In Sew For Victory

More vintage pattern tips and my muslin progress

I’ve gotten started on my Sew For Victory wearable muslin so I thought I’d share my progress so far. Well, first I suppose I should explain what a “muslin” is for those who aren’t familiar with the term. A muslin is a trial run or a practice version of your garment that is typically made out of unbleached cotton muslin fabric. Muslin fabric is used because it is inexpensive and easily found at most fabric shops. A “wearable muslin” means I’m using a non-muslin fabric in hopes I can actually wear the finished dress in the end, but it’s still made with an inexpensive fabric and is a practice for my final dress.

Tasha started an excellent discussion in the Sew For Victory Flickr pool about how you can “make do and mend” with muslins. Members have been coming up with some really fantastic ways to make their own muslins without buying new fabric or using extra resources. I’m so impressed! Usually I use 1940’s sewing as an excuse not to make a muslin first (because that would be using double the resources) but since this is my first time sewing with a non printed vintage pattern, and my final fabric had to be specially ordered, I really don’t want to mess it up! However, I’m still trying to stay true to the “make do and mend” theme, so I used three different fabrics from my stash and large scraps to piece the muslin together.


As I mentioned this is my first time working with a non printed vintage pattern, but as you now know from Debi’s guest post, they’re really not that difficult to work with. My 1946 Hollywood pattern is original and was still in factory folds when I recieved it, so I took extra care to try and preserve it. I photo copied the pattern envelope and instructions and traced all the pattern pieces so I could work only from the copies and keep the original pieces tucked safely away.

I highly recommend reading Casey’s Vintage Pattern Primer and tips for tracing vintage patterns to help you get started. Sunni also has a great post on different methods for tracing patterns.


Here you can see the original un-printed pattern piece next to the one that I traced and wrote notes on. It’s important to remember to transfer ALL the markings, and follow the layout directions.


Notice the language is a bit different on this 1946 pattern vs a modern one. For example, they’re calling the straight of grain the “straight of goods”.


Everything I need to know about my pattern pieces is included on the pattern layout instructions, so I just wrote this information on my traced pieces so I don’t have to refer back to the original pattern anymore. Again, I’m trying to preserve the original!


Many people seem to be scared of the darts on non printed patterns, but as you can see from this little scrap example, they’re not scary!


After I transferred the dots, I roughly connected the lines so I’d have a better idea of where I was supposed to be sewing, and then matched the dot points with the pins and sewed the darts as I normally would. The only thing I did a little differently was use more pins, and use the dots as the official guide and the drawn line to help me connect them a little more smoothly. See, not so hard after all.

I thought about attempting to sew my darts as instructed by the pattern for super authentic 40’s sewing…


But yeah, that’s definitely not happening haha!! That’s just crazy!!



For all my 1940’s sewing I “pink” my seams using pinking shears instead of using my serger. Sergers did exist in the 40’s, but were only available in factories for industrial sewing, and not for the home seamstress. Debi also has a great post on her blog about era appropriate seam finishes. Pinking your seams is one of the most accurate ways to recreate a 1940’s home sewn garment, but if you’d like to use your serger for this sewing challenge, that’s perfectly okay!

Tips for pinking seams: Pink the seam before you press it open so you’re not doing double the work, take off a minimal amount of fabric from the seam allowance (if you cut too close to your stitch line you’re severely weakening that seam and it could rip out!), and try to line up your scissors in the grooves where you left off for a nice clean looking row of zig zag cuts.


After you’ve pinked your seams, press them open on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric. Since this is cotton fabric, I like to use a nice hot iron with lots of steam and a few spritzes of water. A nicely pressed seam is one of the easiest ways to make your home sewn garments look more professional.



This dress includes two zippers. One at the back neck and one at the side. Now, it took me a second to figure out WHY there would be two zippers in a dress. Why not just one long one? Well, if you do one longer zipper at the side, you still wouldn’t be able to get the dress on over your head because the neck opening is so small. You can’t do one long zipper at the center back either because the back of the skirt is put together in 3 pieces, leaving no middle seam for a zipper to go into. Trust me, I tried to think of ways to work around the two zippers (especially with the metal ration still going on and all. wink wink), but a snap closure at the side appeals to me less than a “slide fastener” so I’m just sticking with those. I chose metal zips, of course, because that’s what they would have had available in the 40’s. (Again, if you’d like to use a polyester zipper for your garment, that’s okay! I just personally wanted that authentic touch.)

My bodice doesn’t actually fit over my cheap-o dress form with non-collapsible shoulders so I just have it pinned to the front, but you get the general idea of how this patchwork “victory” muslin is going to look! …pretty funny actually haha!


Have you started a muslin or preliminary fit yet? How’s it going?


It’s not too late to join Sew For Victory! Project photos are due on March 29th. Remember to refer back to all the Sew For Victory related posts so far and join in the Flickr Group if you haven’t already (the group discussions can be viewed by members only).

Have a great week!