Threads/ASDP: Past to Present ChallengeWinning designers draw from a vintage pattern collection
Dressmakers have been following paper patterns for more than 100 years: Around the middle of the 19th century, patterns became widely available to home sewers in the United States. The industry innovated and refined their products over the decades, culminating in the printed tissue patterns we know today. Patterns have always reflected contemporary fashion and, therefore, are a fascinating source of information about what people wore and what they sewed.
For the 2022 Threads/Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) design challenge, we asked organization members to design a garment or ensemble inspired by vintage patterns. To ensure that all contestants had access to a wide range of patterns, we steered the designers to the website of the Commercial Pattern Archive, a collection of more than 61,000 patterns, from the 1840s to the 2010s. It is preserved in the University Archives and Special Collections Unit at the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus (see “At the CoPA,” below). From the thousands of images there, the designers selected one to three designs, which they interpreted in an original, contemporary look.
The entries were judged by Threads Contributing Editor Susan Khalje; the 2021 challenge overall winner, Michelle Loggins; and Threads Editor Carol J. Fresia. For the first time since 2019, the judging was conducted in person at the ASDP’s annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland, and all the finalist entries were shown in a runway presentation. It was a joy to see each piece up close and to appreciate the beautiful textiles and craftsmanship. Each winner focused on different silhouettes and decades—and all brought forth unique takes of designs of the past.