Pattern Dating
Tips for determining the date of a vintage pattern

Hints for determining the date of your vintage pattern.

Not all of the major companies dated their patterns in the same way.  Some placed the dates on the envelopes, some placed the dates on the instruction sheets & others didn't date the patterns at all.

The following chart shows some of the procedures different companies used:


~ Date from the 1930's-1960's

~ No printed dates on the vintage patterns

~ 1930's The Effiel Tower appears in the logo

~ 1940's & 1950's name logo appears near the top of envelope in bold type

~ 1960's name logo moved to the side.  In 1962 the Sew Easy patterns had the name logo on the bottom of envelope

~ Most 1940's & 1950's patterns were unprinted

~ One of the last companies to make unprinted patterns

VINTAGE BUTTERICK PATTERNS ~ Patterns were undated 

~ Starting in the 1920's a Deltor (instruction sheet) was included

~ Envelopes in the 1930's were plain with simple designs

~ Beginning in the late 1940's Butterick started printing their patterns. Moved away from perforated patterns with the holes & notches.

~ During the 1950's logo was placed in the upper left corner with a colored box around it.

~ Early 1960's name logo moved to the left side.  Mid 1960's logo moved back to the top.

VINTAGE HOLLYWOOD PATTERNS ~ Patterns were undated

~ Made from the 1930's to the late 1940's

~ Most of these patterns were unprinted

~ Marketed fashions from movies
VINTAGE MCCALL'S PATTERNS ~ Most from the 1940's to today were dated

~ Dated at various points on the envelopes: Bottom, right side, around top flap

~ Patterns before 1951 were named McCall without the S.  The S was added in 1952.

~ Early 1940's McCall logo was made in a script font on the side

~ During the early 1960's the logo switched sides.  By 1965 a colored logo was added.

~ By the mid 1970's the colored logo bar was removed.

VINTAGE MAIL ORDER PATTERNS ~ Patterns were undated

~ The only way to date these patterns is by the fashion or the postmark on the envelope

~ Available in magazines, newspapers, etc. from 1930's - 1980's

~ Popular brands are Marian Martin, Anne Adams & Laura Wheeler

VINTAGE SIMPLICITY PATTERNS ~ 1960's - Present: Dated on the top back of pattern envelope

~ Pre 1960's - date was moved 2nd page of instruction sheet

~ One of the most popular patterns. 

~ During the 1940's the font was printed in a script style.

~ Mid 1960's the font was printed in a colored script.

~ Late 1960's logo changed to a block letter font inside a colored box & placed on the top of the envelope.



 ~ 1950's & Early 1960's - Most are dated

~ 1980's - All are dated

~ Date is found front bottom left corner or envelope back

~ Easy To Sew began in the early 1950's

~ Late 1940's the Paris Original line was introduced

~ Late 1960's Americana line was introduced

It is easy to find a printed date on a vintage pattern to determine the date. But what happens if there is no date to be found? 
That can make things a little more difficult.  The manufacturers often re-issued the numbering sequences so simply using the pattern number will be of little value.


Here are a few tips that can help determine the age:

Envelope styles - The pattern manfacturers changed the look of their envelopes. Quite often the graphics on the envelope can help in determining the pattern's age.

Hollywood patterns are usually from the 1930's/40's.
These patterns often had actresses pictured.  If you know the name of the actress & movie being promoted that is a good indication of the pattern date.

Simplicity's envelope styles changed quite often over the years.  Look  for a particular design feature on the envelope to determine the era of the pattern

McCall switched to McCall's in 1951

Vintage pattern magazines or vintage pattern catalogs can be used for comparison

The original cost of the pattern. One thing to consider is a more elaborate style equaled a higher price
Knowing the clothing & hair styles of a particular era



Patterns that were manufactured before 1940 usually only had the bust or breast measurement noted on the envelope.

During the 1940's, the envelopes began noting both the bust & the hip measurements. The waist measurement was often not noted.

The actual pattern size changed over the decades. Up until approximately 1955-1956 a size 12 was reserved for a 30 inch bust / breast measurement.  By the time the mid 1950's rolled around a size 12 was reserved for a 32 inch bust / breast measurement. The mid 1960's brought about another change that remains constant until this day, a size 12 was for a 34 inch bust / breast.

How Pattern Styles Have Changed & Evolved Over The Decades:

Late 1800's to Early 1900's:

The first patterns were on unprinted tissue paper. They required matching up notches and holes to make the garment. The envelopes were black & white with very simple illustrations.

1920's & 1930's:
The illustrations were printed in color. The major companies were Simplicity, McCall, Butterick, Vogue & Advance.

This decade was the heyday of fashion.  Beautiful styles, colors & dresses were very popular. Mail-order patterns from companies like Marian  Martin & Ann Adams were increasing in popularity.
Hollywood patterns depicting actresses were becoming very popular.

Patterns during this decade were now being printed. Rockabilly styles, halter dresses, wiggle dresses & circle skirts were very popular. McCalls added the 'S' to their name. The most popular patterns were Vogue Special Design & Simplicity Designer Originals.

The patterns in this decade began having models instead of illustrations. Jackie Kennedy & her signature style were the most popular designs. The MOD styles became popular in the latter part of this decade.

These patterns were the hippie age. The envelopes started featuring famous models. The styles were becoming less dressy. Pants were quite common. 


Vintage Hairstyles & Clothing Trends By Decade

1930's -
-Short Bobbed Hair

1940's -
-Shoulder length hair curled under
-Suits were very common
-The styles use little fabric because of War Conservation

1950's -
- Short hair
- The styles had more fabric due to the end of the War
- Full skirts were common
- White gloves were worn with day suits
- Big, boxy purses

1960's - 
- Slim skirted suits
- Boxy jackets
- Pillbox hats
- Short hair
- Cute, slim dresses
- Space age boxy jackets or dresses
- Hair in a high bun with trendils by the ears
- Long hair
- Hair bands were common
- Braid trim on dresses
- Mini, midi & maxi styles were all in one pattern

 1970's -
- Shoulder length or long hair with bounce
- Slim styles - more conservative than the 60's
- Long flowing outfits

 1980's -
- Big hair
- Big shoulder pads
- Big bouffant dress styles







Is This Pattern Not The Correct Size?  There are many websites on the internet that give detailed instructions on how to resize a vintage pattern.  By using the easy resizing instructions this pattern can be made to the size needed.


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