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Oct 2, 2012

The (Confusing) World of Vintage Pattern Reissues



Readers, do you ever lie?  I mean, do you ever say something without really thinking and then, later, realize that what you said doesn't reflect your honest opinion?

On this blog, from time to time, I've opined that such-and-such pattern company should reissue this-or-that pattern.  Usually I say this because I think it would make good business sense for them to do so.  But my true opinion is that I find vintage pattern repros about as compelling as a faux-limestone Nefertiti bust for sale at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop. 

Call me a snob, but unless you're making costumes for a high school production of Mame, why would you bother with a repro when there are so many wonderful authentic vintage patterns out there -- true pieces of the past, crying out to be given a second life?

To be honest, I do get the vintage reissue thing.  Among their benefits:

1) Vintage repro patterns are more readily available, and come in a wider range of sizes: you can trace the size you need and still have access to other sizes, as opposed to the old patterns which came in one size per pattern purchased.

2) Vintage repro patterns have often been resized to reflect modern sizing/ease requirements -- though this is a point I've never understood since most people aren't a standard size anyway and will have to make adjustments.

3) Vintage repro patterns are often (though not always) cheaper than the originals.

4) It can be fun to sew (and blog about) the latest repro pattern reissues, and helpful to read reviews on sites like Pattern Review.  You're unlikely to find a review of an authentic vintage pattern, though they do exist (I've written some).

5) Repro pattern paper is printed in ink.  Many original vintage patterns were not printed, and all the little perforations and cuts can be confusing to interpret if you don't have any experience with them.  Seam allowances are sometimes different (1/2" rather than 5/8") too.

Have I missed anything?



Last week I almost bought Vogue Special Design 4623 above, which I found for sale on Etsy.  The only copy was in the UK, but I nearly jumped -- that is until, on the Vintage Pattern Wiki, I read that the pattern had been reissued.  I took one look at the reissue, and decided to pass.  I can't put my finger on what it was about the reissue -- or merely that it was a reissue -- that turned me off, but the charm was gone.



Parenthetically, can I make an embarrassing confession?  For years, I've looked at those Vogue vintage patterns and wondered, who is this Dessin person they keep referring to?  Was he the original designer of the patterns?  And then the other day it hit me: Dessin Original is just the translation of original design.  Duh.

Reissues also (I suspect) kill the market for the originals.  Why would you pay $50+ for this...



When you can get this for $5?



There are a wide range of vintage pattern reissues; everyone's doing it these days.  There are the costume types, which may or may not be based on original designs from the particular pattern company.





There are small pattern companies like Folkwear, which seem to be more theater-oriented than fashion-oriented.  I'm not sure if their patterns are drafted from scratch, but I find their illustrations charming.





Then there are retro style patterns, designed for "modern" bodies.  Gertie's book is full of these.

Wearing History, another small independent, also sells vintage-style patterns.  The beautifully photographed pattern envelopes are very inspiring.



My biggest gripe about the big pattern companies' retro reissues is how often they look like they've been done up in cheap fabrics -- poly charmeuse being the biggest offender.  I suspect they want to use fabrics most sewers will be able to find at their local Joanne's, but still.



The best reissues look like they've been chosen and styled with care -- and accuracy.



The worst seem to be trying to evoke a period rather than creating a line-for-line copy.  



I'm sorry, but what period is this trying to evoke?

Once we're talking about the 1960's, I don't think we need retro reissues, do you?  The ones I've seen look wrong to me, and the originals can still be had for a buck or two on sites like Etsy or at flea markets/thrift stores.



In conclusion, readers, do you ever sew vintage reissues?

Do you prefer reissues to original patterns for any of the reasons I listed above, or are you -- like me -- a purist at heart, and avoid them?

Is there anything you don't like about reisses -- their ubiquity perhaps, or something else?

Are there any pattern reissues (or pattern reissue lines) that you truly love?

Jump in!

65 comments:

  1. i enjoyed the images so much i had to go back and read the comments, which are even more enjoyable. i'm not yet sewing vintage, just along for the ride. thanks.

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  2. I love vintage repros, although in my collection the real thing outweighs the repros about 2:1. I'd never buy a repro pattern at full price because they cost the same as the real thing... I just wait until Hancock's has a 99 cent sale and then I go to town.

    I think it's a good thing to get more vintage patterns, one way or another, into the hands of sewers. I'm sure that there are a lot of people who would never think to look at vintage patterns - even in this day and age, there are people who don't use eBay/Etsy - that might stumble across a Retro Butterick or Vintage Vogue and actually want to try it. And the arcivist theory on vintage patterns can be daunting - treating old patterns as museum pieces rather than utilitarian objects - I could see that being really offputting to a novice vintage-ist. With the repros you can relax knowing that no one will be horrified you didn't trace. ;)

    I really, really like the Retro Butterick line. Probably because out of my actual-vintage patterns, all my favorites are Buttericks. And although I dislike multi-size patterns in general, I like being able to buy multi-sized vintage. A lot of the Retro Buttericks I own are being saved to make prom dresses for my daughters (They are currently 9 and 4. Yep, I'm certifiable) and obviously I don't know how big they will be. I just buy the A size and the B size and call it a day.

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  3. I like some of the reissues, especially in terms of multisizing and modern instructions. I made a Vogue reissue of a 1930s gown that turned out gorgeous, and it was no more difficult that making a normal Vogue dress. With a vintage original I might still be sitting here trying to figure out what all the markings (or non-markings) meant.

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  4. (Also, the Simplicity retro line is, with few exceptions, TERRIBLE. I am baffled - I know they had good patterns back in the day - I own some of them!)

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  5. Considering that vintage patterns are usually a standard size one would be more inclined to purchase the re-issues which would be more than likely to have her measurements.
    If I like vintage patterns and was the standard size most of them came in I'd buy them but since mos of those I've seen don't come in my size and let's face it i'm not gonna trace then grade, I'd purchase the re-issue..no muss, no fuss

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  6. Alex in CaliforniaOctober 2, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    How are you coming along with your Scheherazade costume? I am anxious to see what you have accomplished.

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    1. I won't start till the Halloween Sew-Along begins next week (Oct 10).

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  7. Well, I don't often sew retro patterns, and if/when I do it is usually more of a costume or if it isn't a costume, I don't sew or style it to look retro, and sew it just because I like the pattern. I have to use multiple sizes so I think the re-issues are easier for me to use and probably more cost effective. I could see how someone who is a collector would be more interested in having original patterns (even if they cost more), but I don't really collect patterns just to have them - they have to have some potential to get used at some point in the future. I agree that for post-60s patterns there really isn't much of a need to re-print, and I would happily look for an original from those decades (well, not the 80s... who wants to sew anything from the 80s?) if there was something specific I wanted. However, I think having re-prints from before the 60s makes sense, as some of those patterns can be hard to find and the printed multi-sized patterns are helpful if you need many sizes.

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  8. I don't have a ton of vintage patterns, though I do have a few. I enjoy sewing Folkwear patterns - my senior prom dress was the Blonde Bombshell pattern, which is based on the Seven Year Itch dress. I also have a couple of repro patterns but haven't gotten around to making them; I think 1 is Butterick and 2 are Vogue.

    I like the idea of sewing with vintage patterns, but like many women, I have a hard time finding patterns that are close enough to my own measurements that I'm not completely reinventing the wheel to redraft them to fit, and when I do, the cost is often something I can't justify. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places?

    I agree with others who have said that there's also the issue of care of delicate pattern pieces that may intimidate some people, as well as the lack of multiple sizes and lack of knowledge of vintage pattern markings. As a busy mom, I know that women whose lives are similar to mine and who are new to sewing might be reluctant to devote the time necessary to sew from a vintage pattern.

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  9. I think that the reason some of the re-issues don't look or feel 'quite right' is that they are actually more honest than the original illustrations were. I've noticed that a lot of the comments I've seen from people who sew with true vintage patterns are that the proportions on the real garments are often quite different from the idealized drawings.

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    1. This is a really interesting perspective. I think you may be right.

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    2. Yes -- no one has those tiny waists. Certainly not I.

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    3. Yes, I think this is it. My experience is that you get more shock from sewing up a vintage pattern, as most people don't have legs that are 3/4 of their total height!

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    4. This is definitely true, and can be seen just looking at how illustrations on pattern envelopes change over the decades. 1930s patterns in particular are drawn very thin and tall. Beautiful pictures, but not realistic.

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    5. The underwear was very different in those days. Up to and including the 50s many women wore corsets and the bras were a very different shape too.Possibly the retro have been modified a little to fit modern, less corseted bodies?

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  10. I like having access to both vintage and retro patterns. The vintage is great because I'm a bit of a fashion historian and I love looking at and using the original. The retros are usually easier to use and I don't have to worry about ruining them. So give me both, please!

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  11. My first exposure to vintage was a reissue of a baby pattern. Oddly enough, it was listed in the "crafts" section, probably because of all the embroidery. I've seen the original--I think I even own a copy. With the reissued kids' patterns, they do massive resizing sometimes. I mean, this pattern was originally in toddler sizes--that is, size 1/2 -3 or 4 depending on the era. But the reissue was all in baby sizes. Am I weird that I like it enough to attempt to collect all the sizes, anyway? The others, well.... I like original when I can get it!

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  12. Peter, I'd enthusiastically suggest you look into two small pattern companies, Decades of Style and Eva Dress. I've been buying and using Eva Dress patterns for years now. For me, the experience is about as close as you can come to using a vintage pattern, except that the paper is strong and the pieces are all there. The sizing and proportions are the same as you see in vintage patterns. The unusual design details are there. The instructions are the same, sometimes with some modern supplementation. The discussions of 1920's, 30's, and 40's finishing details are there.
    I bet Cathy would enjoy these:
    http://www.evadress.com/6222.html
    http://www.evadress.com/5809.html
    http://www.evadress.com/5941.html

    The construction of the 1920's dress is really unusual. Truly, I had never seen anything like it before.

    Also, the owner makes up some of these patterns, and the results are mind-blowing. For instances, the fabric for this dress was made by sewing row after row of ribbons onto some base fabric (probably organza):
    http://www.evadress.com/9906.html

    I recently discovered Decades of Style, so when I make some of their patterns, I'll give you the report. I'm sure, however, that they are reissues of vintage patterns-- I happened to see an actual 1930 dress from one of the exact patterns they offer. How wild! On the other hand, the patterns offer modern styling and the instructions and pattern markings seem to be sanitized for the modern seamstress.

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    1. Decades of Style are simply fantastic. I've bought a bunch of their patterns, so far I've made two,
      http://www.decadesofstyle.com/vintage-patterns-1930s/3003-1930-salon-trousers-
      http://www.decadesofstyle.com/vintage-patterns-1940s/4003-1948-siren-sundress
      Both were very easy to follow - the trousers were only my third attempt at trousers, I was pretty daunted by them, but it was so straightforward to make. Really, Decades of Style patterns are so easy to follow.
      And thank you for introducing me to EvaDress Patterns - although I don't think my bank account's going to be quite so happy!

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  13. I have a couple of the reissue patterns I have stitched up on my blog , one of them is the Simplicity Retro you have a pic of above . The under dress was a great fit , but the overdress was huge & had to be adjusted down . The dress came out great though & I do like not fussing with brittle , frail tissue I am afraid of damaging as with antique patterns .
    http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s720x720/427569_3128121316403_1065794898_3345088_199546477_n.jpg

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  14. I think birdmommy has it right in that the current repros don't look as good as the original because they are "real" and not idealized. I think the repros are fine. I think it is more fun to have an original and think about who originally owned it and its history, but the points about the repros sort of win out for me. I'm not really interested in making things that are exactly like the original, but something that looks good and is timeless.

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  15. I don't have many repros, but I can think of a couple of reasons why I'd use them:

    - A lot of people mention the newer patterns being for "real" people. I suspect that also means they are sized for real people who wear today's undergarments. I have no intention of wearing a girdle, for example, and I don't have the skills to re-size a pattern.

    - Instructions with older patterns assume a lot of knowledge. What appears as one step in a vintage pattern may break down to 4 or 5 in today's patterns. At my stage of learning, I need the help.

    By the way, I would not classify any of the patterns that have the word "costume" in them as a re-issue. I'd guess a "costume" pattern intentionally skips steps that lead to a quality garment.

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  16. I get what you mean about finding the original and then getting happy to make it, until then you see it reissued. It does seem to take something away from the original.
    The pattern you have pictured B4918 was the pattern I used for my daughter's prom dress. I blogged about it back in 2008. I made it out of a red silk dupioni. It turned out rather nice. At the time I was not into looking for the original, because I was just so pleased that I found this and could make her a vintage looking gown. She wanted to buy one, but the prices were scary. I think I made it for less than $150.00.

    You also have Simplicity 1777 listed on here, and I am in the middle of making this right now, for the same daughter. I took a break from making my children's clothing for my etsy shop, because she was begging me to make this for her. The pleats are a beast, and I have had to tailor tack everything, since the fabric won't let me use chalk on it!
    I'll do a post on it if you want, you can check it out when it is done :) I have made a few children's items from original vintage patterns, and It has been quite fun! I just bought a 1907 pattern for toddlers, that I'm excited to work with.

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  17. When it is 4.30pm on Sunday and the Director tells you to pull another costume (1940's) out of your...sewing room...by Monday night and there's the day job to consider, being able to run into a sewing shop and buy a vintage repro is a life saver! :) NO time for mucking about on eBay!
    http://amamus-amatis-amant.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/when-it-goes-wrong-even-when-it-is-so.html

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    1. Amen to that!I have both vintage and repro patterns but find that often the vintage are not the size I need whereas multi-size repros do the job.

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  18. I own one vintage pattern - which may actually get sewn this month - and I just bought a retro/repro pattern (B8513). Aside from that, I generally just admire from afar. But I've noticed that the repro patterns seem to be styled in a very campy way for the most part, which is a turn off for me.

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  19. If I love a pattern, it does not matter to me whether it is true vintage or repro. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control money can be an issue. I love most vintage furniture, knick-knacks, patterns etc. Vintage is such a huge money making business/market, and why not, however this can cut someone like me right out of the picture to gather enjoyment and join in. Instead of antiques, I go for junk and £50 pattern, blah, I'll have one for a fiver. I enjoy your super blog, thank you and best wishes!

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  20. Don't reprints from the Big 4 add modern ease to their "repro" patterns? Excessive modern ease standards are why I avoid any pattern from the Big 4. I sew with vintage patterns and repro/vintage inspired patterns, with Wearing History and EvaDress being my favorite.

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    1. Beth, this is precisely what I have never been able to understand.

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    2. this is one of the things I hate about repro patterns..I find them harder to sew than the original (the only exception is trousers which don't have a lot of ease added in and probably have a bit less crotch depth). I definitely enjoy sewing with real vintage patterns much more!

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    3. I've been wondering this! Somebody just gave me several reproduction patterns and I've been debating whether to keep or resell them. I know that the Walkaway Dress was altered rather significantly when it was reissued, but I wasn't sure of the ones I was give were, as well. If they were . . . what's the point? If I wanted modern fit, I'd buy modern patterns.

      I don't understand some of the sizing arguments, either. I understand the one about a larger range of sizes being available, yes, but the fact that I'm a 12 now and I was a 16 in 1945 doesn't mean sizing has changed that much. I'm the same size; the numbers just shifted. Women get way too hung up on the size number--I'm a 34/27/39 regardless of what number they slap on the envelope. Sizing has always been just an average: They can't possibly make a pattern that fits everyone because we're all different. I will always have to let the hips and backside out, for instance, and add length to bodices. Whether I'm basically a 12 or basically a 16 is irrelevant.

      Personally, I get much better fit from vintage patterns than I do from modern ones, even without extreme undergarments.

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  21. Hell yes I LOVE vintage reissues! I can't believe I'm seeing such snobbery come from you, who has to outfit Cathy Lane... I can imagine her being a challenge to fit in some ways.

    I am a.) tall and b.) large busted. Vintage repros work much better for me. Add to it that they're so much more accessible (both in terms of purchasing abilities and for people of all shapes and sizes), and I'm sold.

    Also, vintage patterns are really hard to find inexpensively in the Bay Area.

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  22. Modern reprints are also a lot less likely than the real thing to contain dead bugs, mouse droppings, used bandaids, etc. So there's that.

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  23. Also, you selected some really ugly Simplicity "Retro Costume" patterns, I've never seen these before and they look like they're from the 90's or early 2000s (when swing dancing was having a re-emergence). And it looks like they're from their costume line instead of a reissue line?

    I think that was selective editing on your part in order to better illustrate your point, because Simplicity currently has some very popular reissues. I'm thinking specifically of the pants from S3688. (In your defense you did include S1777.)

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    1. How about the wedding gown at the end -- I love that one!

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    2. I've got:

      Butterick B4513 (1957/2005)

      Butterick B5209 (1947/2008)

      Butterick B5281 (1946/2008)

      Butterick B6582 (1960/2001)

      The jury is still out on whether I'm going to keep and de-modernize Butterick B4790/6015 (1952/2006) or not. I have other wrap-dress patterns, but this one is sort of a benchmark design so I kind of want to keep it.

      Anyway . . . are those more flattering examples?

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  24. I have mixed feelings on the repro patterns.
    I just made a pair of trousers from one, and I liked the fact there were multiple sizes (although it is a lot harder to find your pattern pieces!).
    That being said, I will always pick an original over the repro, with one exception. Repro patterns are really good for those patterns which are terribly expensive, or something that is really hard to come by!

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  25. When I first started buying vintage patterns I was thrilled with the reproductions, but now I might actually buy an original over the reproduction if I had to make the choice. There's just something really neat about making an outfit from a pattern that's older than I am. Plus I LOVE the illustrations. The women in the drawings always look like they're having such fun! :)

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  26. I have some re-issues, and some I will not try. Others really look like fun. Being curvy, I have to change every pattern, so this is not a point here....I have a lot of vintage patterns, and adore them. Even the envelope illustrations. Actually, I adjusted my will to-day, bequeathing them to passionate family sewers, who love vintage. BUT, here's to me living a long and sewing productive life....Cathie, in Quebec (who pays from 10 to 25 cents can for each vintage pattern).

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  27. Sigh...I have used both and have had NO problems with any originals in regard to their fit. I have had two re prints that were HORRIBLE. (one Butterick and one Vogue) Did not fit for crap and patternreview.com confirmed the same problem. The only thing for me is that originals are more time consuming because I make copies before I use them so they are better preserved. If I buy any reprints, I definitely get them when they are on sale.

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  28. Excellent article! I totally agree with the statement, "Why would you buy an old version for $50 when you can purchase a repro for $5"! I have done extensive sewing over the last five years with a huge majority of the reproduction patterns, and I've made a few observations:
    1. Butterick Patterns are *usually* very well reproduced, but simply too large. If you just take the bodice in several inches, you should be good to go! (There are exceptions such as the infamous "walkaway" dress, but even that I found a way to make it look like the pattern cover here: http://www.edelweisspatterns.com/blog/?p=552
    2. Vintage Vogue Patterns are usually the best reproduced, and have the best fit overall. I've always thought their photo shoots are the best, and I totally agree that how a company presents the pattern in the photo shoot has everything to do with how people feel about the pattern itself.
    3. Up till recently, Simplicity Patterns repros are usually the least accurate for any specific time period, with the grand exception being the new 40s dress they released this fall. (I got the first pattern review of it online, which you can see here: http://www.edelweisspatterns.com/blog/?p=2539 )

    But that being said, I'm so thankful we live in a day when you can buy a reproduction pattern! With the recent rise in vintage fashion popularity, we can sew dresses from nearly any era with very inexpensive patterns!

    Thanks for this terrific article.

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  29. I have used a few reissues and here's why, I am NOT a small woman... Giving birth to my 5 kids ruined any figure I ever had! LOL It is exremely difficult to find true vintage patterns in my size that are also pretty. Also, I do not have a fortune to spend on the patterns, so getting them for $1 when JoAnns or Hancocks has them on sale is PERFECT!
    And, shoot, I might even use the cheapo fabric to make them!

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  30. older patterns were better because they came one size per pattern. vs the way they are now where they shove 50 sizes on one pattern. i come from a family of professional seamstresses and they also struggle with modern day patterns. (keep in mind my realtives are in their 80's so they know there stuff) A lot of times my grandma will look at the modern take of the pattern then only use it as a refrence. i have had several dresses made from these reissued patterns and realize that they tend to come out more "boxy" looking

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  31. I've gotten the feeling with the styling in some of the re-issues that the pattern companies are afraid to commit too completely to the vintage aesthetic. Thus, they show both an illustrated line drawing or a version with a more authentic fabric then add the "modern" take with the dreaded poly charmeuse view. Because of availability, I have a mix of both original vintage and re-issue versions of patterns (and plenty of modern ones too). The hard part when looking at those beautiful old patterns is keeping the authenticity when they are made up. With the right fabric, accessories, and hairstyle (Laura Mae of Lilacs and Lace illustrates this beautifully) even "modern" patterns can have a vintage look. On the contrary, a full-skirted 50's dress without a crinoline can head into a 1980's vibe really fast. Overall, I'm in favor of re-issues, mainly for availability reasons. I'm not a standard size either in vintage or re-production, and always trace before I alter for anything involving a slash and spread, so I don't really get an advantage working with older vs. newer patterns.

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  32. Not too long ago I sewed about a dozen 1930 dresses from vintage patterns. They took me many hours to figure out how to make them. I never have enough time as it is why I would want to spend 5-6 hours just trying to figure out how the pattern fits together. They didn't have nearly enough dots and notches not to mention there wasn't much of a standard for using markings then. Many of the instructions were missing all or in part and some pattern pieces were missing. Add to that I had to resize them because NOT ONE OF THEM was actually the size I needed in the pattern that is for sale when you go hunting on the internet. The pattern pieces were often very strange and figuring out how to change them was hard. I'm rambling. I got better by the fifth or sixth one. I would rather use a repro if it is available in the pattern I want to make. Just measure the pieces for sizing and don't rely on the sizing on the envelope.
    Just last week I was altering some 1940 vintage clothing, some of it originally home sewn, not so well I might add, and the thing I noticed that makes it look so real is the fabrics. Several of these gowns were very lightweight wool crepe. I don't believe fabrics like that are sold now at any price.

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    1. Hunh. With one exception--the instructions were missing--I've never had a problem with this. I'm not that experienced a seamstress, either. I find all the dots and lines on modern patterns confusing. I already followed the cutting layout, and most sewing manuals will tell you not to cut things that shouldn't be on the bias, on the bias, and the instructions tell me how much seam allowance I need, so why are seam allowance and grain lines printed on?? It's not like I'm going to trace the seam allowance onto the pattern--my sewing machine has guides on the plate to help me measure that. It seems like a lot of extra gobbeldygook that I don't need if I've already read through the directions.

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    2. I think that the put the seam allowances on to make it easier for people to do tissue fitting and to accurately measure what the final measurements will be in the finished garment.

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  33. I think of myself as a good pattern maker so I don't buy commercial patterns since I already have blocks/slopers to work from.

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    1. I don't know enough about slopers, but I've always wondered how, exactly, this works for vintage looks. I know how much ease one generally adds for fitted, less-fitted, very loose, etc. but since the fit wasn't the same in the past as it is now . . . how does one determine?

      For instance, a fitted dress in 1935 would fit closer over the hips and less closely around the bodice than a modern fitted dress. It's not just an issue of the "right" amount of ease, it's an issue of the right amount of ease for the time period, which may not be the same.

      I have big hips and always have to add at least two inches, but I still know that I'll have x amount of ease over the hips. My hips are two inches bigger than the pattern measurements, so I add two inches, but the difference between the dress and my fanny remains the same. If I measured my hips and added the prescribed modern ease, that might not be the case.

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  34. interesting post...I buy the repo patterns due to my larger size as I've now noticed that the vintage larger size patterns have more or less doubled in price over the last year or so so now larger size price for the larger size frame !!!

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  35. Personally, I prefer the real deal vintage pattern over the Big 4 reproductions. (I do like a lot of the smaller, indie company reissues--like Wearing History, though.) The fit is better and the variety of designs I can acquire originals of is greater. Not that this has stopped me from buying a fair number of Big 4 repro patterns at sales throughout the years.; I have just sewn up very few of them. I think for me, part of the appeal of using a real vintage pattern is the charm and history. I've been sewing with them for so long I don't mind that tracing/grading aspect at this point, and have come to expect certain quirks and fitting adjustments that must be addressed for a successful garment. It has certainly helped too that I've been able to amass a fairly impressive collection of vintage patterns on a shoestring budget (and gifts from sweet family and friends who know what I'm looking for! ;), which would be the only real appeal of one of the Big 4 repro's for me. That being said, I do love that these mass marketed reproductions have made it easier for those interested in vintage style to access it, since at first glance the world of vintage patterns and sewing can be terribly daunting. But I do champion a lot of the smaller companies (WH, Eva Dress, etc.), since I think their attention to detail and ability to reproduce patterns that may not have mainstream appeal, is a selling point.

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  36. I have a few repro patterns - bought to see how the pattern pieces were cut, not to make. I haven't found any interesting vintage patterns - late 60s-70s dime-a-dozen patterns seem to be the normal find for me. But then, I'm not focused on searching for them either.

    One part of the charm of the vintage patterns is the faces in the artwork - look at the 2 Vogue patterns you've shown. The vintage drawing has character (Ms Blackdress and Ms Greendress are giving each other a sideways glare? glance? that's rather humorous and great fodder for Erin's (of A Dress A Day fame) stories. The repro - Ms Blackdress has no expression.

    Let's not forget the instructions in the vintage patterns. Sometimes there are some gems hidden in them as Summerset (of Pins and Needles fame) has shown us.

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  37. I do like reissues! I have two toddlers who make sewing a living hell and if they rip a reissue while Im trying to cut it out, I don't panic. Also, my measurements are 44-33-47 so it makes life a little easier on me if I dont have to spend the extra time grading a pattern. You're totally correct, adjustments are always needed but a full several inches of grading takes time that I often don't have because of the kids. I have made up some really pretty reissues with vintage or high quality fabric and they have turned out beautifully. On the "killing the market" aspect- I would never pay $50 for a pattern anyway. It kills me every time I see someone charge more than $30 for a vintage pattern. By the time I buy fabric, the pattern, the notions, I might as well buy an original garment :( Those reissues have inspired a lot of newbie seamstresses to learn to sew and to move on to more complicated originals so I think all in all, they are a good thing!

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  38. I like vintage patterns; ahhh the illustrations are inspirational, so beautiful, but not necessarily accurate. When photos first came on the envelope sewers were happy to see how the outfit actually looked on a body.

    What I have always liked most about vintage patterns, especially(!) Vogue, were the instructions. I love the instruction sheets as much as the illustrations. You had to have a basic knowledge of sewing, but they gave instructions that were more detailed in finishing construction; no skipped steps for quicker, easier construction. The vintage instructions were/are a great way to learn and perfect sewing, giving a better looking and longer lasting garment.

    Since I am old enough to have sewn with the origin vintage patterns when they were new (50s on)...when I sewed with a pattern other than Vogue, I would pull out a similar Vogue pattern as a reference. This was especially helpful in sewing tailored and close fitting items.

    And, Peter, during the 70s mens suits were promoted because a wife of a national newsman sewed his suits and produced all the proper innards packaged for the home sewer; a Vogue pattern of a mans suit was a treasure for instruction! That and a book (which you have) got me fascinated with tailoring.

    I find current Vogue patterns are still a bit more detailed but certainly not like the vintage instructions. But then the instructions from the other major pattern makers are even less perfected today from what they were. Maybe I'm just a geek, but vintage instruction sheets are just yummy.




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  39. I find the re-issues a lot less expensive way to dip your toe into vintage styles. Also, I'm not skilled enough to grade up patterns yet. I love to see the real ones used- I've inherited many and passed them along to folks I knew had skills, but I'm not there yet and still want to play....

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  40. my grandmother wanted me to make up her favorite blouse for her. She had a pattern she had been using for close to thirty years. Silly me, I thought she needed a newer pattern. So I bought a very similar pattern from the same big four company. When I pulled out the patterns to compare I found it was the same exact pattern, line for line.

    the number was different. The outside illustrations were different, but the pattern it's self was line for line the exact same pattern. Nothing was updated, except the price.

    So that is my story about learning how pattern companies resell the same pattern over and over. It made sense to me after I thought about it a while.

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  41. When I saw your images of the Vogue S-4623 and then the reissue as 2536, my immediate thought was "Of course you didn't buy it. The cover art is terrible. It's very-offputting." In the original, the green looks like vintage fabric because it was contemporary at the time. This woman has been replaced with a line drawing. The main model on the original has an elegant face, with the "original Barbie" type eye make-up, and her hat fits *onto* her head. The new model looks flat-featured and as though she has no hair. Her hat is sitting on top of her head like a cheap souvenir. The model in white with the french roll somehow puts me in mind of Ma Ingalls. Just sayin'.

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  42. I don't own any originals but several of the repros, three I have made up & been very happy with & one more is waiting, the waiting one is the Simplicity 1777 that you show & I am certainly looking forward to making it!!
    I find vintage patterns in general are better because they actually fit which seems to be a novelty these days.

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  43. I've had very good experience with the Butterick reissues, though they do need careful fitting. Not the walkaway dress, though, it's awful. But I especially love 5605. The modern pattern envelope is uninspiring, but the dress is ADORABLE.

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  44. I've been looking for WWII era British military blouse patterns, because I wear a kilt most days and the modern longer jackets just look funny.

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  45. Another issue that hasn't been addressed in comments is that in the case of a number of pattern companies and I know for certain regarding Vogue is that the original plates were destroyed after printing. The pattern companies rely on collectors in order to be able to re-issue their patterns.

    Without this its possible that the original patterns would not be archived or preserved at all. As well for those of us in the UK or other parts of Europe there is little access to cheap second-hand patterns and the re-issues are far more economical.

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  46. I've never seen a reissue of the things that I really want to buy, namely blouses and men's boxers. I've had okay luck with reissues of dresses, but for the most part really prefer working with the beautiful 40s and 50s patterns that I occasionally find at the Goodwill for 99c. I think that the ease is more honest in the older patterns.

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  47. Ive fallen in love with the 40's and 50's styles.they have truly unique details that we dont see today.I am a plus size so the reprints are easy but ive also bought some original patterns that im going to learn to size up.The unique details can also be a bit advanced for the audience that modern patterns seem to be aimed at.Im going to enjoy sewing them on my 3 vintage singer machines too LOL,another item that a seems to be better older:)

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  48. I ONLY want to sew vintage as I can't fit into any vintage clothes (those ladies were SMALL! and I'm 5'10" and not a stick) so the re-issues appeal to me mostly because as a beginner I don't know how to re-grade a pattern. I'm just learning how to sew & fit a regular commercial sewing pattern to my body. I took a special class on it and with the teacher's help and measurements we adjusted a Simplicity dress pattern to: Open the bust darts to make room for a larger bosom, Widen the back across my shoulders, Lengthen both the torso and the skirt but this was marked and fairly easy, and make the waist piece smaller, but it didn't fit even with the teacher's help! So, understandably I'm petrified of buying an old, 1-size only pattern w/o seam allowances, that may assume I know things I don't. But mostly it's the grading the pattern to my size. I think I need a mannequin 1st and more classes.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely find someone experienced who can work with you, Olliver.

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