Vintage Sewing Patterns

Ringier is a Swiss publishing company that started as a book printer's in 1833. It is today Switzerland's biggest internationally operating publisher. In 1911, their first magazine was published, which became the well-known people magazine "Schweizer Illustrierte". At some point in the earlier half of the 20th century, Ringier also started publishing sewing patterns. The oldest patterns known to myself are from the late 1930s, however they may have started earlier still. Patterns were published until at least the 1970s (so far no patterns later than the 1970s have been found). Currently, they do not publish any patterns themselves anymore. Many of their weekly "family magazines" like "Ringiers Unterhaltungsblätter", "Ringiers Blatt für Alle" (with the free additional "Frauen- und Modezeitung"), and "Pour Tous" in French contained patterns or adverts for them. A bi-annual "Journal de Mode / Mode-Journal" was also published since 1939 or 1940. This was a big-format magazine with gorgeous color illustrations showing their top of the line patterns, mostly women's wear like dresses, coats, suits, evening wear, and a small amount of children's wear (mostly for girls). However, these only showed the most interesting patterns. The stores had even bigger, 100+-page catalogs that showed all patterns available per half year.

Their patterns up to mid-/late 1960s were pre-cut and unprinted, but with markings in different colors that were stamped on and gave instructions like "grain line", "side seam", "button hole" etc. Therefore they called their patterns "Farben-Schnitt" (color pattern). There was always an unillustrated instruction sheet in German and French that was specific to the pattern, and a separate general instruction sheet, which gave advice on how to make button holes, sew darts etc., which also had illustrations.

From the mid-/late 60s or just 1970 onwards, they switched to printed patterns, which were also published as multiple size patterns. Mostly they came in two, sometimes in three sizes on one pattern sheet.

The numbering system started with three-digit numbers some time in the 1930s, and then swithed to a character plus a four-digit number in the 1940s. The character in front of the pattern numbers, that ran a, c, g, k, m, s were used to denote the pattern's price. k were the least expensive, s the most expensive. With children's patterns it could happen that the smaller size was available as k and the next larger as g for example. From the late 1940s up to the early 1960s, the numbers became five digits plus a character, and then changed back to four digits. The first dateable instance with four-digit numbers was the Autumn/Winter 1964/65 magazine. It seems that at least as long as the five-number system was used, numbers ran continually and the first number denoted what kind of garment it was: 1 for dresses, certain suits and ensembles, 2 for suits, 3 for coats, 4 for blouses, tops and jackets, 5 for homewear, 6 for beach, ski and other sports wear, 7 for girl's clothes, 8 for boy's clothes and 9 for men's clothes. The price category m seems to have been dropped after the 1940s.

Pattern styles:

Here you can view some of their "Journal de Mode" issues featuring the newest patterns:

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