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Aug 21, 2015

The Mystery of Phoebus Dressmaking Patterns



So I was surfing aimlessly through the vintage pattern pages over at Etsy, as I am wont to do from time to time, when I stumbled upon this.

Perhaps these dressmaking patterns, produced in 1975 by the Phoebus Publishing Company and distributed by Columbia House, are familiar to you.  I'd never heard of them, though I had seen a few for sale upon reflection; originally I thought they were just Big 4 patterns missing their envelopes.

There were 80 in all and they included multi-sized patterns for women, children, men, and even dolls!













Many were multi-sized.  I think you were expected to trace them.



I like the fact that there were only diagrams of the finished garments so, using them today, you're not distracted by photographs (which can look extremely dated) or campy illustrations.

I'm intrigued, readers.  You can find whole sets of these for sale and at decent prices if you're willing to hunt.  The whole thing sounds a bit like those book-of-the-month club offerings or those recipe cards I'd see advertised on TV when I was growing up.  Like the recipe cards, I believe these patterns came with their own avocado green storage container!

In closing, can anybody solve the mystery of Phoebus?  Did you ever own these or -- gasp! -- sew one of them?

Since I still have a bag of 85 unloved patterns leftover from MPB Day, I'm not sure I'm ready to bring 80 more patterns into my life at this moment, but you never know.  I mean, if the price is right....

Have a great day, everybody!

14 comments:

  1. Being, as it were, a sort of sewing voyeur, I thought the whole point of patterns was the dated photographs and campy illustrations!

    And what a good opportunity to remind you that you do have a doll to sew for...

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    Replies
    1. Haha! Those are the reasons for patterns!
      And, yes, Peter, what of that doll?
      - Ellie

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    2. That doll, that doll!! You'll notice she's no longer in sight!

      Delete
  2. Interesting! I did a quick search and found a thread on craftster in which someone asked about these and one of the replies read in part as follows:

    "The patterns are from "Make It Yourself: The Complete Step-by-Step Library of Needlework and Crafts" published in the 70s by Phoebus Publishing. Here's what they look like: http://www.amazon.com/Make-Yourself-step-step-needlework/dp/B00005WC40.

    There are multiple volumes (I have 1-3), and they contain step-by-step instructions for crocheting, knitting, macrame, and all sort of crafts, as well as four sewing patterns per book. The patterns are numbered consecutively.... Volume 1 has patterns 1-4, Volume 2 has 5-8, etc. So your pattern #5 is from Volume 2, and 13 is from Volume 4.

    The pattern sheets themselves contain all of the information needed to make the clothes. The book has pictures of finished product, in hilarious 79s fabrics, and also pages of instructions on certain techniques... working with interfacing, how to make a gathered sleeve, etc.

    Read more: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=221865.0#ixzz3jUtYsRnh"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!
      Your first link is invalid, but worked when the last dot was removed. :)

      This resembles 'Alt om Håndarbeide' here in Norway, which I subscribed to in the 80's. Great fun. We got folders to collect each annual, formed one 'book' per year.

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  3. I picked up something similar called silver threads in a charity shop. they are basic, but i thought they would be great for a friend who is learning to sew (and like the above comment there is a set of instruction cards for macrame etc). its like a time capsule. i am often expecting instructions on how to knit a house whenever I come across these older books as they cover so much!

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  4. I've never heard of those patterns before You're always finding something "new".

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  5. I have a whole set of these patterns! Since I sew and love to collect patterns, my aunt saw them at a yard sale and got them for $1 for the whole bundle. I've never used them but look at them from time to time. Pretty neat. I tried to research them and couldn't find anything.

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    Replies
    1. I had a hunch somebody would own these. $1 is an amazing deal!!

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  6. I have a full set of patterns also, found in a book reseller store, being sold separate from the books. They also had most of the books, but at $5 each for those, that was just not in the budget. The patterns don't look complicated, so a good sewing reference should supply all the needed instruction to sew them up.

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  7. At least the tracing for those looks like it would be way easier than the current Burda or Ottobre roadmap mind bogglers.

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  8. Glad I didn't find those....would have to have been dragged away, kicking and screaming!!!

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  9. I have some of these! I had forgotten about them, I think I made a tunic in 1983, Now I have to go and look, they're probably with the macrame stuff--

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