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Enjoy a Sewing Pattern Collection

Updated on December 30, 2017

Some of My Favorite Sewing Patterns

Costume Patterns
Costume Patterns | Source

A Half-Century of Sewing Patterns

I began collecting my own patterns shortly after I learned to sew. I started 4-H at the age of eleven or twelve. At that time, we bought our patterns and fabrics at the Sears store in Greenwood, Indiana. This was back when Sears really did have everything but groceries: gasoline, knitting needles, candy, a coffee shop...and, of course, sewing patterns.

Having grown up sitting at the fabric department counter leafing through the giant pages of the pattern catalogs, I enjoyed that activity even more once I could actually sew those fashions in the pictures. I loved to challenge myself, so I gravitated toward the designer patterns--until the price tag sent me back to the regular patterns. Now I enjoy going to the fabric store during special $1 pattern promotions and stocking up on patterns from my wish list.

Once Sears closed their piece goods departments, specialty fabric stores like Hancock, So-Fro and JoAnn sprang up all over the place. A large number of my patterns came from such stores. I also found specialty mail-order suppliers through the ads in sewing magazines such as Threads and Sew News. Finally, the internet came into my home and I discovered almost unlimited sources for patterns: theatrical costumes, living history, heirloom sewing, dance costumes, and much more.

More of My Patterns: Blasts from the Past

Old Patterns
Old Patterns | Source

Read about Fashion History

Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet
Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet

I was delighted to learn Tim Gunn is an engaging writer as well as a wonderful designer. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


How to Collect Patterns Affordably

Graciously Accept All Gift Patterns

As a young mother, I was often the beneficiary of older ladies at church who were downsizing and wanted a good home for their sewing stash. I got boxes and bags and bolts of fabric as well as some great buttons and patterns from decades past all the way up to the minute. I shared with friends who wanted to take up sewing as well.

Gratefully accept gifts. If you can't use something, find out about others in your neighborhood who sew or of ministries that could use your surplus. Exceptions would be anything with water damage--don't contaminate the rest of your collection with possible mildew.

Patiently Wait for Coupons and Sales

Shops such as JoAnn have great sales on a regular basis. Several times a year they will put some brands of sewing patterns on sale for as little as $1 each. Given that regular prices have skyrocketed from 25 cents to 15 dollars in my lifetime, I keep a list of patterns I want by brand and buy them when JoAnn has a super sale. Good things come to those who wait.

Enthusiastically Embrace Special Opportunities

In the eighties I worked in downtown Chicago, where my favorite store was Marshall Fields on State Street. There was just enough time on a lunch hour to walk to State Street, make some quick purchases, and get back to the office. One day my coworker, BJ, came back from lunch and gave me sad news--Marshall Fields was closing their sewing department. Sadness gave way to excitement, however, when she said patterns were out in big boxes at clearance prices! We made plans for an extra-long lunch (thank goodness for a secretary who could hold our calls) the next day and had a great time buying patterns, including the usually expensive designer patterns from Vogue. (We did return to the office and get our work done--no clients were harmed by our brief indulgence.)

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