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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Vintage Detail in Modern Apparel, with Laura Nash | Episode 49

Video: Threads magazine

If you love clothing with vintage detail but want to look modern, explore the offerings by Laura Nash of Sew Chic Patterns. In this episode of Sewing with Threads, the pattern designer talks about how she got into making retro-inspired patterns, and where she sees them fitting into fashion today.

Get to know the designer

Laura is an award-winning pattern designer, who focuses on garments that blend modern and vintage elements. She has worked with Craftsy, Simplicity patterns, and Threads. We start our conversation by asking Laura five questions that reveal a bit about her background in sewing. Like many of our readers and followers, she began by teaching herself to make fashionable outfits for her Barbie doll. You’ll even see a fancy miniature peignoir she created as a child.

Entering the field of vintage design

When asked how she got interested in vintage designs, Laura talks about how she spent lots of time as a design student flipping through old fashion magazines. She became captivated by the styles she saw there. This eye-opening experience showed her how fashion affects the way women feel day to day, and she wanted to create patterns that enable her customers to feel great about themselves. Her favorite time period is the 1950s, with a nipped-in waistline with wider shoulders and hips.

Vintage Detail: Lilli Ann Suit, 1953
This suit by Lilli Ann was a key influence for Laura Nash as a fashion design student.

Laura talks about how this hourglass silhouette can work for many different body types. She explains how specific undergarments help create the illusion of this shape. Hint: Contemporary stretchy, elastic shapers aren’t the secret. A more rigid type of underpinning, including corsets, with minimal stretch, can create a shape and hold it. However, Laura suggests that, if you don’t want to cinch in your waist, you can visually create the hourglass silhouette by adding a petticoat and/or shoulder pads.

Choosing an era

Though Laura Nash says her favorite decade is the 1950s, she notices that her students tend to gravitate toward stylistic periods that reflect their figures. Curvier women often like the shapely effect of a ’50s dress, while those with straighter body types often prefer the 1920s shape.

Now that vintage styles are increasingly popular, Laura wants to make these looks accessible to all sewers. Her designs clearly refer to past decades, but she doesn’t feel it’s necessary to be perfectly authentic in one’s styling. Her sizable collection of vintage patterns are a source of inspiration to her as she designs her own patterns. Old movies, likewise, provide examples of unique, flattering garments that can be updated for today’s sewers. In the podcast, Laura, Editorial Director Sarah McFarland and Senior Technical Editor Carol Fresia struggle to remember the title of the star-studded 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which Laura enjoys.

Spreading the news

Although retro fashion is big today, when Laura Nash started her company, she was the first and only independent designer to feature vintage styles. In addition to selling patterns, she teaches virtually and at expos across the country, and says she’s looking forward to participating in this year’s Sewing & Stitchery Expo, via video teaching. In anticipation of this, she’s developing an in-depth workbook on the full-bust adjustment.

Laura talks about the difference between the condensed pattern instructions in vintage patterns and today’s guide sheets. They were written for people who already know how to sew. Today’s pattern instructions are much more detailed. To her, contemporary patterns are lacking style, but are still well-written to produce a good sewing experience. Older patterns were often designed with different sewing techniques in mind, too, and Laura has updated many construction steps in her patterns.

What’s next for Sew Chic Patterns? The designer explains how she decides what style to design next, based on her clients’ interests, and with an understanding of what else is available in the sewing market. From dresses to pants to updated but vintage-inspired petticoats, there are great-looking options for all.


Baby Lock logo

Today’s episode is brought to you by our friends at Baby Lock. From product innovation, service, and support, to their independent retailers and sewing communities, Baby Lock does everything for the love of sewing. Now, for a limited time, receive a four-year Baby Lock Love of Sewing membership when you purchase select Baby Lock machines. Start sewing right away with access to hundreds of online sewing videos. And don’t forget to keep your machine healthy with ongoing service, support, and maintenance for your machine. Visit BabyLock.com to learn more.

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