Vintage Sewing

First post

May 29, 2007

Hello, and thank you for allowing me to play dress-ups with you all here on SewRetro. I love seeing all your projects and think you are all very clever and fabulous.

I have long been drawn to vintage clothes, especially those from the 1950s when women were shaped like women, with curves top and bottom, and waists in the right place. That happens to be how I’m shaped and I’ve very much of the philosophy that one should dress to suit yourself regardless of what happens to be in fashion at present, so I leave the smock, sack and shift dresses to those who have the frame to make it work!

I’ve made my own clothes on and off for years but have recently become quite gung-ho about it. I’m also much taller than average and making my own allows me to add extra centimetres to sleeves and torsos and hems – most clothes, whether new or vintage, aren’t long enough for me.

I’ve been hunting for old patterns for some months now. Two problems – one is that they are often very expensive and especially so when I have to order them from overseas. Second is that I think my size happens to be one of the most common so they all get snapped up! I’m hoping that through Sew Retro I’ll meet some people who are happy to swap and loan patterns – reciprocally, of course – allowing us to share the retro good cheer! I’m a pedantic pattern-tracer who hates to cut them which leaves them in good shape for someone else to use. So any 36″ bust folks out there with a pattern stash they’d like to share, let me know – I’m in Melbourne, Australia. Perhaps we could all set up a pattern swap system through this blog? A flickr pool or somesuch? Thoughts for the future.

Enough blather from me – have a look at my blog at for bits and pieces, including a jacket-in-progress with this sensational 50s cotton lining:

  1. What bust & hip sizes are you looking for? I have been purchasing lots of 50s “wiggle dress” patterns with coats. I wanted the coat patterns; alas, do not have a figure for the dresses. Would definately be interested in tracing & swapping if we’re the same size range. Me: bust 32 or 34, hip 36-37. I don’t have a blog or website … writing this as anonymous … if we decide to swap, I’ll have to figure out how to get contact info to you, pattern photos, etc.

    P. in SoCal

  2. I agree with you about the 50s clothes. I am shaped like that, and love them. That is a large part of why I am learning to sew. I look forward to reading more about your work.

  3. Anonymous – many thanks but I’m a 36 bust! Should have specified that, obviously… will go and edit it. But perhaps this will stimulate other possible swaps, which is a good thing, methinks.

  4. I use a 38 personally so I can’t help you out much – swapwise. But what is your budget? I live in the UK and score most of my patterns from america for about $6-10 including postage, which I think is ok. I don’t know the postage to Australia but I wouldn’t think it too dissimilar.

    I use – search under collectibles/vintage sewing/patters (more luck there than just the patterns in sewing crafts) and search according to price.

    Also … not as user friendly but good prices. I believe you will find them under buy/patterns/clothing.

    Then there are a few other sites which are a teeny bit more pricey but with good results, / and

    Oh when mentioning ebay you should go find Lisa’s store (Special Patterns for Special Days) which you can find linked to from here …. 2nd Lisa on the list of bloggers on the left of the site, her blog name is The Hem Line.

    There are many other excellent sellers but I happen to know how to link to this one!

    P.S Sorry for deleting previous comment I made a typo and couldn’t find an edit button

  5. I’m a 38″ but I do have some 36″ patterns… and I am not averse to just making bigger or smaller seams to suit (not approved methodology I know, but it seems to work). I’m in Melbourne so if you are interested in pattern tracing/loaning thingy let me know. I favour the fifties in frocks.

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