Sewing Vintage Garments with Modern Fabrics & Patterns

Sewing Vintage with modern Fabrics

What is Vintage sewing?

  • At the moment there is a big revival around the vintage styles of garments.
  • The big pattern companies have released some “vintage” sewing patterns for the modern woman. That means the pattern is in the style of the vintage era, but drafted to fit us in this era.
  • Vintage is any style older than 20 years ago. The popular eras begin in the 1920’s and go through to the late 1980’s.
  • The word “vintage” is changeable and some vintage dresses eventually become antique.

Some interesting adverts from past magazines

1930 advert
1930 Advert
1962 Advert
1962 Advert

Modern “Vintage” Fabrics


Sewing True Vintage

There is a growing sewing community of true vintage sewists. I follow a few on YouTube who have a very good vlog each month. They discuss patterns which they have found at jumble sales, boot sales and antique shops. They give details of online stores selling on Ebay and Etsy where true Vintage patterns and fabrics can be found.

  • Follow Angela Clayton on YouTube to learn more.
  • The Vintage Girl makes a 1930’s capsule wardrobe, this is a YouTube series which is very interesting and not to be missed if you are into vintage styles.
A nice book on sewing with old fabrics, available from Amazon

Finding vintage fabrics is a great challenge

  • Look for online links to designs which were common to the vintage era you are interested in.
  • Search for places which sell or auction off estate house clearances. Often curtains, table cloths, linen and fabric will be sold at these auctions.
  • Ebay and other online auction sites often have bits of fabric.
  • Finding a piece that could be used for a project is great, if it is not enough you will need to use a modern fabric to compliment it.
  • Be aware that if the vintage fabric has been stored in sunlight, it could be faded or perished.
  • Antique or vintage buttons can make a unique finishing touch, so keep an eye out when hitting the car boot. 
  • Actual vintage garments that have seen better days can provide authentic buttons, and fasteners.
  • Once you’ve found a potential fabric find, inspect it carefully. Check for stains, smells, holes and other imperfections. 

This is an interesting online blog, it has fabric designs from all eras and more.

What to do with new found vintage fabrics

  • How to tell if it is vintage? Fabric was less than a metre wide and more often than not made of cotton. The width of cotton fabric increased to 112cm wide in the late 1950’s.
    Broadcloth was used for tailoring, traditionally it was made from wool. Read more on broadcloth here.
  • Always wash the fabric first, use a gentle cool wash.
  • Be aware that modern day washing powders have additives which could destroy the print on Vintage fabrics. Choose a natural washing powder or just use a tiny bit of soap flakes. Too much soap and your washing machine with be one big bubble of suds.
  • Try identify the type of fibres in the fabric. Use the burn test – see our blog here on burning fabrics.
  • Find a suitable weight, and pattern match modern day fabric to go with the vintage on if you do not have enough for your garment.
  • Choose a pattern and check the sizing. True vintage patterns may be too small for modern women. Modern day vintage patterns would be easier to fit, but give the same look.
  • Read through this article by THREADS on how to use Vintage patterns

Modern Day Vintage Patterns – available online


We have a great Pinterest board for 1950’S


Browse Croft Mill Fabrics

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