Sarah Sheehan photographed at David Cronenberg: Evolution, Toronto, 2014.
At David Cronenberg: Evolution, 2014.

Sarah Sheehan is a writer, fashion historian, and sewing industry observer. Following a PhD and postdoc at the University of Toronto, she launched the PatternVault blog in July 2011 with a series on Givenchy sewing patterns by Alexander McQueen. The blog aims to document and celebrate the rich history of home sewing, with a focus on the intersections between high fashion and the commercial pattern industry. (Other interests include costuming, needlework, and Game of Thrones.) Originally from Ottawa, she lives in downtown Hamilton.

Choosing the Pattern - W. Mury illustration in Vogue's Book of Practical Dressmaking, 1926

For more, see the recent interview in Vogue Patterns / Sew Today magazine.

With McCall Patterns the home dressmaker can realize her dreams (1909)

26 thoughts on “About

  1. 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.

    1. Not at all, Ruth, I was just thrilled to see a customer’s finished project! I’m glad the pattern found such a good home—and that all that tailoring work paid off ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. 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.

  3. Hello ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    1. 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!

  6. 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,

  7. 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.

    1. Thank you so much—I’m honoured to hear you’re inspired by my blog ๐Ÿ™‚
      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!

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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

  11. Just discovered your fascinating site – my Mom was an avid and highly skilled sewer in her younger days and made nearly all my clothes for many years and continued sewing well into her 70s. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit any of her skills (I knit instead) but looking at the old patters brings back many happy memories. Thank you!

  12. Great new look to the blog. You must put a huge amount of time and effort into all of this, and I am sure we all appreciate you for doing this.
    Always good to see you in my inbox!

  13. Just discovered this blog while researching historical fashion โ€“ what a find! This is a fantastic archival resource, thank you so much for making it.

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