Imaginary Sewing

Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1962

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.

This entry was posted in 1960s and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Imaginary Sewing

  1. Bell Neice says:

    I have inherited a lot of ephemera. Both sewing patterns and cookbooks. The notes in the margins, and the notes inserted in between the pages are like ghosts of people you knew (or sometimes didn’t) speaking to you. I’m currently working on a pattern that I believe I purchased at a thrift store (can’t find a copyright, but likely about 50 years old).
    The front of the pattern has a handwritten note in ink, near the pattern number, “Nadia passed away 12-83”. I have no idea what it means, or why it was important to write it down here.

  2. Nann says:

    Oh, the days when perusing a pattern book was such a thrill! The big 4 issued new books monthly. I’d wait until patterns were on special (.50! .75!) and indulge. Even if I didn’t make them (most of the time), the potential was wonderful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.