How to reproduce 1950s clothing

Written by louise harding
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How to reproduce 1950s clothing
Reproduction and vintage 1950s clothing, fabrics and patterns are available. (1950s pink satin dress with hat image by DSL from

The 1950s were a time of middle-class prosperity. Following World War II, the spirit of the decade concentrated on family and fun. Fast cars, rock-and-roll music, full skirts worn with bobby socks and saddle shoes are iconic symbols of the era. You can reproduce 1950s clothing by using vintage or reproduction patterns, fabrics and clothing accessories. Vintage goods are readily available through online auctions and antique stores. Reproduction fabrics and reprinted patterns are available at fabric and craft stores.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1950s vintage or reproduction patterns
  • 1950s vintage or reproduction fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Cotton thread
  • 1950s vintage or reproduction zippers, buttons or snaps
  • 1950s vintage or reproduction undergarments
  • 1950s vintage or reproduction shoes and hats

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  1. 1

    Select vintage or reproduction patterns to sew your own 1950s clothing. There are pattern companies with websites that offer reissued vintage patterns of each decade's most popular fashions. If you are a purist and want to use the original patterns from the era, there are also web sites that feature these patterns. Patterns and garments used and sewn in the 1950s are used and sewn the same as they are today. Sewing techniques do not change over time.

  2. 2

    Use vintage or reproduction 1950s fabrics. Silks, satins and natural fibres such as linen, cotton and wool were widely used. Wool felt was a popular fabric used in the 1950s for making "poodle skirts." These wide, ballerina skirts were worn over starched crinolines that are still available at formal and bridal stores. The 1950s used fabric with classic patterns, a lot of gingham and wild floral patterns.

  3. 3

    Use buttons from the 1950s or reproductions, zippers and other clothing accessories to complete the look of your sewn fashions. Zippers from the '50s were made metal and sewn into cotton. Today, zippers are usually synthetic and plastic. Flea markets, antique stores and auctions offer a plethora of vintage sewing goods.

  4. 4

    Choose the proper 1950s undergarments and hosiery. Modern bobby socks and thigh-high hose can be substituted for vintage products without much differentiation. Vintage bras are available at vintage clothing shops. Some undergarments are available in unworn, pristine condition. Some may require the elastic to be replaced by sewing a piece of elastic 3/4 of the length of the bra's bottom edge to the bra with a zigzag stitch. The rigid, pointier bust outline of the 1950s is hard to reproduce in modern lingerie.

  5. 5

    Select vintage shoes or shoes in similar styles of the 1950s to complete your ensemble. Saddle shoes, pointed toe pumps, high-top tennis shoes, penny loafers and men's oxford style dress shoes have retained similar if not identical features of their 1950s predecessors. Hats were also an important part of women's and men's wardrobes. Pillbox hats and berets were popular for women. Fedoras were popular for men. Reproductions of most 1950s hats are available at speciality shops.

Tips and warnings

  • Many craft stores sell reproduction poodles that can be adhered to felt skirts with fabric glue or sewn on. Skinny ties, cardigans, varsity jackets and peg leg trousers can all be found in modern fashions, eliminating the need to purchase vintage articles. Vintage clothing can be found at garage sales and second-hand stores but may require the hems to be resewn or the notions replaced.
  • Never substitute a synthetic fabric for a natural one. The wrong fabric choice can betray an otherwise convincing reproduction.

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