Without meaning too, I think I’ve managed to accumulate one of the largest collections of Weigel patterns in Australia.
A lady who is also interested in this local company contacted me a while ago, requesting some images of patterns in Circa’s webshop, so that she could add them to the Vintage Pattern Wiki, and excellent resource for the sewing minded.
Madame Weigel was born in Poland, worked for McCalls in the US and travelled to Australia with her husband on their honeymoon in 1876. They liked what they saw and the following year opened a pattern making factory in Richmond. In 1880, they started production on “Weigel’s Journal of Fashion”, Australia’s first locally made fashion magazine.
Madame Weigel died in 1940, a monument to her can be seen at Brighton Cemetery but her business continued, producing many popular patterns for Australia and New Zealand until the 1960s.
Here are some of the patterns I have – click on each to see in full. They include mens, ladies and childrens patterns from the ’40s to the ’60s – the most recent one I’ve found (not illustrated here sadly) is of a lady in a safari style outfit and whip – it looks late ’60s to me, although I don’t have an end date for the company, it’s probably one of the last patterns.
During the 1960s, home dressmaking really dropped off with the beginning of off-shored manufacturing and increasingly fast fashions, mass produced. It wasn’t long before the cost of making your own clothes was more expensive than buying them new and already made.
Despite their popularity, only a small percentage of vintage sewing patterns have survived – being paper products, many were probably thrown away. They give a very good idea of what people actually wore though, as they were produced in bulk and so only popular designs were made – no risky fashion here, mostly good every day garments.