Frequently Asked Questions

Can I visit the Pattern Archive?

Yes, we are open to researchers by appointment Monday through Friday from 9a.m.-4:30 p.m. The Commercial Pattern Archive is located in Special Collections in the University of Rhode Island Library. To schedule an appointment, please contact Joy Emery by e-mail at or by telephone at (401) 874-2713. For directions and parking information, please visit the University Web Site.

How are the patterns dated?

For the most part, pattern companies did not date the patterns. We have compiled a comprehensive pattern dating resource so the patterns in the database are accurately dated as to when they were first issued for sale. Pattern-dating information for more than thirty pattern companies has been compiled, using the first appearance of the pattern in periodicals, catalogs, and/or flyers.

Factors required to date a pattern include the pattern number, the logo style and the price of the pattern. Pattern companies used number series to identify a specific pattern style. The number series generally runs from 1000 though 9999 and then the series begins again. There are several variations on the numbering scheme and some companies ran several series at the same time.

The company logo on the envelope changed as the stylistic trends changed. The font, type style and over all design of the pattern envelope are important factors for establishing the date of the pattern, as is the price of the pattern.

How can I date patterns in my collection?

You can search CoPA by Pattern Company and year(s) to create a list of when the number series was issued. Remember the companies` reissued numbers so it is important to pay attention to the garment style, pattern price and envelope style and logo.

Do you take pattern donations?

At this time, we can only accept donations of patterns prior to 1960. If you have questions about a specific collection, please contact Joy Emery.

Are the patterns available for loan or exhibit?

Arrangements can be made for pattern loans for exhibitions. Patterns in the Archive are not available for other loans; however they are available to researchers in the Archive.

Does CoPA have the full-scale patterns?

The images include the front of the pattern envelope and the small-scale pattern schematic, when available. The images of the garment design and pattern schematic can be enlarged or draped to recreate the garment.