Monday, October 14, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Vintage Patterns: Part 1 Shopping

Entering the world of sewing with vintage patterns can be quite intimidating whether your a seasoned seamstress or getting into sewing for the first time! Today's post will talk about one of my favorite parts in the sewing process-shopping!

There are many places you can find vintage patterns both online or in person.

1. Yard Sales/ Estate Sales/Thrift Stores

Despite how popular vintage sewing patterns have become, there are still people who don't know what they have so good deals can be found at these places! But you will have to do some digging. Mostly I have found that this category yields mostly 70s and 80s patterns with the occasional 60s jem mixed in. Always keep your eye out though! I found this great 40s jacket interfacing at a thrift store. Be on the look out for sewing notions too!

2. Antique Malls/Vintage Stores

These places have a much higher concentration of vintage pretties, but you usually have to pay for it. Like with the first category, I've found that the 40s and 50s patterns are extremely scarce still with 60s onward being easy to find but investigate your area for yourself. Different parts of the country will have different things. If you area is lacking, try to convince your family to let you sneak off to an antique mall on your next vacation. Don't forget to look for basics. A great pencil skirt pattern is great whether it's from the 40s, 80s or modern!

3. Etsy

I get most of my vintage patterns on There are loads of patterns in one easy location. The price on etsy patterns can be high but deals can still be found! I did a whole post way back on shopping on etsy. (It's more geared towards shopping for vintage clothing but a lot can be applied to pattern shopping too.)

I personally don't like paying more than $10 for a pattern. Maybe $15 if I really like it. So I generally search for patterns and sort by lowest price first. You do have to sort through lots of children's and men's patterns first using this method but there are gems hidden too! The other thing I do is set a price limit to stop at. Then I don't even see any of those pricey patterns! Sometimes if I'm looking for something super specific, I'll break this pattern and sort by relevancy but I do try to keep my favorites full of cheap vintage patterns.

4. Ebay

I don't particularly like ebay. The auction style makes me feel pressured to buy on the spot and I much prefer to leisurely ponder patterns and then purchase when I have the money. But there are deals to be found on ebay. You can also find lots on ebay.

5. Other Online Vendors

Some other online vendors have stand alone websites where you can find vintage patterns for sale. I don't use these too often because they tend to have higher prices and less selection than etsy. However, if you can catch a sale, then you can get some good deals. These patterns as well as last week's 40s pattern haul came from Vintage Martini closeout pattern sale which is still ongoing. (They're stopping selling patterns.)

Next up, how to determine your size in vintage patterns and what to do if you find one you love that's not your size.


  1. What a lovely post, honey! Though I'm not a sewer myself, I do love vintage sewing patterns something fierce and have "mysteriously" (that's my story and if my husband asks, I'm sticking to it! :D) amassed a small collection of them over the years. I remember well when many could be had for under $10 online, but those days are fast becoming a thing of the past. Not entirely, thankfully, but it's surprising how much pattern prices have shot up in the past two-three years in particular. It's not just online either. I saw some 50s patterns at an antique store in Alberta last month that were going for $30-$60, and they weren't for rare or especially fancy/intricate patterns at all.

  2. I agree with you about the prices of some of these vintage patterns! It goes to show you how much people really do like the tailoring of past patterns. The patterns that totally blow my mind are the Paris Original Vogue. I can't believe how much some of these fetch. I was lucky to stumble on one for $15. But, I'm pretty sure this was a needle in a haystack find. Did you ever use your interfacing? You know what I also like finding is the belt kits. These prove to be very useful. Now, I just need to get cracking on a dress:)

    1. I've not used my interfacing yet but I do have a project in the works for this winter that I should be able to use it for. I like the belt kits too. :)

  3. It also helps to search for misspelled words on ebay (vitnage, patern, ecc.). Those don't turn up at search results easily. So prices stay low.

  4. Whenever I go to antique shops, they have patterns from the 70s that would fit only a modern size 6. :-/ None of which would work for me.

  5. Thanks for this post! It's always good to know what people really do want to pay for a pattern. I'm a pattern dealer as well as an antique dealer, and I think the reason that you'll find patterns cheap in shops other than on-line is because many antique dealers will do what little amount possible to get an item into their space and get money. So often they do not want to take the time to check a pattern for completeness, or they simply don't know any better that a pattern may be incomplete, thus the lower prices. Where as on-line, especially with a dealer who deals specifically in patterns, they are willing to take the time to check out their patterns and make sure they are offering something that is complete, or is going to tell you if the pattern is missing something. Also A LOT of time goes into getting a pattern ready to list, and listing it.


  6. I've actually found that if you get the word out to your friends and family, you may end up getting a lot of vintage patterns just given to you. So many people have their grandparents or aunts old sewing patterns just sitting somewhere, or an older person may rather see them go to use. I even once had a stranger ask me if I sewed and would I like to just have some vintage patterns she had.