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Jul 18, 2010

Etsy Obsession for a Sunday Morning

Readers, I am an obsessed Etsy pattern hunter.  There, now you know.

Upon my return from Fire Island I decided to do a comprehensive search under the words "dress pattern,"  recognizing that many patterns end up lost because the seller fails to include important info like  "Vogue Paris Original," or "36 chest," or "size 14" in the title.  All sorts of hidden treasures can be found!

If you search under "dress pattern" you get 33,008 results, however, spread out over 826 pages.  I am currently on page 370.  I have seen SO many dress patterns, friends.  Not only do your eyes begin to permanently cross at a certain point, but you also start to notice how repetitive the styles were.

There are SO many Jackie-O-inspired sheath dresses, SO many double knit pantsuits, SO many demure Forties frocks with geometric stripes.  I find myself wondering if these vintage patterns are still around because they were so popular, or if they have survived uncut because of precisely the opposite reason: nobody wanted to sew them! 

But I did start to notice an interesting trend of which I was formerly unaware.  Twenties style keeps resurfacing but it never quite looks as good as the original.  It reminds me of how in period Twenties movies they (nearly) always get the period wrong, assuming I guess that if they put movie stars in authentic Twenties costumes, makeup, and hair, they'd alienate their then-current-day audiences.

That's Priscilla Lane in "The Roaring Twenties."  Title notwithstanding, those shoulder pads are pure late Thirties.

Remember Natalie Wood in "Splendor in the Grass"?  The necklace looks right, but the soft hair and makeup don't look Twenties to me.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" -- which I saw in its original run! -- sort of gets it right.  But those eye-popping colors are pure Sixties.

And then there's Barbra in "Funny Girl"with a hairstyle that is just a little too big for the period, not to mention the signature Barbra-Cleopatra eye make up that transcends time.

Twenties-inspired patterns show up again and again on Etsy.  Which one's your favorite?





Or beyond...

Back to an original...the one Cathy modeled a few weeks ago.

From 1929 Dress
And another I have in the pipeline:

OK, I guess you could do this with any period -- big Forties shoulders return in the Eighties, for example, or Thirties (and Forties) nostalgia in the mid-Seventies.

We're definitely in a Mad Men-inspired, early Sixties period now, at least among those who care about such things.  You can get away with just about anything today, don't you think?

Can you think of any former style that never made it back a second time?

Any style that you hope NEVER comes back?  (I mean, really, what IS that coronation look?)

Jump in!


  1. Capelets never came back.

    And it's good to have you back, Peter!

  2. Those 80's dresses are horrific. I don't love the dropped waist so much, except when Cathy wears it.

    I am kind of wanting the coronation dress. Maybe I watched Leslie Ann Warren too many times in Cinderella.

  3. Alas, maxi-length dresses (they look like mumus) are back along with those horrid tube-top dresses. This is just sloppy dressing, sloppy designing. Sigh.

  4. Oh, Susan, capelets...ugh.

    Sassy Lassy, you can't watch Cinderella too many times!

    Saintpudalia, I actually have a soft spot for mumus; maybe I'm losing it!

  5. Capelets will return with the resurrection of muffs: i.e. never. Mumus are a bad name for caftans -- which I love. I vote for the pipeline original, but am attracted to the 70s version with pleated drop waist.

  6. I'm not sure which period I'm attracted to the most. See, most little girls' fashions are almost always timeless because they just haven't changed much since the 30s. I mean, I'm making up a 1946 pattern now, but with a little added length it really doesn't look dated to me. I've decided to show the start-to-finish process on my shiny new blog....

  7. I'm an Etsy pattern junkie, too. That's a great way to kill a few hours. I like that first 60's pattern a lot.

  8. Oh, I meant to say... (I'm so forgetful lately!) Did you know that you get almost 2,000 hits on ebay for "pajama pattern"? I'm trying etsy today. :) See, we're considering doing a pajama Christmas, so I've been looking for kids' footie pajama patterns for the little ones. (Adult patterns are easier. I'm buying them at the Joanns dollar sales) And you get very few hits with 'footed pajama pattern' and 'footie pajama pattern' but tons and tons with "pajama pattern".

    I have a pattern for my two year old niece, but I'm fairly sure that my nephew wouldn't appreciate ruffle-butt pajamas!

  9. I have a sneaking admiration for anything ermine-trimmed. I have to confess that if I had a coronation to go to I would SO make that dress. But sadly, there are none expected in the near future. As for fashion, being an hourglass-shaped girl, I hate dropped waist styles, because I have a small waist. Others with different figures might differ

  10. As for fashion, as I am NOT an hourglass girl, I have worn dropped waists, but not in about a decade or so. The thing is that dresses got so ugly for a long time, that I quit wearing them. I've also dropped pantyhose and high heels. I'm fighting hard not to land in the fashion wilderness of decorated sweat shirts and elastic waist jeans.

    I too have been spending some time looking at vintage patterns, and have decided that the fashion I like the most is from the thirties and the seventies. I was sewing so much in the seventies, and I still like the styles I was sewing then. I'd still like to sew more of them!

  11. I actually have that simplicity dress, but it's more 1910s to me. lol! I'm an etsy junkie as well. I'm searching for the search for "18 pattern" "1940 pattern" everyday just to find a catch. I have a few patterns that are 1910-1920 inspired but have too much of a heavy 80-90s feel when the neo-victorian look was popular. Yeah, not so thrilled if puffed sleeves came back into fashion.

  12. I kinda "Heart" capelets. I have Vogue V2934 made up in red wool and dark blue wool. You can see it here:

    I guess the sleeves make it less cape-like, though. I feel very "Reverend Mother" when I wear the dark blue one.

  13. Kate, I actually like that Vogue capelet!

  14. I'm an etsy junkie as well! Being more of a curvy small waisted girl, I love the 50's for the full skirts and fitted waistlines. But there are so many great patterns from the forties and sixties as well! I avoid the 80's, as I was a little girl in the 90's who wore my older cousins' hand-me-downs when they definitely weren't cool anymore. Not like sweaters with shoulder pads and stirrup pants are ever a good idea, but even worse when no one else is wearing them!

  15. And I kind of like capelets, too! Thought I'd add that after just seeing KateR's comment above. Though I fear it might turn into something I make and never have the guts to wear...

  16. I love old patterns too. I love movies that the collection of fashions subtlety are as well cast as the actors. One such movie is "The Way We Were" Barbra dress and jacket ensemble with the red cherries. Also "Dr. Zhivago"...I would kill for the dress that Tonya wore when she answered to front door to receive the telegram.


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