Stretch and Sew pattern company was founded by Ann Person in Eugene, OR in the late 1960s. In the mid ‘60s, stretchy knit fabrics were part of the MOD revolution, but most home machines only had straight stitches, and home sewing enthusiasts were frustrated in attempting to sew these fabrics. A neighbor with access to knit remnants from a ready-to-wear manufacturer inspired Ann to develop some techniques for making T-shirts. These techniques were first shared with the book “Stretch and Sew“. The success of this book led to the opening of the first Stretch & Sew store in Burns, Oregon in 1967.
Two years later, the stores were franchised (a new concept for the sewing industry). By the late ‘70s, there were 353 Stretch & Sew franchise and company-owned stores across the nation. Stretch & Sew didn’t just sell knit fabric; it sold fashion and it sold sewing techniques. Stretch & Sew patterns, featured in major fashion magazines, books, knit fabrics from around the world, and a cable TV show were all part of Ann’s empire. By 1983, knits were no longer a novelty and blue jeans had replaced jogging suits as primary leisurewear. The franchise concept was phased out in favor of independent store ownership. Distributions systems were changed so that the patterns, books, and notions identified with Stretch & Sew were made available through multiple retail channels.
Vintage Stretch and Sew patterns are prized for their classic easy-to-make styling and retro looks. Swimwear, lingerie and leisure wear comprise most of the early styles.