I visited my parents last weekend, who live in the 100-year-old farmhouse my grandmother was born and lived in. My father recently discovered a batch of her patterns stashed in an old storeroom and brought them out to show me, in case I would spot something I fancied. Such an amazing collection!
A lot of the patterns we found had been sent over from America by my grandmother’s older siblings (some of whom had already emigrated by the time she was born in Ireland). My grandmother died when I was quite young and I hadn’t realised how much dressmaking she had done, especially for her children, and I love having these patterns of hers as a kind of connection through the years.
Last Christmas we found a small box full of her patterns from the 50s and 60s. This second batch of patterns seems to be more recent, moving into the late 60s and early 70s. I was immediately drawn to these two (which are, conveniently, in my size) and happily all the pattern pieces are present and in perfect condition:
The pocket detailing on the Butterick pattern might be a bit too much for me, but I love the shape of that coat! And I can’t wait to try out these different shift dresses.
The pattern on the left is one I took from the first batch of my grandmother’s patterns which we found last Christmas. The packet is pretty chunky because it contains several full pieces in different sizes (!).
After hitting a snag with my New Look 6000 dress and having little luck finding fabric for the other dress patterns I have on standby, I think it might be a good idea to focus on making separates for a while. After all, they tend to be quicker to make than a whole dress and are more versatile for wearing! I found these lovely skirts in among the old pattern collection:
A 1974 pattern of some sweet knee-length skirts.
Here’s a snap of some of my grandmother’s other, older, patterns which I instagrammed last weekend:
Vintage knitting and sewing are clearly enjoying a resurgence of interest, judging from the incredible range of craft blogs and new publications on the subject. But the range of books, patterns and guides out there can be really overwhelming – and modern interpretations of old patterns can leave a lot to be desired, especially when fit is concerned.
I’m working on knitting this 1940s men’s pullover/tunic from a collection of vintage patterns compiled by Jane Waller. I recently discovered that Jane’s hugely popular ‘A Stitch in Time’ book from the 1970s has become the go-to bible of vintage knitting lovers. In trying to track down a copy of the re-worked reprint which was published by Jane and Susan Crawford much more recently, I noticed that it’s going for crazy money on Amazon.com – people are clearly really into their vintage patterns… (Incidentally, it’s much cheaper on Amazon.co.uk)
The cover of the re-published ‘A Stitch in Time’ vintage knitting and crochet collection.
I did manage to get my hands on the reprint: I’m lucky enough to live near a copyright library here in Dublin, and they had it! Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold on to it for very long, but I had a good look through it and there are some really beautiful patterns in there with, happily, a range of sizes. I’ve copied a couple of patterns and hope to get stuck into them soon.
How gorgeous are these sweaters (and hat)?!