Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eleven Down, Three to Go! The Pattern Search Continues

My goal to make every project from Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing came with another (perhaps more daunting) challenge: tracking down every pattern that's featured in the book, all from the years 1949 to 1952. This search has held a lot of appeal to my obsessive personality. Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on this, since I am very, very close to having them all. (Yippee!)

This past week I located both the background dress and the little girl's party dress. The background dress (pictured above) surfaced with one of my trusty Google alerts. It was an auction on eBay, which I managed to win for $15.59.

The little girl's party dress, on the other hand, had been hidden in plain sight. It was listed on, and seems to have been there for quite a while. I found it in a moment of serendipity while looking for patterns from the 50's for children's Halloween costumes (only for the silly reason that I adore the illustrations). The pattern number was listed and everything, making me wonder why prior web searches hadn't pulled it up. Technology, it's a mystery sometimes.

I paid $25 for this pattern, more than I like to spend typically. But, I thought, worth it in this case. Yes, even though I don't have a little girl, know any little girls, or have any idea what to do with this dress once I make it. This whole VoNBBS project makes me do funny things sometimes.

This leaves only three patterns to find! The full skirted dress, the shirtwaist, and the suit.

Vogue 7422 (dated 1952)

Vogue 7329 (date unknown)

Vogue Special Design S-4240 (dated 1949)

So, this is really just another pathetic plea for help in locating these suckers. If you sell vintage patterns or are an obsessive vintage pattern troll like me, please do let me know if you can help me find any of these. Thank you. End pathetic plea.

And, as always, thanks for reading!

Update: One commenter kindly asked to see the envelopes for these patterns, and I'm afraid I only have the image for one of them, the full-skirted dress (#7422). The others are still a mystery, as the envelope images are not included in the book. Anyway, here is the one I have:

Update, part deux: Ooh! I found the suit pattern envelope as well. Unfortunately, it has already been sold. (Waahhh.) But here's a pic:


  1. Wow! You are quite the Nancy Drew--it is hard and time consuming to track patterns down. Eleven is excellent! I can't wait for you to find the full skirted, shirt dress. My fav!

  2. Wow! that's a reason why I love your blog: we know part of your projects, so that we're all eager to see what you'll do next, and what will be your 2009 version of 1953 elegance (I personnally can't wait for the bolero, finding the photograph wonderfully smart, and for the raglan-sleeved coat, which I wouldn't usually find very attractive but guess has potential: it makes me very curious about it).
    Congratulations about the background dress: VONBBS has plenty beautiful dresses, but for fall I find this lovely collar/scarf detail most appealing, it might be my favourite and I really hoped you'd find it!

  3. I would love for O to have such a gorgeous party dress! What's the sizing on it? I could buy all of the fabric and notions, and get to see you!

    :) kb

  4. Can you post a picture of what the front of the pattern envelopes look like? Just seeing the picture doesn't really help my memory, but sometimes seeing the font and layout will help?

  5. I am so impressed with your relentless search for locating all these patterns! :) I just think it is the neatest thing to pair up all the patterns from the book, let alone make them. ;)

    I really love that first pattern you pictured! :)

  6. kb, hello! I didn't realize that was you! I like this idea you've hatched. The pattern I bought is a vintage size 8, which means a 26" chest. Is that anywhere close to Miss O?

    Carlotta and Casey, wait until you see the pattern envelope for the background dress . . . it has many different ways you can wear it. I'll scan it when it arrives!

    Amanda, I updated the post with the one envelope image I have. Sadly, I have no idea what the others look like!

    Nancy Drew, signing off . . . :)

  7. That's amazing that you have found almost found all of them. Good luck in the rest of your search.

  8. Perhaps you found the children's dress at the beginning of your search, balked at the price there, and forgot about it. I do that a lot, balk at the price on a site like that one and never go back.

    In fact, I use So Vintage only for fashion porn, I never take them seriously. You notice that the Mad Men costume designers didn't choose to buy their patterns from them, right? Some of those prices are amazing, but you have to be a real collector to pay 45 to 65 dollars for a pattern. I would be terrified to cut it up or use it if I spent that kind of money.

  9. Congratulations on finding the pattern! It's really lovely. I hope you find the shirt waist dress and the other one too. I'm absolutely obsessed with shirt dresses, I think they are a great non-pants option for casual but nice wear.

  10. Inneresting pattern envelope! 1 beautifully posed photo + 1 color illustration + 1 black and white illustration.

    I'll keep a lookout

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  12. Hey there, Gertie. I suggest enlisting of Erin of A Dress A Day (I see you have her in your blogroll) in locating your patterns. She has good contacts in the world of vintage pattern vendors.

    In other business, I am relatively new to your blog, and I love it! You're inspiring me to get sewing and stick to it, even through the ugly and challenging (and educational) bits. Thanks. Your writing is top notch; I salute your wurd skilz. Keep up the fine work!

  13. That shirtwaist is really neat! I love how truly classic styles stand the test of time. Good luck finding the rest of the patterns!

  14. I love your blog and I love the challenge you have set for yourself. It's definitely a refreshing change to check up on what you've been doing. I hope you can track down those last three patterns!

    PS. You could always sell that little girl's dress after you make it. I'm sure any number of mothers out there would just love a vintage child's dress.

  15. The University of Rhode Island has a Commerical Pattern Archive. Here's a link from the Threads blog about it:

    Gaining access to the archive,however, is pretty spendy.

  16. I think the background dress is my favorite one of all! I can't wait to see how it turns out!

  17. If you would like I can scan and send pictures of the remaining 3 patterns. They are all listed in my 1953 Vogue Counter Book. The suit is quite lovely with seams in the right places for alterations and the shirtdress looks very country clubish.

    I'm enjoying your progress. I too, have the VONBBS. It's a great approach to sewing. I wish VPB still featured all the wardrobes they used to. My favourites are the Cruise wardrobes from the thirties...embarcation suits, playwear and versatile gowns for the evenings!

  18. I was trolling ebay and found this pattern:

    It's for Vogue 7422 in a bust 32"

    Only 2 patterns left to find now!!!!

    I won't bid!

  19. OMG, Pamela!!!!!!! Thank you so much! Cross your fingers that I win the auction!

    Also, I would love scans of the patterns--how generous of you to offer!

    Erin, there was a week of free access to the database, and oddly enough, the only one I found there was the shirtdress. I suppose they're still building up the archives?

  20. Where do people find out more about their patterns? CoPA is amazing, and I had a blast on that free trial, found a few of my patterns and clues about styles/trends, and ages of others. It got me thinking, and I did some digging at WorldCat to see what kind of holdings I could find for vintage pattern catalogs. I was pleasantly surprised to find more holdings for “Vogue Pattern Book” (provided that means what I think it means) than I was expecting, but looks like 2 holdings nationally for any editions at all for Advance, and only one for Hollywood- (Ohio for both, interestingly: Kent State & Bowling Green respectively).

    Of course there is the Vintage Sewing Patterns Wiki project that has great potential ( But I just mean, where else are people finding out more about patterns they have and/or want?

  21. Hillary, all good questions. I've pondered getting in touch with Vogue--they must have some sort of archive system, right?

    Also, I've found the envelope image for the suit and updated the post!

  22. This is starting to sound a little like Julie and Julia. Have you read that book?

  23. Gertie, I have scanned and emailed pictures of 7329 and 4240 from my 1953 Vogue Counter Book. It's interesting that the picture of the suit in the pattern catalogue is in different colors than on the pattern envelope. It's nice to have the schematics in the pattern book, as well.

  24. Pamela, just wanted to let you know that I won that auction. Only two to go now. All thanks to you!

    Connie, I have read Julie and Julia! I wrote a post about the movie where I talked about the similarity of my project.

  25. What pattern number is the background dress? I would really love to get it :)

  26. Jeane, it's Vogue 7263. It was a tricky one to find though . . . it took six months to turn up in a google alert!

  27. Hi, Gertie. I just discovered your blog and am reading all of the posts from oldest to newest. Did you ever find this suit pattern? If not, here it is for sale on Etsy:


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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