Friday, November 21, 2008

A Lesson from 1965

My Dad sent me some cool old patterns in the mail. He knows that I love old patterns. (Thanks, Dad!) I especially love the instructions. Unlike current instructions, the old ones do not SKIP AROUND. I know that I am not alone here in really disliking the current instruction sheets that skip around all over the place for each view. Do the pattern companies realize how much this discourages beginners? And makes old cranky experienced sewists like myself even crankier? If you're reading this, Simplicity, take a look at your archives from 1965. Sometimes the old ways are better.

Exhibit A: instruction sheet from Simplicity 6371 copyright 1965

Look how it calmly instructs, "Follow your progress from start to finish, put a check in the box after finishing each step."
1. Select the pattern pieces for the view you are making
2. PRESS the pattern pieces
3. Compare your body measurements with those on the back of the envelope.
(I don't mean to quibble here, but really, shouldn't THIS really be STEP ONE?)
CAUTION: Do not measure pattern tissue, for in addition to body measurements, ease is allowed in the pattern for garment style and comfortable wearing.
(I feel like such a renegade, because I always measure the tissue. Sometimes when I haven't,I have been unpleasantly surprised.)

4. if alterations are necessary, they should be made in the pattern before placing on fabric.
This is always good advice. And they go on with every tiny little step, including a zipper tutorial.
This dress could be worn as-is today. I especially like the yoke detail on view 2. I might steal that idea.
The pattern pieces have more detail too. In addition to seam lines, they also instruct which direction to sew the seams. I always do my own thing this way, depending on the fabric, but I can't recall seeing this direction on a recent pattern. Studying old patterns helps me to visualize different methods of constructing garments, and I can contrast older methods with current ones. Mr. Hunting Creek teases me because I read instruction sheets in bed, but what better way to see how things were done? Sometimes I actually learn something new.
Happy sewing!

p.s. Little Hunting Creek is having a sale, free shipping on patterns and fabric packs when you buy three or more. Mix and match!

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