A lifetime of sewing patterns: a tribute

A lifetime of sewing patterns

Last week I got a call from a man offering me his late wife’s sewing patterns. Her name was Carol.

A lifetime of sewing patterns in a basket



I took the patterns to my sewing class, but before the class I looked through them all.

Carol’s pattern collection reflected a lifetime of sewing, beginning in the late 1960’s with some cute maternity patterns and some baby things. Here’s a sampling…

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1960s maternity 1
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1960s maternity 2
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1960s baby



Moving into the 1970’s there are young children’s clothes and lots of young women’s outfits.

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1970s children 2
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1970s children 1
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1970s ladies 5
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1970s ladies 1
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1970s ladies 3
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1970s ladies 9



In the early 1980’s there are older girls outfits.

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s children 2
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s children 1
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s ladies 1



Mid-1980’s. Carol is sewing less, or certainly less “everyday” clothes. This coincides with department stores closing their fabric departments. Adelaide readers might remember Miller Anderson in Hindley St (closed in 1988), where Carol bought lots of her patterns.

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s ladies 2
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s ladies 3



Late 1980’s: Carol is sewing prom dresses! Does anyone remember these?

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s prom dresses 1
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s prom dresses 2
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s prom dresses 3
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1980s prom dresses 5



There are fewer patterns for the late 80’s/early90’s. I recall this first one was a very popular look.

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1990s ladies 1 New Look
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1990s ladies 3 New Look
A lifetime of sewing patterns 1990s ladies 2 New Look



And, finally, a bit of mid-90’s grunge.

A lifetime of sewing patterns 1990s ladies 4 New Look grunge



I’ll admit I got misty-eyed looking through these, a capsule of one woman’s sewing life.

Carol’s patterns have now gone to good homes belonging to women who love making their own clothes.

10 Comments

  1. Michelle Shaffer on March 31, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    This brought up memories of my own childhood; of Halloween costumes, proms and school clothes. I wish pattern companies would bring back some of those patterns!

    • lizhaywood on March 31, 2019 at 11:23 pm

      It brought up clothes memories for me too. I hope yours were good ones!

  2. Val Freebairn on April 1, 2019 at 10:53 am

    I certainly recognise some of those patterns – I remember how I loved those New Look clothes with the big shoulder pads! I have three large cartons of old patterns in my shed. I have occasionally looked at them realising that I will never remake those clothes – but to get rid of them would be like disposing of old photo albums! Do you want any old patterns Liz??

    • lizhaywood on April 1, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Three boxes! I will go through them with you.

  3. Vanessa on April 1, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing Liz (and thanks to Carols husband for sharing with you). I wonder if Carol is about my mums age as these patterns reflect the styles of the ones my mum would have made for me. I love looking at vintage patterns too. It definitely makes my think of my childhood pouring over what Mum should make next. Now I make my own clothes and love searching the second hand shops for old patterns.

    • lizhaywood on April 1, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Cheers, Vanessa, glad you enjoyed looking at them too.

      • Mike on April 9, 2019 at 8:57 pm

        Hi Liz. Thank you for your tribute to Carol’s sewing history – yes I felt sad and a little bit of happiness. It reminded me of lots of good stories in Carol’s world of sewing. To Vanessa, Carol was sixty seven when she passed away just a short time ago. To all of the sewers out there always give your loved ones a extra bit of loving. Tomorrow is not a given.To Liz it was nice to meet you and hubby. Kind regards Mike. Happy sewing.



      • lizhaywood on April 9, 2019 at 9:28 pm

        Hi Mike, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. Carol’s collection brought back a lot of lovely memories for people and I’m glad it reminded you of good ones too. Take care, xxoo



  4. Julie on April 2, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Oh how lovely and how generous of Carol’s husband to have passed them on. I heard myself audibly ooh and ahh as I recognised a few of them and have one or two in my stash…. I find it hard to discard patterns too. It’s like saying goodbye to or giving up on the creative possibility once held. However, there is the odd one that I have said to myself…. “what were you thinking!!”

    • lizhaywood on April 2, 2019 at 9:29 pm

      Haha, I too find it impossible to part with patterns, maybe as you say, it’s like giving up on the possibilities.
      Yes, Carol’s husband is a lovely man, doing it tough at the moment.

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