5 Ways To Be Inspired By Vintage Sewing Patterns
Oh, sewing patterns. Vintage sewing patterns! I've never been a HUGE fan of big brand, store bought sewing patterns.. I had a bad experience with one the first time I ever used a big name pattern, and that pretty much just turned me off to them completely.
I would MUCH rather make my own patterns. (Hence, the whole attending FIDM thing.)
Not only do I love pattern drafting (which, from what I hear, is pretty unusual in itself) but I love making my own designs, with exactly what I would want to wear. BUT.About 6 months ago, one of my mom's closest friends (who was an avid seamstress) passed away. And she left me ALL of her sewing goodies.
I'm talking a beautiful Singer sewing machine, a couple of sergers, BOXES of fabric, and a lovely little box of vintage sewing patterns.
Before receiving all of my inherited sewing goods, I had never physically seen vintage sewing patterns.
Yes, we've all seen photos of the beautiful packaging with the hand drawn illustrations, that contrast so sharply with the photographed images we see on pattern envelopes today. In this post, I wanted to pick out some of my favorite designs from my newly inherited box of vintage sewing patterns, and go in to some detail on them.
I'm hoping that they will give you some major holiday inspo.. Maybe for what you will wear for Christmas or New Year's?
Or maybe you'll be inspired to pick up a similar pattern, and sew up a little beauty for yourself? (Please, please do this, it would make my heart sing!)
Inspired by vintage sewing patterns: Advance sewing pattern, style #7751
I truly believe that this pattern is the gem of my lovely little box full of vintage sewing patterns. The pattern is from the 1950's (WTF!) and is the cutest little apron with a scalloped hem, complete with side pocket.
Not only is the pattern the absolute cutest (it actually has me wanting to make an apron, and wear it while I cook dinner. #domesticated) but I love the added details of the flowers that appear on both styles.I think what I love most about this particular pattern are the hand drawn illustrations. They are SO beautifully done, and completely represent the artistry of the time.
(I particularly love the illustration of the classy bitch in the pink apron, who is sipping tea while she's cooking. I like to think that her tea has a little kick to it, since she's alive in the 1950's, and is expected to be a domesticated housewife. But she wants more. Adding a little something to her tea is her way of rebelling, all while appearing to uphold the status quo.)
I may be looking too much in to this.
BUT. I still love this pattern, mostly because it so perfectly illustrates the fashion and style of the time. Just by looking at it, it's completely obvious that the pattern is from the 1950's, which I think makes it incredibly special and beautifully done.
Inspired by vintage sewing patterns: Simplicity sewing pattern, style #5029
I know that this is a men's pattern, but I thought it was just too cool to leave out of the post. The pattern is from the 1960's (WTF! again) and is a button down's men's shirt, either long sleeve or short sleeve, complete with either one or two pockets.
This pattern is similar to the Advance #7751 pattern in that the illustrations are obviously hand drawn, and so beautifully done. I particularly love the three generations of men that show the pattern can work for a man of any age.
You know it's cool when son, father, & grandfather all willingly wear the same shirt together.
(The style even appeals to men that sell drugs? The guy in the middle with the green shirt looks suspiciously like he's holding a bag of drugs, but he obviously DGAF. Look at that smile.)But really, the 60's were much more liberating than the 50's, so who knows?
ANYWAYS. This pattern is such a timeless classic, it is literally identical to the button downs that men still wear today. When I first pulled out this pattern, my husband automatically said, "I'll take all 3 of those, please."
Like actually. Now THAT is a good pattern--One that stands the test of time.
One that men wore easily in the 60's, and men 50+ years later still love and want to wear. Or, maybe men are just boring.
Inspired by vintage sewing patterns: McCall's sewing pattern, style #6905
I love this particular pattern because it has a very holiday-esque look about it. The pattern is from 1979, and can be used as either a long dress or as a slip. I particularly love that purple beauty. (Look at that slit!)
Can't you imagine someone wearing it in 1979 to a New Year's Eve party, sipping on champagne?
As with the previous two patterns, I love the hand drawn illustrations on the pattern envelope. To me, the stylistic difference between the 1950's & 1960's patterns compared with this 1970's pattern is pretty incredible.
The faces & hairstyles of this 70's pattern are much more detailed and pronounced than the women's faces & hairstyles from the 1950's pattern. And while the women in this pattern are completely different, the women from the 50's pattern could be identical.
Looking at this pattern, you would never think it's from the 1950's.(I also feel like the women in this pattern would get along excellently with green man from the men's pattern. Am I right? They would have the BEST parties.)
ANYWAYS. After looking through my patterns, I feel like this is about the time when vintage sewing patterns started to get more diverse. All three of the styles on the pattern envelope are pretty different and diverse, whereas earlier patterns with multiple styles were pretty much the same, with minor tweaks.
This pattern even offers a short option for the dress & slip, if the seamstress was feeling a little daring. (But an interesting choice to not include an illustration with the shorter hem.. Maybe a reflection of the times?) Just something to think about.
Inspired by vintage sewing patterns: McCall's sewing pattern, style #8474
With this pattern, we are jumping to the 90's! I used to really despise the style from the 90's, but as I've gotten older I have come to appreciate it more and more. This particular pattern is for a full maxi skirt--My kind of beauty!
With this pattern, we still have the hand drawn illustrations, which I was pretty excited about. Again, the difference in illustration between this pattern and the one from the 70's is so obvious. They all have different facial features, and you can even see that they're wearing makeup. (I have always struggled with drawing faces, so I think this is pretty incredible.)
The illustrations do an excellent job of showing the different ways that this basic skirt can be sewn. All of the skirts look SO different, yet they are all pretty much the same.
The garments themselves are also incredibly detailed--Much more detailed than any of the previous pattern illustrations. I particularly love the grey skirt with the center front seam--That would be such a classic beauty to have in your closet!
This is also the first pattern that gives a timeline for how long the pattern would take to sew up.
I feel like this is definitely a reflection of the times, when women started getting busier and more prominent in the workforce. They needed easy projects that they could get done quickly, because they were working women. Pretty interesting, right?
Inspired by vintage sewing patterns: Butterick sewing pattern, style #4440
We are staying in the 90's with this final pattern, and LOOK! Not only do we have hand drawn illustrations, but we also have a real life photograph. I LOVE this pattern.
The style is SUCH a classic look, one that I think pretty much defines the 90's. Yet I would also still definitely wear this today. As with the previous pattern, the hand drawn illustrations are beautifully detailed. All of the women look completely different, and the garments are so incredibly detailed.
Every style is different and beautiful.
I find it interesting that they included an actual photograph along with the illustrations. Again, I think it's a reflection of the times: People wanted to start seeing how the design looked on a real person, so that pattern companies responded accordingly.
You can also see that with this pattern it says "Fast & Easy" at the top.. Again, more and more women were working, and had a limited amount of time to work on their sewing. Just something to note, that I find highly interesting.
I think this pattern might actually have to be a monthly project on The Flora Modiste, I just love it so much.. Stay tuned!
Inspired by vintage sewing patterns: Which one is your fav?
I think what is so appealing about vintage sewing patterns is one of two things:
- The design is absolutely timeless, and can be worn no matter the decade.
- The design is completely reminiscent of the decade it was designed in, and will forever represent that moment in time.
One outlook is classic, while the other is nostalgic. I think I fall into more of the classic outlook.. I love timeless looks that will never go out of style.
BUT. I'm still really excited to make the 50's apron, that is 100% representative of the decade it was created in.
Do you have a favorite vintage sewing pattern? I'd love to hear all about it! I can't wait to make a few of these beauties myself.