Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mrs L's Pattern Collection

I recently received an email.

Obviously, I receive plenty of emails because who doesn't? But this particular email was from a gentleman whose grandmother had recently passed away.

She was a dressmaker, and he thought I might be interested in some of her things. So I went around to look. Sadly, many of her treasures had not withstood the test of time. But I am now the custodian of Mrs L's pattern collection, and would like to share some of it with you now.

She had a collection which spanned from the late 50s to the early 80s. To be honest, I didn't keep many of the 80's patterns. Because, well, this:

And batwing sleeves like this:

Perhaps in decades to come, people will look back on the 80's with the fondness and nostalgia we currently reserve for earlier decades. But, if that is ever likely to happen, I don't think we're there yet...

 Gosh, this one reminds me of Murphy Brown.

And this just made me giggle a bit. I offered to make it up for Jon but he declined.

There were some 70's styles.

Mrs L obviously liked simple lines, regardless of the era.

Princess Grace was there too:

But on to the 60's (and a bit of the late 50's). Here the collection shines. This was clearly Mrs L's era.


Some of my favourites,

Unfortunately, none of these patterns would fit me (and I'm not entirely sure 60's silhouettes suit me anyway). But I'm torn between finding new homes for them where they may actually be made into garments, and framing them.

Particularly delightful is that Mrs L often sent off mail order for patterns from magazines. These patterns show a little bit of her history - the places she lived at different times. At one point she lived on Bunbury Road. I grew up in a place called Bunbury. :) But also, that means these patterns have clear date stamps on them.

Mrs L sewed for everyone. She had menswear and children's wear, and going by the range of dates on the patterns, I would imagine she sewed for her children and her grandchildren.

In no particular order:

And special occasions. :)

She had a large collection of toy patterns.

I love toy patterns. Its sad that people don't make toys as much as they used to.

I'm not so sure about this one:

Perhaps she made things for school fetes or fundraisers?
I get the impression she cared about the details.

Of particular personal relevance to me were these two. I made both of these - the apron in the top left as a gift for my year 5 teacher, and the felt elephant, also as a gift.


She also had a stack of knitting magazines. These were for knitting machines.
This one is my favourite - very 'Mad Men' and something I would be happy to wear.

And I love the peplum on this. It looks like something you'd see in the shops today, such is the cyclical nature of fashion.

The articles are lovely too. Crazy diets, including one which encourages a lot of lemon juice,  recipes, and a beauty article on 'How to Look Marvellous'.
I still need to look closely at the condition of some of these patterns as to whether they are in a fit state to be used. Some pieces were in the box without any clear place. But it has been a lovely little detour into history, and in a strange way a tribute to a stranger with a common interest. I hope at the very least I can make up one or two of the toy patterns.


  1. Wow Zoe they are supa cool. Oh the 80s was a special time. My mum had a dress she made like style 4429 the big butterfly dress. And the gloves pattern is to die for they are supa hard to come by, though I think vogue has one now. And the Popples I almost had a heart attack over that one. I sooooooooooooo wanted a people when I was in primary school ( I never got on trend toys eva) I didn't know you could make them..... If you don't want it I would love to buy it from you. I also thought the koala toy was a bit interesting. It is quite interesting as a pattern adict to see other people patterns collections. I have my mums mainly cos she stopped sewing years ago and hers was very much the late 69s 70s from when she moved her from UK. I love those old blouses with the wide flat pointy collar the 50/60s style and the dresses very cool.

    1. Haha!

      If you're dead keen on the Popples, we can sort that. I'll just check the pieces are there. Talk to you on FB. :)

  2. I thought I'd commented early today....obviously didn't do things properly, anyway, what I did say was that this looks like a great find. Out of the toys it would have to be Emu for me I go to meet him when I was little and he let me stroke his head.
    By the way, I was nominated for a 'Liebster blog award' and I have nominated you in turn. Don't feel you have to participate, it seems like a chain letter but it's flattering to have been nominated and anything that sends readers to your blog can't be a bad thing!

    1. Much appreciated - I'll look into it.
      Would you like an emu pattern? I'm not likely to make it up, so I would be thrilled to redirect it to a more suitable home. If you'd be interested, can I ask you to contact me through the email form and I'll organise it over to you?

  3. What a gorgeous hoard! I would have trouble parting with any of it. As a fellow shorty with curves, I challenge you to make a vintage dress with modifications to suit your shape. :) Cheers, Ruth

    1. I think I'd expect those 60's silhouettes would take on a very 50's feel to suit my shape. I'm not Twiggy. But then, Joan Holloway in Mad Men has serious curves and makes it work. Have you seen 's Mad Men challenge?

      Some of them might work, I guess. If only there were more hours in each day huh?