Pick up some vintage patterns to learn about fashion history - and look good. Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.com

Some of my most satisfying moments have been spent at tag sales, digging through boxes of vintage sewing patterns. But you don't have to leave your house to find a great selection. Scores of vintage patterns and reproductions are available online - and often for less than the price of current patterns.

  • The Real Thing: For some of the largest collections of truly vintage patterns, check out MomsPatterns.com; SoVintagePatterns.com; and VintageMartini.com. You'll find everything from Edwardian to '60s retro styles. Tip: Sizing varies from decade to decade, so check measurements carefully.
  • Beautiful Reproductions: Many of the big pattern companies (Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity) have collections of reproduced patterns. The great thing is that, unlike the aforementioned instructions, these have modern sizing and pattern symbols, while still keeping the original style.
  • Indie Designs: Some boutique pattern makers are honing their craft by raiding the archives. For the just-right retro feel, look into some of the indie vintage reproduction patterns. Decades of Style is great for adults while Oliver + S. provides adorable options for stylish little tykes.
  • Vintage Freebies: There are also free vintage patterns out there for the downloading. Go to the SewRetro blog to get started. For adorably easy vintage apron patterns, click here. Pattern giveaways for children's clothing are at HeirloomSewingforChildren.com.
Vintage patterns are often gorgeously crafted and wonderful markers of simple and elegant sewing techniques. They are reflective of fashion's history with each envelope containing a lesson in style. I love owning them and browsing though my collection, whether I plan to stitch them up or not.

Next week on DIY Design: the very best hand stitches. Click here for more DIY Design posts.