Where to find vintage patterns? You may get lucky and pick up something cheap at swap meets, yard or estate sales or thrift stores. Shows such as the Vintage Fashion Expo (held twice yearly in Santa Monica) or the monthly Rose Bowl flea market are good bets, but expect prices to run $5 to $10 for most old patterns.
Stores that specialize in vintage clothing or collectibles sometimes carry them. Here are a few:
6905 Melrose Ave.
All from 1950s, from store stock. Selection unusual in that several styles available in more than one size. Most for women, but some for small boys and small girls. Prices: $1 each or five for $4.50.
1606 Gower St.
More than 100 patterns for men, women and children, but most for women. Selection covers late 1940s through '60s. Prices: $3.50 and up.
2210 E. 4th St.
Most patterns for women, but some for men and children, from the '30s through '60s; about half from old store stock, some available in more than one size. Prices: $4 to $12. About 50 in stock at the store, and 50 in a booth at the PCH Antique Mall, 3500 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach. Vintage fabric also sold at the store and antique mall.
3789 1/2 Park Blvd.
San Diego, 92103
More than 350 patterns from the '30s through the '50s. Most for women, a small number for children, and a few for men. Prices: $4 to $13. Entire pattern stock travels to Federico's Antique Show and Sale the third Sunday of the month at the Veterans Memorial Building, 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City; and the fourth Sunday of the month at the Burbank Monthly Antique Show, Pickwick Banquet and Entertainment Center, 1001 Riverside Drive.
Vintage patterns may also be purchased by mail:
The Kirk Collection
1513 Military Ave.
Omaha, Neb. 68111
Main business is vintage textiles, but has about 400 vintage patterns for men, women and children, from the '20s through the '50s. No catalogue. Those interested should call requesting year, type of garment desired, and sizes in measurements. Items shipped with return privileges.
P.O. Box 7587
Grand Rapids, Mich. 49510
Exact copies of patterns for men, women and children from the teens through the '40s; also sells patterns drafted from period garments. Catalogues priced from $1.50 to $4.