Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vintage Mail Order Clothing Patterns

Two weekends ago, I attended a farm auction in a very rural area in northern Missouri.  I stayed most of the auction to purchase a box of vintage sewing patterns primarily because I noticed brands other than the normal Butterick, Simplicity and McCall's.

There were two large envelopes inside the box; one from Anne Adams:

and the other from Marian Martin:

This intrigued me so I did some research (have I mentioned lately how much I love the internet?) and found that "mail order patterns were the answer for rural homemakers for the most of the 20th century.  Each magazine had a section for the homemaker to order patterns, and this included Progressive Farmer and Grit.  The list is enormous and some patterns had the designer's name and some were generic with simply a number.  The most popular collectible designer are Anne Adams and Marian Martin."

Copied from this website.

Also, "the list of designers of vintage mail order patterns is very large.  Magazines such as Ladies Home Journal had sections set aside for homemakers.  These sections often included vintage mail order patterns.  Mail order patterns were also available in local newspapers."

Copied from this website.

An example of a generic dress pattern is this:

This smashing dress is a sleeveless design with instructions to crochet a cape.

Here's a Marian Martin design:

I love this dress belted.

And finally, here's a Leslie Fay mail order dress pattern:

This design is especially vogue with the buttoned flap at the neckline.

**The information underneath each pattern is a clickable link.**

So now it makes sense why I found a large collection of mail order patterns at a rural farm auction.  Today things aren't much different; instead of ordering from magazines and newspapers, people order from internet sites. There's a world of vintage patterns out there!  Isn't that grand?


  1. People in rural areas weren't the only ones who ordered patterns by mail. I remember when some NYC newspapers had patterns for sale.

  2. That's very true. I'm sure I do my share of romanticizing the rural midwest and focus on the women who walked outside their front doors to miles and miles of open land rather than those who enjoyed the conveniences of city living. :)