The Magic Pattern Story: Inspiration

Magic-largeI’m thrilled to announce the release of my new title, The Magic Pattern Book! I collaborated with Workman Publishing to create this new garment  and accessory sewing book, which offers 36 different fashion-forward patterns. Over the next few weeks I want to tell you the story behind the book. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about my inspiration and process of writing. This book has been years in the making; in fact, I would say that it all began when I discovered my muse, Mary Brooks Picken.

I am a collector of vintage dressmaking books and fashion and sewing ephemera. This material often provides inspiration for my Indygo Junction patterns and books. While collecting, I came across a newsletter publication called Inspiration and fell in love with the message as well as the art. The newsletters were published between 1916 and 1934 by The Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Scranton, Pennsylvania. These wonderfully illustrated and beautifully written publications provided wisdom and insight that remain relevant today. Inspiration also included a section called The Magic Page, which showed how to make sophisticated projects like aprons, garments and more using basic patterns and draping techniques.  At the helm of these inspirational artifacts was Mary Brooks Picken, an American authority on fashion and sewing – but not exactly a household name in this day and age.


This entrepreneur, I learned, founded the Institute in the 1900s, educating more than 300,000 women in sewing and home arts via correspondence courses and encouraging women to sew for profit and pleasure. She wrote nearly 100 books on sewing, dressmaking, needle arts, and fashion, including the very first Singer Sewing Book and The Fashion Dictionary.abc2The more I learned about Mary, the more I identified with her achievements and passions. I connected with her as a teacher, an author and an entrepreneur. Like her, my business pursuits promote the domestic arts, fashion and empowerment of women. Through my other company, Indygo Junction, I have published hundreds of sewing patterns and dozens of books filled with handmade style for the creative spirit. I even discovered that Mary published patterns with McCall’s, who prints the tissue for Indygo Junction patterns.


Determined to share her teachings with today’s women, I published my award-winning book, Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions:An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion & Fun, in September of 2010. Packed with inspirational essays, projects and patterns, recipes and more, Vintage Notions resurrects the timeless words of Mary and other instructors from the Woman’s Institute.

Vintage Notions

Vintage Notions featured 12 original Magic Patterns – those ingenious sewing ideas found on The Magic Page of Inspiration as well as in another Woman’s Institute publication, Fashion Service. The original Magic Patterns didn’t have any actual pattern pieces. Instead, the patterns included a cutting diagram as well as detailed instructions for the construction of the garment. Below you can see the Jumper Dress, Cropped Jacket, One Seam Skirt and Sateen Blouse – all vintage Magic Patterns.


I was inspired to bring the spirit of Mary’s Magic Patterns into the 21st century. Working with my friend and Indygo Junction designer Mary Ann Donze, we created 6 master patterns for the book; a tank, skirt, dress, cardigan, jacket and accessory. Then we collaborated on how to transform those base patterns into 6 new garments. The Magic Pattern Book contains 36 garment patterns transformed from those original base patterns. Read more about The Magic Pattern Book and check out my upcoming Magic Pattern fashion events over on Indygo Junction!

Stay tuned for more about the Magic Pattern design process, (including a fun fabric shopping trip!) and details about our upcoming BurdaStyle Magic Pattern Challenge – September 2014! Click here to buy the book. Ready, Set, Sew!


I want to share my new book with you! Enter below to win a copy of Vintage Notions & The Magic Pattern Book by leaving a comment on the blog post. Don’t miss out on the extra entries as well!

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261 Responses to “The Magic Pattern Story: Inspiration”

  1. Looking forward to some great ideas! With the holidays approaching…it is exciting!

  2. I love the idea behind this book, can’t wait get a copy!

  3. Eeeeeeee! Would love both of these. Sew much to see and do. I love to shop yard and estate sales to hunt for old sewing notions,patterns and buttons,oh the buttons.

  4. i have granddaughters, a mother and a daughter i sew a lot of their clothes so that means a lot of patterns, this could enable me to do lots of clothing options with less space and time looking for patterns and their pieces for each item, this is a fantastic option, thanks for thinking of it

  5. I am always looking to improve my sewing skills and your book looks like it will be a real asset to my sewing book collection!

  6. I really like vintage patterns!

  7. I sure wish the pattern for that apron was in the book, I love that one. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  8. I’d love to learn how to alter patterns so that it would be a different style! Maybe after enough practice I can come up with my own style?

  9. Jean Trevarton Ehman August 31, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I am a product of Kansas State’s College of Human Resources (1975), and this clip brings back fond memories of pattern construction. Now that the nest is empty and retirement on the horizon, I foresee myself using this book to recapture a long-ago passion.

  10. I would be excited to have this book. The combination of simplicity and creativity is inspiring.

  11. What an interesting book!

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