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Jul 8, 2010

Vintage Men's Patterns: the early-to-mid Sixties

Good morning, Troy Donahue fans and others!  I was genuinely moved at the outpouring of nostalgia yesterday toward our gone-but-not-forgotten Sixties idol, as well as flattered at the many comments acknowledging my eerie resemblance to same.

Some think I more closely resemble Tab Hunter...

Tab was really just a Troy clone, despite having preceded him by nearly ten years; please don't argue with me.

Of course there's the more obvious choice:

But despite those highlights, Barbra was a brunette.  As was this man, without whom you would not be reading this today...

My Dad, Phillip!

But let's get to the matter at hand: men's vintage patterns.

Two words: Fear Not!

The best way to cultivate a classic Troy Donahue look is to get yourself to eBay or Etsy and pick up some vintage Sixties patterns.  These generally cost around $5; anything less is a bargain.

We are not talking about those bell-bottomed, flower-power, Greg Brady-esque men's patterns from the late Sixties and early Seventies that are everywhere and usually uncut (gee, I wonder why...).  Those are also fun, don't get me wrong; I've used many of them.  But to look like Troy at his peak you need to dig back a little farther, to the early-to-mid Sixties, when men still dressed like they did in the Eisenhower era.

The silhouette was lean, the colors/patterns decidedly conservative, the overall appearance somewhat "square."  This looks better than ever today, when most men are wearing their jeans just above their knees.

Here are some fantastic patterns for sale on Etsy only yesterday.  They all have received the coveted Male Pattern Boldness Seal of Approval.  You go by neck and chest size for a shirt, waist size for pants.

Have you noticed that these pattern envelopes all feature a tall, square-jawed blonde?  Why do you think?   Troy Donahue, of course!

You can use a more contemporary pattern to create the early Sixties look -- as I did to make my cabana set -- if you use traditional fabrics.  These include, for summer, seersucker, poplin, and madras.  Stay away from pre-washed denim and DayGlo knits.  Keep the lines straight and the pant legs narrow.

You may also find this earlier posting, "In Search of Vintage Patterns," to be helpful.

Honestly, isn't that a nicer way to look that this?

If you have any questions about sewing with vintage men's patterns, please ask.  I encourage you to give it a try; you have nothing to lose but your husband.

Do it for Troy!


  1. Yesterday I actually went perusing through my collection of men's patterns, thinking I should make some of them for my boyfriend. I have a great John Weitz pants pattern, but that is a little later than what you're talking about.
    He, however, is not your size, and so I have quite a few men's patterns in your size languishing in my collection (including a great Betsey Johnson). So if you ever want to borrow them, give me a holler.

  2. Hm... 6210 doesn't look like 60s.... it looks like Mister Rodgers!

  3. Simplicity 6073 could be SO Steve McQueen (made in Khaki). Rwwrr!

  4. I agree. 6073 is very, very Steve McQueen. You must run with this.

    Also, 5210 with elbow patches? You also need one of these.

  5. Love the photos of your dad! Thanks for posting them.

  6. I could see you rocking 2080.

  7. What nice pictures of your Dad. I was just over at my Dad's house cleaning out some things and I found pictures of him when he was young - wearing the same styles your father is in. Looking at those pictures I was struck by his youthfullness and his style - Wow! Never know my Dad was so 'cool' in the day! He's still a great guy but I bet back then he was one cool cat!

  8. Did you notice that on the men's vintage patterns you featured, the men don't have full legs? The legs on 2080 are particularly jarring!

    Love the dad pix!

  9. Hey, I love those late 60's early 70's patterns! They fit really well and with a little re-styling (shortening the collar, etc) they are really current. I love the early 60's stuff too though. It is amazing to me how much more style there was in patterns for home sewers back then. Today's stuff is really boring in comparison.

  10. Maybe it's just me, but did you notice the fifty
    and sixty five cent price tags on them?

  11. I have been looking for one of those terry-cloth lined beachwear jacket/shorts combo for YEARS. Only ever find the children's size :-(
    cute blog!


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