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Dawn's Diary: Recreating '70s Fashion

Dawn's Diary: Recreating '70s Fashion

The Seventies

Love it or hate it the 70s era was a truly colourful and creative one, where fashion design seemed to have no boundaries. If you’re of an age that you can remember it well enough, you probably have mixed emotions (like me). Born in the late ‘60s, I was a child for much of the ‘70s so fashion was something that only the privileged or older kids had access to. Emerging as a fully fledged teen in the late ‘70s the hippy era was obliterated by the rebellious punk, new wave and new romantics of the ‘80s. Move on a few years, a boyfriend with ‘70s music taste introduced me to its music and of course its fashions and I found myself suddenly reintroduced to this colourful era of fashion, taking inspiration from my favourite trendy aunt who wore all the ‘70s styles!

Oh yes! I remembered those fabulous bell-bottomed trousers, denim jumpsuits (or boiler suits as my dad called them), cheese cloth prairie dresses with stunning folk style embroidery, groovy Crimpeline maxi dresses and skirts, elegant silky bell-sleeved blouses, plunging neckline-disco diva jumpsuits in glittery and metallic fabrics and oh so much more!

Working in textiles from the young age of 16, I have always had a keen eye for what’s going on in the fashion world and of course the fabrics that make them. So dressmaking for myself was a natural progression that soon became an obsession. My love for all things vintage is another passion and of course that includes clothing and sewing patterns as well as antiques and collectables.

I have rather a large collection of true vintage and retro patterns from the ‘30s through to the ‘80s and my interest in the ‘70s patterns has peaked by the amount of ‘70s inspired fashions filtering through onto the high street today. What a brilliant opportunity to be able to make and wear all those fab clothes my aunt used to wear, and embrace my bohemian spirit!

Working as Fabworks products specialist is an absolute joy, usually I pick up most fabrics and am inspired to list all the practical uses of the fabrics. The GBSB’s recent ‘70s week is the perfect opportunity to share a selection of the best fabrics and patterns for ‘70s style garments. Here goes!

Having watched episode 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee highlighting seventies fashion, incorporating current fabrics with vintage styles, we thought that a friendly nudge in the right direction with pattern suggestions and fabric suitability (crossovers from then and now) you can create your own twenty first century '70s inspired clothing. Have you noticed any '70s styles on the high street in the last couple of years? We definitely have! Modern day practicality and classic styles.


How to encapsulate a ‘70s style wardrobe fit for today’s modern lifestyles

Four fabrics that sum up the seventies for me are denim, corduroy, cheese cloth and Crimpeline/polyester type fabrics. I’ve listed a few fabrics for you to pick up and have a crack at your own ‘70s style. This is exactly how I approach the buying fabrics saga when I have a pattern or idea in mind..


Denim is and will always be one of those basic staple fabrics that never goes out of fashion, whether you’re making dungarees, pinafore dresses and skirts or super stylish jeans and jackets, denim has to be part of a ‘70s style wardrobe. An alternative fabric to what we know as denim are drills and twills as we so elegantly put it online, basically any heavier weight woven cottons with a twill weave that are hard-wearing and practical!

Every wardrobe needs a denim jacket so I’d recommend Burda 7018 and Butterick B5616 as ideal basic staple patterns. If you fancy going for a pair of dungarees or jeans try the McCalls M7547. This pattern allows you to create a slim leg or flared leg styles in both jeans and dungarees!

Seventies style denim skirts often had button down fronts and flared panels, I’d probably pick Simplicity Misses vintage 1970s skirts 8019 as it's perfect for softer denim fabrics.

Classic '70s denim flared jeans
'70s denim midi skirt
McCalls M7547


Shirt dresses with semi fitted seam details such as Tilly & The Buttons’ Rosa Shirt Dress have a ‘70s style when made in classic denims and drills and twills.

Pinafore dresses in this era were often A-line and were worn at a longer length, an ideal pattern to re-create such a look is The Jennifer Lauren Ivy Pinafore, a suitably A-line pinafore which if you add patch pockets with slant edges will create a suitably ‘70s style. Tilly & The Buttons The Cleo Pinafore is also perfect especially if you add a button placket to the front.

Some of the great denim fabrics available to buy at Fabworks Online & Fabworks Mill Shop



Corduroy is in my opinion, the cold weather version of denim because most garments you can make in denim are also made in corduroy too, I love its soft textured velvety touch and like how it has a faded splendour as it ages.

Contestant Alexei's (Fabworks Mill Shop customer) corduroy trousers!


Gaucho pants and matching waistcoats were a fab ‘70s look. Re-create and bring this look more in keeping with modern day styles with simple culotte/palazzo style pants cropped to mid-calf length. The Palazzo Pants in the GBSB book we often reference ‘From Stitch to Style’ is an ideal pattern. All you need then is a simple waistcoat pattern such as New Look 6914 (ladies) and New Look 6036 (ladies & gents), McCalls M6228 (ladies & gents). This has the option to create a patchwork style waistcoat and other creative variations which are very ‘70s.

Classic '70s gaucho / palazzo style pants
2019 Marks & Spencer gaucho / palazzo style pants
New Look 6914 - '70s style waistcoat pattern


This style is timeless, this look is still as apparent today as it was thirty or forty years ago, using similar but more modern, different fabrics. The gaucho pants and waistcoat ensemble will also look super smart made up in any of our fabulous Italian suiting fabrics, featuring traditional navys and greys, Prince of Wales checks to super bright and colourful worsteds like the ever popular Super 130s!



Cheesecloth is a wonderfully lightweight crinkled muslin type fabric made in a good old breathable cotton, which layers up beautifully and forms pretty gathers to produce that full-skirted bohemian effect, and it even washes without the need for ironing! Cheesecloth is super bardot and gypsy style tops and blouses too!

As well as the classic cheesecloth, in the fashion world of today and with access to more technologies and better quality fabrics, woven dress crepe fabrics are an alternative but not a replacement for cheesecloth. These alternatives don't necessarily do the same job, but are just as practical and produce differing styles such as the drape, feel, handle of the garment. As well as traditional dress crepes, fabrics such as lightweight floaty fabrics like Georgette, lightweight suitings, voiles, silks, woven jacquards and many 'occasion wear' fabrics. For a more sophisticated ‘70s style, choosing crepe type fabrics and drapey faux silks will give you endless possibilities.

Cheesecloth is still an option if you want a true '70s feel, but whether you choose cool, floaty, breathable cheese cloth or a sophisticated crepe de chine, the pattern choices for utilising these fabrics at their best, turning them into maxi and midi dresses with a seventies style, are endless!

Fabworks Cheesecloth: Cotton Candy Pink Vogue Pattern V9311
A close-up of Fabworks' Cheesecloth. Available online & in-store


Vogue Pattern V9311 is an excellent ‘70s style dress with two options for a midi or maxi length, and with or without fabulous bell sleeves. Having made this dress in a viscose crepe fabric I can assure you dress crepes and drapey fabrics such as cheesecloth are perfect for this 70s style. To see my version, take a look at my blog post that covers the Pumpkin Dress Crepe here. Unfortunately Fabworks have now sold out of this fabric, but here are other similar fabrics that will create the same look:

Chalk Blue Dress Crepe Cranberry Slubby Egyptian Cotton Shimmer Stripe - Mocha Hot House Flowers lightweight polyester crepe de chine


Other excellent patterns are Vogue - Easy Options Custom Fit 70s Dresses V9328, Vogue V9076 (this will look excellent if lengthened to give an authentic ‘70s style.) Simplicity 8013 is a fabulously glam ‘70s style pattern too!



Crimpeline? The younger readers won’t know what it is and older readers will wish they didn’t know what it is! This hard-wearing fabric became the go-to because of its easy wear, easy care properties. Made from nylon and polyester type yarns, it often had a textured, crepe like feel and came in all manner of colours from very seventies beiges and browns to brightly coloured palettes. Its hay-day was during the ‘60s but was still in circulation well into the ‘70s and slowly faded out of fashion, replaced by the slightly more breathable and drapey Trevira, another polyester type hard-wearing quick-drying fashion fabric. All of the fabrics mentioned above (with the exception of Crimpeline) are still readily available because they have stood the test of time and we now have fabrics that will give the look of Crimpeline but feel so much nicer against our delicate skin. Ponte, scuba and textured crepe jersey fabrics will all give the look and style of Crimpeline without the unpleasant texture and non- breathability. The range of plains and patterns in our modern day equivalent fabrics also means that you can alter garments to incorporate as much of a mock '70s style as you like!

Boho Paisley Silky Double Jersey
'70s inspired medium weight scuba/ponte fabric
Knitted ponte (double jersey) fabrics are a great replacement for Crimpeline
Fabric: Misty Morning Windowpanes
Classic Crimpeline style dress from '70s



Knitted fabrics are so versatile and (can be) super stretchy, drapey and textured all at the same time, these multi-tasking fabrics also come in differing colours, metallic - Disco Diva styles and superb printed designs.

The patterns that we'd suggest for this look are Vogue V9319 ~ a super '70s style for tie front tops and flared trousers. Try a pre-pleated fabric for a '70s disco look. A real vintage look!

Make in a flower power bohemian-inspired fabric such as Heirloom Stars Patchwork which is a lightweight drapey jersey, for an authentic but wearable style.

Other ideal pattern and fabrics matches for this style are Boho Paisley Stripe, Fire Flower Paisley, Burda 6562 with Celia's Autumn Bouquet. All these will serve for great '70s styles with a genuine retro look.

Whether you're more glam rock or disco diva than hippy or punk, at Fabworks there is always a fabric to suit!

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