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Apr 3, 2015

MPB EXCLUSIVE: An entire BOOK about the sewing pattern industry!!!

Last Saturday my friend Johanna lent me a library copy of A History of the Paper Pattern Industry, written by Joy Spanabel Emery and published by Bloomsbury in 2014.

Jeez Louise, where have I been???  I mean, can you imagine a book more up my alley? 

If you're the type of person who lies awake at night wondering whatever happened to DuBarry or Advance or why there was a flood of men's suit patterns in the 1970's, this comprehensive, authoritatively written book is for you.  There are many color plates of patterns from all eras, and as much information about the history of paper patterns as you're likely to find anywhere.  If you're a vintage pattern maven -- and I know many of you are -- you're sure to appreciate A History of the Paper Pattern Industry.

You can read an interview with the author, Professor Joy Spanabel Emery here.

You can find copies of A History of the Paper Pattern Industry on Amazon, naturally.  You might also try your local library.

In other news, my mother got a haircut yesterday.  She's doing very well: cooking up a storm and whizzing through mystery novels.  She's not walking outside on her own -- we go out together, generally -- but that should be the worst thing thing someone in her mid-Eighties has to deal with, am I right?

Mom's braised chicken with sauteed onion and giblets -- yum!

I just received a pair of new old-stock Jockey boxers from the early 1960's, purchased on eBay.   Somewhat miraculously, the elastic waistband is fully functional; I'm not going to throw them in the dryer, however, just in case.  The fit, in case you're wondering, is baggy but they're eminently wearable.  You can find more for sale here and the seller has them in a few other sizes.

What else?  I caught three shows at FIT this week: the small Lauren Bacall: the Look (which sadly closes tomorrow), the fascinating Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits, and the glorious (and I mean glorious) Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s, in the large downstairs gallery.  All close this month so get your you-know-whats over there if you can, pronto.

Finally, I joined Netflix yesterday (just for streaming, to watch on my computer as I don't own a TV).  If you haven't seen the documentary Advanced Style (based on Ari Seth Cohen's blog) I highly recommend it. 

Have a great day, everybody!

(Many of the Lauren Bacall outfits from the FIT show were featured in the 1968 TV special excerpted below -- she's a hoot!)


  1. I saw that book mentioned previously but have never seen inside it, until now....It's moved even higher on my WANT IT list now. Looks amazing. And yes, I do wonder what happened to DuBarry & Advance...

    Love all the links you've shared too. Lots to see.

  2. Love that book, and the FIT exhibits! I have some of the 70s Halston patterns for dresses in the exhibit. They're not too hard to find on Ebay and Etsy. They're nicely drafted, too. Glad your mom's doing well!

  3. Terrific! I look forward to both the book and the movie -- thanks!

  4. Your hair looks great, 'mom!' I wish you could cook for me, that looks DELISH!!

  5. Peter - I have the Paper Pattern book and I'm slowly making my way through it but it's an awesome resource!

  6. I'd love to get my hands on that book. It looks so wonderful! Not only the glorious fashion but the history to go with it!

  7. What was the purpose of buying 50 year old jockey shorts?
    Were they just a good buy on underwear, or were you planning to deconstruct them for a pattern, perhaps?

    1. I wanted to see how they were made and, if possible, to wear them. Good question!

  8. That looks like such an interesting book!

  9. OMG! I need that book! Thanks for the look inside!

  10. That book look like a great read. Your Mom is looking great. Love Halston 70's stuff.

  11. I wonder if they have a section on butterick patterns from the thirties. I have five that I got off ebay, perfect condition, that I can find no info on, not even the wiki (guess I should put them on?) and overall there seems to be a bit of mystery on these black and white envelopes. The seller had a whole shwack of them, too, all 2000 number series. That was a couple of years ago though.

  12. Oh my gosh! I used to work for Joy! I'm so glad her book was published finally, she's been at it forever. I'll have to grab a copy and have her sign it next time I visit. She's a brilliant wonderful woman. She runs the Commercial Pattern Archive.

  13. Oh my! I love that book: it is in dissertation form (short chapters, summary in abstract form) but that just means I geekly love it that much more. Lisette, you tell her she is my hero! I made the Seattle library order it and then could not wait for them to get it.

  14. Authentic childhood eats, vintage underwear, Lauren Bacall, and a book about sewing patterns - a very charming post from a very charmed life.

  15. I had a look at the feedback for the Kindle edition and somebody says that the book focuses almost entirely on American companies and either ignores or dismisses (in the case of Burda) companies from other countries. How do you feel about that? I was going to buy it but now I am sitting on the fence because being European I started with European patterns.

  16. Just finished reading the book. Quite interesting but absolutely NO references to Australian patterns - the Australian Home Journals for example (did you ever look at them?) or Madame Weigels patterns. So I was a bit disappointed from that aspect. I know it's a style thing but the summary at the end of each chapter that also includes a sentence or two about the next chapter means it isn't really a summary, doesn't it?
    Still, an interesting book for my library. Thanks for mentioning it, Peter!


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