March 6, 2013

Forty fantastic 1940s sewing patterns under $40

Unlike many in our circle, I am not much of a sewer. I know the basics and have - many years ago - made a few simple projects, but sewing is not a talent that the universe blessed me with in any capacity. Of course, like most skills, I'm sure I could improve with (scads more) experience, perhaps a good teacher, and plenty of trial and error, but given that I find sewing to be fairly challenging on me from a physical standpoint, this isn't something I've pursed in recent years. Perhaps one day - goodness knows I'd love to be able to knock out some fantastic garments made with vintage patterns - but for the time being, I content to admire the marvelous sewing projects of others.

Another thing that I greatly enjoy admiring - and even occasionally purchasing myself - is vintage sewing patterns. I love, love, love (!) yesteryear sewing patterns. The art that adorns the pattern sleeves and the sartorial inspiration the fashions pictured there provides has endeared vintage sewing patterns to my heart ever since I was a child.

About a month ago, the immensely lovely and completed talented Rochelle of the blog Lucky Lucille announced that she was holding a 1940s sewalong that was open to participants from anywhere in the world. To take part in this delightful sewalong, all one has to do is a create a garment (anytime between February 4th – March 31st, ideally submitting photos of your finished project to Rochelle by March 29th so that she can include them in a post about the completed projects) using any 1940s, 1940s reproduction, or 1940s appropriate sewing pattern that you'd like.

It's easy as pie to participate and sounds like oodles of fun! Believe me, if I was a sewer, I'd be on this delightful sewalong like thread on a bobbin. Again though, as sewing is not my strong suit, I thought that one way I could join in the general spirit of this project would be to share some seriously stylish 1940s sewing patterns with you that have caught my eye recently on etsy.

I started saving these links last month, so it's possible that some of these patterns may have sold already, but quite a few should still be available and those that had sold, may possibly be available elsewhere (online or off) as well. As the theme of Rochelle's wonderful sewalong is the 1940s, it struck me that forty assorted vintage patterns from the forties would be a great number to include in this post today.

Like nearly all vintage items, mid-century sewing patterns have, by and large, shot up (sometimes rather dramatically) in price over the past few years. However, as you all know, I love a bargain or at least a relatively well priced item, so to keep the theme of the number forty going even further, each one of the patterns featured here today comes complete with a price tag that will run you (before shipping) less than $40.00 US.

{So very, timelessly elegant and becoming for women of all ages. Simplicity 1324. $38.00 from Historically Patterns.}

{Two times the vintage apron cuteness! Hollywood Patterns 1834. $25.00 from Fancy Lucky Couturier.}

{Three charming peasant style inspired warm weather top ideas. Simplicity 2034. $5.00 from Gift To The World.}

{Jumping seasons from the last pattern, here's a fabulous, classic winter swing coat in three appealing lengths. Advance 4916. $35.00 from Independence Vintage.}

{Belted 1940s daywear dress loveliness in a bigger size for those gorgeous curvy ladies out there. 4593 Simplicity. $28.00 from Molly Pop Vintage.}

{These cute-as-a-button culotte and vest ensembles would be absolutely perfect for the start of spring. Simplicity 4370. $20.00 from Lisaanne 1960.}

{Whether you opt for short or long sleeves, this 1940s drop-waist dress is a perpetual classic. Du Barry 5463. $15.00 from Fripperie.}

{Breezy bowed necklines and short sleeves make these two forties frocks perfect for the sizzling summer months ahead. Simplicity 1016. $9.95 from Atomic Regeneration.}

{Puff sleeves and full skirts add lashings of feminine loveliness to these two subtly peasant inspired dress styles. New York Gold Seal Patterns 1397. $21.00 from Cottage Lane Treasures.}

{Summer's still a little ways off, so why not whip up one of these sophisticated, boxy 1940s coats to help keep those early springtime breezes at bay? Simplicity 1531. $8.00 from Dandelion Vintage.}

{Few vintage garments make my heart more giddy than darling 1940s pinafore dresses like these. Simplicity 3664. $25.00 from Miss Betty's Attic.}

{Perfect for the vintage loving office worker or anyone looking to add some classic mid-century blouses to their wardrobe. McCall 4800. $10.00 from Cherry Bubble's Vintage.}

{Actress Betty Rhodes gave this delightful three-piece blouse, bolero and skirt ensemble pattern her nod of approval. Hollywood 1211. $18.00 from Sew Patterns.}

{Curve hugging, a-line skirt loveliness that just begs to be worn all spring long. Vogue 8957. $20.00 from Old Fashioned Notions.}

{It's never too soon to start thinking about your next bathing suit, especially if it's as cute as these forties options are. New York 906. $34.00 from Dear Dress Maker.}

{The kind of classic vintage shirtwaist dress that you can dress up or down to your heart's content. Du Barry 5581. $10.00 from Sew Patterns.}

{Exude yesteryear glamour in a chic, cozy 1940s cape. Vogue 7891. $14.99 from Faithful Fabrics.}

{For the mama-to-be, two wonderful 1940s maternity dress options. Butterick 1985. $23.00 from One More Cup of Tea.}

{This lovely skirt suit pattern teeters on the end of the 40s/start of the 50s, and could be styled to work for either time frame. $7.50 from Karen Elmquist Vintage.}

{Two sweet-as-cherry-pie short sleeve dress styles featuring cute front pockets and rickrack trim. Simplicity 4102. $25.00 from Fancy Lucky Couturier.}

{Much as I adore all of the patterns in today's post, it was this lovely skirt pattern that I was most tempted to buy for myself because it seemed like the kind of thing that a total novice sewer like myself might be able to tackle. Simplicity 4824. $8.99 from The Craft Barrel.}

{Radiate old school Hollywood glamour in one of these beguiling 1940s evening/dressing/hostess gowns. Butterick 2354. $22.00 from Sock Fiends.}

{Be ready for a myriad of daytime events - from baby showers to PTA meetings - in one of these beautiful 1940s skirt suit styles. Hollywood 682. $14.00 from Midvale Cottage.}

{A collared v-neck and generous sized pockets add extra interest to these wonderful apron/pinafore jumpers. Advance 3427. $24.00 from Color Me Vintage.}

{Protect your clothes in lovely 1940s style with one of these classic, artist or crafter perfect vintage smocks. Simplicity 2436. $22.00 from Miss Betty's Attic.}

{If you share my love of vintage ruffles, than these 1940s housecoats style dresses are sure to tickle your fancy as well. Hollywood 1240. $12.00 from Daisy Epoch Vintage.}

{One can never have to many pretty blouses in their wardrobe, especially when they're as appealing as the four featured in this great 1940s pattern. Simplicity 4750. $22.00 from Miss Betty's Attic.}

{Whether you're in the mood for slacks or peddle pushers, this great pair of forties pants is sure provide just what you're after. Advance 3983. $16.00 from Midvale Cottage.}

{Well tailored lines and a waist defining belt help give extra elegance to this beautiful pair of 40s skirt suits. Simplicity 3923. $25.00 from Swing Kitten.}

{There are few figure types this pair of lovely flattering square neck, a-line skirt dresses would look terrific on. Simplicity 3423. $30.00 from Miss Betty's Attic.}

{Three lovely just-below-the-knee skirts to see you through spring, summer and fall with ease. Simplicity 1575. $14.00 from Quilt City Sue.}

{Stay cozy and stylish in these terrific 1940s pajamas and robes. Simplicity 2999. $10.39 from Mrs. Depew Vintage.}

{Whether you're hitting the links or grabbing a quick happy hour cocktail, these crisply tailored 1940s jackets are sure to land you a hole-in-one on the fashion front. McCall 4231. $12.50 from Studio G Patterns.}

{For those looking to tackle evening wear for their 1940s sewalong project, may I present this gorgeous pair of square-neck vintage gowns. Simplicity 4065. $35.00 from Miss Betty's Attic.}

{Perfect for everything from camping trips to leisurely Sunday walks, these classic straight legged trousers from 1947 will see you through scores of different events and weather conditions. McCall 6794. $10.00 from I love Vintage Stuff.}

{Princess lines and cute details like a lace collar or double breasted buttons add extra appeal to these marvelous 1940s frocks. Simplicity 3514. $14.00 from Selvedge Shop.}

{Have a (beach) ball in these seriously fun vintage summer playsuits. Simplicity 4321. $19.00 from Fancy Work.}

{Those - like myself - who enjoy longer hemlines on their vintage daywear dresses are sure to fancy both of these elegant dresses. Advance 5004. $9.50 from Studio G Patterns.}

{If you're a fan of whipping up your own hats and handbags, than this sophisticated pattern is sure to catch your eye. Vogue 9650 $27.50 from Atomic Regeneration.}

{I audibly gasped aloud when I saw this stellar 1940s dress and matching accessories sewing pattern. What took my breath away, you may ask - why, none other than the fact that you can tuck the tails of your headkerchief right through the collar on the dress on the left. Adore! Simplicity 3350. $30.00 from Miss Betty's Attic.}

♥ ♥ ♥

Whether you're a sewer or not, I really hope these marvelous 1940s sewing patterns help inspire you throughout this spring and well beyond. I know they'll certainly be fueling my wardrobe fires for a long, long time to come.

Do you have a favourite (or ten!) from amongst these mid-century pattern offerings? Every last one of them makes me go weak in the knees, so try as I may, I don't think I can narrow my selection down to just one.

If you haven't checked out Rochelle's 1940s sewalong yet, I highly encourage you to do so. There's a nearly a month left to complete a project, if you're interested, and even if you won't be sewing along yourself, it will still be a total joy to see the creations that others will be submitting.

Happy sewing and 1940s pattern admiring, my sweet dears!


  1. these are super nice! I wish I could buy them all!

  2. Quite lovely, Jessica! How neat to find so many fantastic 1940s patterns for reasonable prices. I'm sure many, many ladies will enjoy this post as much as I do.

  3. thank you jessica for this pretty inspiration!
    in the moment i´m drafting patterns and sewing my summer wardrobe. your are posting this exactly at the right time :-)

  4. Dear Jessica, you found so many of the most beautiful sewing patterns. Too bad that It's so very expensive to let them ship to Europe. I wouldn't dare to sew a dress myself but I would have my seamstress to make one for me. I prefer giving the money to her instead of spending so much only for shipping. If I could I would choose the drop-waist dress from DuBarry and if I were young I would opt for the bathing suit on the right hand side. Thank you for sharing. I hope you're well.

  5. This post is so hard to read, since I'm not allowed to buy any patterns this month! What a great list of patterns! I don't know where to start picking my favourites, they are al so lovely!

  6. Oh Jessica you chose a lovely set of patterns. I wish could buy all of these and wear them. I'm a big blouse pattern collector. One can never have too many blouses or skirts.

  7. WOW!!! What a beautiful collection of patterns :)
    I love those fancy hat patterns....I remember how popular they were back in the day....I miss those times.

  8. I have those slacks! Matter of fact, I'm wearing a pair today. I have them in grey, brown, and blue. I hope to get one in black too. They are very comfortable. :)

  9. Wonderful, wonderful illustrations. I love these. Fuel for dreams.

  10. Aren't those original prices something?! Seems that sizes have changed in measurement too! Lots of cute, cute patterns... wish I was a sewer! :D
    Thanks for this trip down fashion memory lane :D
    Beth P

  11. What a gorgeous bunch of patterns and a great idea with all the forties! I love the skirt suits and the Vogue hats and bag. I have read about the sewalong on Rochelle's blog and would love to join in but am not sure my sewing skills are up to it yet!

  12. Very nice :) I actually have Simplicity 4102 in my stash ;)
    You know, if you were just a little closer (well, actually a LOT closer) I could teach you some sewing skills and then you would be as addicted as the rest of us and rapidly collecting a pattern and fabric stash. OK so, perhaps you don't want to sew after all ;)
    There are some super easy vintage patterns out there. In fact, I have a lovely dress pattern that has a total of about 5 pieces to it O-o.
    But thanks for joining in, in your own way!

    1. You are an absolutely fantastic, skilled seamstress, Rachel, that would be an a true honour. It's a total shame indeed that we don't live in the same neck of the woods for sure. Thank you very much all the same though, I really am touched to know that you'd offer to give me some pointers.

      ♥ Jessica

  13. What a delightful apron dress (second from top)!

    Happy Wednesday, Jessica!!!


  14. WOW! What a magnificent selection of patterns! Can I have one of everything please :) I wish I could sew, my mum is a fabulous sewer and I am always envious of people that can sew.

    Hope your feeling better now that Spring is on its way


  15. Like you Jessica, I can only dream of sewing... the funny thing is I would LOVE to be able to. I have my great grandmother's Singer sewing machine from the 40's but I have only used it twice for small repairs.
    I took a class once.. but I have no patience.
    My favorite pattern was the one for the long dresses.... but then again, there were so many spectacular ones to chose from !

  16. I love your picks for this post and some of the shops you highlighted are the backbone of my etsy favorites! If you ever want to take a look check out my treasury list: Looking Smart for the New Year... Vintage Style. Looking forward to the next post!

  17. post some of the most fun and interesting things. Gosh...what a trip down memory lane; these are like so many of the patterns my mother had. She was an expert seamstress and made just about everything I wore...until I rebelled against that as a teen.
    She made my underwear and purses too. I sure I wish I had that luxury now.

  18. Hmmm. I own Simplicity 1575 (one of the skirt patterns featured above). Maybe I'll have to participate in Lucille's sew along.

    Lovely pattern choices!

  19. This is making me miss my sewing machine!

  20. Thanks for sharing, patterns are lovely, do love the evening gown one and the coat one. I used to sew a lot more many years ago, now I don't have much time to. all the Vintage images here are awesome, have a great weekend :)

  21. Those are amazing patterns! I love every one. Especially the swing coats. The forties and the fifties were glorious for fashion. If i was a seamstress i'd get my hands on as many patters like this as i could. They're the wrong size, though. But in my imagination, i'd sure look fabulous in every one. (At least i'd like to think so.) lol.

  22. I have spend hours looking through vintage patterns~ I love them and they are so fun to browse! These are great, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the swimsuit- it's divine!

  23. I too am not much of a sewer, I learnt the basics back in high school and I really liked it back then, and I even bought a new sewing machine last fall in hopes it would persuade me to practice more, but school got in the way. I am planning and have been for quite some time to learn how to sew, and am so excited for summer because that when I plan on devouting my spare time to. (I should be graduated by June, finally :P). Anyways once I have gained enough skill I really hope to be apart of the sew alongs. I've already started to search for patterns, and all of these are lovely. :)

  24. So many lovelies to choose from! I wish I had the energi and was a bit more talented in using patterns. :)

  25. In reply to your comment: If you would really like to get your hands on some antique garments I can say that with ebay it can really be very affordable to do so, ebay is your friend. If you keep an eye on the listings you can easily pick up some reasonably priced antique clothing (in variable condition, keep an eye on that!)I don't know why but US ebay is the best for this. The other thing is measurements, some of this stuff is quite small...very common to see 32 bust and 24 and under waist! I feel much more so than 40s, 50s clothing which is what you usually focus on?
    Also although it is somewhat wearable, it's only just wearable really if you know what I mean - I would never dream of wearing it for more than a short period, let alone out of the house (just for the photo really), however, I do have other items that are edwardian or thereabouts that I can wear out -> sturdy white linen/cotton etc items, like blouses, camisoles, petticoats and the like can easily be pretty and very wearable!
    Also care is important, it's best if you don't have to hang your antique garments, ideally they should be unfolded in garment boxes with acid free paper, and also padded out with paper/unbleached calico but this is not necessarily possible and more essential for the not quite wearable garment than a sturdy cotton blouse.

    Not sure how seriously interested you are in this area but if you ever would like
    to er expans I hope that helps :)Maybe I should write some guides or something one day haha
    Thanks for your comments x

    1. Hello dear Madeline, thank you very much for your detailed comment. Indeed, ebay (US) would be the first place I'd likely go searching if I was going to buy my first Victorian piece(s). Etsy would be the second. I've used both to buy the bulk of my vintage wardrobe over the years, especially since I've tended to live in places with little to no vintage shopping around the area. You'd have an easier time finding a zebra (and no, we don't have a zoo here) in my town than you would a shop selling a Victorian (or even 1940s) garment.

      While my personal wardrobe does center around 1940s and 50s items, I've always had a deeply rooted passion for historical clothing from all pre-60s eras and was nothing short of obsessed with Victorian (and Edwardian) fashion when I was a little girl.

      I appreciate your pointers regarding sizing (a lot of mid-century vintage is cut very small, too), sourcing, storing and wearing, my dear, thanks again. I'm not planning on buying any Victorian items in the immediate future (unless I came across a too-good-to-pass-up bargain), but I truly hope to one day (a wearable dress in my size would be the ultimate, but I'll happily start with a hat, blouse or other smaller piece).

      ♥ Jessica

  26. Vogue has been re- releasing some of their older patterns. I've picked up a few for around $5 each during their sales. It might be worth checking out:

    1. Absolutely! If only more pattern companies would reproduce (faithfully!) some of the classic patterns from their archives.

      Thank you very much for your comment, Kate.

      ♥ Jessica

  27. Oh my lord, you really know how to pick em! I completely agree, vintage patterns are so compelling. I think part of the reason I love them so much is simply because the illustrations of the women are so wonderful! There's something perfect about the art style, like they're all from old school comic books about a investigative reporters who bakes amazing pies.

  28. Oh my word! I want them all, and someone to sew them for me! I'm ok at sewing b ut 1940s clothes are a little too technical for me. I do love owning patterns though, not just because of how atractive they are but also thinking about their history and the woman who owned them and used them!

  29. Since I am a size 20 (not vanity sizing), I rarely find vintage clothes in my size. Also, the '40s are my favourtie and Europe was really poor back then, so most was used and re-used until it fell to pieces, so tehre isn't so much left of it. So sewing is my way of getting clothes in a vintag estyle; with teh added bonus of them actually fitting ME, with my large bust, misshapen ribcage (due to arthritis, but it was big before too) high hip and short legs.
    I also handle stress by crafting, so I'm glad as long as my body wants to co-operate well enough.
    You, on the other hand, seem to have the perfect figure for vintage dresses - it is always a joy to watch you.

    1. Thank you very much, dear Eva, you're all together too kind. My body is a million miles away from ideal, but as the years have rolled on, I've (humbly) gotten quite good at learning how to dress it so that it looks it best (hiding many of the bits and bumps I'm anything but keen on and drawing attention to those that I do like).

      It's wonderful that you have a talent for sewing and are able to make some of your own clothes. Like yourself, I also find crafting (in my case, paper crafting, beading and cross stitch, mostly) incredibly relaxing and therapeutic (honest to goodness, it's more helpful than any medication I've ever used), and know just what you mean about how sewing/crafting helps you handle stress.

      Thank you again, dear lady - big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

  30. So many delicious outfits! Love Vogue 9650 hat with veiling under the chin. Also, the hat and cape outfit. sigh.

  31. oh jessica so many beautiful patterns!!! i love the shape, collars and pockets of 40´s patterns, simple but timeless and beautiful! you definitely inspired me for a 40´s DIY project, although i have to confess i´m not a big fan of using original vintage patterns, i prefer to make them by my own, because it´s to much to change and alter later, may be of my strange body haha
    my favorites are this old hollywood glamour evening gowns, absolutely beautiful!
    love and kiss,mary

  32. oh my! What a wonderful post! I've got lots of the ideas already,
    thank you very much, Jessica <3

  33. I really do need to try my hand at this. I'm more of a resourceful sewer that makes the best out of what she can. But I would love to just give it a good try with a pattern someday.

  34. I have some decent sewing skills, but don't think I would ever have the time or inclination to tackle one of these projects. Although I do enjoy checking out other ladies' projects online (maybe with a little envy?!).

    The thought of sewing my own custom vintage inspired dress is pretty tempting, but frankly I'd rather hunt and buy than sew... so I do! lol!


  35. There are some beauties here! It's such a shame that they aren't more readily available.

  36. Almost a year later to the day and I've just bought McCall 6794 :))

    1. That's awesome! :) It's always wonderful (and very rewarding feeling, I find) to be able to add a vintage pattern (or other item) to your collection that you've had your eye on for ages.

      Happy sewing!
      ♥ Jessica