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Vintage Childrens Sewing Patterns

Updated on October 11, 2012

Sewing Vintage Patterns for Children

Vintage sewing patterns are more than just a box of paper in the attic or a pretty picture to put in a frame. They contain a wealth of ideas, design and expert knowhow about sewing clothes that really put up to the test!

I began sewing 'antique' patterns by accident. I didn't know they were antique - and once I was told, well - I was too addicted to stop and keep them in their 'protective sleeves.' The designs of the past, especially for me, the 1940s-1960s, are just too much fun to sew and so practical as well.

Shown at left (and sewn by me recently): Simplicity 2948, dated 1949

How vintage is vintage?

Vintage is usually anything more than twenty years old. Think about it - this piece of paper has survived that long in this good of condition! I have some patterns from the early 40s - those are over 70 years old and still good enough to be used! On the other end, even patterns from the 70s and 80s are 'vintage' now.

Shown: Simplicity 7371, copyright 1967: This kimono style nightgown is a great jacket dress too! The easy facings around the neckline allow for omittal of the collar and an easy wear, easy care garment.

The Primer, or instruction sheet

Wrapped in well preserved patterns will be a 'primer' or fold out instruction sheet. It will show you which pieces are which and how they go together. The sewing techniques will be explained in text and shown in good pictures. Once in a while there will be something that just doesn't click until you begin to pin the pieces together. I have learned almost as much about sewing from these instructions as I did from my 'official' classes in middle and high school. In fact, I think I've learned more about making a garment that will actually hold up to the washing machine and the hardwearing active child I have!

Important lessons: staystiching, zigzagging over seams when one does not have a serger, zippers and well sewn on tie straps for large skirted dresses. Pockets. At least one on every garment. It will be useful!

At right: a small picture showing side ties on 2194 Butterick 1960s. I used this dress pattern for several of my daughter's three to four year old transitions. The pattern had a front panel, a wide side skirt and back ties that made it particularly useful as she grew both up and out rapidly during that year!

A whole wardrobe at your fingertips

Shown here is one of the 'wardrobe' patterns. Included is a skirt, dress, jumper, jacket and blouse. The combinations are endless! And, with several different fabrics put together - everything can mix and match. Wonderful to work up and each piece would be useful by itself, too.

Shown: Simplicity 4969 wardrobe pattern. This is a size 4 - but I have a size 6 of this one, too. Having multiple sizes extends your possibilities even more. Think older and younger sister, cousins, or just making a 'favorite' item again once they have outgrown the original!

Alterations will happen!

In fact, that is the beauty of classic design

Choose patterns that match your little one in measurements closest - vintage patterns are often sized differently than modern ones. They actually go on inches - which your measuring tape can provide best. The measurements most patterns go on is 'breast', or a measurement around the widest part of the chest under the armpits, and 'waist' and/or 'hips'. The waist is the natural waistline for pants, and the hips are the widest area around the hips underneath the waistline. Most young children's patterns only have 'waist'. Length of leg from waist to ankle is also an important measurement! And that can change rapidly with children so measure often!

Don't trust store sizing - or age - as a size 6 storebought now is based on an entirely different scale. Just like women's clothing - a size 10 in one brand is not a size 10 in another! But a size 5 sewing pattern (23 inch breast) is exactly the information you need to know if it is going to fit now (or six months from now). And, also, because every child is different, there may be some alterations of width or length that will happen. This is another great way to learn while sewing. You may even use the same pants pattern for two consecutive years by just lengthening the legs! I have also been known to sew the next size up, because 1.) it will eventually fit and/or 2.) I will know what areas need to be altered to sew a second one for immediate use.

Most vintage patterns have several views available for length or season. The same 'wardrobe pattern' may have short sleeved, long sleeved, jackets or jumpers to be worn over a simple blouse or skirt when it is colder. Boys patterns have multiple styles of shirts and jackets, shorts and pants.

The versatility and well-thought out designs are one of the largest reasons to choose a vintage pattern. It has stood the test of time and just by viewing different patterns from different decades we can see what styles are still with us and what details are still considered most important!

Shown: A short sleeved button up shirt underneath a jumper. Classic and beautiful. Our little girl called it her 'lady dress'. Sewn from a 1950s Simplicity pattern # 3603

Books with Patterns - modern books and companies with vintage flair

Original vintage childrens patterns - Be sure to check that all pieces are accounted for!

I tend to browse these categories every day. There is always that one pattern I wish I could find in the size I need... or that one style that catches my eye brand new. I also love 'wardrobe' patterns - that give so many options all in one packet. Build your stash with patterns that have different sleeves, skirts, jackets - you will always have something interesting and useful to sew!

New Guestbook Comments

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    • RadaFrancis LM profile image

      RadaFrancis LM 

      7 years ago

      I love all things vintage. Great lens!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I love vintage patterns for the pictures alone. Using them is even better!


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