I love vintage sewing. It’s the high-maintenance aspect of using the original patterns that gives me a pain. Fortunately, there are a number of vintage pattern reproductions and homages in current release that can keep you busy without the hassle of working with an old pattern.
Surprisingly, many of my favorite vintage-style patterns are not from the “vintage” or “retro” collections. Those can turn out looking costume-y or kitsch, and I’m just too old to pull it off without looking dotty. And pattern reviewers often find that the fit of these patterns has been modernized and made too roomy.
The patterns I like tend to be from the main collections of Big-4 or small commercial companies, or from indy companies that re-release vintage patterns.
Here’s one example. If I wanted to reproduce a Norman Norell “Mermaid Dress” seen here:
I could modify this Vogue Badgley Mischka pattern that’s currently in release.
(First thing I’d do is take up that armscye.) The sequins on the original Norells were each hand-sewn on twice to make them lay flat, so I’m not going to be taking on that project on anytime soon.
With any of these patterns, you need to look beyond the photos and use your imagination to see how they can be modified for a vintage look. For example, View A (right photo) of this typical boho pattern can be easily modified to create this 40s Claire McCardell “Hostess Dress”, made of wool jersey. She basically invented the peasant dress we all wore in the 70s.
Here are a few pattern suggestions for my favorite bloggers, chosen from patterns that are commercially available now. You can see details on my Pinterest page: Favorite Vintage Re-releases.
Many of these patterns come in a range of sizes, with modern instructions, and can be easier to deal with than actual vintage patterns.
For Carrie from Apricot Adventure blog, who looks like Megan from Mad Men, adjusts the fit on her dresses perfectly, and is a scientist to boot, I’m seeing this Burda repro of a late 60s glam girl dress: Burda Glam Dress. What do you think, Carrie? Maybe for your bachelorette party?
Put some chiffon sleeves on it, and you can do your own version of “Zou Bisou Bisou.”
For Lizzie of The Vintage Traveler, who just did a post on Winter Olympic Uniforms through the years, featuring the Unfortunate Christmas Sweater:
how about this fab 30s blanket coat from Wearing History?
For Red Point Taylor, who stitches up lovely jackets (see her beautiful French Jacket here), a cropped jacket for her next Chanel adventure:
I like the 30s-style high-waist pants and “naughty secretary” blouse in the pattern, too.
Maybe a Schiaparelli Wrap from Decades of Style for chilly nights in Paris?
Here’s my review of that pattern: Schiaparelli Wrap Review
There’s also a shorter “Smoking Jacket” version in the pattern, to wear when he gets those vintage sewing machines of his smokin’. The shorter jacket won’t get in the way of the knee lift.
For Patricia of Notes from High Road blog, who enjoys projects from Japanese pattern books and international magazines, how about a Vietnamese Ao Dai from Folkwear, a company that carries patterns for traditional ethnic garb from around the world, as well as a number of vintage styles.
For Lynn of American Age Fashion, a blog that chronicles how older women have dressed throughout the years, and who just wrote this hilarious post about what Coco Chanel wore to a Texas Barbeque:
After some pulled pork and a few drinks, who knows? Coco might have gotten up and performed Agnes DeMille’s ballet “Rodeo”. Then she would have gone home with this guy:
Mr. Negroni from Colette Patterns.
And for the rest of you, how about a 40s film noir nighty?
60s Laura Petrie Capris?
An “American Hustle” 70s wrap dress?
A 40s sarong?
I know there are many other favorites I’m missing, particularly from indy pattern companies. If you have suggestions, please jump in!