Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fall for Cotton: 50s pattern and fabric inspiration

Do you need a little bit of inspiration for Fall for Cotton? I know many of our sew-alongers have 1950s styles on their mind, so I wanted to share a few combinations of patterns and fabric to give you a fun 50s look for your project!

I adore McCall 4987 from 1959 (38" bust), with the contrast inset panel and kimono sleeves. This would be great in a mid-weight cotton with some structure. You could easily sew it up all in one color but I think part of the charm is the contrast panel! I could see it in a bold print with autumn colors like Loulouthi Fabric Clippings in Glow (say that 10 times fast) from Anna Maria Horner, with a rich brown or rusty orange as the contrast panel. Or maybe go more vibrant with aqua or pink!

{Source: pattern—Etsy / fabric—}

Below is Simplicity 3586 from 1955 (32" bust), actually a pattern I own! I love the 4-gore bias cut skirt. It gives you the opportunity to play with a great striped pattern like Cynthia Rowley's Paintbox Garden Stripe, if you're so inclined. If I did that, I think I'd go with a solid-colored belt and ribbon trim to break things up a bit. The pattern also comes with the transfer for the soutache braid on the solid version!

{Source: pattern—Etsy / fabric—}

Advance 6552 (being sold by the lovely vintage blogger Atomic Redhead) is a drool-worthy pinafore dress, a look I feel was more common in the 40s than the 50s, so this pattern is a great find. What I particularly love about it is how the different views give you a variety of fabric ideas. Go with a solid dress but contrasting ruffles, try an allover print like a small vintage floral, or use a novelty print fabric or border print!

Did you guys know I was obsessed with gnomes? Well I am. And I'll tell you I would totally sew this up in Michael Miller's Gnomeville Border with red polka dots and a gnome-themed border print. It would be a match made in novelty-print heaven.

{Source: pattern—Etsy / vintage floral fabric—Etsy / border print fabric—}

Simplicity 4665 is only a tiny 30" bust, but how awesome are these blouses? (Upper left, I'm talking to you!) They'd be great in a vintage print cotton for a casual day look with a solid-colored pencil skirt or full skirt. Or try a pretty cotton sateen to kick it into something appropriate for evening or a special occasion!

{Source: pattern—Etsy / cotton print fabric—Etsy / cotton sateen—Mood Fabrics}

Don't forget, when shopping for fabric, read the fabric recommendations on your pattern, modern or vintage! While vintage patterns only have drawings on the envelope, you can sometimes get a decent idea of the drape just based on that. A cotton voile isn't going to work well for a full 1950s skirt with a crinoline underneath, just like an upholstery-weight fabric won't work for a nice lightweight summer blouse.

What's inspiring you for the sew-along? As you figure it out (I still have to myself!), be sure to share your pattern and fabric choices in our Flickr group!


  1. Thanks for sharing these. My favourite would be the first one! I m doing 30s though.

  2. Love the border print. I will check out for more once they are back online. Yep, doing 50s found the pattern and the fabric.

  3. I love that inset panel. I might have to try to draft that...

  4. Oh my! That McCall dress is killer! I'm doing 40's for the challenge :) Can hardly wait to see everyones finished garments!

  5. I Love the gnome fabric!!!! I have a 50s pinafore pattern with a detachable bib front that would be perfect with that print. Thanks for sharing :D

  6. I love the garden stripe but the gnome print is the best! So cute :D

  7. Love all of the fabric, especially Gnomeville! I've gone for Sixties this time so I'm being inspired by big, bold florals. I've already drafted my pattern and chosen the fabrics, but I'm more than being inspired for future projects. This has definitely helped me get my sewing mojo back.xx

  8. Dear goodness, do I love that first fabric. It combines three of my biggest (wardrobe) loves: flowers, butterflies and an autumnal colour palette. Swooning, I tell you, so very much swooning going on over here right now! :)

    ♥ Jessica

  9. OMG! That border print is so cute!! I'm doing 40's but I know there are quite a few doing 50's and I can't wait to see what everyone makes.

  10. Simplicity 3586 looks just like a dress Ethel used to wear on I Love Lucy all the time! Except I think hers was a swirl dress. I also love that brown cotton print. What a fun post!

  11. What a great inspiration palette! And thanks for including one of my patterns! I just sold too! So I hope it's going to someone who is doing the sew along!


    1. Oh yay, I'm so glad! I was so tempted to buy it myself, such a great pattern. lol


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