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.