Sunday, 15 November 2020

Style Pattern Book

I’ve written quite a lot on this blog about Vogue Pattern Book (later renamed Vogue Patterns) magazine, but until recently Style Pattern Book had completely passed me by. Which is odd, really, because in my time using and collecting Style patterns there has been no shortage of hints about its existence.

Pattern envelopes from 1970, 1976, 1978 and 1982

It crops up on instruction sheets, too.

Instruction sheet for Style 2833, 1979

I assume that Style Pattern Book was launched in 1970, as there is no reference to it on a 1969 pattern in my collection. However, the copy I have acquired is the Autumn/Winter 1979/80 issue, so ties in nicely with my interest in all things related to 1979 Style patterns.

Late 1970s Style goodness

Style Pattern Book came out three times a year; Spring, Summer and Autumn/Winter. It cost £0.50 per issue (for context, the 1979 Style pattern I'm currently making up cost £1.35) but a two-year subscription was available for £2 - a saving of £1. This issue consists of 80 pages, plus covers.

Vogue Patterns, as it was called by 1979, came out six times a year. The Autumn 1979 and Winter 1979 issues, which cover the same period as the Style publication, cost £0.75 each and contain 96 and 86 pages respectively. Both issues include a voucher giving the reader 50% off one Vogue pattern of their choice. Vogue patterns at the time cost from £1.10 to £4.95, so if you wanted one from the upper end of the price range, it was worth buying the magazine just for the voucher.

Vogue Patterns, from the same period

A two-year subscription to Vogue Patterns cost £10.75, £1.75 more than 12 issues of the magazine. On the plus side, subscribers also received three 50% off pattern vouchers. Neither the Style subscription nor the magazine itself offered any discounts on patterns.

The biggest difference that I can see between the publications, however, is one of tone. Vogue Patterns is styled very much as a magazine. There are a number of advertisements, many full or double page. Most are sewing-related, but there are also some for hair colour, underwear and, incongruously to modern eyes, cigarettes. There are also articles on dressmaking, and a couple of short non-sewing features. All of the patterns shown, 76 in the Autumn issue and 71 in the Winter issue, are arranged into features and have been photographed on a model especially for the feature.

Vogue Patterns feature on dress patterns

Style Pattern Book is more straightforwardly promotional material, with much less effort and cost involved in its production. It contains far fewer advertisements, all of which relate to dressmaking. The only feature is a two-page spread on fabrics for children's clothes, made up using patterns which appear elsewhere in the issue.

Style Pattern Book feature on autumn fabrics

The layout of the rest of the magazine is similar to a counter catalogue, with a few pages of photographs and then patterns organised into sections.

Large photographs on the first two pages

Contents and cover details, no editorial

Unlike Vogue Patterns, few of the adult photographs seem to have been taken just for the magazine. Most of them appear on the pattern envelope as well. (I don't have enough of the children's and teen patterns to comment on them.)

A page of the magazine, and the matching pattern envelope

A photograph taken just for the magazine?

For a lot of the 93 patterns featured, however, the artwork has obviously just been taken directly from the counter catalogue. From my point of view this is great, as it has provided details of a number of new-to-me 1979 patterns, but I'm struggling to see why many people would pay for information they could get by going into their local fabric shop (far more numerous in those days) and looking at the counter catalogue for free.

Many of the pages look like this

Clearly other people felt the same. By 1982 Style Pattern Book had dropped to two issues a year, and was being heavily promoted on pattern instruction sheets.

Style 3631 instruction sheet, 1982

The prospect of browsing at leisure in the comfort of your home doesn't seem to have been enough to save it, however, as there is no reference to it on this envelope flap from the next year.

Style 4086, 1983

I may not have noticed it at the time, but now that I'm finally aware of its existence, I will definitely be looking out for other issues of Style Pattern Book.

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