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Vintage Inspiration

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For this month’s inspiration post I wanted to focus on my favorite article from the latest Seamwork, Finding Inspiration from Vintage Patterns. Allie does a great job explaining the process of how she searches for vintage inspiration and incorporates details into her current sewing projects.

I found her process super inspiring. Like her, I love me some good vintage clothing, but feel a little exhausted and overwhelmed when looking for it. Vintage garments don’t typically fit me that well.

Allie got me thinking about how I can start to incorporate vintage details into the new pieces I’m making myself this year.

Here at Colette we are lucky to have a really wonderful library of vintage patterns to utilize. So, after reading this month’s issue, I decided to get to work researching pattern details. I did some research and found some really amazing patterns to inspire my next project and make it a little more special.

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The scalloped collar and sleeve detail just made me swoooooon!

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I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding later this year, and I’ve been thinking about making my own dress for the occasion. I really liked how the flutter sleeve on this garment is attached to the princess seam rather than the usual armscye.

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I could see this off shoulder, gathered neckband detail being a great addition to a modern pattern.

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This inseam contrast box pleat will definitely be in my future, and it’d pair perfectly with Laurel.

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Illusion necklines are so pretty and elegant (check out this month’s Behind the Seams).

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I really like the yoke on this pattern and how the pleat imitates the shape of the collar.

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Here is a cute collar stand with gathers radiating from the neckline.

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Bows are a girly-girl’s best friend, and this yoke and neckline detail should be too.

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Adding curved darts with inset gathering could be a really interesting detail on a modern garment today. Devon recently wrote about a similar technique in Block Paper Scissors.

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Have you ever thought about styling a bow neckline tucked into your belt?

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I’m definitely adding this pattern as a whole to my queue. What a cool take on a wrap dress.

Do you like to sew with vintage patterns? If so, share your favorite in the comments!

Taylor Pruitt

Taylor is an enthusiastic maker. As the graphic designer at Colette she infuses her creativity into all of our projects from print to web.

Comments

carla

March 3, 2016 #

Love all your vintage patterns….drooling over here!!!…Specially the last one you can wear the front for the back too.

Taylor

March 3, 2016 #

Ohhh, I like that idea!

Jo Three Stories High

March 3, 2016 #

I love them, when I pick a pattern to buy online and it comes in the post it is always from 1965 – 1969 even if I don’t see the year printed. It must be my ‘thing’ I have made lots too and they really are part of my everyday wardrobe.

Jennifer

March 3, 2016 #

I’ve made several pieces I’ve loved from vintage patterns – I made an usual skirt from an early ’60s dress (basically, a skirt with an attached overblouse) pattern that I loved to death, and a number of late ’50s/early ’60s sundresses. I’ve had some fails, too. I’ve always learned a lot from them.

I usually trace a vintage pattern (when I was young I didn’t, and I’m sorry now), and make a muslin with a vintage pattern. With modern patterns, depending on brand, I generally know where I need to add length and grade out, unless it’s a crazy complicated pattern. I’ve had to fiddle more ’50s patterns in particular – the bust darts usually need adjusting, and the bust-to-waist ratio sometimes reflects the fact that women often wore girdles.

Wilma

March 3, 2016 #

I turned Peony into a forties dress with the help of several Block, paper, scissors’. I would love to get into different collar styles.

Taylor

March 3, 2016 #

Oh, neat! I just made peony, and after the first go I’d like to try another that’s more fitted, I’ll have to try it!

Wilma

March 4, 2016 #

Peony and Moneta are perfect for this. I used three Block, paper, scissors tutorials to create a gored skirt, petal sleeves and a shoulder yoke. I’m just not sure if it’s a Peony now that I’ve altered so much.

Heide

March 3, 2016 #

I can never resist shirt-dresses! Does’t matter the year, they all make me drool. I have an hourglass figure, so 1950’s patterns usually fit perfect, unlike the big commercial companies.
The contrast inverted box pleat on the inseam really intrigues me…… I am already thinking of ways to incorporate it!

Taylor

March 3, 2016 #

You’ll have to send us a pic if you end up doing something like it. Especially with a shirt dress! That seems like a very interesting combination.

Robin

March 3, 2016 #

I tried a modern reprint of a Vogue pattern, a fitted bodice with a side zip and a gathered skirt. I used a cotton batik, which was a nice choice, if a little dull. The final make was too small in the bodice, but that was on me for not adjusting the pattern. Still, I was able to tell that the style looked horrible on me. It made me feel out of place. It must have been an early sixties pattern. I don’t regret trying it, and I found the construction of the bodice fascinating, so much more so than conventional styles. It was a series of interconnecting triangles. So cleverly done. Ultimately, while I admire the design, as you have here with specific details, I feel all of the baggage I associate with vintage and the vintage look. Like my mom, without choices. I don’t really want to look pretty, I want to look like me. So I have decided vintage really isn’t my thing. I do still appreciate the myriad techniques and special touches so obvious in vintage. But frankly I am getting a little tired of all of this living in the past stuff, which is how it is starting to feel now to me. I am waiting for this fad to pass, and hopefully be left with improved, but conventional and dare I say modern designs…sigh.

Taylor

March 3, 2016 #

I hear you Robin. There’s definitely a very thin line of where vintage can turn to costume, and it’s a tough one to navigate. This is why I really like the idea of incorporating some vintage details like a different sleeve or collar as a way to honor that curiosity but still stay with current times and trends…or even the future ;-).

francesca

March 4, 2016 #

What fad? Vintage inspiration is anything but a fad. Every season the big fashion houses are inspired by differing decades of the 20thC. They re-do the 60s, 70s etc and god help us even the 80s! It will never stop happening. So don’t wait for it to pass…
I guess the vintage dresser – whether a sewist or not – could be said to be following a fad – but for most people who are into that, it’s usually more than a fad, and doesn’t really influence others outside that zone.
Then there are those like me who like styles or looks and are influenced by them – I looove the long elegant lines of the 30s, with a dash of full skirted 50s thrown in now and then. I’ve never tried to dress an era or look an era. Today for work I’m wearing a tight ribbed polo neck sweater (turtleneck) with wide legged pants (juniper) and a cropped jacket made from a 50s pattern with chunky heeled timberland boots. I have a similar 40s pattern to the Advance and a couple of 60s patterns like the simplicity and wear tops made from them with linen junipers or a hollyburn or zinnia in summer and feel fresh but smart enough for my very conservative job. My boss says I’m one of the few who’s always elegant and noone ever even thinks I’m vintage inspired. Probably my sister and a couple of my pals are the only ones who get it:). Which is probably because – for instance – in the case of the advance top, when I use my pattern, I lower the neckline lower as I cannot stand anything that high – and I would never make the top with both the collar and the sleeves as it would be over the top for my particular style.

Basically it’s all what you take from it and that’s the brill thing about sewing your own wardrobe. You can make what you want to wear – what suits your taste and lifestyle, and what you’re comfortable in. Anything goes really nowadays – we are so lucky!

Lisa

March 4, 2016 #

I think vintage works well when updated with newer looking fabrics and the downplaying of some of the more typical elements of each decade’s style. That’s what you see in recycled fashion trends. The lines may stay the same but the bow disappears, etc.
This happens with home design as well. For example, my home was built in 1962 so I’ve chosen to purchase many vintage 60s pieces but I’ve thrown modern pieces into the mix and have chosen more modern colors to give it more of a “today” vibe.
The leggings of today certainly aren’t worn like the leggings of the 8os. (And in this case, it’s oddly too bad. I’m tired of looking at leggings worn as pants. They’re tights without feet). I used to wear them with shirtdresses and a belt, and you didn’t see anything above the upper thigh. Now they’re sort of turning into…….athleisure?? I belong to the “leggings are not pants” crowd. A tunic top or an oversized sweater is fine.

Taylor

March 4, 2016 #

It’s really interesting to think about how fashion will be in 100 years from now, and where they will be pulling influences as they create new looks and garments. It always makes me think about the video with projection of what fashion would look like in 2000 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvtxFFj6eDY).

Caroline

March 5, 2016 #

I actually often feel more like “me” in vintage pieces. They fit me well and it’s easier to find the colors and prints that I love, as well as stand out details that make me happy. I also feel pretty good about the fact that vintage pieces, like sewing a garment for yourself, are basically a big middle finger to fast fashion, so not only do I look like me but I’m also actively embracing choices that I feel are ethical.

Michele

March 3, 2016 #

These patterns are so amazingly gorgeous…I am so green with envy. I love the 30s style dress that you are thinking about for the dress for the wedding. I never find such amazing patterns…only 80s and 90s ones. Great finds. Cheers, Michele

Taylor

March 3, 2016 #

Haha I know! It seems that all Goodwill’s have at least one poof-shoulder wedding dress in their stock. Allie mentioned searching on Etsy, so I’m going to start giving that a go too.

Trisha

March 3, 2016 #

I’m delighted by the illusion neckline. I want to try that! The gathered neckband is very intriguing, too. I like how vintage details can inject some glamor into a modern wardrobe. And it’s always fun to try a new spin (or an old one?) to create interest.

Sandra

March 4, 2016 #

At first I thought I’m to vintage to enjoy vintage patterns, but on second thought I think I’m just not girly enough to like them. Or maybe a little of both. But I do love the illusion neckline!

Lisa

March 4, 2016 #

I also found this very inspiring. I’ve got plenty of patterns from the 40s, a few from the 50s and one very precious tailored asymmetrically buttoned dress with collar from the early 30s. My personal style is far more modern than the straight up patterns will give me but I’ve always been so attracted to these clothes (like many others) and they were indeed what originally inspired me to sew (and the fact that I’m tiny and contemporary RTW is generally for larger people). I keep telling myself that I’ll take that 30s pattern out of its plastic case and carefully trace it out but I’m terrified of destroying it! You’ve helped me to realize that I can redraw the style lines elsewhere.
Maybe I’ll just put the pattern in a shadowbox on my wall and keep it safe a little longer. How funny that is, I’m aware, but that one really is my absolute fantasy dress……..that I’ve dreamed I would actually likely turn into a jacket.

Taylor

March 4, 2016 #

It sounds like you have some really great patterns! I definitely have vintage pieces that I’m afraid to wear because of how old they are and I don’t want to rip or ruin any of them (most of them are from my grandmother or my great grandmother). I bet if you were super careful you could do it. Then, you’d have that trace to go off of and you can put that precious pattern back in it’s shadow box :).

Helen White

March 4, 2016 #

Love to see this old patterns. My mother was born in 1916 and of course lived through the Depression. Made her clothing. Took a suit of her fathers and made a suit for herself in sewing class, her teacher was elated at her precise sewing skills.

She made some of my clothing. Never used the Easy patterns. She could have been a fashion coutre, as her desighning and sewing expertise were fantastic.

I never acquired her abilities, but sew once in awhile.

The Black Dress above, my mother had and looks about the same size of the model. Do not know if she made it herself or father bought it for her.

Thanks for an enjoyable read on your site today.

Taylor

March 4, 2016 #

What an interesting story, thank you for sharing Helen!

Gia

March 4, 2016 #

These patterns are all so lovely!
Such wonderful inspiration!

Vivi

March 4, 2016 #

I do, but often I use them just for inspiration as you did here! Love the darts with inset gathering, should definitely give it a try!

Deborah Morrison

March 5, 2016 #

I love a good vintage modern mixup! Your wrap dress pattern is adorable. It reminds me of “the three armhole dress,” a one piece wrap dress pattern from the sixties. Right now I am way into all kinds of one piece dress patterns, from the walkaway dress to modern Japanese designers. The engineering behind them is really interesting. We would all love to see anything you end up making.

Taylor

March 7, 2016 #

I’ll have to look up the three armhole dress, that sounds awesome! So neat.

I’m definitely going to try to insert the wrap dress in my queue soon. I’m currently working on making up the Kenedy from Seamwork’s latest issue, I love all tent dresses!

Gill

March 5, 2016 #

I used Simplicity 7315 (with the roll neck) before it was vintage, in the late 1960s! It was the first pattern I used when I was at school (aged about 13). I made the version with long sleeves in a bright orange cotton, which was my favourite colour at the time. Sadly, no photos – but seeing the picture of the pattern has made me smile and reminisce!

Alice Elliot

March 5, 2016 #

I’ve made some gorgeous ’30’s hats from a pattern from Eva Dress.

allie J.

March 6, 2016 #

Thanks so much for the shout out, I’m glad you liked the article!

Susan

March 8, 2016 #

Oh my! Simplicity 7315 was one of my go-to patterns!! I loved it and could whip it up in an afternoon! I remember making it in a paisley challis. I don’t think I made the Simplicity wrap dress but there was another pattern that looked like View 2 only with buttons. I made it from a piece of fabric that my mother brought me from Hawaii. One big mistake was using very large ball buttons in the back. Looked really.cute but poked like crazy when you sat back again anything. I’m glad these two are still providing inspiration!