Buying Vintage Sewing Patterns online

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while. Today its raining. I have sewn the gathered skirt to the bodice of the McCardell dress and I have a few minutes to spare before picking up Little Prince from his grandmothers. I am also please to say I managed to get to the gym this morning after a rather decadent buffet lunch at the Hyatt yesterday to celebrate the Melbourne Cup (the horse race that the whole nation watches every November).

So here goes. What is the deal with buying vintage sewing patterns online? What can you expect?

At the very least, you should expect the seller has (1) inspected the pattern for damage and (2) counted the pieces and ensured the instructions are complete. Both of these things should be detailed in any listing on websites like eBay or etsy if they are not complete or if there is any damage.

In terms of condition, I have found most sellers are pretty good (and I have ordered hundreds of patterns online). Most will say: “gently used” or “used with some small tears” and the really professional ones will detail any attempts to rectify damage, usually with archival quality tissue paper.

Imagine how dismayed I was of late to pay $45 for a pattern that had clearly been exposed to moisture and was very damaged- scrunched ends, missing bits from the pattern pieces, tears, rusty dressmakers pins… The seller documented the envelope as torn (not an issue) and simply said the pattern was “brittle” which implies everything is at least in tact and needs to be handled with care. And yet the instruction sheet was falling to pieces, split and barely legible. All this for the price of $45, postage on top. We are not talking about a $5 pattern. Imagine how incredible it was for the seller to admit they didn’t inspect the pattern they sent and in any event thought that tears etc were all “par for the course”. Sorry, but anyone who professionally deals in patterns knows that any degree of damage needs to be accurately documented and the higher degree of damage, the less valuable the pattern tends to be (it would have to be rare and coveted to hold its value and to warrant some form of “reconstruction… by that I mean something like a 1930s Patou by a previously unknown pattern manufacturer).

While I am not going to name and shame the seller on my blog- (and there was no immediate apology when I brought all of this to their attention) I am going to do something to help you- the sewing pattern collector, savvy seamstress and/or vintage fashionista buy your patterns. I am going to list my favourite sellers on etsy- these are sellers I have come to trust over time and whom I have usually bought multiple patterns from. I recommend them, have never personally had any problem with the accuracy of their listing descriptions, they are prompt with mailing their items and generally take a sense of professional pride in the item they are selling you. The list has been compiled through experience through my own personal dealings.

In no specific order:

  • Miss Betty’s Attic;
  • Vienna’s Grace;
  • Midvale Cottage;
  • Adele Bee Ann
  • Retrowithlana
  • Piranha Republic
  • Anne8865
  • Backroomfinds
  • California Sunset

Good luck vintage pattern hunting and happy sewing!

3 thoughts on “Buying Vintage Sewing Patterns online

  1. Thank you so much for the nod. You’re a fabulous customer. You and your friends are welcome to a 10% discount that doesn’t expire. Just use coupon code TY4BIZ. Cheers! Adele Bee Ann Patterns on Etsy

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I am hesitant to order from someone online without some sort of recommendation, so this helps a lot.

  3. I agree with your observations, patterns are fragile, delicate pieces of history. And should be treated and passed on with care.
    Having said that I’d like to mention that not all good sellers are on etsy. I sell myself and can share a list of professional pattern sellers who hold to very high standards. Consider these friends of mine;
    The Vintage Fashion Library
    http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com/
    Momspatterns
    http://www.momspatterns.com/
    The Ornament Gal
    http://www.ornamentgal.com/shop/
    Stitches and Loops
    http://www.mainstreetmallonline.com/patterns/store.php?ref=15

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