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Vintage Pattern Collecting
questions for experienced collectors
sharkycharming
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sharkycharming
Beginner
Maryland USA
Member since 11/10/10
Posts: 345
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Date: 12/13/10 11:33 AM

I love vintage clothing and rarely find anything in thrift stores that fits me (size 12 U.S. in RTW) so that is one of the reasons I've taken up sewing. I've started bidding on large lots of patterns on ebay, and have already collected about 300 patterns this way. So I have a few questions.

1. Is there anything special I should be doing, storage-wise, to keep the envelopes and tissues from deteriorating? I don't have anything older than 1941 thus far, and most are from the 1960-1970 decade.

2. Do you established collectors display your patterns, either online or as art in your house? If so, I'd love to know the details. I do want to sew many of these patterns, but there's no way I'll ever get to all of them, so in the meantime I'd like to derive as much pleasure from them as possible.

Thanks for your help!

------
Heather in Baltimore

MarinaVK
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MarinaVK  Friend of PR
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New York USA
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In reply to sharkycharming


Date: 12/13/10 12:34 PM

Hi Sharkycharming :-)

I must admit I also have 300+ patterns (to me it feels like revealing my weight). Most of those are vintage patterns. And since I use these patterns every now and then, I have noticed after a while that pattern envelopes deteriorate very fast when in use (what was I thinking). In addition, finding patterns has become a daunting task once I had more than 50 patterns - they were scattered around entire house.

ARCHIVING

What I did is I started archiving them (in a very basic way), putting pattern envelopes in plastic sheet protectors and storing the instructions in large manilla envelopes, clearly labeled with the pattern number and the pattern company. This system was suggested on Gigi Sews blog. Thanks, Gigi!

Pattern envelopes are now stored in binders ordered by garment type, and the instructions are in filing boxes ordered by number.

However, for the purpose of preservation of vintage patterns you have to consider some additional factors.

These plastic sheets offer only minimal protection, mainly against tear and wear. The paper is still exposed to humidity, however, and will deteriorate over time. To reduce the damage from acidity make sure those plastic sheet protectors are ACID-FREE!

FRAMING

If you want to frame some of your favourite ones, the main thing to remember is to use acid-free materials for matting and backing!

Next damaging factor is the light. You can (if you want to invest in it) buy UV resistant glass or plexiglass for framing.

Finally, humidity can damage your pattern envelopes as well. To minimize the risk, make sure that you have some space between the pattern envelope and the glass.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ARCHIVE 300+ PATTERNS?
I managed half of it on a weekend, and finished the rest of it in small quantities over a week or two.

I wrote a blog post about basic archiving system i made here. But now you have inspired me to write a tip about archiving and displaying vintage patterns. I have been dealing with ancient textile and vintage poster archiving a little, so I will try to summarize my experience on my blog soon.

Good luck,
Marina

------
My blog: http://frabjous-fashion.blogspot.com
What I am working on now: one couture garment a month for my Burdastyle Couture Wardrobe Challenge at burdastyle.com

sharkycharming
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sharkycharming
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Maryland USA
Member since 11/10/10
Posts: 345
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Date: 12/13/10 12:43 PM

Thank you so much, Marina, for your detailed response. My boyfriend collects stamps and I believe he uses acid-free plastic sleeves, so I will find out where he gets them and order some for myself. Thanks again!

------
Heather in Baltimore

PetitePear
PetitePear
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In reply to sharkycharming


Date: 12/13/10 2:28 PM

I read on a blog (maybe dressaday?) about someone using these comic bags to store their vintage patterns. They are acid-free, archival quality bags. (They also come in larger packs)

MarinaVK
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In reply to sharkycharming


Date: 12/13/10 3:04 PM

Quote: sharkycharming
Thank you so much, Marina, for your detailed response. My boyfriend collects stamps and I believe he uses acid-free plastic sleeves, so I will find out where he gets them and order some for myself. Thanks again!

I am happy it helps. Actually, Staples carries acid-free sheet protectors for a reasonable price.

------
My blog: http://frabjous-fashion.blogspot.com
What I am working on now: one couture garment a month for my Burdastyle Couture Wardrobe Challenge at burdastyle.com

colorkitten
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colorkitten
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New York USA
Member since 1/19/08
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In reply to PetitePear


Date: 12/13/10 9:05 PM

I'm one of the many people using comic bags and boards to store vintage patterns. The envelopes go in the acid-free sleeves in binders like MarinaVK's though. That way I keep all three kinds of paper away from each other

There was a really good discussion on Wearing History just recently, lots of good tips there!

------
~sarah
www.colorkitten.com

TheaBerlin

TheaBerlin
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GERMANY
Member since 3/10/10
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Date: 12/14/10 0:38 AM

I don't even own half as many patterns as you do ... only around 15, I think. But I think I can help you concercing the problem that patterns deteriorate if you use them.

I copy every pattern on Burda plastic tracing sheets. I also make a copy of the instructions and store them. The plastic tracing sheets are easy to use and very durable. I don't use the original pattern so it won't deteriorate.

Maybe that helps?

lareine
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lareine  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/14/10 3:09 AM

Please don't think I'm being judgemental in what I'm about to say -- that's honestly not my intention. I'm just trying to find out more about collecting such vast numbers of patterns.

Since you say that you won't ever get around to using all of the patterns, and you buy vintage rather than easily-found modern patterns, do you think that it may seem selfish to acquire so many for yourself and then just store them? With limited stock still existing in the world and many passionate seamstresses who would love to find nice vintage patterns, 300 for one single person seems excessive.

Of course I would rather see the patterns saved than chucked in the bin because they're old and seem worthless to the previous owner, but I do wonder about the thinking behind squirrelling away so many that you don't think you will use. Could you explain further?

sharkycharming
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sharkycharming
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Maryland USA
Member since 11/10/10
Posts: 345
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Date: 12/14/10 8:05 AM

Thank you for the helpful comments to everyone who had helpful comments. I had written a detailed response to the accusation of me being selfish, but I have edited after deciding that it's not worth it to me to get angry at someone who means less than nothing to me.
-- Edited on 12/14/10 9:05 AM --

------
Heather in Baltimore

MarinaVK
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In reply to lareine
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Date: 12/14/10 8:52 AM

Lareine,

I also own a large number of vintage patterns (300+), and I keep most of them. I part with a few to acquire new, more interesting ones (for me). I have patterns from 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and so on and each has a specific detail I love.

Once you have such a number of patterns you are likely to know which ones are rare and want take good care of those particular ones.

It's not about squirelling away, it's about COLLECTING. If I see a rare Spadea pattern, or Vogue Couturier from 40s or any other decade, my heart jumps because I know I am going to learn a new technique, see a new way to construct a garment, or just keep as a document of fashion history, maybe framed, or maybe just archived.

Making connections with like-minded people is key, and slowly, step-by-step and with their help, I am editing my collection and one day may share it online, but for now I am happy with what i have, and I am happy there is a forum where I can meet other collectors and talk to them about preserving, displaying or using these patterns.

------
My blog: http://frabjous-fashion.blogspot.com
What I am working on now: one couture garment a month for my Burdastyle Couture Wardrobe Challenge at burdastyle.com

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