Saturday, September 10, 2011

How many is too much?

I recently bought a small lot of 11 vintage patterns for $25. It was a bargain that I couldn't refuse but it got me thinking about whether it's possible to have too many patterns. I have about 45 vintage (1930s-60s) patterns and a few more modern ones. This seems like a lot to me. I wouldn't really say that I'm a collector. I buy patterns with the intention of making them. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I pull out my patterns and gaze adoringly at their pretty envelopes ( don't do that?) but I'm usually planning what kind of fabric I want to use to make them up. I wouldn't buy a vintage pattern that I didn't want to sew.

Another recent purchase

Probably three quarters of my patterns are for dresses. While I do wear dresses almost every day I'm not sure I need another thirty-something dresses in my wardrobe to add to the ones I already have. So, I'm going to make a rule. For every vintage pattern I want to buy I have to get rid of one from my collection. Hopefully, this will mean I can keep it to a manageable size.

How many patterns do you have? Do you think you can have too many?


  1. I have about 30, but like you I only buy them if I plan to make them up - otherwise I would rather leave them for someone more appreciative.
    I also believe in using them (carefully!) rather than keeping them untouched - as they were intended to be!
    And it is a great idea to onsell them and share the love!

  2. I'm not sure quite how many I have, although I suspect its around the 20 mark. The thing with vintage patterns is they are usually so inexpensive, its kinda rude not to. I say iif you have space to store them and you will use them then theirs no such thing as too much. I've been trying to find some for vintage hats and bags, so lucky you finding that fab one. Xx

  3. I have about 35 patterns. Not all are vintage though. I am trying to make every pattern before I buy more. So far I have made 15 of them.

  4. Oh my of course I have too many! I probably have ... at a visual caculation .. maybe 90! Oh.. I do love them but I will cull some and pass them on I think but there are some that I really want to make so come holidays...

  5. I have far too many, in fact I recently had a bit of a blitz and sold a load on eBay. Why on earth was I harbouring size 20 patterns?
    I love that turban, can't wait to see that in the flesh! x

  6. I think you can have too many, I have way more than you it seems, but I go more by the rule of not buying patterns that are too similar.

  7. I for sure have way more than I could ever sew. I was thinking about selling ones I've already made or don't think I will ever make on Etsy.

  8. I've been forcing myself to sew up every pattern I have before I'm allowed to buy any more. I'm such a hoarder though, I thought about getting rid of some I've already made and I couldn't do it. That looks fun- I love looking at lots on ebay!

  9. Oh goodness, don't feel bad. I have about 4oo vintage and at least another hundred modern. I have broken down and parted with about 50 or so that I've listed on etsy. :]

  10. Gulp, I have around 60+ patterns at last count (not including modern ones) :)
    I buy with the intent to make (I sew most of my own clothes) and usually aim for new techniques and styles. For example I might buy a pattern based on a particular neckline/bust style I want to learn to sew and wear. I adore vintage and hope each time to increase my understanding and skill with each new pattern.
    I am careful about cataloging and storing my patterns and am looking into investing in some archival sleeves for them.
    I have a few though that I don't necessarily intend to use for myself - Those patterns are usually from op-shops (thrift stores) and I just couldn't resist their cuteness or quirk factor.

  11. I have tons of vintage patterns, but I have rules for them... I will buy anything that catches my eye, provided it's under $5 and likely to get ruined or tossed if it doesn't come live with me. I love to find the most tore-down looking thrift shops when we travel, and they often have oodles of vintage patterns, priced between $.25(US) and $1, so I grab mostly 40s and 50s patterns, and buy as many as is in my 'mad money' budget at the time. They're usually not well-stored, and I consider myself almost a curator of them. There are sites online for trading and sending in vintage that you don't want, where it will be well-cared for and preserved, and I think that's more respectful than allowing them to languish and degrade in a bin at the thrift shop. I've only ever bought one "nice" vintage pattern, a $30 one from an online reseller, that I just adored but am still too chicken to pull out and use. *sigh* one of these days. Perhaps if it didn't require 7 yards of fabric and 13 buttons on the diagonal....

  12. Oooh, there are some beauts there, congrats! Very interesting point to raise too. I'm not sure but I fear I may have more vintage patterns than you, but not too many more. I totally believe you can too much of anything, patterns included. I feel bad owning that many, especially because I know others could be enjoying them instead of them gathering dust on my shelf. I've recently started selling the ones I'm unlikely to use on ebay or having sporadic giveaways on my blog. I'm definately on a 'one-in, one-out' tip these days.

    I think I gathered so many because I was buying them in a frenzy, and it took a while for me to narrow down which eras actually suit me and really float my boat.

    The only ones I own that I don't plan to sew are ones that have such beautiful illustrations I'm planning on framing them as art.

    It kind of annoys me when some people have 400+ patterns, unless you are creating a library to preserve them or something. No-one can ever make up that many patterns and hoarding behaviour like that just seems selfish when others could really enjoy them.

    I love Birdie's attitude towards vintage patterns, they are a very limited resource afterall.

    Thanks for this discussion thread! Good luck with your tests and essay


  13. this dress is fantastic...