5 Ways To Be Inspired By Vintage Sewing Patterns

5 Ways to be inspired by vintage sewing patterns featured image

Oh vintage sewing patterns, how I love you so! (Sew?) I originally wrote this post a few years back--when I first started the blog--before I inherited my true treasure trove of vintage pattern designs. 

The original sewing patterns I posted about were fun--the ultimate gem was this beautiful vintage apron design from the 1950's. But aside from that one, the patterns and designs weren't really all that unique. (Which is perhaps why I never ended up sewing a single one?)

Earlier this year, amidst the height of the pandemic, one of our old friends from NYC called to check in. She told me that while she was cleaning out her home (I mean, who isn't right now) she found a ton of her mother's vintage pattern design textbooks--from the 1930's and 40's.

Like I said--treasure trove.

She ended up sending me all of her mother's textbooks and patterns, and I have seriously spent hours just marveling and looking at all of the unique, magnificent designs. These vintage sewing patterns truly are inspirational, so of course I had to share some of them with you guys. 

And I am actually going to start making one of the designs (!) once it finally starts to cool down here in San Diego. (I cannot make a coat when it's still 95 degrees out, I just can't.)

(Looking to sew your own vintage sewing pattern? Well girl, you'll need a sewing kit first. Learn how to build your very own sewing kit with our downloadable step-by-step guide and you'll be sewing in no time!)

A step-by-step guide on how to build a sewing kit

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The matching dress + jacket

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The matching dress + jacket

Earlier this year I sent out a vote on which design to make--and you guys picked the one I will be moving forward with! The one you picked is absolutely gorgeous--and was secretly my favorite all along. The design is a matching dress and jacket combo (because of course it is) that beautifully complement one another. 

The dress is midi length and fitted--the short sleeve top closes with a center front zipper, with the midline sash showing off that waistline and tying in the back. A full 7 piece skirt flows from the waistline, voluminous and magnificent. 

The matching jacket is a bit more complicated--it falls at the hip, with the hemline echoing the curved seam lines of the dress' waistline. The princess seams create a fitted silhouette that flow seamlessly into those of the dress, with sweet little pockets along the breast that continue to echo the unique curves of the design. 

This vintage sewing pattern truly is a beauty--and I hope that I can do it justice! This project is going to be a long one in the making--like months long--so that I can truly spend the time on it that it deserves. I'm guessing there will be many muslins (unlike just the one that I usually do for our projects) and I will be sewing SLOW to ensure that everything is on point. 

So, for now, let's look at some additional incredibly inspirational vintage sewing patterns. (Maybe you can pick one for your own Fall sewing..?)

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The pleated patch pocket skirt 

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The pleated patch pocket skirt

This design was a close second in the vintage sewing pattern vote--and even after I finally finish the design that was chosen, I think I'm still going to make this little beauty. It truly is timeless, and just absolutely gorgeous. 

And the design has all of my favorite things: A midi length hemline, patch pockets, and pleats! (Btw, we've covered how to sew both patch pockets and pleats in past posts. That's how much I love them.) 

The slim silhouette of the skirt truly is reminiscent of the 1930's and 40's, as are those thick, chunky pleats. I'm assuming the skirt is closed using an invisible side zipper, to help keep that silhouette minimal and clean.

What more can you ask for in a perfect skirt? Pair it with a simple tee, some cute heels, and you are SET. 

(Looking to sew your own vintage sewing pattern? Well girl, you'll need a sewing kit first. Learn how to build your very own sewing kit with our downloadable step-by-step guide and you'll be sewing in no time!)

A step-by-step guide on how to build a sewing kit

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The pleated dress

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The pleated dress

So I'm guessing you can tell I love my pleats. 

This design actually reminds me a bit of a project we did a few years ago--The Michele Chevron Pleated Dress. That project was so incredibly difficult (chevron pleats, anyone?) but I absolutely loved the look of the pleats underneath a sweater or a jacket.. And now I know why! It's a pretty classic look. 

While this design looks like two different pieces (a pleated skirt and a separate top) it's actually just one dress. Separates are more of a modern development in the industry--which I am incredibly grateful for--but there is just something so elegant about how this dress flows as one. 

Of course, the pleats are the dominating feature of the design. The top has a sort of shawl/cowl-like collar, which closes with some center front buttons. As a girl that loves a dress she can just throw on and off--I am ALL about the ease and comfort of this dress. 

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The open back top 

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The open back top

Designing tops has never been a strength of mine, so when I see a unique one, I am IN. Not only does this beauty have some pretty unusual seamwork, but that open back is just gorgeous. 

The top is very fitted along the waistline, while being a little less so along the bust. Both the bust and sleeve caps are gathered to help break up the design and, I'm assuming, to help create some interesting fullness in the design. 

But of course--that open back is the main feature of the design. I have always loved pieces in which the back is the main feature because most designs tend to really only feature the front. And rightfully so--but I still love me a design with a beautiful construction detail in the back. 

Also, the closure is just so elegant--the top just sort of swoops together, and is truly just so unique. The seam lines along the waist also echo those of the front, tying both the front and the back of the design together. 

(Looking to sew your own vintage sewing pattern? Well girl, you'll need a sewing kit first. Learn how to build your very own sewing kit with our downloadable step-by-step guide and you'll be sewing in no time!)

A step-by-step guide on how to build a sewing kit

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The fitted kimono dress

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: The fitted kimono dress

This was another of the designs that you guys voted on earlier in the year--and it is one of my absolute favorites! I feel like I have truly never seen anything like it. 

The unique seam lines of the dress are absolutely gorgeous, and are also incredibly flattering. The dress ties in the back, cinching in that waistline, creating an even more dramatic and flattering silhouette. 

It's hard to decide what is the more unique feature--the seam lines or those kimono sleeves that sort of perk up. I feel like those sleeves would be a bit of a challenge to draft and sew correctly (you would absolutely HAVE to have the right fabric for it) but I think I'm kind of down for it. 

While this definitely wouldn't be an everyday dress to wear.. it would absolutely be a (slightly more minimal) showstopper. And who doesn't love having one or two of those in their closet? 

So. Are you inspired?

Vintage sewing pattern inspiration: New design coming soon!

Whether you are looking to make the pattern yourself (you go girl!) or sew up an already existing vintage sewing pattern, I hope you will have found this post inspirational and useful in some way. Fashion and design truly was in its own league back in the 1930's & 40's--it was elegant and graceful, all while being pretty minimal. 

Looking back, a lot of the fabrics used in the 30's and 40's were also pretty plain. Which means that the designs truly speak for themselves. (Stay tuned on which fabric I will end up choosing for our vintage sewing pattern design.. I'm definitely going to need your help!)

I hope that you will follow TFM as I work through drafting, fitting, cutting, and sewing our very first vintage sewing pattern. It's going to be a process, but it's going to be a beautiful one! I will of course share tips I learn along the way, and what ultimately goes into drafting and sewing a design you really only have a picture to go off of. 

Are there any vintage designs you want us to make here at TFM? Or perhaps make yourself..? 

(Looking to sew your own vintage sewing pattern? Well girl, you'll need a sewing kit first. Learn how to build your very own sewing kit with our downloadable step-by-step guide and you'll be sewing in no time!)

A step-by-step guide on how to build a sewing kit

 

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