With Halloween around the corner, we are spending a lot of time thinking about costumes. There are so many ways to do costumes, from fanciful and fantastic to historic, and we love them all!
In preparation for this exciting holiday, we decided it would be fun to interview a friend of Nancy’s whose work is great for daily wear and costuming alike! She is a whiz with vintage patterns – and makes it easy for the rest of us to work with them, too.
Without further ado, we present Janet from Decades of Style Pattern Company.Who are you?
I’m Janet, from Decades of Style Pattern Company. My official title, according to my business card, is ‘Person’.
What is your business?
We make vintage sewing pattern reproductions for the modern sewer, offering patterns from the 1920s through the 1950s, with a couple styles from the decades before and after.
We do a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ associated with sewing from vintage patterns. We translate vintage yardage requirements to work with modern fabric widths. We also grade all our pattern styles to fit nine different sizes (from a 30” bust up to 46”). Decades patterns are also friendlier to work with than actual vintage patterns and they are available in sizes that are reasonable! So many vintage patterns are only available in that mystifying 30” or 32” bust size. I had outgrown that size by the age of 13! We make vintage styles available for the 99% of the population that is larger than a size 0. That’s actually the mission statement of the company.
Actual vintage patterns from Janet’s collection. Lots of 30″ and 32″ bust sizes.
How did you get started?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in antique or vintage clothing. It is a lifelong interest that has turned into a life. Even though I was interested in wearing vintage clothes when I was younger, I didn’t really have any access to purchasing them. Apart from a few 1950s suits that were castoffs from my fancy grandmother’s closet, I didn’t get to wear actual vintage clothing until I left home and could shop in vintage clothing stores. It was a brutal awakening to see that only a tiny fraction of the inventory would fit me.
I realized if I wanted to wear vintage style clothing, I would have to make it myself. Annoyingly enough, most vintage clothing patterns that have survived the last 50-plus years are only available in ridiculously tiny sizes. In order to make those styles for myself, I had to grade the patterns and I knew I could not be the only one who wanted them. Decades of Style is an extension of the grading process.
How long have you been acquainted with Nancy’s?
Nancy’s has carried Decades of Style patterns since 2012. It seems like the pattern line is a very good match for the store. It’s an honor to be a part of Nancy’s and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the ladies there.
Decades of Style patterns on display in Nancy’s.
What is your most recently released product or completed project?
In the summer of 2014, we launched a micro-line of patterns called Decades Everyday. The aesthetic of these patterns lean toward 1960s styling but they still feel modern. The patterns are designed for those who are newer to sewing, though the patterns are great for more skilled sewists who just want a quick make. They are easy to sew and you can pretty much make them in a day. We released our second pattern – the ‘Given a Chance’ dress – in May 2015 and are now working on the next pattern for this line.
Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
This question is practically impossible to answer! If I must have a favorite pattern, I would say the E.S.P. Dress from Decades Everyday. Even though I totally adore the more elaborate patterns in our catalog, I cannot deny the appeal and relatively instant gratification of whipping up a pretty dress in an afternoon. And really, depending on the fabric you use, the result can be quite sophisticated.
This E.S.P. was made with a lovely embroidered border linen.
I probably have more E.S.P. dresses in my wardrobe than any other pattern in the catalog, so it must be my favorite! And if I’m being completely honest, I have quite a few pieces of fabric lined up with this pattern in mind.
Another E.S.P. dress made in a unique fabric! This time, an ikat is fussy cute to meet in the center front and center back of the bodice. Rickrack at the hemline is a particularly charming touch.
I also love this pattern because I think it is an accessible project for a greater number of sewists out there. There are so many people who have only started to sew in the last few years. It is important for us to keep them in mind as much as the more advanced sewers.
What is next?
PDF patterns. Yup; it’s happening. We just decided it was time to join the 21st century on this one so we’ve been developing this project all year. We’ll keep you posted via Instagram and Facebook on when that launches. It should be coming up very soon.
Thanks so much, Janet! We are very excited about your venture into PDF patterns and can’t wait for the next Decades Everyday pattern!
For more glimpses into the world of vintage pattern making, including completed customer projects and in-progress photos, follow Decades of Style on Facebook and Instagram!
All photographs in this post are courtesy of Decades of Style and may not be used without express permission.