Reading a 1960s Vogue Pattern Book

I find fashion ephemera both endlessly fun to look at and a fantastic resource in the history of fashion. Add the element of home sewing and you have a fascinating meeting of high fashion, domestic work, and DIY culture. This blog presents my ongoing research into fashion ephemera. The emphasis is on designer sewing patterns, both vintage and non-, with the occasional sewing project thrown into the mix. I have a Ph.D. in the humanities, so I love to research all the details of the ephemera shown here and in the PatternVault shop.

I learned to sew from my mother. When I was young, she and my aunt, who was a professional dressmaker, sold the traditional parkas my aunt learned to make up North in what is now Nunavut. I have the garment business on my father’s side as well: my paternal grandmother worked as a Spencer Corsetiere to support her young family. I gravitate toward ambitious projects, which sometimes means my garments-in-progress hang around the apartment longer than they should. I’m located in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale, where the Victorian storefronts and converted factories inspire with their vintage textures and indie spirit.

For more about me, see the Press section, or read my interview with Katherine of We Sew Retro, where I was the featured member for December 2011.


§ 23 Responses to About

  • Liz Glasgow says:

    Love your blog too. Am adding it to my blogroll.

  • frifris says:

    I hope it’s o.k. if I add you to my blogroll. Such amazing stuff!

  • Ruth says:

    Hi Sarah, sorry I didn’t let you know about the finished suit. It turned out well don’t you think? Although it was a heck of a journey getting there. Thanks for the pattern and it’s very encouraging that you take an interest in what happens to your patterns after they leave you. I’ll be trolling for some new ones soon.

  • Jill says:

    I just learned of your blog through the June/July 2012 Vogue Patterns magazine. I’m glad they featured you because I really like what you are doing here! I love learning about fashion history too and do it through featuring museum exhibits in NYC on my blog. It’s nice to meet you and I look forward to making your site a regular read.

  • Hello:) I inherited my mother’s sewing room. She had hundreds[?] of patterns from the 50-90s. Would you be interested in purchasing any/all of them? Please contact me at the info provided. I live in Pickering. Thanks!

  • Marlaine says:

    Hi – I just wanted to leave a reply again.
    I’m still working on getting these organized – I will get pictures assembled.
    I have rec’d phone calls as well from people interested in certain patterns. I don’t think I’ll be going through each of the patterns for specific ones – thank you, though, for your interest.

  • jane says:

    Hi there,
    I’m enjoying this site. Have been wondering… are there any patterns designed by Jean Muir? She was one of THE names in British fashion in the 60s – Marisa Berenson wore a lot of her clothes, and Jaeger used her for a while as a house designer. She was brilliant with new ways of contouring knit fabrics. Jane

    • PatternVault says:

      Hi Jane, Glad you’re enjoying it! Yes, Jean Muir did a lot of patterns, initially with Butterick in the mid-60s and switching to Vogue in the ’70s-early ’80s. I’d been planning to discuss her earlier, Jane & Jane designs in my Mad Men series, so thanks for the reminder!

  • Blithe says:

    Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for visiting my site and for liking the post “Handmade and Fabulous: Alexander McQueen Kimono Jacket”. May I add your site to my blogroll?

    Many thanks,

  • Peaches PQA says:

    Really love your Pattern Vault (and your bio/reasons why)–I too come from an “inherited” love of sewing fabulously-in my instance from both mother and grandmother. I was in search of a particular YSL suit pattern from the early l960’s and was hoping to find on your site. It was a suit my mother made for me which is now long gone (how I wish I’d stored her extraordinary, decades of patterns, as well as the clothing she made for me, particularly the YSL’s ones.). For more than 50 years I have followed fashion and continue to be fascinated by it’s many facets as well as it’s history. Thank you for re-inspiring me.

    • PatternVault says:

      Thank you so much—I’m honoured to hear you’re inspired by my blog:)
      In terms of YSL patterns, if you didn’t see your suit in my Mondrian post or the Vintage Patterns Wiki, for the early ’60s it could be a Dior.. Hard to find these days, but lovely!

  • I love your mix of history, fashion, and sewing.

  • Julia says:

    Seems our blogs have more in common than just the theme we chose. I also blog about fashion and history. My grandfather was a shoe designer and manufacturer. Now that I’ve discovered your blog I look forward to following it.

  • STH says:

    Hi there! Just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award: https://livingincolorblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/very-inspiring-blogger-award/. Because I always feel inspired to sew something amazing after reading your posts. Thank you for all your hard work and research.

  • Mary Helen says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Seeing all the background to designs is enlightening. Have you written about Edith Head?

  • Alix says:

    I’m loving your blog! I’ve become so disillusioned with clothing that is available now a days. it’s all very much of a muchness and no colour or freshness to them and I’m looking into making some myself now. I was wondering if you have any or know of anything patterns etc like the dresses worn by Alicia Vikander’s character Gaby in the movie The Man From Uncle (2015). I’m obsessed especially with the green and cream outfit and the orange culotte mini dress/playsuit too.
    Many thanks Alix

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