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Top tips to sew vintage

Whether you’re a 50s vixen, a 60s siren or a sucker for the 70s, vintage is one trend that won’t go out of fashion.

Helping you indulge your creative side, here is a rundown of things to consider before picking up a needle!




Customise with vintage bling 

Sewing can be a daunting task to jump head first into, if you haven’t stitched before. Ease yourself in gently by customising a previously dull outfit with vintage pieces. With customisation becoming increasingly popular, adding anything from a 1940s art deco brooch to beautifully aged brass buttons is the perfect way to update an outfit and successfully start a craft hobby, using basic sewing skills.

Vintage accessories


Be Prepared

It may be a cliché but being prepared is the best way of avoiding stress when following any sewing pattern. With vintage patterns often taking more time than a modern pattern, choosing the correct amount of fabric and having all the equipment to hand is essential.


Pick a fabulous fabric

Making your own clothing allows you to choose whichever style, fabric and fit you like best. With vintage fashion celebrating a variety of bold prints- from the checks and stripes of the 60s to the bermuda prints of the 70s, choose a fabric that is unique, allowing you to stand out from the crowd. Consider giving fabric a new lease of life, with vintage curtains becoming an excellent source of material for an eye catching dress.

Vintage fabric

Sizing is key

When sewing a vintage style of clothing, always bear in mind sizing.  Remember that women’s sizes and shapes have altered over the years, with original vintage sewing patterns from the 1940s to the 1970s producing varying dress sizes. The general rule for making vintage clothing is to make them 2 sizes larger than the modern day equivalent, worth remembering when choosing your pattern size!

The great news is that if you choose a Vintage style pattern from the Simplicity, New Look or Burda range then you can treat them exactly the same as any other modern day patterns. Although based on authentic vintage designs, all vintage inspired patterns have been resized to fit our modern figures, ensuring both ease of use and accuracy.

When following any sewing pattern for dresses and jackets, always go by the bust measurement. If you are a cup size C or above, take high bust measurements above the bust and use that as your bust measurement. Then adjust the pattern to allow for your fuller bust size, making it much simpler than adjusting the shoulders and back measurements.

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Choose the perfect sewing pattern.

When possible use a vintage design sewing pattern with multi-sized options. These patterns are a fabulous choice if you are not a standard size – as indeed, very few people are. With the majority of women classed as a ‘pear’ body shape, multi-size patterns mean you can cut from one size to another easily to find the perfect fit!

Simplicity 50s vintage

Vintage fashion covers all styles- from 1970s trouser suits to 1950s pencil skirts. When making skirts or trousers choose the pattern size by the waist measurement. Alternatively, if your hips are two sizes or more larger than the waist, choose your pattern by the hip size and simply adjust at the waist.


Tissue fitting: Toile cuts toil!

A good way to test the pattern size before cutting into lovely new fabric is to tissue fit. Cut out the pattern pieces – leaving excess tissue around the edges and then pin a back to a front piece at shoulders and side, remembering to pin on the sewing line not the cutting line. Check that the centre front and centre back placement marks are correct on you. If not, you can cut up the tissue and add extra, or indeed take a little out. If your chosen fabric is very special, it is also a good idea to make a ‘toile’ – this is a sample garment made from cheap calico or sheeting.


Be Inspired

Vintage fashion offers a wealth of inspiration for budding crafters. From the classic prom dresses of the 1950s to the short hem lines of the swinging 60s, there is a style to suit every shape and size.

And with a growing number of people taking to sewing, there’s a large community of blogs and bloggers to get you inspired. On our vintage blog love list is the likes of We Sew Retro, a Stitching Odyssey  and Handmade Jane  – and about a 100 more!