Reenactments are something I really, really enjoy doing, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend many last year at all. One of my favorite events is a WWII reenactment held at Fort Indiantown Gap every January in Annville, Pennsylvania: Battle of the Bulge Commemoration Living History Week. It’s only open to the public on Saturday (January 31st) but if you’re in the Annville area I highly recommend checking it out!
I’m not able to attend this year’s event either (insert super sad face) but I wanted to post a few photos from last year’s event that never made it to the blog. I did share just a few pictures last year of my Knit For Victory project, and a few more photos from the year before (which was my very first reenactment!), but neither of those posts included details of my Women’s Land Army impression, so I decided to do a bit of a flashback today.
It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with my sewing for quite some time now. Quite a long time actually. I never seem to sew things that fit me or suit my lifestyle or my fashion preferences. I love sewing 1940s garments with a passion, and although I do participate in a few period appropriate events a year, my life is not a WWII reenactment. In my daily life I like to mix a bit of my favorite bygone eras in with fun, modern prints to create a look that can only be described as “me”.
My plan for Sew For Victory this year was much different than the garment I made last year. Instead of recreating an exact copy of a 1940s dress (right down to reproducing the fabric myself) I decided to recreate an exact copy of what makes me happy. After all, shouldn’t sewing always make us happy? Is that not why we sew to begin with? The fabric I picked for this year’s SFV challenge is definitely not a 1940s print but it certainly boosts my morale, and I can’t think of a more WWII inspired plan of action!
You guys, I can’t even tell you what this project has done for my sewing spirits. It is hands down my most favorite thing I’ve ever sewn!! I mean it. We’re definitely running out of time here as Sew For Victory winds down, so I took a risk and skipped any kind of test muslin. I just took my measurements, traced out my size, cut into my fabric and went for it. Honestly I was fully expecting this shirt to be a dud because I always manage to sew things that don’t fit quite right. But long story short, the Sewing Gods were on my side!
The pattern is The Smooth Sailing Blouse by Wearing History Patterns and the fabric comes from Tula Pink’s new Fox Field collection that I bought at Hawthorne Threads. The shirt is a late 1930s/early 40s style with the iconic puff sleeves of the era which I love! I bought size pack A and cut a straight 14 although I probably could have sewn the size 12. The shirt is beautifully form fitting but perfectly comfortable, and looks really sharp when tucked into high-waisted pants. I was warned that the arm cuff runs rather snug, but since my gangly little arms aren’t much thicker than a broom stick, I had no issue there. In fact, I had no issue with anything on this pattern at all. I’m still rather amazed at that!
So why this fabric? Well because it’s amazing. Period. When you classify yourself as a garment sewer, people will try to make you feel inferior for wanting to sew with quilting cottons. They don’t always do this intentionally, but that vibe is surely out there. Well I say that’s all fine and dandy – More quilting cotton for me!! I love cotton and I love fun prints, sue me. I am thoroughly unimpressed with fancy charmeuse and other sophisticated substrates. Give me bunnies and gigantic flowers on fabric that’s meant to be slept on by generations of children. It’s what I love most of all.
To me this fabric holds a certain modern likeness to the feed sack prints of the past – Printing pretty pictures on a utility fabric for women who want practicality in what they wear. Obviously quilting cotton isn’t the ideal fabric for everything but it’s the perfect pair for this particular pattern. The puff sleeves need a bit of structure to hold their shape and they certainly get it from a nice quality quilting cotton.
I had thoroughly intended to make a matching pair of trousers to accompany this shirt, and I still will if I have time, but I just couldn’t wait to share this project with you! It makes me so, so happy. I really can’t stop smiling! It’s been such a long time since I made something that I utterly fell in love with so I kind of just want to bask in this sewing high for a while and not rush another sewing project. …but I reaaaalllly want a matching pair of pants so we’ll see.
I have to thank Lauren at Wearing History for making such a beautiful, well tailored pattern that pairs so well with my favorite fabric. My enthusiasm for sewing and blogging has been completely restored!! I’m just sorry I waited so long to find out this was the project to bring my sew-jo back.
Well there ya have it. My very victorious Sew For Victory project! Well hopefully this is one of two projects but, as I said, we’ll see. I’m so over the moon with this one that I don’t mind if it’s my only contribution. Sewing is a never ending quest for creating your ideal wardrobe and evolving your personal style, and my path suddenly got a lot more clear cut. Expect to see a lot more of this from me!
If you’re participating in Sew For Victory don’t forget to upload your finished garment photos to the official Sew For Victory Flickr Group! It’s not too late to join in and make something last minute either! Submissions are due Wednesday April 30th by the end of the day, but it will take me a few days to compile the photos for the slide show (like I made last year) so I’ll allow some leniency for any hard working ladies who made it late to the party
Anyone who finishes a garment for the challenge will have a chance to win some awesome prizes (also like last year but better) so don’t miss out!
Sewing For Victory feels good. You should really try it.
Today I have some images from a great sewing booklet by DuBarry Patterns, published in 1945. It includes tons of tips and techniques for sewing success as well as a really great color photo chart suggesting which colors suit you best! I’ve included both the full spread, and a much larger scan so you can actually read the text. I thought it would be a fun reference for Sew For Victory! I have not digitally enhanced the colors in order to keep them as true to the original printing as possible.
I’m actually a little disappointed by the suggested colors for auburn hair and brown eyes haha! They seem a bit dull in comparison to some of the other palettes. Though I am lucky to have the “most perfect type of face” lol.
What does your hair and eye color suggest for you? If you’re participating in Sew For Victory, did you pick one of the colors from your palette? I did!
p.s. I’d really love to scan this entire booklet and make it available as a free download for you, but it’s around 60 pages I think so it will take me a while!
If you’re still undecided about what fabric to use for your Sew For Victory project, here’s a few photos to help inspire you. The clothing styles, as well as fiber contents, did change quite drastically throughout the 40s (especially when you look at pre and post WWII differences) but the fabric colors and prints stayed pretty constant throughout the decade. Some people are pleasantly surprised to see such bright colors and wild prints!
Rayon certainly dominated the fabric industry then, but natural fibers like cottons, linens, and wools were also popular despite rationing. If you enjoy sewing with knits, rayon jersey is definitely an appropriate option! One fabric you won’t find available for consumer use in the 40s is polyester. While the research and production of synthetic fibers was important for the war effort, I’ve yet to see polyester clothing or fabric advertised in any of my 1940s catalogs. The polyester as we know it today wasn’t truly popularized until the 1960s.
If you’re feeling more adventurous and want a customized fabric for your project, consider the natural options at Organic Cotton Plus! RIT dye was all the rage in the 40s, especially with the Make Do And Mend mentality alive and well. “Upcycling” your clothing wasn’t a trendy thing to do then, it was a necessity. Give an old bed sheet new life, or add a custom color to your project like I did with my 1940s inspired Archer shirt. It’s a lot of fun and solid colors make excellent wardrobe staples.
p.s. This is the last weekend to use your Sew For Victory coupon codes for 20-30% off your sewing patterns, so don’t miss out! Judy at Vintage4me2 is having a 40% off sale until the 29th so you can get up to 70% off your pattern through her right now! Now that’s a steal.
I love reading everyone’s introductions and seeing the inspiration photos in the Flickr group! Keep it up!
Another free download for you! This issue of Butterick Fashion News contains sixteen pages of beautiful illustrations of the latest sewing patterns available in April 1943. There are some seriously gorgeous styles in this one!
To purchase original catalogs (just like this one!) and sewing patterns, please visit Judy at vintage4me2. Judy is currently having a 40% off sale on all Buy It Now items until March 29th! (Yep, you can use your Sew For Victory coupon on top of that!!)
Please feel free to link to this page, pin this page, or send your friends here. Please do not redistribute, re-post, or sell these downloads (in whole or part) anywhere else. I have made it available FREE for you here on Lucky Lucille!
If you appreciate these little peeks into Fashion/Sewing history as much as I do, buy me a cuppa’ coffee to say thanks! Only if you want to, of course
To open the eBook you must click the download button from an iPad or iPhone, in Safari browser, with iBooks installed. A new browser window will open and will appear blank for several seconds. It’s a pretty large file so the screen will look as if nothing is happening as the file loads, but soon you will be prompted to open the eBook in iBooks or a similar application, from that browser window.
The PDF should open on any computer, tablet, and/or browser, but may take a little while to load. Again, the images are large. When the browser window opens, click the icon in the top toolbar (second icon in from the far right) to download and save the PDF.