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24 June 2012

Knowledge is power: part I, the patterns

Hi, I am Lucia, I am a fabricholic. I buy and I buy and I never make anything. Here is to changing that.

Ugh! June is almost over and I haven't much to show for it on the sewing front. I knew it was going to be a difficult month. My husband is doing a tour of the world, with only 3 days at home in 5 weeks (I know! And he does this as soon as I start a new job where I don't travel anymore... I am soooo jealous). And also, this is THE busy month in my new job and I am definitely still learning the ropes so it takes me twice as long as it should to do anything. So, by the time my son is in bed and I can put in some solid sewing time, I am just too brain dead to even try.

Obviously I need to develop more stamina... but until I figure out how to do that, I've been doing what I always do to comfort myself in these situations: I clean and organize.

On that front I was quite productive I must say, conquering both my sewing patterns, my fabrics and my sewing books. And it has all been very illuminating...

Now, if charts and statistics bore you, then look away now. But if you are curious to know the true extent of my hoarding problem, then by all means read on! This is part I:



Setting the pattern magazines like Burda and Knip Mode aside for now, I have 591 sewing patterns. Gasp! Even if the average price I paid had been as little as $5 per pattern this still represents more money than I ever thought I should put into sewing, let alone just patterns... and the worst is, this isn't even the worst yet!  As you can see in the table to the right, the great majority are Vogue Patterns, and 89% of them are designer patterns. Yikes, apparently I am a huge snob, too!

My favorite designers by the number of patterns I have are: Claude Montana (31), Claire Shaeffer (25), Hubert de Givenchy (19), Donna Karan (16), and Geoffrey Beene (14). These numbers I find a bit staggering. Do I really need 31 patterns of nipped-waist jackets by Montana? Well, we left "need" territory looooong time ago, so that's not even the right question to ask at this point.

 I also recorded the date of issue of each pattern, and the pie chart that resulted is interestingly unbalanced.

My patterns by decade
Half of my patterns are either from the 60's or the 90's and I have very few 80's patterns (by choice!) and 30's patterns (definitely *not* by choice!). I can't quite believe that I have 270 patterns from the 30's to the 70's. These vintage patterns were all bought on eBay, mostly in the late 90's when I was a grad student with lots of time and nearly no money. I distinctly remember winning the bidding on one pattern for $22.89 and thinking this was craaaazy expensive. Once the winning bids for vintage designer patterns were routinely in the $20-$50 range I declared myself officially priced out of the market and stopped bidding altogether. Now that I think about it, I was very lucky to have enjoyed that small window of opportunity in the early days of eBay. 

Yep, that's the way I'm choosing to think about this, I'm very lucky to have some of these beauties with me. Can I share with you some of these treasures?

Some of my favorite vintage dress patterns
More favorite vintage dresses... I could go on all day!
A few favorite vintage suit patterns, I hope I can make some of these one day.
And now some favorite coats, capes and shawls, oh my!
And yes, I do have specific searches saved in eBay and I do occasionally buy "the ones that got away" now that I have a little more disposable income. I still suffer a block that won't allow me to pay anywhere near $100 for a pattern, but luckily I don't have to stop at $20 anymore if I really, really think I love that pattern... (yup, spoken like a true addict, sigh!)

As for my contemporary patterns, in the 90's I lived in the US and I had a subscription to Vogue Patterns magazine. Most of my 90's patterns were bought with the buy-1-pattern-get-3-free option that came with every issue of the magazine. In the last few years I buy mostly online directly from the pattern companies including a few from independent pattern companies that I've discovered since joining the sewing blogosphere. 

At the risk of boring you, a few of my favorite contemporary patterns:
Some of my favorite contemporary patterns
How do I store them? My sewing room is in the attic, with a slanted roof. Under the lowest part of the ceiling I store my fabrics, and in front of these I have low IKEA bookcases on casters. They roll easily out of the way when I need to reach the fabrics and I use them to hold a myriad of things, including my pattern collection. I use a system that seems to be pretty common in sewing blogosphere: I remove the pattern sheets from their envelope, store each envelope in its individual plastic sheet and keep those in 3-ring binders organized by type of garment: Coats, Vintage Dresses, Suits, etc. These binders are a sort of Catalog for my pattern collection.