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Frequently Asked


Q: Why don't you allow full pattern downloads?

A: The reason behind our decision is simple: our mission is not commercially driven. We prioritize the preservation, education, and protection of the rights of designers and pattern companies from potential exploitation. By restricting pattern downloads, we ensure that patterns are studied responsibly and for educational purposes only. Founding Members as well as participants in the Couture Creation Masterclass program have scholarly educational access to the archives. Members are required to sign a no-duplication or resale contract before receiving educational materials. For materials not created by the Couture Pattern Museum, permission will be granted by the Museum as the owner of the physical materials and does not imply permission for use by any copyright holder, any licensee, or any assignee of any property right therein. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all necessary permissions from the copyright holder.

Q: Are you a 501(c)(3) organization?

A: The Couture Pattern Museum (CPM) is a fiscally sponsored project of Creative Visions, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports creative activists who use the arts and media to ignite social change.  Contributions for the charitable purposes of Couture Pattern Museum must be made payable to “Creative Visions” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

If you wish to make a contribution to support the charitable purposes of the Couture Pattern Museum, please donate here, or make your donation check payable to 'Creative Visions' and include "Couture Pattern Museum" in the memo line. Please mail your donation to the following address:


Couture Pattern Museum

1525 State Street, Ste. #301 

Penthouse Floor

Santa Barbara, CA 93101


Our operations are fueled by a dedicated team of passionate volunteers who are committed to preserving and promoting the art and history of haute couture. Thank you for your support in advancing the mission of the Couture Pattern Museum!

Q: How can I become a Founding Member?

A: Becoming a Founding Member of the Couture Pattern Museum is an exclusive opportunity available during our initial launch period. This is the only program we have that allows scholarly access to the patterns for study and learning. Please visit this link for more information on becoming a Founding Member.

Q: What other institutions have patterns and how is CPM different?

Commercial Pattern Archive: University of Rhode Island: link here

CoPA-Online and the Couture Pattern Museum (CPM) focus on different aspects of fashion pattern archives. CoPA offers a broad collection of general sewing patterns with over 55,000 images from 61,000 commercial patterns dating back to 1847. Their digital archive includes only partial envelope fronts and backs with rough schematic drawings taken from the back of the envelope. Their digitization lacks detailed instructions or the full pattern scan themselves. In contrast, CPM specializes in haute couture patterns from the 1920s to the 1970s. The Couture Pattern Museum invests in advanced technology and manual labor to digitize the entire pattern, including the full size pattern pieces, ensuring detailed preservation in line with ICOM standards. This also includes comprehensive details such as sewing instructions, fabric types, and notions. The information is stored in a specialized and secure database built specifically to house and safeguard the pattern digitization. CPM operates independently, supported by private funding, memberships, sponsorships, and donations, providing access and resources primarily to a non-academic audience, unlike CoPA, who relies on grant funding and is largely for academic affiliations.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Doris Stein Research Center, Department of Costume and Textiles

Kevin Seligman Collection

The Couture Pattern Museum (CPM) focuses specifically on haute couture patterns from the 1920s to the 1970s, emphasizing the digital preservation of complete patterns, including detailed instructions and fabric information. CPM provides online access to its fully digitized collection, supporting in-depth research and global accessibility. Conversely, LACMA's collection within the Doris Stein Research Center houses over 18,000 patterns and related historical items dating from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. Despite its broad scope, including patterns from major companies and additional sewing artifacts, LACMA lacks online accessibility; its patterns are not digitized, making them available only through pre-approved in-person visits. This limits its utility for remote, non-academic users compared to CPM's readily accessible digital archives.

University of Nevada-Reno

The Couture Pattern Museum (CPM) and the University of Nevada-Reno's CoPA collection offer different resources for those interested in fashion patterns, but with notable differences in accessibility and collection focus. CPM specializes in haute couture patterns from the 1920s to the 1970s, with certain membership levels able to access a fully digitized and accessible database by ordering educational materials. The database includes researchers to access detailed images  of the pattern front, back, year, pattern company, and designer, making it a comprehensive resource for both enthusiasts and researchers worldwide. Founding Members are able to order educational material and we do not require a visit to our location to research for educational purposes. In contrast, the University of Nevada-Reno's CoPA collection includes 390 patterns ranging from the 1950s to the 1970s. However, these patterns are not currently scanned or available online, which significantly limits access to the collection. The absence of digitization means that the patterns can only be viewed in person or through specific arrangements, which may not be detailed due to the unavailability of contact information at this time.

Q: Why don't you donate your patterns to an existing collection?

The Couture Pattern Museum is dedicated to more than just the academic context of couture patterns; we actively engage the public through fashion exhibitions and provide innovative access to our collections. Unlike many traditional academic and publically funded museums, we have observed significant limitations in their approach to digitization and accessibility. Many such institutions do not digitize their collections comprehensively, and some do not offer digital access at all. At our museum, we prioritize the complete digital preservation of each pattern, which not only ensures that our collection can be accessed by researchers and students worldwide but also protects it against potential loss from natural disasters. This approach allows us to offer a unique educational resource that adapts to the needs of a diverse audience, from seasoned designers to fashion enthusiasts and scholars. Moreover, our collection is highly curated, containing some of the most historic and significant couture patterns ever published. This makes it a unique and invaluable resource that would lose its contextual integrity if merged with broader, less specialized collections. Maintaining our independent status allows us to focus on the specific needs and interests of our community, ensuring that these important cultural artifacts are preserved in the most thoughtful and impactful way possible.

Q: What makes your Museum unique?

A: The Couture Pattern Museum stands out for several reasons:

  1. Special Focus: We concentrate solely on historically significant haute couture or designer patterns dating back to the 1920s. Our collection focuses primarily on the "golden age of couture." During the 1940s and 1950s, haute couture fashion created by renowned designers and fashion houses experienced its pinnacle of creativity, craftsmanship, and influence.

  2. Unique Collection: We boast the most extensive collection of haute couture patterns in the world. Some of these patterns are so rare that they might be the last copies left on Earth.

  3. Comparison: Unlike other pattern archives that only hold a few designer patterns among their sewing pattern collections, our focus is primarily on these designer pieces during a specific era.

  4. Digitization: We are the only museum actively working to digitize our collection. This includes the pattern itself in full size, the instructions, the pattern cover, and the back envelope. The patterns that have been digitized have been cataloged in our online database. (Cover only).

  5. Contextual Exhibits: Our exhibits are designed to provide the cultural context in which these patterns existed, offering a deeper understanding of each piece.

  6. Atelier Service: Our teaching atelier brings these designs back to life to display during exhibitions, adding a dynamic and interactive element to our museum.

  7. Accessibility: We offer worldwide accessibility to authorized, historically significant haute couture patterns for educational study to our Founding Members and Couture Sewing Masterclass students.

  8. Community and Education: We foster a vibrant community focused on learning and appreciation of couture. Through our exhibitions, active social media presence, Founders Circle, blog readership, and free couture forum, we work to share knowledge and inspire discussions around the world of haute couture.

  9. Events and Workshops: We regularly host various events, monthly virtual gatherings, and workshops, offering hands-on experiences and deeper dives into the art and history of haute couture.

Q: What is the mission of the Couture Pattern Museum?

The mission of the Couture Pattern Museum is to preserve, digitize, and share an exquisite collection of haute couture patterns from the golden age of couture. We aim to educate and inspire designers, researchers, and the public by providing access to meticulously curated exhibitions and innovative digital archives and educational material. Our commitment extends to fostering appreciation for the craftsmanship and historical significance of couture fashion, ensuring these cultural artifacts are preserved for future generations.

Q: Can I visit your museum?

A: Yes, you can visit us, but we kindly request that you book an appointment online or schedule a sewing session with us in advance. Due to limited funding, we rely on volunteer staff, including the Founder, and need to schedule appointments to ensure that someone is available to assist you. This helps us make the most efficient use of our resources and provide you with the best possible experience. Please be aware that when you visit our museum, you will see our current rotating exhibits; we do not display our entire collection for general browsing. If you are interested in researching or examining a specific pattern, please inform us prior to your visit so we can accommodate your request. This allows us to prepare and ensure you have the best possible experience.

Our public pop-up exhibitions are hosted at the TOWER event space, situated within the Workzones building at Paseo Nuevo Mall. The address is 351 Paseo Nuevo, and you'll find Workzones across the courtyard from the Paseo Nuevo theater and Footlocker. The TOWER event space is ADA accessible.

For more specific information regarding visiting the museum, appointments, or upcoming events, please visit our website or contact us directly through our contact page. We look forward to welcoming you to the Couture Pattern Museum and providing you with an enriching experience.

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