Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pattern Inflation

I'm sorry I was such a downer in my last post!  It's kind of inevitable that I would get a little burned out, considering how quickly and how completely I threw myself into the world of sewing.  I went from finishing a dress every year or so to trying to churn one out every week.  I think I was so enthusiastic in the beginning, and there were SO many things I wanted to make, that I stressed myself out instead of enjoying it.  I don't have to make my dream wardrobe in a month, right?  I have plenty of things to wear and it's okay if I get into a creative lull.

The other day I had a thought.  When did the cost of patterns start growing exponentially?  In the 1940's, a Simplicity pattern was 25 cents.  (P.S. that is the dream house dress pattern I was bidding on and lost.  If you are the lucky winner, wanna trace the sleeveless version for me?  I'll pay you for your trouble!)


In the 60's, they were 65 cents.


A 1960's Vogue pattern was $1.


A current Vogue pattern will run you anywhere from $16.50 to $27.50!  That's a 2750% increase!  An inflation calculator tells me the actual rate of inflation was only 605%.  That Vogue pattern should only cost around $7, and a Simplicity would be a paltry $4.  I might actually buy a new pattern if they were that cheap!  The inflation adjustment between the 1945 pattern and the 1965 pattern is dead on, as is between the 1965 pattern and a 1985 one that retailed for $3.50, so what happened in the last 20 years?

Yes, I know that New Look patterns are around $4, and Vogue and Simplicity regularly have $4.99 sales.  I just think that more people would sew if patterns weren't so expensive.  It's just printed tissue, and poor quality at that!  I recently bought a Butterick pattern with a four-gored skirt, and it only came with one skirt piece and instructions to cut four.  It makes it really difficult when you're trying to lay out the pattern on your fabric to see if you have enough!

Wow, I've just veered into downer territory again.  How about something happy - my husband's parents took in a stray cat that was hanging around their house, and it turned out she was pregnant!  So I will get to play with a litter of tiny kitties when we go up for Easter.  I am going to take tons of pictures!  I hope they find a good home for all the kittens.  I heard there were no orange boys in the litter, so I'll leave you with my favorite orange boy, Bone.



  1. This is really interesting. I love how you worked out the inflation and everything. I think the problem is that not enough people are sewing compared with in the 40s, 50s and 60s. At that time clothing was more expensive so most women sewed. Now, at least in the Western world, women sew mostly because they want to. You can buy a RTW dress cheaper than you could make a dress. The less demand there is for patterns the higher the prices go.
    I love that Vogue 5510 pattern by the way.

  2. CUTE housedress pattern! I can see why you're bummed. Rats. The inflation thing is interesting too...I wonder what happened?

  3. Not sure where you live, but if you are near a Jo-Ann's they have $1.99 pattern sales about once a month, for each company, except Vogue, which they do at $4.99. What bothers me is when people try to re-sell modern patterns on Ebay at close to their original price. Really!
    By the way, I can tell you why you probably lost that pattern is base on a super-famous dress by Claire McCardell called the popover dress. Look it up! So not only is the pattern cute, it is more collectible than others.

  4. Auntie hearts her baby Bone! Soo snuggly. I'm jealous that you get to cuddle wee smoos. Smuggle one home in your Marc!