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Jul 28, 2013

Like I NEED More Patterns...



This weekend I happened upon not one, but two large troves of patterns at the Chelsea flea market -- a rare thing.

Would you have turned down a mod Vogue Paris Original suit pattern for just $2?  I couldn't.
 
Perhaps you'd have had more discipline when it came to the patterns below (also $2 each).  I probably wouldn't have bought just one or two early Sixties doll patterns, but five is an instant collection!

Three Barbies...







And two Tammys -- did they make her 1/2" taller than Barbie just to sell more merchandise?





I look forward to inspecting these doll patterns more closely; I've never owned one before.  I have a few vintage Barbies tucked away somewhere, along with a repro Midge, if I'm ever inspired to sew for them.



Finally, there was this $5 find, a Butterick women's pajama pattern dating back to the early Nineteen-Twenties.



For the dainty Grecian vase pose alone, I love it.  It's also complete (minus the instructions, which I can figure out myself).





On Pinterest, I found a pic of what looks like an identical pajama -- check out Fanny, back row, second from the right.



Wouldn't it be cute in silk crepe de chine, like these?

Considering this pattern is roughly ninety years old, the condition isn't bad.  The envelope is fragile and there were some rusty pins in a few of the pieces; otherwise it's fine.





Speaking of rusty pins, for an extra buck I got this ancient velvet pin cushion.  I love these.



One by one, I ironed the pieces flat.  They're all there.







I think what is true today was even truer years ago: most people stored their patterns carefully and only rarely were pieces lost -- which usually happened later when somebody else found the patterns and didn't handle them carefully.  Of course, in the Twenties, there were no plastic bags, so pattern envelopes were depended on to hold their contents intact.  The envelope is much more perishable than the acid-free pattern paper. ( The tissue paper on my ninety-year-old Butterick is sturdier than what you'd find on a Butterick pattern today, believe it or not.)

For me, a discovery like this pattern is probably what I love most about sewing.  I imagine who might have sewn this pattern originally and where it might have been stored for almost a century; it's a piece of history.

If I make these pajamas -- and I might -- I think they need some sort of kimono cover-up, don't you?  Just in case you have to answer the doorbell. 

In closing, readers, what part of sewing do you enjoy the most: selecting the pattern, buying the fabric, stitching it all together, or something else entirely?

Any doll pattern collectors out there?

Have a great day, everybody!

42 comments:

  1. I had (still have) a Tammy doll. Her proportions were less, um, dramatic than Barbie's and I loved her. One Christmas, I got her as a Wedding Doll, and I don't think I realized it was the same doll that I had already had! My mom and grandmother had painstakingly made undergarments, petticoat, dress and veil. Unfortunately the veil is no longer around, but the rest of the outfit is. I think this was in '61 or '62 - I hope you enjoy your patterns - purchased doll clothes now are just little fabric blobs with velcro :). By the way, I have been reading your blog since shortly after you started, and I should have told you before now how much I enjoy it!

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  2. To answer your question as to what part of sewing do I enjoy most. How about all three! I have just finished making the pajama top from a Simplicity pattern from 1990. This was done in a red brushed plaid. Last year I had to replace one of my winter pajamas because I blew out the rear end. In Canada try to purchase a complete set of tops and bottoms in flannel, NOT A CHANCE. I bought a flannel bottom but I waited for about a year before I sewed the top this past weekend. I had the pattern cut from last year but I stalled until now to do the sewing. I took a sewing course this past spring through the school board here in a night course.
    Now I am going to sew a men's shirt from McCall's M6044 pattern in a short sleeve format. I have again purchase the fabric last year. Hopefully I don't have any trouble with the collar.
    The one big item I would stress for the sewers is check your bobbin before you embark on any major sewings. The last time was I was working the bottonholer on the second bottonhole ran out. You got to roll with the punches!

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  3. Fabric, fabric, fabric! I love seeing it, touching it, playing around with it. I sew a lot of non-clothing sewing where I combine a lot of fabrics in one item and these give me the most fun.

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  4. I love buying fabric. Until you make the first cut it could be anything and has so much potential. Makes me loathe to do anything with it as it becomes a definite thing then. Thinking about it, it does sound a bit odd. I also collect patterns and have so many vintage ones. None in my size unfortunately. I have taken the transition in my collecting habits from vinyl/cds to the above as a sign of old age (but definitely not maturity) :)

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    1. Uh, just the other day I bought 11 kilos (24+ lbs) of cuts of cotton shirting on sale by weight. Hmmm. I had an anxiety attack over the weekend that I had left some good one's on the table. . . I may need professional therapy.

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    2. I love to sew for the vintage Barbies and Tammy using the vintage patterns. I would have jumped on that deal!I've had to buy copies of the vintage patterns but I do have a few originals.

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  5. Perhaps you could start, as a kind of cottage industry, a bespoke fashion doll line? I'd kill for a little tailleur from pattern three, or for that matter a coordinating sheath and spring coat from pattern two for my gals.

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  6. There are a lot of doll pattern collectors out there and those patterns would command a very decent price on eBay.
    Now, what part of sewing do I enjoy most? It would have to be matching the perfect fabric to the perfect pattern. Sometimes the pattern comes first and other times the fabric comes first, in the selection process.

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  7. Some of those patterns are older than you are. While your parents were busy making you that pattern sat in someone's stash. A lot to think about.....

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  8. That 20s pattern is a find indeed! I work in a 1920s historical museum and love finding that kind of pattern. My favorite to date is a 1920s Cat Halloween costume I snagged a few years ago. Kitchy and cute. Thanks for sharing your finds, I love your blog.

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  9. Wow - there are so many things about sewing that I love - that sense of history, of being connected to other people who sewed and created for literally hundreds of years. And yes, I love buying (and getting - I've inherited two stashes now) fabrics and laces and trims. I also really love making something truly special and different. I cannot stand retail these days - it's boring and shoddy. I don't even bother going shopping now - I would much rather make something special.

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  10. I hope it's Cathy answering the door in those pajamas, and not Peter....

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  11. My mother has the Barbie patterns although I have two that were my grandmother's. They both sewed for us until my sister and I started making our own Barbie clothes. No Barbie dolls in my daughter's stash, but my nieces were into American Girl dolls and I have several of those patterns. Much easier than Barbie patterns.

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  12. My mother made clothes for my first Barbie using the middle pattern. When I saw it on your post my heart leaped. What great memories. I think I still have the gown, although a little worse for wear after 50 years--green jacquard lined in white with little beads sewed on the matching stole. A true labor of love!

    Also, I had a Tammy doll before my Barbie. My mom thought that Barbie's proportions were ridiculous, so she bought me the more realistically proportioned Tammy. Tammy had a boyfriend, too--Ted. His neck was way long and none of my friends wanted Ted to date their Barbies, even though he was taller than Ken. Most of his height advantage was neck.

    What a treasure trove! I'm totally envious!

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  13. Peter, those patterns were a great find! Yes, I've had may fair share of perusing fashion doll patterns on ebay and those could fetch a decent price. While I used to be into Barbies, these days it's the 16" fashion dolls - Tonner, Ficon, Sybarite, Gene, DAE Originals etc. They're a tad easier to sew because they're a bit bigger.

    My most favorite part about sewing is dreaming up the entire look. I can visualize it in my mind - problem becomes trying to find the exact fabric and pattern I have in my mind. This forces me to be resourceful, though.

    I've really been enjoying your blog! ♥

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  14. My sister had a Tammy doll. She came in an aqua case that had a phone booth on one side and a closet in the middle. Tammy was far more realistic in proportions than that "blonde doll"

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  15. by the way...do you have a Men's Dashiki pattern from the 70's ?

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    Replies
    1. I don't, Gene, though I do own some caftan tops.

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  16. It is hard to find Barbie patterns today! There are only a few currently on the market and there are many many for 18 inch dolls. Yes I have made quite a few dolls in my day. I have two daughters. I find I can get Barbie's used for about $1 each. The refugee girls love them. When we had sewing classes they would grab scraps from donations and try to make something quick for their dolls. Holley in Roseville mn

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  17. oops. I meant to say doll clothes above. I have made muslin dolls also from the great Women's Day patterns they used to put out every November. alas. I miss those. Joan Russell is an amazing toy and doll designer!

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  18. It's amazing you found that photo on pinterest! Sure does look like the design!

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  19. What fabulous finds! I wouldn't have been able to resist either (well, the people patterns). The Brooklyn Flea people are going to do a test run of a flea market a few blocks from my house this Fall. My fingers are crossed, though not too hard--there was a flea market in my neighborhood for at least a decade before it finally bit the newly-gentrified dust. It had all the used shoes, VHS tapes, and incense oil you could ever hope for, and nothing you'd ever in a million years actually want.

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  20. My grandmother taught me to sew with a Barbie kimono pattern. I didn't start collecting the patterns until the 80's. Now there is a pattern box full of sewing and knitting patterns for the gang. The fourth pattern looks very familiar.
    I love the immersion and creativity I get from sewing.
    A.

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  21. Stitching all together, definitely! I enjoy very much sewing and do not like cut fabrics. The selection of a pattern is thrilling, I am almost nervous about it.

    You did great shopping Peter! I can not wait to see Cathy in Pijamas and Kimono!

    Love your ideas!

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  22. My favorite part is the cutting out and planning the position of each piece on the fabric...call me crazy but it is so much engineering and it you have a great motif that has to be featured or matched, it makes it even more fun. You can teach a monkey to sew but he could not do the most precise layout of the pattern pieces.

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  23. The level of small scale detail in those old Barbie patterns is amazing. One needs the dainty hands of wood nymph to fashion a Barbie wardrobe.

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  24. The pj pattern made me think of some of the beautiful sleep wear and clothing from the twenties period in The House of Eliot series that was on PBS. I keep thinking about a couple of the sleepwear sets in that series. I think your pj pattern is ageless and classic.

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  25. Great find on the doll patterns - if they ever need a new home, keep me in mind!

    I had a Tammy and Mom had that pattern. A while back, I sorted through my sister's an my Barbie stuff (60s-70s) that had gotten combined with my niece's Barbie stuff (80s) and pulled out and saved all the clothes Mom had made. Odd, when I was little, I really wanted the store bought outfits, now it's the things she made that make me smile.

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  26. What an amazing find!!!

    My favourite part is probably working out where the pattern pieces sit on the fabric, especially if I don't have quite enough fabric or if I'm trying to meld a couple of different fabrics - or if the pattern pieces are puzzle-like (eg some Donna Karan patterns). And also the planning / daydreaming part! I do love making clothes (incl some vintage Barbie numbers) but I wouldn't mind having a clever intern come and sew up my ideas for me :).

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  27. I love very old patterns, and view them as pieces of history. Thus, I also feel the need to save them. This is why I have 1000s of patterns. Wanna buy some?

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  28. It's been more than 40 years since I last made Barbie outfits for my boys to take to little girls as Birthday gifts. The Barbie pattern I had was unlike any pictured. For winter coats and dresses, felt works very well to make tiny seams with no raveling. We used to improvise Barbie sweaters using socks as fabric.

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  29. My favorite part is reading about other people's sewing, then either oohing and ahhing, or b*tching and moaning - depends on the day.

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  30. IF you don't make those pajamas, PLEASE pass that pattern on to someone who will! I'm having a momentary obsession will all clothing 1920's related, so I am SUPER jealous of your haul.

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  31. oooh! What a wonderful pattern to own!

    I'm pretty learning/planning driven. I like the mental challenge of having to learn a new technique and then the success I feel when I'm able to achieve it. Likewise, I love taking a fabric or style risk and then seeing it pay off. Although, I have to add that it's pretty nice to receive a compliment when I'm wearing something I made, too. That's a very not bad part of sewing. ;-)

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  32. You run this on the same day I splurge on yet another pattern. At considerably more than I usually pay?? Were we separated at birth? or are we in sync??

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  33. My mother wouldn't let me have a Barbie, instead I had Daisy who was a little more realistic in shape; seems even back then our parents were worried about the impact of unrealistic shapes on their children. Mum had one Barbie, but that was just so she could use it to make clothes for which she then sold. As far as I know she still has that Barbie, my Daisy and all those patterns from the 1970's

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  34. ooh, Barbie patterns :) I used to sew Barbie clothes as a girl, though my 'patterns' were much simpler than this (tube = evening dress) and the finishing was usually very bad (but hey, a falling apart dress makes a fine Cinderella costume...)

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  35. Oh my goodness! I had a Tammy, my mother wouldn't allow me to have a Barbie. Apparently they were too "trashy" looking. I hated it because she was too big for Barbie clothes. Mom would sew exquisite Tammy clothing for me to give to my Barbie owning friends for their birthdays. So embarrassing. Maybe it only happened once but I SO remember it! She didn't seem to understand that I was the only one I knew who had a Tammy.

    I do remember the pattern 4883 and some of the clothes mom made. Especially the poufy gown in a lovely minty green. :-) Gosh. I think it's still in a box somewhere.

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  36. I can relate to this post so much!
    Last weekend, I went through the remainder of my recently-deceased grandmother's pattern stash. It involved prying open a file cabinet in the top of a barn, which was quite warm. Many of the patterns were too mildewed to save, but I came home with 130 vintage patterns!
    I found 3 doll clothes patterns from the late 40's which I think will fit American Girl dolls.

    I plan to list them on Ebay, but am not thrilled at the prospect of looking through each one to ensure the pieces are all there. I am 99% sure Grandma never lost a piece, as she was born in 1920 and was of the Greatest Generation.

    Now, can anyone tell me when patterns started to be made with the seam allowances and whatnot printed on the pieces?
    Also, when did doll clothes patterns start being produced?

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    Replies
    1. I know the McCall's were printed from very early on -- at least since the 1920's. The others caught up by the 1950s.

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  37. Peter, I would love to hear more about what you learned at McCall's patterns. Why do they have all the $1 and $2 pattern sales and $4 for Vogue? What is the rationale?
    I read your reasons about there not being many men's patterns and I agreed. I have found the men receiving my sewn gifts to be very fussy and yet didn't want fittings. It's very disappointing.
    I am a mother of 2 daughters but I do have a grandson who is almost 5. He loves to wear tutus and pink but "not purple". He follows his big sister's lead. There just are not many exciting styles for boys at all! He does wear all the clothes I have made for him and bought for him. maybe this could be a project runway challenge!

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    1. Those are excellent questions, Holley. Clearly they think it's profitable to sell them that way or they wouldn't do it as frequently as they do. But it does make you wonder...

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