Retro Friday – my grandmother-in-law’s dress patterns

Today I’m not going to show you something I made. My mother-in-law was doing some cleaning out of old drawers, and she found some very interesting and sentimental documents from her mother. One of these was a folder labelled “Coupe et couture” which translates as “Dressmaking”.


There are 22 pages of hand-drawn patterns, with instructions (in French) as to how to make the garments. I thought I had done some super detective work in figuring out when Mamie Paulette (as my OH’s grandmother was affectionately called) made the folder – one of the pages has instructions for “manche gigot” which are leg-of-mutton sleeves – I figured this meant the folder came from the late 30’s or early forties when those sleeves were in fashion. My hunch was confirmed later in the tidying up process, when we found some of Mamie Paulette’s certificated – one was for a dressmaking course she completed in 1940!

Page 4 bottom Diplome10

There are some patterns that I’d love to try myself, such as her instructions for a simple dress, and a simple blouse. I don’t really know how to follow these sort of patterns as I’ve never done any dressmaking. Do any of you have any experience with these sort of patterns?

Page 7 top

11 thoughts on “Retro Friday – my grandmother-in-law’s dress patterns

  1. Kristen

    I wish! What an awesome find! I’m lucky to get a sew simple pattern of pj pants right. Good luck! I’ve no doubt someone out there can and will help

  2. KerryCan

    I don’t know anything at all about sewing clothes but I think it’s just wonderful that you’ve found these patterns! Such a nice link with your husband’s family!

  3. Born To Organize

    I love to sew and took pattern making classes in college. Since the patterns are old, you can probably assume that the markings are in inches. Older patterns didn’t mark for seam allowance, so you would need to add 3/4 inch or so to each sewing edge. You can transfer the markings to tissue paper, then make up a sample using cheap, cheap muslin or any other discount fabric. You could also use an old curtain or bed sheet passed it’s prime. Then hand or machine baste together, and you’ll have the prototype of the pattern.

    Very cool find. Please let us know what you do.

  4. De Divah Deals

    oh my goodness, how cool was that. I remember learning to sew in High School and would spend hours in the pattern store. Hubby recently asked me to teach him how to use the sewing machine, so I might be buying some patterns soon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s