Social and Psychological Aspects

The Role of Nostalgia in Retro Sewing

  • Charity Calvin Armstead (Iowa State University)
  • Ellen Carol McKinney orcid logo (Iowa State University)


This research explores the role of nostalgia as a motivation for retro sewing and the ways in which nostalgia shapes the practices of retro sewing.  Retro sewers circumvent typical models of clothing consumption by opting out of the commercial fashion cycle, instead creating clothing for everyday use inspired by styles from the past.  Therefore, the practice of retro sewing is inextricably linked to one or more forms of nostalgia. Forms of nostalgia that motivate retro sewers include both connecting with the past and using the past in the present.  Retro sewing is often motivated by an interest in history and personal nostalgia for childhood and family.  Some would like to live in the past, whereas others prefer to enjoy past fashions in the present.  Retro sewers value aspects of the past as tools in the present; they collect and consume vintage items, maintain knowledge, refer to history as a guide for the present and future, and use and reinterpret aesthetics of the past in their clothing.  Methods used in designing and sewing retro clothing vary depending on which types of nostalgia are most salient for the retro sewer for any given project.

Keywords: home sewers, vintage style, nostalgia, retro sewing, home sewing

How to Cite:

Armstead, C. C. & McKinney, E. C., (2019) “The Role of Nostalgia in Retro Sewing”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 76(1). doi:

Download PDF
View PDF



Published on
15 Dec 2019