How to value vintage patterns

Valuing sewing patternsI received an email from someone wanting to know how to value their deceased mother’s sewing patterns (50s, 60s, and 70s), where to take them and whether or not eBay was a good place to start.

This is part of my response:

Hi,
Kudos to you for storing her treasures. There’s no one place to check the value on your sewing patterns.  There are literally hundreds of sellers online-all selling patterns anywhere from .50 to $250.00.  The most I’ve seen a vintage sewing pattern sell for (on eBay) was for more than $700.00.  And (on eBay) another auctioneer sold a single pattern envelope (no pieces or instructions) for more than $150.00.
You can certainly check online to see if someone else might have any of the same patterns you have and take mental note of their asking price.  Use that information as a gauge.  Doing this isn’t singularly a good determination of value.
In the end,  prices vary greatly on who’s looking, what they’ll looking for and how much they are or are not willing to pay.

Consider this:

1.  Rarity

At one time pattern manufacturers printed patterns in limited supply, reprinting only when demand warranted.  Because of this–some pattern designs are rare.  A desired pattern that’s rare can get a higher price.  But, remember I said if the pattern is desired.

2.  Age

Older patterns of a desired sort, year or style can warrant a higher price.

3.  Condition of pattern pieces

Sewing patterns by nature of their purpose are meant to be used.  Home sewers purchased patterns and believe it or not-actually used them to make clothing and other home accessories.  I’m pointing out that if you’re new to vintage sewing you shouldn’t expect every sewing pattern you run across to be unused and in mint condition.

Pattern pieces in the best condition: those free of markings (pen or pencil), lack of pins, rust, burn marks, tears, rips, chalk markings, stains, factory fold, uncut and those lacking tracing wheel markings are more desirable than used patterns for obvious reasons-and therefore can cost more or be more valuable.

4.  Presence and condition of instruction sheet

The greater majority of vintage sewing patterns you run across will have instruction sheets present, but not all.  The presence and condition of an instruction sheet affects price.

5.  Uniqueness of the pattern

Scarcity of uniqueness effects price.

6.  Type of pattern

Some patterns are worth more than others because of the style and the collectors seeking those particular type of sewing patterns. There are collectors out there that want nothing but aprons, others that are into children clothing and still others that collect specific types of patterns by designers, manufacturer or even pattern size. The market is only limited by the collector’s market seeking it.

7.  Manufacturer rarity

Some pattern manufacturers only operated for a limited time period (DuBarry, Pictorial Review and Delinator), making patterns manufactured by these particular makers rarer than others-therefore they may be more sought after by some-therefore warranting a higher price.

8.  Historical significance

Many people study and archive sewing patterns because of what sewing pattern represent as part of Americana.  For example, wartime patterns.

9.  Demand

Pattern sellers, buyers and collectors also effect price under the basic theories of supply and demand.

10.  Pricing of other patterns of the same type

See No. 9.

11.  Costs incurred by the seller

The sellers expenses, time and desired profit margin affect price.

As far as where to take them I don’t know of any physical place you can take the patterns.  You can contact some of the online sellers to see if you’re willing to offer a price for what you have, but to be honest (being a seller myself) they will want to get the patterns at a price that will still allow for easy resale.

Ebay has a large community of online sewing pattern sellers as does Etsy, Specialist Auctions, IOffer and others.

If you go that route-watch out for fees associated with selling.

Good luck!

 

Please share with others.

2 comments for “How to value vintage patterns

  1. Lee
    May 9, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    Hi,i have my mother in law”s boxes of patterns she was born in 1912 and passed 3 years ago. I would like to sell all of them they seem like they are from the 30″s and later. Our daughter , her granddaughter is expecting her 1st child, we would like to sell all and use toward baby goodies, we think she would not have minded. Hoping they could go to new home where they are appreciated. Any help would be great.Please contact.

  2. Marie Robinson
    January 27, 2010 at 7:37 AM

    My mother was a person who loved to sew and she taught that craft to me. After her death from breast cancer in 1994. I have stored her patterns, some that date back to the 1950′s and are no longer availabe. I was wondering if there was a place that I can assess their value and if possible sell them or should I just hold on to them? Looking forward to any possible advice you can give. Sincerely, Marie Robinson

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