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May 23, 2012

How I Made $75 Without Lifting a Finger


Friends, my apologies for my absence for the last day or two but I've been out of town due to a serious illness in Michael's family.  Happily I returned home to find my $12 vintage 1955 swimsuit pattern sitting in my mailbox. 


I love to receive patterns in the mail -- it's like getting a gift from someone who knows exactly what you want, except you have to pay for it yourself.

You may be wondering why I inserted that Simplicity skirt pattern at the top of today's post.  I have begun a "Worst Women's Patterns Ever" Pinterest board and where better to file a pattern for a rectangular skirt, right?  Presumably those sharp corners aren't something you could actually cut yourself on, but still, that garment looks quite odd to me.  Anyway, do have a look and poke fun along with me.

Now on to today's topic -- how I made $75.   Well, OK, I didn't actually make $75.  But remember my $12 bathing suit pattern?  Well now get a load of this.   I hope none of you placed that winning bid; for $87.77 plus $2.80 shipping, I would have sold you my pattern and made you the bathing suit myself.  The way I see it, given that someone is paying almost $90 and I paid, with shipping, roughly $14, it's as good as earning about $75.  Don't you agree?

And can someone please explain to me why these vintage bathing suit patterns are often so expensive?  I mean, holy moley.

Readers, what is the most you've ever paid for a vintage pattern?  What's the most you could ever imagine yourself paying?  Not that it's any of my business but I'm curious.  Is there something special you're saving your nickles for?

I've seen some eyebrow-raising prices on Etsy and I do wonder if anyone is actually paying them.  It doesn't offend me or anything, it just seems a little wacky given the state of the economy, but some patterns are especially rare, I guess.  I did once pay $23 for a Mccall's 1920's pattern I never made (yet), but rarely do I pay more than $15, and that's high for me.

Anyway, readers, it's good to be home and I do look forward to sewing again before I forget how. 

See you tomorrow!

45 comments:

  1. I just paid a total of about 28 bucks for two patterns on Etsy. Will never pay that again. I guess that's about 14 each, total.

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  2. First- good vibes coming your way on the family illness.

    and ya, HOLY MOLY on that pattern price! wow! The most I've paid for a pattern is $24 and that was hard to swallow! Most other vintage patterns I buy are around $15, which I think is rather fair. And, like you, I have yet to use that spendy pattern I bought! Soon...soon...

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  3. Umm...the most that I have spent is about $30; however, since most of the patterns don't fit me I have to grade them up. Therefore, I copy them and relist. So, I don't tend to lose in the end ( I actually make money - oops, secret out of the bag). By the way, I will gladly buy your bathing suit pattern when you are finished - I am still jealous with envy over the fact that you scored it at that price. Have several patterns that Cathy may covet - maybe a trade????

    Wishing well to Michaels family, and thanks for your blog - you help keep my obsessions sane.

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  4. Most of the time I pay somewhere around the $15 mark, and I'm okay with that. If I was to go to the store and buy a modern paper pattern I would pay around the same (I'm in Australia).

    BUT I have paid $75 for a pattern, which was, funnily enough, a swimwear pattern. It was adorable, had a matching pool-side jacket, was exactly what I was looking for AND it was my size (which hardly ever happens)

    I also have seen some overpriced patterns on etsy, they are lovely, but I will never pay more than $20 again.

    Hope that the illness in Michael's family is resolved soon - sending best wishes from the other side of the globe :)

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  5. Are those square bits pockets? Like a handyman's bucket organizer? It reminds me of when my kid was younger. He was constantly shoving garbage and "treasure" in my pockets. At the end of the day I'd find all sorts of crap.

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  6. My theory on the high-priced patterns is that someone has what their significant other thinks is too many patterns, so they are quelling an ongoing argument by "putting them up for sale". Since they don't actually want to get rid of them, they put a very high price on them. Everybody wins, and we all get to talk about it.

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    Replies
    1. That really made me chuckle. It may also explain some of the high vintage sewing machine prices.....HMMM, not a bad idea

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  7. I can't say I have ever bought a real vintage pattern, so I don't know how much I would be willing to spend (certainly not $90 for a bathing suit) though I could definitely see myself spending more than I would on a current pattern. I know sometimes I spend a fair bit more than is probably entirely reasonable on certain foreign pattern magazines when they show up on Ebay, but I am always super excited to get them in the mail and I love having them, so I guess to me it is worth it? Especially when I am getting 50 or more patterns for less than the price of many of the Etsy vintage patterns.

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  8. I paid $25 for a shrug pattern from the 40s. It lists fur as a suggested fabric. And its in a larger size! It felt like a lot of money at the time but I would do it again. The most I would spend would be probably $40 but I would feel bad about after.

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  9. i think the most i've ever paid was $22 which was a vintage doll pattern (go figure); mostly the prices i pay are between $4-12. I have a long list of Etsy favourites of overpriced swimwear patterns that i have no intention of buying though.

    If i find an overpriced pattern i like, i put it in my favourites list and then scour the internet for a better priced one. I've nearly always found another cheaper seller....and some of the differing prices for the same patterns/sewing book have been jaw dropping; a vintage sewing book was listed at over $30 by one seller and $3 by another! it's madness!

    I've been slowly collecting a series of vintage drafting books; one recently cost $48 and the next in the series was $15...i hope the others that i find are around the $15 mark!

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  10. Ohh forgot to mention my first vintage pattern was a swimsuit pattern from the 50s (the kind with a skirt not ruched shorts) in a 38 bust for $1.50! This was in 2007 it was in a box of 80s and its 90s patterns in a second hand store.

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  11. The most I've ever paid for 20$. I've been nickle and diming patterns since childhood. A few years ago I sold off about 25% of my patterns and about 10 vintage dresses and with that money I lived in Paris for 6 months. Looks like slaving my way in a thrift store throughout college paid off. WooHoo!

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  12. The most I've spent on a pattern is $45. Actually I spent that much on two. One was an out-of-print Oscar de la Renta formal gown and another one was a (stunning) 1950s Gaston Mallet wedding dress. Other than that I usually wouldn't spend above $30. But I mostly like to keep under the $20 mark.

    Also, I have concluded that ugly sewing patterns are a universal language.

    All the best for Michael's family.

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  13. My top ever price was $18, which is terribly high for me. Most of the time, it's $5 and under!

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  14. You know, I was thinking that skirt pattern was actallu pretty cute! Those big pockets could potentially be very unflattering, but still.
    I'm way to cheap to spend a lot on patterns £10 is the most for me, though it really wasn't anything that special, just a 50s dress I got over-excited about.

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  15. Well, if it's true confessions time, I just dropped $12.98 on a lingerie pattern book, because *someone* mentioned it in their blog. You are a bad influence.;-) If I wildly overpaid for that, kindly leave me in a state of ignorance.

    I do understand that people who specialize in resale patterns need to recoup their time as well as the pattern value, especially those vendors who take pride in presenting a lot of information and photos and guaranteeing that all the pieces are present, but still...I saw a pretty pattern on a website recently listed for $35, and found an identical pattern on ebay for $3. You can guess which one I decided to buy. And I've seen patterns listed for hundreds of dollars, and can only guess who's keeping those vendors in business.

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  16. I am a total sewing cheapskate. Luckily there isn't a whole lot of interest in menswear so the prices tend to be lower. I think $12 is the most I've ever paid, and that was for a Pierre Cardin coat which I've never seen anywhere again. There's a 1960's Nehru jacket that pops up in my searches all the time, but at over $50 (I forget the exact amout) I think that person will have that gem for awhile.

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  17. I am in the same group as many others, I love the thrill of the deal!! Call me cheap I don't care. I think there are others who want quick and easy and are willing to pay for it. It's these folks that drive up prices on everything. Also those obsessed are often willing to break down and overpay to get that one (or four) that they can't live without. What to do? Teach the spenders that they don't have to pay more. Some will listen. I'm afraid the obsessed cannot be reasoned with, so when encountering them, simply step away.

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  18. The most I paid for a vintage pattern is $20.00. I bought it to make for my son's wedding and then did not make it. Maybe someday.

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  19. The most I've ver paid - make that the only amount I've ever paid - for a vintage pattern was $4 at a street stall. It is a lovely 1940's dress. I have yet to make it but it was a real find.

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  20. Yesterday there was a Vogue Schiaparelli pattern that sold on ebay for $325, I kid you not... and it is missing its envelope! Crazy thing is, it's just a suit. If you took the Schiaparelli name away, it's the kind of pattern that might go for $30 - $50 tops.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VINTAGE-1954-MISSES-VOGUE-PARIS-ORIGINAL-MODEL-SCHIAPARELLI-SKIRT-SUIT-PATTERN-/120916029675?_trksid=p3984.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC.NPJS%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUA%26otn%3D5%26pmod%3D120916029675%26ps%3D63


    Mind you there's some UK seller at the moment snaffling up loads of cute patterns at really high prices, then copying them onto cheapo paper and selling the repros at $30 a pop. Apart from the fact that it's illegal as she doesn't own the copyright, it also drives the prices up something rotten...

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    1. That is a LOT for a 50's suit pattern!

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  21. Oops. Link doesn't work, sorry. Cut and paste then it is...

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  22. I'm like you and tend to stay in the $20 range *at most*--and it has to be something really, really special (and I have to be in a spendy mood, which is rare for me. Blame my New England, penny-pinching ancestors for making me more of a saver than spender! ;). I think the only one I ever did pay that much for was a 1940s trousers pattern... That I never made (but I made the cute cropped sun-top that was included!). Mostly I stick to the super cheap, under $6 ones. That way I feel I can justify it if it just sits in storage for years and is a source of inspiration instead of actual sewing-use. Of course, this does tend to limit what I find available (earlier stuff is expensive), or I have to stalk Ebay compulsively at insane hours of the night.

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  23. Coincidentally, I bought a 1949 swimsuit pattern via Etsy just yesterday! At $58 it was well above my usual budget, and I would certainly classify it as 'veeery expensive' for a pattern. However, I love it: it's exactly the style I wanted, it's my size, and I am sure I will make it and wear it often. So I so feel it was justified as a special purchase. I figure it would cost me at least double that (plus aggravation) to buy a suit that I like, and this one will be made to measure too. I can't imagine who would pay so much for the pattern you linked to though, as it is basically a gathered skirt and simple bra/halter top!

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  24. I haven't bought any vintage patterns, yet. So far, if I see an interesting pattern, I'm content with saving a picture of it, for future reference.

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  25. I've been extremely lucky in vintage pattern procuring. The most I've paid for an individual pattern I believe, was $25 - but it was for an adorable early 30's girl's dress pattern, with the girl looking exactly like my daughter, holding onto a red balloon, just like she does!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimonoasobi/6482471723/in/set-72157628295408553

    But my average price has been around the $2.50 mark as I tend to find bulk lots, or just happened to befriend a seller OR go to estate sales. I found a complete, uncut 1946 two piece swimsuit pattern in my size at an estate sale for 25c - that I've seen selling/sold for $75. The envelope is pretty banged up, but hey! I don't care!

    http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/537181_10150654561824475_639044474_9608755_1093528527_n.jpg

    I also took a gamble and blindly purchased a box of 316 40's and 50's patterns for $95 ($75 plus $20 shipping) from a seller whom I had purchased a few great patterns from very cheap - she didn't have time to list them to sell anymore and just wanted to get rid of the box. Turns out that half of them seem to be rare vogue patterns that I can't find anywhere on the internet (not even on the Vintage Pattern Wiki!) - and those that I could find, were being sold in the $20+ category!

    As for the price of vintage swimsuit patterns - I look at modern reproductions. The really nice quality ones are nearly always priced over $100 - so, buying the pattern, then buying the fabric - you're going to be paying close to what you would just buying a pre-made modern repro one, but the bonus is, after that initial $75 for the pattern, you can make as many swimsuits as you want.

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  26. I was just thinking yesterday while trolling etsy and eBay that vintage patterns are skyrocketing in price in general. I think I paid $12 for a 1941 Vogue coat pattern. That has been my highest purchase. I can't justify spending much more than that, I'll just wait till I find it again for cheaper. While relaxing and scrolling through etsy I see patterns I have at what I feel is exorbitant prices and wonder if I could sell my patterns for that much. Do people regularly pay $12 for a plain 1950s dress with an interesting neckline? Are the pattern prices going up because of the recent popularity in vintage sewing? I'm at a total loss. And I agree about the bathing suits, they are always soooooo expensive, just like wrap dress patterns. It's weird.

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  27. I am ridiculously cheap and it kills me to spend more than $10 on a pattern, including shipping. Since most of the patterns I buy will probably just go into my collection, I rarely spend more than that. Also, if I am dying to make, say, a 20s evening gown, and all patterns I like are a zillion dollars, I look for cheapo 80s (or modern) patterns that are similar.

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  28. The most expensive pattern I have ever purchased was around $15. I really thought about it long and hard before purchasing, so I guess I am pretty cheap. I usually only spend .29cent-$2.00 per pattern. If I see something more expensive that I really like I usually either find a similar less expensive version or find a way to recreate the look by drafting my own or "Frankensteining" patterns in my collection.

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  29. I think the culprit responsible for the creation of that horrible square shaped skirt was Elsa Schiaparelli. Anyone may feel free to correct me on this, but I remember seeing them in that coffee table book entitled with her name. She was brilliantly innovative but could be a little wacky at times! Chanel absolutely hated her (no doubt jealous because she was much more talented)and never passed up a chance to throw some snotty remark in her direction....she referred to here as "that Italian". The more I learned about Chanel them more I disliked her!!

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  30. I covered this topic on my blog, too :)
    $245 (with free shipping!), and Im not ashamed. It was a 1930s hat pattern for a 23" head! EXTREMELY rare, and considering I plan to repro it, I'll make my investment back.

    There are differences between people who want a deal, people who collect, and people who price way over the value in hopes of covering their bases. Most collectors can sniff those last people out. Perhaps the bathing suit went so high because they didn't look around for another option. Most collectors would rather go for one they see than lament its loss and keep looking.

    Based how the market of pattern collecting is going now, my personal collection is worth into the mid 5 figures. Yay! Its not like Im going to retire on it, but I do consider myself an avid collector.

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  31. Peter: I have some kind of third-hand ties to the movie biz, and you'd be amazed how often costume people turn to eBay and Etsy for vintage patterns. They have the bucks to throw at them, and the deadlines that make it necessary to throw those bucks. $90 is nothing to a movie company. So, that could be where that bid came from.

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  32. I bought a $120 50s Alfred Shaheen style wing bust dress pattern from an expensive website. I knew it was a lot but I really wanted it and I rarely saw it come up. It's not my size but I intended to grade it up. At least from this seller I knew it was complete. In the end, I ended up draping a pattern but I know I could resell this if I had to. I have paid $40-$50 for complete, over size 40 bust, 40s patterns that are special. I did just buy 6 60s era Vintage Vogue (some with sew in labels) designer for $20 so this kind of balances out the more expensive ones.

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  33. I think I spent $20-$24 on a vintage slip pattern, but that's the max fr me.

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  34. Elaine (nobody you know)May 24, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    My sister and I have a term for this... you "spaved" $75.


    P.S. Glad you're back. Hope you and Michael are doing well.

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  35. Hope the person in question recovers soon.

    I have spent quite a bit on patterns but the most I have spent on a single pattern was $40. It was a vintage suit from the early sixties and I have never seen it turn up again. I was gifted a stunning Pauline trigere pattern once and I have seen it listed for $185. Crazy!

    I think as you become more experienced you tend to take the existing patterns you have and play with the styling elements.

    At this point I realise that most patterns are the same and if you have well fitting blocks you can make practically anything.

    That said I still buy the odd pattern and most recently pounced on a vogue men's overcoat pattern from 1990. After stalking both eBay and etsy for months.

    Melissa aka Audreychrysalis

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  36. Hope all is well with Michael's family.

    Mary your friend in Pittsburgh

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  37. I may have spent as much as 2 bucks on a vintage pattern at some point, but most of them I bought at the thrift store for 10 cents each. lol

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  38. I like to do my research but the most I've paid is probably around the $40 mark including shipping.

    Living in Aus, sometimes shipping for patterns can get quite high which I think is unnecessary since they fit into an envelope.

    A pattern I wanted sold on ebay for $38...I looked around and found another one on ebay with a BIN price of $75. I put in an offer of $40 and the seller refused to go below $66. Frustrating since I'd also seen it sold on Etsy for below $30.
    Anyways, I put my woes on my facebook page and lo and behold, one of my readers has that pattern and was so outrageously kind as to send it to me so I could trace it. It's on its way over now and I'm stoked because all it will cost me is the postage back to her in Canada. How brilliant is that?

    So...summing up - if you can dig around, you can probably find what you need at a more reasonable price. Or people may be kind.
    :-D

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  39. I've never BOUGHT any patterns for astoundingly high prices, but I have certainly SOLD a few for some pretty good chunks of change. I did part with some Issey Miyakes in the 90's for somewhere around $60 each. There just seemed to be a craze at that moment. I will, however, pay some embarrassingly large sums for old sewing books, which do contain some old instructions, which can be LIKE patterns, in a way...

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  40. I... ummm...(aHEM!) ... have paid over $150 for a pattern... :/
    I don't know what to say except, I collect. I have over 800 vintage patterns (my RESEARCH for costuming, don't you know!) and when I find something that I NEED, I will buy it at any cost. Of course, I shop, I look for them elsewhere, but I must have my pretties. That is all.

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  41. There are two "junk" stores were i live that sell vintage patterns for 10-25cents!!!!! I have an awesome collection so far

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  42. They're expensive because
    1. Some people are idiots and evilbay feeds on that (good for the latter).
    2. Some people buy vintage patterns, grade them and add them to their 'fashion line' seriously there are brands in Australia doing that so the 90 is well spent considering their vintage-inspired items they sell from it will cost twice-5x as much each.

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