really, it’s a question of shopping strategy. personally, i’m much too picky to shop at my local flea market or vintage shop and just hope for the best–although i do pop in occasionally. but i need to see as many options as possible all at once. especially when looking for a specific pattern.
- saved Google search. configure Google to alert you every time the pattern you are looking for pops up. obviously, there can be a lot of false positives and broken hearts here.
- saved eBay search. configure eBay to alert you every time a pattern with the same number as yours comes up in an auction on its site. see above about false positives and broken hearts.
but this only gets you so far. more often, my first step in a search is picclick. do you picclick? it’s a great GUI for etsy and ebay searches that helps overcome, to my mind, the major hurdle of each: a limited number of items per page. picclick posts all of the results for a given search on a single page, which makes for much easier browsing. i find picclick particularly helpful when you are just trying to get a sense of the options in a particular era–for example, i love to run a general search for 1930s patterns and see what happens.
but what about when you are looking for a very specific pattern? for a general example, i can’t be the only one out here who fell hard for several of the patterns featured in the Vogue New Book for Better Sewing, shown to such advantage on Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. i’m sure there has been a steady run on what few copies of these patterns are left since Gertie began sharing her progress with us over two years ago.
what i’ve learned, though, is that with good searching and an understanding of the details you are looking for, it can be relatively easy to get a pattern that has the elements you want–even if it isn’t the exact pattern. most of the pattern companies did (and do) rip off (or riff on) each other. for example, i was really lusting after this gorgeous 40s top, which i first spotted on the blue gardenia:
but the size was wrong and i felt the price was more than i wanted to pay. however, some dedicated searching, including specific searches for details like “40s bustle,” got me this:
for a price i felt comfortable with.
can’t find the VoNBfBS “background dress”?
how about this one instead?
or my most recent 40s beauty, simplicty 2099:
obviously, my desire to replicate patterns has also fueled (by necessity) an interest in doing some pattern drafting. there are two books in particular that i’ve found very accessible:
- make your own dress patterns, by adele p. margolis
- pattern making for fashion design, by helen joseph armstrong
if you’re going to get really into it, go ahead and try a fitting pattern or a moulage. most of the pattern drafting ideas come from a basic block, which may as well fit you from the outset. something that i’ve found to be really cool is the old fitting patterns from the 50s or 60s that pop up on etsy occasionally, especially if you’re looking to focus on a period.
and don’t forget that if you are really into a certain look, say the 1940s or 50s, most of the patterns have a near-identical shape–the building blocks to your dream pattern may already be in your collection!