Today I died and went to vintage sewing pattern heaven

I was out running some boring errands today and decided to stop in at one of my favourite vintage clothing stores just to have a look around. They had some vintage fabric and while I was looking at it one of the owners started chatting with me. I mentioned that I love using vintage fabric for the clothes I make and she told me she had a box of vintage sewing patterns in the back if I would like to have a look at them – of course I said yes! I wasn’t really expecting to find much, but that box was an absolute treasure trove and I ended up coming home with five patterns! If I could have afforded it I definitely would have bought more, but I’ll be going back very soon to pick up more!

Most of the patterns were from the 60’s and 70’s (sadly none of those were in my size), but when I reached the bottom of the box, my heart almost stopped as I saw patterns from the 1920’s and 30’s! I’ve never seen patterns this old in my city, nor have I ever been able to buy any online, because they’re usually incredibly expensive. I actually had to restrain myself from scooping them all up because it was an unplanned for expense that I couldn’t entirely justify. I narrowed it down to five patterns, three of which I knew would fit my older sister (the one I’ve been working on Operation Sharon Tate with!), one I thought might fit another one of my sisters (and even if it doesn’t, it was way too incredible to leave behind!) and one that was in my size.

I checked them when I got home to make sure there were no missing pattern pieces and they all appear to be complete (sadly minus an embroidery transfer for the dress that is in my size, but I can always try coming up with a design myself, try to replicate the original, or find something online that would look nice). I also did a bunch of research online to try and date the patterns and was able to come up with some rough estimates (this is one of the resources I used and it was very helpful in dating two Hollywood sewing patterns!).

This pattern roughly dates to about 1935 and the timing of finding it was perfect! My sister is in town and finally got to try on the dresses I’ve been making her – which was such a thrill! Two of the dresses need very minor alterations which I will be doing ASAP, but they look absolutely gorgeous on her and it was one of the proudest moments of my life to see her in them! While she was trying on the dresses we decided that it would be good to make a slip to go with one of them and I was planning on looking for a pattern online, so it was amazing to find this one in her size less than 24 hours later!

This Hollywood pattern (featuring Ann Shirley) roughly dates to 1939 and is for the same sister. I’m going to be bringing her to look through the rest of the patterns as well, because most were actually in her size! It was tough to decide which ones to pick up for her, as they had several incredible dress patterns from around the same time period, but after seeing her in the dresses I’d already made yesterday, I thought that this particular style would look absolutely stunning on her so I made sure to snap it up.

This pattern is one of my favourites and is also for my older sister! It was much harder to date this one but from what little I was able to find out, Chatelaine started making these patterns available in 1928 and late 20’s to early 30’s seems about right from the style of the skirt. If anyone has any information about these patterns or any thoughts on when they could be from, I’d love to hear it, by the way! These skirts are gorgeous and just the kind of thing I’ve been looking for!

Another favourite! The “Belrobe” (or instruction sheet) for this pattern very luckily lists the exact dates that it was patented! August 19th 1919-January 23rd 1923. I’m not sure why two dates were listed, but I hope someone with far more knowledge of vintage patterns will be able to enlighten me. I have another one of my sisters in mind for this pattern and I’m already dreaming of making it – the tough part will be sourcing non-polyester versions of the kinds of fabric the pattern calls for, which can be really tough, at least here in Canada. I’m hoping that with a bit of dedicated hunting I can source some better quality fabric because I refuse to resort to polyester satin again, the destroyer of all my best laid sewing plans, especially for a project as special as this. If anyone knows of possible sources that might ship to Canada, or can give me recommendations on what other types of fabric might be suitable if all else fails and all I can find is polyester, I’d love to hear it!

And the last pattern…

McCall 3442 – this is the one that is sadly missing the embroidery transfer. I love that it came with this piece showing the finished garment! This is the only printed pattern I found today and the instructions are printed directly onto the pattern pieces (aaaaand are pretty much non-existent and of the “slash here”, “gather this edge” variety, but at least that’s something!) and so is the year! According to the date on the pattern pieces, this pattern is from 1921! Technically this is a pattern for a girl and not a woman, but since it would fit me, you’d better believe I plan on making this dress, even if I only wear it around the apartment!

Unfortunately this pattern and the skirt pattern don’t come with direct recommendations for fabric, though in the instructions for stamping the transfer on the back of this pattern, silks and woolens are mentioned, as are “wash materials.” With the skirt there is no indication at all, but I know it definitely needs to be something that can hold those inverted “plaits” well. I think I have some a few vague ideas for fabrics that could work nicely (such as linen for example), but I am in no way an expert when it comes to fabric, so once again, I’d appreciate your suggestions!

I still can’t believe that I actually own these beautiful patterns – or that I found them so close to home and was able to purchase them for an absolute song compared to what they would typically go for online! These are now the oldest original patterns in my collection and I can’t wait to sew them!

Now, time to finally drag myself away from the pretty patterns and go make dinner because I’ve been alternating between staring at these in awe and trying to research them for the last five hours or so!

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