Surprise Find in a Vintage Pattern

One of the reasons I just love vintage patterns is because of the random unexpected finds tucked inside.  Usually it’s the normal rusty (or non-rusty) pins for alterations but every once in a while I love finding something special.

I was peeking inside this pattern today (that I now probably won’t sew up until next summer) and found this fun surprise.  The original seamstress cut this out of wanted ads in a newspaper, and there’s a few fun reminders of  the time the pattern was new.  I love the ad that says “Housewives and Really Active Middle Aged Women for Light Defense Work,” and “Stenographers, Permanent Position with Post-War Future.”  Just a fun reminder of the past lives of this pattern and the time it was new, and why I decided on the name I did for my blog and shop :)

Do you have any favorite finds you’ve found tucked inside of your old patterns?

25 Comments on Surprise Find in a Vintage Pattern

  1. littleblackcar
    September 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm (13 years ago)

    I have a 1950’s day dress pattern that has a penciled notation on the pattern packet: “Takes three feedsacks to make this dress, of same pattern.” The dress is a size too big for me and it’s a petite, so I would have to do some serious redrafting to sew it, but I’ll never part with it simply because of the notation.

  2. Dejah Thoris
    September 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm (13 years ago)

    I wonder if I’d count as a, “really active middle aged woman…” I’ve folded a sweater or two in my day… ;-)

  3. Jill
    September 27, 2011 at 6:53 pm (13 years ago)

    Aw, L. You always warm my heart with your attention to detail. I agree: it’s those little things that touch me as a vintage lover/collector/historian. You are a true gem. xo

  4. Patricia Lynn
    September 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm (13 years ago)

    No wonderful surprise finds for me. My surprises come when I realize a pattern I just purchased is incomplete!

  5. Amy
    September 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm (13 years ago)

    I love that you have to be “really active” to fold a sweater. Ha!

    I recently bought a bag of 40’s patterns at an antique store, and tucked inside a playsuit pattern was an envelope that said “halter top”. Inside were pieces for a halter top that someone had traced or drafted on newspaper! I didn’t dare unfold it because it was yellowed and brittle. I might give it a try and see what the paper says!

  6. thevintagetraveler
    September 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm (13 years ago)

    LOVE that. Gantner and Mattern made swim suits!

  7. Jenni Lithgow
    September 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm (13 years ago)

    That’s fabulous! I like finding remnants of thread tacks still stuck to the patterns. Then I get to imagine what color the previous owner made it up in. Fun!

  8. Emily
    September 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm (13 years ago)

    I once found a hand sewn tag that the previous seamstress made to (probobly) put on her garment. Very cool!

  9. Tasha
    September 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm (13 years ago)

    Oh my goodness, what an interesting relic in your pattern! Those are the best. I’m particularly giggling over the idea of “really active middle aged women”. :)

  10. Heide at ApronHistory
    September 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm (13 years ago)

    Oh Yes! I have found a few newspaper pieces. I love when there is writing on the front too. “Helen’s wedding dress” or “Peach for Susie” That pieces of newspaper is such a piece of history! Love it!

  11. Casey
    September 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm (13 years ago)

    How fun! I have a couple vintage pattern that have pieces traced (or additions like patch pockets) using old newspapers. It’s always so fun to see what was in the ads (which seems to be the sections most often used ;) ) at the time!

  12. kikivontiki
    September 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm (13 years ago)

    I have several with great notations on the envelope. One men’s shirt said “made this up several times for Paul”. Another wone’s dress pattern had a fashion ad cut out of a magazine and tucked inside – the pattern was a close style, so obviously the sewer was copying a ready to wear garment, just like we do now. But my favorite was a pattern that belonged to my grandmother that had a note on it “just fits Pearl and me”. Pearl was my grandmother, and the “me” was my great-grandmother!

  13. Lucy
    September 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm (13 years ago)

    I have one like this from the 70s that’s cut out of the real estate section. The house prices! My favourite part of your one is “we pay while learning” – that would never happen now, lol!

  14. Marie
    September 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm (13 years ago)

    This is just wonderful! I’ve yet to find anything that exciting in my vintage patterns…but here’s hoping!

  15. Tammi Johnson
    September 27, 2011 at 10:37 pm (13 years ago)

    I have a 1939 receipt for 8 yards of fabric and notions that I found in a pattern. A few Mail order patterns with the original news paper ads for the pattern and some pattern peices cut from old newspapers. My favorite thing though is a note written on a pattern envelope from a daughter telling her mother which dress she should make and in what fabric.

  16. eileensbasement
    September 28, 2011 at 1:04 am (13 years ago)

    I have a nice pattern that I found a scrap of fabric in. The dress was made up in a pink batiste that featured 1/2 inch flocked black polka dots! My favorite find to date. Makes me yearn for fabric like that too!

  17. valarielynn
    September 28, 2011 at 2:43 am (13 years ago)

    My mom used to trace out patterns or even draft them using newspapers. I wish to this day she’d kept all of them but they were only the 60s and up, so no big deal.

  18. KhristieB
    September 28, 2011 at 5:56 am (13 years ago)

    I have found pattern pieces traced on colour magazine pages (technicolour beauty), old Australian maps and newspapers. I do love the fabric swatches though. I recently came across a pattern where someone had coloured a model in green and sketched a profile of the model and written something unreadable and “Viva Las Vegas”. Fab! It really does breath life into the patterns and lets your imagination run wild.

  19. Emma
    September 28, 2011 at 6:13 am (13 years ago)

    I have a few patterns where there are notations about whom the seamstress planned to make the garment for, and in what fabric. I love it when you get a glimpse into the personal life of the original owner.

  20. sewvintage
    September 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm (13 years ago)

    I often found traced patterns on old newspapers or wrapping paper and once a fabric and trim swatch. But the best find ever was in a lot of patterns from the US I boulght on ebay. Between themwas a paper bag from a photographer with old negatives. I scanned them, played around a little bit in Photshop and got out some nice photos from the 1940ies. I imagine one of the ladies on the pictures was the one owning the patterns and maybe she is wearing some home sewn dresses on the photos, who knows?
    If you’re interested, I posted them my blog some time ago. The text is in German, but you can at least look at the pictures.

  21. Megan Beck (@meganbeck)
    September 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm (13 years ago)

    Nice find! My grandmother actually worked for Pacific Tel & Tel co. during the war. I love hearing her stories about living in SF during that time.

  22. Tourbillion LeChat (@Tourbillion1)
    September 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm (13 years ago)

    I’ve stayed at the Hotel Whitcomb! It is still there on Market Street in San Francisco.

  23. Jeanne Marie
    September 29, 2011 at 2:17 am (13 years ago)

    Love vintage newspapers. I worked for daily newspapers for several years when I was first out of school. Vintage fonts make me happy! I love old stationery.

  24. ruthanneedward
    September 30, 2011 at 5:48 am (13 years ago)

    My vintage pattern collection is not very large, but I have one mail order pattern (Campus Modes I think) that has a clipping of a little newspaper article/ad about the pattern supposedly written by the pattern’s designer. The date was on the reverse so I could date the pattern to spring of 1939! I was pretty tickled when I saw that.

  25. Naomi~
    October 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm (13 years ago)

    I recently went to an estate sale and picked up a few mail order patterns. When I got home and had a close look at them, the lady had sketched using pencil over one of the Marian Martin 1940’s pinafore pattern to turn it into a dress with button closures, along with a slight neckline and sleeve reshaping. I thought it was really interesting. I haven’t had a chance to investigate the pattern pieces yet to see if she transferred her ideas over. While I’d love for the original pinafore to be intact, I’m secretly hoping she did alter the pattern to her version – I’d be more than happy to make it how she did.

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