Interview with Dawn & Gill!

Jack Vincent, Castleton Co. Ltd Interview with Vintage Sewing Pattern Company

How Vintage Sewing Pattern Company Began

Introduce your Vintage Sewing Pattern Company shop and tell us your story. How did you begin and decide on what to sell, and how do you create your products?

Vintage Sewing Pattern Company is the trading name for Vintage Pattern Company Ltd. Our team is Dawn, Gill, Dave who are co-owners and Kate, James, Meg, Maira and Jesse are our wonderful witty peronalities with incredible tallents!

We are based in Ingleby Barwick, North-East of England. Gill and I met during our teaching days and our interests were very similar. We loved making clothes from vintage sewing patterns but found it very difficult to find a) the right pattern and even more challenging, b) to find them in our size! We selected our favorites, reconstructed those that had seen better days and reproduced them by regrading them into new modern mult-sizes. We had heard of Etsy and eBay as marketplaces for selling vintage items, handmade goods, art and crafts so we began listing on a casual basis in 2015, progressing to listing on Amazon and also to successfully creating our our own website here, in 2021.

Sourcing vintage patterns is a job in itself! To have a curated store of quality patterns, we decide which patterns suit our customer audience. A lot of research goes into this process before we buy a single pattern. There might be a sewing pattern advertised on the other side of the globe; or a customer might contact us to ask if we are interested for example in her late mother or Grandmothers collection. Sometimes a very old pattern will need tender care and attention before being digitized. The dog may have chewed the right-hand side of a seam or a mouse has eaten the blouse arm! Our customers know that if they are struggling with making up a garment for any reason, they can contact us, and we are here to help. We take pride in providing 100% customer satisfaction, and receiving positive feedback makes it all worthwhile. We then scan these into a digital format and re-grade the patterns into modern sizes. As this is a very specialized skill, we then make up the garments in the different sizes to ensure the regrade has been successful by checking the fit. We then list our patterns, after we have successfully tested the fit. More and more have asked if we could provide these patterns as digital downloads (to print on their home printers) or printshop copies (to take to their local printing company), as "instant" is the buzzword in this digital age. Customers want to make things more cost effective and are reluctant to wait on the mail when they just want to get started on that "perfect" outfit, so this was another opportunity to grow our business, currently adding up to 300 new releases.

Once we had mastered the listing process (including images, keywords, etc etc etc, our sales started to grow, and we thought, we may be able to reduce our hours at our teaching jobs and do something we are passionate about. We decided to do some more research and analytics, and from this, our sales further improved, and thankfully, yes, we managed to reduce our "proper" job from 5 to 4 days and Dawn finally called it a day, to concentrate on the business full-time! We always say "more heads are better than one," and with our various skills combined, we work well together. Some days can be taxing, as with any business, but one of us is always ready to pull the other one up if they are struggling, and we feel blessed that this will happen.

We have recently launched 'Newin'  collection with includes some very beautiful patterns.  As vintage patterns are known to be in smaller sizes, we decided to source many larger sizes, which we have made available in two options;

  • PDF digital downloads (A4/letter) including (A0 size) Print Shop copies in one downloadable file.
  • Full-size printed paper patterns, which we offer at reduced shipping costs and fully tracked. 

Favorite items

What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?

The MarilyMonroe style dress has to be one of our favorites. This "easy to sew" sewing pattern is ideal for the beginner sewer.

The Landgirl Dungarees is our next pick because it's functional and simple to make for all those modern-day Rosie's—the most iconic workwear women's garment in American history.

Another of our favorites is the Coachman Robe, and whether you want to feel like a movie star, prefer practicality, or just want something fun to wear, this housecoat is a luxurious cousin of the sometimes mundane dressing gown.

Another wow pattern is the The Day or Night, beachwear or Lounging Jumpsuit , which has been a huge hit. This loose-fitting and comfortable jumpsuit, beachwear, or lounging pajamas, inspired by the 1930s, will take you from day to night - with only two pattern pieces!

 Next up is our Pin Up Beachwear Outfit , a four-piece versatile ensemble that includes a halter neck bra and shorts that can be worn alone or as a fabulous cover-up under the short-sleeved blouse and buttoned-down skirt.

Another versatile favorite is the Boiler Suit, Pedal Pushers, and Pants Jumpsuit which spell effortless chic.

 The Tiki Bra's, Crop Top Bustier, and Dixie Marilyn Style Dress are definitely fashion showstoppers for any occasion!

The last two firm favorites I would like to mention (I could go on forever, so I will stop here!) are the Clara Cape Coat  and the  Lumberjack, Eisenhower Topper Jacket.. Both of these winter warmers are a surefire way to inject some easy glamour into your new-season wardrobe.

Managing Vintage Sewing Pattern Company

How do you manage your shop? What tools or services do you use to run your shop and how do you handle fulfillment?

Attracting customers to our online website is always challenging, and a significant amount of time goes into this activity. Our key customer engagement activities are via social media, especially Instagram (we have 21.7K loyal followers), and we "pin" our patterns on Pinterest boards. As well as social media, we use google ads and targeted offers such as a thank-you discount on a repurchase and an offer on favorite items. 

Running the shop operation is done by Gill and myself.  In terms of tools, we rely on Excel. Dave downloads our sales data monthly and looks for our best sellers, identifies seasonal or geographical trends.

The future of Vintage Sewing Pattern Company

What goals do you have for your shop in the future?

In the short term, and as the shop is now established, we are going to increase our marketing activity via social media. In the mid-term, we have collected more patterns in various sizes (including larger sizes) and hope to forge more outside  connections so that are customers are aware what we have on offer.


Dawn and Gill


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