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Vintage Pattern Preservation

Updated on February 3, 2017
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How To Save a Vintage Pattern

I've been an avid doll collector for many years and as such have collected vintage doll clothes patterns as well. Many of these patterns are tattered, torn and sometimes in extremely rough condition due to their age and use. Below, I will share with you a method I use for saving a copy of these treasured patterns .

Vintage Patterns-The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I've been a doll collector since I was in my teens. I have over a hundred vintage dolls. My favorites are the vintage Revlon, Cissy and other high heel footed little ladies of the nineteen-sixties. Needless to say, their original clothes are almost impossible to find and if your lucky enough by some miracle to locate an article or two. They can cost you an arm and a leg. The good news is that you can make them yourself. The downside is that there aren't any new patterns being manufactured for these vintage dolls. Don't despair, thanks to the Internet you can usually acquire the original vintage patterns, priced fairly reasonably at places like eBay and Ruby Lane. The bad news is that nine times out of ten, the patterns are so old and worn out that they're next to impossible to use and tear up easily.

Make a Pattern Copy That Will Last

I learned a long time ago that each time I acquire a vintage pattern to make a more permanent copy of it and it's paid off. If you would like to have a more durable copy of a favorite vintage pattern, just follow the directions below. You'll turn a barely or non-usable old pattern into one you can use for many years to come.

Instructions- 6 Easy Steps

Difficulty: Easy

Things You'll Need:


vintage or favorite pattern you want to save

Scotch tape, if needed



straight pins

tracing paper (optional)

Step 1. If the pattern is vintage and not in good shape, carefully take the pattern out of envelope. Separate the pieces.

Step 2. Gently smooth each piece with your hand if possible. Then carefully press with warm iron, to make the pattern pieces lay flat.

Step 3. If there are any tears or rips in the pattern, lay flat and carefully secure the tear together with scotch tape.

Step 4. Lay the interfacing on a flat surface and place the pattern pieces on top, secure with straight pins.

Step 5. Carefully cut the pieces out, be sure to transfer the markings, darts, etc. either by hand or use tracing paper.

Step 6. Save your new interfacing pattern in a large zip lock bag.


Be Extra Careful Removing The Pattern From The Envelope

When you acquire an original vintage pattern, be extremely careful when you remove the pattern pieces from the envelope. Many of the vintage patterns are fragile and  are vulnerable to being destroyed, just from the process of taking them out of the package.

Notice the vintage pattern to the right; at first glance, the pattern envelope doesn't look like it's in that bad of shape to be as old as it is, but check out the small rips and tears . The pattern pieces that are folded inside, have rips and tears all through them. The damage is in many areas of each pattern piece, due to the way they were folded. Not to mention, the pieces were dry and a little brittle, due to how and where they were stored so many years ago.


1.Be sure to label the bag for future reference.

2. If possible, make a photo copy of the original pattern envelope and a copy of the instruction sheet . Place them inside the baggie as well.

This new pattern made of interfacing is extremely durable and will last for years to come.

Repair and Copy Damaged Patterns


Submit a Comment

  • kschimmel profile image

    Kimberly Schimmel 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

    Becky, I have a few patterns for the older dolls like Chrissy and Velvet. I like to trace patterns onto the pellon-like fabric (e.g. do-sew) because it is lightweight and flexible. I can also iron out wrinkles before using the traced pattern.

  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Nancy, glad you can use the tips. Thanks for reading my Hub.

  • Nancy Oram profile image

    Nancy Oram 7 years ago from SF Bay Area, California

    Excellent tips. I love the idea of preserving vintage patterns.

  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Peggy W, Thanks for rating and commenting on my Hub.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    What a great idea! My grandmother used to make clothes for the family and doll clothes as well. She was a terrific seamstress among her other talents. You might be interested in seeing what she did with men's old underware buttons in a hub I wrote about her. It has "Idle Hands are the Devil's Workshop" in the title. Also wrote about my mother's favorite doll...a Dionne quintuplet. That doll is dressed in some doll clothes that my grandmother had made.

    Rating this hub up and useful.

  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Pam, that's a great idea, only make sure you have a hard copy safely filed away too. A few years ago, I had some smaller patterns that I copied to my computer too, then I woke up one morning to find that my computer was not working, apparently it had "crashed", according to the repair guy. I had interface copies of most of the patterns, but some were in really bad shape, so after I scanned them, I threw a few that were falling apart away. I was never able to recover them.

  • Pam Kellogg profile image

    Pam Kellogg 7 years ago

    Excellent advice! I collect vintage embroidery patterns. I've acquired a very large collection over the years. Because they're small, I scan them into my computer. This preserves the original and gives me instant access to my beautiful embroidery designs.


  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    hi viryabo, I'm so happy that you like the Hub. I hope more people will make a durable interfacing copy of those wonderful old patterns, if not they may be lost forever and future generations will never have the chance to enjoy them as we have. I'm glad that you agree with your link being placed here as I feel that your craft of Making Rag Doll Toys is in danger of becoming a lost art in these modern times. There's nothing that can ever take the place of a handmade rag doll or toy made with loving hands. Thank goodness that you have written a Hub and detailed how to do this.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. God bless :)

  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    jcalbon, I'm glad you can use the information in this Hub. Thank you for commenting.

  • profile image

    jcalbon 7 years ago

    I've just started collecting vintage patterns and was wondering how best to take care of them--thank you for sharing these tips!

  • viryabo profile image

    viryabo 7 years ago

    Fantastic idea Becky.

    It's funny how great ideas like this just doesn't occur to many of us. I've always loved vintage patterns, but as you rightly said, most of the authentic originals are old, worn and come sometimes with missing pieces.

    These are also good ideas for vintage fashionistas that desire those classic fashions patterns, but can't find many in reasonable conditions. They can now purchase any pack of patterns, no matter how tattered, and just copy and save. It'll last for decades, and preserve history as well.

    This is actually saving and 'preserving' patterns of a beautiful bygone era.

    Thanks for a great hub. And thanks for adding my link. it feels so nice.



  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Hi Deborah, it was a good idea to copy your daughter's dress patterns especially if you used the same pattern again and again. I have found that using mid-weight interfacing to copy the patterns pieces give them many more years of use. I have some interfacing pattern copies that I use regularly that are over 10 years old and they are still in excellent shape. Thanks for commenting.

  • Deborah Demander profile image

    Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

    Great idea. I used to make my daughters' dresses, and always copied the pattern first, much like you suggest here.


  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Pamela N Red, I'm glad you like the Hub. Thanks for commenting.

  • Becky Puetz profile image

    Becky 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Delores,I'm glad you can use the information in this Hub. Thanks so much for commenting.

  • Pamela N Red profile image

    Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    I don't collect dolls but I do collect old patterns. Great tips.

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    What a great idea - to copy the old pattern! Love the hub.