Do you have a connection with vintage sewing patterns? Perhaps your mother or grandmother sewed your clothes for you as a child, or maybe you yourself used to sit for hours at the sewing machine, whirring away. Oh, the trials and tribulations of a mis-sewn seam, or a zipper that needed to be torn out and redone…but the joys of a finished product, one that you had completed totally on your own, maybe with a little twist on the design of the pattern, which made it more unique.
I, myself, have had many trips down Memory Lane from our offerings of vintage sewing patterns at Robin’s General Store. When I was a child, my mother would cut out Betsy McCall paper dolls from the women’s magazine for me to play with. It was so much fun! I had allergies, so could not wear wool coats and other itchy materials. My mother sewed me a beautiful navy blue velvet coat, with many covered buttons.
As a pre-teen, I was very tall, too tall for any “store-bought” clothes of my age…I was 5’8″ at age 12, tallest in my class, and taller than all the boys….you see, I was a girl! Besides that, our family income was not enormous, to be able to afford many “store-bought” clothes. So, my dear sweet mother very patiently measured her “too tall” red-headed girl (my mother was only 5’3″) and made me some of the most spectacular outfits around.
One of my first favorites was a denim & cream paisley pantsuit, with pants, vest, and tam. That was a Christmas present one year, and oh, how cute I was in it! I came upon that Simplicity pattern recently. Then, a few years later, mini-skirts were all the rage. Now, can you imagine a tall, skinny girl with very long legs in a mini-skirt? Of course, my mother did not agree with the styles, but after awhile, you guessed it, she sewed me one. She was much happier when, around the same time, the maxi skirt came into vogue.
These maxis, as they were called, became my very favorite. I felt so free and “hip” in some of them, and like a fashion model in others. As I started learning to sew in the early teen years, the peasant blouse also was popular. These Simplicity and McCall patterns were easy to do, and along with the tiered maxi skirt, made a great outfit.
I had always requested that my mother sew my wedding dress when I married. However, we found a beautiful dress that was perfect very quickly. So, instead, my mother sewed all 5 bridesmaids dresses, 3 flower girls dresses, and 2 sets of knickers and vests for my ring-bearers…done in 2 months time, while she worked a full time job.
Not much sewing is done now-a-days, “ready to wear” clothing, as it used to be called, has taken the place of homemade. However, some people are beginning to see the value of these vintage sewing patterns. How many hands used these patterns, how many pieces of clothing were made from them, the time period, the economic hardships from which they were born….all of these add up to a treasure that should be preserved. I understand that some are using them as is, and that some are framing the pattern envelope as art. Whatever the use, a look at some of these vintage McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, Advance, or Vogue patterns will stir up the remembrance of another time…another place….