Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sewing Pattern Inflation

My daughters recently decided they would like to make themselves new summer skirts. They don't have a lot of experience sewing so it was important that we find an easy pattern. My mother alerted me to the fact that McCall and Butterick patterns were currently $1.99 at Joann's fabric store, so we set out to gather our materials for the skirt-making project.

Easy pattern for $1.99. Check. Cute fabric at 50% off. Check. Elastic, ribbon, and thread. Check. That's all we needed to get started, because I already have a scissors, pins, tape measure, sewing machine, and an iron. But just this little bit came to over $28 even with the discounts! No wonder people don't sew much any more!
Then I happened to notice the retail price of the pattern! $15.95!!! Does anyone really pay that much for patterns? Surely everyone waits until they're on sale. I can't imagine paying that!
After we finished at Joann's we stopped at a thrift store. They had a bin of sewing patterns for a quarter a piece! Now that's more like it!

I haven't sewed much in years so I don't have many patterns, but I decided to glance through to see what they had. I had just been looking through the pattern book at Joann's for an easy tiered skirt pattern for the girls to try next and hadn't found what I wanted, so I was happy to find this one! I'm almost certain my sisters and I had this very pattern when I was in high school. The date on the package was 1981, so yep, that's the right time period! Remember when prairie skirts were so popular in the early '80s?
But notice the price! $2.50! I wonder what the sale price was in the 1980s. Because I'm sure we never paid full price for a pattern!

Then I found these beauties in the same bin. One of them was dated 1957. The other didn't have a date, but they were both originally 50 cents. And check out the apron pattern that's included in the Butterick pattern! I might just have to make that!
I called Mother to tell her about my fun finds, and rant about the outlandish price of patterns these days. She said when she and her sister were in 7th grade (mid-1950s) they got to take home-ec. They were so excited because they were going to learn to make an apron, but it was very upsetting because they were required to buy a pattern! Why, their mother could make them an apron pattern... but no, they had to buy one so they could learn to read a pattern as part of the class. And the worst part about it was, the apron pattern cost 35 cents!!!
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23 comments:

Postcardy said...

That 1957 looks like the kind I had to make in home-ec. I still remember picking out fabric for my first sewing project--a drawstring apron (no pattern needed).

pse said...

Now that was a surprise to see the picture at the bottom. We did get to share a pattern. The apron had scallops on the hem. She used print fabric with pink trim. There was bias tape around the edges. Mine was pink with the print trim. One could buy pink bias tape, but I had to make the bias tape from the print fabric, yards of it! Or so it seemed. Fun memories!

Luke said...

Oh my, yes! Everything is so expensive. Every time my wife wants to do a project, even if everything is on sale, the price tag is unbelievable. [ugh]

~Luke

A Romantic Porch said...

Karla, How neat. I never knew that patterns had dates on them...I gotta go look at some of mine! xorachel

Aliene said...

Hey Kid! Just take a trip to your Moms. Go down - thengo down some more. Be very careful of critters.
Start a search and you might be surprized what you will find in the sewing line. I found a baby pattern that I had made for my girls that I want to make for my grans. You probably wore the little crisscross pinafore the crosses in the back. Liked the picture you posted.

Elizabeth said...

Great post, very interesting!

Keetha said...

Oh these posts of vintage sewing patterns sure does make me wonder what happened to my mom's. She had an entire dresser drawer FULL of them - - - -McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, Simplicity - - - just to name a few.

mary grace said...

No joke on the prices! Jo and I have just taken up sewing skirts and ended up buying a book of patterns (21) for $12. WHen I first saw it, I balked. But then I looked through the BUtterick's and whatnots and figured this book was a deal. Sad.

Donna said...

cool patterns!

viridian said...

Oh the patterns take me back to when my mom sewed. Loved the images from the 50's patterns.

Coloradolady said...

I love your patterns from the thrift store...but I am AMAZED that the one you just purchases would have cost that much! I have a hard time with that one...unreal.

Have a great VTT.

Bea said...

It is cheaper to buy ready made then make your own now days. Love the vintage dress patterns.

SueLovesCherries said...

Wow, I went through that last month with my dd! How do these pattern companies stay in business? You can buy a dress, etc., for the price of the pattern alone!

Ronda said...

Fun post! I don't sew....but this brought back memories. I used to LOVE to look through my Mom's pattern drawer! :)It's fun to see how the styles come full circle, isn't it?

fitty's pinky rose cottage said...

I don't sew either but i like the prairie skirt. my first sewing project was in school we made an apron.. hehehehe that was fun..

Happy VTT

Amanda said...

Wow! $16 to .25 - you sure did shop the smart way. I didn't realize patterns were so expensive now days. When I grew up, my mom made most all my dresses and skirts. If she were alive she would be cringing at how expensive it is to sew.

Becky said...

I sew lots - for myself and others. I have just about quit buying "new" patterns unless they are on sale at a price like you found. I use what I have and buy vintage patterns from thrift stores.

I can't believe you found those beautiful 50's patterns in a Thrfit Store!!! I love 'em!

Lisa said...

I pretty much always wait until the patterns go on sale for 99 cents. I think the only time I've paid full price was when I needed something really specific, like my prom dress pattern. Even figuring in the 15 dollar pattern, my dress ended up costing a lot less than a readymade dress. For everyday clothes, no way would I pay full price.
I love love love vintage patterns. :)
We made a lame pillow in home ec class. It was shaped like a coiled snake, I think. lol. Totally silly and useless. I would have rather made an apron.

Renee said...

I did get your comment for the book give-away and you're entered. BTW ~ thanks so much for the Sonlight Cookbook. My family and I are really enjoying and there are so many great recipes!

Andrea said...

How delightful that your daughters are going to sew. I love the old pattern, and yes, it's much like skirts you find now in department stores.

I love thrift store shopping! And, like you, I don't think I could have brought myself to pay so much for a pattern. Unbelievable!

Enjoy your sewing time. It will create many nice memories for you all.

Thank your for your comments about my anniversary.

Blessings,

Andrea

Miri said...

I went shopping with DDIL for her first sewing class and I too was shocked at the price of patterns...$15.99 who are they kidding! I looked at the sale bins but she ended up buying a new pattern.

Love your 1950s patterns...now that was fashion! Love the off-the-shoulder look!

Julie said...

oh so cute! I wish I knew how to make a skirt like that!!

Anonymous said...

In our town we only have one thrift store that still sells patterns. They sell 4 in a plastic bag for usually 45cents...but you can only see the front of one pattern! Also they seldom have any patterns... :( I gave a ton of my old ones to a thrift store that used to sell them that may have thrown them out!! We made a pillow case and an apron and then a full skirt in home ec classes. No pattern needed for any of it. This was a fun trip down memory lane. Yes sewing is not very thrifty it seems any more. How sad. I sometimes find a full skirt or dress such at the thrift store I use for material for projects. Once in a while the thrift store will have material but sometimes they are higher priced than the fabric store!! It is a silly world isen't it! Jean