21 January 2012

How Do You Store Your Vintage Sewing Patterns?

Where are your vintage sewing patterns right now? Are they carefully ordered and stored away in a box or filing system? Or are they out on display?

Why am I asking? Well, I've been doing a little reordering at home and was looking for some pictures to put up on a bare wall or two. It suddenly struck me that I LOVE ogling and swooning over my vintage sewing pattern collection, so why not put some of them up on my wall?

Eek! I can hear some of you gasping in shock! 

There seem to be two schools of thought on keeping vintage sewing patterns:

1) The Preservationists
These people cherish their vintage sewing patterns and look after them very carefully. They are precious historical artefacts, after all, often in a very delicate condition with paper that can be torn easily and images that are starting to fade. To preserve them for posterity, this camp keeps them in controlled conditions - acid-free envelopes and a covered storage container at the very least, dehumidifiers and treatment sprays for the more serious storage fiends. They sew with the patterns, yes, but trace a copy off first so they don't damage the original.

Image courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

2) The Users
These people cherish their vintage sewing patterns too, but would rather enjoy them now than keep them for posterity. In fact, it may not even have occurred to them to make an effort to look after their patterns... or maybe they have debated the issue at length and concluded that the patterns are there to be used. Their patterns are piled up on their sewing table, or even pinned up on their wall.


Of course I am totally stereotyping here, and you may not recognise yourself in either description, but the duality helped me think about how my attitude has started to shift recently from Preservationist to User. I would absolutely love to be able to pass on my vintage sewing pattern collection to a child or grandchild, but I'd also love to get as much pleasure out of them as I can myself (after all, the child or grandchild may not be interested!), and that means being able to see them every day. They bring me real aesthetic pleasure, plus having them on show may well inspire me to sew more. At the moment my patterns are stored in a covered box under my sewing table. But I plan to let them see the light of day - yay!

So now I've got to decide how best to display them, while also making sure I don't completely let them deteriorate. Initially I was thinking of framing them individually, but I'm not sure I want to separate the instructions and pattern pieces from the cover... hmm. Another idea is to get one of those wall-mountable perspex brochure holders that you see in hotels displaying leaflets for Viking museums and the like. That way I can flick through them when needed and keep my current favourites or next-to-sew at the front of the rack.

Knowing you lot, I'm sure you've got ideas and opinions on the matter. How do you keep your vintage sewing patterns? Are you a Preservationist, a User or something else entirely? Do you have any ideas for how I should display my patterns? If you've got any creative ideas or images of your own uniques storage or display system, do share!

[Soundtrack: 'I'd Rather Go Blind' by Etta James - RIP]