A New Way to Look at Vintage Sewing Patterns
Most of the time trends in fashion come full circle. Vintage clothing actually inspired me to continue my sewing after graduating from fashion design school. Up-cycling vintage clothing was a favorite pass time for me, but lately I’ve been tailoring vintage sewing patterns to create modern styles with recycled fabrics. Vintage sewing patterns are in almost every thrift store for less than a dollar.
With these two simple tips, you can revamp any vintage sewing pattern to convey a more modern look that can be worn anywhere. I followed these tips when I handmade the jersey-knit sweater you see in this post.
Tip 1 – It’s All About Fabric
Sometimes, it’s something as simple as just changing the fabric. Don’t just follow the instructions on the vintage sewing pattern, mix it up and incorporate a silky fabric instead of a linen type fabric. Last summer I created a cape from an old 1970’s pattern that required wool fabric. A week earlier I had found colorful African Ikat fabric at a local garage sale and used that instead of the wool fabric required in the original pattern. This turned into a wonderful bohemian look that had a vintage vibe. I applied the same technique for the sweater wrap you see in this post. The pattern originally called for a light-weight polyester or cotton woven fabric but I actually chose knit instead. If you choose to switch from woven to knit be careful to allow for stretch, or if you choose woven instead of knit create darts for structure.
Tip 2 – Embellishments, Top-stitching and Print
Another way to update a vintage sewing pattern is to create an embellishment or a deconstructed addition that isn’t expected. My personal preference is hand beading, but you can also add embroidery, lace or add clean cut outs. I used a light blue thread that I had in my sewing kit to top stitch along the shoulder seam instead of a common white or grey thread. It wasn’t the most elaborate, but sometimes simple ideas make a big difference. Get creative with whatever inspires you for that pattern! Something I’ve always wanted to experiment with is prints, in an eco-friendly way. Just by adding a print to the side of a dress or on the back of a top can give the vintage look an instant update.
Flea markets, thrift stores, and salvage stores are great places to look for recycled fabrics and vintage sewing patterns.
In the comments below, feel free to share a vintage pattern you picked up recently that you’ve been dying to recreate. I just picked up a 90’s accessory pattern-pack complete with a retro backpack purse, drawstring duffle bag and pochette purses.