Saturday, June 14, 2014

1941 Politics of Fashion Dress

On a previous post I broke down the politics of the dress codes of the 1940s war time. The government regulated fashion down to how much fabric and trim a manufacturer could put in any ensemble.  I wanted to recreate a proper dress from 1941.
 I received My pattern that I purchased on ebay.  It was complete and exactly as I expected.  The cover is rather fragile, but the pattern pieces were in great shape.
I was rather surprised by a few things.  The zipper was called a "slide" and the sleeves were set in in pieces rather than stitched together and gathered like modern patterns. However, the pattern fits me perfectly without any alterations.  It is a 16.  I wear a 12 in current patterns and a size 4 off the rack.  So obviously, size numbers are just numbers.
The following pictures are of my daughter wearing the dress as I made it for her.  The belt is purchased and the shoes are mine from the 90s.

Daughter did her own victory curls.









It was fun making this dress.
The facts:
Challenge: #11 Politics of Fashion
Fabric: 97% Cotton 3% Lycra, so not completely accurate.  The stretch in the fabric did help in getting the sleeves in correctly.
Pattern: Simplicity 4239 from the 1940s
Year: ca. 1941
Notions: "slide" (current) Coats thread, 4 plastic buttons
How historically accurate is it:  85% because of notions and Lycra in the fabric
Hours to complete: 9
First worn: Friday the Thirteenth for Pictures.  Daughter will wear it for her office job.
Cost: Approximately $45
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Remembering D-Day, June 6, 1944, and all who served to preserve our freedoms.
Thank you to all who served.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pin Up to Wartime Fashion

I find it interesting how I can become obsessed with something so quickly.  The first weekend in June Husband and I went to spend time at Disneyland, our happy place.  On Sunday we began to see many ladies wearing Victory rolls in their hair and pin-up style outfits.  I texted my daughter to find out what unofficial day it was at the park.  She found out it was Pin-Up Parade sponsored by Pin Up Girl Clothing.
Of course from there my mind set upon making a 1940s inspired costume.  So I began research to find out what would be actual World War II era dresses for American women.  I found out some things I never knew.
I went to Wikipedia for a brief overview. (Never use Wikipedia as a quotable source. That's what we tell high school students.  However, it is a good place to find some basic information that you can then research on other reputable sites.) I found out that the United States had a department called the U.S. War Production Board (WPA) which issued Limitation Order L-85 in 1942. It listed specific ways Manufacturers had to limit fabric usage.  All silk and nylon went to war production, as did brown and green dyes and much of the wool.  Skirts were narrower and shorter, embellishment almost non-existent. For much more information I read the articles here. Blitzkrieg Baby has a ton of information.  Look at the articles for May 2009 through October 2009.
These are examples of the pared down fashion of the day.  Shorter sleeves, less fabric in the skirts, single breasted button front with fewer buttons.
Fabrics were often cotton for summer or light wool for winter.  Printed rayon was also available.
Here Ava Gardner wears a proper wartime dress. Notice that emphasis is on legs and on shoulders.  Shoulder pads were in most dresses and suit coats.
Brenda Marshall sports a proper dress and a fabulous hat.  Women were encouraged to reuse the same suit or dress by switching out the accessories. Ms. Marshall was Mrs. William Holden and starred in several movies.
I found this pattern on ebay and noticed her name.

Hedy Lamar

I just won the bid for this pattern on ebay.  I hope to find some suitable fabric and make it up for the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge #11, The Politics of Fashion. Good luck to me.  I have a lot of other projects in the works as well.
Thanks for dropping by.