Q: Do I need an actual vintage pattern to create a retro look like the dress above?

A: No.  But being a perennial student of fashion and working with a set of instructions over 50 years old is nothing short of, like WOW, so totally awesome!  For me, vintage patterns offer up an experience about as close to to time travel as I'm ever going to get. These are the images I grew up with . . . sewing patterns from the 1950s-60s. Moms and grandmas back then more often than not owned a sewing machine they actually put some wear and tear on. These patterns were inspiration points for me; the models in the illustrations looking like something you’d find on an episode of Mad Men.   I never forgot those nipped in waistlines and yards of skirt, collecting an array of 50s chic as well as patterns through the years.  Here are a few things I learned along the way working with vintage patterns:

1. Not only are silhouettes reminiscent of an era, did you know overall cut, types of darts and dart lines are as well? 

2. With all the changes in machinery over the last thirty plus years as well as hemming products, range of notions available and faster techniques, whoever is making your dress will have to know how to adapt instructions provided by the original pattern.

3. Unlike today's patterns that include multiple sizes in one package, those from yesteryear are a one size only deal.

Above photos by Stephanie Williams Photography/Patterns So Vintage
Photo by Bride Chic 2011/Model Victoria Cappuccio

And speaking of Mad Men, I have to put a plug in for Janie Bryant, the designer/stylist on the show.  She has such an incredible eye for detail.  If you check out the backs of most of the dresses, they have the lapped zipper application so popular back then.  While not my fave way of closing up the back of a dress, kudos to Janie.  It's little things like this that make the scenes all the more authentic.

Dresses by Amy-Jo Tatum Bride