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Sew Vintage with The 1912 Project

These are just a few of the garment patterns to be transcribed from 1912 issues of La Mode Illustrée for The 1912 Project.

Historical costumers and those who just love sewing vintage and antique patterns may be interested to learn about the Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s (VPLL) The 1912 Project.

The 1912 Project will reproduce approximately 150 patterns from the 1912 issues of the French fashion journal La Mode Illustrée by the end of 2012. The patterns that will be transcribed include not only women’s fashion, corsets, and lingerie, but also garments for men, children, and babies. And the VPLL needs sewers to help test the transcribed patterns and share their experiences working with and sewing them. Test sewers will receive the patterns at no cost as they are transcribed from the magazines.

The project is just one of many programs and events organized among costuming and vintage sewing groups to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic on April 14-15, 1912.

Participants in The 1912 Project will track their own progress in sewing the patterns they receive by posting monthly updates and photos on their own blogs or by sending the VPLL photos and comments on their progress, which will be posted to the VPLL’s blog, Vintage Fashionista. The patterns will also be available for purchase on the VPLL’s website. To get involved, visit The 1912 Project or email the VPLL at [email protected].

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library preserves, archives, and replicates historic fashion and needlework patterns from 1840 through 1950, as well as vintage sewing publications and fashion prints. Members are able to borrow pattern reproductions at no cost and get discounts on purchases. Non-members may purchase, but cannot borrow.

Have you ever sewn with a vintage or antique pattern? Have you ever purchased or borrowed a pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library? Are you planning to participate in a historical costume event commemorating Titanic’s sinking?


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  1. Ladyghost4459 | | #1

    I would love to participate in this project. I am currently working on some ensembles of this period for participation in a costuming group to which i belong. I would love to use the designs posted here to create and share the experience with others of similar interest.

  2. Patounette | | #2

    I would be very happy to participate in this project. I don't know very well this period but I love sewing historical patterns.So I would be love to help test the transcribed patterns and share experiences working with and sewing them.J'attends de vos nouvelles avec impatience. Cordialement.

  3. Beezydiva | | #3

    I would love to be included in this project. I currently make historical costumes for a veriety of ages and organizations. The idea of assisting with what makes a pattern either a joy or a challenge to work with and how much creativity it inspires is very exciting. I have never borrowed a pattern before and didn't know it was something that you could do of course except from a friend.

  4. User avater
    SLMiller | | #4

    For those interested in participating in the pattern testing, be sure to contact the Vintage Pattern Lending Library directly!

  5. Ocrafty1 | | #5

    I love making clothing from the past. I have been working on pieces from the Civll War era that includes period patterns. I would appreciate the opportunity to participate in this project.

  6. User avater
    MysteryWoman | | #6

    Ooooh, I want in on this, too. My company puts out a Titanic murder mystery dinner party game, and I've got customers wanting to make costumes for their parties. This will be great!

  7. User avater
    Yumjo | | #7

    Stephani, How do I contact the Vintage Pattern Lending Library?

  8. PointPatou | | #8

    "Are you planning to participate in a historical costume event commemorating Titanic’s sinking?"

    Uh, no. I'm also not going to dress up for the anniversaries of the beheading of Marie Antoinette and Anne Boleyn or the murder of Romanovs.


  9. User avater
    saifonanaya | | #9

    I would love to try too please

  10. vcalbur | | #10

    I have sewn several vintage pieces and would be interested in participating in this event. I love history and retired fromtry. teaching in that indus

  11. User avater
    Miira | | #11

    I love sewing with vintage patterns and have made several garments from both original and reproduction patterns. I have to admit I am a bit of an armchair historian on the Titanic, I have a photo of the ship signed by Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the tragedy. The clothing of this era is lovely. I'd love to help with the testing.

  12. dropspinner | | #12

    I have sewn Revolutionary and Civil war outfits and accessories. I would love to be part of this project.

  13. User avater
    Roya0629 | | #13

    I have sewn vintage costumes for historical re-enactment and I make bellydance costumes as well. Would be a great challenge.

  14. lroll | | #14

    One of our local theatre groups is presenting Titanic this spring and I am sure there will be plenty of costumes from the period that will need to be constructed. Add me to you list

  15. User avater
    VictoriaNorth | | #15
  16. kerstin54 | | #16

    well, I'm not a vintage sewer. but I own a pretty nice collection of German fashion magazines from 1913 to 1918 and they are inspiration for modern up to date fashion. I search my pattern library for matching basic patterns and then add details of the 1913 to 1918 vintage fashion. A suitable length, a suitable shape and when finished there's a unique and interesting design of a modern dress.

  17. lacemakermj | | #17

    I would really enjoy participating in this project. I have constructed a 1912 suit from a period publication. I have also sewn from various period and reproduction patterns, as well as drafting my own patterns for men and women from 1607 to about 1940. I will be working at an educational event based on the Titanic sinking for an area museum in April.

  18. FranGrimble | | #18

    I've used many historic and vintage sewing patterns of various kinds. I'm not going to participate in this project because I already have many original issues of La Mode Illustree from the 1910s, but right now, not enough time to disentangle, translate instructions, and sew from the pattern sheets that accompany them. But, it's really interesting and encouraging to see so much enthusiasm about this project!

  19. User avater
    SLMiller | | #19

    Everyone--you must contact the Vintage Pattern Lending Library to participate: visit http://vpll.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/the-1912-project/ or email the VPLL at [email protected]

  20. User avater
    MissPat | | #20

    Depending on what show I am costuming, I use vintage patterns or reproductions. For instance, I have used the Folkwear Pattern for the 1905 Walking skirt more than a dozen times. I have used both McCalls and Simplicity repros of vintage patterns. Yes, you have to adjust the fit for our current figure types, but that is what makes the project interesting. Vogue has a 1933 vintage pattern that I wanted to try, but did not have time, for the musical "Annie". Some of my patterns that I kept from the 1950's are now showing up in the "vintage" section. Does that make me feel old! No, I'm not old, just vintage. Using Folkwear Patterns, I never cut the pattern pieces, I copy over the pieces for the size I need, then I always have the original for additional use. I thoroughly enjoy the whole process from drawing the pattern off to modeling the garment.

  21. Marywillia | | #21

    Hello-this looks like a fantastic project. If you need help in using Mode illustree and french patterns, I have just started a new website http://fabulousfrenchvintagepattern.com/using-french-patterns

    and I have put some translation guides and tips on there-I hope you may find it useful in using the patterns which can be a bit scary!

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