to be the busiest I've had in quite a while - everything is happening at once.  No time for sewing, although I did finally manage to hem my 1962 skirt.  I have been able to find a little time for knitting, and I'm making some progress on my Ghia sweater to go with that skirt.  I'm thinking of not showing you the skirt until I can show them together.

But I do have something interesting to show you.  A couple weeks ago, I acquired close to 100 vintage sewing patterns from my friend Alicia.  She was doing a big clean-out, and after setting aside the patterns she wanted to keep, offered me the rest at a deep discount.  Naturally, I took the lot!

When I was at her house going through them, one pattern in particular really grabbed my attention:

And you may wonder why, as it's not a particularly earth-shaking design.  Here's why:

This Kwik Sew pattern from 1972 originated from a shop literally around the corner from the house where I grew up!  Now, in 1972 I was 8 years old, so sewing wasn't on my radar yet.  (I think I probably started sewing around 1976.)  I didn't remember this shop, but I knew exactly where it was.  (The original building is no longer there.)  I emailed the picture to my mom, and we had a good time reminiscing about that area and yarn and fabric shops and sewing and knitting.  It was such a fun surprise to find this pattern in amongst all the patterns Alicia had bought through Ebay!

Most of the patterns I got are from the 60s and 70s, but there are a couple that go back as far as the 40s.  I'm thinking I may feature some of them in future posts when I don't have anything else to show, LOL!  And there are some patterns from companies I'd never heard of, which I thought was pretty cool.

Two of the patterns really spoke to me.  They said, "Make me soon!"  I know it's probably all wrong for me and completely impractical, but I'm head over heels in love with this dress:

Of course, I'm speaking of the one in the middle, with the open back.  I'm on the lookout for some black or navy cotton pique to make it.  Here's the line drawing:

The other one is a little dress and jacket ensemble.  I keep thinking about this type of outfit this spring!  The jacket on this one is meant to be reversible.  I'm not really sure how I feel about that, to tell you the truth.

Both of these patterns are from 1966, and to my good fortune, they are both cut but complete. 

Even though there are a lot of patterns in this haul that I would consider making, for me vintage patterns are really more about the art, and having a little piece of history.  I absolutely love it when  a pattern has a stamp from the shop, or hand-written notes.  Do you guys like vintage patterns?  Do you view them as artifacts, or as practical items?

And what kind of bra would I wear under that open-backed dress?


  1. Mmm, what a fab aquisition! The two patterns you've shown are both gorgeous, I love the one with the low back. Not sure what bra you'd wear with it though, which would put me off making it. :-(

  2. I really hope you make that open-back dress -- it is adorable! I might add a well-placed horizontal band further up the back, just to cover the bra strap. I don't think it would ruin the look, although it is cute as it is. I do have a few vintage patterns that I've collected without ever seeking them out. I've never made one though.

  3. Oh, WOW! What an amazing haul! And how fun that you found a pattern from so close to home! I'm so excited to see what you decide to make from this treasure trove!

  4. What treasures!! Thinking of how ungodly hot it got here last summer, I bet that open back one in a bright color or print could be a summer dress, too!

    As for the reversible one... I remember a friend of mine pointing out that Doris Day wears a jacket that looks like it's backwards in some 60s movie (and I'm forgetting it now). Perhaps it was a popular fashion then!

  5. Oh how wonderful, finding those little bits of history is just the best bit about vintage patterns. If you make some of them it's a bonus :)

  6. ooh, lucky you! The history surrounding vintage patterns is so neat - I just love to discover markings like that.

  7. Love the backless dress - you have to make it! As for the bra... you got me there. Adding a strap mid-back would solve the problem but it would also take away form the lovely design. Perhaps some research at a bra shop is in order.

  8. I bet you were jumping for joy at that inheritance! The dress pattern is cute and super sexy in the back. The ensemble is classy and so Jackie-O.

  9. It's amazing to think that Alicia had all these patterns in her stash and now they're in yours!! What a treasure to find a pattern that was once just around the corner from your home. : )

  10. I love that story about the pattern originating in your old neighbourhood! And I cannot believe you are nearing 50, Gail. You are enviably youthful! :-) (Of course, the closer I get to 50, the more innately youthful it seems...).

    I think you'd need one of those super low-back bras - the kind they make for bridal. They're not available everywhere. You'd likely need to go to a bra boutique. Perhaps even order one in.

    You could use those "petal" things that stick onto your boobs but they really don't work to lift anything. If your breasts are super small, they might be ok. Or quite perky. I'd go for the real bra cuz the dress will look more special if your boobs sit in it well.

    1. Haven't you heard? '50 the new 40' and all that? ;-D

      Gail, couldn't you wear it with a tight fitting spagetti tank underneath? I am picturing it in a linen or chambray, though, so more of a casual look than shown in the drawing.

      Navy cotton with a white tank? You can't go wrong with traditional navy and white! (Think if you could see the bra it would ruin it, no matter how pretty)

    2. I have found one possible solution that I'm going to play around with:


      Also going to explore sewing bra cups right into the dress. Because I'm not that small and definitely not perky! Those petal things don't work for me!

  11. Wow lucky! :)
    Maybe one of those stick on the front type bra thingos? Is this making sense? haha
    depends on ur size tho, it might not do much, they don't do nada for me

  12. Vintage??????
    Gad, I was already an adult
    But, yes, I do love seeing these, even better to have them at hand
    I could display (small easels) two or three patterns for a couple of weeks
    Then change them out for more of memory lane.

    Great haul, Gail!


  13. It must have been fun to go through all those patterns! I've never sewn from a vintage pattern, but seeing all the great makes on blogs maybe I should. Jean from Extra Petite posted about a DIY strap converter kit for dresses with a low back: www.extrapetite.com/2012/12/diy-how-to-make-bra-strap-converter-for.html. The dress she shows is not quite as low but it might work.

  14. What fun! Somehow finding vintage patterns is such a treat - I feel like I've won the lottery when I come across a good one! I feel such affection for the person who owned it before, even if I have no idea who that person is, just because they found meaning in someone that means a lot to me.

  15. Yes, they are treasures! But I view them as practical too... why let something go to waste by not using it? :) I do love my vintage patterns... (all 5 of them lol). I plan to make them all. Looking forward to seeing more of your patterns and what you do with them! :)

  16. Fabulous! And yes, vintage patterns are even better when they have the shop stamps on them, or handwritten notes. . .
    -- stashdragon

  17. What fun! Now I'm wondering what happened to all my mom's patterns--perhaps I'll find them one day.


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