Sunday, 12 March 2017


They're all at it! I've posted before about my friend F, who kindly lets me know about 'interesting' arrivals at the charity bookshop where she volunteers. Another friend, Kebi, volunteers at a different charity shop in town, and she recently texted me to say that someone had just donated lots of 1970s and 1980s dress patterns. They were mostly uncut (she's a fellow dressmaker, so had checked), and she thought I might be interested . . .

She added, "Tell them I sent you", so feeling like a character in a very surreal spy story, I went down to the shop and explained. Bags and bags of patterns were bought out for me to look at; nearly all Vogue, and nearly all my size. It was like Christmas coming early!

Which is how I ended up writing something I never thought I'd write; a 'haul' post.

This is a tiny proportion of what was donated

First up, this Vogue Couturier Design by Galitzine of Italy. "Photographed in Rome", no less, sound familiar?

Somewhere in Rome

This Molyneux design was "Photographed in Paris", but of more interest to me was the fact that it has the 'Vogue Paris Original' label attached.

Usually you had to ask for the label at the counter

The Vogue 'American Designer Original' line used the same blue, white and red lettering design as the Paris Originals. The fitting alterations for the pattern on the left will be awkward, but it's a chance to make a Diane von F├╝rstenberg wrap dress, so it's worth the effort. I'm not sure if I'll ever make the pattern on the right but hey, it's by Edith Head! I hadn't realized that she ever designed patterns.

Very Easy, but also designer originals

In the 1980s I made a coat from a Perry Ellis pattern, which I absolutely loved. If that pattern had been in this collection it would definitely have felt as though all my Christmases and all my birthdays had come at once. Sadly it was not to be, but I did find these instead.

'American Designer' rather than 'American Designer Original'

Another Vogue pattern line from the 1980s was 'Vogue Career'. I love the little office-related vignettes on these pattern envelopes - possibly just in case you weren't sure what a 'career' was! It was only when photographing the envelopes for this post that I noticed that the larger one is Perry Ellis again.

None of the offices I have ever worked in have looked remotely like this

All of the patterns seem to have been bought locally, from department stores such as Beatties (Birkenhead) and Browns (Chester). I've never heard of Hobb Bros in Birkenhead, though. I like the sleeve shape on this blouse, but looking at the dress I am getting worried about my apparent batwing-sleeve addiction!

1970s and 1980s

There were some earlier patterns in the collection. I have a soft spot for the artwork on Vogue patterns from the era where the word 'Vogue' appeared in blue on the left of the envelope; hence these three.

Vogue have always been really bad at putting a date on their patterns

Finally, the one non-Vogue pattern I bought; a Butterick pattern by 'young designer' Jean Muir. Very different from the jersey dresses I tend to associate her with.


Sadly no-one in the shop could give me any information about the donor, but she certainly had good taste in dress patterns. Thanks to Kebi for the insider information!


  1. Wow, that's some haul! I have a few like the top two which were given to me by a very stylish lady. She gave me all of her original 1930s - 1970s ones and they're all gorgeous. Now, however, I'm thinking I need to befriend a few people who work in charity shops! xx

    1. Your friend's pattern collection sounds enviable - lucky you!

      The shop where Kebi volunteers is the only one in town which takes dress patterns, so choose your new friends wisely!! Joking apart - I don't know if this applies to all charity shops, but where I live they tend not to put older or damaged books out on display, as most people aren't interested. However where F works the manager knows me now, so if something like a slightly battered 1930s sewing book is donated she will keep it to one side in the storeroom. So it is definitely worth getting to know the staff in your local shops! xx

  2. Wonderful addition to the archive - it's come to the right place I feel. I like your mention of the local department stores - yet another layer of history. And Perry Ellis Vogue 1229 is a great look!

    1. Thank you Kate! I love it when I'm able to get several patterns from one source; it just gives you a little insight into what the original owner must have been like.