When creating a look from the 1950s, it is not just the pattern that you ned to consider, but also the typical printed fabrics that were used at the time. Today we will briefly touch on the fabrics you could use to create authentic 1950s-inspired designs, whilst focussing on the different prints that were popular throughout the era. Such prints included polka dots, plaid, gingham, abstract print, floral print, and Hawaiian print.

Polka Dots

Polka dots have been considered a staple style of print from the 1920s right through to the 1960s, in many countries across the world. With such as wide appeal, it is no surprise that many styles of dress from the 1950s would be filled with polka dots. In this period, large dots were generally preferred, with some designs opting for a mixture of both large and small dots.


Plaid was popular amongst both men and women, whether small or large, and on a whole host of different types of clothes. Used for house dresses and afternoon dresses, skirts, trousers, tops and shirts, plaid was a go-to print for a casual look in the 1950s. Particularly, plaid shirts were worn by men the whole year round, whilst plaid coats and jackets were popular for men and women alike when it came to colder seasons. Worn big and bold, plaid can make a great impact when using vintage sewing patterns.


Cheques were smaller when it came to the use of gingham. Associated with a spring or summer look, you would commonly see them in pastel colours, which were popular in children’s wear as well as for adults, often used for making tops, skirts, dresses and sportswear.

Abstract Prints

Coming in from the late 1940s, during this period the abstract movement in fine art made its way into the fashion industry. Garments would feature squiggly lines, interpretations of nature scenes, multicoloured stripes, and even paisley patterns, creating the look of an abstract painting on the clothing.

Floral Prints

Like the polka dot patterns, floral prints consisted of large flowers, often designed to look as though they were hand painted. Within floral designs, you may also find tropical leaves, trees and animals as part of this trend.

Hawaiian Print

Linking to floral prints, are popularised by ‘Tiki’ parties, Hawaiian prints would be donned by men and women alike in the 1950s, decorated with tropical drinks with pink umbrellas in hands. Full-circle skirts, narrow pencil shapes, sarong style wraps would all make use of Hawaiian print designs.


When it comes to the fabrics used in the 1950s, casual denim and cotton prints were popular for home sewing. That said, post-war, this meant that more luxurious fabrics could be used too, especially for evening wear. Common materials included velvet, tulle, silk and satin for evening wear, and cotton and wool were most popular for day wear, as well as synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon.

Contact Us

To find out more about 1950s’ printed fabrics, please complete the online contact form, or email us at thevintagepatternshop@yahoo.com. You may also speak to a member of the team directly by calling either (0044) 1621-331441 or (0044) 7595261171. We will be happy to help you with any queries you may have for us.