Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Christmas In July - A Look at Some Vintage Christmas Patterns

When talking about Christmas patterns, it's a really big subject!  I wasn't sure what to focus on, because there's endless varieties.  Stockings, ornaments, wreaths, all kinds of other decorations, gifts, and more!

But I decided to narrow it down to two things for this entry (plus a little bit more, maybe).  First, Santa Claus costumes, and second, Christmas-themed aprons!  Maybe we'll have another entry later this month, or a bit closer to the actual holidays.

Christmas seems far away right now, but it's the perfect time to start sewing to make a special gift!  If you need a Santa costume you really can't start too soon.  Start now and avoid the holiday rush!  Not to mention your homemade costume is bound to be better than something from a store.

Let's look at some Santa costumes over the years... who doesn't like Santa?

Picture from Vintage Pattern Wiki

This definitely isn't the oldest Santa Claus costume pattern in existence, but it seems to be the oldest one that's been posted/shared on the Vintage Pattern Wiki.  From Butterick and dating from around 1940,  it's a more old fashioned Santa.  Obviously, a hard to find pattern!  Note the leggings, they could be useful for a lot of costumes, not just Santa!

Picture from Vintage Pattern Wiki

This 1930s - 1940s era costume from McCall('s) has a similar pointed bonnet/cap for Santa, and similar leggings for, I guess, if you don't have any knee-high boots laying around.  I really like this bonnet style cap for Santa, you really don't see that anymore, it's more of an old school, elfin look.  Certainly better for keeping St. Nick's ears warm!

A few years later, in the 1950s, McCall's featured this more modern looking Santa in a pattern with a somewhat politically incorrect-looking Chinese outfit.  This Santa looks like he could be out of a Coca-Cola advertisement.

Butterick's 1950s take on Santa also included a doctor, an artist, and yet another Chinese outfit.  The jolly Santa on this envelope looks well-padded in contrast to some of the skinnier Santas seen in these illustrations.

Pattern via Vintage Pattern Wiki

Butterick produced a father-son version of this pattern for decades!  This later version features Santa, the doctor, the Chinese outfit, but replaces the artist with a "Mexican" costume.  In stock at Clutterina's Shop.  I especially like how it looks like Santa is shrinking as he moves down the envelope.  Honey, I Shrunk the Santa!

An even later version of the same pattern, with a skinny-looking Santa, again with the Chinese costume, a chef, and an elf or jester getup.  Has he been on a diet?

Team member Fancy Work has it in stock!

I couldn't seem to find any Simplicity-branded vintage Santa patterns from before the 1980s.  Does anybody know of any?  I feel somewhat certain they must have produced one.  Maybe I'll check around some more and see if I can find one pictured in a catalog somewhere.  I did find this cute pattern though that would be great for a Christmas pageant or dance recital:

I thought it was cute that you can make not only Santa, but also his reindeer, a Christmas tree and a toy soldier!  Pretty silly but also pretty adorable.  That Christmas tree costume is kind of hilarious.  The illustration makes me laugh too.

Image via Sandritocat
This 1980s pattern featuring a load of costume possibilities includes not only Santa, but also a ballerina, a genie, a pirate, a middle eastern dancer and a vampire!  They produced this pattern for years, apparently and variations for both kids and adults are in stock at SandritocatFrisky Scissors, Atomic Regeneration, and Clutterina's Shop.  Oh, the teal colored outfit would be great for your production of The Nutcracker and the Arabian Dance, don't you think?  I think maybe they are still producing variations of this pattern.

Image via People Packages

Team member People Packages has this interesting Santa and Elf movie inspired pattern in stock.  It's quite nice, isn't it?  I love the fabulous Santa bottom left.   You can make an elf costume just like Will Ferrell's Buddy.

Image via The Granny Squared

This high-quality and impressive modern Santa pattern from McCall's is very well done.  It cleverly includes a pattern for Santa's toy sack and for a sweet stuffed Santa doll that is sure to be an heirloom and part of your Christmas tradition.  Won't everyone love bringing out Santa every year?   Santa can hide a special gift in mini-Santa's sack!  Variations are in stock at The Granny SquaredPurple Plaid Penguin, and Grey Dog Vintage.

OH, and don't forget Fido!  You can dress Rover or Fluffy up as an Angel or Santa Claws, using this cute pattern that is in stock at Sew Betty and Dot and All The Precious Things.

There are some more REALLY old and awesome Santa Claus patterns detailed and shared over at Unsung Sewing Patterns, I hope you'll check them out!


Now, how about some cute Christmas aprons?

This example is really cute!  Santa + Western Cowboy motifs.  A cocktail apron for mom, a barbecue apron for dad, and a bib for little Suzy.  Plus a pot holder!  The cowboy-hatted Santa says "Hi" or "Howdy" spelled out with a lasso, and dad's apron has an added cowboy boot.  Very unusual!

This cute mail order pattern features a variety of Christmas motifs.  WAY cute for your holiday party!  These are all adorable, make little ornaments or stockings with rickrack... maybe you don't need a pattern?

Here's a really cute and unusual apron set featuring a candy cane, and Santa popping out of a chimney on the roof top.  Also included a Valentine's Day apron.  Check out the snow-covered roof!  A lot of effort for an apron, but sure to be a treasure.

This isn't an apron, it's a circle skirt... but I really loved the Christmas tree motif on the one skirt!  I think it's amazing!  Can you imagine waltzing into a party wearing it? :)  Va-VOOM!

Likewise, this adorable girls' suspender-skirt pattern features amazingly cute holiday motifs.. and look at the little matching cap!  This would be ultra-cute for a pageant, dance recital, or skating performance.

This classy little cocktail apron with a scalloped hem features gold angelic motifs.  Much more subtle but festive nonetheless. 

A real family pattern for gingerbread baking, mom and Sis in their frilly aprons, dad and Junior in barbecue style.. and the little dog in a bib!  Amazing!  Note dad's a "chef" while poor mom only rates as "cook."  Bobby is "Chef's Helper," Suzy is "Cook's Helper," and Rover is "Taster," with even a dog-shaped cookie on his bib!  I suppose maybe you could also give the bib to a baby, but maybe do without the dog cookie.  Would your dog wear this?

Of course, Advance was in on the Christmas party apron trend too!    Pretty holly and angel motifs on roomy pockets.

Image via Vintage Pattern Wiki

This lovely apron has a poinsettia motif for Christmastime, and a flower for spring.  In stock at Jantiki.  You can put it on a tablecloth as well.. or how about sticking it on a stocking or tote bag? (You could put a gift in the bag!)

Lastly I had to include this "Gifts for Dad" pattern... because I thought it was kind of hilarious that "Dad" would want a pipe and a cigarette on his Christmas stocking.  I wonder if anyone ever made this with those motifs?  I guess a pipe could theoretically be related to Santa, but I'm not sure how a cigarette has anything to do with Christmas besides possibly setting the Xmas tree alight. :)  Maybe he got a case of Philip Morris for Christmas.  Don't smoke, kids!

Additionally they made these "Sock Full of Gifts" patterns for other members of the family too.  I know of one for mom and one for sister and baby as well.  I assume there must be one for brother.  A "Mom" version is in stock at Crafty Paneen.


All of these patterns are consistently popular and hard to find in stock.  Especially aprons are very popular and never go out of style.  

However, over at the Pattern Patter Team on Etsy, it's always Christmas!  We're always open and always ready to celebrate, so please check out all the Holiday patterns that team members have in stock.  Happy shopping!

Did I miss your favorite Christmas pattern?  Have you ever made any of these?  Which one is your favorite?  Do you make Christmas presents for your loved ones?  Have you passed down a homemade treasure?  Let us know in the comments. :)


  1. Both my grandfather's received a carton of cigarettes for Christmas when I was growing up. I even gave my Dad a carton once when he smoked. I'm proud to say my dad & one grandfather quit cold turkey. The other smoked until shortly before he died. If you are not in your 50s or older in age you probably don't remember those types of gifts. My dad quit because of a surprise grandchild 18 years ago.

    I loved seeing the vintage patterns. I have some but no Christmas ones. I do have one of the patterns of Santa costumes. Now to be on the look out for others!

  2. Very interesting how the "Santa" costumes changed over the years.
    Love all the aprons and dresses, very festive !

  3. Love them all! So many cute aprons.

  4. Fascinating assortment of vintage Santa costumes and festive holiday wear for the whole family

  5. Ditto to what Sharon commented about cartons of cigarettes being gifts. To get an idea of just how popular smoking and all it's accessories were just watch at a 50's 60's or even 70's movie.
    Adore all the old Santa suit patterns. The tie on bonnet reminds me of the old Kris Kringles. Looking forward to another feature on stockings and decorations.

  6. Hard to think about Santa in 95 degree heat - but December is just around the corner. Love those old costumes!

  7. I love my vintage Santa collection.
    Have about 20 European Santas in various sizes that I enjoy pulling out at Christmas.
    But so happy to see the holiday aprons featured also. My mother and aunts always wore them on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

  8. I love the Christmas aprons too, that was the only time my Nana cooked and she always wore a festive apron.