I came home from a church rummage sale a few years ago with a stack of 1960’s craft books and tucked inside one of them was this much older pamphlet called “Easy-to-Sew Toys”. It was published in 1944 by Clark’s O.N.T. – J. & P. Coats (the merger of these two companies became the Coats & Clark we know today). It’s entirely charming.
15 pages long, there are patterns inside for six button jointed stuffed animals: a kangaroo, an elephant, a bunny, a horse, a penguin, and a pig. And there’s a boy and a girl doll pattern. The aesthetic is wonderfully dated, but in a way that is still very appealing, to the point of actually feeling modern. I think we’ll always be nostalgic for the look of classic toys. They never get old.
I love the cover photo – the toys lined up, the kids looking off camera, the bunny on the boy’s head. This could easily be the cover shot on a modern pattern if it were in color (and it would get pinned a ton). It’s silly and cute. And do you see the little white outline drawings of each toy around the pink border? I love those.
The pattern templates inside are hand-drawn (we don’t know by whom because no designer is named). They’re full-sized so just trace and cut and you’re ready to sew, seam allowances included.
I was thinking about this pamphlet yesterday and how special it is. It’s one of those things that came to me for free, by accident, and has become a treasure. My understanding is that works published before 1964 for which the copyright was not renewed (renewal was a requirement before 1978) pass into the public domain. As far as I can tell, Easy-to-Sew Toys falls into that category. So, I thought I’d share it with you.
I scanned it so that you can download it as a PDF. Save it, print the pattern templates, and let’s sew from it! I love all of the historical sewing that’s going one now, people sewing clothing from 1940s patterns and quilts from the 1920s. Let’s add to the mix and sew some old toys.
One of the patterns from Easy-to-Sew Toys already lives on, albeit uncredited. Have you seen the Purl Bee Penguin? It’s the penguin from Easy-to-Sew Toys. The pattern templates are identical. It’s totally fine, of course, for the Purl Bee to reprint a pattern from the public domain (although perhaps some credit or a nod to the original would be welcome), but to add their copyright notice to the top is sorta funny. Their photos and sewing instructions belong to them, sure, but the pattern and project? I don’t think so.
Now that the patterns belong to all of us, let’s bring the rest of them back.
I’ll work on mine in October. I’m thinking I’ll make the horse, or the girl doll. These would be great classic handmade holiday gifts. Get the PDF and join me in some historical toy sewing.