Love of sewing patterns leads to world-class collection

IndustrialsAssociated Press

If a costume designer wanted to recreate a World War I era wraparound dress, a 1940s zoot suit or even a bodice from 1875, the sewing patterns are in Rhode Island.

The University of Rhode Island has the largest known collection of sewing patterns in the world, experts say.

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About 50,000 are on paper and 62,000 are in an electronic database. They're at the university because of Joy Spanabel Emery's love of patterns.

A former costume designer, she donated her personal collection of patterns and periodicals to the university years ago.

Now the collection's curator, she has painstakingly sorted through the donations sent there as word spread about the growing repository.

This year, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology honored Emery for her unique archive.