A killer wardrobe on a budget – are vintage patterns the answer?

Mad Men - dresses to die for... but where can I get a wardrobe like this on a budget?

Mad Men – dresses to die for… but where can I get a wardrobe like this on a budget?

Joan Holloway has got just the stylish look I want

Joan Holloway has got just the kind of stylish look I want

I haven’t bought any new clothes in at least six months – I have to admit that I’m a picky person when it comes to buying clothes, but I’m rather tired of trekking round the shops and not finding anything I like that fits me properly, or finding something that I do like only to discover it has been made out of a fabric that doesn’t suit me. What my heart desires is a well-cut dress, with a high neckline, knee-length hemline, and some kind of sleeve. To be brutally honest, what I want is to look like Joan Holloway from Mad Men.

So I’ve been looking on the vintage clothing market, and I’ve seen some really lovely clothes. Since I’m looking at building a completely new wardrobe from scratch (the days of being a student are coming to an end, and I hope to land a job *God willing*), I don’t think I can afford to pay vintage shop prices for a whole 1960s wardrobe. *Sob*. So then I rang my Grandmother, just to check in case she had kept all her clothes from the 50s and 60s… no such luck.

Then a friend casually came up with the idea that vintage clothes must have been made from patterns, so why not check those out? A cunning plan. Thirty seconds later I arrived at www.momspatterns.com, and the next thing I knew I was typing in my credit card number to pay for a basket full of gorgeous patterns… and practically ambushing the postman every morning until they arrived! Now none of these patterns is an exact fit for me, but the patterns shouldn’t take too much tweaking to get a killer fit. www.sensibility.com has a great guide to resizing a vintage pattern, with loads of handy pictures that make it all very easy to follow. I cannot wait to get started with vintage dressmaking! For now, enjoy taking a look at these patterns 🙂

Slim dress with short set-in sleeves and matching jacket in choice of two versions, each with three-quarter length set-in sleeves. Dress and jacket have French darts at front. Dress skirt is gathered at side front, has back darts and pleat. Dress has center back zipper and may be underlined. Neck, fronts and lower edge of lined jacket are interfaced. Fronts of jacket with scalloped lower edge are hooked under applied bias bow. Jacket with straight lower edge has purchased frog instead of bow. (McCall's copyright 1965)

Slim dress with short set-in sleeves and matching jacket in choice of two versions, each with three-quarter length set-in sleeves. Dress and jacket have French darts at front. Dress skirt is gathered at side front, has back darts and pleat. Dress has center back zipper and may be underlined. Neck, fronts and lower edge of lined jacket are interfaced. Fronts of jacket with scalloped lower edge are hooked under applied bias bow. Jacket with straight lower edge has purchased frog instead of bow. (McCall’s copyright 1965)

Figure-following sheath with notched neckline. To go with it ... two smart new jackets. One very brief ... with short sleeves and low scooped-neckline that allows dress to show above it. Longer version ... a "penguin jacket", is a cut-away, has three-quarter sleeves. (Butterick, copyright 1958)

Figure-following sheath with notched neckline. To go with it … two smart new jackets. One very brief … with short sleeves and low scooped-neckline that allows dress to show above it. Longer version … a “penguin jacket”, is a cut-away, has three-quarter sleeves. (Butterick, copyright 1958)

Misses' Basic Dress With Two Skirts, Detachable Collars and Sleeve Trim: "Simple to Make" dress has round neckline with front opening and set in sleeves. Belt can be self fabric. Each view has detachable accessories. (Simplicity, copyright 1959)

Misses’ Basic Dress With Two Skirts, Detachable Collars and Sleeve Trim: “Simple to Make” dress has round neckline with front opening and set in sleeves. Belt can be self fabric. Each view has detachable accessories. (Simplicity, copyright 1959)

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