Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: The Vintage Pattern Selector

Last week, I went to amazon to pre-order my copy of Burda Vintage Modern and after paying for it (and another book so that I would qualify for free shipping), the "customers who bought this also bought..." selection came up. In that selection was The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnfield. (Published on Nov 1, 2012 by Barrons). I decided to order it....

It arrived to day....and I am thrilled with my purchase. First, it comes with 15 digital patterns on disc and it is such a comprehensive book of vintage style (from the 1920s to the 1970s) that I think it will be a bestseller.

The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnsfield.  $28.50 in Canada but it sells for $17.87 on amazon.ca

Dresses, Blouses, Skirts, Pants and Shorts, Suits and Coats, Lingerie and Headware and Gloves have their own chapters.

Each iconic dress style is featured with a cover and overview of an original sewing pattern, a summary of the style at the time and its implications for modern wear. The sidebar has fabric, sizing and variation information from both then and now.  And the best part? There are 4 dress patterns on the disc (one each from the 1920s, 50s, 60s, and 70s).

This is a picture of the pattern layout for the 1920s dress. Sizes range from a 36 inch bust to 42 inch.

Blouses. Chapter 2.  Again, each pattern style is featured in its original sewing pattern, there is an overview of the impact of the style then and information for wearing it now. There is one blouse pattern included (1920s) with information for making variations for the 1960s and 1970s styles featured. That is, different collar pieces are given for different era variations.

Look at the peplum on that skirt! Patterns: box pleated skirt and circle skirt. Also, the original sewing pattern hi-lighted is one that I own: Simplicity 2191. The author has included applique motifs for making a poodle skirt. (OH! I love this book!)

Pants and shorts. In the early nineteen hundred it was unthinkable for women to wear pants, then working class women began wearing men's pants for work and suffragettes adopted them as a sign of liberation and later, upper class women would wear tailored pants especially suitable for the female figure. We've come along way.! (Patterns included Wide leg pants from the 1930s, 60s and 70s. - actually it is one pattern with variation pattern pieces)

I love the whimsical colours of the bright yellow coat and the dark orange buttons. Bright without being garish. This chapter focuses on the 40s and 50s - utility coat, jacket, skirt and kimono jacket. Its an era and a style I love. Two patterns provided on disc: fitted jacket 1930s/40s and box jacket 1960s.

A chapter on lingerie and patterns too!   The author references the Colette patterns for its amazing work on vintage feeling modern lingerie. Patterns provided: 1920s slip, french knickers 1920s, 1940s slip, and a bustier and petticoat from the 1950s....                               

And since Jo Barnfield wants to provide a thorough, thorough book. there is a chapter on hats and gloves. Style overviews of gloves from the 1920s and 30s, the printed scarf from the 1920s on, the turban 1920s on, and the pillbox hat of the 1960s. There is one pattern for the pillbox hat but I learned so much just reading this chapter. 

There are two additional chapters on construction and sewing techniques. Wow! Sometimes I order duds from amazon but not this time. I love this book and will use the patterns again and again. I think it's a great reference on fashions throughout the decades and I love the 15 patterns included - on disc no less!

So, I'll be reading and printing pattern pieces for the next few days.....


  1. I just added this to my amazon wishlist! I have never heard of this book before and it looks amazing!

    1. I hadn't heard of it either but I am so glad I bought it! It is really a great book and all the patterns look really wearable.

  2. What a cool book! But I already have a ton of vintage patterns . I am tempted anyway....

    1. Oh, I love this book. I have put myself on a pattern "diet" because I have so many in my to-do list but I am so glad I splurged on this book. And the patterns are on disc so they are very convenient.

  3. Sounds wonderful. It is definitely going on my Xmas list....Thanks for posting this Nothy. I nver heard of it.

  4. hmmm, never heard of this one but i might have to give it a closer look. sounds really cool!

  5. I've been waiting for someone to review this before I bought it. Thank you!

  6. Wow! I hope
    I hope it is dispatched in Italy!
    I'll wait you on my blog!

  7. Quick question: It says the patterns are included in 4 sizes. What sizes are they?

  8. This book is absolutely FABULOUS! I picked up a copy at Barnes and Noble because I'm traveling within nothing to do in my hotel room and I read the entire thing in one sitting as soon as I got back!

  9. Thanks so much for this review! I just read about this book in Mollie Makes, I thought it sounded like a good idea and theory but I had to think if it was really worth me paying my hard earned money to have it shipped all the way here (New Zealand) after reading your review - I think I'm going to do it. Thanks so much!

  10. Such a cute book - mine just arrived today ;) For Megan :
    For the blouse & box jacket, it's listed as size S bust 90.6cm/35 11/16 in and up to XL bust 105.6cm/41 8/16 in.
    Fitted jacket is S bust 89.6cm to XL 104.6cm
    For the pants, hips (22cm below waist) S 38 1/16 in 96.6cm & XL 43 15/16in 111.6cm
    pants again, waist S 25 1/4in 64.2cm & XL 31 3/16 in 79.2cm
    Thanks for the inspiring review !



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