New Vintage Vogues: As Good as the Originals?

Since we’ve been talking about vintage patterns this week, I thought I’d talk about vintage re-issue patterns today. Recently, my mom picked up a few Vintage Vogue patterns she thought I’d like. Thanks, Mom! Does she know me or what?

I love these! The detailing on the dress is fabulous, and the suit is oh-so-elegant.The beautifully draped-and-gathered forties dress is what I imagine I’d wear if I ever took dancing lessons. With some low-heeled pumps, very classy. I picture the dress floating out and the hemline swirling around my knees as I sweep across the dance floor, dramatic and elegant.

Of course, that’s very different from my real life. I’ve never taken dance lessons as an adult, and I’m incredibly clumsy. (Evidence of clumsiness in this post here.) That won’t stop me from fantasizing about it though! I’m a sucker for dance movies, my favourite is Strictly Ballroom. Has anyone seen it?

Basically, awkward beginner Fran with frizzy brown hair, falls for handsome ballroom dancing champion Scott. Scott’s a rebel who wants to dance his own steps, tossing tradition out the window, which of course makes Fran even more into him and his badass dancing moves. I won’t ruin the rest of the story for you, but I totally related to Fran. Frizzy hair, clumsy dance moves and having crushes on dark and handsome men. Well, I have the dark handsome man now. I just need him to take me dancing!

Right, back to the dress. Crazy-looking pattern pieces! Just like the dress I’m working on now, part of what attracts me to patterns is figuring how they go together.

Think how gorgeous this dress would be in my favourite fabric, rayon. Yes, please!

The suit looks very fitted and slim in the illustration, but on the back it’s described as loose-fitting. Wonder which is closer to the truth?

The skirt looks very slim on the cover, with a straight silhouette, but when you look inside the drawing is quite different. It looks almost A-line, and what a great waistband detail! Look how fitted the jacket drawing is on the inside, too. I bet it’s fitted. I want it to be, anyways!

A rich loden green would be lovely in the suit. With fabulous T-strap platform pumps and nude fishnets. And curled hair. How fun would it be to suit up and strut around town in this outfit? People would surely open doors for me dressed like that.

I’m curious, what do you think about the Vintage re-issue patterns in general? Are they as good as buying original vintage patterns?

The new versions don’t have the cute, mystic instructions that assume you’re a seasoned dressmaker – which could be a pro or a con depending on your skill level. I’m drawn to the authentic vintage illustrations and old-style fonts and wording in the older patterns. Although, I appreciate that the re-issues come in full size ranges.

What’s your thought on re-issue patterns: interchangeable with the original patterns, or just not the same as the real deal? Do you trace these, too?

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36 Responses to New Vintage Vogues: As Good as the Originals?

  1. Sam March 10, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    I just had to join you in the strictly ballroom love – one of my favorite movies EVER! You have such great taste, Tasia. :)

  2. K-Line March 10, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    The reissued ones are multisize on one sheet? Or just avail in all the sizes, one size per sheet? I’ve read about other people purchasing a vintage pattern on the basis of the line drawing and then discovering that the shape of the pieces is completely different i.e. loose fitting when the pic on the front looks very fitted. I guess they used a bit of creative license with the patterns back then? Maybe the ladies could read between the lines in ways we can’t? At any rate, great looking garments!

  3. maranda March 10, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    the ladies at the fabric store i used to shop at called vogue patterns ‘vague’ patterns because the instructions were so difficult! but you’re a pretty seasoned seamstress so it might not be an issue for you. it was for me and my grandma though! i bought a 40s evening gown pattern to make as my wedding dress…lets just say that even after multiple fittings, we never achieved the long lean dramatic look that the illustration on the front had :)

  4. Nuranar March 10, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    I’ve made one reissue, a Butterick halter dress:

    It went together well, but it was good I measured the pattern pieces beforehand. They added over 2″ of ease to every measurement, including the waist. And since this is a classic New Look pattern, the waist should have zero ease, or negative ease with shapewear. (Butterick and Vogue are both put out by McCall’s, so I would expect all three lines to have a similar approach to reissues.)

    So, from my experience and what I’ve heard from others, the reissues are definitely heavily tweaked and/or redrafted. That said, it’s good that the instructions are easier, although they also might replace vintage techniques like using self bias bindings instead of facings. I think a lot of the extra ease and redrafting is intended to make modern wearers feel more comfortable; they don’t tend to be used to clothing that fits closely without stretch, especially at the true waist.

    That said, they’re still very accessible to modern sewers, way easier to alter because they’re multisized, and in most cases fairly true to the original design. I would watch for extra ease, and if possible check the actual measurement ratios. Early 1940s patterns tended to allow for a good 9″ difference between waist and hip measurements, while modern patterns allow for less; so compare the waist and hip measurements, especially on the suit. My fitting issues were solved by going down a size to fit my waist, since with a circle skirt hips are irrelevant; but that might not work for a narrower skirt.

  5. Leah March 10, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    I love strictly ballroom! I love love love it. Baz Luhrman’s best film, I swear.

  6. angela March 10, 2011 at 7:38 am #


    I love the dress pattern. I have had it in my collection for a while now.

    My problem is, I would need to do a FBA and haven’t got a clue how to go about it with this pattern.

    I rather fancied pleats rather than gathers on the skirt as I feel they would be more slimming.

  7. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) March 10, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    The vintage reissues combine the styles of yesteryear with the convenience of multi-size. I am all for them! As for the illustrations, they drive me crazy on the vintage, both original and reissue. you just have to take them with a grain of salt, and look at the pattern pieces for a reality check.

  8. Evie March 10, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Strictly Ballroom is hands down one of my all time favorite movies! I can’t even guess how many times I’ve watched it. I’m fine with reissues, and I think they definitely have their place, but I do find that the sizing is totally wonky. These Vogue reprints in particular have a bad track record of including about four inches of wearing ease which makes them ridiculously huge. I always have to use a size or two smaller than I usually would to get them to fit properly.

  9. Lauren March 10, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    I made 2876 for my cousin, who is plus size. I was expecting to have to grade the pattern up to her size, but when I measured the pattern I realized it was nearly spot on for her size, which was two sizes larger than the pattern was offered in. It worked out for me that time, but with other ones I’ve made from myself from both the Vogue and Butterick re-releases I’ve ended up cutting a size smaller after measuring the flat measurements.
    They do change the proportions on the modern re-issues, including adding the extra ease and dropping the armscyes. So they’re not really reproductions, but more inspired by the originals.
    I agree that the directions are confusing. I also took them with a grain of salt and found I could construct them much easier than Vogue instructed by taking a few short cuts.
    So I guess it’s just a matter of preference… if you like modern fit or vintage fit. I like originals better :)
    Oh, P.S. I did make a Butterick repro to wear swing dancing and found the armscyes were cut so low that it made underarm turns rather impossible.
    I cut my modern commercial patterns. :)

  10. puu March 10, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    i’ve definitely had sizing issues with the vintage vogues, particularly the halter dress number–the ease was ABSURD. i’m usually a size 10-12, but i needed to cut a size 4 in the bodice, and it still barely stays up–and that is after 2 muslins.

    still, i love the dress, the instructions were cake, and the look was adorable, so take things as they come, yeah?

  11. Eileen March 10, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    (Just found the blog, and love all your posts!)

    My experience with reissues is pretty mixed, and I tend to like working with original vintage patterns because they at least don’t give you the false sense of security of a “redrafted” pattern. I’ve done Vintage Vogue 2961, 2960, and 2401, and I found the instructions and pattern pieces clear enough, but the fit issues drive me crazy. I had the same experience as Nuranar–the reissues are heavily tweaked, and at least in the two I did, in ways that seem not to have been test-driven before reissue. 2960 was much too big in the shoulders, and 2401 was much too large for the size in the shoulders, waist, and bust, and much longer in both the skirt and sleeve than the illustration or description suggested, and much more than simply added ease would suggest. At that point I’d been sewing pretty advanced for about five years, and 2960 was modifiable, but I found 2401 to have such odd pattern pieces that it ended up as sort of a train wreck when I tried to modify the muslin. 2961, on the other hand, was a dream and went together with no issues.

  12. Uta March 10, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Great patterns! And I loooove Strictly Ballroom; hearing “Time after Time” by Cindy Lauper always transports me back to that movie… Aussie movie and dance movie, can it get any better than that? (That said, I didn’t like Moulin Rouge.) I haven’t commented in a while, but I love following your progress with you lovely pattern line. Keep up the good work!

  13. K March 10, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Hi Tasia!
    I love the Vintage Vogue reissues. I made 2876 (the dress pattern you have!) in deep red wool crepe for my aunt and it was NOT easy but went really well. My advice: read the pattern directions a few times before starting and get good at gathering!


  14. Sherry March 10, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I love the jacket! I don’t have experience with these patterns, but I am making a vintage Burda from the 50′s at the moment that was reprinted in their magazine, and I suspect it has been enlarged in the waist (ok, I know this because it actually fits me!), and it has definitely been shortened because it is above the knee!
    Even if they are not totally authentic, I think it is still great that they are reproducing some of the old designs.

  15. Kris March 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    If you like the idea of swing dancing, check out Jungle Swing. It sometimes takes a bit to get into the groove, especially because the beginner lessons they offer every Saturday are designed as an intro, and can be VERY busy. Come out to a band night ($20, I think, and IIRC there’s an awesome band this Saturday), dress up, and have fun! Dancing ability not required – trust me! I was so bad when I started… :) I’ve been doing it for about 4 years now.

    2876 is just stunning. I’ll have to put it on my “to sew” list. Maybe I’ll bump it up near the top!

  16. Renay March 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Strictly Ballroom = Awesome. It was my favourite movie growing up and I always fancied myself a bit of a Fran… ahh thanks for the memories Tasia.
    Can’t wait to see you make up one of these patterns, they are both lovely!!!

  17. The Slapdash Sewist March 10, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I have found actual vintage patterns from the 40s and 50s to have extremely misleading illustrations. They all show the really skinny waist but in reality have a LOT of ease. The vintage reissues I’ve tried actually fit better! I think they purport not to change the pattern except to multi-size it on one sheet, but I don’t know if that’s true. I would be sure to measure the jacket and skirt pieces before cutting as they may be much larger than conveyed!

  18. Alex March 10, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I guess I don’t see many (or any) downsides to the reprints versus the originals, but I must admit my experience is pretty limited. Too much ease has been a problem with every pattern I’ve ever sewn, so I’m not surprised or upset that it’s a problem with the reprints. I have only sewn one actual vintage pattern so far; it was the correct bust measurement but didn’t fit me at all–way too big. Obviously my experience is limited, but how can it hurt to have a vintage pattern in the format of a modern one (multi-sized)?

    Up until reading the comments on this post, I was under the impression that these patterns were NOT changed, just graded into different sizes.

  19. isidore March 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Small world, I just ordered the same two patterns and got them in the mail today! LOL. I prefer the reissues so that I can grade between sizes on the top/bottom. I’ve bought a couple vintage out of curiosity but haven’t had the courage to work through the instructions yet. My first pattern ever was a Vogue reissue of a 1920′s evening gown which I made for my senior prom. I never would have been able to finish it if it without the pictures, plus I made the noobie mistake of assuming the sizes were the same as RTW – lucky it was multisized!

  20. Esz March 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    As a “beginner” to the sewing game I’ve only had experience with one modern pattern which was 1137 – a fairly simple v-neck sheath/pencil dress.

    Having started sewing by using vintage patterns I was accustomed to the pattern measurement actually measuring what it says it measures! I went for a 10 all round because that seemed about what I should be but there was just SO MUCH ease that the dress was too big around the bust and waist and even the hips.

    Being so new to this – I did rush the dress and I should have tried it on before lining it…It was a bit of a failure. I do love the fabric though so I might be able to pick some of it apart and fit it a bit better.
    I was rather disappointed with myself and with the pattern.

    Another thing I noticed was how flimsy the pattern paper was. It seems that my 60 year old patterns hold up better to pinning than the new one! I will trace it eventually as I think the dress is really nice once I get the fit right.

    Something I ought to ask you (I will google this also) – but I’ve noticed with the slimmer cut skirts/dresses I’ve made so far, there seems to be a fair bit of excess fabric in the front area – between where the darts would sit. You can see in this post how it kind of bulges around my hips when I move my thighs.
    Is this because the hip measurement should be smaller? Or because I have a fairly long waist and flat(ish) stomach – and short legs (*sob*)?

    I’m not sure how I could go about fixing this in future projects.
    Would I take an inverted V out of the middle of the skirt (branching out from the waist so the waist measurement doesn’t decrease)?
    All the “pencil” skirts I’ve made so far (not many! ha) have been rather straight instead and I want them to hug my curves more.

    Thanks for your time in reading this!! I hope I’ve made myself clear. So hard to explain these things sometimes!
    Oooh boy have I rambled!! So many questions.

  21. Dani March 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    I was a bit skeptical about buying vintage re-issues at first, since I’m so fond of my actual vintage patterns. But then I kept spotting all these lovely ones and had to give in to temptation! I didn’t find that Vintage Vogue patterns had too many fit issues. The Retro Butterick patterns I had to make a size smaller than the measurements on the back indicated, but that didn’t really bother me, because there weren’t a huge amount of fit issues. Simplicity, however, I’ve only ever bought one of. And that’s because they added 4 INCHES OF EASE (!!!) to the measurements, and when I made a toile it looked like I was wearing a potato sack, rather than a lovely fitted sheath dress. You’d think that for a sheath they’d be skimpier with the extra ease since it’s supposed to sit close to the body, but alas, I was wrong. All in all I reckon re-issues are pretty good though. There are certainly some lovely designs out, you just have to make sure to test the pattern out before cutting into your actual fabric – which trust me, I’m not fond of. So impatient lol!

    Your patterns are lovely! I’ve been eying up the fourties dress for some time now! Hope to see the finished product on your blog very soon ;D

  22. lisa March 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    I love the design of Vintage Vogue patterns. But I dislike that all of them are made for outdated figures not a modern woman who has curves and/or muscles.
    I wish someone would make those patterns for sizes 14-18…

  23. indigorchid March 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    I *love* Strictly Ballroom! I made my boyfriend watch it with me (umm… even though I’ve already seen it about four times..), and though he was skeptical of it being a dance-movie (hum… I made him watch Billy Elliot too recently), I think Baz Luhrman’s wacky style won him over in the end. I love that Australian sense of humor!

  24. Cherrypix March 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    You might also enjoy “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” – Slightly more risque but another great Aussie film – also with a fabulous sound track.

    In fact, I think I might just go play the CD to get me fired up for the sew-a-thon I’m hosting tonight….

  25. Sarah Allen March 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    I haven’t made any Vogue re-issue patterns, although I have the one on the right and I have some fabric I want to try it with, but me a stretchy fabrics are not friends so I’ve been procrastinating.

    However, I did make a vintage re-issue patterns. The first bombed but I was also 16 an pretty new to sewing. The second I made this year at it was a Butterick pattern. i posted it to my blog.

    It came out very nicely, just as illustrated, but I actually prefer traditional vintage patterns to the re-issue. The patterns seems to fit better in the end without a lot of adjusting. Sometimes the pattern makers are taking a pattern that was originally created in one size only and then making it for multiple sizes and it teaks it just enough to make it not fit perfectly.

    I would stick with Vintage, true vintage, patterns any day of the week. But price wise, I would be willing to try another re-issue as long as I’m pepared to modify.

  26. Misty March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Yay, Strictly Ballroom! What a great movie! Scott’s sexy dance is a favorite scene of mine, as is the final paso doble at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix. I definitely relate to Fran as well, having gone through a frizzy-haired awkward stage that lasted from 3rd-9th grades in school. I still feel like that sometimes.

  27. Erika March 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Love, love, love Strictley Ballroom! I’ve always loved dancing, and basically any dancemovie is good in my book, but that one is a clear favorite (one of my favorites at least =) ).

    I prefer the true vintage patterns. They fit me better, esp the back, armholes and sleeves. Also, I prefer the shorter vintage instructions to modern ones. Modern sewing descriptions tend to over-explain, I think, but then I’m a huge fan of Figuring It Out Myself =) What’s the fun in sewing if I can’t play detective and also lay a puzzle? =)

    On the rare occasion that I do use a modern pattern, I trace it. I mean, I could gain weight. Loose weight. Discover I’ve cut the wrong size. Lend it to a friend. Use it to sew for somebody else. All in all, why cut the original? It saves about 1-2 hours of work and can be very inconvenient later.

    Thanks for the reminder about Strictley Ballroom! My evening plans of handsewing infront of Dancing with the stars just got expanded to watching SB after =) Have a great weekend!

  28. Lisette March 11, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    I’ve heard that the pattern companies alter the re-issues to be more loose-fitting (their theory is that that makes it more flattering on the modern woman, to which I say BOO!) and have more ease.

  29. Becky March 11, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    I’ve never actually played with a new “vintage” pattern, so I can’t comment on that. However, Strictly Ballroom is a great movie.

  30. Tasia March 11, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Whoa, so many great comments! Thanks for your feedback on the reissue patterns, it’s so helpful!

    Now I’m really curious how these are going to fit. Part of the reason I love vintage patterns is for the ‘vintage’ fit. ie, the way they were intended to fit back in the day. So if they’re adapted for the modern sizing and ease guidelines, doesn’t that take away the fun of it? I must be shaped more like the vintage woman than the ‘modern’ woman :) We’ll see what happens! I’ll muslin it up and share so we know how they work. I also prefer a higher armhole too, so that’s kind of disappointing that the armholes are dropped. Well! That just means lots of potential for tutorials as I fix up the pattern.

    Before all of your comments, I also thought that these patterns were just graded into multi-sizes, not changed or adapted for ‘modern’ bodies! Hmm. Good thing I mentioned it! And thanks so much for all of your comments!

    Yay for all the Strictly Ballroom fans! I saw it in theatres when I was twelve or thirteen and loved it! It’s been my all-time favourite movie ever since. I even have the soundtrack on my ipod. I feel like Fran on a regular basis, but I also believe in happy endings :)

    @Esz: I love your navy dress! (That’s exactly what I want to wear with my navy turquoise and cream plaid cape..pretty!) I’m looking at the first photo, and it looks like there’s a bit of extra fabric across the hips. Hard to tell exactly why! What I would suggest, is to make a muslin of the skirt, just like it is, and then try pinning out at different spots to see what works best on your body. Try pinning out down the sideseams for a tighter fit, try lengthening the darts so they come down further towards the hip line, try nipping in the centre front seam. See where the best place to slim down the skirt is! (For example, on me, if I take too much in at the side seams, it starts to pucker. I need to add a second dart, because my hips are much larger than my waist.) I have way more experience fitting wider hips and smaller waists, than slim hips! The best way to figure out a solution is to try different things and experiment. (I wish I could give you one perfect answer, wouldn’t that make it easier?)

    @lisa: Hi Lisa! It sounds like the reissues are redrafted for a more modern fit, rather than the hourglass vintage silhouette, after reading the comments. So you might find they fit curvier, muscular figures better than the original patterns!

    Thanks, everyone! Will keep you posted on my adventures with the reissue patterns. Fun!

  31. Tasia March 11, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Hi everyone! Just found a gorgeous version of Vogue 2876 here:
    Pretty! She did say it was tricky to sew, but I love how it turned out!

  32. Esz March 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Thanks so much for the reply Tasia! I will have a go at making a muslin – that should help me eliminate the same problem in a number of skirts from now on.

    The funny thing is – I actually do have pretty big hips in comparison to my waist….there’s actually 11″ difference.

  33. Tasia March 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    @Esz: Wow, really? That’s a great dress then, as all I noticed was the slim silhouette. Good luck! The other tip is to take photos. Sometimes when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, you’re thinking about it being you and your body, but photos help you step back and focus on fitting problems, making it less personal. (If that makes sense!)

  34. Deanna March 14, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    I concur with what I see other people saying: the re-makes seem baggy. I really don’t get why they would add so much excess ease to something that is suppose to be fitted! If someone wants a fitted, vintage look, obviously they don’t want a sack!

  35. Stephani March 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Oh, for the love of Baz Luhrman! I love Strictly Ballroom–it’s so much fun. That final dance scene where Scott and Fran have a flamenco together–amazing! Stirs the blood. I’m getting tingles just thinking about it! And what’s better than that “Love is in the Air” ending? Have you seen his “Australia” yet?

    Anyway, to the real subject: I love the look and history of vintage patterns, but I appreciate the reissues much more because of the updated instructions and multi-sizing. Saves a lot of time and confusion on patterns where the pieces themselves can introduce a lot of confusion.
    Regarding fit, it’s important to remember that “vintage” women were no more naturally shaped like the fashions of their day than modern women are shaped like the fashions of ours. All that shaping was achieved by undergarments and the shape of the outer garment, unless you were one of a lucky few whose form was currently in vogue. Victorian women certainly were not naturally so pronouncedly hourglass shaped–that’s what corsets enabled them to achieve: the ideal fashion shape of the day. No more than women of the 19-teens were shaped like smooth columns with low-hanging busts. No more than women of the Elizabethan age were shaped like inverted cones. Also, fashions had much more restrictive cuts for the most part, as women were not so active as we can be today and didn’t expect to require (or be allowed) a full range of movement at all times.
    If you want the vintage fit with the modern reissues, which take into account modern wearing ease, then muslin, muslin, muslin! Or just cut a size smaller and tweak from there. Always consult the wearing ease measurement on the envelope back!

  36. Maeri January 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    I’m going to make that suit in a grey wool I found a year ago…. seasonless wool, really nice weight and hand, and only $5/yd—wooohoooo! Have you made this pattern (I didn’t scroll through all the comments), and if so, what are your thoughts on it?

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