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Fashion of the 1950s: 41 Vintage Sewing Projects

Put a modern spin on classic vintage fashion with these free sewing patterns inspired by the 1950s.

By: Annie Rosean, Editor, AllFreeSewing.com

Fashion of the 1950s 41 Vintage Sewing Projects

Fashion of the 1950s: 41 Vintage Sewing Projects celebrates one of the twentieth century's most momentous periods in fashion. On an economic upswing, trailblazers of fashion weren't afraid to try new hemlines, waistlines, and fits. 50s' style was all about class, and this roundup of vintage sewing patterns proves that these designs were and still are timeless.

Any cool cat would dig clothing made from the sewing projects below. These tutorials on how to sew a skirt, dress, top, and more yield products that reflect the fashion of the 1950s. Vintage sewing projects like these are all the rage right now, precisely because they are retain their eye appeal from one decade to the next. You might choose to create DIY handbags that are upcycled, skirts made from tulle, or a pill box hat out of your favorite fabric. Whatever you decide to sew, you can't go wrong with these vintage sewing patterns from the list below. From chic dresses to cute accessories, fashion of the 1950s has it all. 

OK, big daddy, are you writing a book? Quit questioning whether or not you'll sew these vintage sewing patterns and get to it.

1950s' Vintage Patterns for Dresses & Skirts

The Notebook-Inspired Vintage Dress

Nothing says 1950s like skirts and dresses! The 1950s was the height of ladylike fashion, and dresses and skirts pulled away from the boxier, military-inspired shapes of the 1940s and focused instead on created a softer and rounded silhouette. The typical 1950s silhouette highlights a small waist against a fuller skirt, and popular details include ribbon trim, bows, and crinolines or tulle underneath skirts. This list of 1950s inspired dress and free skirt patterns is filled with feminine styles, tea length skirts, and most importantly, lots of fun details.

  • The Notebook-Inspired Vintage DressThe hit film The Notebook has something for everyone, whether it be the epic romance, Ryan Gosling's charm, or the vintage 1940s fashion. Fall in love with this gorgeous The Notebook-Inspired Vintage Dress pattern.
  • As the clock reminds you that it's almost noon, you have butterflies in your stomach. You couldn't be more excited because today you're debuting The Day Date Dress to your sweetheart. With the hem falling just below the knee and the cinched waist emphasizing your hourglass shape, you feel confident in this classic silhouette.
  • Graceful Dress PatternThis Graceful Dress Pattern yields an easy-to-make dress that can be worn at any time of the year. If you use a light fabric, you can wear it with a shawl in the fall or wintertime. Otherwise, it is an all-in-one pleated dress pattern that will only take you a weekend.
  • Date Night Circle SkirtMake a flirty and fun DIY tulle skirt that's perfect for a date night out at your favorite hot spots with this Date Night Circle Skirt. Not only does this beginner sewing tutorial only take an afternoon to make, it also shows you how to create your own skirt pattern from craft paper, which is great if you're on a budget or want to experiment with pattern making.
  • Elizabeth Taylor's Favorite Lace SkirtElizabeth Taylor's Favorite Lace Skirt is undoubtedly a project you'll want to try. If not for the ease of this simple skirt pattern, make a skirt like this for its classic style. Create this vintage look from merely a thrifted tee shirt, an elastic band, and your sewing skills.
  • Marilyn Pencil SkirtAt first glance you probably didn't realize that the Marilyn Pencil Skirt is refashioned from an actual pair of pants. Sewing skirts doesn't have to involve buying yards of expensive fabric. Instead of dishing out the dough for a brand new piece, learn how to sew a skirt from the existing articles in your closet.
  • 50's Dress with Knotted Shoulders"Gorgeous 50's style tea dress with knotted shoulders. Shown here made in a Hawiian pattern scuba fabric. Free sewing pattern and tutorial with tips on fabrics and styling."
  • Simple Reversible Vintage SkirtPut an elegant spin on your little girl's wardrobe - or your own! - with this Simple Reversible Vintage Skirt. Quick, easy, and understated, this two-for-one reversible skirt tutorial will double the outfits you can make. Mix and match fabrics to get just the right look.
  • 50s Picnic Dress TutorialVintage-inspired clothing has never looked so sweet as it does with this 50s Picnic Dress Tutorial. Travel back in time and create an easy and adorable ladylike dress that's perfect for channeling your inner 1950s starlet. This free sewing tutorial shows you how to make a lightweight dress that's great for warmer weather or looks chic with tights and ankle boots for fall.
  • Enchanting Tulle SkirtMake a skirt that has elegance and a timeless design with this Enchanting Tulle Skirt. As the title suggests, this skirt's tutorial relies on tulle as the primary material. Apart from tulle, however, you'll also learn how to sew a skirt with a satin lining.
  • 2 Yard Pleated Skirt TutorialIf you've been searching for the perfect lightweight skirt for spring or summer, then you'll fall in love with this 2 Yard Pleated Skirt Tutorial. Made using 2 yards of gingham, this DIY skirt tutorial has a classic 1950s silhouette and can easily be dressed up or dressed down.
  • Polka Dot SkirtThis Polka Dot Skirt is a chic addition to any closet! This stylish skirt sewing pattern is flowly, sits higher on the waist and is belted with a bow. It's shape and polka dot print has a vintage fashion feel.
  • The Perfect Peggy SkirtLearn how to sew a skirt that has a vintage flair to it. The Perfect Peggy Skirt is the perfect complement to an ensemble for any day in any season. Dress it up or down, with or without tights, with a tucked in shirt or a belt. This simple skirt pattern promises versatility.
  • Little Black Skirt TutorialDesigning a chic and elegant fall skirt has never been so easy than with this utterly gorgeous Little Black Skirt Tutorial. Made using a classic circle skirt shape, this free skirt tutorial shows you how to create a sophisticated skirt that pairs charmingly with tights, flats, or boots.
  • Vintage Heirloom DressLearn how to make a dress for girls that will be passed down for years to come. You can learn how to make clothes for your little baby with this Vintage Heirloom Dress. Inspired by vintage designs and fabric, this piece includes a tiny bodice embellished with buttons and a cute collar.
  • Prom Dress Princess Skirt RefashionForget about spending a fortune on an expensive skirt for holiday parties and prepare to hit up your local thrift stores with this Prom Dress Princess Skirt Refashion. We've all passed racks of old prom and bridesmaids dresses at thrift stores and garage sales, and with this easy refashioning tutorial, you can transform an old evening gown into an elegant tulle skirt.
  • Very Retro Christmas SkirtTurn back time and celebrate Christmas in true 1950s style with this incredibly fun Very Retro Christmas Skirt. You can create a gorgeous vintage-inspired circle skirt with charming holiday details with this easy sewing tutorial. This free skirt tutorial is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas and uses about 2 yards of felt to make a retro skirt that's cute and kitschy.

Fashion of the 1950s

Summer Gingham DIY Top

If you've been searching for even more 1950s inspired sewing patterns, then you're in the right place. Our list of vintage inspired sewing patterns includes DIY accessories, ladies top patterns, and more! Detailed in this list are projects with peter pan collars, high fitted waists, and lots of feminine details like ruffles and bows.

  • Summer Gingham DIY TopCreate a pretty vintage inspired top straight out of the 1960s with this lightweight shirt with flutter sleeves. This Summer Gingham DIY Top is an easy sewing tutorial that combines basic sewing with pattern drafting, as it links to tutorials for drafting your own patterns.
  • The Josie JacketMaking a coat may seem like a daunting process, but it's actually a breeze when you have instructions like those from The Josie Jacket tutorial. Save money on outerwear by indulging in free vintage sewing patterns like this one.
  • Vera Beatnik Turtleneck TutorialMake an easy turtleneck that's perfect for fall and winter weather with this fun Vera Beatnik Turtleneck Tutorial. Inspired by costumes from the movie White Christmas, this 1950s inspired turtleneck is made in warm knits and has flattering kimono sleeves.
  • Vintage High Waist BikiniYou can sew yourself a bathing suit that will really make a splash. Check out this tutorial on how to sew a Vintage High Waist Bikini. This project is a great way to save money without sacrificing style. This project features vintage looks that you'll love to show off on your next outing to the beach.
  • Easy Faux Flower PinAdding an elegant touch to any outfit takes only a few simple steps. You can sew this Easy Faux Flower Pin to clip onto any sweater, shirt, or cardigan. This pin takes only a couple minutes to sew, and before you know it you'll be done with this simple sewing project.
  • DIY Vintage BeltGive your wardrobe a glam 50s inspired touch with this DIY Vintage Belt. This vintage sewing tutorial will show you how to make a vintage-inspired bow belt that looks adorable when paired with skirts, tops, or dresses.
  • Boys Retro Varsity JacketNostalgic for the days of greasers and poodle skirts? Harken back to the 1950s with this Boys Retro Varsity Jacket. Sewing a jacket can be tricky, but this tutorial makes it easy to create a sporty, adorable sweatshirt for your little boy.
  • Start cooking in style with this Easy Ruffle Apron! This vintage-inspired apron tutorial will show you how to quickly make this free apron pattern, complete with all the adorable bells and whistles you could want. This cute apron is lined with a ruffle hem and has a handy pocket.
  • Fall Wool Cape ScarfGet all the comfort of a blanket scarf while following fall fashion trends with this super stylish Fall Wool Cape Scarf. Using only 2 yards of fabric, you can create an incredibly warm and fabulous cape that keeps you looking fashionable and cozy with this easy sewing tutorial.
  • The Sadie ShirtYou can make a cute kids shirt from scratch! With this five part sewing tutorial, you'll learn how to make The Sadie Shirt. This adorable top with buttons to match will look so cute on any child. Choose your fabric and follow the easy instructions to learn how to sew for kids.
  • Ruffled Floral ApronAn easy sewing project can keep your clothes clean while you cook. Sew yourself a Ruffled Floral Apron to wear as you chop, stir and grill. This simple apron is easy and budget-friendly to sew. Choose your favorite floral fabric and a complementary fabric for the ruffled bottom.
  • Peter Pan Collar PatternTurn an ordinary t-shirt into a vintage style top with this Peter Pan Collar Pattern. Follow this easy sewing tutorial and you'll have a cute collar in no time. It's a simple and unique way to dress up a shirt.

50s' Style Sewn Hair Accessories

The Easiest No Sew Headband

One of the fashion highlights of the 1950s was hair accessories such as hats, headbands, and veils. Worn by fashion icons like Doris Day, Sandra Dee, and Elizabeth Taylor, DIY hair accessories like these are sure to be attention grabbers and are the perfect compliment to any outfit. Plus, these hair accessory patterns are a great way to add some gorgeous vintage touches to your wardrobe without looking like a costume.

  • The Easiest No Sew Headband"Making your own gorgeous headbands can be totally simple. You do not even need to know how to sew! All you need is a hot glue gun, some ribbon or trim, and some elastic. In less than 10 minutes, you can have a great new headband."
  • Lace Headband with a BowRetail hair accessories can be expensive. Sew yourself a Lace Headband with a Bow to style your hair without breaking the bank. This is a great sewing project for beginners who want to learn how to make hair accessories.
  • Roxanne Retro HeadbandWith these instructions and just a few minutes you can easily create the Roxanne Retro Headband; great for adding extra flair to any boring outfit. Sewn hair accessories are so easy to make so follow these steps and learn how to make headband.
  • Jackie's Pill Box HatJackie's Pill Box Hat is a classic look for the books. By learning how to sew a hat like this one, you'll revive the style immortalized by an iconic American. Don this cap when you feel like dressing up your wardrobe for the day. 
  • This 50's headband is one of the easiest, most authentic vintage sewing patterns you'll find! Stitch one up quickly and you'll be transported to the 50's in no time. Challenge a beginner seamstress to this simple sewing project. It's fast and easy to make.
  • This classy Birdcage Veil Tutorial will teach you how to make a circular wedding veil. Beautiful and understated, this handmade veil is perfect for brides or anyone sporting a classic look.

1950s' DIY Handbags, Purses, and Clutches

Table Runner DIY Clutch

A lady's outfit is never complete without the perfect bag! DIY clutches and other small purses were popular with 1950s women, and were used as daily pocketbooks as well as essential evening wear. While modern clutches often use materials like leather or vinyl, vintage clutches were often an affordable way to add elegance to ones wardrobe with fabrics like satin or velvet and details like beading. Make a vintage inspired clutch for your modern wardrobe with these DIY bags.

  • Table Runner DIY ClutchCreate a designer-inspired purse that's chic and elegant without spending a fortune with this Table Runner DIY Clutch. This incredibly fun and budget-friendly refashioning project teaches you how to create a stylish clutch from a thrift store table runner.
  • On-the-Go Designer PurseThis On-the-Go Designer Purse is the perfect accessory to any outfit. The wide, open design provides plenty of space for all the little things you can't leave the house without. There's even a pocket to hold loose items, like car keys and sunglasses.
  • Lilly Pulitzer-Inspired ClutchGet the designer look for less with an adorable DIY clutch that's perfect for channeling your inner East Coast prep. This Lilly Pulitzer-Inspired Clutch is the best way to create your own designer-inspired bag without spending a fortune.
  • Rope HandbagThe Rope Handbag is a perfect purse for summer! When it comes to beachy wardrobe staples, functionality and durability are equally as important as style. This accessory is as perfect for a day of relaxation on the sandy beach as it is for a night on the boardwalk.
  • Refashioned Placemat PurseYour next fabulous purse could be sitting in your kitchen right at this very second. You can sew this Refashioned Placemat Purse using any fabric placemat you already have and an inexpensive set of handles. Check out this purse sewing tutorial to learn how to make a simple purse that you will love to show off.
  • Apple Envelope ClutchLearn how to make a clutch purse that has a retro look to it. This lovely Apple Envelope Clutch has a classic shape and pattern. Simple sewing projects that rear this much style are a must for sewing fanatics. You can easily breeze through this homemade purse in time for your next social outing.
  • Spring DIY Basket Tote PatternTreat yourself to a gorgeous new tote bag that's perfect for spring or summer with this Spring DIY Basket Tote Pattern. Made using half yards of festive spring fabrics, this DIY tote bag is a great way to up your sewing game, and turns the traditional easy tote into a polished bag that looks designer.
  • Macaron Coin Purse PatternParisians are known for their sense of style and fabulous pastries, so why not combine both with this super sweet coin purse tutorial? This adorable Macaron Coin Purse Pattern looks good enough to eat! Make this stylish DIY coin purse that looks like the famous French cookie that's trending everywhere.
  • Classic Rose ClutchThis Classic Rose Clutch could not be more elegant or easy to make. This free purse pattern is so simple, even beginner sewists can make it. It's the perfect bag for a fancy night out, whether you're going to a social dinner party or a work event.
  • Always a Bridesmaid's ClutchA great way to thank your wedding party is to give the members a handmade gift. The Always a Bridesmaid's Clutch is just what you need to send warm thanks to all the women who helped you get to your wedding day. Check out this project to learn how to sew a fabric clutch all your bridesmaids will really love.
  • Vintage Rose Frame PurseThe Vintage Rose Frame Purse is perfect for carrying around all the change that's always clattering around in your satchel. This adorable DIY coin pouch is just small enough to tuck away in the corner of your bag.

What's your favorite fashion era? Let us know below in the comments!

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40's and 20's

1950s fashion is so iconic, what's not to love? I especially like the hair accessories. That birdcage veil is just gorgeous!

What a great variety of vintage patterns! A lot of these remind me of when I used to watch classic movies as a child. Love it!

The 50s party dress isn't actually a pattern-it's just a review.

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