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Do you spend hours rifling through vintage patterns in thrift stores? What about organizing your stash and poring over pattern illustrations? This new book is for you. Update: We have a winner! Congrats to Ladamaemily.

At Burda, we know what it means to be pattern obsessed. Digital patterns have made it easy to keep organized and find exactly what you need, but nothing compares to the thrill of finding a pristine 1950s dress pattern in your size for 50 cents at the flea market. You can always find inspiration in the stylized sketches, retro measurements, and innovative details. After all, paper patterns were THE fashion resource for decades!

Take a break from ready-to-wear and turn back the clock with A History of the Paper Pattern Industry. This book explores a timeline of innovation in pattern making, and how these patterns reflect the styles and tastes of sewers. Learn about early sewing machines, the influence of fashion periodicals, retail trends, and more! A History of the Paper Pattern Industry is highly detailed. The wealth of academic information comes along with 200 images. These illustrations are pulled right from packets and advertising, perfect for a glimpse into vintage styles!

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Top Coat in Three Styles, Simplicity 1931, and Misses’ Ensemble, Frock, and Jacket, Pictorial Review 1936

This is a book you’ll treasure, and use as a resource for yours to come. You can even sew straight from the book. Nine original patterns are included from different decades, so you can make your own vintage recreations.

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Misses’ Blouse and Jumper Slacks, Advance 1942, Ladies’ and Misses’ Victory Apron, McCall 1943

Author Joy Emera is Professor Emerita of Theatre and the Curator of The Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island, USA, which electronically captures and records commercial pattern data as part of the “Save America’s Treasures” project. It’s an academic view of the pattern industry you may not have seen before.

Find the latest releases on fashion history and culture with Bloomsbury’s newsletter. You can also stay up to date on their Facebook page or follow Bloomsbury on Twitter @bloomsburyfashn.

comment to win button

How do you store and organize your paper patterns? Tell us something about your stash for a chance to win this new book! The winner will be announced at 5:00 pm EST, July 4.

Update: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Ladamaemily!


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    Jul 15, 2014, 08.05 PMby furballs

    Mine are pretty organized. I mount the pattern envelope on acid free paper, in a clear acid free page protector sleeve, in a binder. Often have to cut it apart some, to get everything on one page. This way all info is visible at a glance. Old pattern envelopes are so often in such bad shape, this helps preserve the info and graphics. Each sleeve has two patterns, one in front, one in back.

    Pattern pieces go in 10×12 kraft or white paper envelopes, which are sequentially numbered. I write the basic pattern info, the maker, number, size, what it is and anything else of note on the envelope too, then file it in one of my salvaged office file cabinets.

    The sequential number goes on the corresponding sleeve in the binder of course, so I can find any pattern easily. Binders are divided into categories, such as tops, bottoms, multi garment, craft, bags, shirts, jackets, etc.

    I have every pattern I have ever owned since I first started sewing, in grade 7, plus some from grandmothers, aunts, and Mom’s, that she made our clothes from in the fifties. I wish I had all my grandmothers, but she often cut without using a pattern.

    Big job initially, but easy to keep up with new additions once the bulk was done. I guess the first few hundred took a couple of weeks to get done, but worth the effort. I have close to 800 patterns so far. I can make notes on the big paper storage envelopes, even tuck in swatches for reference. Two 4" and a 2 inch binder so far, easy to page thru to find anything.

    There is a 3 drawer file cabinet full, plus a 4 drawer with one empty drawer left. I hate to think what it would be like to even try to replace this collection if anything happened to it.

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    Jul 8, 2014, 03.23 AMby lfstudio

    Honestly, mine aren’t too “organized,” but are stored in boxes mostly, and for my hand-drafted patterns that are in large envelopes, I use milk crates.

    I met Joy Emery recently when I visited the pattern archive at URI.

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    Jul 7, 2014, 05.59 AMby cathysews

    Patterns for my current projects are near my sewing box, but all the others are kept in the loft. I’m always amazed by how many I’ve got up there. I love patterns from the 1970s, seems to be my era! I’d love to say I arranged them in a particular order, but they’re all in various boxes and it’s lovely to rummage through every now and then.

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    Jul 6, 2014, 01.06 PMby Erica Jacobs

    I love vintage patterns because these are clothes which were beautiful and classy. I am lucky enough that my grandmother saved her patterns from the 1930’s forward. She was born in 1920 and lived through the Great Depression. Her sewing room is a treasure trove of beautiful vintage fabrics, machines and patterns. I do however, download Dior and Chanel patterns as she has mostly day dresses and very few suits in her collection.

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      Jan 17, 2017, 08.31 PMby Sophie Martel

      I would like to know where I could find these Dior and Chanel patterns to download…. by any chance….. Thanks!

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    Jul 5, 2014, 07.23 AMby Sarah Clark

    I store them like books on a bookshelf, organized by type of pattern.

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    Jul 4, 2014, 05.48 PMby diannc

    I keep mine in boxes made for that purpose.

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    Jul 4, 2014, 03.07 PMby Jamie Grace-Duff

    I have my patterns arranged (vaguely) by style – dresses, tops, bottoms, suits, costumes, accessories. I have them in shoe boxes from Ikea etc. For my own hand made patterns or Burda patterns I’ve made, I have them in large manila envelopes with a picture on the front of the article.

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    Jul 4, 2014, 06.40 AMby lauramae

    Most of my patterns are stored in an old dresser. I try to keep them cataloged by company and design number, but the stash is getting so large that they are spilling over into a few of those pretty decorative cardboard boxes. And, of course, my vintage patterns are kept separate, as are my vintage reproductions (so I can get to them quickly!).

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    Jul 4, 2014, 05.41 AMby picklesoup

    My Mom used to do pencil drawings of models and their clothes, so these vintage patterns always remind me of her. I love them! I keep mine in a little plastic dresser from a big box store. Best way I’ve found! They’re organized by size.

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    Jul 4, 2014, 04.12 AMby Kathryn Kerr

    I love trawling op-shops for vintage patterns, and gather them up enthusiastically! This obsession started when I found my mother’s old patterns as a teen , and 30 years later I’m still collecting! I store my treasures in clear 20 litre plastic bins. They are sorted roughly on era (the price helps a little with dating the patterns) and then style. This book would be a god-send to help me date my patterns more accurately!

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    Jul 3, 2014, 08.36 PMby kdschafer

    I store my patterns in a file box, which is overflowing at this point. Any pdf patterns that I have printed out are stored in a vinyl page protector in a 3 ring binder. I have seen lots of patterns from the 60’s-80’s at estate sales, but haven’t purchased any. I may have to take the time at the next one and sort thru and see if I can find one (or 2) that looks fun.

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    Jul 3, 2014, 08.12 PMby Charlotte Powell

    I keep my patterns in plastic wallets with information on which size I cut any any alterations required next time

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    Jul 3, 2014, 07.07 PMby Nikkee Huerta

    I store my patterns in the top drawer of a dresser. I put them in there organized by what they are, dresses to dresses etc etc. This way I can easily locate what I want based on what I plan to make.

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    Jul 3, 2014, 05.22 PMby wolfkit

    I love vintage patterns and have been lucky enough to find some ‘Edith Head’ and early ‘Yves St Laurant’ but my best find was an original 40’s (?) lingerie pattern in brilliant condition. Most of my patterns are in two part envelopes, the front part being for the original and the back for the pattern that I make from the original with adjustments, swatches, etc. I have 1 long filing drawer for large patterns and plastic filing cabinets for the rest. Anything that wont fit into the drawer goes into lever-arch folders.

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    Jul 3, 2014, 10.43 AMby missLG

    Right now I’ve just got all my patterns stored in banker boxes, but I’ve heard comic book protector sleeves are good for patterns, so I may be investing in some in the near future

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    Jul 3, 2014, 09.44 AMby Kristine Dietriche

    I bag and board my patterns like comic books and have them sorted by brand in 30qt bins. I write notes and add fabric swatches to the back of the boards.

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    Jul 3, 2014, 05.12 AMby rita61

    My patterns are stored in clear tubs, filling cabinets, and boxes. My Burda magazines, about 200, are currently in order in boxes. My traced Burda patterns are rolled up and stored in tubes, and stored in long clear bins, with each tube labeled. I attach a note to each Burda magazine of which patterns are traced. This book sounds awesome!

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    Jul 3, 2014, 03.11 AMby Kristy Cote

    I have a vintage magazine published very early 1900’s and store it very carefully along with all other patterns old or new. Everything is carefully placed in plastic slip covers, I’m crazy about all my patterns and search out vintage patterns whenever I can! I need to add this to my collection and will have to purchase it if I don’t happen to win!!!! Fingers crossed!! Please, please let me know how to get my hands on this as I impatiently try to wait for the draw date :)

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    Jul 3, 2014, 12.21 AMby Lori Bishop

    I have been around patterns all of my life & I love to use them! I am always so impressed with people who can make their own. I have sewn all my life, but still do not feel very accomplished. I have just discovered Burda & absolutely LOVE your patterns. I love the fresh look & the range of sizes. Thank you!!

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    Jul 2, 2014, 10.29 PMby Ashley Desire

    Ugh I wish I could organize them more effectively, but at the moment I just keep them all in am overflowing folder haha. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

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    Jul 2, 2014, 08.35 PMby esewell

    I have a large cube that fits into my bookshelf for all of my sewing patterns. I place all the patterns in a large manilla envelope, give it a name, and make a little sketch of what the garment looks like. Then I put all the patterns in alphabetical order. The system works for me and makes it very easy to locate a pattern.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 08.25 PMby amosa

    It´s interesting to study history through fashion. Beeing dressed in old fashioned dresses is helping you to understand the feelings and manners of people in ancient times. Many young people may have the feeling of living in wrong century, they can solve it by vintage dresses. I use to sew my dresses for ages and all my patterns are stored in shannons and folders, to be found easily.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 08.22 PMby jenss-1

    Slowly, I’ve been adding my paper patterns to a database I created on my laptop. Each database record contains the pattern brand/number, type of garment, season, style, knit or woven, certain other details, and an image or two. (I organize downloaded & Burda magazine patterns the same way). The database makes it easy to find what I’m looking for, and the physical patterns are then just stored out of the way in Ikea file boxes. ~Jen

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    Jul 2, 2014, 08.13 PMby annie70

    I have inherited my mum’s large collection of patterns, she has been sewing for 60 years! So there are many many patterns stored by category on book shelves. They are a fantastic resource. I have lots of Burda Style traced patterns too, I keep the patterns with the original magazine in an Ikea freezer bag, and write on the bag which item it is!

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    Jul 2, 2014, 08.11 PMby rosiewednesday

    Oo, how fun! I have a cabinet where I store them like books side-by-side if they are in good condition. The ones that aren’t, I put in plastic sleeves or ziploc bags and store away in sewing baskets.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 06.53 PMby TwilightStorm

    I’ve only recently started sewing and only have 4 new paper patterns, 3 vintage dress patterns, and a few downloaded patterns. (I haven’t tried to put those together because it intimidates me) Right now, I’m storing my patterns and sewing books in the seat of a Singer #42 sewing cabinet that came with my 201-2 sewing machine.

    This book looks great though, and something I would spend a lot of time reading.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 06.42 PMby Sally Mitton

    I organise my paper patterns in an old Sanctuary Spa Gift Box, it has three compartments (it is quite big) so I store tops in one, dresses in another and crafts in the third. For my pdf patterns I store these in a cloud so I will never loose them and for larger patterns I keep them in a plastic box. I started sewing when I was at school, the first thing I made was a long dog door stop followed by a bottle green PE wrap around skirt, this was essential or I couldn’t do PE. After that I made a knitting bag from felt lined with a silky material. In my teens I made lots of maxi dresses – with big bell sleeves!! I made clothes for work too and then when my daughter was born I made her pretty dresses and red Rupert the bear trousers she loved to wear them to school. I do remember when dress sizes changed in the 80’s but patterns stayed the same. I was making the bridesmaid dresses for my daughter’s wedding and got as far as one toile, however two of the bridesmaid’s got pregnant so we left it to buy them “off the peg” near to the date. I’m now making summer tops for my hols and crafty bags and things, I love sewing, it fascinates me how people can sew without a pattern, I would like to read this book when it comes out.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 05.45 PMby ameneses

    I’m a student with a room the size of a walk-in closet. I keep my in a wicker box (along with a few other sentimental paper items). The box is behind my clothing rack so when I’m feeling creative, I can push aside things I’ve made and look through the box at special things past and future.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 05.35 PMby imsewcrazzee

    i have accumulated alot over patterns over the years and still have the ones from my school years (1972-1978).. i keep mine in a 4 drawer plastic storage chest i bought at wal mart.. you can have 3 rows of patterns in each drawer. mine are catorgized by style..(ie infants, toddlers, girls tops , pants…etc) this book sounds intersting as i am always interested in the history of fashion and sweing.

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