Vintage Patterns

Yesterday, I forgot to say anything about some really special vintage patterns I received from my great-aunt while I was in Santa Barbara over the weekend. She had the patterns waiting for me when I arrived. We took each one out and she would tell me what she had made with the pattern. Some of the patterns were never used and others were used many times over. Sometimes, she would go to her extensive closet and find the article. She remembered every garment. I made this in pink. I made this in green knit. She even found a picture of herself wearing a dress made from the pattern shown on the left side of the picture at the top of the page.

I have a feeling there are even more patterns somewhere in her house. Although she did confess to burning many of her patterns when they went out of fashion. Fortunately, a few were saved from the fire.

As you may be able to tell from the photographs, the patterns span many years, from the 30s to the 80s. My great-aunt is a very accomplished and life-long sewer. With ninety-plus years under her belt, she's had a lot of experience. She still has the same machine she has owned for at least 40 years. It stitches straight, forwards and backwards. That's it. Not even a zig-zag stitch. So she made bound buttonholes or hand stitched buttonholes.

I love all the styles with some exceptions among the 80s era designs. Once I get my taxes done (I'm imagining a few horror stricken gasps right now), I'm hoping to do some summer sewing. I particularly love the pattern in the top photo on the far left, bias cut and ties at the shoulders. I even have a pale green and white gingham seersucker that the drawing reminds me of.

See the pattern in the photo above, with the model wearing a very mod 60s hat? I'm fascinated by the hat and although I highly doubt I would ever wear such a thing, I'm disappointed to say that a pattern for the hat is not included. Again in the photo above, the blue shirt dress with the giant bow? LOVE it. Could I pull off a giant bow? Is it the sort of thing that works in a cubicle? Where would I wear it (haughty gaze included)?

Using any of these patterns would take a fair amount of work on my part simply due to the fact that my great-aunt is very petite and I'm very tall. At the very least the patterns serve as wonderful inspiration. Just looking at these patterns gives me a thrill. And did I mention that she gave me two jeweled buttons? (sorry no picture)

Special storage tip: (Photo above) Instead of refolding all the pieces and shoving them back into the envelopes, my great-aunt folded them in large pieces, paper-clipped the envelope, instructions and pattern together and stored them in stacks inside a shirt box.


  1. What treasures you received from your great-aunt. It really speaks for the cyclical nature of fashion when I say that I really like almost every pattern you showed!

  2. what a great trip! like your aunt, I've thrown away patterns. I can't believe it now, but I have.

    one of the things I notice about
    Vogue Couturier and designer patterns, is that the dress often looks better on the live model than in the artist's representation of the design. that says something about the skill of the designer (because with many patterns, it's the opposite).

    I love old patterns. I've sworn off eBay for now.

  3. wow! those are awesome (love the tip for storing the patterns too!).
    don't feel bad...i haven't done my taxes yet either.

  4. can't wait to see your creations!

  5. oh wow! i can't wait to see what you come up with!

  6. I know those patterns are all the more special knowing they came from your talented great aunt. I hope one day I'll be able to pass along my patterns in the same way.

  7. It is so wonderful that your aunt could share her life as a sewist with you (and that you were interested in her story).
    What an amazing collection too, lots of inspiration there!


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