Clothes

487 vintage patterns – where do I begin?

learned tailoring in early 1990s, and although this was close-fitting pattern construction (by M. Müller & Sohn, a.k.a. Rundschau after their journal), my teachers repeatedly said that it was no where nearly as detailed or close-fitting as, say, back in 1950s. The lines became straighter, the fit roomier, but most of all – the female figures became more “streamlined” compared to Marilyn’s hourglass: the waists expanded and the boobs went south as women in the “liberated” world burned their corsets, their bras and sometimes their knickers! 😮

​There we are, on the left – liberated. 😦

I’ve often wondered just how detailed and close-fitting those 1950s patterns actually were. And then I saw this on eBay:

Eight issues of Praktikus Modenblatt from 1951 and 1952, complete with all the pattern sheets – 487 patterns in a range of sizes covering every season!​ And even if only half of those patterns are of interest, still, what a treasure trove! Considering that original vintage patterns are £20 a piece if you are lucky enough to find one in your size, I think this may well be one of the best £100 I’ve ever spent (buy 5, get 482 free!).

They haven’t arrived yet… but where shall I begin when they do?

It’s not just dresses and coats either. There’s also lingerie and menswear! My husband immediately uttered “I like that work overall! And that smoking jacket!” – and all he’s seen were some pictures from the eBay listing! So I’m posting these pictures here for you to see and drool too. 🙂








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20 thoughts on “487 vintage patterns – where do I begin?

  1. Oh my goodness – how fun to work on vintage patterns and it would be interesting to see how close the sizes then match to sizes of today. I think one of the coats would be a nice place to start.

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    1. The sizes are very different, but also the fit is different – modern clothes are a lot roomier, for example for the same bust size a modern blouse will be much wider than a 1950s one. The roomy fit was popular in 1920s and then again from 1960s on. But we have a lot of new jersey and stretch materials now that our grandmothers didn’t have, so I plan to try their close-fitting patterns with our Ponte Roma.

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  2. What a lovely treasure you found! I found 1950’s bust darts to be very high and pointy…. I’d start with the top left red dress, alterations maybe less tricky than with a coat? good lcuk!

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    1. I’m hoping I won’t have to alter that much. My measurements are actually quite close to 1950s “misses” ones, which is why altering modern patterns usually takes longer than drafting new ones from scratch. Have a look at this comparison of measurements throughout the decennia put together by Patterns from the Past: https://xoldpatterns.merchantquest.net/Secure_Server/index.php?main_page=page&id=3&zenid=9c4f33dc46f84854bc5a81a75dfb2d1d.

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    1. Contrary to popular belief, corsets are not, in fact, inherently evil. 🙂 They support the boobs from below eliminating their “pull” on the shoulders and upper back, plus a well-fitting corset supports lower back without constricting breathing or movement. Medical corsets are prescribed to people with back problems. The horror stories that we hear about, arise from wearing ill-fitting corsets that are laced way too tight and only serve to groom the wearer’s vanity. A good corset, be it steel-boned for back support or modern elastic one like in that photo, does not squeeze you in but only firms up and straightens, so although the dress size does not change, the look is much improved. Plus of course all that support, if the corset is stiff enough for it.

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      1. For me, a corset means being pain-free. I wear steel-boned underbust ones to support my lower back. I lost an inch in height between my neck and my waist over the past 20 years, so my spine is no longer “as good as new”. 😉 The fit is key, and I tried many different cuts, but then I found one that fits perfectly, and it is not even made to measure! I call it my exoskeleton. 🙂

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