Planning Outfits for a WWII Reenactment

January 8, 2014

There’s a big WWII reenactment coming up at the end of January (I’ll be there for three days) and I have bits and pieces of outfits put together for my impression, but now I need to do some last minute sewing to fill in the gaps. Last year I wore my farm girl impression, but this year I wanted to wear something a little more “everyday WWII civilian”.

1940soutfitcollagephotos via various WWII era Sears and Roebuck catalogs

For reenactments I wear a good mix of vintage, secondhand, and handmade items. Ideally I would be wearing exclusively 1940s vintage but so much of it that exists is too fragile or too precious to get hard wear out of, so I do my best to recreate an authentic look with some modern finds. I have a collection of mail order catalogs, and fashion magazines from the WWII era that I always look to and cross reference when buying for events. It’s important to make sure I wear styles, fabrics, and colors that are correct for the period, so having an authentic reference is a must.

Here’s what I have for my civilian impression so far:

I have two coats: this red wool one and this camel hair coat. Both are 80s/70s “vintage” and both were found at thrift stores. I might try to shorten the camel coat since it’s a tad too long. It should hit right below the knee for a more 40s look.


I have this 1940s vintage reversible wool skirt that I bought from Beckiy at Trunk Of Dresses. Isn’t it awesome?! I’m so excited to have two skirts in one!

I also have three sweaters that I plan to bring:

The mustard and navy blue sweaters will definitely go with my plaid skirt, but the aqua sweater still needs an outfit to accompany. I also have black and charcoal colored stockings to go with a pair of black gloves and boots (I also have brown boots and stockings, but no clothing that will match the brown well at this point). …I still need some sort of winter head coverings now that I think about it. Add that to my list!

So here are the things I need to sew in order to complete my look: One white blouse to go under all my sweaters, and one plain colored skirt.


I already traced and sewed a muslin version of my skirt, but ran into a problem because the muslin stretched quite a bit as I was ironing it, even after stay stiching the waist. The waist band doesn’t even come close to fitting as it should! See?


That definitely throws a wrench in my fitting process. I went back and measured the pattern pieces (which I definitely should have done FIRST before tracing them all. Didn’t I say I was going to do that first?) and I realized I need to add some wearing ease into the pattern. The skirt is supposed to fit a 24 inch waist, but that also happens to be the finished garment measurement. That means there is zero sitting, breathing, or eating room in the pattern which are all things I’d prefer to be able to do while wearing this skirt, ha! All modern patterns have wearing ease built in so I’m a little perturbed that I need to go in and add the breathing room myself. Once I make this adjustment I shouldn’t ever have to adjust it or make another muslin again, and that is the purpose of my twelve pattern challenge after all. …let’s hope the blouse pattern needs no adjustment!


I know I’m going to make a plain white blouse, but I ordered swatches of corduroy and brushed cotton twill in various shades of blue, brown, and green for possible skirt choices.

What color skirt should I make to match the separates I already have?