Monday, September 29, 2014

Vintage Sewing Mania

By Jeannie Watt

I love to sew vintage patterns and that means I have to find and buy vintage patterns--right? Well, about a week ago, as the payday patterns started appearing in the mailbox, my husband said, "Haven't you got more patterns than you could possibly sew?"

I looked back at him in surprise and replied, "I'm a pattern collector."

"What does a pattern collector do with patterns?"

"The same thing a thimble collector does with thimbles."

"Display them?"

"No. That would expose them to damaging light. I put them in boxes, labeled by type and decade and on the weekends I go through the boxes and dream."


I was so glad the conversation ended before we got into the fine points that separate collecting from hoarding.

I sew a lot of my patterns. I would sew all of them if I had the time. I don't, but I still have big plans. I originally searched only for patterns that I could make into vintage inspired clothing to wear to my day job, but as I searched, I started buying patterns for other reasons.

Some I buy simply because of the lines. I love the simplicity of this designer wedding dress. That's Jean Shrimpton modeling!

Some I buy because they remind me of my childhood--back when getting your first bra, wearing makeup, ratting your hair and slipping into heels was a big deal.

Once upon a time I owned this halter dress pattern. I told my mom that if I made it, surely someone would ask me to prom. She said she wouldn't spend the money to make a dress for an occasion I may or may not be attending.  Mom was right. When I saw the pattern on eBay, I snapped it up to remind me to never make a dress on spec.

A lot of patterns I buy because they're funky and old and I like them. These fall into the may-make-if-I-feel-like-an-adventure category.

Some I buy because it would be wrong not to.

My son is getting a smoking jacket for Christmas one of these years.

And I honestly do sew many of the patterns into clothing that I wear. This is the first vintage pattern I ever sewed. It's from 1935
I made this pattern and wore it to the Harlequin party at RWA Nationals. It's from 1955, I think.

This is a contender for next year's Harlequin party. I'm hoping it'll be a Black and White Ball. Black satin, white over skirt...or vice versa.

And there it is...a brief sampling of my pattern collection. If you're interested in seeing the patterns I have finished sewing, check out my sewing blog, Retro Sewing Romance Writer. I'm in the middle of a Victoria cut away coat, hoping to get done in time for Dicken's Fair this year.

My question to you--do you collect anything? If so, what do you do with your collection? Looking forward to hearing from you!


Kaelee said...

Jeannie ~ I love all your dresses. You are so talented in so many ways.

My brother has a few old glass buttons that you would enjoy seeing. The glass factory in Medicine Hat Alberta made them for a while in the 50's. One of the antique stores in the area has a bucket full of them so the kids can buy something inexpensive. I thought about you and your sewing as soon as I saw them.

I collect so many things that I'm not going to bore you with the details.

Mary Preston said...

You mean apart from books? Not really.

My mother has all her dress patterns from way back when. She is 90 next birthday & still makes a lot of her own clothes.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Kaelee--I were near that antique store there wouldn't be many buttons left, lol. What a great idea.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Mary--Your mother is an inspiration! I bet I'd have a ton of fun in her pattern collection!

Colleen C. said...

I collect horse statues... like to see them out and about the house.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Colleen--I love horse statues. It's nice that you display them. My daughter collects the Breyer Christmas horses. They're so much fun.

Patricia Johns said...

I love your vintage patterns, and the fact that you do sew some of them has me very impressed. :) I'm not a big collector, unless you count picture frames. I love them, and I'll buy them when I don't even have pictures to go into them, because there are always more pictures. Always.

liztalley said...

My great grandmother was a seamstress and she worked for a big department store in Houston. She made her own hats and I still have a flannel nightgown she made me when I was in high school. I still love to put it on - it's like Gram wrapping me up in love.

I wish I had saved her old patterns. She had tons of them from waaaaay back. I did save some of her buttons. When I was a baby she put tons of them on a string to make a necklace for me. I know. Child experts today would choke at the thought, but I still have the necklace and my mother will point out the buttons. "That was on my grandfather's coat" and this was an extra button on my wedding dress." It's really cool to have those memories on a string :)

Geri Krotow said...

Jeannie I love this post! And you are an exquisite model for your dresses. You looked absolutely darling at the Harlequin party this year (and dinner before!). I collect yarn. Mostly animal fibers--I'm a snob. No acrylic. I also collect knitting pattern books. Inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

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