Some charts and graphs and stuff

Recently, my Sew It box 
—that’s the box I keep way down under a bottom shelf, full of the patterns that I have tried, decided to keep, and have done a post about— 
got too full to close. 
So I took all the patterns out and put them on a new shelf into three new clear boxes where I can see and admire them, sorted them by brand, and was surprised by what I found so I made some charts and stuff. 
Here’s the first chart:

This mess (above) is three charts, actually. 
Top is broken up by decade, lower left by brand, lower right by Big 4 vs indie/out of business. 
I did the lower right graph because I was surprised to see Simplicity coming out as such a big winner, and I figured since McCall’s owns Butterick and Vogue that when I put those together they would win out over Simplicity (and Style which was purchased by Simplicity in the 90’s) but then they didn’t. Even after breaking down the numbers into indie versus Big 2, Simplicity won. 
Well, I think my collection of patterns, which was gathered in a totally unintentional and haphazard way, is a pretty good microcosm of what’s out there in the world, secondhand pattern-wise.  
(The following theories are my own, not based on accredited or confirmed research)
Simplicity is simple, basic in design, inexpensive, and available in all fabric stores. I think the reason there are a ton of vintage Simplicty patterns languishing in thrift stores and eBay miscellaneous lots is because they were ubiquitous when sewing was common. They kinda flood the market of vintage patterns, so they aren’t seen as precious, so I find them easily. 
Vogue patterns, on the other hand, are seen as more valuable, so I’m a lot less likely to stumble upon them in yard sales. Are they more valuable? Yes? By some measures? Beautiful cover art? Higher level of complexity? Moar Fashun?
Or maybe it’s that current Vogue patterns are sold for a higher price than their McCall’s brethren, so I assume vintage ones were too back when they were current, and so they were less frequently purchased than their cheaper contemporaries, and therefor are now rare, especially unused copies. 
But I think the main thing with Vogue is the name. Vogue is fashion, indisputably. Even though Vogue Magazine and Vogue Pattern Company became separate companies pretty early on, there’s still the importance of the name. 
I only have one Vogue pattern in my Sew It box. I pretty much never run across vintage Vogue patterns in the wild. I don’t have a whole lot of them in my untested box. I think people see the name Vogue and think This Is Worth Something and pull those patterns aside to be sold individually to people who Collect with a capital C, as in buy their patterns with intention, which is not my pattern buying method. So there. 
I have a couple Vogue dresses lined up to sew this summer. Will report back. 
Here below is a tidier version of those other graphs. Simplicity is wining, across the decades. Because they exist more in the world?
One thing that stands out for me in the chart below is McCall’s winning the 21rst century. This is totally because of the pattern clearance sales run through Joanns. After reading Overdressed, by Elizabeth L. Cline, I feel guilty about this, that I am buying on sale things I wouldn’t buy at full price, which devalues the actual price of the pattern.

Unrelated, here below is a To Do list I made and then abandoned. 
I made one thing from the useful column, a pair of pants, and then was like screw useful. It’s summer dresses from here on out. Until fall. Then maybe Serious Fall Season will renew my interest in useful. 
Speaking of Overdressed, my take away message from the book was to buy more, not less. 
I already never shop. I mean not literally, but I am super frugal and hate stores and people and shopping. 
But after reading the book, I realized that if I’m going to vote with my wallet, a purchase is a louder statement than an abstention. 
You know, like, forever 21 is never going to even notice that I’m Totally Not Talking To Them You Guys, meanwhile if I need some t-shirts, I need to buy them, support some place that I like, and free up my sewing time for stupid stuff that pleases me, like sundresses. 

Sundresses times infinity. 

Speaking of sustainability and stuff, I put this dress (above, with apron) on the other day and it hit me that I made this dress when I was 22, which means in a few years when I hit 44 I’ll have had it half my life. Which is nuts. A dress, in my various closets, half my life. 
I remember making that dress, from a pattern I drafted on paper bag paper, on the floor of my boyfriend’s apartment. Then I married him. 
And even more nuts than owning a dress half my life is that the next year after that I’ll have had this dress for MORE than half my life. What other objects can I say that about? Photos? Letters? Serious touchstones of my personality?  I think that’s neat. 
And speaking of old things, here below is a sweater my grandma knitted for me when I was little, that I wore and loved and then outgrew and my stepmother kept it for me and brought it to me and now my son wears it. It’s some kind of wonderful synthetic yarn that is totally right for kids clothes and that I anticipate will last forever. 

Another thing speaking of Overdressed, my favorite chapter was the one that liberated me to send all textiles to the thrift shop. I used to throw clothes away, thinking “this is too messed up to resell,” but now I thrift it all, and keep a bag to donate marked Fabric Scraps For Quilting, which I know will go to a textile recycler not a quilter, but that sure beats the trash. 

Anyway. Peace out.  


11 thoughts on “Some charts and graphs and stuff

  1. I think simplicity patterns are amazing and I think vintage simplicity is the best for anyone starting to sew as there is enough to learn, and the results are always excellent – I do have a weakness for vogue (as they have more unusual cuts – but saying that, they dont lend themselves well to up-cycling – hard enough to cut a sleeve from an existing sleeve when the vogue one needs to be on the bias). I love that dress, and I know there are a few things that have been in my wardrobe for more than half my life, one is a huge sunhat that was half my weeks rent and I was still looking for a job but bought it anyway – and I wear it each summer – I can only take so much sun – and still adore it (and its my version of investment dressing)


  2. Well aren’t you the statistician Miss Liza Mae! Had to scour your ‘About’ for that and what an entertaining read it was. I had no idea you were in movie/TV costume! I have no aspirations – almost none whatsoever, but at present in my advanced couture course I’m doing costume and boy does my tutor love a spangle and a bit of glued lace over flesh mesh! I like the premise for your blog, very clever. So what does one do with ancient vintage kids patterns – wait for grandchildren?


    1. I too wonder about what I will do with those vintage kids patterns. If I’m really awesome I’ll make them up and give them to friends’ babies. So far I’m not that awesome.
      Glad you were entertained by the About!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a thoughtful post. And such a lot of work went into those charts. I may try the same exercise one day. The garments I wear the most are long sleeved round necked T shirts but I have never made one and doubt I ever will as RTW supplies excellent choices. And anyway they would be so boring to make. Mainly though I wanted to reinforce your excellent advice to give away all your scraps. My local Oxfam shop says my scraps always sell well which is amazing. I think people see the possibilities. I don’t even sort them by fabric or colour. Maybe that is what the purchaser does, then sells them on? Who knows? But it is great to give it all away without guilt.


    1. Oh good, I’m so glad to hear that the scraps sell!
      At one of the costume shops where I worked, we would save scraps for a lady who quilted for a children’s charity. She stopped coming around after a while though. Probably got tired of having to sort out unusable Lycra and chiffon from usable cottons and silks.
      I encourage chart making, you might learn something! I was surprised to learn that I’ve kept so many from the 60’s. I expected the majority to be from the 70’s or 2010’s, but maybe the chart is telling me that the 60’s suit me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the charts! I think you’re right about the scarcity of older Vogue patterns being due to the resonance of the name rather than something about the patterns themselves.

    I’ve been thinking about what you wrote about how Overdressed has inspired you to reconsider your sewing priorities. I’d like to sew everything, though I obviously have to admit to lacking skills being the major roadblock there. That said, I don’t think anyone should feel obligated to sew everything. Time — or, as I think about it in this context — TIME is a serious limitation on what it’s possible to get done without losing your mind. Your decision to buy basics from brands/makers you like is a really good one, I think. And sundresses, while they’re so much fun, are also very practical. They’re the only thing I want to wear in the summer. I don’t see them as an indulgence at all (and where I live summer is but a hot and humid blip between capricious winters). Sew an infinite number and you’ll still be a practical sewist to me — after all, you live somewhere warm, don’t you? :-)


  5. Sundresses X infinity = perfect number. In terms of consumerism, my hubs and I decided a while ago that we would always try to buy the best we could afford, whether on sale or not. It works well most of the time. I do slip up with fabric a bit tho not as much as I used to…. Love your charts. The only thing I ever failed in my life was statistics….


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