Review and giveaway: A History of the Paper Pattern Industry

The winner of this giveaway is commenter #21, Emma Smith!  Congratulations!! Review and giveaway: A History of the Paper Pattern Industry

In A History of the Paper Pattern Industry, author Joy Spanabel Emery explores the history of the paper sewing pattern, from the very first published works for tailors to today’s printed patterns for home sewists.  She looks at how the printed format, fashion styles, marketing, and consumption of paper patterns have evolved through the years.

Included are 125 full color illustrations and 75 black & white illustrations.  (The photos you see in this review are all black & white because my pre-release copy did not include color.)

And at the end, 9 complete sewing patterns to make reproduction vintage garments from different eras.  (Brief assembly instructions are included.  You will need to scale the pieces up to full size in order to use them.)


This is an academic book appropriate for someone who is wanting to make serious study of vintage patterns.  This book would be an excellent resource for vintage pattern collectors!

I don’t know that I fall into the category of a vintage pattern collector, but I do  find myself drawn to older sewing patterns.  And I’ve long been intrigued with the paper sewing pattern as a technical document.  So much information packed within a relatively small space!  Now that I’m reading through A History of the Paper Pattern Industry, I’m learning more about historical context of older sewing patterns.

Review and giveaway: A History of the Paper Pattern Industry

One section I found particularly interesting was that on the effect of 1940s rationing on the styles of clothing available in sewing patterns.  Not only was yardage restricted for the home sewist, but the styles were restricted as well.  A “no fabric over fabric” rule meant there could be no patch pockets or knife pleats. Skirt circumference could be no more than 72”.  The next time I pick up a 1940s pattern, I’ll see the designs with a new layer of appreciation.


I have a copy of A History of the Paper Pattern Industry to give away to one Craft Gossip reader.  To enter, leave a comment here telling me your favorite decade for style.  I’ll choose one comment at random as the winner.

Deadline for entry is midnight CST, June 17, 2014.


  1. Denise Swanson says

    It’s hard to have only one favorite. I guess it would be the 50’s. I like the modern patterns with a 50’s influence.

  2. Kylie C says

    I can not fully express my love of the New Look fashions so late 1940’s through the mid-1950s without a doubt.

  3. Kim Turner says

    I love the utilitarian styles of the 1940s. Their minimised use of fabric means that the styles are flattering for us larger ladies.

  4. Pat Cobb says

    I love to look at the old patterns at the garage/estate sales when I get a chance to go. I think the 50’s were beautiful and graceful. Then the 70’s were sort of artsy or maybe craftsy. I bought some older patterns at an estate sale not long ago for lounge and apron patterns. Love that you are willing to share.

  5. Becky PS says

    I’m a 50’s gal. Love the feminine dresses and practical fashion too.

    Thanks for the chance to win the book! Looks fascinating.

  6. says

    My fave decade is the 1940’s. I’ve a few vintage patterns and have made them. They are so economical with fabric and fit beautifully. I hope I win the book!

    Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  7. says

    Oh my gosh! This books looks amazing! I’m addicted to vintage patterns, mostly from the 70’s. I love lingerie patterns from the 40’s too though. Most of the time they can pass for dresses and beautiful tops today~

  8. Julie Henderson says

    I recently inherited a fairly big box of patterns, mostly 60’s & 70’s, w/ a few of 50’s in there, & they’re all such fun images/illustrations. I just want to say: I admire the creativity & resourcefulness of the 40’s, particularly having to observe the fabric rationing & such, still managing to look glam & stylish. Thanks for the giveaway! :-)

  9. TMac says

    Oooh, this looks very interesting. Love the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. Thank you for offering this great giveaway.

  10. Jess says

    50s or 60s. I have a few vintage patterns but have yet to cut into them; I’m still working on finding the right fabric to go with them!

  11. Anne Marie says

    50’s are fun! We watch Leave It To Beaver with the kids, and hubby likes to say, “How come you don’t wear dresses like that?!”

  12. Andrea B says

    gosh -that’s a tough one. I love the style and prints of the 50’s but also like the class of the 20’s – all that beading!

  13. Christy H says

    This book looks amazing! If I don’t win it I’ll have to find it somewhere for sure. I love the 20’s!

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