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Jan 21, 2012

Pattern Stash Confessions, Part 1



Help.

Readers, as you know, I am always trying to organize myself better.  In the last six months, I have discarded many unnecessary household items.  I dust my Ken dolls regularly.  I even started sorting my wigs!  Today I decided it was time to revisit my pattern stash, starting with my women's patterns.

What a wake-up call: I have more than a hundred women's patterns -- slips, coats, robes, gowns, jumpers, blouses, suits, swimwear -- everything but maternity.   I only started sewing in June 2009; at this rate, I'll need a storage locker by the 2015.

Readers, please believe me when I tell you that before I counted, I had absolutely no idea how big my stash was.   I just knew it was getting too big for the credenza shelves where I store them.  Many of the patterns in my stash I purchased, many others (more than half?) were given to me.  I've given away quite a few in turn, but somehow, I never seem to make much of a dent in my collection.  Once I own them I find it hard to part with them -- do you know what I mean?

A recently acquired favorite.
Someday I will conquer my fear of faux fur.

I decided to archive them this afternoon in a Picasa file, so that I could sort through them quickly.  What has happened a number of times is that I'll almost purchase something I already own.  That would make me very unhappy.

I'm ambivalent about a button-down evening gown.

Always nice when a pattern comes with a message!

My collection starts in the mid to late Twenties and ends in contemporary times.  (A few downloaded BurdaStyle patterns aren't included.)  You may notice a larger number of patterns from the Forties and early Seventies, but I think I have pretty much every period covered.  Notice any conspicuous absences?  Maybe the mid-Eighties Gunne Sax...

You can view my stash in the slide show below.  If I made a particular pattern, you'll see a pic immediately after it of Cathy in the outfit.  You can click through to the Picasa file itself to see the patterns full size.  They are in approximate chronological order.



I am certain nearly all of you own at least one of these.

Readers, I must ask: how big is your pattern stash?  If you purchase vintage patterns, do you buy them to use or to collect, or both?  I never wanted a collection per se, and I only purchase patterns I hope to make.  As you can see, I have a lot of work ahead of me!

In closing, friends, do you have a rule about the size of your stash --like when you get to a hundred, you refuse to add more till you've gotten rid of some of the others, or does your stash just get bigger, and bigger, and bigger?

How many patterns do you own: Too few?  Just enough?  Too many?

Confess!

60 comments:

  1. I should probably count mine. I will say, though, that I have four large cardboard boxes full that I'm going to sell, one garbage bag full that I have yet to open (all of these were donated) and patterns that have outgrown my two huge sewing machine table sized boxes stacked everywhere. Like you, Peter, I never set out to collect them. I just started buying patterns I thought I'd like to make, and I always go to the dollar sales at Joanns to buy patterns I think I'll need. And it's resulted in a need for a new filing system!

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  2. I own too many, some that I have some sentimental attachment to even though they no longer fit. I was inspired by one of Tasia's blog posts when she was organizing and made a home for my pattern collection in my filing cabinet. I wrote about it here http://sewessentiallysew.blogspot.com/2012/01/holy-crap-batman.html I like how organized I feel. And it is a reminder that maybe I should find a good home for some of them before I consider adding to my stash.

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  3. Oh, I've gotta lot of patterns, man. 64 before the 8 I bought last week. And that doesn't include all of the sewing books that come with patterns. It's challenging and I want to give some of them away except, what if I want to make these things some day. I have needs!

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  4. I have well over 1,000. I finally began putting my patterns into comic book boxes. My part of that where I may have issues is that each is also in a protector with a cardboard back.

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  5. Oh dear Peter..I have so many too and I just can't part with most of them. I have quite a few that I know I will never use, wrong size or just not me. Wish we could all have a swap.

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  6. I don't have too many as I've just started sewing clothes in the past year.
    I'm stealing your idea thought of putting them on picassa with a picture of the ones I've made next to them. I think that is smart!

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  7. I don't have that many.. I think. I'm going to count them. There are some real duds in the collection (sale spoils and "oh, I can modify that to be just like such and such pattern" stuff mostly) and some real gems. I have a cart full of vintage ones on etsy right now, just waiting for me to click BUY. Until recently, like just last week, I hadn't had any real success with them and now that I have I feel a little pattern stashing is a just reward. There is only one modern pattern that I want, Vogue 1247, aside from that I have no plans to add more contemporary patterns to my stash.

    I was planning to scan the covers of the ones I do have tonight. If I can stay awake after I eat dinner.

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  8. Let's see. I store images of mostly all of my patterns on my hard drive in folders separated by company. Neglecting recent purchases, the count is over 300. I've sold about 50 patterns and may not have deleted the image. I have about 25 pattern magazines. I'm working on a weekly ditch and I expect to start culling this stash soon.

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  9. The point that I hit about 100 is when I realized that I needed a filing system. Which I now have, but with almost 200 patterns I need more drawers to store them in!

    This doesn't count the box (size Lg) of patterns to re-home.

    Like you, about half of mine were given to me; the rest I bought because I planned on making them. What kills me is that, with that many patterns, I can go looking for a certain waistline, or a certain silhouette....and I DON'T HAVE IT! How can that be?

    Clearly, I need more patterns.

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  10. You know, reading your blog, I have often thought to myself, "Self, why don't YOU collect anything? That lovely Peter has, like 13 different collections, each of which attests to how interesting a person he is..." I don't have that many patterns on hand (or any other collections to speak of) because of storage issues (family of three in an NYC apartment). If I make something from a pattern and don't like it, I give the pattern away (I have a short memory and am likely to make the same mistake twice!). I only buy patterns if I have a specific project in mind, though I happily take whatever freebies come my way (but then if I know I would never use one, I give it away). Patterns were made to be used. I'm always so surprised when I can find a vintage pattern for sale online and it's uncut!

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  11. At least five large cardboard boxes of now-vintage patterns are stored in my attic, and the equivalent of two large file boxes, along with 9 baskets of more contemporary patterns live in the sewing room. So, I own hundreds, I guess. Or maybe as many as a thousand. I've been at this awhile.

    I see the collection as a library. Some I bought just to read, or to use for inspiration, without ever intending to make them up. Too many were purchased with the intention of immediately sewing them . . . but somehow that never happened.

    It was sobering to realize, eventually, that I wouldn't live long enough (even if I live for fifty more years) to make up all of the patterns I'd like to sew, and already own. C'est la vie -- I no longer worry about that, or the pattern collection, and just focus on what I'm making today. It's better that way!

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  12. Technically I own too any, but I love the graphics. I can emulate you and put them into a Picasa file, I guess, but each pattern is good for several minutes of time travel nostalgia. I got an entire box of patterns for humans from an auction, another box of patterns for dolls when a friend died, and still more when neighbors prepare to move away. It's as if I operate an Old Patterns Refuge. They are all welcome and all appreciated. newer patterns, i'm not so sure about.

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  13. Lets see 4 small boxes of envelopes. They stand upright in there. Two years plus a few extra issues of Ottobre. Another half shelf of larger patterns. Two years worth of Sew Beautiful. Oh and some pdfs and sewing books of course. So too many in short. That's why I'm challenging myself to not buy a single pattern this year. So far so good but its only January and I'm really enjoying picking projects from my stash now that I'm not allowed to just go buy them.

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  14. Oooh Boy... I have ~130 patterns + about a dozen non-vintage or repro. It started out of a 'Hey I wanna make that!' bug, but there's never enough time in the day. Some are in FF's from the 20's, others are simple tops from the 80's and everything in between.

    Now I look for specific design construction or techniques that are different from something I already have (sleeve construction or bias seaming etc.). I particularly look for 'mail order' patterns (Anne Adams, Marian Martin, Grit, etc.) from the 30's - 60's and always keep my eyes open for early 30's patterns in particular. I've only been 'collecting' for 5 years or so, which means I should probably pace myself... Nah! :^)

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    1. You can view my collection here:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirkbyky/sets/72157610975529388/

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    2. "Now I look for specific design construction or techniques that are different from something"

      Me too ... after a while, I realized there is a lot of recycling ideas & there isn't any need to repeat something I already have.

      Beth

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    3. Yep. I've been in a 70's does 30's/ 40s phase lately. But have been noticing how the 50's recreates some of the 30's and the 30's recreates the late teens.

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  15. Oh Peter ... they are so small each one & each represents an idea. Also, for a while, I could find them at Goodwill for about 10c each. I scanned the envelope fronts & backs & put the scanned images in a notebook in my evernote account -- which says I have 1350.

    FWIW, I am not buying them at anything like the same rate now. Instead, I grab screenshots of clothing & collect them as images. They are even easier to store. :-)

    Beth

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  16. My collection (so far) only fills one drawer, so is fairly small - although about to be joined by 5 patterns I just ordered.
    It was fun looking through your collection, though, I jotted down a few patterns I'd love to get/try and recreate, and was reminded of one I started using but never finished. I'd been trying to think of what to make for a friend's wedding in a month's time, and seeing that one (vintage vogue 2787) I know what I'll make now, so thanks for that!

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  17. i only buy patterns that i intend to make up; that being said i've bought way more than i have actually made haha

    i had a big tidy-up/organisation-session with my patterns about a month ago. I bought pattern sized plastic tubs from Officeworks and each era has it's own tub (well, in truth the 70s shares the children's pattern tub because i ran out of tubs and haven't been back to get more). My modern patterns are in the bottom of the filing cabinet; which became empty after a huge 'research paper clean out'.

    I didn't count the patterns; the reason being is that i didn't want to feel any guilt about buying patterns that i may never make up.

    I am however, becoming a more picky vintage pattern purchaser and thus i haven't bought any since my big clean up.

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  18. 100? That is not a problem stash - that is minimal. I have almost 1,000 patterns including envelope patterns and a slew of magazines (each counting once toward that total, but each containing many, many lovely things to make). I have everything logged in pattern-file software (they are supposed to have a smartphone app any day now) with images and pattern info. I keep the patterns physically sorted by type into baskets and bags in a large bookcase/cabinet thing that occupies a significant corner of my living room. Now, given that I sew for myself, my four children, and my husband (and my mom on occasion, and home dec, and doll stuff for DD)...well, I can do an excellent job justifying my collection.

    We won't even discuss the 1250 plus yards of fabric living in my garage...

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    Replies
    1. One other thought - I have reviewed 632 patterns, so I at least I have proof that I use the patterns I collect!

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  19. Ugh, last time I counted (last summer) I had 6 plastic drawer thingies full & they each hold roughly 100 patterns. So, 600, not counting self-drafted or Burda, which would probably bring it up to about 650. IN MY DEFENSE, however, I am a costume designer. You never know when you'll be called upon to crank out a prairie dress of gingham, unitard in 4-way zebra stretch or an Abe Lincoln ensemble. That said, I culled my collection recently & got rid of my maternity patterns (never doing THAT again). I cover all time periods from biblical to futuristic (though only patterns PRODUCED after 1930). I can't part with any more!!

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  20. I loved looking at your patterns, I found myself wanting to see Cathy in quite a few of them, and sometimes I did.
    I like the idea of documenting my patterns as you have done, but I can't be arsed!!

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  21. Patterns once made, go away unless I really want to make it a Tried and True basic like my sheath dress or my trousers. Fabric...I have to make something up out of stash before another yard comes in this house.That is my 2012 resolution. I probably have about 25 patterns right now. I had to get ruthless about it or the sewing stuff was going to take over. I do have a few of my mom's patterns just for sentimental reasons...a caftan pattern from the 1970's.

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  22. 100? I am probably nearing 600 or 700, and I started sewing in 2010. I just seem to have a knack for finding vintage patterns everywhere I go, and they all love me so much they follow me home. Coming from a family of packrats, I already know I will inherit my aunts patterns and they will stay in the family, lol.

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  23. Remember: I haven't counted my men's patterns yet...

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  24. Around a 1,000 at last count. I have a lot of dress patterns which is rediculous since neither myself no my grown daughter wear dresses very often. I have culled over the last couple of years and gotten rid of boring or rediculous patterns. I mostly have stuff that theorhetically I might use. :-)

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  25. I have over 10,000 commercial patterns dating from 1880 through the 1960's. I use them to sew from - but mostly to replicate the ones in public domain to make them available to others. (www.vpll.org)

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  26. I have too many really but can't help myself. I'm sure I'd have a heck of a lot more if I didn't restrict myself to just patterns I would make for me and OH which are usually from late 40s to late 50s, if I collected everything I 'liked' I'd need a bigger house!

    I also scanned all my patterns so I don't duplicate, it's also an easy way to go through your patterns without getting the stash out! I'm off to look at yours now

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  27. 100 patterns - That nuffing! I have recently built a new shelving unit to house the plastic crates that I store mine in. I must have about 700, which having said that, is also kinda not much considering it is part of what I do.
    I have decided of late that, space permitting, I am not going to get down on myself for collecting anything. I really love it all and I am in it (patterns, buttons, jewellery...) any chance I get. All of it is so inspirational, and also resell-able once I do decide to cut back.

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  28. Dude, you need to draft more. I bet loads of these patterns are really similar, and you could tweak them yourself easily. If I were you, I'd scan in the pattern art I liked, so I could look at garment ideas, and sell the vast majority, leaving just the basics that you can tweak to fit.

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  29. And if anyone wants to donate unwanted patterns... ^_^

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  30. I only have a few patterns so not an issue yet, but maybe you should have a database of them so you don't buy them twice :)

    There's a free template available for Bento to track them.

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  31. I just finished packing up my stash... I didn't count, because I was too busy with the leaning towers of patterns, but I'm fairly sure that I've got at least 200, probably more!

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  32. I've never worried too much about how many I have. I have culled in the past, though. I own things that I will never part with, such as patterns that belonged to my great-grandmother. I have a lot of my mom's too. But, for the most part, I do not keep things that I do not think that I would wear or would like to use some part of. I think packing off vintage patterns that you don't really have a use for allows them to go to someone who (hopefully) does have a use for them.
    I think Jenny Wren has the right idea. Nothing fits me out of the envelope and I can draft pretty much whatever I'd want. So, I think ideas are more important that actual patterns. I now have a much bigger stash of idea files of vintage images than I do of actual patterns.

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  33. I have too many patterns that were just "given" to me (more like offloaded) by anyone that knows I sew. I don't want to throw them away, but there are some that I should definitely just donate to Goodwill...I think I only have 50 and that seems too many. Probably because only 10 of them I can actually use/make/wear, but oh well.

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  34. Oh, regarding "an app for that" I have PatternPal on my iPhone. It's helpful when I run into a sale or flea market so that I don't duplicate. It's very labor-intensive to enter in all of the data, but worth it in the long run!

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  35. I've moved twice with my sewing stuff, and I don't want to have more anymore. i guess, my goal was to get big variety of patterns. I have almost all Burda magazines since 2008, several before 2008. A have thousands electronical patterns of Burda, Ottobre, Boutique etc. on my computer. I am satisfied with my collection now. Especially I feel SAFE because my collection is not only on paper but on my computer also!
    I got real with my rate of sewing. I sew maybe one pattern a month, so one sewing magazine with a pattern that I MUST have is enough! All others I can buy or download online, so they won't clutter my home and my mind!
    See my post about it here http://mysummertouch.blogspot.com/2011/12/downloadable-vs-ready-to-use-paper.html

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  36. 300-ish, plus another 80 or so I need to sell. I won't sew them all, of course, but they are as much for reference as for sewing. Some are so weird--like the 1940's one-piece playsuit with the drop-able seat (for an adult woman!)--that I could never wear them in real life, but they're interesting period pieces.

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  37. I probably have around 500+. I have only, and will only ever make a fraction of them, but I will keep collecting. A pattern is a small thing that brings so much pleasure. I really love them. I read them and refer to them regularly. Old, new, hand-me-down, and inherited, they all mean something to me. I have scanned them all into my computer and made a picasa album that I can access from my iphone - all except the most recent lot that I acquired (last summer already!). I also have a bag of "culled" patterns, ones even I don't like, but I can't bring myself to part with them.

    Speaking of my most recent lot, I got these from my aunt who has a great collection starting in about the late fifties, and she sewed them all. Anyway, there is one that I thought I might send to you if you don't already have it. It's a great men's pattern that looks remarkably like something Ken would have worn in about 1974. If you're interested I can send you the pdf.

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    1. Sondra, wait till I post my men's patterns first -- I may already own it! LOL

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    2. Will do! I haven't scanned it yet anyway.

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  38. I made the mistake of counting/documenting my fabric stash... I have 158, not counting the stack of 20 or so that need to be dumped asap (90s monstrosities; they came in bulk with a bunch of other patterns that I am keeping). I dumped the pictures on Flickr for the same reason - so I stop buying multiples of the same pattern!

    I tell myself I'm not going to buy any more patterns, but it's really difficult when nearly all of my stash came from the flea market for less than a quarter apiece. Can't help it, must save patterns.

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    1. Oops, that should say pattern stash - although I also dumped pictures of my fabric stash on Flickr too, haha!

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    2. I loved looking through your stash, lladybird!

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  39. The only good advice I can give is too never get rid of your vintage Vogue patterns. They might be worth a fortune on Ebay some day. I cannot help you too much because I hoard sewing patterns. I have sooo many and so little time to sew. The only patterns I have thrown away are the ones I used and were definetely no good in real life when the garment was finished (Burda hammer pants for ex.)

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  40. I have recently donated 1/2 of all my stash to a recycle and reuse organization in Oakland, CA. It felt wonderful...unfortunately I have purchased at least 12 patterns since then, but still have 2 out of 4 pattern boxes empty. I got rid of patterns that I knew I'd never use, wrong size, wrong style for my changed shape, since I'm no longer 22 years old!

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  41. Well, if we are talking about just envelope patterns, I have something close to 200, but if we throw in all of the patterns from my sewing magazines, I have well over 2000 (I count each pattern separately from the magazine, because that is how I digitally catalog them). The envelopes live in plastic drawers and the magazines live in magazine organizers. I don't have any vintage patterns, so mostly I find online images and save a picture to my computer. Then I have the digital images sorted by type - coats, pants, skirts, etc. - so I can look through my options and decide what patterns I want to use for a specific project. The patterns themselves are stored by brand and numerically (like in a fabric store), so I can find them very easily when I want to make something. Since I trace all of my patterns I also have a separate filing cabinate with envelopes of traced pattern pieces.

    I pretty much only buy patterns I want to make up (mostly for me but some for my sister), though there are a lot of magazine patterns I have no interest in making. My one guilty pleasure is buying costume patterns - I can't say I will ever need them specifically, but I love having them and so I don't think I will stop acquiring them anytime soon.

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    1. By the way, forgot to add that I love looking through your collection - the 50s patterns are just stunning and I love them. Also, I have decided that being young in the 80s is why it took me a quarter century to decide that it was worth the time and effort to bother thinking about clothing at all.

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  42. I sorted through all of my patterns last week and donated some I would never use again. I didn't count how many I had, but when I was done they all fit into 1 small box that I then sent to myself in Arizona via media mail. I mostly make my own patterns now, so only use the these for reference or inspiration.

    Fabric hoarding has been my secret vice for years. However I went boldly, through all of my fabric last week and donated 4 large plastic storage bins of "I'll never in h*ll sew anything from this" stuff. I have at least that much fabric left, but I feel a a lot better.

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  43. according to my two catalogues I have 248 patterns, of which 91 are "for sale" but I don't currently have them listed anywhere. (Ask me if you'd like a list of what I have available!)
    I catalogue on two Excel spreadsheets, listing brand, catalogue number, size range, description and whether or not it's been used. I also keep scans of the fronts (and most of the backs) of the patterns I own, on my phone, so that if I'm out and about and see "the perfect" fabric, I can figure out how much I need to buy.
    I keep trying to go cold turkey on buying patterns, and it keeps on not working.

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    1. you want proof? I bought a "new" second hand pattern at the Salvos today, and remnants of fabric - all up I spent about $40, but the pattern and one piece of fabric from the Salvos were $3.

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  44. I do not own a lot garment patterns. I just buy the ones that I really like and I would want to wear. However I have a growing collection of vintage apron patterns. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, baking, cooking, cleaning and I have to have a bright, girly apron on me.

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  45. I love patterns also. I donated tons when I moved 5 years ago but recently, despite not spending much time sewing, I've been hitting those sales where Vogue are $4 and others $1 or $2. I have bought the same one twice!

    I miss seeing really nice lingerie patterns. I liked unusually designed ones.

    Two weeks ago I went to a dangerous place, the Textile Center garage sale and patterns were 10 for $1. I bought at least a bagful. My only regret is that I didn't hit the patterns first.

    I also bought about 20 old patterns for about $6 on ebay because there were several cool old top patterns I wanted. I will weed out the uglies to Goodwill.

    Peter I'm impressed with the sheer volume of sewing you do! I seem to get gifts done for my grandkids and not much else. I want to start sewing clothing for plus size me!

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