These days I’ve been working on my digitization skills. I am a rabid collector of pattern booklets (among entirely too many other things). They are filled with gorgeous illustration and a wealth of inspiration–I love the unique details and trimmings of the 20s, the fluttery chiffons of the 30s. I thought I’d share some images from my May 1924 Pictorial Monthly Fashion Book, which I’ll be making into a pdf and putting on Etsy, if only for other completist/hoarders/rabid OCD fueled types who might want the reference material.

Etsy shops with vintage sewing materials are an interesting phenomenon; I’ve been sort of studying them. Reproduction patterns are a wonderful thing, but I can’t help feeling a bit irked when people charge $12 for a photocopy or scan of a *single* draft-it-yourself Ecoupe Clair pattern. I’m glad there are people who hoard these things and make them available, but my recent purchase of a 20s lingerie “booklet” was just photocopied instructions from a Woman’s Institute magazine, uncredited except as “original source material from 1928.” Not gonna name the particular person because I actually sort of like her, have bought vintage original booklets from her, and I know she’s just making a living and making rare materials available again–but something about it seems off to me somehow. The Amy Barickman books “Vintage Notions” and “Magic Patterns” are similar–just repackaging of Inspiration magazine from the Woman’s Institute and representing the patterns within it in a modern graphic design packaging. It bothers me somehow that someone would claim authorship in such a way of someone else’s incredible work. But at least Amy Barickman did digitize the patterns into a pdf and write her own instructions. I don’t know. When I start offering my own patterns drawn from vintage sources, I intend to be a bit more…forthcoming? less price inflated? about my work as a “pattern designer.” There’s a difference between being a pattern designer and a seamstress/collector with a scanner, in my mind. Is that snarky? Probably snarky. But also true.

But I digress.

These old pattern booklets are hard to find and most of mine wither to the touch with the chipping, brittle edges and cracks. I love to look at them but am afraid to handle them much, so the digitization is a tricky process. Compound that with these being oversized and too large for a single scan and it’s been a delicious little challenge. But these images are gorgeous. 1922-1927 is my favorite pattern illustration era, I think. The 30s might be my favorite in terms of silhouette, but these colors! These textures! These women looking at you with that Cheshire cat all-knowing look in their perfectly fitted ensembles. *swoon*

Enjoy!

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3 thoughts on “Current Projects: Digitization and the Pictorial Patterns of 1925

  1. These are lovely!
    I totally agree with you about the fascinating world of vintage fashion and sewing, the original books, booklets and any and all sources of this invaluable material.
    I also agree with you that you cannot take someone else’s -amazing- work and brazenly sell it as you own.
    And it’s not just etsy, it’s also ebay that offer reproductions that sell -sometimes- as high as the original vintage pattern/booklet/book. ( I am not alone in hunting these out it seems…..)
    As to your question above in the post, no, that’s not snarky, just true.

  2. I used to be a professional knitwear designer and spent a lot of time immersing myself in both old and new pattern books. I was incredibly irked one day when perusing another designer’s newest book of stitch patterns, only to see a stitch pattern lifted entirely from a vintage stitch pattern book. The modern designer’s work had been presented–intentionally or otherwise–as “original” designs and gave no nod whatsoever to the vintage work. It really diminished my admiration for that “designer.”

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