In Sew For Victory

my sew for victory plans

Hello, all. I hope you’ve been thinking about your Sew For Victory projects! There are now over 100 NEW members in the official Sew For Victory Flickr Group which is very exciting! Please continue to introduce yourself in the welcoming thread and post photos of your progress and inspirations.


My inspirations this year are very different from what I made last year. While I’m very proud of my 1946 Hollywood Bird Dress with custom fabric, it’s not something I wear all the time. …or ever, sadly. Where’s the Sew For Victory spirit in that? I’m realizing more and more that I don’t enjoy wearing dresses very much, which can make it harder to define your style when you want to wear a vintage look everyday. When we think of looks that define a decade, we almost always think of that quintessential dress of the era. Of course we know the historical significance of women and pants vs society over the years, so there’s good reason to think of bygone eras and their signature silhouettes in dress form. …but that still doesn’t change the fact that I like a nice pair of mannish looking trousers.

This year I’m taking a different approach to what “authentic 1940s” means to me and my wardrobe. It’s pretty ambitious so I hope I’ll be forgiven if I can’t complete every part of my challenge, but I want to create two different outfits with the same patterns: an authentic 1940s reproduction, and a modern version inspired by the 40s.

The Pants Pattern: Vogue V8836 – The Shirt Pattern: Smooth Sailing by Wearing History


(photos sources one, two, three, four, and five)

I was searching high and low for a vintage pattern with pockets, a fly, and pleats in the front but had no luck tracking one down so I found a modern pattern that will work perfectly. (If you need to use a modern pattern to help you recreate your Sew For Victory look, that’s okay!) I bought some beautiful rayon/linen blend fabric from Denver Fabrics for the first version of my pants.

For my first version of the shirt I’m using a fabric that is very modern! I adore quilting cottons because they come in super fun prints and are really easy to sew with. I can’t remember the last time I used a novelty quilting cotton for a project and that makes me really sad. So that’s why I’m planning this:


Again, the idea behind this first outfit is to create a 1940s silhouette with a modern twist. The Smooth Sailing Blouse by Wearing History is a mid 30s to early 40s style (I love the puffy sleeves!) so the shape is definitely vintage. The fabric is from the Fox Field collection by Tula Pink and it just plain makes me happy. Simple as that! It boosts my wartime morale πŸ˜‰

(^^I have a tutorial on how to make a mood board like this, here.)


(photo sources: Sears & Roebuck 1943 from my collection and

For the second version of my outfit I want to recreate a classic WWII farm girl look. I’ll be using the same two patterns, but picking fabric that’s much more authentic to the period. I found this 100% cotton denim at that I think I might get, and for the shirt I am undecided at this point. I have a few cotton prints by Denyse Schmidt (almost all of her fabrics are 1940s inspired), as well as some men’s shirts and a 100% rayon skirt that I may try to upcycle. I do want to try and use as many items from my stash as possible for this second challenge in the spirit of Make Do And Mend.

So there ya have it!

Don’t forget to take advantage of that coupon code for 20-30% off your Sew For Victory patterns, and check back through last year’s post archives if you need help picking appropriate 1940s fabrics and sewing patterns.

I’ll be posting more information on fabrics and patterns this week, as well as starting to work through my muslin process for both patterns. If you’re sewing the Smooth Sailing blouse or a similar pair of pants, we can work through it together.

Feel free to link to your Sew For Victory Plans below!



  • I haven’t actually planned anything, just making what I feel like as I go along! So far I’ve made 2 toddler’s shirts – they count, don’t they?? They’ll certainly be joined by a dress or two, possibly even a blouse! πŸ˜‰

  • I’m thinking this may be perfect first ever sew along for me…I’ve been playing around, draping a dress for the mothership that is basically a Frankenstein-ing of several different ideas taken from original 1940s sewing patterns I love (I assume this would fit the brief yes?)…would be just the motivation I need to get the pattern finished and sew, what hope will be, a masterpiece of 1940s splendour!
    Also, for those seeking some initial inspiration, I would recommend taking a gander here…
    Hedi Lamarr is INCREDIBLE…she is not only beautiful but was a total genius too…if I could have dinner with 5 people from any point in history, she would definitely be a contender! just AMAZING…

    • Wow. So many lovely dresses. #40. Oh wow. Doris Day is my overall fav!! Funny, elegant, and classic! She and George Gently are inspiring my Mad Men Dress.

      • While I am currently slightly obsessed with Hedi Lamarr, I will concur that Doris Day is also incredible!…

  • Gwen- the fabric I’m looking at is a patriotic quilting cotton. It has p-51’s and a WWII theme. As far as the Hawaiian print – I’m looking for some vintage cotton or rayon. Otherwise I’ve found some vintage reproductions that will work well. πŸ™‚

  • OH! I so want to make number 4 pants!! Do you have a pattern for these?

  • Victoria

    I’m using the Smooth Sailing pattern too!

  • I just joined the fun on the Flickr group, and I’m really looking forward to participating! I’m planning to make a Claire McCardell sundress in woven cotton, which she used a lot in the 40s, particularly during the war years. I’ll be using an original McCardell pattern released by Spadea, which was drafted from one of McCardell’s retail designs. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  • Sew for Victory was my first sewalong and it will always have a special place in my heart! I have two dresses planned this year. One a fun homage to my grandpa who was a decorated WWII fighter pilot with a Wearing History pattern and another with a vintage 1940s pattern I just got in the mail yesterday that I’m thinking about making with a Hawaiian print. I can’t wait!! πŸ™‚

    • I love that you’re making a dress inspired by your grandpas service. That gets me thinking about a way I could honor my grandparents. And Hawaiian print? Hello awesomeness!!! What colors & fiber content? Have you the fabric yet?

  • I absolutely adore the Bird Dress you made last year – the fabric, the shape, the styling, it’s just gorgeous πŸ™‚ I do try to sew clothes that I will get lots of repeat wear from but I think it’s also fun to make something really, really special now and again.
    I loved all of last year’s Sew for Victory projects and I’d love to take part this year. I don’t have any authentic 1940s patterns to hand, but I do have this 70s blouse pattern – I think the draped-neck versions are very reminiscent of the 40s, but what do you reckon?

  • I really admire that you’re discovering what does, and doesn’t, seem to work well for you at the moment in your daily wardrobe. Sure, dresses were commonplace in the 40s, but so were plenty of separates, especially during the war years, and there isn’t a thing wrong with sporting a skirt or trousers or jeans or shorts if they call you name more than a dress usually does. Plus, it’s great to see variety on that front in the (modern) vintage fashion world, too. Especially when it comes to styling ideas for someone like me who most often is in a dress (or skirt).

    Happy sewing!
    β™₯ Jessica

  • Ironically when I was going through patterns for Sew for victory I had my mind set to a pair of trousers because I love the look of these wide 30/40s trousers. But I’m the opposite to you and rarely wear trousers so might change it to a dress or skirt.
    Think it’s good you point out women did wear trousers at the time, especially for all the practical work they had to do during the war.

  • josiemary

    I really want to join in but I can’t sew πŸ™ I’d love to make a pair of high waisted trousers

  • I absolutely love the dress you made last time and wouldn’t have the thing off my back because I’m a real lover of dresses. However if you prefer trousers then I can see why you wouldn’t wear it.

    It makes more sense to sew things you will love and wear – I’m really looking forward to seeing how they all turn out πŸ™‚

  • I’ve got 5 outifts cut out and ready to sew. Once I get my Mad Men dress done I’ll start on which ever one makes me the happiest at the moment : ) And I LOVE nice quilting cottons, I”m with you there!

  • I’ve decided on a Simplicity reproduction pattern for a 1940s blouse (Simplicity 1590) and also have a 1940s reproduction dress pattern I may make as well. I would love to make a pair of 1940s inspired pants, but a wide leg trouser just doesn’t suit me sadly. So blouses and dresses it shall be for me!

  • I just did the blouse from this pattern and it is a great little pattern

  • I purchased that pants pattern last time you blogged about it. I’m going to make mine in some micro brushed cotton twill for winter. I’m happy you pointed the pattern out because it was just what I was looking for and wasn’t able to find – and I hadn’t considered looking at modern patterns. I’m looking forward to seeing your version!

  • stgilbert

    Great plans, Rochelle! It does my heart good to see Bomb Girls in there πŸ™‚

  • Stephanie B. aka ddixieb

    Rochelle, when you’re looking for 40’s pants patterns, don’t forget to check out the 70’s patterns as well. The 40’s look was very popular in the early 70’s — 72/73 especially.

  • You said you got custom fabric for your bird dress. How and where did you do that?

    • I re-designed the fabric myself on the computer and then had it printed with a company called Spoonflower. it’s really neat!

      • I so want to recreate that dress you made – its gorgeous!!! Thank you so much for making the fabric you designed ‘purchasable’ (is that even a word????). Now to find the pattern…

  • It annoys me/makes me sad when bloggers bag quilting cottons for garments (particularly when they’re influential bloggers, so beginners are likely to believe their word as gospel). Although you can buy awful stiff quilting cottons, in general they’re really easy to sew, come in fun designs (which is all I wanted when I started sewing), and like you I’ve never had a garment made from it that I don’t feel happy about!

    • I completely agree with you! I’ve told myself to branch out and try sewing with silks or other “high fashion” type fabrics but when it comes down to it, I never wear that kind of stuff! I don’t like it so why would I sew with it? I like plain ol’ cottons, any and all kinds of cottons, and I’m not ashamed of that. The fact that it comes in fun prints and is easy to sew with is just a plus for me! πŸ™‚

    • OMG, laughing at self. When you wrote, “bag quilting cottons”, tworandomwords, I’m sitting here thinking, “bag cottons!, what’s that?, why are cottons being bagged?, duh, and huh.” Then I got “it”.

      Living in a semi-tropical environment I have turned to cottons and other natural fabrics to keep cool and comfy. They can bag all they want, up theirs.

      One of my sources of cotton these days are vintage (or not) sheets. Yeppers. What started out as a lack of finances reason has turned into a fun challenge to see what I can find, repurpose, and style with it.

      Thanks for making me smile with your comment.



    • Not all quilting fabrics are equal. Good quilting fabrics are designed to be heirloom quality–no quilter wants to spend hours upon hours making a quilt that won’t last. My mother owned a quilt-shop and it was always a challenge explaining to customers that the while the fabric at Walmart was a quarter of the price, it wasn’t worth the bolt it was wrapped around. I just made a darling blouse from quilt fabric!

      • Rochelle

        I used to work at a quilt shop and basically got paid to explain the same concept to customers. I agree with you completely.

  • Thank for sharing your inspiration. The trouser pattern looks brilliant and I an in love with your Hollywood Bird Dress.

  • Yay! So happy to see you pull out the quilting cotton again! I think sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by what you should be sewing & what you want to sew falls by the wayside.

    I’m also thinking of using the smooth sailing pattern, but I’ll probably go with the pants. It’s been sitting in my stash for long enough already!!

    • I was telling a friend recently that the lack of quilting cotton in my wardrobe made me completely sad, and it’s true! I need more bunnies and foxies in my life haha! I’ve seen some super cute versions of the smooth sailing trousers pop up on the internet. I would have sewn those too except I want to try a fly front. Can’t wait to see yours!

      • Tula’s fabric is a perfect choice for that top. First you’ll rock it. Second, The way she designed it the animals are pseudo hidden which causes people to take pause. A very fun thing to have happen when wearing something you made.

        I took a fabric design class from Tula at sew expo (on my blog) early March and fell in love with her work. Did you know she sketches on graph paper with pencil? Computer design barely comes in at the end of her process, so you’re really getting to wear Tula’s art, which, as an artist myself, I think is freakin awesome. In that same print family you chose she has one with raccoons that pop out. How fun would that one be as a shirt or pocket?

  • I’m so excited to see Bomb Girls in your inspiration for 40’s pants. When you said you didn’t prefer dresses, I immediately thought of several outfits from Bomb Girls that you’d look fabulous in.

    I’m actually re-watching seasons 1 & 2, which is all I have available through Netflix, so I can be even more inspired on my shirt dress. I do like dresses, but don’t wear them often. However, last summer it was so unusually hot in the Seattle/Tacoma area that I was wishing for a loose cotton dress to run around in. I had actually pulled out one of the patterns on my inspiration ( last summer to make for this very purpose.

    Don’t you love Meg Tilly in Bomb Girls? Wow. I’m blown away by her performances.

    • Yeah there are some fantastic costumes in that show! I used to love wearing cute sun dresses in the summer but I have REALLY poor circulation so I have to wear compression stockings whenever I don’t want my purple legs to show haha! That gets really hot in the summer. I’m looking forward to pants in breathable linens and seersucker as an alternative πŸ™‚

      • Yeah, compression socks and summer are not the best of friends. Ugh. The heat. I rock the compression socks myself some days. I bought men’s dress sock versions at walgreens so they wouldn’t give me muffin knee and ended up with better compression. plus if I wear capris that go to my knees (under a skirt) and my compression socks, that stop at my knees, then I don’t reveal any skin. Oddly, someone told me recently they thought the socks were so cute. Wha??? But get, if it works, roll with it right?

  • Love the idea! I adore the look of 40’s trousers.

  • I love your idea to sew separates for the SAL. I really loved participating in Sew for Victory last year. There are so many fabulous sew alongs happening. It’s incredible to have the motivation of a deadline and sew with a group. Unfortunately, I almost never wear any of the garments I’ve made for Sew Alongs in the past. I’m going to be cheering from the bleachers this year. πŸ˜€

    • Well I’m sorry to hear you won’t be joining us this year but I know exactly what you mean by not wearing sew-along garments. I’ve made that mistake countless times but I still always enjoy the fun and community surrounded by SALs so that still makes it worth it to me. …but yeah I definitely have a bag in my closet labeled “misfit sewing projects” haha! What do ya do.