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by Elena Tran
July 9, 2020
So you purchased your very first vintage pattern and you are excited to get started and make that unique piece that is going to wow your friends and colleagues. At this point, you should take a deep breath and stop for a moment. I put together a few important tips on how to start vintage patterns sewing so you can avoid the mistakes that I made.
To begin tracing your pattern, lay your pattern pieces on the cutting table and then place the tracing material over it. Align the pieces well and pin securely so the pattern doesn’t shift. Don’t rush at this point. Make sure that the paper lies smooth and there are no bubbles. The more accurately you trace the pattern, the better. I use a regular HB pencil for tracing. Some people prefer multicolour pens or markers. Don’t go overboard. If you can see it, it works.
Make sure you trace all the markings, including notches, seam allowances, arrows for pleats, placement lines, pocket markings, special notes, etc. Let it be a very detailed copy of the pattern. You will use this as a working copy for alterations, pinning and cutting, and as a guide during sewing. I would even make special notes for yourself about challenging construction parts to avoid mistakes in the future.
On the final note, I wanted to mention that vintage patterns sewing is very rewarding. These garments are one-of-a-kind special pieces and they deserve fabric that will stand out as well. Choose unique fabric types, colours and patterns to make your couture creation stand out.
Vintage patterns are precious and must be preserved. They are pieces of rich fashion history and we are a few lucky ones to own them. I hope you will enjoy and share your vintage sewing journey with me.
Why should I make a mockup or toile when I have a pattern? Isn’t it overkill? This concern comes up often so I think it’s important to clarify the importance of making a mockup, or a test run of your garment, also known as the toile or muslin.
Your mockup should be a shell of your garment that you can actually try on complete with zipper, collar, pockets, sleeves and any relevant pieces of detail, such as marked or drawn placements of your buttons and buttonholes, and even a rough drawing of applique, embroidery or beadwork.