The joy of vintage patterns

Until now, I’ve always purchased my vintage patterns online. Sewing patterns are not items commonly found in Cardiff’s charity shops, which normally host scores of rejected items from Primark instead. The vintage and retro shops I have previously frequented in the city centre don’t tend to extend their stock to the kind of goodies those vintage-savvy seamstresses amongst us would be searching for. Yet I recently came across a beauty stocked to the brim with all kinds of vintage goodies, sewing patterns included, tucked away in one of Cardiff’s old arcades, renowned for housing unique shops and boutiques.

The arcades have always been, for me, part of Cardiff’s charm, and I’m not the only one who thought so. Photographer and journalist Amy Davies took up a project to document Cardiff’s arcades with the Cardiff Arcades Project, and the photographs are just beautiful! The shop which caught my eye, A Vintage Affair, has been documented through photograph in a post here.

Understandably, I spent about an hour being distracted by A Vintage Affair’s clothing, jewellery and accessories dotted around the shop. Popping into vintage and second hand shops normally scares me a little bit, possibly because of experiences had in various second hand shops in Germany, which were always so small I felt my every move was being scrutinised! Luckily this wasn’t the case here, and when I did speak to some of those working in the shop, I found they were lovely and approachable anyway! My favourite kind of shop.

Eventually, I came across the vintage patterns in the corner of the shop, kept in boxes overflowing with not only patterns, but also sewing and knitting magazines. There’s something quite unique about rifling through (sometimes) decade old patterns by hand. While I’ll always love the Internet for leading me to discover some beautiful vintage patterns in the past, you can’t quite beat actually touching the wrinkled, often ripped, packaging, surrounded by that musky smell of patterns pre-loved. This particular shop had stacks and stacks of vintage fabric, a sorely tempting prospect, but I thought better of it considering the extensive stash I’ve built up at home!

I did, however, come home with three well-worn patterns, all of them shift dresses, although each one comes with a little twist! The tucked bodice detail on the Style 1804 panel shift dress pattern was very tempting. I doubt I’ll go for the long sleeves – with the puff sleeves and all, I can’t see it being a little much overall. The vintage Butterick 4029 sports some varied neckline choices on a simple shift dress, while the collar on my other Style number 1937 is to die for.

Thanks to the Vintage Patterns wiki, I found out Butterick 4029 is a pattern dating from the 1960s, and one a fellow blogger has already whipped up to great effect, using the pointed collar design I’ve been quietly coveting. Kitty stayed faithful to the design portrayed on the pattern envelope,

While my two Style patterns were absent from the list, the back of 1937 tells me it’s also a ‘60s pattern (1967 to be exact), and I’m assuming the same of 1804, which is missing dates. If anyone has any idea of when this pattern was made, I’d be grateful, as I’m neither a historian or a vintage pattern expert! The only real clue I have is the front of the pattern states it was designed by a ‘Vanda Harvey’, and a quick google brought up an artist of the same name who doesn’t seem to have contributed to the world of sewing patterns.

I have a few other things to get through before I get cracking on these patterns. Which do you think I should go for first?

2 thoughts on “The joy of vintage patterns

  1. 5currantbuns says:

    Hi
    Apart from vintage affair can you recommend anywhere in Cardiff that sells material. I used to buy from a couple of shops in the City Road, but that was in the early 90’s… am in Cardiff for a conference at the end of February and was hoping for the chance to do a bit of browsing…but no longer know where is good to go…
    Many Thanks

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