“Pattern for Smartness” 1948 Simplicity – A sewing video


“Pattern for Smartness” 1948 Simplicity – A sewing video

Romance, a fashion show, sewing instruction, and a 5-foot-tall sewing pattern envelope—this short film by Simplicity Pattern Co. has it all!

My favorite piece of dialogue…

Johnny: Do you make your own clothes?
Girl: Sure! Lots of us girls do.
Johnny: But your clothes look so professional.
Girl: Johnny, don’t you know that the most professional looking clothes are those made by hand? Individually. You don’t think that people like movie stars buy their clothes off of racks, do you?
Johnny: Well no, but gee, the people who make their clothes are professionals. You’re just a high school girl. Gee, maybe you ought to be a designer yourself.
Girl: Well silly! I am a designer for myself. We learned that in our home economics classes too, besides how to fit and sew like a professional.
Johnny: You make it sound as if dressmaking is an easy thing.
Girl: It is! I just let my pattern tell me what to do, and it comes out alright.


Would love to hear what you think of this video. Personally, I just love watching the girl actually sew!

Thank you, Melissa Watson for introducing me to this video!

  • oh my GAH. i had to pause at the pattern’s birth story but FABULOUS. i especially love girl’s inner monologue on milk and vegetables.

  • OMG! This is a classic. How times have changed, right?

    • So different! But I do love some of the messaging. It’s framed very much like “You can do this! And why shouldn’t you?” I love that.

  • Devon

    this is sooo great. johnny just wants money for his basketball team, the selfish jerk. i love that one of the steps in a closeup of the instructions just says, “Make bound buttonholes.”

  • Amanda

    I’ve seen this before! It’s amazing. I wonder how many of us today can say we have ‘the know how look” ha. “Do you like it, Johnny?” “I’ll say I do!” I love when they start dancing as they chat about dressmaking.

  • You know, I could have used this video when I was learning – it’s actually pretty thorough on certain parts of dressmaking! Crazy to think that the basic product – the paper pattern – hasn’t changed too much in 70+ years.

  • tailorchick

    This was a fun video to watch. I think the sewing techniques shown are actually pretty good! What is interesting to me is how they showed the pattern makers planning the pattern layout for the fabric with a wooden ruler and the oaktag pattern pieces on a table full of lines and numbers. It is almost 70 years later from that day and I imagine they have not tweaked or changed the systems of how they create those pattern layouts in the past 70 years. That whole table full of lines and number gauges probably just got thrown into a computer and probably not changed too much! What’s also funny is that 7 foot tall pattern claiming to fit little miss “know how look” just by following the information on the back of pattern! YEAH – RIGHT!!! We know how THAT goes (–3 fittings later!! ) Anyway- really fun video!

  • juju calado gago

    oooh, so nice! I am reading the singer sewing book, from 1954, and it goes in the same “mood”, you know? I find it so pleasant.
    the part of “the good pattern being a girl’s best friend”! So lovely! I wish I had a model come with the pattern… that would help! hahah

    such skinny models! don’t you think?

    I loved this, Jennifer, thank you(and thanks, Melissa!)

  • Amy

    I love that deep movie trailer voice: ‘And there’s a clever trick in the sack dress–a belted in shoulder scarf!” Wow, at 18 minutes long, it’s amazing that in that day sewing patterns were fashion business enough to make a long documentary like that! I wonder where it was shown…

  • They learned about hair and skincare in home ec? I feel like I was missing out in high school, just learning about sewing… also, milk and green vegetables, who woulda thunk?

  • VMuise

    “Well, gee, how can I get the know-how look?”

  • This is fantastic! It’s great how they walk through the entire 101 of dressmaking. It’s surprisingly informative. Love the idea of you having a fashion show at the next pop up.