Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dating vintage patterns

Last night I had a hot date with my vintage pattern photos on Flickr, and  Actually, I've been working on this off and on for a while, but as of last night, I finally have date and decade keywords on all my vintage pattern photos!   My dates aren't authoritative: for many mail order patterns, no precise date is available, so I guessed the decade.  And there were a few that Cemeterian's lists didn't pin down, so I made my best guess there too.   But now I (and you, if you are so inclined) can do searches in my photo stream like this:

Or I can search for a particular year, like 1943 (the year my parents were born), or 1966 (the year my parents married).   I find it helpful to be able to sort my patterns this way.  My fashion history knowledge is weak, and what little I do have comes from sewing!   But I love vintage looks, and I am learning.

Given that this post is all about photos of vintage patterns, it seems weird not to have any photos.  So, here is what Flickr deemed my "most interesting" vintage pattern:

Ironically, I just have the envelope of this one, not the pattern.  The seller spilled something on it as she was getting ready to ship, and the delicate tissue was destroyed.   (The seller felt terrible about it: she refunded my money AND sent me some additional patterns!)  All the handwritten comments make the envelope very interesting, and maybe someday I'll find another copy.  This pattern dates to 1946, BTW.  :)

Flickr says this is my least interesting vintage pattern:

It's from 1991, so maybe it is not quite vintage!  My mother made me a dress from this pattern almost 20 years ago, and I still love and wear it.  My dress is a knee-length version of the one the model is wearing, in a sage green leafy vine print.  My sister had a version too -- hers was green vines on a black background.    I asked my mother if I could have the pattern last year, and I've been meaning to make another dress from it.  As it happens, this image has had more views than the "most interesting" pattern -- go figure.

I want to do another round of tagging, this time for garment style ("sundress", "bolero" ...) and design details ("double breasted", "dropped waist", "godets" ...).   I need to work up a good list of tags before I begin: I don't want to get halfway through and realize that I forgot one I'd really like to have, or that I haven't been consistent.   Any suggestions for tags to include are welcome!


  1. Wow Andrea, this is awesome! Did it take ages to do? I must confess I've often browsed your Flickr account, but it's so exciting that I can now search and envy patterns by era ;o)

  2. You probably know this, but there is also (um, because I started it) a Vintage Pattern Dating Project group on Flickr. It's mainly to collect postal dates on mail order patterns, which were almost always undated, but I encourage people to post anything that has any date at all.