Tag Archives: tanks

Beginner’s Vintage Sewing.

Jem Written by Jem


Here at Seven Minutes in Heaven, we OBVIOUSLY – LOVE – Vintage! So I think we are always trying to think of different ways we can acquire new pieces or add to our collection in some way or another. We collect from vintage stores, online shops, friends, jobs, etc. But what about making your own vintage pieces?

Have you ever found a pretty dress while shopping at a thrift store only to find that it didn’t fit? Or you loved the fabric for something but hated the design? I know I have found myself in that position several times. After passing over pieces for a long time I decided I couldn’t keep letting these beauty’s go, so I decided to look for my options.

Firstly I should mention that I am a self taught sewer, by no means a seamstress. The skills I use I acquired from my 7th grade Home economics course. I hand-sew everything but I have had experience using sewing machines (and at one point in my life owned one). I always use patterns to sew [clothing] and have in the past made VERY simple patterns for small items based off of designs I saw and tried to recreate. In short what I am saying is that, if I can do it you can do it!

I love working with patterns, vintage or new. Sometimes I feel they may be tricking me when I mess something up. But once you get into the swing of reading patterns then it definitely goes a lot smoother. Practice makes perfect right?


I feel like I have a huge catalog of vintage patterns saved on Etsy, that I am just dying to find the time to put into play. For me though it usually is a matter of coming upon the right vintage fabric to match it with. I haven’t had much luck [currently] finding affordable vintage fabric online or in thrift shops, so I substitute in completed pieces I find in my finds that don’t work in some way.

Retro Pineapple Print

Here is a fabric swatch from a beautiful ‘pineapple’ print dress I found at Buffalo Exchange in Williamsburg that I just could not live without. Unfortunately I would have had to redo the entire top part of the yoke to make it fit and that didn’t seem as fun as finding new purposes for the fabric.

Enter in this 70s Mccalls hippie, flower-child pattern! I used the fabric as the lining to this skimpy  lace eyelet tank so that it would peek through whenever wind caught the lace just right. It took about 4 hours to make (with some stops in-between) and I have a new top! Plus I have extra fabric left over for other fun projects – I always think just to make a million pillows. But maybe some other sort of house-hold thing could be a possibility as well.

Simplicity Caftan Pattern 70s

Now sometimes I find a vintage pattern that I just absolutely have to make something with it right away. Which was the case with this 70s Simplicity Caftan pattern. Initially I was on a massive hunt for a similar tropical waterfall pattern – but couldn’t find enough in the massive yardage that it required.

Completed Caftan Dress from Pattern

Luckily for me I was able to find this beautiful parrot in paradise pattern at a local fabric store that suited it. This project took over a week working on and off (remember I hand-sew everything, a machine would make this a lot easier) to finish. But I loved the outcome. Unfortunately I haven’t found an occasion to wear it and have considered putting it up in the shop to sell. But it was a good learning experience in making a Caftan from scratch.

Here are some other pieces I have bought simply because I MUST have the fabric! Admittedly I have an obsession with astrological print everything – ESPECIALLY when it is vintage. It took two years of working at a vintage shop before this incredible find came in. I think I might actually try to alter the dress to fit (I suck at alterations – but maybe I can learn to get better?) and the space button-up I thought of taking the sides in and giving it as a gift to my space-loving boyfriend but it might look swell as a button-up pillow as well. (see what I said about making everything into a pillow)! :p

So where does all of this leave us, dear readers of SMIH? Well let’s inspire each other to find more ways to use Vintage Patterns in our sewing projects, or maybe not pass over that muumuu that has the most perfect 60s print on it – repurpose it!

I’ll leave you with some vintage patterns I am currently swooning over!

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