At The Sign Of The Golden Scissors

So I bought this pattern. I like patterns; I buy them occasionally just because..well, I like them. I used to have, before I moved, almost all the Folkwear patterns, some Smoke and Fire patterns, a number of Medieval Miscellanea patterns, and a bunch of Atira's Middle Eastern patterns, as well as some wildcat patterns that I bought over the year at Pennsic. For these small-run, recreation patterns I don't have high expectations--I figure I will have to tape the pattern pieces together, that there will be muddy directions or mystery spots; the sort of things that you would find if *I* was making a pattern from the stuff I used to sew for the SCA. (Though I have to say that Atira, aside from apparently being a skinny little thing, turns out a good pattern that is easy to assemble. Just go big.) Anyway, I figured this looked like a good, basic 18th century dress, and I could crib off the drawings to do a doll-sized dress or two--mostly I wanted to see how the back of the waistline went together on a dress with no zipper. ;) So the pattern arrives, and I open the package:

And wow, period pins!! These are nice for cartridge pleating skirts; ages ago I used to buy cards of "pearl" topped hatpins so that I could both deal with curtain fabric being turned into skirts and bodices, and so I wouldn't lose them on the floor and have K find them with her feet. Also, there is a long description and photos of the original garment in the instruction book. Yes, book :

Lets just say it would be nice if modern patterns came with this level of instruction:

There is even a shout-out to Denis Diderot's Encyclopedia with an illustration of stitch types:

And the actual pattern pieces look pretty much like you'd expect a modern pattern to look like, but on heavier paper:

So I might even make a full sized gown later this year, since I have some extra curtains.:D Meantime I have to go through and see how this all goes together. Alas, the one thing it did not seem to have is a little page of scale drawings of the pattern pieces, but I haven't gone all the way through the book page by page yet.

If you want to see the other 18th century goodies they have, go here:

At the Sign Of the Golden Scissors


  1. That's awesome. I've always wondered why they stopped putting the very elaborate and couture level instructions in patterns since the 1940's. But both Vogue and Butterick publish books on the more elaborate hand sewing and construction techniques, so I guess they wanted to sell books when they cut the instructions to the basics. The older patterns showed how to do all the stitches you would need, and even how to thread cover a hook for a hook and eye. Now it's just so bare bones. No wonder the haute couture type sewing blogs have become so popular again.

    1. I sort of remember my mom buying Vogue Couturier patterns back in the early 70's, but I wasn't sewing then, so I have no idea what came inside the packets. Maybe they assumed the sewers after 1970 were like me, and just look at the pictures.( Once I hit written directions like "sew invisibly"... I was 0_o.)


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