Old sewing patterns can be pretty darn cool.

So you know how the other night the issue of the colour of a dress – was it blue and black, or gold and white? – broke the internet? (You don’t? Ah, well – here’s a summary of that whole thing.) Anyway, today the internet seems to be focusing (albeit with not quite the same intensity) on vintage sewing patterns. Specifically, a vintage sewing pattern that dances, the one you see at the top of this post and that you are probably mesmerized by even as you read my deathless prose.

I had to laugh when I saw this viral GIF, not just because it’s funny – I mean, get a load of the gal in the grey pantsuit in the rear, bobbing her head as her friend (or is it her secret enemy?) rocks out – but because I have a quiet fondness for vintage sewing patterns.

Why? Who knows? I’ve never done any sewing, except when I absolutely had to because of being in Mrs. Meraw’s home-ec class at Centre Hastings Secondary School in Madoc, back in the days when I was a young teenager here at the Manse in Queensborough; or being in Isabella Sager‘s 4-H sewing club in those same years of my youth. (And I should add, by the way, that I was terrible at it.)

I think, though, that I like those vintage colourful illustrated envelopes containing the patterns for making your own clothes because they remind me of those days of my youth, and of going to Stickwood’s dry-goods store in Madoc – upstairs, where the fabric and the notions and the pattern books were. You’d look through the huge, glossy pattern books and see all kinds of fashionable things worn by svelte models, and then you’d buy your pattern in an envelope, and you’d take it home, and if you were me, you’d make something that looked nothing like the glossy photo that had first attracted your attention. But what the heck.

Since Raymond and I bought the Manse and started visiting local auctions and yard sales and thrift shops in search of vintage treasures, I’ve picked up a few of those old pattern packets; here’s one of them, which I think is particularly classic because of the barbecue theme. Imagine: sewing all your own barbecue aprons, for both the gals and the guys!

Simplicity barbecue

And given my fondness for these old patterns from Simplicity and Butterick and McCall’s and Vogue (those last being the supremely fancy ones, of course), you can imagine how tickled I was to find the dancing pattern all over the internet today.

And doubly tickled to come across something brilliant called Pattern Behavior on tumblr (if you don’t know what tumblr is, don’t worry; it doesn’t matter a bit) featuring not only vintage patterns but hilarious captions beneath each one. A few examples:

Pattern Behavior 1 Pattern Behavior 2 Pattern Behavior 3 Pattern Behavior 4 Pattern Behavior 5

Really, I think it’s quite splendid that the internet has discovered the joy of vintage patterns. And on that note, let me leave you with another dancing one, straight out of the early 1980s, I would say. Take it away, ladies:


2 thoughts on “Old sewing patterns can be pretty darn cool.

  1. Katherine, I LOVE this post! I too have always loved sewing patterns (more than sewing) and remember the gap between promise and product. The thingy I sewed never resembled the picture; I never radiated the self-assurance and flair of the model. And now I have to face the fact that I couldn’t do those dance moves either! I love this animated pattern meme (how DO they do it?) And I enjoy seeing the retro styles reappearing in current pattern catalogues (with the original ‘cover’ art) – and among a wide circle of re-users.

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