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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vintage Little Girls Sewing Patterns

I adore vintage children' sewing patterns as much for the sweet art on them as for the wonderful patterns inside. Being able to bring back to life a little piece of history for my girls to wear is so fun. These were the days when girls dresses were very detailed in design. I have been adding to my collection lately. I sometimes feel guilty opening old patterns because it's like I'm disturbing history but I always try to replace the patterns carefully. I learn so many new techniques every time I sew up a vintage pattern. It's like getting secret information from your grandmother.
 Incidentally, I was at my dad's the other day and he was going through my grandmother's old things. It turned out she completed a dressmaking course in New York City in the 1930's. I had no idea! She died while I was a teenager and had no interest in sewing plus she lived in New York and I was in LA so we didn't see each other too many times. I'm going to ask my dad for that certificate so I can hang it in my sewing nook. I guess sewing interest skipped a generation in my family.
 Here are some of my recent little girls vintage pattern finds:
This pattern is from the 1920's. It's a little girls' size 6. It will be a little small for Lily so I will have to size it up if I decide to use it. It's so old I'm not sure if I want to disturb it from its slumber. Really old patterns like this have no markings and almost no instructions, just a couple of paragraphs, as you can see here. But this style looks simple enough to wing it.
This is a pattern that was bought out of the back of a magazine or newspaper. A mail order pattern, size 8. I have never sewn a peplum so this will be a first.
This little 1940's toddler pattern sailor dress, size 2 is next up on my  sewing list for Gigi.
Du Barry 5567 1940's. Size 8. This is probably my favorite.
A 1930's little girls pattern from Sears, size 4. I love that scalloped front closure. It's so cute how little girls wore their dresses short like that, isn't it? It reminds me of Shirley Temple. I wonder if the name Shirley will come back in fashion?
Simplicity 1292, 1950's . This is another one I have planned for Gigi, who is quickly outgrowing most of her dresses.
This is a 1940's girls size 10. This pattern was also made for adults as you can see by the drawings on this envelope. It feels more mature than the others. Older girls wore longer hemlines. This won't fit Lily for awhile yet. I hope she will still be interested in wearing vintage style dresses when she is 10.
Do you have a favorite or have you ever sewn with vintage kids sewing patterns?
Leave a comment!


  1. This a a beautiful collection, and I am firmly in the "Use It" camp. ;)
    I like the first one a lot, and I think that it would look sweet on a little girl today. It looks like a fairly simple pattern from the illustrated pieces; I may have a go at it too!

  2. I like all of these! Have fun making them up and good luck with the peplum. (Not hard, but take time)

  3. I absolutely adore little girl patterns! I've been collecting them to use for my daughter (21 months - her name is Lily, also!) I was just planning a blog post with some of my favourites so far!

    I have to say I'm in the same camp as Another Sewing Scientist and I use them. I think they are wonderful pieces of history, but I suspect that the ladies who originally owned the patterns would MUCH rather us use them for our daughters than to have them sitting around!

    I do have a bit of a middle ground though - all my 40's and earlier patterns I'm working on going through and tracing out the pieces so I can put the original tissue pattern back in the envelope and then used the traced versions for dressmaking (along with grading up or down). I'll probably end up doing the same for the 50's patterns I have as well - but so far those ones seem in great condition still.

  4. I also love these old patterns, and have my own little collection. The oldest ones, I carefully press the pieces with a warm iron, and then trace them onto pattern paper so I won't have to use the actual pattern. Then the pattern I keep in a separate box than my regular patterns. I love these patterns, they had such detail, and are so different from what they put out now. I'll have to share some of mine, you should have a linky party for this :)

  5. These are really great, especially the little ones from the 1940s. We love retro patterns here and found your blog by way of Sew Retro. We have a few patterns, but the one that I have made so far is Simplicity 3874 from 1952. My 6 year old daughter loves it! And so do I, really.

  6. I adore vintage patterns but the only ones I've sewn have been ones my mom still has from when I was a child. I agree with the other ladies who have said "use it"!

  7. I borrowed a vintage girls dress and coat pattern from my mom. I am a bit afraid to sew it because the pattern directions are so much different than new patterns. But you may have inspired me to give it a go!

  8. I found you on Pinterest..I'm OBSESSED with this blog! This is what my blog wants to be when it grows up! Mine is I'm just learning the ins and outs. I love vintage patterns too, and did a whole week series of showing off some of my faves. Now I'm learning that less posts with better content is better, and photography is way more important ant than I knew. You've got a new subscriber, keep up the good work!

  9. I'm obsessed with this blog. Found you on Pinterest. My blog wants to be your blog when it grows up. I just started mine. I'm learning that fewer posts with better content are going to work better for me. I need lots of help in the photography dept too, but your work makes me want to keep learning. I'm a designer, not a blogger but you are so flawlessly both! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work. Mine is but I don't know how to make a cool banner yet, need a has a long way to go.

  10. I'm doing a play with 9 - 12 year olds based on the memories of local seniors in north east florida. I've been given some great 40's and 50's small adult size clothes but I need some patterns for day wear for kids as it's much harder to find kids stuff. do you know where I might find something?


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