If you've been sewing for years, you likely have a stash of sewing patterns. While they may have been used many times, they still have value. For example, a simple A-line dress is a timeless style, and an old pattern can be altered to make a summer dress, a winter jumper, or a shirt (if it's shortened).
When your ready to purge some of your used patterns, evaluating your options for donating and selling can be helpful. While it may be a tempting, quick fix to put them in the recycling, your collection can have a second life if you take a few extra steps.
If you want to pass along your patterns, you'll need to open them up to ensure they're complete. Watch out for these issues before you donate or sell your patterns:
- Many times small pattern pieces are not in the envelope. Facing pattern pieces are commonly missing, so always double-check it's inside the package.
- Tracing wheels and transferring pattern markings are known to tatter a tissue pattern. Fortunately, there are ways to preserve a tissue sewing pattern.
- For cut patterns, label the size on the outside. If you don't want to write directly on the envelope, you can use a sticky note.
Rehoming Old Sewing Patterns
When you're ready to unload your pattern collection, explore the following resources:
Selling Used Patterns
- Vintage Pattern Websites: Sites like "Old Patterns" may purchase your vintage patterns. Usually, they will want to buy your patterns in bulk, so if you'd like to sell them individually, this may not be your first choice.
- Buy and Sell Sites: You can try selling your patterns individually or as a bundle on sites like eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist. On eBay, you can search completed auctions to see if another version of your pattern has sold and what price it was able to fetch.
Donating Used Patterns
- Goodwill or Salvation Army: Thrift stores usually take pattern donations. Giving your assortment of sewing patterns to a nonprofit is tax-deductible.
- 4-H Sewing Clubs: These local clubs teach children to sew, and they may be interested in your patterns. If you're unsure about how to make contact with a group in your local area, the National 4-H Council can help.
- Sewing Organizations: Groups such as sewing and quilting guilds would probably love the opportunity to sort through your treasures.
When a specific era becomes in vogue, actual vintage patterns from that time are also more likely to be in demand. For example, if you see that caftan dresses are back in fashion, there may be a resale market for your 1970s patterns. Research what similar patterns are selling for to get an idea of what you may be able to earn.
Crafting with Vintage Patterns
You can use torn, unreadable, or incomplete patterns to make many different art and craft projects. Try using them as wrapping paper, making them into a paper flower bouquet, or creating various decoupage pieces.