A whole bunch of time ago (like 15 years or something), my nan, who has since passed away, went into a home for the elderly when she was no longer able to look after herself. My folks spent ages sorting through and re-distributing decades worth of her possessions, including wardrobes upon wardrobes full of clothes. I also recall a couple of suitcases full of 1960's fabric and wool from her former crafting days, but those got chucked out. There was also a brown paper bag containing sewing patterns from the 1950's - 1970's which my mum was also about to throw away. I don't know why, because as a moody teenager I had yet to develop an interest in sewing, but I suddenly got a sense that throwing them away was a terrible idea and I rescued them from the 'to bin' pile.
I had no idea what I would do with them, if anything. But even then, at the stage when I was at my most selfish, I think I had a sense that this bag of home sewing patterns was a tie to a former generation that was starting to slip away, although I wasn't quite able to fully recognise or express that at the time. But I have to be honest with you here, my parents and I had a far from close relationship with my nan, so this move to rescue her patterns was not born out of sentimentality, although now I am older I do feel pleased to have a physical link to the era and situation my dad came from.
My mum (who hooked up with my dad in the mid-sixties when they were just 16!) remembers this nan (my dad's mum) doing a bit of sewing and knitting around that time. My mum also remembers making some of the later 1970's patterns for her. I find it really interesting that my dad's mum had this looser domestic approach to sewing and knitting, whilst my mum's mum and aunts were factory and workroom based seamstresses by trade. It's a bit bizarre that my own relationship to sewing is slap-bang firmly in between the two! Or straddling the two perhaps. FYI, 'Seamstress' is written as the occupation on my wedding certificate, for lack of knowing what else to call myself!
Most of my nan's pattern stash seems to have come from magazine offers. Many of them are still in the envelopes she received them in, which is how I know they are all from between 1956 and 1978. She must have filled out the offer coupons, specifying her size, and posted them away. Those coupons were then glued to the front of the envelope to form the address labels (pictured below).
I've tried to arrange the patterns in this post roughly in date order from oldest at the top to the most recent at the bottom. My favourites by far for envelope design alone are the 'Be a SUN-GAY GIRL' and 'HOLIDAY HAPPY' patterns pictured below. On the 'Sun-Gay' one, it looks like my nan took a biro to the situation and did a bit of re-designing of the neckline!
At the moment, all but the 'Sun-Gay' one are still living at my folks', where, I'm ashamed to admit, I still store a fair chunk of my possessions! I'm 33 and married yet still clog up my parents' house with my stuff. Not very impressive, eh?!
I haven't made any of these yet, one reason being is that they are all one size bigger than I like to start with, and I'm a lazy-arse who can't be arsed to grade! But I would like to one day. Which of these patterns, if any, would you be tempted to make first, and what fabric would you use?