Saturday, September 25, 2010

PFDS: Pattern Folding Deficiency Syndrome

When my ex-husband and I used to take road trips together, he was always the driver and I was the one with the big map spread out in front of me, making sure we took the proper exits and turns.  I did a pretty good job of navigating, but I remember that he used to get frustrated with me because I could never manage to fold that map back up into a neat little rectangle.

Well, if I thought maps were tricky...I find myself completely helpless when it comes to refolding vintage sewing patterns!  Is it just me?  Am I the only one who suffers from PFDS (Pattern Folding Deficiency Syndrome)?

I have these lovely patterns that I bought over the summer that I planned to photograph and share with you today.  And I figured that while I'm at it, I might as well dive into the task of going through the contents of each envelope to make sure that all the pattern pieces are there and everything's complete.

But then I got stuck on the very first Simplicity pattern I opened up.  I had to unfold this long "neck guide" piece to get a look at what letter it was, and for the life of me I can't get it folded up again! 

It's an uncut piece so I believe this must have been how it was folded at the pattern factory. Who was the cruel person at Simplicity who folded it!  What kind of mad mind devised this crazy folding scheme!

It's 38" long, and simply needed to be folded with five straight-across folds to fit in the 8" envelope.  But no, that would have been waaay too easy...  So there are 9 folds on this darn piece - some forward and some back, and two are diagonal.  And I'm determined to get it folded back to its original condition, but it seems impossible!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I calmed down and managed to refold this tricky piece along with the rest of the pieces.  See what a pretty I job did!

Maybe if I learn to master the art of folding sewing patterns, I can move on to something more creative like origami:

Hippocampus by Roman Diaz

Or origami inspired fashion, like this:

photo courtesy of Stylehive blog

Okay, enough of this nonsense. :-)
Would you like to see the patterns I found this summer? 
I've been taking a little break from selling, but once I get back into the swing of things I'll be posting these for sale/auction on either Etsy or eBay.  And I promise they will be nicely folded!

This first Hollywood pattern featuring Jane Bryan, a fresh-faced Warner Bros. contract player from the late 1930's, is one of my favorites.  What a sweet eight-gored jumper skirt with suspenders! 

These two Simplicity blouse patterns (above and below) likely date from the late 1940's or early 1950's. 

If you need some assistance with determining the date of your vintage pattern, take a look at this wonderful Cemetarian website.  For each of the major pattern companies, there is a detailed history of how the cover graphics and logos changed over the years.

For example, did you know that McCall patterns didn't add the "apostrophe S" until 1951.  The pretty skirt pattern (above) came out in the first year that they made the change to McCall's.

Here's an early 1940's DuBarry pattern of a classic two-piece dress.  DuBarry suggests these fabrics: pique, gingham, chambray, seersucker, spun rayon and shantung.  Oh, I just love vintage fabric...

Has anyone ever sewn pajamas from a vintage pattern?  This looks like a fun one to try, especially in a cute polka-dot fabric. 

Okay...I just noticed the hankie...  Can you imagine what your husband would say if you climbed into bed with a hankie poking out of your pajama pocket, like in the illustration on the left.  Sexy, huh?  

I'm not much of a seamstress.  Last time I did any serious sewing was over twenty years ago, when I made a tiny gray suit for my son who was the ring bearer in his aunt's wedding. 

I've been trying to get up the courage to give sewing a whirl again - and I thought I might try out the reversible beret in the late 50's/early 60's pattern above.  I figure that if I ruin it, at least I woudn't have spent a lot of money on fabric.

These Simplicity fashions would look great on our favorite Mad Men women, don't you think?  I don't have cable, so I will have to patiently wait until Season 4 is available on Netflix to catch up.  Very frustrating! 

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I love vintage dolls.  So I was excited to find this early 60's "Bridal Gown and Trousseau" Simplicity pattern for Barbie and similar Teen Model Dolls: Babette, Mitzi, Gina, Babs, Kay, Polly Jr., Tina and Tina Marie.  (I must admit, I have never heard of any of these dolls except for Barbie - have you?) 

And here's my favorite pattern find of the summer.  A 1964 McCall's "Instant Wardrobe" for Barbie's Little Sister, Skipper. 

My very first fashion doll was a Skipper doll - a reward from my parents for giving up sucking my thumb.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but apparently I must have been sucking my thumb until I was five years old! 

photo courtesy of Fashion Doll Guide

Here's what she looked like - my 1964 straight-legged, titian-haired Skipper doll. My parents didn't have a lot of money (big family!) and I remember that the red striped swimsuit that she came in was the only piece of clothing that she had for a long while.  I dressed and undressed her in that swimsuit over and over again. 

Hmm...a poor, deprived thumb-sucking child with few toys.  No wonder I developed Pattern Folding Deficiency Syndrome! 


  1. Love these patterns! The best I see over here are from the 80ties. I found some pattern book this summer from the 50ties though. I can totally relate to the folding issue, it's a wonder that my husband and I are still together! He just couldn't believe that it was so hard to refold a map again that I didn't even try! I love the Skipper pattern, but still love anything Barbie!

  2. Wow - love the first 5 patterns. I really need to get working on some blouses.

    The pattern folding thing made me laugh as I have just bought a load of brown envelopes that I'm going to put my patterns in cos I can't, for the life of me, ever get them back in the original envelope. I'm a chronic case!

    1. I also use large brown envelopes to transfere the patterns too. I just cut the pattern envelope open and glue it to the front of the brown envelope. Some times when I cut out the pattern pieces I sort them into letter envelopes per each outfit. Saves me from having to sort them every time I want to make something.

  3. You got some wonderful patterns, Susan. I have only seen some of these in books! We use the patterns for wrapping paper! Much easier!!!


  4. I too suffer from PFDS, it's been a secret shame of mine for years. I can never get it back into the factory fold.
    As a doll collector I've heard of Babette and Mitzi. They didn't really last long, so I understand not knowing who they are. And I love, love, love your Skipper pattern. It's one that I need to get so I can dress my Vintage Skippers, although I don't have any redheads, I only have blonds and brunettes.

  5. Lili, Lisa and Aubrey - Thanks, you make me feel better. Glad I'm not the only one who is all thumbs with pattern pieces (and maps)!

    Suz - Using pattern pieces to gift wrap items that you sell is so clever. I've got a small stash of misfit pattern pieces and should put them to good use!

  6. How funny!! As a sufferer of pfds, I gave up on refolding ages ago. Now I press with my iron and make new folds!

    I think you should give sewing another go. I didn't sew much for 25 years, and then decided to start again about 3 years ago. I'm really loving it.

  7. Lizzie - isn't that crazy, I never thought of ironing out the folds in the patterns and starting over! Thanks for nudging me to start sewing again. The more nudges I get, the more likely I will follow through.

  8. I also suffer from pfds! I don't even iron the folds out I just make new ones if I can't get it right!

  9. You may have PFDS, but I have SMAD (Sewing Machine Avoidance Disorder), which is very prone to relapse. I've even taken recent sewing lessons, but still haven't been able to overcome my affliction.

  10. Mitzi - SMAD, that's a good one! I'm afraid I've got it too. I stuffed my sewing machine in my bathroom linen closet - and every day when I open the door to grab a towel, there's the sewing machine staring at me. But I can't get myself to pull it out and get started.

  11. I've made those pajamas before. Be careful. The fitting is weird. I know it sounds crazy, but do make a muslin of these.

  12. Nancy, thanks for the tip. Sounds like these pajamas would definitely not be the right pattern for a beginning sewer (like me) to try.


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