More “Faking Vintage Looks with Modern Patterns”

To continue my series on “Faking Vintage Looks with Modern Patterns” (Vintage Schmintage), here’s a look at recent pattern releases that could be used to create vintage-style garments without the hassle of working with a vintage pattern. I’ve chosen these from the summer catalogs of the major commercial pattern companies.

You can find all of these patterns, and more, on my pinterest page Vintage Pattern Re-releases.

Claire Shaeffer’s new Chanel-style cardigan jacket pattern for Vogue has a nice cut with narrow sleeves that could easily work for a 1950s-60s look.

Shaeffer Chanel Jacket Pattern (Claire Shaeffer jacket pattern)

The mandarin-style collar is similar to the collar on this 60s Chanel pattern in my collection:

Chanel pattern

and you can see a number of similar jackets from this era in the online collection of the Metropolitan Museum’s costume institute.

1958 Chanel Suit 1958 Chanel Suit

Here are the technical drawings of the pattern:

Shaeffer Technical Drawings

though what they don’t show clearly is that front of the jacket has a center-front panel that curves into the neckline, which may make matching plaids difficult. (If this is your first time at the Chanel jacket rodeo, take my advice and don’t pick a plaid. This post explains why: Chanel Jacket #2: Blood, Sweat and Tears.)

The instructions in the Shaeffer pattern are quite comprehesive, outlining her well-researched and very precise haute couture method. For more information, Claire Shaeffer’s book  The Couture Cardigan Jacket comes with a DVD explaining her style of construction step by step. Just a heads up that her method is extremely labor-intensive with lots of hand-basting and hand-stitching, and this pattern is no exception. Typically it takes more than 70 hours to make a Chanel-style quilted jacket, and in truth 100+ hours is more realistic.

Gretchen Hirsch of “Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing” has come up with a new lingerie pattern for Butterick, which is vintage in feel, though it’s drafted for knits, rather than the traditional bias-cut wovens that were used in these kinds of slips from the 20s through the 60s.

Gertie PatternGertie Lingerie

(Butterick Lingerie Pattern)

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, as knits are easier to manage than slippery charmeuse-type fabrics cut on the bias.

Something else that’s nice about the pattern is that it comes with separate bodice bust pieces sized in A through D cups, making it much easier to fit. Gretchen is currently doing a sew-along of this pattern, and in this post she demonstrates how to modify the pattern for an even larger bust: (Sew-along). Since many original vintage patterns are sized for the tiny people who lived several generations ago, having this kind of fit flexibility is one of the benefits of using a modern pattern to make vintage looks.

When you’re done, you’ll either have a sexy “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” full slip:

Liz Taylor (there she is again…)

or a more 70s undies and cammie set.


Sort of like that, anyway. The pattern looks cute.

As for true vintage reproductions, I think the companies under the Simplicity umbrella in the U.S. (Simplicity, Burda Style, and New Look) have done the best job lately of re-releasing patterns reflecting the wide range of vintage sewing styles I’m seeing in sewing blogs. Much of current vintage sewing can be lumped into the following groups:

* Medieval through Downton Abbey: costumers who are pretty much in their own high-level sewing time zone;

* Flapper through Film Noir: People who re-create 20s, 30s, and 40s daytime and cabaret-type looks, including the WWII reenactors (many of them women). You can frequently find this style on blogs like We Sew Retro and Lucky Lucille, who’s running a 40s Sew For Victory Sew-along this month.

* 50s/60s Rockabilly meets “I Love Lucy”-style vintage, with crinolines, beehive hairdos and atomic attitude thrown in (Check out Sew Retro Rose); you’ll also see sleek “wiggle” dresses in the style of Joan from “Mad Men.”

* 50s/60s Sweet or Mod Twiggy-style dresses, often with Peter Pan collars and a thick frosting of “Twee.” Several indy companies make patterns for this group, including Colette Patterns.

*A new group of 70s-style boho psychedelic looks, thanks to Mad Men’s latest season;

* Steampunk and Cosplay, which you’re just going to have to google (as I’ve already gotten in enough trouble with my new Steampunk pals thanks to this post (Steampunk Chanel?);

*And finally, a group of sewing and vintage style mavens who are zealously researching and/or sewing particular garments that stand out in fashion history, including The Vintage Traveler, CarmencitaB, American Age Fashion, and patternmaker Studio Faro. And to that group I would add haute couture sewing enthusiasts, such as Cloning Couture, because there’s a lot of crossover between vintage and haute couture.

Now that I’ve completely stereotyped my fellow vintage sewing enthusiasts, I know you’re ALL going to be mad at me!

While you get over it, check out the “Mad Men Challenge” on Julia Bobbin’s blog to see some great takes on style from the 50s through the early 70s: Julia Bobbin’s “Mad Men Challenge”. Excellent job, everyone!

Here are some vintage-style patterns recently released by Simplicity and Burda Style:

Simplicity boatneckBardot in Breton  Simplicity Boatneck Pattern

This basic version of the 60s boatneck top has French darts (starting low on the bodice near the waist then going up toward the bust point) and dropped shoulders, which is very wearable and “Bardot” in my book. I used French darts when I made this similar crushed boatneck top and I liked how they curved the bodice in from the bust to the waist. Though cut for a woven, I think the pattern would work with a stable knit as well. It’s fun to see the “Jiffy” patterns again, and they’re easy to make. (To see more patterns in this style, check out my pinterest page: The Breton Shirt)

Bombshell suit Monroe in BikiniBombshell suit

I don’t know about the wrap, but the retro suit is cute, particularly the Marilyn Monroe bikini.

Halter tops 2Kristy-McNichol-kristy-mcnichol-10827210-376-500

I’ll admit I’m guilty of having worn 70s Halter Tops like these back in the day, but I don’t know, too Kristy McNichol?

Burda halter Burda palazzo pantsValley-of-the-dolls(Burda Halter pattern) (Burda Palazzo Pants)

I think I could actually pull off this “Valley of the Dolls” style. (Not the hair, though.)

Burda coat patternBrando in bomber jacketBurda coat pattern

For the men, I like this classic coat and bomber jacket. You could be a contender.

Burda bohoBurda Hippy Skirt(Megan Mad MenBurda hippy-wear)(Burda Style Boho Skirt)

And having grown up in the 60s and 70s, I can’t go back to the Age of Aquarius, but for someone younger, these patterns will give you that Mad Men “Megan” look.

Here’s another place I’m not going again:

Burda wedding dress (Burda 50s Wedding Dress)

Burda 60s wedding dress (Burda 60s Wedding Dress)

The 60s pattern would make a nice cocktail dress, though, and I like the horizontal pintucks on the 50s gown bodice.

Simplicity has also released some cute retro clothes for baby:

Simplicity babyBooties (Layette and baby booties)

And Barbie…

Barbie (Barbie clothes pattern)

The green coat with scarf collar is pretty great, and you could also make Barbie a Chanel jacket!

All of these major companies have issued so many wonderful patterns over the past 100 years. I would love to see more re-releases of classics like these:

Diane Von Furstenberg’s original wrap dress patterns for Vogue:

DVF Wrap Patternvogue15491976Christian Bale;Amy Adams (Amy Adams wearing one in “American Hustle”)

Butterick’s late 60s- early 70s “Young Designer” patterns by Betsey Johnson, Kenzo, Mary Quant, John Kloss, and Willi Smith.

Betsey Johnson Bateau-neck patternKenzo PatternMary Quant patternJohn Kloss PatternWilli Smith

I remember making that Kenzo double-wrap skirt as a teen; it’s very clever design.


Vogue Paris Original patterns from the 50s and 60s, like these by Schiaparelli and Yves St. Laurent:

imageMondrian dress pattern

50s McCalls “Black Line” patterns by Claire McCardell, Givenchy, and Pauline Trigere…

imageMcCalls GivenchyMcCalls Trigere

How about it, readers, are there any vintage pattern you’d like to see re-released?


16 thoughts on “More “Faking Vintage Looks with Modern Patterns”

  1. I’d love to see the Vogue Miyake 80’s patterns reissued. Mostly so I could stop spending my mortgage money on them. That accomplished, the McCardell’s would be revived. And everyone would sing and dance in happy, sunshiney meadows…..and all licensing fees would be resolved with rainbows!

    I know I’ve seen variations on the Kenzo skirt since I made a billion of them in my teens. And I still have the Butterick wrap dress knock-o….VERSION of the DVF classic.

  2. O, happy memories! Burda 6965 view B. The pride and joy of my teens. Lots of long seams. I remember it took me ages to get it right but I’ve worn it to shreds. Accessorized with scarfs, long necklaces, bracelets and leather slippers, all ‘India style’. As for a re-release: the clean lines of the Montana patterns, please!

  3. Someone ought to suggest to McCall’s that they re-release those McCardell patterns. They also did a set of 4 Givenchy designs in 1966 I think that were based on Audrey Hepburn’s costumes in How to Steal a Million. I’ve been looking for the one dress in that group for years.

    I love the new Claire Shaeffer jacket pattern, but I will not be making it! The Jiffy boatnecks are more my style!

    • There’s so much good design floating around in those old patterns. It’s great to see people bringing them back to life!
      I certainly don’t feel like making any Chanel jackets now that spring is here. Time to move on to McCardell summer dresses, and maybe another boatneck, too.

  4. II just discovered jetsetsewing this week and I don’t know what impresses me more—the quality of your postings and the time you must devote to them or the quality of your sewing projects and the time you must devote to them.

    I recently finished reading several books that you may find of interest or that you may already have read. The first is a biography of the English designer Jean Muir called “Jean Muir: Beyond Fashion” by Sinty Stemp. It has lots of great pictures as well as text. You should be able to request a copy at the Boston Public Library. I live in Massachusetts and obtained a copy through the Statewide Virtual Catalog and I’m pretty sure the lending library was BPL. I was surprised to discover what a major influential designer Miss Muir was from the sixties up until her death in the 1990s and that she is considered by many to be in the same class as Chanel, Vionnet and Madame Gres. I have two of her patterns in my stash and after reading the book can appreciate her genius.

    The other books are by Karen Karbo and are called “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel” and “Julia Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life.” These are small books and quick reads. The author has a wonderful sense of humor and they are not so much biographies as a look at the subjects’ philosophies of life and style. In Julia Childs case, obviously not about fashion but her love affair with Paris.

    • Hi Patricia, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving those kind words about my blog.
      I’m very happy to hear that there may be a stash of fashion books in the Boston Public Library, as I live about four blocks away. I’m going to go have look for that book, and maybe have lunch in the Library’s courtyard on this beautiful spring day.
      I’m going to seek out those other books as well. I loved Julia Child’s autobiography “My Life in France” though it always made me hungry as I was reading it!

  5. So I have just started working on a muslin for this new Vogue jacket (Chanel like) and I have a plaid fabric … I was just thinking about the construction and plaid fitting… it will be challenging… unless I pick up other fabric 🙂

    • Plaids are definitely a challenge on these jackets, particularly if you have curves. (I think it helped that Coco Chanel was pretty flat-chested…). Maybe you could try drawing the lines of the plaid on your muslin to see how it works.
      Susan Khalje gives a lot of good information about matching plaids in her Couture Dress course on Craftsy as well.
      I’m looking forward to seeing your jacket!

      • The Couture dress is rather simple… I will try to steam the shape of the fronts instead of cutting. Other option is just picking up other fabric – enough in my stash 🙂

  6. Pingback: First steps towards the next French jacket | Red Point Tailor

  7. Pingback: #ThrowbackFashion Ensemble, 1950 by Pauline Trigère (American, born France, 1908–2002) | DUC C. NGUYÊN BLOG

  8. Pingback: So, you’d like to sew your own clothes? | Well Dressed Dad

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