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.
The mandarin-style collar is similar to the collar on this 60s Chanel pattern in my collection:
and you can see a number of similar jackets from this era in the online collection of the Metropolitan Museum’s costume institute.
Here are the technical drawings of the pattern:
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.
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:
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:
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)
I don’t know about the wrap, but the retro suit is cute, particularly the Marilyn Monroe bikini.
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?
I think I could actually pull off this “Valley of the Dolls” style. (Not the hair, though.)
For the men, I like this classic coat and bomber jacket. You could be a contender.
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:
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:
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:
Butterick’s late 60s- early 70s “Young Designer” patterns by Betsey Johnson, Kenzo, Mary Quant, John Kloss, and Willi 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:
50s McCalls “Black Line” patterns by Claire McCardell, Givenchy, and Pauline Trigere…
How about it, readers, are there any vintage pattern you’d like to see re-released?