Free access to the vintage pattern library

vintage_apron_pattern1 Grace, Jess and myriad others send word that the University of Rhode Island has granted free access to their vintage pattern library which has over 48,000 vintage patterns. These include illustrations of the finished item as well as a scan of the quarter scale pattern pieces. Styles depicted date from 1868-2006.

Unlimited access starts 8/19 through 8/25. To access it, click on Login at the top of the page. The username is “guest” and the password is “pattern”. Once you’re logged in, select “search” at the top of the page to find something interesting. You can search by garment type, occasion, gender, pattern company, dates and keywords. The interface is kind of clunky and the display is inefficient so reading the instructions (pdf) first will be helpful. Be advised the site is optimized for the FireFox browser. Supposedly you can’t see much without it. You should be running FireFox anyway. It’s free, it’s safer, it’s better, what’s not to like? All the cool kids are using it.

I can’t speak for you but I’ve long coveted the opportunity to browse these archives. There’s several ways to gain access on a permanent basis. An individual can buy the 4 CD Set for $360 plus $15 for the user’s manual. One can also subscribe to online access for $120 a year. Group rates are available too. I thought of organizing that but I don’t know how many would be interested. A year’s subscription for 30 users is $220; for 100 users it’s $325.


Once you get in there and meander around a bit, shown at the top of the page is a sampling of what you can find. I love vintage aprons. The first one I’ve clipped to show the pattern pieces included. The next illustration (directly above) is an amalgamation of three different designs. The first design on the left I really like. The designer has created a flange that feeds from the bust dart to create the side waist button closure. We don’t make things like this anymore. Why not? Wah!

Some items are listed but not yet scanned so you can’t see them. One such was the Minute Maid Apron from 1931 donated by my favorite vintage pattern connoisseur Kevin Seligman. I actually have this pattern. Very cute. That reminds me, if you’re a vintage pattern fanatic, you may recognize the most famous collectors of the genre and sort your selections by their donations.

With all this richness, I can only imagine I won’t be seeing some of you again until next week!

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  1. Susan E. says:

    So very cool. I was told about this from one of my fabric suppliers for my swimsuit business. I am a vintage girl through and through. I have a very large collection of vintage patterns. Thank you.

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