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For your next step, we recommend the vintage patterns overview written by Vintage Fashion Guild members Karen Gray and Elizabeth Bramlett.It's an easily digested summary of the history of sewing patterns and a good introduction to the important pattern companies.Concentrate on a style, maker, era or theme -- and when you do see a pattern in your specialty, you'll know whether it's common or not; you'll have a general expectation of the price range; and then you can decide if you love it enough to spend the money.Which brings us to one basic precept of collecting anything: Buy what you love, and buy the best example you can find and afford.Nor will you be familiar with the many factors that go into pricing decisions on the part of sellers.

A Century of American Sewing Patterns was sold directly by the author and based largely on her collection.

On the other hand, there is no Blue Book of vintage sewing pattern values.

So when you get started, you're not going to know if that pattern is a bargain -- or if that pattern is outrageously overpriced.

While it's nice to know the pattern's fair market value is much higher than the price we paid, it's even better to know that we could have paid five times what we did and still felt it was worth it. Local availability of vintage sewing patterns varies tremendously depending on where you live -- and how much shopping stamina you have.

Some people can find great patterns at their neighborhood thrift shop; others can't because their shops throw away donated patterns.

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