The Joys of Vintage Sewing Patterns

Posted by Caroline Swarbrick Marketing Events & Digital Co-ordinator for Oxfam trading

18th Apr 2012

Fashion blogger Sadie's top tips for using vintage sewing patterns.

One of my favourite pastimes is sewing. And my favourite things to sew are clothes using vintage patterns! I can never seem to find modern patterns that look good, but the vintage ones have plenty to offer in terms of pretty collars, puffed sleeves and retro A-lines. A quick search on eBay or in your local charity shops should provide you with plenty of options at a very low cost.

In the past I've made several mod dresses, a sleeveless blouse and a 50s inspired ¾ length sleeve blouse. I love the fact that the pattern can be adapted to fit my exact shape, and that you get to choose the fabrics and buttons (the best bit!).

Using patterns is easier than you might think. Most patterns come with a handy set of instructions in case you get stuck, but it's usually just a case of cutting out the sections and sewing them together (allowing half an inch for seams). And if you get really stuck, the internet is full of tutorials for everything from putting in a zip, to adjusting a pattern so it fits properly!

I think the best thing about making your own clothes is that you start to appreciate the work that goes into them. It gives you a good eye for quality and makes you focus on investing in well-made pieces rather than going for the fast fashion options… much better for the planet!

Top tips:

- Make sure you get the right size: vintage patterns often run one or two sizes smaller. I'm about a 10 in modern sizes but usually go for a 14 in vintage patterns. Your best bet is to check the actual waist/hips measurements on the pack.
- Use retro fabrics! Some of my best creations have been made from old retro duvets like the one in the background of these photos.
- Don't give up. Making clothes is a long process and can be frustrating at times, but keep your eyes on the end goal!
- Don't like the collar/cuffs/hemline? Make a quick mock up with old fabric and invent your own using the original pattern as a guide!
- Invest in a sewing machine. Not only useful for making clothes, but essential for alterations to second-hand purchases.

Blog post written by Caroline Swarbrick

Marketing Events & Digital Co-ordinator for Oxfam trading

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