I had an interesting conversation with a colleague today, who was asking about my vintage Vogue 5098. I described some of the work around fitting and adjusting this 1960s pattern to a 2015 body. Not only was I pulling the pattern pieces apart and putting them back together. Each time I picked up the instruction sheet I could feel the paper becoming more like a delicate piece of vellum, the ancient fold lines ready to disintegrate at a moment’s touch.
‘Did you trace the pattern?’ she asked reverentially. ‘You know, to protect it?’
I grimaced. Shook my head, and explained that there’s nothing more divisive in the world of sewing than the treatment of vintage patterns. Acid free bags, dark storage, delicate handling, careful tracing? Some people adhere to these rules. I don’t. Nor, more tellingly, do I want to. Why not?
From my experience, there are a lot of vintage patterns out there that are readily available. A lot…
So for me, firstly, context. I was working with a 1960s pattern that needed a heck of a lot of adjustment, and I just didn’t have time, energy or inclination to go through rounds of tracing. I could see that other versions of this pattern were available. I wasn’t destroying history. If this was a rare 1920s pattern, the situation might have been different.
Secondly, learned behaviour. I’ve seen sewing teachers who have an equally robust attitude towards the treatment of vintage patterns. I wasn’t in the mood to argue.
Thirdly, upbringing. I come from a long line of women who bring a ruthless attitude towards inheritance and hoarding. Use it, move on!
Finally, life philosophy. This pattern could have remained in its envelope or it could have become a dress. I erred on the side of action. Has my behaviour been heinous or pragmatic? I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer. But I’m sure you have an opinion!