Vintage Patterns – Use Or Abuse?

Vintage pattern at work

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…

boxes of vintage patterns

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!

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74 Responses to Vintage Patterns – Use Or Abuse?

  1. Sue Bowdler says:

    Definitely agree. It’s just pattern, you aren’t destroying an important document, it was always meant to be used. Otherwise it’s hoarding for the sake of it.

  2. coolarama says:

    My vintage Vouge Paris Originals I’m saving and will trace as soon as my skills catch up but anything else is fair game. I totally agree, use it, love it move on. After all these are single size patterns there’s no point tracing just in case you go up or down (if you’re lucky) a size. An amazing pattern that doesn’t fit vs most amazing garment ever which wins?

  3. S says:

    This is a great topic. I love your point three. I fall into the same camp, although this has been an evolution. I have recently been divesting myself of stuff, realizing that memories are quite separate from things. Use those vintage patterns!

  4. Robin says:

    I don’t use vintage patterns, but encounter similar issues. This week I traced patterns from a library book which came with several paper patterns. I did the right thing, and decide to trace a pattern. I traced all versions of a pajama bootie pattern. There were only 3 pieces, but I thought I was crazy to do that much, since I already have a drawer full of patterns (though not for any pajama booties, so I guess there’s that…) For most of the time it took, maybe 90 minutes, I thought, this is crazy, why am I doing this? Will I even make these once for myself, much less for all of my family members, which I guess is what was running through my head? I could have made a pair in the time it took to trace all six sizes. Would that not have been a better use of my time? I find I am constantly questioning all of my decisions that involve the use of precious time, and/or second guessing taking on tasks that require more steps, like doing a toile. So not quite the dilemma you are describing, but I really agree with your assessment. If I could choose to be a collector or a user, I would be a user. I would also be a perfect match for Vogue size 10 and would never have to decide on whether to pursue an a fit adjustment ever again. Aargh.

  5. I trace patterns that are multi size, as I quite often make for other people and it’s just easier that way. If I have a single size pattern I just alter it. I treat all my patterns the same way.

  6. ooobop! says:

    Ouuuuchie! That photo hurts my eyes! I used to not trace until I came to use the same pattern with more experience and a different body shape. If I trace I feel much more confident about the abuse and if I need to use it with different adjustments I can retrace from the original and start again!

    • Ha, ha, ha! It makes me laugh how some of us can’t bear to abuse a pattern and some of us crunch them up and stamp on them just for the heck of it. (Sorry to put that image in your head.)

      • LinB says:

        Unless it is a rare pattern, use it. It was made to be used, made to be ephemeral, in fact. You bought it, you are free to do with it as you will. As with modern patterns, even the ones you spend a lot of money on.

        That said, multi-sized patterns are made to be traced off, so … six of one, a half-dozen of the other, one supposes.

  7. bayeaston says:

    Yay, you! My sentiments exactly. If a pattern becomes a wanted item again at some future date, it will be reissued–probably with the improvements you are having to do yourself. I’m over not using things or making them a pain to use in the interest of preservation. The things I regret are not USING the special things rather than hoarding them for the next generation to not use either.

  8. mrsmole says:

    For heaven’s sake…it was not a museum piece pattern was it? You bought it, you can do what you like with it. Forget that woman’s comment…life is too short to be tracing everything and then hoarding a pattern that will be sold at the garage sale by your children or grandchildren. You did the right thing!!!

    • racurac2 says:

      your opinion is the same as mine: if it’s your pattern you can use it as you please. I always have an image in my mind: my kids selling or throwing away all sewing junk mom used to keep heheheheheheh.

  9. Use it! You are quite right about a garment emerging from the history. My really old patterns are so fragile, with bits missing, they are one size only and have no printed info so that really they are just museum pieces. For expensive new patterns I do trace the size I want, but that is so it can be more useable now. It means I can experiment with hacking and slashing with adaptations, without doing too much irreparable damage! Also I think we put too much dusty history under precious glass cases, obscured behind dark shutters and ‘don’t touch’ signs. We are all in danger of becoming a theme park of our own past, looking back on times when we all made things and were busy with activity, instead of continuing to do that now. Great post.

  10. love your way to tackle a vintage pattern, although I do trace some patterns there is only one way to fit ‘us’ into a corseted version of a 60’s woman.

  11. Rachel says:

    One of my family members once (accidentally) piddled on a vintage pattern. I was so livid when I found out that I had to go for a swift walk, alone. Almost over it now, c.5 years later…
    I’m definitely off the cut & sew unless it’s one of the last remaining examples (and in which case I am unlikely to own it!).

  12. gingerella says:

    I’ve not used a vintage pattern, and have no real plans to at the moment unless I come across some in a charity shop (i.e. I’m not going to peruse ebay and start buying them) which might be why I have the following opinion: I agree with your third and fourth points. Life is too blinkin’ short to be trying to painstakingly preserve things that are designed to be used. But like you say, if it were an extremely rare pattern, it might be a different story…

  13. Haha wow, I had no idea this was such a divisive topic! I’m a tracer myself because I’m so paranoid I’ll get the fit wrong and want a different size that I’ve destroyed. On the other hand, I certainly don’t judge you for it – you bought it and they were always intended to be cut up!

  14. Oh dear. I think that I need a sit down. 🙂 I do all off the archival things, even to my tatty patterns. I look at myself as just looking after them for someone else to use in the future. I dream that it will be Sprogzilla but I think that I have put her off sewing with my rampant enthusiasm. 1960’s patterns will be as old as 1920’s ones to someone sometime. Even 80’s ones will, a sobering thought. I hardly ever find vintage patterns in my size anyway so it just makes sense for me to trace them. They end up mostly added-in tissue. Just for full disclosure I also trace ALL my modern patterns for all the same reasons as above. Even the Burdas go into sleeves. There is no hope. 🙂 Xx

  15. lemur178 says:

    I’m of the collector/ hoarder persuasion and it pains me when a vintage pattern lands on my doorstep only to find it has been hacked to pieces by a previous owner. I don’t necessarily blame the original owners who only used it as they saw fit, but these patterns really do need to end up in the bin and not in the hands of (re)sellers! I always use my patterns with a view to passing them on one day, very carefully, using acid free archival tape if they start falling apart, and tracing the more precious ones. With modern patterns, I cut them out to the largest size regardless of what size I’m after, respecting all the markings.

    Then again, if more and more common patterns end up in the bin, the greater the hoarders’ collections will appreciate. So I guess it’s a win-win for all then!

  16. almostahippy says:

    Thanks for this. I’m hesitating over a vintage make I want to approach because I am not sure about whether I should hack into the original pattern.

  17. Caro W says:

    I started out twenty years hacking into a current Vogue pattern: Issey Miyake separates. Cut the shirt down to a 12, cut it out of plain cotton, and paused, realising it was a bit beyond my skill level. Then I found I was pregnant… All these years later I’ve finished it, and it only just fits: and the size 14 has been clipped away. Also, it is the most beautiful pattern and deserved to be treated better.

    If it’s worth making up, I think it’s worth preserving. Tracing doesn’t take long. You can experiment on a traced pattern, then go back to the original if you stuff up. You can pass it on to a friend. You can make it again a size larger or smaller. Oh dear – in another life I think I was an archivist!

  18. Karen says:

    Well I’m definitely with you to use, hack/slash whatever to get vintage patterns to fit my body and make a beautiful garment. All my patterns are adjusted and abused to achieve the perfect fit and I have no regrets. As you can guess I don’t trace patterns from Burda and the like (extra time & work) and I sure don’t print out PDF files for taping. My taping is saved for adjustments. I’d rather spend my time making muslins for new patterns – again achieving the best fit. Don’t worry, I won’t be selling my hacked patterns on ebay. It’s perfectly fine with me if others choose to preserve their patterns but don’t chastise me for not doing the same.

  19. i trace Folkwear patterns because they are multisize. i trace and slope vintage patterns because i find it easier to alter the sloper than cut apart the vintage pattern. do i care? nope. it is for MY convenience not to preserve the pattern.
    i don’t understand how the human body has changed so much in a few generations. did women 50 years ago really have teeny waists and sloped shoulders? were they all on the verge of dowager hump? i dunno, my mom and my aunts didn’t look like those pattern envelopes.

    • LinB says:

      Nope, those women were not shaped any differently than are we. They had to make the same adjustments you are doing. It’s just that the “standard” figure was much more idealized then than now.

      • Marilyn says:

        The average person was thin back then, lots of data and statistics on how people have gotten fatter over the decades.

  20. Vanessa says:

    I have purchased items in a thrift shop where they wrapped the items I was purchasing in old pattern sheets. No pattern preservation happening there!

  21. Margo says:

    I also say use them! I have and will again. I have said as much on my blog…. My use of them will only increase the value of those that are preserved carefully by collectors. You’re welcome. I try to do my part to help others out… 😉

  22. redbarngirl says:

    I usually cut into vintage patterns, unless they are really falling apart. I think that the alterations we make to them are just as much a part of history as uncut patterns are. I love antique and vintage things (esp. sewing machines) and I love wondering where each nick and scrape came from, and about the people through who’s hands they passed. Old things that look brand new aren’t nearly as fun!

  23. Bella says:

    I trace all of my hard copy (non-PDF) patterns. In this age when most things can be re-produced and re-printed at the click of a mouse, I see something worth saving in a vintage pattern. I have a small collection of Vogue Paris Originals that I see as being very special because of their direct link to a designer and to an era. They inspire me and I keep them intact so that they might be useful for someone else in the future, or just in case I bungle my traced copy and need to re-trace. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder but some things (Vogue Paris Originals!) deserve special treatment. Oh and I trace my hard copy modern patterns because sometimes I might mess up, and also because I sew for family members who are different sizes to me. I am all for using things, just make a copy first, I say!

  24. lauren says:

    It’s your pattern, so do as you like. But how do you think the rare patterns became rare?

  25. I feel the same way! I’m sure the original owner would be so happy to see the pattern well used, rather than treated as a museum piece. But yeah, if it’s a really special pattern, I might trace before cutting it up.

  26. Fashionista says:

    I trace on to this interfacing like fabric, no idea what it is called. I acquired two fat rolls from the op-shop, thinking it was interfacing but it is useless for that but perfect for tracing. It is then easier to drape the traced pattern on Daphne (my dressmakers mannequin) rather than try and work with tissue when doing adjustments. I then transfer all the adjustments to the traced pattern so then it is “my specifications” for future use.

  27. I always trace, even modern patterns, because I often have to make lots of adjustments and I find it good to have the original to refer to, and to be able to decide ‘oh I need to go up a size’, etc. And also, because then I find I can be more careless! If I muck it up I can always re-trace it. This is not from a ‘reverence for history’ take, more a ‘I know how often I muck up’ take! That way, I feel able to hack away at the pattern and if it turns out I’ve gone the wrong route well, no harm no foul.

    That said, the only way you get precious 20s patterns is that someone 40 years ago traced it rather than cutting it. Or, I suppose, was too afraid to use it! In this case, I am firmly on the ‘use it’ side. That’s what it’s for, after all.

  28. Claire says:

    I’m a tracer of vintage patterns. Just now I’m making a 1950’s Vogue suit. I needed to grade up the pattern quite a bit and then after making a muslin move darts and alter princess seams. I don’t think the delicate tissue would have stood up to this? Or me pinning the paper pattern together to try on. I feel justified that this pattern can be used again by me or someone else. It’s previous owner/s didn’t alter it and it’s lasted this long…
    Maybe I’m a bit sad but I quite enjoyed the tracing and altering. Regarding modern patterns – I always preserve the sizes. I may wish to remake it and I may not stay the size I am. Cutting out modern patterns I just fold along the size I wish to cut or mark the fabric with tailors chalk. It’s not a hindrance at all.
    But you know, you’ve bought your pattern. It belongs to you so it’s yours to do as you please.

  29. piakdy says:

    As long as there are others who preserve then it’s fine I think. Tge problem is if everyone destroy or everyone preserve. Many patterns are not unique enough to warrant a reverential treatment. I tend to buy patterns that either require tracing (eg Burda mags) or more unique patterns that would be harder to replace. Having destroyed expensive designer patterns in my youth & regretted it now my figure has aged, I now always work from traced patterns. It also insures against mistakes in alteration.

  30. Jane says:

    My name’s Jane and I butcher vintage patterns. Soz everyone, I just hate tracing. x

  31. Neh… I would only trace it if it would start breaking after using it many times. Things are what they are to us. The most important paper pattern to me is the one I use again and again because it fits me perfectly….
    I am in the same page you are, Karen…

  32. Life’s too short. Storing traced off patterns gives me a headache.

  33. Nooooo! I trace all patterns and would never hack up a vintage one. To me the beauty of patterns is that they can be reused indefinitely even if I sewed it for someone who didn’t need all of my adjustments (or more likely needed different ones). I don’t own anything particularly expensive or rare but if the pattern has lasted this long I don’t want to be the person who kills it dead!

  34. Linda says:

    Interesting discussion! I don’t trace, but probably should as I have changed sizes lately! Interesting thought that we think of 1920s patterns as precious now, but someone in the future will think of our 1980s patterns as precious!

  35. Katie M says:

    I don’t have any vintage patterns, but I do trace everything (unless it’s a digital download). I want to preserve my original patterns incase I change size, I get better at adjusting patterns, I want to sew for someone else, etc. I hate the thought of having to re-purchase a pattern because I chopped up the original.

    I use rolls of brown IKEA wrapping paper that I purchase on sale after Christmas (my last lost cost 9p a roll). I just lay down the paper, cover it with carbon paper (the regular stuff from Rymans), lay my pattern on top and run my tracing wheel over the whole thing. I then trace over the carbon lines with a fine black marker. Works like a charm and doesn’t take that long.

  36. ipires says:

    I do trace, because that way I can make adjustments and play with the pattern pieces without loosing the original, just in case. I don’t do it for the sake of archiving though. I do that to modern ones too, because my weight fluctuates and you might need to preserve the size up or down. But each to hers/his own 🙂

  37. Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts, ladies. I need to practice much before being able to Be able to trace and make adjustments I need. I’m working on it.

  38. 1960s patterns aren’t rare but for an older pattern – lay it on pattern paper and then just cut round it. You could also tailor tack through any marks you need to. I think for anything pre 1960 this is worth doing especially as someone else might ask to borrow the pattern!! If you do a lot of this sort of work it is worth investing in a roll of decent tracing paper to make it quick and easy.

  39. Depends on how many adjustments are needed. If there are lots I might trace the pattern pieces. But I’ve no problem with hacking them either. At the end of the day they were made to be used.

  40. I work with vintage patterns all the time, and know which ones are readily available and which are rare. The only caveat I’d give is that it’s a vintage designer pattern, research it online first. Some of them sell for more than $200!

  41. I have noticed that everyone has their own way of doing anything when it comes to sewing. I trace all my patterns now because I can’t stand the flimsiness of the tissue paper. So hard to handle. My tracing paper is much stronger. Stops them from being ruined by me, and my cats, so I can use them again. I also do my adjustments on my tracing paper too and keep them for next time.

  42. Linda Wilson says:

    I never abuse any pattern, old or new, I was trained from the start to keep the original, for reference!

  43. carenksr says:

    I have a vintage 1950’s party dress pattern that was my mothers. I have never used it. It seems way to fragile. I keep it on top of my sewing table, I should probably frame it.

  44. Michelle says:

    I’m actually very offended, and I can’t help but secretly judging women who don’t trace as lazy and selfish, but then again, I can understand your point of view. The only thing is, you may be hurting yourself regarding resale value if you’ve whacked and abused the pattern. Believe it or not, I even trace my $1.00 modern patterns, it’s just a way for me to keep the lines straight and experiment with fitting and modifying. Sometimes I end up making 4 different rounds of a modified pattern, especially when the pattern is complex! I’m an hourglass 37-25-37 shape, so it’s hard to find patterns that fit. I couldn’t imagine doing all the modifications on the original pattern pieces itself. But to each their own, you are a grown woman and know when to take responsibility. I just wish their was an oath taken to all vintage using women to promise to care and preserve their patterns – if all women in the past acted like you, there’d be no patterns for us today.

  45. InstaGranny says:

    I´m a firm believer in use it and love it! I feel I preserve history by making the vintage patterns and wearing them out and about for people to see. If left in storage no one would have any pleasure out of them.
    I do trace a lot of them, though. Mostly because I share my patterns with a friend and she with me, so we have twice as many combined!

  46. To chime in, I think it very much depends on condition and rarity. I “use up” many of my vintage patterns, but when I am lucky enough to get one in excellent condition or one that is rare and iconic, I do preserve it.

  47. Sheree says:

    Over the years I have given loads of patterns to charity shops. Many of them were designer Vogue and would now be regarded as vintage. At the time I was a vogue 10 and had to do no alterations (if only this was the case now), and I was blissfully naive to the fact that this wasn’t true for everybody. The thing is, I had the use of these patterns and moved on to the next project. Hopefully someone else found a use for them at a bargain price. I am all for using them.

  48. knittingnotecards says:

    One can spin strips of vintage patterns on a spinning wheel to make a paper yarn to weave with.

  49. PinhouseP says:

    Of course, you can do with your own belongings as you like, but I don’t see why there is a need to ruin a pattern to use it? If all the sweet little ladies in the past hacked their patterns to pieces, there would be very few of the lovely vintage treasures around for us lot to enjoy. And maybe 70 years from now, some young things with a love for olden stuff would love to be able to use our patterns. I trace all my vintage patterns, before I use them, rare or not. I think more of us could stand to learn how to treat things less disposable. Preserve what you can, I say.

    • LinB says:

      It is entirely possible to use a multi-sized pattern piece without tracing it or cutting away the larger size lines, especially in tissue paper, where you can easily see the lines on both sides of the paper. You just lift or fold the paper away a bit along the size line you want, and then either cut to the line, or mirror the cut — then go on to the next line segment. Sometimes you can even just slide your shears under the paper to cut along the desired size line. V. useful for curves, as in armscyes or necklines. Costume shops preserve commercial patterns this way, when cutting out normal silhouettes for modern shows, and when they don’t draft for a specific actor. Also v. useful for blending sizes on a multi-sized pattern.

      You DO have to be pretty confident in your cutting skills, though.

      • Hazel says:

        oh dear – I’m not sure that I’m confident in my cutting skills, but this is what I always do – it’s what my mother always did, and I suspect it’s come from her mother etc! Then again, we’re like many other women – not quite the same shape as any of the models! (Incidentally why can’t we change the name of either the full bust adjustment, or the flat bottom adjustment – I feel a bit silly needing two FBA’s!)

  50. craftycreeky says:

    You cheered me up know end, I was amazed at a recent sewing bloggers meet that I was the only one who never traced patterns and we’re talking new ones, not vintage…life’s too short!

  51. It has never, ever occurred to me to trace a pattern. I’m not even sure how I would start doing that to be honest! But I am in no way skilled enough to buy vintage patterns.

  52. New Capel Street: Fabric Division says:

    My size has changed a lot over the last few years, but my core style hasn’t. I still like the same shapes and fit I did five years ago. And my costume patterns tend to be liked by friends of different sizes – so I trace. Tracing means I don’t have to bother sizing up patterns that I have already cut, and if I make some sort of mistake when using the tracing, at least I don’t have to pay to replace it.

  53. auraoriano says:

    I’d never dream of chastising or judging you for not tracing. My bottom line is truth is in the sewing. So long as you get your makes the way you want, tough for people who expect you to treat patterns as they do. It seems like some people expect to be handed a reward for tracing even the cheap patterns, just want to brag about their measurements, or hold Non-tracers personally responsible for what they perceive is a scarcity of whatever vintage pattern. trace or not, hoard or not. whatever works to get your muslin on.

  54. kmom14 says:

    If I had a daughter that I would be passing down patterns to, I might trace them, but I have only traced a pattern if it is something I thought I might use again in need to make it in different size.

  55. Use those original patterns! The only time I feel a little guilty is when the pattern is still FF, but not guilty enough to keep me from using it. They were made to be used…

  56. kaitlynssimplyvintage says:

    I only have two pre-1970’s, and I trace, prefer to keep the original intact, incase I mess up. The single size 1970’s stash I have? I just use straight. On the other hand, I have traced off a lot of my modern patterns as well, especially if I’ll be making up multiple times. Each to their own, as long as its still useable.

  57. Sheryll says:

    Patterns were made to be used! Old patterns are usually one size and don’t need to be cut so I pin them directly to the fabric. I quite like seeing pin marks and other signs of use in old patterns – it adds to the character. I even found a rusty old pin in one I bought once! I’m probably more concerned about the pattern envelope – they soon start to fall apart when well-handled. I think it is worthwhile storing them in a protective plastic bag.

  58. I only trace if I am really going to hack at it otherwise in go the pins. jo x

  59. Frankly, I don’t understand why this particular discussion ever gets nasty (a few of these comments are just jaw-dropping)…it’s your pattern, and you may do with it as you will. Apart from that, you’re quite conscientious about your method–checking to see if other copies exist, having slightly different “rules” for older patterns, etc. These patterns were meant to be used, after all; I am sure many of us have opened a vintage envelope and found rusty pins, pinholes, or tape on the tissue! Some of us cut, some of us trace. It’s about what works for you and your life–not everyone wants to run their own private archive! (Although personally, I *do*, so that’s how I proceed–my history degree in action!) At least people are making these amazing patterns, which has always been the entire point! =)

  60. How exactly would one trace a pattern in the first place? All the methods I’m imagining involve a tracing wheel, which would damage the original. Possibly worse than a nice clean cut would.
    Just for a different perspective: I work in costumes for movies where we make all patterns from scratch and throw them all away once the movie or tv show is aired. Unless it’s a series that might be revisited, or a foundation garment of the type that might be useful again, they all get thrown away.
    We recycle large pieces of pattern paper as much as possible, but the patterns themselves are so specific to one particular project, that no matter how iconic the garment, saving them would not be helpful for any future project and would quickly become a storage problem. (And selling them would become a sticky legal ownership issue: as in who owns a movie pattern: the studio, the production company, the costume designer, the costume house, or the individual pattern maker)
    In regards to commercial patterns for home sewing, I think the responsibility to archive and preserve lies with the pattern company. Do they archive? I don’t know, but they should. The responsibility to bring a pattern to life lies with us.

    • LinB says:

      Most of us who trace do it the way you’d trace anything: lay a sheet of translucent paper over the original, then pencil in the lines you are copying. That’s why big pattern sheets with multi-size printing can be so tedious to trace, unless your eyes are still young and sharp. Those old tracing wheels and the carbon paper used to mark with them were — and are — a horror! The wheels can be quite useful for cutting or marking dough for baking, or in clay work, though.

      It is my understanding that pattern companies DO archive their patterns, and catalogs, and advertising materials. I quite understand why a working costume shop cannot keep every little scrap of everything. Even housing the actual costumes during a production can be a nightmare.

  61. This series of comments is downright laughable. Grown women getting upset over a pattern? If they don’t belong to you and you have no say in the matter why get so upset? I mean really, to try and blame people “like you” for using patterns as they were meant to be used…hilarious. You can say it’s our fault ladies for using these patterns all you want, call us lazy, fine. I’m going to chime in though and mention that if you’re going to judge me for using a vintage pattern, I’m going to judge you for needing one in the first place. Clearly if you’re so much more experienced, and better than the rest of us – wiser I’m sure…- then why not do away with patterns and create the blocks from scratch yourself? I mean, not making the pattern block yourself, how lazy -right?

  62. My great aunt had a collection of patterns from her decades of sewing. When she stopped using them she actually burned them! She now regrets it but at the time didn’t think they’d be of use to anyone. I luckily inherited the few that escaped the fire. Personally, I take it on a case by case basis but try to avoid tracing. It’s such a pain!

  63. CharleneB says:

    This conversation is one of the many great things about our great sewing community!! Love it!!
    I’m a tracer of all things pattern lol, but many times I do sew the same garment for groups of people. (different adjustments are required most times) So I reckon tracing is a part of me for now.

  64. Prawn says:

    I trace (although it’s not the part of sewing I enjoy…). I’m a romantic and like the idea of keeping a bit of history so I can go back. and use it again and again. And if I trace it out, then I feel free to do whatever I like to make it fit. Even if I cut the original pattern out, I would wince at making the pattern adjustments I’d need to and would end up approximating adjustments rather than slashing properly, so it’s definitely worth the effort to trace for me.

    I have to admit though, if it’s a modern pattern for something boring (shirt / pencil skirt), I am less picky. I figure if I want to collect it I’ll just buy a second copy. But I know how hard it can be to find that ONE SPECIFIC pattern you want if it’s pre-1970 – so once I’ve got it, I do try to preserve it. One day I might need to liquidate my collection and that way I can sell the original for more than I paid for it but still keep a shoddy copy that’s tailored to me. It’s kind of a way of protecting my own investment too. And I do feel so satisfied with myself once I have got my own traced version fit to me – if I had done it to the original I would always have that lingering feeling of guilt clouding my pride.

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