An Interview on Vintage Dressmaking with The Crafty Pinup

As it's Vintage month on the #wardrobebuilder project, I could think of no more appropriate interview on vintage dressmaking than one with Abi aka The Crafty Pinup. She is Simplicity's Vintage Ambassador and the designer behind 'My Retro Closet'. I particularly love her You Tube channel, and when I asked who your favourite sewing bloggers and vloggers were, a lot of you were fans too. To help us out with our #wardrobebuilder makes this month, she took the time to tell us a bit about her thoughts on 'sewing vintage'....

Vintage Dressmaking with The Crafty Pinup

1. You only took up dressmaking quite recently & have clearly defined your style quickly. Was it a conscious decision to focus on vintage inspired creations at the time or did this evolve as you were adding to your handmade wardrobe?

I've always grown up around dressmaking and studied lingerie design at university, so sewing has always been a part of my life in some way. But since leaving university and starting a business, I was never sewing anything for myself and craved some selfish makes! Vintage style again has always been of interest to me, so I was instantly drawn to vintage reproduction patterns so I could sew my own retro dresses. It allowed to me express a little extra creativity instead of sewing garments I could find in high-street stores. 

2. As Simplicity's Vintage Ambassador you showcase a variety of patterns from different eras. Which is your favourite decade for style and why?

Whilst I've enjoyed sewing a range of eras for my Stitch by Stitch with Simplicity series, I love the 1950s and 1960s the most. It's hard for me to choose between those! I love the 1950s for full skirted summer dresses and you can't help but feel glamorous in those silhouettes. The 1960s lends itself perfectly to comfy and cosy dressing with oversized coats and simple A line dresses. I flit between the two with the changing seasons!

Vintage Dressmaking with The Crafty Pinup; Elsie dress

3. When you are looking for sewing patterns are you looking for originals, or modern patterns that feature vintage styling elements?

I would love to say I have a collection of original vintage sewing patterns, but sadly I don't. I think I'm just too lazy to hunt them down. But luckily I think there's an amazing selection of retro patterns out there, along with an increasing range of reproduction and reprinted vintage patterns. I'm also drawn to indie pattern designers that take a little inspiration from past eras, like Tilly and the Buttons 60s style 'Coco' pattern and Sew Over It's 50s style 'Elsie' dress.

4. What advice would you give to anyone looking to add some vintage styling to their handmade wardrobe? (ie tips for sewing your first vintage make)

If you're a lover of 1950s style like me, a dress pattern with a fitted bodice and full skirt will give instant pinup vibes. This style also lends itself perfectly to some great simple patterns that are on the market for any beginners out there. I would recommend Gertie's Butterick B6453 dress pattern if you want to dip your toe into some handmade retro style. She also provides lots of step by step sew alongs for her patterns, which are a great help. 

Vintage Dressmaking with The Crafty Pinup; behind the seams video

5. Your creations use vintage patterns yet blend well with high street fashions; they are stylish rather than 'costume'. How do you achieve this?

I'm glad you agree! My personal style is casual and working from home I need a wardrobe that suits my lifestyle. Mixing vintage with current trends allows me to enjoy the retro style I love but in a modern, comfortable way. Like vintage blouses with skinny jeans, or a 1950s dress with a leather biker jacket. I don't like being tied down to one style and as I said before, my style changes with the seasons! 

Vintage Dressmaking with The Crafty Pinup; Gertie's wrap top

6. What is it about sewing with vintage patterns that you enjoy?

For me, like I mentioned before, I think I'm just too lazy to search for the real thing! I love the process of designing the garment and thinking of the fabric and pattern combinations. I also love being able to take a vintage pattern and apply current fabric trends and prints to create a garment perfect for me, mixing the best of both worlds.

7. Possibly the hardest one now... Your favourite handmade vintage make!

This one is actually surprisingly easy for me, but that's only because it was my last vintage make and I am currently obsessed with it! You may have see my social media is all green right now, because I am loving my vintage 1960s coat. Made with Simplicity's 1197 reproduction pattern. I created my vintage dream coat and my Instagram is going to be emerald green for the foreseeable future!

Vintage Dressmaking with The Crafty Pinup; 1960s coat


Thank you Abi! I love the leopard print lining peeking through on this emerald green coat and it's great to hear your advice on where to start with incorporating vintage styling into a handmade wardrobe.

Readers - if you haven't yet subscribed to Abi's YouTube Channel I thoroughly recommend you do - there's pattern reviews, tutorials and all sorts of sewing treats on there to follow along with. It's really useful in hearing what patterns are like to make and to see how they come together. Thank you as well to everyone who recommended a sewing blogger or vlogger to follow - I added a few more great dressmakers to my follow list!
So my question now is; who or what is your vintage inspiration? Do you have a favourite era or styles like Abi? Are you also a Crafty Pinup fan?
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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking and delicious food.
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