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CoPA - A Great Resource for Sewists

by Mary Beth Vogel

CoPA stands for Commercial Pattern Archive. Located at the University of Rhode Island, and part of Saving America's Treasures, CoPA was founded by Joy Spanbel-Emery (1936 - 2018) - (photo left) to preserve the paper patterns that were, and still are, being thrown away. The Archive has over 60,000 full-size patterns each complete with instructions and all of the pieces. I was lucky enough to get to know Joy over the years through several phone calls. She was kind and giving as well as an amazingly organized, professional woman. She dedicated her life to the CoPA project.

Browse through the Archive and you can use the images but, only for personal use.

There is also a book "A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution" by Joy Spanabel Emery Available at Amazon HERE

Both the book and the site are great for research and general knowledge about pattern companies. The site has amazing pattern images going back to the 1800s. The Archive currently has 63,636 physical paper patterns that they are storing,

The core of the collection is from Betty Williams, a New York costume designer. She donated her substantial collection to The University. Since Betty Williams' donation, CoPA has grown to the largest documented collection in the US. Other institutions have sewing pattern collections as well.

The great thing about CoPA is that if you are trying to date a pattern, simply choose the pattern brand and enter the number. Hit enter and there's a good chance that you may find your answer!

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