Old patterns and the people who sell them

The other day I was meandering through eBay looking at secondhand patterns, and it’s blatantly obvious that most of the sellers don’t sew. Not to mention the crazy prices – and I’m not talking for genuine vintage that collectors look for. I’m talking about nondescript patterns from the 80s that are listed at over $10 plus shipping. But what do I know? Maybe there’s one gal that’s been looking for that McCall pleated pant pattern for 20 years, and she’ll pay whatever it takes.

The Burda sellers crack me up too. There are always people listing recent issues of the magazine for ridiculously high amounts – they must subscribe and then try to resell at a profit, which I can’t imagine works more than a small percentage of the time. And then there’s the Burda envelope sellers. Most everything is mislabeled – lots of descriptions along the lines of “top and pants”, but when you look a little closer the pattern includes only one garment – and a lot of the auctions don’t have a picture of the back of the envelope. Dear sellers, 10-20 (/22) is not a plus pattern, it’s Burda’s regular size range. You’d know this if you sewed, because you’d know that sewing pattern sizes are larger than RTW sizes. And I’m still not going to pay ten bucks for it.

The whole thing reminds me a lot of the used book market. Many people are convinced that their old books are worth something, but with very rare exceptions they’re not worth more than the cost of shipping them would be. There’s just a lot of them out there, even if you’re talking about books that have been around for a while. And the internet has made the market very liquid, and driven prices down to nearly zero for almost all books. Mainstream patterns are the same way – think about how long Jo-Ann’s has been having their 99c sales and how many copies of any given Big 4 pattern were originally printed. Even if a lot of them have been used and/or recycled, there are still a lot out there and the market’s gonna push the price down as much as possible.

I did end up with one bargain, which I’ll tell you about now that the auction’s ended – a pair of Burda envelope plus-size (really plus-size) pants, fairly current but OOP, for 3 bucks total. Interestingly, the same seller seems to list a lot of Big 4 pattern bundles in German, which she offers for international shipping. I’d guess that if you could minimize your costs at the 99c sales and then minimize your shipping, you could do a decent trade shipping to Europe since their retail cost for patterns is so much higher than in the US.


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