Pages on blog to come...(or not)

The Vintage Pattern Primer: Collecting Accessory Patterns.

Sleeve patterns, collars, dickies, hats etc. If you are just starting your vintage pattern collection, you might ask yourself, is it worth it to collect these patterns?

I would say yes and no. Perhaps I'm not the *best* person to chime up on this, seeing as I am gaga over accessory patterns. And if you do decide to collect these, I'd like to offer up some tid-bits of advice.

Accessory patterns are by far some of the most expensive patterns you will ever come across. Why? Because despite their incredible variety, they are genuinely rare. Having collected for years, I've seen duplicates of perhaps...three of the patterns I've collected floating out there. I've seen many, many different versions of patterns from hats to sleeves, but finding a complete, wearable accessory pattern is a challenge in and of itself.

Be prepared to pay.
In my last Vintage Pattern Primer, I listed a 30s hat pattern that got away from me. $100+ is not unusual for a hat pattern, at all. I've even seen 40s hats go for that, and those pop up much more often. You could get a stroke of luck and get find a pattern underpriced, or get one from Ebay that didn't get a lot of bids. Consider your self LUCKY, and I will be eternally jealous.

These types of patterns are not just sought by gals who might want to make them up, but by collectors because of being scarce. So don't be too dismayed if you find them way over your pricing budget.

Is it worth it to pay so much for an incomplete pattern?
Desperation leads to higher prices.

This 30's Du Barry sleeve pattern was on Ebay and went for $50+. Its missing an entire sleeve (#1). It makes you wonder, did it sell so high because it's a great pattern, or because its a sleeve pattern?

This one went for $74. Its spectacular, but it was too small for my comfort, so I didn't try for it. But I wanted to.

But on another site, I got this pattern for $20 because the instructions were missing.

This. Was. A. Find. I'm still beaming over it!

Because these patterns often have so many pieces, they come up for sale a lot of times incomplete. Sometimes its a cuff, or a whole sleeve, or collar. Often its the interesting part that made you want the pattern in the first place. While buying it as is might be good, you have to ask yourself if its worth it, or do you want to wait and see if another will come along.

Are you actually going to use it?
Is this going to be a collection piece or functional piece? That might change your attitude.


One of the most sought after accessories patterns around. The hot ones are 22 and 23" heads, but you can find tons of 21" head patterns that dont go down that much in price either. They come in all styles you can muster. And pay attention to that. Look on the cover, is it just one basic style refashioned into many, many different styles, or is it genuinely lots of different hats in one pattern. Find the value there.

One of my absolute favorite accessory patterns.

I LOVE sleeves! LOVE them. I'm a huge advocate on changing a sleeve of a regular frock to make it into something new and grand. Sleeve patterns offer up countless options in doing that. The trick with changing sleeves on dresses lies in the armholes. Often, depending on the sleeve your shoulder measurement can change inches. You might consider doing a mock up of the bodice prior to cutting it out.

Thats what I found so interesting about this Du Barry pattern. It offers a bodice mock up in the envelope to address such an issue. So, so clever.

Thanks Du Barry.

This is an accessory pattern that is getting big.

But I do think these are some of the most scarce. I have two, both from the 30s and both complete. I'm super lucky. I think this is one you have to ask yourself are you going to collect this because, or are you going to make it up. I mean, how many of us alternate collars anymore (perhaps this is the wrong crowd to pose that question to...)?

Often all the glove patterns I've seen are for teeny tiny hands. The cool thing about gloves is you can find modern equivalents that can pretty much do the trick.

Like this one. I'm not going to grade a glove pattern, no way. Gloves fit into that special category of, "They still make this type of pattern but no one wears them anymore." I can cheat with a modern pass.

Miscellaneous Patterns

Slopers, flowers, dolls, costumes, aprons (well, aprons are their own world, really).
I wouldn't get any of these types of pattern unless they were complete.

So you've been priced out of an accessory pattern and you are disgruntled. What do you do?

Look for patterns with included accessories.

Most dress patterns have two sleeves, or a sleeve that is alterable into a completely different design. While I don't think you need to grab a pattern based on one design facet, look at it overall in your collection and see if adds to the dimension.

If shopping online, grab a screen shot.

You might not have the pattern, but who says you can't have a picture of it? Try to get both back and front of the pattern envelope. You never know. You might run across a dress with a sleeve or collar a lot like the one you adored.

Don't count out reproductions, especially if you want to make the pattern.

Dresses, pants, and the like are pretty easy to find repros of, but accessories are not. I guess thats why I reproduced some (with a collar one in the pipeline). Not saying buy mine (thought that would be awesome), but look around and see what's out there. If someone is lovely enough to want to share their original with the world, then perhaps you might want to support that.

Thanks everyone!


  1. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing all those wonderful accessories patterns. I'd seen a few of those before, but they were mostly new. Love that flower pattern!

  2. Thanks for this post - I'd never really looked at / thought about accessory patterns before, but now I'll definitely be on the look out for sleeve patterns - great idea to offer some variety!

  3. Brilliant post. I love the sleeve patterns as well. Great ideas to spice up the basic dress sloper.

  4. I never win the accessories patterns I see. I must be too cheap! I do have an adorable dickie pattern I bought years ago, for $1 (actually less, because it was $1 for a pack of patterns saran-wrapped together in a flea market!) I'm guilty of buying the Vogue glove & hat patterns too, even though...would I ever wear them?

  5. One thing to love is some of those sleeve patterns are still accessible if you do your own pattern drafting. This book, Modern Pattern Design, is reproduced online completely and takes you through quite a few sleeve variations.

  6. I design and make my own costumes for dancing. I would really like to use one of the sleeve patterns you have listed above (the first photo). Is there any chance you could scan and email me a copy of one of the sleeves for me to use for a costume? I would be so grateful!!

  7. Thank you for sharing these images! I've been interested in accessory patterns (especially Accessory Dresses that come with a wardrobe of detached collars) for a couple years now and am always interested in seeing more. I see several sleeve patterns here I have not seen before. Lovely!

    In fact, you've got me feeling inspired... I think I may break out my pattern drafting tools and make some sleeve patterns this week