Making New into Old

Since I sprained my ankle this week, sewing, and everything else, is taking longer than usual.  I’m making progress but not enough to post this week.  I though I’d take this time to write about the idea of making new patterns look like old garments.

There are many reasons why a sewist might want to make a new pattern fit like an old garment.  It’s hard to find patterns in certain sizes.  Sometimes patterns go for much higher on eBay than you’re willing to pay.  Sometimes newer sewists are hesitant to work with vintage patterns, especially unprinted patterns.  The best way to alter current patterns to feel like vintage ones is to study vintage ones.  If you don’t have any, it’s best to get one or two inexpensive ones.  It doesn’t matter if they are your size.  You need to compare them to a modern pattern of a similar garment.  For instance, if the vintage pattern is a classic button-front blouse, compare it to a current classic fitted blouse of the same size.  Because vintage garments are fitted closer to the body, you need to stick to more fitted current patterns.  It will be very difficult to make a loose fitting blouse with 5-6in of ease into a vintage-looking blouse.   Generally speaking, a vintage pattern will have more darts, deeper darts, a higher armscye and a darted sleeve.  Sometimes, all it takes of make a current pattern into a vintage styled garment is adding these elements.

One of the key differences between current and vintage patterns is that 1950’s patterns are drafted for a larger difference between bust, waist and hip.  This means that a FBA is already drafted into the pattern.  For a current pattern, this means adding a FBA.  However, instead of leaving the extra ease through the tummy like modern sewing books recommend, a vintage garment would have that extra ease taken up with a larger or secondary dart through the tummy.  For an example, take a look at New Look 6808.  This is a current pattern that can be purchased at any Hancock’s or JoAnn’s and probably any store that carries Simplicity patterns, as they are owned by the same company.  As you can see from the instruction sheet, this top has only a single vertical waist dart.  You can see in my muslin that I have done a 1in FBA and added a second vertical waist dart to take up the ease through the waist area.  The end result is a top that just barely skims the torso, like a vintage garment.  I hope to be able to post pictures of the finish garment soon.


About andreahg

I'm a stay-at-home wife and mom to two boys, a cat and two rough collies. I love to sew and knit with vintage patterns, primarly from the WWII era.
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