Vintage Sewing

Unprinted Precut Vintage Sewing Patterns

By on January 15, 2017

My least favorite thing about sewing is cutting out pattern pieces.

Whether it means wrangling enormous sheets of tissue to find the pieces I need or taping and cutting printer paper from PDFs, it’s just a slog for me. (Pssst, speaking of PDFs, we’re putting PDFs up in shop this month if you want to sneak a peek – official announcement to follow once we’re finished.) 

Actually as I was typing this I had a flashback to the last time I tried to turn a spaghetti strap right side out- considering there were bellows of rage and several unladylike gestures thrown to the heavens, cutting out pattern pieces might have to be second least favorite. But anyway, cutting out pieces = zero fun in this house.

So I’m all about unprinted vintage patterns, like this Simplicity pattern from the 1930s. 

I love that they can come straight out of the envelope and onto the fabric, but the marking system of various punched holes can take some adjusting to.

If you haven’t had a chance to sew with many genuine vintage patterns yet, staring down at a big blank piece of tissue can be unnerving, so here’s something you may not know: there was a brief period of time in the early 1940s when Simplicity (and just Simplicity I think…I’ve never seen another brand do this) released patterns that were both precut and printed, like this:

Best of both worlds, right? Well, maybe, maybe not.

The argument for printing patterns instead of precutting them was that printing is more accurate than punching pieces from a giant stack of tissue paper which might shift around as the cut was made. If you’ve ever accidentally sewn something using the wrong seam allowance, you’ve already seen how a tiny deviation can have big results on a finished garment.

If you want to try one of these pre-cut printed patterns, you need to be looking for Simplicity patterns from the early 1940s like these:

Not confident in your pattern envelope dating skills? Here’s a tip – look at the hair styles. If you spend a little time with a cup of coffee scrolling through pinterest (torture, right?) you’ll start to get a feel for the haircuts associated with each period.

You’ll also see on the logo in teeny tiny text it says ‘cut to exact size’ above ‘printed pattern’, like this:

[insert record scratch noise here]

About a week after I confidently asserted that only Simplicity did this, I found another one…this time a 1956 Vogue Pattern. Here it is:

You can see at the bottom of the front of the envelope and on the back flap ‘Vogue’s new printed and perforated patterns’.

Here’s a pattern piece, showing the seam line printed on and notches and perforations precut.

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Vintage Sewing

Black Friday Sewing Sales

By on November 23, 2016


Fancy a little sewing shopping while you’re digesting your turkey this year? Here’s a rundown on the Black Friday sewing sales…



35% off at Swoon Sewing Patterns

Coupon code: holiday2016

Code should be applied at the top of the “checkout” page. Valid now until November 27th.

Swoon patterns are available as PDFs or paper patterns. I’m particularly fond of the bags in the Swoon Vintage Collection – I have quite a few Donna bags floating around my house and the Maisie Bowler is up next.




30% off ePatterns at Wearing History

Coupon code: Thanks2016

Valid November 25th through November 28th.

The lovely Lauren from Wearing History is actually on maternity leave right now (go see her gorgeous little girl on the Wearing History fb page – she’s precious) but she’s opening up for Black Friday-Cyber Monday so you can snag some ePatterns. The Smooth Sailing trousers are a perennial favorite in our WeSewRetro Sew & Tell Facebook group so I recommend starting there!




15% off everything at Atomic Sisters

No coupon code required. Valid November 24th through November 28th.

Lots of 1940s patterns all for less than $10 (and that’s before the holiday discount!) in this section here and look – feedsack fabric!




30% off everything at Sewing Emporium Co

No coupon code required. Valid November 25th through November 28th.

Lots of factory folded retro reissues here and a lovely selection of handmade lace trim.




20%-30% off patterns at Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop

Coupon code: JOLLY20 for 20% off all patterns or JOLLY30 to take 30% off 5+ patterns.

Valid from November 23rd through November 28th.

If you sew for kids, you probably already know about Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop but they have patterns for the entire family, extending up into plus sizes. They’re great for knit basics like tees, sweatshirts, hoodies, swimsuits and pajamas. My oldest spends her summers in rio racerback dresses and our new baby was kitted out with the entire lullaby line when she came home from hospital.




30% off at Mrs. Depew Vintage


Valid November 24th through November 28th.

People often pop into our WeSewRetro Sew & Tell Facebook group asking where to find patterns for vintage lingerie and the answer is always Mrs. Depew! She has an extensive line of digital downloads  plus paper patterns too. Tons of gorgeous stuff here.




15% off everything at Bessie Miller Vintage

Coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY15

Valid from November 25th through November 26th.

Bessie is an absolute sweetheart and she has all kinds of vintage patterns, vintage zippers and even some holiday sweaters.




25% off everything at PatternsFromThePast

No coupon code required. Valid now through November 30th.

No mental arithmetic required here – everything in the shop has been automatically marked down by 25% If you’re a Vogue patterns fan, there are lots to be had!




25% off everything at Faded Primadonna Vintage

Coupon code: cyber25

Valid November 24th through November 30th.

Vintage sewing patterns, vintage advertising and all kinds of vintage clothing.




15% off all sewing patterns at Keepsakes Studio

Coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY2016

Valid from November 25th through November 28th.

300+ vintage and out of print patterns to choose from!




Everything on sale at Redcurlzs

No coupon code required.

Bonus for our neighbors in the Great White North – this shop is based in Canada.




20% off at ClairebearToo

No coupon code required. Valid now through December 2nd.

This shop will be closing for vacation after the sale so get in and get your bargains now!




30% off everything at Mode De Lis

No coupon code required. Valid November 25th through November 28th.

Not only does Lily at Mode de Lis have some really gorgeous vintage patterns, she also sells her handmade vintage dresses. You’ve seen her work pop up on the blog for sure – she’s awesome!




 30% off everything at Megan Nielsen

Coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY2016

Valid now through November 27th.

When we stocked these in the WeSewRetro shop, the Cascade skirt proved so popular I sold out constantly. Megan Nielsen also has an extensive maternity range so if you’re busy making babies, definitely check those out.




Craftsy Classes all $17.99 or less

No coupon code required. Valid November 24th through November 28th.

I just took Beverly Johnson’s Sewing Bras: Construction & Fit class and loved it. She’s a fabulous teacher! Definitely picking up one of her other classes during this sale!




25% off all Bubblegum Dress patterns at Candy Castle Patterns


Valid now through November 26th.

If you sew for girls, you’ve probably already seen the Bubblegum dress pattern by Candy Castle. It’s a sweet little wrap dress (flexible fit makes it last longer before they grow out of it!) with a variety of options. Incredibly fast and satisfying sew – my oldest daughter lives in these.




Deals on Fiskars & Christmas Fabric at Joann

No coupon code required. Valid now through November 25th. 

Nothing majorly exciting going on at Joann Fabrics it seems but with 60% off Fiskers products it’s a good time to pick up a few replacement blades for your rotary cutter. I recently replaced mine and realized how long I had been struggling with a dull blade. It’s also 70% off Christmas fabric.




25% off everything at Pattern Treasure Chest

Coupon code: Blackfriday25%

Valid now through November 28th.

Lots of 1960s patterns here!



10% off orders of $20+ at Starlet Patterns

Coupon code: BlackFriday16

Valid November 24th through November 27th

Aussies, this shop is down under so cheap shipping for you guys!




50% off everything at Grey Dog Vintage

No coupon code required. Valid November 25th through November 28th.

Big discount on a bunch of vintage and out of print patterns here.




35% off at Retroactivefuture

No coupon code required.

Nearly a thousand sewing patterns here so you’re sure to find something from your ‘to sew’ list!




 25% off at Tilly and the Buttons

Coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY

Valid now until November 27th.

Brits, Tilly is based in the UK so cheap shipping on printed patterns for you. Digital patterns available for everyone else.




Free shipping on all Ottobre back issues

No coupon code required. Valid from November 25th through November 27th.

Ottobre is a completely awesome sewing magazine, chock full of thoughtfully designed patterns – separate mags for womens and kids. Shipping can be an absolute beast because they’re coming from Finland, so this is an awesome chance to snag some!




40% off everything at Violette Field Threads

No coupon code required for 40% off, but if you spend over $125 use code BLACKFRIDAY to take an additional 15% off. Valid now through November 28th.

VFT make frilly and feminine patterns for girls, tweens and ladies. They just released a range of matching 18″ doll patterns too.




20% off at Houndstooth Fabric

Coupon code: COUPON20OFF

Valid now through November 29th.

Not just vintage patterns – lots of fabric here too including plenty of Pendleton!



25% off at Fox Vintage

No coupon code required. Valid now through November 27th.

Another one for the Brits: UK-based Fox Vintage.




20% off at ZipZapKap

Coupon code: FRIDAY16

Valid now until November 30th.

Out of print and vintage patterns for women, kids, men and even dogs



25% off fabric & kits at Cashmerette

Coupon code: GIVETHANKS

Valid now through November 28th.

Cashmerette designs specifically for the curvy lady and go up to an H cup.



20% off at Grainline Studios

Coupon code: GIVETHANKS16

Valid now through November 28th. 

PDF and paper patterns for ladies. Lark tee and Archer shirt are popular staples.



30% off at Serendipity Vintage

Coupon code: GIVETHANKS30

Valid now through November 28th.

All manner of vintage patterns. Shop by decade or bust size.



35% off at Greenstyle Creations

Coupon code: BlackFriday2016

Valid now through November 26th.

Greenstyle is great for women’s athletic wear like the Stride tights (XXS to 3XL) and the Endurance Sports Bra.




50% off at Stitch Upon a Time

Coupon code: Thankful4Me

Valid now through November 25th. 

The scrundlewear undies pattern (available for ladies and kids) is a great basic for turning your knit scraps into some underoos.




40% off at Lil Luxe Collection

No coupon code required for 40% but if you want an additional 15% off, join their fb group for an additional code. Valid November 25th through November 28th.
Girls and ladies patterns. The Northwest flares already jumped into my cart.



Everything $2.49 to $4.99 at McCall Pattern Co

No coupon code required. Valid now through November 28th.

Butterick, Kwik Sew and McCalls patterns are $2.49. Vogue patterns are $4.99




30% to 50% off everything at Colette Patterns

No coupon code required. Valid now through November 28th.

30% off everything and 50% off the sale section.

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Vintage Sewing

Lingerie Design: A Complete Course & Vintage Details: A Fashion Sourcebook

By on August 29, 2016

I let out a prolonged “ooooooooh” when these two big beautiful books landed on my desk so I thought you might like to see them.


The first is not technically a sewing book but I guarantee you’ll reference it constantly in your sewing if you love to sew vintage. We used Vintage Details: A Fashion Sourcebook as a giveaway prize recently and honestly I had a hard time letting it go to the winner. Imagine me wavering in a post office parking lot, clasping the packaged book and intoning “My preciouuuuussssssss” for a solid five minutes.

This book is both beautiful and huge. You’re going to put it on your coffee table and every coffee break from that moment on will last at least four hours as you get lost in the pages and pages of photos of necklines, cuffs, pockets, fastenings, darts, and flounces.

If you’re the kind of person who likes seeing a photo of a garment’s inside as much as the outside, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this book. You can find Vintage Details on Amazon here or trot down to your favorite independent bookstore if you have one locally. No room in your budget right now? Don’t let that hold you back – you can always ask for a copy at your local library.


The second, Lingerie Design: A Complete Course, comes at a great time for the sewing community because it seems like more of us than ever are trying to sew our own underthings.

Sidenote: I’ve been a little bit obsessed with this Bra Making Forum facebook group lately…I’ve got the popular Shelley Bra pattern from Pin Up Girls cut out and ready to sew but working through the instructions in this book is definitely next on deck.


What I love about this book is it doesn’t just cover the history of lingerie, the construction details and delicate embellishments, but it shows step-by-step how to construct your own sloper for slips, panties, petticoats, sleepwear, foundation garments and bras. Where the other book is all about inspiration, this is a practical guide to designing, drafting, and construction. Have a squiz at the contents…


Lingerie Design: A Complete Course can be purchased direct from the publisher here or on Amazon here. Again, don’t forget your local library if your budget is tight!


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Giveaway | Vintage Sewing

GIVEAWAY: Your Three Favorite Simplicity Vintage Patterns

By on June 20, 2016

First, congratulations to Kim who won our Mondrian giveaway last week. Be on the lookout for an email from me, Kim…

Everyone else, don’t fret if you didn’t win because your next chance to snag some gorgeous patterns starts right now….


This week we’re looking at the Simplicity Vintage range. I’ve picked out pictures of some of my personal favorites in these pictures but there are tons more on the Simplicity site….aprons, baby layettes, jackets, dresses, doll clothes and more.


It’s so awesome to see these often very hard to find (and single sized) vintage beauties reissued as multisize patterns that fit a wider range. Make sure you check out the full Vintage Simplicity range because this is a pick your prize giveaway – you decide what you get.


The winner will receive three patterns from Simplicity’s vintage range. As always on WeSewRetro, this giveaway is open worldwide – no matter where you live you are eligible to win.

To enter, simply pop over to the Vintage section of the Simplicity site and decide which 3 patterns you just have to have. Come back here and let me know in the comments and when you win, those three patterns will be your prize!

The lucky winner will be selected at random this weekend (June 26th) so don’t miss out – go make your picks! 🙂


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1960s | Giveaway

GIVEAWAY: Limited Edition Mondrian Dress Pattern

By on June 14, 2016


After watching last night’s ‘Sewing the 1960s’ episode of the Great British Sewing Bee, we’re all about iconic Mondrian-inspired dresses. If you’re in the US, don’t fret – you can watch it on YouTube.

YSL dress

Back in 1966, Vogue Patterns released Vogue 1557 by Yves Saint Laurent (learn more about YSL’s Vogue Patterns over at the PatternVault blog) and as you can imagine it is insanely hard to find the original vintage pattern. Because of the licensing restrictions placed on patterns in the designer series, Vogue can’t just rerelease this classic design but what they can do is show you how to take one of their modern patterns and hack it into a Mondrian dress.

…which brings us to the new Vogue 1557 Limited Edition. It includes the pattern for a semi-fitted lined shift dress (Vogue 9048) with step-by-step instructions for how to use it to make a Mondrian dress – everything you need to make your own designer original.


The bad news is that the pattern is only being released in the United Kingdom…. (UK-based readers, you can purchase a copy here)

…But the good news is that our friends at McCall Pattern Co have snagged us a copy to giveaway and our giveaways are always open worldwide. US-based readers, this might be your only chance to grab a copy so make sure you enter!

To enter the giveaway, simply comment below – I’d like to know what colors you would use to make your Mondrian dress. That’s it – so simple!

The winner will be drawn at random this weekend (June 19th) and announced here on the blog.


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Vintage Sewing

And the winners are….(10k Fan Giveaway Results!)

By on April 28, 2016

It’s time to announce the twenty lucky winners of our 10,000 fan giveaway!

I hope you guys enjoyed the contest and seeing some of the fabulous creations and businesses run by members of our community. Huge thanks to the prize contributors whose generosity made this massive giveaway possible – remember to visit, like and share your favorites so you can keep in touch with what they’re up to.

Winners, be on the lookout for an email from katherine[at] with details on how to claim your prize.

Vintage Details: A Fashion Sourcebook by Laurence King Publishing

Winner: Rebecca

Order on Amazon here | Order direct from publisher Laurence King here


Custom Made Beach Pajamas from Time Machine Vintage Reproduction Clothing

Winner: Jen R

Visit Time Machine Vintage Reproduction Clothing on Facebook


10 Digital Patterns/eBooks from Mrs Depew Vintage

Winner: Juju

Visit Mrs Depew Vintage


Selection of Patterns from Indygo Junction

Winner: Lynn Potts

Visit Indygo Junction | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram


Paris Print Blouse by Monica J Veronica Designs

Winner: Karen

Visit Monica J Veronica Designs on Facebook | Instagram | Etsy


Australian Home Journal Magazines from AllThePreciousThings

Winner: Katie Writes Stuff

Visit AllThePreciousThings | Etsy


 Fabric and Buttons from Beautiful Textiles

Winner: Tori

Visit Beautiful Textiles | Facebook


 Vintage Notions by Amy Barickman

Winner: Elizabeth

The story behind the book | Order on Amazon | Order direct from Amy | Facebook


$75 to Spend at Empire Room Bridal

Winner: Amy Smith

Visit Empire Room Bridal


 Vintage Goodies from Retro Rosie’s Vintage

Winner: Rachel

Visit Retro Rosie’s on Facebook | Etsy


$35 to Spend at MiAb Dry Goods

Winner: Anne Del-tonette

Visit MiAb Dry Goods on Etsy


Goodies & Pattern Downloads from Vintage Couture

Winner: surfergirlham

Visit Vintage Couture


Fabric and Buttons from Cotton Kitsune

Winner: Megan

Visit Cotton Kitsune on Facebook | Linked In


Oven Mitt from Nerdy Novelty Designs

Winner: Miranda Pfrenger

Visit Nerdy Novelty Design on Etsy


$25 to Spend at The Granny Squared

Winner: Sarah R

Visit TheGrannySquared



Dry Shampoo from Peechy Keen Sew

Winner: Anna

Visit PeachyKeenSew on Etsy | Facebook | InstagramPeachyKeenSew_Small

$15 to Spend at Serendipity Vintage

Winner: Susan

Visit Serendipity Vintage


$25 to Spend at Pattern Treasure Chest

Winner: Jess Whitehead

Visit Pattern Treasure Chest


$15 to Spend at Batiste & French Lace

Winner: Jenny Case

Visit Batiste and French Lace on Etsy


$10 to Spend at Eleanor Meriweather

Winner: E

Visit Eleanor Meriweather on Etsy


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