Sew For Victory

Sew For Victory – some links to get started!

February 5, 2013

WOW! I’m absolutely over the moon with how many of you are interested in 40’s sewing! This is going to be such a fun sew along! Make sure you’re introducing yourselves in the Flickr group so I can get to know who you are, and follow your blog to keep up with your progress :)

Many of you already have a good handle on some ideas and direction for your project, but if you need some helpful hints or inspiration, here are a few links to get your creative juices flowing!


My absolute favorite reference that I’ve found online so far is this 1943 Bellas Hess mail order catalog made available by Sense & Sensibility Patterns. This original 116 page catalog can be downloaded as a PDF, and although it’s not free (it costs $3.95) it is worth so much more than four dollars! I am not affiliated with this company, I just truly and honestly LOVE this download as a resource. It’s been invaluable to me when it comes to fabric and dress inspiration! Highly Recommended.


The next resource I have for you is this awesome 40’s fabric inspiration originally from a vintage Sears catalog, and posted on The Sew Weekly. This post does a great job of showing fabric styles from the beginning through the end of the decade. Here is just one of the many catalog pages shared: Bookmark this link!


Keep in mind when shopping for fabrics that many natural fibers, as well as nylon, were either rationed, harder to come by, or more expensive due to the war. Because of this, rayon became the fabric of the decade! Unfortunately, modern rayons (at least the ones I’ve seen) rarely come in true vintage inspired prints. So with that said, cotton is your friend! Modern quilt designers, like Denyse Schmidt, do 40’s and depression era inspired prints VERY well!

As far as sewing patterns go, the easiest place to start would be with the “Big 4” pattern companies that you’ll find at places like Joann Fabrics.


You might be surprised to find how many 40’s repro patterns are available from Simplicity, Butterick, and Vogue!

There are also many independent pattern companies who specialize in vintage pattern reproduction, or vintage inspired patterns!

Check out companies like:

Decades of Style


Reconstructing History

Sense and Sensibility

Wearing History

 There are also countless online shops, like Blue Gardina, that carry actual vintage patterns from the 40’s. The only down side to real vintage patterns is they don’t always have your size, or all the pattern pieces and instructions included. Don’t let that deter you though if you really would love to sew a true vintage pattern.

Hopefully this is enough to get you started! As we get deeper in to this sewing challenge, I’ll be posting more in depth resources on fabrics, tips for vintage patterns, vintage sewing and finishing techniques, and other things like that.

Don’t think that you HAVE to get ridiculously authentic with your own personal project if that’s too overwhelming to attempt, but it’s always fun to have the knowledge of how things were made back then. At least it is for me! I love the research aspect of vintage sewing :)

Stay tuned for some more “real life” inspirational photos coming up next!



You Might Also Like

  • Pingback: my sew for victory plans | Lucky Lucille™()

  • Lyric

    Now look there is a Swing For Victory 2.0 Challenge! YAY!!!! I finally get to play with Rochelle and the gang. THANK YOU for doing this.



  • Pingback: I’ll be Sewing for Victory, will you? | By Gum, By Golly()

  • Angela

    I am so exited about this sew along, I am finally going to try one of my vintage 40’s dress patterns, now I just need to find some rayon!

  • Julia Bobbin

    I can’t WAIT for the big reveal of this challenge. I’m so excited to make my dress. Thanks for hosting such an awesome group challenge!

    • Rochelle New

      I can’t wait to see your dress!! Are you making the New England Day Dress? I’m so excited for Mad Men Round 2! I think I’m going to try to make Peggy’s pink gingham dress that I almost made last year :)

  • Jessica Cangiano

    Those Bellas Hess images are seriously fantastic, thank you very much for sharing them with us. I’m a huge fan of yesteryear mail order catalogs as well, and have a wee little collection of them lovingly nestled on the end of one bookshelf.

    ♥ Jessica

  • Yarndoll

    I recently purchased the Simplicity 1692 pattern and the Sewalong will be great motivation to finish a project in a specific time frame! Great idea

  • sallieforrer

    beautiful inspiration! I actually really love that Simplicity 1777, and I don’t consider myself much of a 40’s girl, but gosh it’s so pretty!

  • beatricewinter

    I just bought the catalogue and I am squeaking with joy!!!!!! I will be stuck in the 1940s from now on and it’s all your fault. Thank you so much for sharing. Now I am definitely in!!!! See you later, gotta go plan my sewing adventure

    • Rochelle New

      Don’t you love it?! I told you it was amazing :) Can’t wait to see what you make!

  • Shelly

    Thanks for the links. I have a pattern I want to use but they will certainly help me research my fabric choice.

  • Liz Alexandre

    I totally want in on this challenge – I have a pattern for the dress at the top in the middle and I have the perfect vintage brown & cream stripe rayon that I bought at my local antique shop! This could be the push I need to get going!! Thanks

    • Rochelle New

      Wow lucky find with the rayon!!! Sounds like the workings of a real winning dress! Can’t wait to see :)

  • Kristin

    I just bought that Simplicity 1940s style shirt pattern today. :) {Gotta love those 99 cents pattern sales at Hobby Lobby!} I might be joining in, but I’m not sure yet. I haven’t decided what’s next on my sewing list!

    • Rochelle New

      Well you’re certainly welcome if you’d like to participate :)

  • Melli Bee

    The fabric ideas are amazing. Thank you for that!

    • Rochelle New

      You’re welcome! There’s still more to come 😉

  • Sarah Braekman

    Great post! I just finished my first 1940s inspired dress and I love it. I used the Ceylon pattern from Colette with a bright green pin dot and white piping. It’s gorgeous!!!!

    • Rochelle New

      Awesome! I actually have a 40s inspired Ceylon in the works too! Though I think I’ll pick something else for this challenge :) I’d love to see yours!

  • Tasha @ By gum, by golly!

    Great resources! I’m really interested in that catalog, they are the BEST resources for everyday wear, and I haven’t been lucky enough to stumble upon any in real life, just online. Oh how I desperately wish we could get rayons in great vintage prints! Why hasn’t anyone opened up that market? lol

    Speaking of catalogs, I have a subscription to so if you need any peeks at their database of historic Sears catalogs (they have fall & spring throughout WWII)… just sayin’. 😉

    • Rochelle New

      Guhhh I know! The lack of good rayon is seriously depressing. Maybe we should go into business together and fix that lol! I had NO idea had that kind of stuff!! I’ve always wanted to sign up for that site. Is it worth it? You definitely have me intrigued!

      • Tasha @ By gum, by golly!

        I’m a member because I was doing some family genealogy before my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, so I’ve really mostly used it for that (and it’s great for that since obviously that’s mostly what it’s for). They may have other similar databases of catalogs but the Sears ones are the biggies I know about. I haven’t been on it much lately (haven’t had the time for genealogy) but it’s invaluable for the Sears stuff, even though you have to look page at a time, you can’t download the entire thing. :)

        We totally needs a repro rayon manufacturer or to start one! lol Don’t they know we’re all out here waiting!

        • Rochelle New

          That’s so cool. If I sign up for the trial will I get access to the sears goodies?

          • Tasha @ By gum, by golly!

            I’m pretty sure you get access to everything (hopefully I don’t eat my words later) with their free trial. It’s long too!

    • Solanah

      I had no idea they had those! Going to check that out now :)

      • Tasha @ By gum, by golly!

        Yes! It’s an awesome rabbit hole to fall down in. 😉 I think it’s late 1890s +.

      • Debi_myhappysewingplace

        I also have a subscription and it’s an amazing resource!!!

  • Melizza

    I so want to do this challenge. I might jump in late but I’d love to have a vintage dress on my sewing-to-do list for this year.

    • Rochelle New

      Jump in when you’re ready! Happy to have you :)