As a historian, I relish finding secret messages from the past—sketches in book margins, shopping lists and the like—that no one but the writer was meant to see. I discovered several such notes in an old issue of Vogue Pattern Book from 1962. They comprise a vision of a seasonal wardrobe that was most likely never made.
What did the reader dream of sewing? As far as I can guess, her process went through three stages. First she browsed the magazine and marked things she liked. (Note the check in the lower right corner in the image above.) In the first go-around, she noted six patterns in all, including a Paris original suit, two skirts, and a dress that was recommended for Mrs. Exeter.
She then turned to the line drawings at the back of the magazine, where many of the patterns were listed by number. Some of her checked favorites were not circled here, while new ones were added. She also experimented with fabric ideas, like making a dress and jacket combination out of denim.
The last step was the order form, another process of adding and subtracting. In pencil she marked down six patterns. Some like pattern 5560, the “smashing basic” pictured above, had been a favorite all along. However, she also included a sleeveless coat dress that had never been marked before.
And then…she never sent the form. Sometimes all the fun is in the planning.