How to Make Bookmarks with Vintage Sewing Patterns

Hi there! Hope you had a great weekend vintage-loving friends. Today I have a fun project that I’m finding rather addictive: making bookmarks with vintage sewing patterns

I’m in LOVE with the vintage fashions, hair styles, and attitude found on the “covers” of these patterns. But even the backs hold certain possibilities, so be sure to read to the end of the post to see how I incorporate them.

Today’s bookmarks have a distinctly SPRING feeling about them–because some of the garments are “spring-y” and the bright colors add to that feeling. Spring is in the air!!

Related posts: Making Altered Art Bookmarks and Vintage-Style Clipboards

how to make bookmarks with vintage sewing patterns

Vintage Sewing Pattern Craft Project

three vintage sewing patternsI picked up a bagful of vintage patterns at a garage sale for a dollar last fall; I was in love with the fun vintage images on the front. I ironed the “envelopes” and placed them on one of my work benches.

When I put things “away,” as in hidden in a cupboard or pile, I tend to forget I have them. I knew I wanted to make something with these charming illustrations but needed them where I could see them regularly. This meant I could let them percolate for a while in my brain, which then led to today’s project idea πŸ™‚

Materials to Make Sewing Pattern Bookmarks

materials to make bookmarks with vintage sewing patternsThis post contains affiliate links for products necessary to complete this project. This is both for your convenience as well as to support my blog, as I receive a small compensation whenever you click on such a link and make any sort of purchase, for which I thank you.


tim holtz distress ink and stampsI like embellishing many vintage or vintage-inspired projects with postal cancellation (or related) stamps. 

Step 1: Make the Bookmark “Base”

manila cut into the shape of bookmarksCut the manila card stock into 2″ x 7″ pieces (or whatever size you want to make your bookmarks).

Steps 2-5 Making Bookmarks w/Vintage Sewing Patterns

How to make bookmarks with vintage sewing patterns step 2 - step 5Step 2: Cut out a section of a vintage sewing pattern that you want to feature on your bookmark. Make it slightly larger than your bookmark dimensions. Cut out other interesting bits from the pattern, like the brand name (e.g., Simplicity), the ruler, the pattern number, etc. Use these as embellishments to your bookmark.

Step 3: Glue the pattern to the card stock bookmark from Step 1. with Mod Podge. Allow it to dry, then turn it over to the back and using sharp scissors, trim away the excess pattern. Glue some of the interesting embellishments in place as well. Glue on any additional embellishments, like vintage stamps.

Step 4: Stamp some postal cancellations (or other stamps) around the edges of the bookmark using the Tim Holtz distress ink (or other ink pad).

Edge the bookmark with Tim Holtz’s (or other brand) distress ink. I wet the edge with spit on my finger (gross, right?) and then run the ink pad along the edge. I sometimes smear the ink and spit together a little bit for added aging affect and interest. (See the video below for a visual look at how to distress edges of projects.)

Step 5: Seal the entire surface of the bookmark (I do the back, too) with a coat of Mod Podge using a foam brush. Don’t do it too carefully–you want to see brush strokes, which provide some texture to the project.

How to Age Paper Projects w/Distress Ink Video:

Step 6: Add Ribbon

three finished bookmarks made with vintage sewing patternsTo finish off your bookmarks, punch a small hole at the top and thread through some pretty ribbon. I like to use an 1/8″ hole punch because I think it looks a bit more professional, but use whatever you have on hand!

An Alternative for the Back of Your Bookmarks

the back of six bookmarks, coffee splattered on the left, mod podge on the rightAs an alternative to applying Mod Podge to the back of your bookmark (right above), you could spray them with what I call “aging spray” (left above). It’s just strong coffee in a spray bottle with a pinch of alum (for preservation, though not absolutely essential).

I have difficulty keeping the backs of the bookmarks free from splotches of distress ink and patches of Mod Podge. Yes, I am a MESSY crafter!

The aging spray pretty much covers all that up. The Mod Podge does as well, though not completely, but it does give it a “finished” look.

A Variation on the Vintage Sewing Pattern Bookmark

steps to make a bookmark with a vintage sewing patternInstead of cutting out a bookmark-sized piece from the front of the pattern, cut one out from the back. This will serve as a sort of “canvas” for your project.

Select an image from the front of the pattern that you like, perhaps one that was too small to use for one of the previous bookmarks. Rather than cutting it out with scissors, try tearing around the image with your fingers, leaving a white border all the way around. 

Glue the image to your bookmark and then follow Steps 2-6 above: add embellishments: words, postage stamps, and or ink stamps, age the border with distress ink, seal the bookmark with a coat of Modge Podge,  and add a ribbon at the top if you like.

two bookmarks made from vintage sewing patternsI think I almost like these best! Which do you prefer? Do you have any vintage patterns in your craft stash that you can use to try out this project?

Earlier in the post, I referenced similar bookmarks that I made a couple of years ago. I sold every single one of them at the Shaker Christmas craft show that year for $3.50 each.

This year I’m planning to sell these new sewing pattern bookmarks and I’m raising the price to $4.

If you have an antique/vintage booth in a shop that allows some handcrafted items, you may want to try these. I think buyers are often looking for unique, lower-priced items that make them feel good.

UPDATE: I had such a ball making these that I’ve continued to make them like crazy. Here they are:

the bookmarks made of vintage sewing patternsI love the view of the back of the dress.

three bookmarks made with vintage sewing pattern figures of women in colorful clothingThe mini skirt is so fun!

three bookmarks created with colorful vintage sewing patternsSometimes you can make two or three bookmarks out of just one pattern πŸ™‚

UPDATE #2: Two readers made their own versions of my bookmarks and sent in photos:

bookmarks made from vintage sewing patterns in red and grayDorrine from the NYC area made a selection of bookmarks including those you see above. I LOVE that she used tassels as a finishing touch, and I’m SO going to look for some vintage children’s patterns!

reader made vintage sewing pattern bookmarks in a variety of colorsShannon from Montana sent in these lovelies and I’m really digging the accentuation of the pattern company names running across them. And I LOVE the tissue paper patterns as backing, which you may have noticed Dorrine used as well.

Fantastic job ladies–thanks for sharing. Anyone else who wants to share this or any other project on my blog can email them to me or post them in our Facebook group, Your Vintage Headquarters.

Thanks so much for stopping by–

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I’d love it if you’d pin for later–

What a great idea for crafting with vintage sewing patterns!

two vintage sewing pattern bookmarks with text: how to make bookmarks with vintage sewing patterns

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  1. Instead of throwing the patterns out, you should use them for packing items that you ship. It’s just tissue paper, after all, and adds a great vintage vibe to your packaging. The sheets also make great gift wrap and I’ve seen them sold in shops for that purpose. They also make great decoupage for trays, boxes and plant pots. Sewers like to decorate their sewing spaces!

    1. great idea ‼️‼️ I wish I had kept several whole patterns I threw out this summer πŸ€”πŸ₯Ί

      1. I am enjoying making these. Using card stock as suggested. Some of them curl and I’m curious how I can get them to stay flat? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

        1. Hi Jo! Some of mine curl sometimes too. I just carefully curl them in the opposite direction over and over again until they are flat. Let me know how that goes!

  2. Wish I hadn’t gotten rid of my boxes and boxes and boxes of patterns from the 60s and 70s when I sewed clothes-before quilting took over my life! πŸ™‚

    1. Aww that wouldv’e been fun to use images of clothes you actually made! Maybe you’ll come across some at a sale along the way πŸ™‚

  3. I don’t have a shop, but I have bags of old patterns!! I make costumes for two local schools and think I should have a collection – but it’s a bit much. This would be a great w at to use them. I think it would go cool to add some of the tissue pattern on the back! Just the words from the piece, ” sleeve A cut 2″ , that sort of thing. Now I have a new project!!

    1. Love that idea Lois! The pattern would make a great backing. Mine were all cut up, torn, and wrinkled–whoever owned them was not a neat-nic, LOL.

  4. Great idea…my daughters and granddaughter are avid readers and I think they would love these! Actually, I have a lot of friends who are readers as well and they, too, will be receiving a bookmark!! Thanks so much for sharing this diy!!

    1. You’re welcome Karoly!! Would love to see photos should you and your family end up making some πŸ™‚

  5. I loooove these bookmarks. I want to purchase some for gifts, where are you selling them. So cute! I love your ideas and all the sharing you do. It’s so nice to visit and take some time out for all things vintage. 😊

  6. HI Diana,
    Love this idea!!!
    Save the patterns you discard – we could use them at the shop for wrapping delicate items!

    1. Ha ha–I will, I will! There were only a couple–I have to make hard choices when it comes to the hoarding reflex, LOL.

  7. Thank you for another awesome idea! As a third-generation dressmaker, I have a collection of vintage patterns as well as other embellishments. These would be a cute craft to offer in my sewing shop for people pickup, as well as cute gifts for sewing friends.

    1. I’m so glad you like the idea Josephine! I think your customers (and friends!) would LOVE them–send me a photo if you end up making some πŸ™‚

  8. These are adorable! I still have my vintage (and my mom’s!) vintage patterns. Would be good to find a use for them!!! And what a great gift for anyone who sews or quilts! I firmly believe in Mother’s spit; coming at a kid’s dirty face with spit on a tissue is the FASTEST way to make them clean up themselves!

    And have you learned the trick about spit on a piece of spaghetti? When I am making dollhouse flowers, I put my spots of Tacky Glue on the foliage, then pick up a tiny paper flower with a piece of spaghetti dampened with spit. Well, glue is stronger than the starch and you can place the flower JUST where you want it–quickly! This, of course, generalizes to sequins/confetti/beads/rhinestones on cards and scrapbook pages, etc. It is one of my favorite tricks!

    1. Glad you like the idea Kathy! And thanks for the moral support regarding spit, LOL. And thanks, too, for the spaghetti tip!! I’m always trying to glue tiny things with my too-big fingers πŸ™‚

    2. Kathy A – what a great tip! The spaghetti with spit, lol. Going to write that one down. And JoyceG’s tip about using the pattern. Your readers are full of great ideas Diana! So glad I subscribed to your blog. Jan in MA

  9. These are cute! How thick is the cardboard you use? I was wondering if that might be an issue. I’ve been looking for patterns from the 40s. I want to frame a few and hang them in my sewing/craft room. The owner of my shop has some for sale, but I’d rather save $20 and do it myself!

  10. Oh! Never mind! I read ‘cardstock’ as cardboard. That’s what I get for trying to speed read!

  11. I cringed when you said you threw out the patterns! Like others, I would have snapped up your trash in a heartbeat. I received something once packed in a little box with the patterned tissue, and I’ve been saving it since. Vintage rickrack would also be cute on the bookmarks, or use it through the hole at the top.

    1. Ha ha–I just made all the rest of the cut and crinkled up patterns more valuable, LOL. Great idea, Patty to use rick rack πŸ™‚

  12. I Love these bookmarks! Such a beautiful idea.

    I’ve seen the actual patterns used to make paper flowers. Very “vintage” looking. Of course, then you have to store all the patterns….LOL!

    1. Thanks Amy–I’m so glad you like the idea πŸ™‚ Yes, I’ve seen those flowers from patterns. Unfortunately mine were all cut up and crumpled πŸ™

  13. Love! Love! Love! I bought a box of gift cards that have a McCall’s pattern on the front and the back of the cards are the directions etc. And the envelopes are darling as well. I’ve had fun using them for my crafty friends. However! I have reading friends who also sew/quilt…..thanks for this wonderful idea. I have a huge box of old patterns I bought for $20 because the little lady was quite staunch on her price and I loved how she ‘forced’ me to pay her. LOL You always amaze me! πŸ™‚

    1. Those cards sound cute as can be (another idea for all of us!). Don’t you love little old ladies (wait, I might be one of those, LOL)? Now you have what you need to make the bookmarks! Time to thank the little old lady…

  14. Such a cute idea, Diana! I have used the pattern paper as wrap, too Cute wrap for items you sell!
    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Love these, Diana! Great way to enjoy these adorable illustrations. I’ve got a whole bag left from my store; we used the tissue as wrapping material. Pinning, and sharing with my email list!

    1. Aww thanks Lora! So glad you liked the project πŸ™‚ Be sure to send me a photo if you end up making some of your own–

  16. These are so artsy ~ love! The perfect gift for a sewer. Pinned. I’m visiting from Farmhouse Friday.

  17. Finally! Something I can do with all these patterns I have around. Love this. SO stinkin cute! Pinned!

  18. Your bookmarks are really cute, but I’m dying thinking you either cut up or threw away the junior petite pattern! They are so hard to find. I have a 16 year-old granddaughter who is 4’10” who would love to have junior petite patterns. Do you have any others in your stash? I’d be interested in doing a deal.

    1. I only had a few–some with patterns, some without. I’ll keep my eye out for those junior petites though!

  19. Joannes Fabrics still has vintage Simplicity items–like notecards in their current flier that came today!

  20. What a wonderful idea! You just gave me an idea for using up some very old sheet music I have! What better idea to do something like this while cooped up in the house for another 2 weeks! (We’re in lockdown around Detroit until after Easter).

    1. I’m so glad you like the idea, Sharon! I’ve been going crazy using all kinds of paper–kid’s books, antique receipts, seed packets, and more πŸ™‚ Now you’ve given ME a great idea; I’ve got some old sheet music lying around, too. Same lock down here in NY. I’ve been crafting like crazy!

  21. I love these bookmarks so much, Diana! Boy, do they bring back memories. My Mom sewed a lot of her clothes back in the day so patterns like these were plentiful in our house growing up. Such a creative way to upcycle them! Pinned πŸ™‚ I hope you are well and stay safe!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Marie! My mom was quite a sewer, too, in fact she had me take a class at our local Singer store when I was 10 πŸ™‚ It’s a valuable life skill, that’s for sure. Thanks so much for the pin!!

  22. I enjoyed reading all the comments with so many ideas! I found you while reading Diana from My Own Style blog and will be joining your tribe!! We are finally able to go to estate sales & the thrift stores are open (must mind our social manners) and I will be on the hunt for vintage patterns. These are just to cute!! Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

    1. I’m so glad you came by for a visit and liked what you saw, Cecilia! I’m so jealous that you can do some vintage shopping–we’re not there yet here in New York, but hopefully soon πŸ™‚ Here’s hoping you find some vintage patterns soon and hope your weekend is safe and blessed–

    1. I’m so glad you like them Mandy–not only are they one of my favorite projects, but it’s one of my most visited articles. Send me some pics of yours if you think of it πŸ™‚

  23. I so love these for small gifts for all my friends but where in the world do you find these vintage patterns? I have searched everywhere.



    1. I find them at garage and estate sales, as well as thrift stores, Joy. You could also try eBay and/or Etsy. I hope you find some soon cuz they are SO fun to make!

  24. I am thinking of using some of my late vintage patterns to make the bookmarks to use as Christmas ornaments for family members. Instead of Mod Podge could you laminate them???

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