Friday 15 March 2013

You Can't Judge an Ugly Vintage Pattern by its Cover...

Amy, from Sews N Bows, suggested I add a pattern to the You Can't Judge an Ugly Vintage Pattern by its Cover Party. Great idea!!!

First up, find out what constitutes vintage...

When I think of the word vintage, the first thing that springs to mind is a word I shy away from... old. Now when I was a kid, all I wanted to be was older. Now that I am older, I think... why did I want to get there SO quickly?

I recently commented to a blogging friend about the age of vintage patterns. If patterns from the 50s and 60s were vintage, did that make us vintage, too... LOL!!!

OK... I'd better find out the definition of vintage...

Image source: Wikipedia

The starting date for defining vintage cars is easy... when they were first built. According to Wikipedia, there is debate as to the end date. Some put it at 1925, some 1930 and some even as late as 1939. Yes, that sounds OLD. Definitely not me!!!

Vintage Champagne ~ Image Source: Wikipedia
Look at the date on the vintage champagne... 1995. I'm feeling better now. I can guarantee almost everyone reading this post was born before 1995. In certain wines, vintage can denote quality. Quality; yes, I like that definition. I won't read any further to find out about other wines. I'll stick with quality!

Back to clothes. defines vintage clothes as being between 20 to 100 years old. Older than 100 years and they become antique. Now that's really old.

In America, commercial sewing patterns were first produced in 1860. I can't find whether they were produce elsewhere before this. Butterick have been around since 1863, McCalls since 1870 and Vogue since 1899. Simplicity are a relative new comer, beginning in 1927.

It's a bit hard to tell what defines a vintage sewing pattern, but it seems that it's any original pattern that was produced between 1920 to 1980s/1990s. If it's older that 1920s it's an antique

If you've been reading Threading My Way for a while, you'll know that I gave away ALL my old... (sorry) vintage sewing patterns. Yes, that's right... every single one of them and there were LOTS. They were all patterns I had purchased brand new during the era they were printed (late 60s -  early 90s), when they weren't classified as vintage.

However, I do now have one vintage kids' pattern that a friend has lent to me and several fabulous vintage women's patterns that I won over at Unconventional Katie.

Here's the kids' pattern made to fit sizes 3 - 10 and probably printed in the 80s.

Check out the collar!!! It's more like a bib or a burp cloth. If I made that for one of the little people in the family, they'd tell me in no uncertain terms... I'm not a baby! I don't need a bib!

Now if it was a sailor's collar, it might, just might be OK. That would bring in the cute factor, but even then I'm not sure.

However, version 2, the red dress, is cute. And it has a dropped waist. I wore dresses with a dropped waist in my teens and I loved them. Then again, I loved the empire waist dresses we wore a couple of years later.

Never mind what I wore, Amy predicts that dropped waists will be back in fashion next year, so this vintage pattern will be perfect. Perhaps it's a tad short for now-a-days, but that's easily fixed. Maybe change the little pointed collar to a Peter Pan style and leave off the black neck tie and it'll be a just right for an up to the minute, fashionable Winter dress.

... Pam


  1. Yes! I was thinking the same.... A Peter Pan collar on the red dress and you are good to go! Can't wait to see it!

  2. My mom and I were having this conversation the other day about antique, vintage, and I love your post. (And my mom totally cited the definition in our converstaion!:)

    Anyways...I agree with Amy the drop waists are coming back! (At least I hope so...I've already cut out 2 of them for Grace...)

  3. Ooh, can't wait to see it when it's finished! :)

  4. That red one? Remember Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? The one with Gene Wilder? Veruca Salt? Yeah. That's her dress!

  5. fun post, I love vintage patterns!

  6. My Mum made us formal dresses when we were in primary school with a pattern that had a dropped waist and really puffy sleeves, with a huge bow on the back. Oh how I LOVED it! It was about 1988. She still has the pattern so I guess it would be considered vintage now.

    I love browsing in op shops, I've found some great old patterns! And true - you can't judge a pattern by its cover - its amazing how it can seem so different when made in some modern fabrics - and without the 80s styling and accessories!

  7. Vintage patterns are the best!! I actually like the red one a lot, especially with the changes you suggested. This pattern brings back great childhood memories...I had many 'bibbed' dresses! :)

  8. I'm so glad I never throw away any patterns - even the ugliest 1980s patterns you can think of I've kept! I'm sure they'll have some value some day. Just to cloud the issue further I think of patterns in terms of antique (pre and early 1900s), vintage (1920s-1970s) and retro (1980s-early 2000s).

  9. I agree with you. I have two huge boxes of old patterns in the attic. I also made a dress with a similar big collar for my daughter way back when. It's fun to play with old patterns and update them and sometimes you get a surprise and find that they are back in fashion!

  10. Yes I would agree that pattern is from the 80s. I think my Mum had that exact pattern and made me that dress! I can't remember the sailor collar part being so huge, but I definitely remember the drop waisted dress. You are stirring dormant memories!

  11. yeah I totally owned a dress like the black one as a child - maybe in a green velvet ;op I agree with everyone else, the red one with a peterpan collar and leggings would be adorable for fall/winter.

  12. I have to confess that I wore a similar dress to the black one for a family portrait in the 80's. Except my dress was a brown, pink, and orange plaid with a white bib/collar. I was going through an awkward phase at that time so the dress, paired with a bad perm, and super thick glasses made for a not so attractive picture!lol Can't wait to see what you do with the pattern. The red dress reminds me of the Oliver + S Apple picking pattern.:)

  13. 1980's vintage? Surely not Pam!

    Love the alterations you are suggesting for that dress.

  14. OK Confession time. I MADE the big collar dress for my girls. I used a velveteen (dark blue) and made the big collar out of a leftover lacy material. I thought they were so cute. They hated them.LOL

  15. lol, I think I had a dress or two like the one on the left. The red dress is pretty cute.

  16. I am loving this series! It is so much fun peeking into everyone else's pattern stash, and hearing their ideas and stories. Thank you for sharing yours!

  17. Pam i am sure i wore dresses like that at sometime, or shall we state at `those` times , i think i should look through the [few] photos i have from that time. My mother at those time did not buy patterns like those. We received the Dutch mag MARION, from the editor My great Uncle Elias Cohen. And most my clothes came from this `Vintage` mag. Alas nor me nor my late mother have not saved all those mags. Years later i sewed for my children and myself from newer MARION editions. i might still have one or 2 of them. i will let you know what i find.

  18. I happened across your blog by accident and just had to chuckle about the Vintage patterns. This summer I inherited any and every pattern my Aunts (and previously owned by my Grandmother) own. I have some from the 50-80's. They were like??? what are you doing with those???? My answer, "Don't judge by the photo, a little shortening there and different fabric and it is the perfect pattern. I also HATE pattern tissue and the older patterns have thicker tissue that doesn't rip and shred. I even have a few patterns that are made out of butcher weight paper, and my GM had copied (and made notes) on interfacing fabric. I love seeing her hand writing. When I sew, I feel her presence there with me.

    1. You are lucky no one else in the family wanted all those patterns, Tracy, especially given they belonged to your Grandmother... lucky girl!!! And yes, I always manage to rip the modern tissue patterns.

    2. I am the only one that sews, now. I also have my dibs in for all their sewing machines. I have 3 (maternal) aunts and one has 2 antique machines. One is her mother-in-laws and is a treddle. I begged and begged for her to let them come my way when she was done with them, I would pay to have them moved or rent a u'haul. We live 1200 miles away. This past summer I mailed home 3 separate 25# boxes of assorted fabric and notions from her older sister who was down-sizing her house....thankful does not describe the cartwheels of joy I was doing.

  19. It was great reading this 'vintage' post but also meandering back through the older posts.....All those beautiful sewn clothes.....I loved your wedding dress!

  20. Oh yes there were quite a lot of ugly fashions in the 1980s!

  21. My mum had lots of vintage patterns but gave them away before I began my sewing journey, v fitted 1950's jackets etc *swoon* (boohooo!) Love the red dress, saw very similar (but sleeveless) in a children's online store recently in a lovely Any Butler style cotton fabric, the dropped waist looked lovely.


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