Vintage Equestrian Sewing Patterns

I have quite an odd vintage sewing pattern collection of old buckaroo shirts, flared breeches, and - my favorite - western equitation suits. I get emails all the time asking where people can find similar patterns, or what pattern companies they should be looking for.

I find patterns on eBay and Etsy, primarily, though some of the newer pattern reproduction companies have plenty of interesting offerings, often with much better sizing and instructions than the originals.

Lola Gentry Originals

When I was a kid, Lola Gentry Originals were the be all end all of sewing patterns for show moms. Imagine, you could walk in a western wear or tack store, and they stocked Lola Gentry patterns just as casually as JoAnn's carries Butterick and McCall's. For years, Western Horsemen carried Lola Gentry Originals ads in the back of their magazine, where you could physically mail green money to an address and wait for your pattern to come in the mail. Crazy, right?

Lola Gentry Originals pattern catalog
Lola Gentry Originals Pattern Catalog. Photo: Pinterest

I don't know how many patterns Lola must have sold back in the 60s and 70s, but everyone I knew that sewed had at least one. The one-piece double knit polyester equitation suit was the A#1 hot shit back in the day, and that pattern came from none other than Lola Gentry. It was the holy grail of patterns, right down to the authentic keystone belt loops and a big ole pointy collar.

I'm getting misty.

Anyway, I spoke to Lola herself several years ago - just the sweetest lady - and she was kind enough to print me off one of the original one piece equitation suit patterns. I have yet to find a double knit polyester worthy of the pattern, but it's on my bucket list.

Lola Gentry passed away in 2016, but Walker's Western Wear of Arizona still offers the majority of her western wear pattern lineup, plus her English shirts, breeches, jods and jackets. I'm joyful Lola's patterns are still available to the next generation, even if double knit polyester isn't the fabric of choice.

Jean Hardy Patterns

If Lola Gentry Originals was Coca-Cola, then Jean Hardy was Pepsi. I don't know much of the backstory on Jean Hardy, but the company had an extensive catalog of western wear, jackets, blouses, vests, chaps, English attire, and even sportswear. Jean Hardy patterns were printed on heavy paper and packaged in oversize envelopes in their trademark orange, white and blue - you couldn't miss them.

Like Lola Gentry, Jean Hardy offered both a one-piece and two-piece equitation suit that was made and remade for years by all those talented sewmoms; big collars, long zippers and keystone belt loops in every conceivable color and pattern. Add a bright felt taco hat and some pointy-toed Tony Llamas and you were the belle of the ball.

Jean Hardy equitation suit patterns
Vintage Jean Hardy #190 and #200 equitation suit patterns.
Jean Hardy, a California company founded in 1971, disappeared off the radar in the past few years. Patterns can still be found online through avenues like eBay, Etsy, and vintage OOP (out of print) pattern resellers. Expect to pay upwards of $30 or more for an uncut pattern, so grab any bargains you find before they become rare as hen's teeth.

Authentic Patterns

Along with a staggering lineup of square dancing patterns, Authentic Patterns, Inc. of Forth Worth, Texas was another popular source for western jackets, pants, tops and even chaps. Like Jean Hardy, Authentic Patterns was fond of oversize envelopes, as their patterns were printed on heavy paper to be traced and re-used.

One of my favorite things about Authentic Patterns is they sometimes featured large photographs on their pattern covers at the zenith of cheesy western fashion. Gals with big hair, big fannies and big thighs, with occasional bulges and pantylines. Long before the days of Spanx, they were using real size models real size gals can identify with. A stroke of marketing genius, it was.

I sewed a pair of western pants a few years back using Authentic Patterns #230. Imagine my surprise when the unaltered pattern actually fit my big rear and thighs like a glove, without looking obscene. In all the years I've been sewing, that's the first and only time that's ever happened. Ever since, it's my go-to show pants pattern, and possibly my favorite pattern of all time. The keystone belt loops only make it that much better.

Authentic Patterns, Inc. Western Patterns
Authentic Patterns, Inc. #209 and #259
In my experience, there's little room for error on measurements with Authentic Patterns. They are not sized generously, so make allowances when shopping your size. If in doubt, consider sizing up.

Authentic Patterns is another gem that went the way of the dinosaur. I've found several on eBay and Etsy, but every year the pool of remaining uncut patterns gets smaller.

Vintage Reproductions

Several pattern companies have carved their own niche offering vintage reproductions, complete with improved and expanded pattern instructions, fabric recommendations, and handy hints regarding historical construction techniques and whatever oddball notions you may need.

Mrs. Depew has a stunning vintage riding coat pattern and a vintage flared breech pattern that I love, love, love! for less than $10 each. Patterns are offered as downloadable PDF files for printing. Mrs. Depew patterns are also available through their Etsy store.

Mrs. Depew vintage style sewing patterns

Reconstructing History
is so doggone awesome they have an entire category dedicated to equestrian patterns. Vests, jackets, breeches, riding skirts - they have it all. You can order printed paper patterns or downloadable PDF files. Prices vary, but most patterns run $15-16 and under.

Reconstructing History patter
A terrific breeches and jods pattern, and one of many fashionable riding jackets from Reconstructing History.

If you're going to strum your geetar on the lone prairie, you can outfit yourself in style with patterns from Folkwear. They carry patterns for western shirts, riding skirts and several jacket styles for $20 and under. Their pattern illustrations on the website are beautiful, so expect to spend some time browsing through their other styles.

Folkwear patterns
A versatile western shirt pattern and frock riding coat for men and ladies from Folkwear patterns.

Buckaroo Bobbins offers a Saturday Matinee pattern for guys and gals with all the important details of  retro western wear, including smiley pockets, extended cuffs and even embroidery instructions. This is a shirt that could easily be dressed up or down, and could make a phenomenal custom ranch riding blouse with mix 'n' match custom fabrics, piping or embroidery. Priced around $15, there's even more prairie goodness to be found at the website.

Saturday Matinee shirts by Buckaroo Bobbins
Retro as it gets, the Saturday Matinee shirt from Buckaroo Bobbins.

Saundra Ros Altman's Past Patterns is a treasure trove of historical designs from the 1800s through the past century. For re-enactment or costumes, this site offers something for everyone.

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