Thursday, 11 July 2013

Non printed vintage patterns - A tutorial.....

So you just brought the most amazing vintage pattern, all uncut and in its original goodness..?
Its going to be great, you think to yourself, ill sew up the most amazing vintage garment EVER!

The pattern arrives in the post...

You open to find that it is an unprinted pattern! @#$^&^!!!!

Don't worry i gotcha back with a few tips on how to make working with non printed patterns a cinch!

Working with unprinted vintage sewing patterns is actually really easy and just as straight forward as working with printed patterns, the same information is still there as the same printed patterns, basically it is just laid out in a different format, so don't worry you don't have to attend any special courses, or chase up your mates Grandma who is apparently a sewing genius and has been sewing for  100 years and knows everything..... You just need to understand a few basic tips.

First things first ..

Where do you find these little bits of knowledge that will make you unprinted sewing pattern experience  a happy one?

Depending on the actual pattern you have brought, you may need to refer to the back of the pattern,  instruction sheet or pattern layout. With my particular pattern my happy pieces of information , they were located on the instruction sheet.

Hang on, there ain't no lines on my pattern pieces?

You will notice when you open up your pattern pieces they are all marked with a letter and a few random perforated holes everywhere. The letters on each pattern piece determine which pattern pieces are which, i.e  'A' is the front bodice, B is the back bodice. This system is very much like printed patterns and each pattern piece having a number or letter to determine which piece is which. Again you can see this information on the layout below.

And what about all these perforated holes throughout each pattern piece, and seemingly without any real system...???

Again refer to your happy information place, wherever it is in your pattern. These perforated holes  indicate the darts, which pattern pieces are required to be cut on the fold, grain-lines etc

Now you know what these perforated holes represent, you need to find out EXACTLY what they mean on your pattern ( this will again differ between each pattern)  for example:

As you can see on my pattern instruction sheet, it tells me the 3 large holes, represent cutting the pattern piece on the straight grain, the 2 large perforated  holes placed close together indicate to place the pattern piece on the fold. I suggest tracing you pattern pieces, so you can scribble  down all this info onto the pattern pieces, and refer to this info as you are working, without ruining the vintage pattern.

These are the main tips you need to keep in mind when working with an unprinted sewing pattern, but below are a couple more to keep in the back of your mind  before you cut into your gorgeous fabric:

*Remember to also keep your eye out for whether or not the seam allowance is included ( as it obviously wont be marked) in the pattern or whether you need to add it - majority of times it will be added in the pattern, but just check.

*Marking your darts etc, Again refer to your happy information place, and read up on what method they suggest.  I mark  the darts using pins, pinned straight through the perforated hole and fabric, then pull the pattern pieces away, leaving the pins in place marking the dart, super easy!

*Make sure to have all you pattern pieces facing the right  side up, it sounds silly but with only the letters to determine which pattern pieces are which,  letters can decidedly look the same from each side of the pattern pieces. If you get confused by this, just refer back to where your happy information place is located to see the exact diagram of the pattern piece.

I hope you find this little tutorial helpful and don't feel  intimidated anymore when that perfect vintage turns up in the post and you realize  it is unprinted. You just need to hunt for that happy  information in the pattern and you will sewing your perfect vintage garment in no time!




  1. Thanks. this is really helpful. I'd heard of unprinted patterns but didn't really understand what that meant until I was given one recently in a swap. I don't have any immediate plans to make that dress but I will bookmark this for when I do!


    1. No probs, glad this tutorial might help you out a little bit with your future dress! They do seem scarier but the system and info is the same as printed, just laid out a little bit different!

  2. Wow, I have quite a few 'vintage' patterns, but mostly from the 60's and 70's so none of them are not printed. Didn't know there was such a thing!

    1. Non printed patterns are where it all began for sewing patterns! Printed patterns really didn't come about until roughly the early 1900s!


Thank you so much for the visit and leaving a comment!
I totally appreciate them all!

Happy sewing!


© Bluegingerdoll - Vintage inspired sewing patterns, sewing tips and tricks | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig