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Vintage Pattern Love – Simplicity 3186

I’m so excited about this pattern! 

You may recall seeing a picture of the pattern in an earlier post however when I wrote that post, I didn’t actually own this pattern.  I had stumbled across it on Google Images when searching for something else and it was love at first sight.  Lucky me, it was available on The Art of Wearing Vintage website so I bought it.

While of course I love the coat itself, I am very interested in the age of the pattern and how it was designed.  The pattern was listed as a 1930s pattern which, based on the price of the pattern and some quick internet research, I’m pretty sure is fairly accurate.


It’s interesting that even though the pattern is for a size 14, it includes all the measurements and fabric requirements for the other sizes.


I’m fascinated with this pattern.  There are no printed line markings on the pattern pieces.


Instead, the pattern pieces have notched out letters to mark the pattern pieces and other markings that each have different a meaning.

Pattern Lettering

The back of the pattern has a “legend” of sorts that shows the pattern piece itself with the letter and the name of the pattern piece.  So the above pattern piece, which is H, I know is the Fabric Collar piece.


The instructions contains a whole section describing what each marking means and shows them on each of the pattern pieces.  I admit to being a bit worried about how I’d be able to figure this all out but as soon as I looked at this part of the instructions, my mind was quickly put at ease.


The two large holes indicate the grain line, which the instructions refer to as the “Straight of material”.


The three large holes indicate the fold of the material.


The cut out notches mark where to join the seam.


There are also instructions to mark the centers front and back with basting and using tailors’ tacks to mark for notches.


Sewaholic has wrote a great post about using tailor’s tacks that will certainly help when I use this pattern.  I’ll probably trace the pattern out and include all of the markings (though I’ll still use tailor’s tacks when I make it).  I want to preserve the original pattern as long as possible!

Because the pattern pieces don’t have line markings to show where to lengthen or shorten, the instructions include a section where to adjust the pattern.


The instructions are very thorough so I’m really not worried about getting lost when I make this coat.


They also include a section on “How to Cut”.


I also found it interesting that the “General Sewing Instructions” even has an instruction that tells the sewer to hang pieces with long bias seams for a day.


I don’t think I’ve seen that instruction in modern patterns – at least not any of the ones I have.  Is that because it’s now considered to be an un-necessary step or is it because now days there is a focus on being able to complete projects quickly?  Or is it because I just haven’t used any patterns that have them?

I’m really looking forward to using this pattern and getting a feel for what it was like to sew with patterns in that era.  It’ll be the first time I’ve made anything from a pattern with no line markings but like I said, the instructions are so thorough, I’m confident I’ll be able to work through it.

Do you have any tips or suggestions you can give me that might help?  Please let me know!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I love this pattern and I agree this definitely looks like a 1930’s style. That was my very first impression… looked like pre-WWII era with that little hat the model is wearing.
    As for hanging bias for a day, that used to be a standard instruction up until maybe ten or twelve years ago. It’s to let the bias relax. I always avoided bias, because I didn’t like to bother with that step; I suppose maybe lots of people are like that and so they eliminated the step. It’s still a good idea.:) You can use tissue strip to sew the seams and that help solve the stretching problem.

    October 8, 2013

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