Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

A tour of Vogue sewing pattern envelopes from the 70s


I have quite a collection of 1970s patterns and I must admit a certain fascination with how the fashions and styles of the time are represented on the envelopes. Sadly, I don’t own all the patterns below, so just thank Ebay for the pics.

There are some pattern envelopes that represent the garments in a way that has hardly changed between the 70s and today. Take a look at these two envelopes: disregarding the fashions themselves, the style of the pattern envelope has scarcely changed and even the artwork is similar. I often think of this as evidence that the world of home sewing hasn’t changed too much in forty years.

Modern vs Vintage: The pattern envelope doesn’t seem to have changed much in 40 years.

Then there are the “aspiration” pattern envelopes that feature predominantly in the seventies. We see our fashion hero / heroine in opulent surroundings, descending from an aeroplane (definitely aspirational in the 70s) or standing by a shiny new car. I can think up whole stories around each of these so perhaps the photography is actually doing its job! Take a look at these offerings:

70s Vogue pattern: Galitzine

Here we have our heroine relaxing at her Scottish retreat, dressed up warm just before grabbing her coat for a long, but stylish ramble in the highlands. (That hat won’t stay on long, I fear!)

Here, our heroine sports matching shoes and a chic beret (because she is in Paris). She is just about to hail a taxi to get to a very important meeting. (She has a folder, a key indicator of importance!)

70s Vogue pattern: Balmain

Our heroine is in Rome. There is one of those three-wheel Piaggio vehicles in the background, so it must be Rome. Her expression is somewhat startled; I’m thinking post clandestine lunchtime meeting with lover and wondering whether her skirt hem isn’t tucked into her knickers at the back! Sorry the stories are getting worse!

70s Vogue pattern: Valentino

Of course, I can’t resist also mentioning “Lurking Man”. He appears on pattern envelopes skulking in the background. I haven’t quite worked out what his purpose is. Is he there is give an approving nod to our heroine’s sartorial choices? Or is he another “aspiration” indicator – our heroine is so great she has shock horror …..a man who follows her around attentively, looking brooding and staring into the middle distance!

70s Vogue pattern: Galitzine

Our heroine has just got married at a beautiful medieval castle in Umbria, Italy. Tragically, just after the ceremony her husband dramatically fell is his death from the ramparts, leaving her sad and forlorn and forever without Lurking Man.

70s Vogue Pattern: Fabiani

Just for balance I actually found Lurking Woman: “Ah signore, your beautiful jacket, let me stroke your sleeve, while I stare into the middle distance”

70s Vogue pattern: Valentino

My apologies for the above post, sometimes we just need to entertain ourselves!


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

6 thoughts on “A tour of Vogue sewing pattern envelopes from the 70s

  1. Thank you! Reading the interpretations of the photographs brought a smile to my face 😀. It’s interesting to see the move from drawings to photographs on pattern envelopes. I really love the line drawing art but they often don’t reflect the reality of the actual made up garment as the illustrations feature very slim long legged models 😀

    • I agree. The anatomically incorrect illustrations can be quite deceptive as a presentation of a design, I prefer to see clothes on real bodies and with real fabric so I can see how things like drape work with the design.

  2. Oh this did make me laugh. Did Lurking Man fall or was he pushed?

  3. Lmao! Love it!!! But perhaps lurking man was attentive bodyguard fending off the hordes of women wanting to steal her magnificent dress???

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