Vintage Sewing: Alfred Bach's Basic Pattern and Design by Numbers, a pattern drafting system


While browsing sewing patterns on eBay, I stumbled across a copy of "Design by Numbers," a pattern packet that includes 15 separate neckline designs in 24 different sizes. Feeling skeptical, I zoomed in on the text and found that the pattern itself is an add-on for Alfred Bach's "Basic Pattern" block kit. Intrigued, I hit BUY IT NOW! and zoomed it my way via US Postal Service.

The next item of business was buying the requisite Basic Pattern, which I also found on eBay. Zoom, zoom.

Photo Courtesy of FriskyScissors on Etsy
With the help of Etsy's archives of sold items, I found this listing of an original, unused set of the Basic Pattern. It gave me some insight to how the blocks are intended to be used/graded, and what I might be able to expect in my kit.

Photo Courtesy of FriskyScissors on Easy
Internet information about Alfred Bach is spotty with an initial google search; most of what turns up are sale listings for his booklets for various topics including "Shortcuts to Fitting," "How to Drive a Sewing Machine," "Shortcuts to Professional Tailoring," and "Shortcuts to Professional Dressmaking." I dug a bit deeper using my all-access Ancestry account, which includes a basic membership to Newspapers.com. Searching keywords "Alfred Bach" + sewing, I found a few articles that gave me more information-- both from newspapers in my home state of Utah!

Salt Lake Tribune, Sun Aug 15, 1976

Salt Lake Tribune, Sun Aug 15, 1976
In addition to Alfred Bach being an industrial engineer, he was a self-made home sewing efficiency guru. His marketing events and sewing seminars sound similar to what Lutterloh offers at conventions and fairs these days. I'm curious if any women in my life remember attending his courses at the historic Salt Palace, or at the Bon Marche department store in Ogden. It looks like he was teaching these workshops for over ten years, so he must have been successful. I'm really surprised that I've never seen his pattern system before, considering that I have been collecting stuff like this for so many years.

Ogden Standard Examiner 29 Dec 1965
It sounds like Alfred Bach most definitely produce a regular radio show, because I found it listed in the broadcast guides in the newspaper. He also had a feature on television, at least occasionally, because I found references to it too. I'm sad that I've been unable to find any audio or television archives, however.

I'm not sure what to expect with the pattern kits I've ordered, but it sounds like a connect the dot system, similar to other pattern drafting tool kits like Lutterloh, the Haslam System, the Dot Pattern System, etc. When they arrive, I'll keep you posted about the new adventures.


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