Saturday, August 07, 2010

vtg pattern goodness.

I recently "won" this wonderful vintage pattern booklet on ebay. It's "The Farmer" Spring & Summer 1960. I'm not familiar with this mail order publication and I don't have any of their patterns, but boy do I wish I did!

Here is a page of fashions from inside the booklet (you can click for a closer peek!)

You might have noticed on the larger view that all of these gorgeous dress patterns are available in size 14-1/2 to 24-1/2. Can you just imagine having a range of plus size fashion patterns available today that looked like this?

Recently there has been some discussion online about the availability of stylish fashions for plus sizes (in RTW, although the limited variety of patterns in plus size came up too). I don't wish to enter the debate because I'm not well-versed enough in the RTW industry. I can only speak as a consumer (and a sewist!) seems to me, there was a much greater variety of fashion in ALL sizes in the past. So I'm not sure I buy into the "it's too difficult" excuse.

Anyway...More lovely dresses in bust size 36-48:

And even MORE half size 14-1/2 to 24-1/2. (How gorgeous is that cream sheath and little jacket??)

The smallest size range seems to be size 10-18, as shown in the image below. Note though, that the cream gored skirt in the middle is waist size 30-46! What I wouldn't do to get my hands on that one. Actually, I want ALL of these top and skirt patterns.

The pattern booklet isn't limited to regular and plus women's fashions, there are childrens, teens, and mens. But it was the variety of larger sized patterns that has really intrigued me. This lingerie pattern is awesome! (Size 14-1/2 to 24-1/2)

I love "play suits" (Maybe it's the heat?) These are all amazing. The white with blue stitching is the plus offering in size 14-1/2 to 24-1/2. Note that the styling and detail is no less than the regular (misses) size offerings.

The pages I pulled from the Farmer booklet to show you were mostly sized to 24-1/2 (even though it has several more pages of gorgeous garments!) because I find it extremely interesting to see that the styles offered for the smallest size woman were also offered in the larger sizes, without debate or even much fanfare. It appears to just be normal to offer the current style of fashion in a larger size. Thought went into how to tweak current styles to suit different size ranges.

In a nutshell...EVERYONE was deserving of beautifully tailored clothing, whatever their size. Somewhere along the way, that attitude has fallen by the wayside.

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend! And if you have any "Farmer" mail order patterns, or any information about the company, let us know in the comments. I'd love to know more about them!


  1. This is an absoutely fabulous find. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Such fun to look at these patterns past!

    I believe one reason "it's too difficult" to have stylish patterns in larger/half sizes (or pretty much for anyone outside the limited "norm" is because much of the talent has died off AND the limited new talent is "too expensive." And we must remember not that many sewists are around these days compared to the "good old days." Profits. Profits,.

  3. very true. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Wow, I'm not into vintage (no reason, just how it is), but those garments are fabulous. So many great pocket and collar treatments.

  5. It's not that it's "too difficult". It's that it can't be done easily so that the clothes are dirt-cheap and the profit margins are enormous (i.e. by slave-wage labor out of shoddy and dangerously-produced materials from multiple sources around the globe).

    It's totally not hard to produce garments in multiple sizes. It's just hard to do it and charge the prices that most consumers have come to expect paying (cotton poplin blouses are for sale at WalMart this week for $5.50 each).

    (I've totally been avoiding making this very comment on my blog for days, so now I feel much better having had a chance to vent it on yours. Neener neener.)

  6. "It's too difficult."

    So, make them anyway and CHARGE MORE. Then at least we'd have the option.

    (It really is more difficult, but difficult is not the same as impossible.)

  7. @beangirl: amen.

    I'll buy "more difficult".

    @handbuiltwardrobe: Yes! I'd rather have the option than not!

  8. I wrote a little about this on my blog but I found it funny that Adele P Margolis said something back in 1969 about how societies veiw of a fashionable lady changed about 40 years before that. Totally agree we should have choices in RTW and in patterns. I also think that it maybe slightly harder to produces these but it really about profit$$. If they mass producers dont see it they will not produce it. Also the days of the dressmaker seem to be disapearing. Had to go to s sewing class just to see how many other sewers were still in my area. I was one of the youngest there. The man presenting the workshop said all the people he worked with have retired. I'm glad shows like Project Runway are starting to bring the interest back.

  9. LOVE this booklet! I wish I could help you find out more about these patterns, but in my years of selling patterns I've never found anything by these folks.
    I'll keep watching in hopes you find out more.
    Thanks for this,

  10. Angie,

    Thanks for such thoughtful words on this post. That conversation was so fraught with "I'm right" and "you must believe what I believe" which is what I believe is the prevalent attitude in the industry now. And you've just shown that it wasn't always so! Again can I just say that I'm glad that I sew!

    Hope you don't mind but I lifted a few of those photos for my personal inspiration file. I want to make a few of those styles for work dresses especially since the newest pattern company offerings held nuthin interesting for plus size sewists!

  11. What a fabulous ebay purchase!!! I am so envious!

  12. Lovely patterns and really like the lingerie pattern. I really would like to try my hand at a vintage pattern hopefully sooner than later.

  13. Anonymous2:26 PM

    Carolyn pointed me to your blog. Love the patterns. My mom subscribed to "The Farmer" magazine for years. Each issue had patterns for sale. Always practical and suited to women who sewed and who wore what they sewed. I don't know which company made the patterns. I do seem to remember the magazine (it was more like a small newspaper, I think) was published in Iowa. Good luck with your quest!

  14. I don't know anything about this publication, but I love the styles and the illustrations.

  15. OH that book has so many gorgeous dresses....Thanks for sharing the picture. My Mom is 92 yrs old and I love looking at her photo albums from the 40s...Women were so classy.

  16. Anonymous1:55 AM

    I´m a little late for the party,but I wanted to add: the fact that these patterns were also available in plus sizes might have something to do with the "flatteringness" of those clothes.I know that´s a wild theory and the main reasons might be of economical nature. But I can seriuosly envision a larger sized woman in those dresses and little jackets. Whereas what´s in fashion now (harem pants, gladiator sandals, pleated shorts, stretch minis...) does only work on a very skinny body. (or even not, but that´s another question.)
    Anyway,lovely blog.

  17. Fabulous find, Angie. I love looking at these older patterns. This book sure had great styles, many relevant today. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Angie, could you shoot me an e-mail at Bunnypep at wild blue dot net? Greatly appreciated and re: SB

  19. WOW. WOW. WOW. I love it.


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