The Ultimate Vintage Pattern Haul! (And Some Tips For Buying Vintage Patterns)

As you all know, one of my favourite things in the world is trawling antiques malls in the hopes of finding some vintage delights. I’m super fortunate that, in moving to the US, I’ve found so many amazing vintage and antiques shops – my vintage collection has obviously benefitted where my bank balance has suffered. So when my hubs offered take me out for another vintage hunt, I totally jumped at the chance. We went back to my favourite antiques mall in the world – one that has never let me down – and oh boy did it come through for me. I can only described my resulting purchase as the ULTIMATE vintage pattern haul. Because seriously these patterns are some of the most beautiful – not to mention reasonably priced – that I’ve seen in the wild…

IMG_6273

Yes, yes, yes! I am so much in love. And I got literally all of these patterns from just one seller (and I think I pretty much bought them out!). Not only was I super impressed with the collection but they’re also all in amazing condition. One issue I find in buying vintage patterns from antiques shops is that there’s rarely a guarantee that the patterns are totally intact. I’ve bought a couple in the past that have turned out to be missing several pattern pieces. This feels very much the equivalent of buying a jigsaw puzzle and finding pieces missing – it’s frustrating and you always feel a bit cheated. But I was fortunate to get all of these patterns from a seller who had actually made sure that the patterns were complete! If you’re on the lookout for vintage patterns but are similarly concerned about finding ones that are complete, I have a few tips that might help:

  1. Look online! If you want to guarantee that a pattern is complete, it is probably best to look on Etsy or eBay. Sellers will typically state whether or not a pattern is complete in the description (if they don’t, you can always send them a message to ask). There will usually also be a returns policy, so you know that you can return it if you aren’t happy with the condition! That said, you will pay considerably more for these patterns than you would buying from a shop in-person.
  2. If shopping in person (at an antiques mall, for example), check their returns policy first! My favourite antiques place – where I bought all of the patterns in this post – has a no returns, no exceptions policy. So I always assume a degree of risk whenever I buy something from there. However, the prices are also about 50% of the price of the same items on Etsy or eBay so, for the most part, I’m happy to trust the seller and take the chance.
  3. You can tell a lot from the external condition. Generally speaking, I find that the external condition of the pattern is pretty reflective of what you’ll find inside. In some cases, you’ll be able to have a look through the pattern itself – this is usually the case in charity shops. Often, however, sellers will put the pattern into a sealed plastic folder (as was the case with the ones I just bought). In these circumstances, I will typically just check over the external condition – if the packaging is all torn up and rough, there’s a good chance that some of the pieces will be missing. You can also gauge a lot from the thickness of the pattern envelope – a coat, for example, will typically have a lot of pattern pieces to it so, if the envelope is super flimsy and thin, it probably doesn’t have a lot of the pieces inside!

There’s often going to be an element of guesswork involved when buying vintage patterns but, the more purchasing you do, the easier it’ll become to tell the complete from the incomplete! And yes, I’m definitely giving you license to go out and buy lots of vintage patterns for yourself so that you can learn!

Anyway, back to my pattern haul! I wanted to give close-ups of some of my favourites because I’m just so obsessed with these gorgeous finds. First up:

IMG_6274

Most of the patterns are 1940s but I also found these stunning 1950s gowns! Just look at them! I’m absolutely in love with the bodice on Vogue S-4264 (on the right) – it makes me think of a prom dress! Plus the sleeves are just incredible! Simplicity  2442 is also beautiful. I’m not usually one for sleeveless or strapless dresses but this one is so adorable. It definitely gives me a summer in Havana vibe!

IMG_6275

Who wouldn’t want some vintage swimwear?! I won’t lie, when I first saw this pattern (Hollywood 1775) I thought it was for nighties and dressing gowns. But no. And, honestly, who wouldn’t want to venture into the ocean wearing something this chic? I’ve actually never owned (or seen firsthand) a Hollywood pattern. I’ve seen them pop up on eBay and was always intrigued – largely because most of their patterns feature a Hollywood starlet on whom the pattern is based. However they also produce generic patterns, as with Hollywood 1775. If you haven’t seen their patterns before, it’s definitely worth having a look online because they’re so gorgeous!

IMG_6276

Here we have some gorgeous 1940s dresses! Do I even really need to say much about these? They are both so unique – I mean just look at the bodice on both of these patterns! I think I’ve actually seen the McCall pattern on the left reproduced – at the very least, I’ve definitely seen something very similar as a reproduction.

And, finally, I didn’t neglect menswear. I found a couple of gems:

IMG_6278

I’m pretty well in love with the blazers on the left. They’re definitely screaming Mad Men to me. And, even though I have no infant children in my life, I just couldn’t resist the coats on the right. Every time I look at it, I think of the Famous Five. I clearly have so many amazing cultural influences at work in my life right now.

So there we have it! I honestly can’t believe my luck. Proving once and for all that spending your free time trawling around antiques shops is always a valuable use of your time!

 

Vintage Sewing Treasures: Notions Galore!

As you probably know, I have a total obsession with hunting out the best antique and vintage shops in an effort to lay my hands on some perfect sewing-related finds. I’ve found these escapades much easier to arrange since I moved to the US, where an antiques mall is never far away and typically stocked with vintage sewing patterns and notions.

On a recent trip to my all-time favourite antiques mall – the Antique Mall of Creve Coeur – I scored some of the most incredible bargains. The beauty of antiques malls (at least, the ones I’ve been to) is that they host booths from a variety of antiques dealers – all of whom specialise in different things. I’ve yet to walk into one where I haven’t found a selection of vintage sewing patterns and other sewing goodies on offer. And the Antique Mall of Creve Coeur is always incredibly well stocked with more notions than I could ever need.

I wanted to share my latest haul with you. I actually got all of these bits a couple of months back but it’s taken me forever to get around to writing a post as I’m working my way through a backlog of posts and projects (blame a mischievous pup who demands most of my attention)! Anyway, on to notions, notions, notions!

IMG_5483

All of this for about $10! While I typically find that vintage sewing patterns can get super expensive (usually depending on how old they are), hunting for vintage notions is an easy way to indulge your love of all things vintage while making sure that your bank account stays reasonably intact. Shopping for vintage notions is where antiques malls come in particularly handy. Since there are a number of sellers, it is easy to locate booths where prices are low.

One of the other great things about visiting antiques shops is that they often offer opportunities to buy in bulk…

IMG_5479

This jar must contain at least 40 lots of bias tape, elastic, and lace. And all for about $8! This seller had another jar of the same size containing assorted buttons and belt buckles. I was super tempted but, in the end, thought I would be much less likely to use them. I have a button obsession but I couldn’t see myself finding a use for mismatched buttons. Unless maybe I just start my own vintage button collection!

Some of the cutest bits from this bargain jar…

IMG_5480

Vintage packaging is honestly one of my favourite things. Am I the only one who feels this way?!

IMG_5481

Anything floral is a bonus!

IMG_5482

And so much lace! I have no idea what I’ll do with this. Sewing lace onto garments is something that I’ve yet to do.

As you’ll have seen from the first photo, I also got myself a few packs of vintage buttons. Here’s a close-up of those beauties:

IMG_5484

I’m not sure what projects these will go towards. The buttons on the far left would obviously be super appropriate for a coat, so I’ll probably save them for whenever I’m feeling ambitious enough to get into coat-making! I tried to keep my button selections relatively neutral so that I’ll have plenty of options when it comes to actually using them. For now, though, they’ll sit in my collection and look pretty!

IMG_5486

I also picked up this pack of needles. I’m pretty sure that these won’t ever actually be used but the pack was about 50 cents and, as I mentioned earlier, I am a serious sucker for vintage packaging. When I saw the ‘war economy pack’ note on the back, I couldn’t resist! There’s something about vintage items like this that really makes me feel that I’m holding onto a piece of history. I’m sure this intersection with history is what make most of us vintage lovers develop a love of vintage in the first place.

IMG_5487

Some hooks and eyes! Again, in large part because I couldn’t resist the packaging. But I’m sure that these will actually have some serious utility.

And, finally…

IMG_5488

This fabulous hat pin. I’ve actually got a growing collection of vintage hats, some of which have a really hard time staying in place. I’ve been on the look out for a hat pin for a while and this one was a steal at $1. The fleur de lis design is particularly classic. I’d really like to grow my hat pin collection so fingers crossed that future antique hunts will turn up some more!

So that’s it! $10 and many vintage notions later. I massively recommend paying a visit to some local antiques shops if you’re on the look out for sewing patterns, fabric, or notions.  Alternatively, there are great places online – I love Etsy! – that also stock these kinds of items. If you have any alternative recommendations, be sure to pop them in the comments. I’m continuously on the lookout for new places to shop for my favourite sewing goodies! And, if you’re ever Missouri way, be sure to send me a note so we can go antiques shopping together!