Cheap Price VS Fair Price

This pattern sold for $685.


I'm not saying that to bring on a barrage of insults and 'that's crazy' comments. I feel its insane, but that's what it is.

Often we get caught up in the price of something. Whether it's worth it is relative, and I think in this case, even the seller (congratulations to that person, by the way) may not have known it would spike in price $300 in the last few minutes.

I've been thinking about fair price vs cheap price a lot lately. I know some people who think the cheap price is the only price that matters. I, on the other hand am finding that the fair price of something is often where the bargain is.

Take my Royalchrome fiasco, for instance. I searched high and low for that settee, and found one that I thought would be a great deal of a replacement. Turns out the seller wanted nearly two and a half times more than what I paid for the missing one. Um no. Was I willing to pay more than I did for my other one, sure. I am tired of looking, and frankly, me talking about them on this site has seen prices spike 200% in the last 6 months!

That got me thinking. Sellers are often jacking up prices to gouge customers, and customers are often desperate to buy it for fear of loosing out. But say that buyer wants to sell it later. They often think they will make money back on it, as opposed to selling it back for its 'market value' which in most instances, isn't what a selling price is.

So spikes aside, patience for a settling price of something aside, I place my patience on a fair price over a bargain.

Bargins are chance. Fluke instances that occur and are lifetime encounters. A fair price, to me is shopping around and finding a pool of items, then selecting what you want, but willing to play with price to not necessarily get the cheapest price, but a deal both parties can live with.

I find the average price for pre 60s patterns is coming in at $18 each. Plain dresses, pants, separates, sure, will all fetch different values, but for about a twenty, you can find something in the mainstream market that will be pretty good.

For me, depending on the pattern, I think that price is fair. Am I going to find a super rare 30's evening gown at that price, chances are no, but a nice day dress with an interesting detail I can make up 100+ times, I'd go for it.

Would I pay $18 for a size 30 bust dress missing stuff and no envelope? Dude, be serious. Nor, in my own personal opinion would I pay $190 for a swimsuit. That's just my own standards.

I'm keen on looking, but not waiting for a bargin. If I find what I want, and it's a fair price, I'll get it. It makes me feel like the seller isn't out to get me, and I know I have food for groceries next week :)

That's my take on it. What's yours?
Have a great Wed!


  1. I think some people get caught up in the bidding process. Also, there are people with more money than sense. Sellers should be happy dancing when they meet them, and the rest of us should wait for items within our means.

  2. I don't know about that. I think eBay attracts mostly poor collectors (like myself) there are lots of sites that cater to higher end collectors. The not knowing who you are biding against on an item that is rare tends to lean to that narrative, but Im not too sure that's the case.

  3. I definitely agree with you about the prices going up. I've been a lot more picky with the patterns I've been buying recently, I want to make sure it's something I really like.

  4. I also agree that, along with many other vintage items, pattern prices are on the rise. I think sellers, whether they are serious business people or the causal Ebay/Etsy seller, know there is a market for certain items. Taking the time to look around at different vendors certainly helps when looking to save money that's for sure. However, I'm with you that if I see an item I really like for a fair price I'll buy it.

    One thing I've found extremely helpful with vintage patterns, and sewing in general, is being able to re-size a pattern. I won't automatically turn down a pattern because its one size too big or small, especially if the price is right. Being able to adapt one dress pattern to suit a variety of styles can be a big money saver too. Why buy two almost identical dress patterns if you can just adapt one?

  5. Part of it is that some people seem to think that old=valuable. I rarely pay more than $16 for a pattern--and that's complete with everything. but I've seen people trying to hock patterns I can easily find for $5 for $80. My rule-of-thumb is to not pay more for a pattern than is current, full-price retail. If it's more than that, I can probably live without it!

  6. I'm with you. When I see something beautiful and the price is what I would call high, I just remind myself that there are plenty of other beauties out there. I don't mind paying a fair price at all if I like an item enough. That price on the hat though is insane!

  7. I'll pay up to $40 for a 40's pattern and thats purely because they're in very short supply in Australia, so I am at the mercy of Etsy & eBay sellers who've done all the hunting and gathering for me.

    I think a fair price is around the $30 mark for a standard 40's dress pattern with all pieces intact. I'm not a collector, I want to make these!

    Actually, I get kinda peeved when certain patterns creep up in price and I know they've probably gone to someone who will just stash it away somewhere and never make the garment. I think it's unfair to lock that style into history for it to never be enjoyed again.

  8. Never ever would I pay $300 for a few pieces of decaying paper. In the end, it's all that it is. They are not irreplaceable per se. They can be copied, reused and even redrawn. These are just a patterns, not finished vintage garments. Probably some of those aren't great patterns, we all know patterns can have their flaws. The pretty pictures on the envelopes may be cute, but these mass produced prints aren't made for decorating your walls. There are better quality prints available from the period.

    I really wouldn't regard patterns as an investment, however in demand they are at the moment. Gosh, makes me think of a bit of history regarding the Tulip mania.

    But paying a reasonable price yes, ofcourse, and enjoy the patterns while they still last. Like you say: a fair deal.

  9. I have a couple hundred patterns from my mother and grandmother that I need to get up on Etsy and I've had to think about this a lot. As you noted, just because it's old doesn't mean it has any value and if the goal is to sell patterns why do some people set a ridiculous price? Granted it depends the pattern too, a Cecil Chapman or Spaeda pattern will always have a grater value than yet another Big 4 1960's shift dress. I think size is a factor too and I never understand when a vintage pattern is priced high (e.g. over $10 in my mind) when (1) the style is nothing special and (2) the size is really small (pretty common as well) and almost no modern customer could make it without substantially regrading the pattern. I sold a pattern from the 1930's for $10 because it was for a dance costume - pretty narrow appeal there - because again my goal was to sell the darn thing not have it sitting around until someone was willing to pay $25 for it.

  10. I would be really curious to see the bidding on that hat pattern. I wonder whether it started out at a reasonable price and just skyrocketed up because of some crazy bidding war? That's a cute hat, though, I have to admit.

    Thank goodness I acquired the majority of my pattern collection before they were popular. I rarely paid more than $5 for any of them. It's a good thing I was obsessed with vintage patterns when I was young & poor, because I couldn't afford them now.

    By the way, I'm really grateful to some of the reproducers out there, like the Vintage Pattern Lending Library and some of the other people occasionally mentioned on this blog.

    I'm still scratching my head over that $685 bid. I wonder if the winner is kicking herself now?

  11. Shady, I have a link to the listing on my FB page. The pattern jumps in price near the very end.

  12. Now, it's obviously too late I'm coming here, but I just found this blog and I'm loving it :-D

    Anyway, I agree with you. Price is an interesting and surprisingly complex issue.
    For example, an artist and an artisan will probably NEVER get paid what her work is worth.

    I have been poor most of my life, so the question is also not "is it worth it", but "can I afford it". Do I wish to eat more than I want to get something, like a pattern. Now, I can draft, so I will never be paying much for patterns. If I choose to buy a pattern, I will choose someone like you to buy from rather than some Vogue.
    I don't think that pattern is worth that. I might think it might be worth 1/10 to someone, even though I think even that price is way too high, but apparently the pattern was worth that to someone. I just hope she/he can afford it.


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