A (probably) vintage shrug

Two cute shrugs

Above left is a very cute little cream sweater shrug I nabbed from the dress-up box at my Grandma’s house ages ago. I can’t actually confirm its age, except that it’s been kicking around the farmhouse for as long as I can remember. It might have belonged to my mother or her sister (in which case it would be late 60s or very early 70s) or not. A Google search of “50s shrug” turns up examples of identical style, so even if the actual garment isn’t that old, the style certainly is.

In particular I think it’s adorable with my 70s dress. I don’t like it as much with my circle skirt, though on someone with a longer waist I think the look would be great.

Drapey sleeve

Sadly, however, the fabric is starting to disintegrate—little moth-holes everywhere—so it’s no longer really wearable. However, it was such a cute little sweater, and so simple a pattern, that I thought I would give making a pattern a try. So I spent some time this past weekend measuring the original and plotting out lines in Inkscape, and came up with a pattern! Hooray! Which sewed up into a passable copy of the original! (That would be the black version, by the way.)

So, in a first for this blog, I’d like to share with you my 50s Shrug Pattern! (Also tiled for A4—warning, not tested, and the first, overview page is for sure not A4 sized).

The back---would look better on someone with a longer waist.

Now, this first go came out a bit larger than the original, although the sleeve-cuffs are still quite nicely narrow; in particular, the arms are longer. I’d say it would be good for someone with a bust in the 34-36″ range (as opposed to my 33″). I may down-size a wee bit for my next one, in which case I’ll post that pattern, too. For those in the larger range, I’m sorry, my pattern-grading skills are nonexistent. I don’t think it would be too hard, though…

In the original, the bands are made of ribbing, but for mine I just used cross-grain strips of the same fabric and it worked fine.

So, without further adieu, here’s my instructions, such as they are. Please bear with me—I’ve never done this before! πŸ™‚

Recommended Fabric: 1 m (or yard) of sweater-knit, 60″ (150 cm) wide (slightly narrower might work, but not much). Pattern includes 6mm (1/4″) seam allowances; I used the serger for all construction, but any stretch-stitch would do.


Pattern piece on folded fabric

  1. Print and tape together pattern; there are nine pattern pages, numbered as in the overview page. Test square for sizing is placed on numbered page 1, and should be 10 cm (4″) square. Trimming should not be necessary, although there may be a small blank space around the outer edge of the page due to printer limitations. (Again, I don’t have any A4 paper so I couldn’t test this version. Sorry!)
  2. Fold fabric lengthwise; place pattern piece so Centre Back is on fold. Cut out pattern piece.
  3. From remaining fabric, make two cross-grain bands, one 8 cm (3″) wide by the full fabric width, one 6cm (2 1/4″) wide by 44 cm (17″) long. Fold bands in half, wrong sides together, and press.
  4. Cut two 24 cm lengths from the wider strip; align raw edges with right side of sleeve ends and stitch. The process is the same as described here for T-shirt collars, except not in the round and without topstitching afterwards. The same process is used for applying all bands on the shrug.
  5. Stitch curved under-arm seams.

    Cuff band attached, ready to sew curved underarm seams

  6. Mark centre of bottom back and centre of remaining wide cross-grain band (roughly 120 cm or 47″)
  7. Distribute wide cross-grain band around the shrug’s hem, from neck opening to neck opening, matching halfway points. The cross-grain band should be slightly stretched, especially Β around the curved areas in front. Stitch as for wrist-bands.
  8. Fold ends of narrow cross-band strip right-sides together; stitch ends and turn wrong-sides together so that ends are neatly enclosed.
  9. Align raw edges of narrow band with neck opening, again aligning centre back with halfway point on band and stretching/easing to fit. Stitch.
  10. Work buttonhole in front-right corner of neckline; attach button on front-left.
  11. If desired, press band seams towards garment interior.
  12. Wear, looking adorably cute!

How’s that? Clear as mud? Writing sewing instructions is HARD! (Way harder than sewing the actual thing was. I feel like that’s all clear as mud)



Filed under Sewing

31 responses to “A (probably) vintage shrug

  1. So cute! I love a shrug. The perfect cover-up for vintage styles.
    I am slightly larger than your largest measurement so if I try it out I’ll let you know.

  2. so cute, but when do you sleep??? (also i did finally post a pic!)

  3. Cool! I’ve downloaded the A4 version, I might need to grade (probably will in fact – 41″ bust LOL!). The PDF looks v. pro! You should upload it to Burda Style (yes,yes *nodding*) πŸ™‚

    P.S. I’m loving all the super model-y poses recently πŸ™‚ Looks like you’re having more fun with the pics inside the house rather than freezing outside by the fence ;)?

    • Yay, thanks! Let me know how it works. I think just widening the body width and the sleeves would do it… But my brain kinda breaks when I try to figure out how much. πŸ˜‰

  4. Marie-Christine

    Very cute shrug, and yes it is hard to write instructions. No way is this 70s though, it’s your grandmother’s and not your mother’s, even by the early 60s nobody would have been caught dead in this..

  5. The shrug is excellent on you! I have to go back and read the instructions now…

  6. Wow! You are way more rockin’ at this than I am. I would love to have something like this so if Miss Claire figures out the grading I’d love to know how it goes for her too. πŸ™‚

    Also, I love it with the 70’s dress. That looks like an “out for dinner and a movie” date night outfit. Though I’d wear it just to go grocery shopping.

  7. I love it – I like it a lot with the circle skirt!!

  8. I have the perfect piece of blue knit in my stash for this that’s light enough for Caribbean weather. Love the Dolman looking sleeves on this definately on my to sew list (I really need to stop adding things to this list). I do love it with your girly skirt

  9. The Mom

    Now that I see the picture, I can tell you that this did not belong to me, or your Auntie Marj. In fact, I am not sure when it appeared in the dress-up box, but it was considerably after I left home. It may have come in a donation from (your Great) Aunt Pauline, when she was clearing out stuff. Since she worked in an office during the 1950’s, it may have been hers, or she may have obtained it from one of her numerous cousins.

  10. The Mom

    You are right. Aunt Pauline was a more robust sort. Perhaps it belonged to my older cousin Rosslyn, who I remember as being slender, although I haven’t seem much of her since she got married when I was 11.

  11. Joy

    VERY cool, both the pattern and the new shrug. I just saved the “Tanit-Isis Shrug” pattern alongside my Burdastyle Downloads (:

  12. Gorgeous – what a find! I particularly like the ivory one with your black dress – stunning!

    T, here’s an easy way to grade it up one size (5cm/2″ size increase):
    – CB seam and front neck = zero point, mark them and the back hemline.
    – slide pattern out from CB seam keeping parallel to back hemline 3mm/1/8″, draw neckline.
    – slide pattern out a further 9mm or 3/8″, draw side seams and sleeve.
    For standard sizing you would normally increase the bodice length front and back by 6mm/1/4″, increase sleeve length by the same amount, and increase sleeve cuff 3mm at each side ie 6mm total. But in this case all that is really only necessary if you need it.
    And to downsize, slide the pattern the other way by the same amounts.
    Hope that helps!

    • Thank you, Sherry! I didn’t think it would be too hard, but the amounts were boggling me. I will definitely be downsizing this a bit when I give it a try next πŸ™‚

  13. The Mom

    Having just talked with my mother about the shrug, she thinks it may have belonged to my cousin Rosslyn, who would have been a teenager in the 1950’s.

  14. Wow! The shrug looks great on you! Nice work on the pattern and instructions… very cool!

  15. Very nice! Just my size, too. It looks great in black.

  16. Hoosiermama

    Thanks so much for posting this! I have been looking for the perfect shrug pattern to pair with a sleeveless LBD and now I have found it!

  17. Love the shrug! Very cute with the dress.

  18. Oh! this shrug is something I should try… thanks for sharing!

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  21. I whipped this up yesterday and am totally in love with it! Thank you for sharing the pattern. I thought your instructions were great too.


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  24. How late am I to the party! thanks for this been looking for something like this for ages – YaY! lovely

  25. Reblogged this on heArtsonnet blog and commented:

  26. Thank you so much for this free pattern! I made a velvet version that I adore and I just put up a blog post about it, with a link to your site of course

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