Some of you may have read already about Vogue's ongoing search for vintage patterns for their "Vintage Vogue Reproductions" series. The basic info is this: you scan or send a copy of the pattern envelope to Vogue at Vintage Vogue Search, Vogue Patterns
Magazine, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271 or Mailbox@voguepatterns.com. Put 'Vintage Vogue Search' in the subject line. If they decide to use your pattern, they'll ask you to send it in and you'll be credited on the envelope and get your original pattern back, plus 5 free Vogue patterns of your choice.
Curious to know more, I donned my (imaginary) reporter's hat and fired off an email to Vogue, peppering them with questions. Were there certain patterns they were looking for? Certain eras they favored? How often did submissions end up being used as reproductions? And why oh why did they need to search for the patterns? Why was their archive depleted? I threw out my pet theory -- that sewing patterns, being women's work, have traditionally been viewed as disposable. I feared that Vogue might not respond after my little rant, but their lovely merchandising manager, Carolyne Cafaro, wrote back with lots of great information:
Most of the Vintage Vogue patterns in the catalog are a result of the search. If you look at the Vintage pages, there are copies lines that give credit to the owner of the pattern. It will say: Pattern source courtesy of…… We borrow the original pattern for approximately 9 months so that the replication can be exact.
We are never looking for a particular design. We like to try all looks but have found that styles from the 40’s and 50’s generally perform the best. However, as we never know, we review all time periods. We file the submissions by decade and when the time comes, we look through all of them to see what best fits the total issue. We generally input 4 Vintage designs a year – two in our Summer issue and two in our Winter/Holiday issue.
We actually have wonderful archives of Vogue catalogs. Our archives are located in our New York office and the vintage catalogs have a hard binding with the month and year on them for easy identification. We are extremely careful with the books and try to disturb them as little as possible. We do not have an archive of actual patterns which is why we are always on a search.
While I wanted to follow up with questions like "Can I move into your New York office and sleep next to the pattern archives?", I tamped down the crazy and simply asked what changes they made to the patterns besides multi-sizing them and including modern instructions. I know many people, for example, make adjustments to 1950s patterns to account for today's girdle and longline-bra free times. Did Vogue do this as well? Interestingly, the answer is no:
As you noted, the pattern has to be multi-sized and we do use modern instructions, but we try to stay with the original fit. We do not accommodate for previous undergarments, but the reason we require the original pattern is to match the fit as closely as possible. The standards for sizing in home sewing has not changed much over the years – they certainly do not match ready to wear!
A big public thank you to Carolyne for her answers and to Vogue for soliciting customer input on their vintage lines! I know I'll be going through my patterns and scanning away!