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)

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

  1. Look at that amazing red dress in the top photo. Made more brilliant by CH’s traffic stopping figure. Good luck on your journey with vintage patterns. I sew here and there with VP, I’m actually doing a muslin of one now. Would love to see your progress and what you make! Oh, and I’ve been slowly catching up on Downton Abbey starting with season 2. Might have to Wiki seasons 1 and 2 to get ready for Season 3 which will finally air in January!

    Like

    1. I LOVE CH’s red dress in the top photo – it looks stunning on her. Thanks for the good luck – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tweaking the sizing of the patterns won’t be too hard. I’ll make sure I keep you all up to date with how things are doing on the vintage pattern front. I was hoping to start making them after Christmas (bit busy at the moment in the run up to festivities). But I have gone a bit crazy and bought a load more, and I’ll be scanning them in and uploading them soon. What are you making at the moment?
      Glad to hear you’re enjoying Downton! Enjoy season three – it’s really wonderful. It’s a return to form, with a more relaxed pace like season one and not to hectic as season two 🙂

      Like

      1. I am getting swamped with holiday things as well. But, still managing to get a few sewing things out. I am making a muslin of a 1950’s blouse with a sweet peplum. Still need to upload a photo but it may be a little small so I too have to do some altering. Vintage pattern buying is addictive. But, these things only increase in value, maybe not high art but heck keeps me out of trouble. Sort of. 🙂

        Like

      2. the blouse sounds wonderful! I know just what you mean about vintage pattern buying being addictive… I’m going to have to try and reign myself in after the festive holidays! You are right though, these sorts of things can only increase in value after all. And it’s not as if you can buy any pattern when you want to, like with modern ones, when you see it for sale you need to decided then and there whther you want it or not, because you probably won’t see it again! I’ve been buying most of mine from California and Florida – you hardly get any surviving patterns here in the UK, I guess our inclement weather does not help tissue paper survive sixty years 🙂

        Like

    1. Thank you! I have to admit that I’ve gotten a bit carried away with my purchases, and now have a small pile of jiffybags by my side… I’ll be scanning in the patterns one by one and uploading them here… and blogging about how my dressmaking attempts are going 😉

      Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s