Sunday, 4 August 2019

Additional information

For a lot of things which are designated as 'collectible', the rule seems to be that the fewer signs of use, the better. Toys which have never been played with, but remain pristine inside their original packaging - that kind of thing. I don't know how much old patterns are deemed collectible, but personally I love to find things which hint at a former owner. These are a few of my patterns which have at least a teensy bit of 'previous' attached.

Even when home dressmaking was far more popular than it is now, not all shops carried all patterns. Some had to be ordered in like this one, with "Mrs Judd to pay" pencilled on it.

Vogue 7678 - ordered by Mrs Judd in 1952

Other stores used a different method, combining a variation on the familiar 'patterns cannot be exchanged' stamp with the order details. This pattern came out in 1963, but appears to have been ordered four years later.

Vogue 5942 - ordered 22/9/67?

Vogue patterns appear to have been the ones most often ordered. I wonder if the higher price meant that fewer people bought them, so it wasn't worth the shops carrying a large stock?

Sometimes the previous owner made a note on the envelope of what they had made from the pattern. This one has an arrow pointing to the white blouse at the bottom left and the note "Made yellow calico blouse".

Vogue Special Design 6081, 1963

I'm not sure whether "Tunic top without the collar white/grey/red" beside view B on this envelope was a note of a) what had been made from it, or b) the project planned for it. But given how often I unearth a pattern from my stash and think, 'I bought that for something, but I can't remember what', perhaps I should adopt this technique!

Style 3595, 1972

Given that this Vogue pattern is for a very loose-fitting smock, all the alterations listed seem a bit excessive:
sleeve longer by 1"
yoke ¾" wider from neck to armpit
armhole 1" deeper
cut a trifle fuller if material allows

However the final note is "buttons to match belt", and as there is obviously no belt on the original, I'm guessing that it was adapted to be something else.

Vogue 9005, 1941

Butterick 6670 was obviously passed on from its original owner to a friend, complete with handy hints about making up pencilled on the front: "I made my dress exactly to pattern, but I hope you will fit yourself as the sleeves are a bit tight round the elbow since it has been washed".

Butterick 6670, 1953

The next two patterns are from the same lot, bought at auction. Clearly the owner liked planning possible alterations to the designs.

Vogue 6333, 1964

Vogue 6701, 1966

Rather simpler is the intended change to this Givency pattern, just rounding the jacket collar. Vogue patterns seem to be the ones most often adapted - possibly they were used by more skilled dressmakers.

Vogue Paris Original 2923, 1973

Extra information doesn't just appear on the front of patterns. The back of this one includes yardage requirements, and a checklist for making the skirt.

Vogue Paris Original 2567, 1980

Lots of notes on the back

My favourite though is probably this one. Although the pattern was issued by Vogue in 1950, the date stamped on it is 14 February 1951.

Vogue Couturier Design 556, 1950/51

On the back is a list of what all the separate components cost.

Cost breakdown (and fabulous hat!)

Material - 6 pounds 14 shillings and 3 pence
Pattern - 7 shillings and 4 pence
Interlining - 5 shillings and 9 pence
Sylko (thread) - 9 pence
Lining - 10 shillings and 6 pence
Buttons - 2 shillings
Pack etc - 2 shillings and 8 pence
Total - 8 pounds 1 shilling and 3 pence

According to this website, 8 pounds 1 shilling and 3 pence was 5 days' wages for a skilled tradesman in 1950, and was worth £251.62 in 2017. However, I can never see something like this without checking that the total is correct, and my reckoning it should be 8 pounds 3 shillings and 3 pence, which adds a whopping £3.12 to the 2017 total!

Either way, I'm intrigued by what 'Pack etc' means. Was the pattern being made up for someone else, and if so, why are there no labour charges added? Sometimes the extra information on patterns just leaves you with more questions than it answers.


  1. I also love signs of use on things I buy, like inscriptions in books. But here you also of evidence of the high cost of daily life!

    1. Thank you Lynn. Something which I read for my studies recently mentioned how much the price of clothing in real terms has dropped recently, and this demonstrates it.

  2. Wonderful patterns and the personal additions are so interesting. Sewers are certainly creative.

    1. Thank you. It's always a bonus when I find something like this in a pattern.