Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Storing Vintage Sewing Patterns

The first time that a pattern is pulled from it's envelope, unfolded and cut to create a garment is easy. Putting it all back together is the tricky part. Some seamstresses neatly press the tissues and slip them back into their envelopes. It's not always a perfect fit and often the envelope will tear in the process. So seamstresses have searched for alternative storage methods for their used but precious patterns.

I have in my collection, numerous patterns where the seamstress has split the envelope and pasted the front and back onto a manilla envelope with the contents inside.

The flat envelopes card shops slide greeting cards into are fairly common for pattern storage. But storing patterns in waxed paper folders was a surprise for me. I had never seen these flat sheets of waxed paper before. But what a clever storage idea for the 1930's seamstress.

On the back cover of the Perkins "Sanigenic" folder they have imprinted a space for a letter to identify the contents when filed and even suggests filing patterns in the folders. These envelopes are constructed from a lightweight chip board with sturdy folds glued at the back and a wide flap.

The folders preserve the pattern envelopes nicely with no tears and help keep the tissues in good condition. This extra effort by the waxed paper manufacturers reminds me of how the feed and seed companies aided the rural homemaker by printing pretty patterns on what would have been plain white muslin. By offering another purpose for the folder they extend it's usefulness and ensure it's longevity. What a great idea!


  1. How cool! These were so clever. And much better than cramming patterns into the old envelopes.

  2. What a lovely thing - a manufacturer taking the extra thought to make their packaging reusable in the end.

    I remember the wax paper sheets, my mom , a child of the 30s, would wrap our sandwiches in them for lunch. Always hated having Tuna because the oil would leak out and make the bag greasy and smell. And of course we reused our paper bags as long as possible, so... yeah, I hated Tuna for a long time for only that reason!

    1. i wrap my husband's sandwiches in waxed paper too. Somehow I think it is more environmentally friendly than plastic bags. It acts as a bit of a placemat too. Haven't done tuna sandwiches for him but I bet he would like them.

  3. the Depression created the concept of "thinking outside the box." Great idea.

  4. I dunno. If yer husband likes TUNA he must A NUT.