It worked! Remember my blog post asking for vintage patterns a couple of months ago? Well, it turns out that quite a few of you had some gorgeous menswear designs tucked away in your pattern stash! As a result, the start of my vintage pattern collection is up in the shop.
I’m really excited about the range of pattern companies and eras that the collection already includes…and this is just the beginning. I will try to add more as quickly as I can find them since every time a pattern is sold it is gone for good and removed as a listing from our shop. If you have patterns you would like me to purchase from you, send me an email at email@example.com and I would love to do so!
You will notice that the price of each vintage pattern in our shop varies greatly. This is because I purchased some of them (plus the cost of shipping) and some of them were given to me (I still paid for shipping). I’m not really intending to make money on this aspect of the Thread Theory shop…it is really more of a passion of mine than a business venture! I’ll delve in to my reasoning behind the vintage pattern collection momentarily. First though, I want to explain: I am listing all vintage patterns at approximately my cost. My cost includes purchasing the pattern (unless it was given to me), paying for the pattern to be shipped to me, a little bit of time spent checking over the pattern and adding it to the shop, and lastly, the cost of the box or envelope to send them to you. That way, if the patterns are sent to me as a gift, the generosity of the person that sent them to me can be passed along to you! I would love to hear your thoughts on this (i.e. do you like having a greatly varied price or is this disconcerting? Would you rather they all be listed for an even $8.00 CAD so that I am losing money on some of the more expensive patterns and gaining money on others?).
Anyways, enough about the nitpicky details, it’s time to explain to you what makes me so excited about this project!
I have always been fascinated by ‘old’ and ‘used’ things because I like to imagine the stories attached to them. In university, I majored in history and just loved sitting over my notebook, frantically taking notes during an engrossing lecture…it felt like every class was story time! I wrote most of my essays on the effects of fashion on politics and vice versa. Later in my degree I studied the impact of home sewing as employment for women just prior to the industrial revolution. All throughout university and later on during my time in a fashion design program, I meandered through antique shops and thrift stores to admire vintage sewing machines, notions and patterns.
Even more than previously loved sewing notions, vintage sewing patterns ignite my imagination. Their era specific illustrations, intriguing instruction styles, and of course, the story of the person who used them are all so fascinating! As I photographed these ones and added them to our shop I found myself imagining the woman or man who purchased each pattern, perhaps the loved one that they intended to sew for, and the places to which the finished garment was worn. Some of these patterns have a name scribbled on the envelope or a note listing measurements within the folds of the tissue. Was the pattern used many times to create the perfect business shirt for a husband? Or perhaps the trousers pattern was traced in multiple sizes to sew up for all of the men and boys in a family. Maybe the knit suit pattern was purchased with the dream of acing a job interview.
Aside from the intrigue and glimpse into different eras of home sewing, vintage patterns offer such a vast array of menswear styles…which are certainly not found within modern pattern offerings! Many of these styles are still very relevant with perhaps just a tweak or two to collar size, leg shape or fabric recommendation.
Gathering all of these menswear patterns in one place will allow sewists to compare design details and sizing to choose the pattern that best suits their preferences. For instance, if you are planning to sew a button-up shirt, you can examine all of the details included in each vintage pattern (and our Fairfield Button-up) and then pick and choose the ones that suit you best. Even now, in the early days of my vintage pattern collection, we already have button-up offerings that include double back pleats, western styling, a pin tuck tuxedo front, and even “2 hour jiffy-sew” option!
My last, and possibly the most important reason for collecting these vintage menswear patterns is that I am saddened when I see an unused pattern from two or three decades ago. It hasn’t fulfilled its purpose yet! And I know, based on experience working in a thrift shop, that vintage patterns are just as likely to be tossed in the recycling as they are to be placed on the shelves for a sewist to find. All of those patterns took such work to draft and the instructions are, more often than not, incredibly detailed compared to most modern pattern offerings. Why should that hard work go to waste when it could be valued by a menswear sewist today?
I hope these vintage patterns will ignite your imagination as they have mine and that you will be able to extend their lifespan by using them to create menswear that perfectly suits the style preferences and sizing of the person you are sewing for!
Or, offer me your vintage collection for sale by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org!