Vintage sewing patterns are very popular. Not only because their value is high (especially when they are collector's items!) but mainly because many seamstresses also consider it as a sport to actually make clothes of the sewing patterns. They make the clothes to wear themselves or for Cosplay and LARP events. But there are some common problems and we have tips to avoid them.
Vintage sewing patterns are more popular than ever
If you make yours clothes yourself, you are aiming it does not show... Seamstresses prefer not to hear, "Selfmade?" when they should actually be proud of the fact they made the cloths themselves. But they are afraid that there is always an undertone in that comment like: "You can see that, it is just not good enough". Of course that is nonsense, because self-made cloths are often unique, beautifully tailored and much more sustainable.
With vintage clothing, however, there is a different tenor. "Self-made" makes more sense and sounds like a compliment. Finally, vintage clothing is often striking because of the shapes and lines and therefore super feminine. If you have found the right size, or if you have done some pattern adjustments, the clothing is also nicely tailored.
Cosplay and LARP
Vintage sewing patterns are often very popular for Cosplay and LARP. Sewing patterns: 'Historical clothing' ánd Cosplay, but also all other retro- and vintage patterns.
Because of the shapes in the vintage clothing, they are often nice to expand with corsets, crinolines underneath or to make mega dresses. But eventhough... you can run into problems while making vintage clothing ...
Pay attention! The pitfalls of vintage sewing patterns:
1. The times when 'vintage' or 'reto' was reallife, there were no elastic or stretchable fabrics. The sewing patterns are therefore all based on fabrics such as: garbadine, chiffon, linen, lace, cotton, jacquard and wool. The clothing must therefore be properly tailored because the fabric will not help you to feel comfortable or make you look super-shaped like stretch fabrics do...
Tip: don't make these patterns of elastic or stretchy fabrics. This can cause the pattern to be incorrect and give strange results. Choose fabrics which are recommended for the sewing pattern or the onces you like to both sew and wear.
2. In vintage patterns there are many darts and pleats. If you want to create a nice upper body or a nice waist, you can count on it that there will be a lot of darts in the pattern that will create the desired shape. With some fabrics this is difficult to achieve and it looks less beautiful than you had hoped.
Tip: learn to work with darts and pleats and consider it as a challenge. Use a sewing mannequin (adjusted to your size) to pin the darts in and 'play' with it until it fits. Take your time so it doesn't become a frustration. Once you get the feeling for 'shaping', it's more fun than you thought it would be!
3. Most of the patterns that show over-exaggerate waistes, often illustrated on the cover of the sewingpattern. But remember in these times women were always wearing corsets under their outfits. Nature was given a helping hand to create the waist that most women can now only dream of ...
Tip: Do you still want a (very) small waist to fit in the vintage dresses? Buy an elasticated waist corset, one that fits snugly but creates a little more waist. In the 'shapewear' section of underwear, you can often find pleasant waist shapers that you can wear comfortably without gasping for breath or torturing your body. A tight, shape shirt also works wonders and often not only fits comfortably, but also looks really nicer under tighter dresses or blouses.
4. Collars often have different or even strange shapes (see picture above). The ends of the collars are often sharper, longer or sometimes weirdly shaped. Or like the top photo, far right: floral. Sometimes this really fits into the overall picture. Sometimes they are over-the-top or make the clothes look old-fashioned instead of interesting.
Tip: adjust the collars to your own ideas. Copy the bottom length of the collar from the pattern and the rest of the pattern with a pencil. You then have the basis. After this you can make the collar ends as long, as straight, as round or as short as you would like.
5. Finally, we would like to point out that vintage dresses are often midi length. Or blouses are just a little too long (these were often worn in the skirt, never loose / casual over it). The length of the midi dresses and skirts can look nice, but also old-fashioned or messy, or accentuate thick calves, for example.
Tip: very simple: adjust the length. Do this as the very last action. Try on the dress for a mirror, or on the sewing mannequin and let someone else help you. Your own perspective from above often gives a different picture than a person who is further away and sees a better overall picture. The length of blouses is easier to adjust. If you like to wear a blouse loose, don't make it too long, this looks more sloppy than nice and casual.
Advantages of vintage sewing patterns:
But there are also many advantages of vintage sewing patterns. As we have already mentioned: the sewing patterns are often ideal for Cosplay and LARP and often eye-catchers because of the beautiful shapes and special lines. Moreover, the fabrics that are used are also different than usual or have a nice 'retro print'.
Another plus is that many patterns can be used as a 'normal pattern'. See above: The blouses are often classic, timeless and just super feminine. Especially on the left: the blue blouse would look great combined with jeans, and high heels or higher boots.
Remember what Mary said about Downton Abbey clothing: "I really wanted to take the blouses home, I was totally hooked."
Finally: the vintage sewing patterns are often ideal for indulging in buttons and beautiful trims. Just like our beloved Chanel style jacket! Be creative, indulge yourself and make it unique. Get rid of mass production, throwaway clothes.
Create your own clothes with beautiful vintage sewing patterns!
We are a non-profit sewing-community. We are sharing information, sewing pattern-reviews, book-reviews and lots of sewing guides for sewing-beginners and advanced seamstress.
Pardon my English