Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sew for Victory

Thank you all so much for your feedback on my trousering dilemma. Having prevaricated for long enough, I've decided to to go with the Juniper pattern, but will narrow the width of the legs. Now that I've decided on the pattern, I feel like I can relax a little,  although I would like to wear them during the summer months so I can't rest on my laurels for too long. Let's move swiftly on to my current challenge instead - Sew for Victory - over at Lucky Lucille


It didn't take me long to decide to jump aboard this challenge - of all vintage eras, it's the 1940's that really make my heart skip a beat. It's my favourite style decade, mainly because of the dressmaking details: the knee-length gored skirts, the fitted waists, the abundance of shirt dresses, the interesting collars and the pretty sleeves. I also love the fabrics - feed sack, tiny flowers, cherries (!), gingham, polka dots - I'm practically weeping with joy writing this! 

My own track record of sewing from the 1940's however is pretty rubbish: two pairs of Simplicity 3688 repro trousers, here and here, and the Colette Oolong dress which is 1940's inspired.

I've never actually sewn anything using an authentic 1940's pattern before. This challenge will give me a chance to remedy the situation and hopefully learn an awful lot in the process.

My 1940's pattern of choice is Du Barry 5384, which has a really interestingly shaped central panel extending all the way to the hemline. I pinned it to my Pinterest board a few weeks ago, but I never realistically thought I'd ever have a chance of finding the pattern. You can imagine my screams when I put in a search on Etsy and found one for sale at an affordable price and in a size that would probably fit me…!


It's very similar in style to the Colette Oolong, but with a few crucial differences. The Oolong is cut entirely on the bias, which, I'll be frank, is pretty traumatic in all kinds of different ways. The one advantage of it being bias cut is that there's no need for a zip. My Du Barry pattern includes one of my most hated sewing features - a side zip. I loathe them so much I've decided to put in a longer, central zip down the back of the dress instead. In a rare move, I'll also be making a muslin as I'm not 100% convinced a 1940's size 34 will be big enough, especially the bust section. I'll keep you updated on that one. 

Now onto fabric - I learnt my lesson with last year's Mad Men Challenge. I used a synthetic fabric which on the plus side was the right colour and turned into a lovely fitted dress that Joan herself would have been proud to wear. But on the downside, the fabric was so bleugh that I've never worn it, it just feels like dinner lady smock fabric, maybe it is for all I know?  This time, I just happen to have the perfect fabric in my stash, a charcoal grey polka dot cotton I picked up at Walthamstow market at the last meet-up. It was very inexpensive, but I was really impressed by its lovely drape and quality. I sincerely hope it turns out to be a bargain of the century and not a near relative of a dishcloth after one wash.  As it's so drapey and lawn-like, I'm going to underline it with either cotton muslin or silk cotton, I haven't quite decided which yet.

I'll be cracking on with my practise muslin this week and will post pictures soon, I promise. In the meantime, here's a puzzle I'm hoping one of you vintage pattern experts out there can solve. The image of my pattern on my Pinterest board featured a grey dress on the left and a yellow dress on the right. 



Yet the pattern I purchased - the exact same pattern - features a green dress on the left and a red one on the right. What's going on there then? 


Did pattern companies in the 1940's print multiple versions with different colour palettes? Or maybe a different coloured front cover for different sizes? I did think it might simply be a case of one cover having faded, but the difference in colours is just too dramatic. I'm now really curious to find out why the patterns were printed in this way. If anybody out there can shed any light on this little puzzle, please let me know, it would make me so happy! x  

30 comments:

  1. Very interested to see how all these makes turn out. I'd be half-tempted to join in myself, but I just have so much else on! Good luck with your Walthamstow fabric.

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    1. Yes, I can't wait to see all the finished creations too. It's really difficult trying to choose what to participate in, I would have liked to have joined in with the Mad Men challenge again too, but like you, there's just too much going on! x

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  2. Lovely, lovely dress. I look forward to seeing the finished product. I have finished the skirt I was making for Sew for Victory, apart from sewing on a skirt hook and bar (I'm not attempting a buttonhole through all the layers of fabric at the waistband). I'm half tempted to try making a dress as well from one of my 1940s vintage patterns...

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    1. I think you should definitely give one of your vintage dress patterns a go! Can't wait to see your finished skirt. x

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  3. What a beautiful pattern! I'm looking forward to seeing this made up!

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    1. Thanks Gail, the pattern is a bit of a beaut isn't it?! x

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  4. Good luck with the dress! I know what you mean about fabrics turning all "dishclothy" after the first wash. I prewashed some lovely denim recently and it came out covered in pale crease-lines all over it... why?! I don't know the real answer to the pattern colour query, but my theory is would be to do with the availability of printing colours tduring and/or after the war. I guess they all had to just make do with whatever colour they could get their hands on that week!

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  5. Okay, Jane, since you've never sewn real vintage, there are a couple things you should know. The fit is tighter. So if a 34 is a perfect fit, you might want to go up a size because there is less ease. And the necklines are tighter, too, so you might need to get rid of the original seam allowance. Finished measurements are often printed on the backs of the pattern envelopes--especially in old patterns--so you might wanna look at them. Two inches of ease is standard now, but it wasn't in the 40s!

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    1. That's great advice, thank you. I've sewn with lots of vintage patterns before, it's just 1940's ones I'm unfamiliar with. Fingers crossed! x

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  6. Beautiful pattern choice Jane, I'm still deciding which of my patterns to use! Like you, I also want to do the Mad Men one again, but it totally depends on how much time I have. It's so hard not over-committing when there's such fun things going on! I hope someone solves the mystery of the different pattern covers by the way, I've come across this myself and I think you could be right that it relates to the size - I have two identical vintage patterns in different sizes and envelop colours are different.

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    1. Ah that's interesting about your patterns, thanks. This was the one challenge I knew I had to make time for! Can't wait to see al the finished creations. X

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  7. For a frame of reference: I have narrow shoulders/back but a proportionally larger bust that's about 36", and sew vintage 34 patterns almost exclusively. I've never sewn a Du Barry pattern yet though so I can't compare though (I bet Debi can though!). 34 in Simplicity is sometimes too big! Even 40s Simplicity patterns seem to have a lot of ease. lol

    I have a pattern too that I've seen different colors online than the one I have so it's a mystery to me... I figured perhaps they changed colors in printing versions. How exciting you were able to snap up the pattern you wanted! I'm sure it's going to be gorgeous, if your Oolong is any judge! So glad you're doing this challenge too! :)

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    1. It sounds like we have very similar shapes, so that's info is really useful, thank you! In fact I've just finished the muslin and it's not bad at all - looking good so far! x

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    2. I think Tasha is probably right about the different envelope colours being different printing runs! I see it most with these DuBarry patterns! The pattern is FABULOUS!!! I can't wait to see it! And I cannot believe this is yor first vintage 40s pattern... Watch out, they are addictive! :-)

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  8. That's interesting about the envelope colors. I can't wait to see the final product!

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  9. I see different pattern cover colors all the time. Not sure why they did that but it's not unusual. As for sizing I have a 37" bust and a 35" high bust and I usually use a 30" or a 32" bust with an FBA and it fits fine. 34" with FBA tends to be a bit big so muslin is the way to go until you find your vintage size.

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    1. The first attempt at the 34" muslin is pretty good, I'm hoping I won't need a FBA. My full bust is 36" so I think 34" may be Ok as I have a narrow back. Thanks so much for the advice. x

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  10. Looks good! I was going to suggest doing some flat pattern measuring but if you've already muslined you probably have that much figured out by now. Super cute pattern! I look forward to seeing it made up!

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  11. I'm sure it's just fading. I was at a Van Gogh exhibit recently where they said that the featured self portrait of him with a yellow background was originally a purple background. I guess a lot of red dyes fade to yellow, and the blue fades away completely.

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  12. The lines of that dress pattern are so pretty, good choice! I can't wait to see what you do with it. I love that 40's patterns seem so practical, but also have all those special details that make the designs so interesting.

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  13. What a perfect dress pattern for you Jane, I can soooo see you making this as adorable as the envelope promises. I too am not committing ...yet. It does feel like lots going on ( plus I have a jacket to make ;-) )

    Look forward to seeing your progress, and yes, interesting about the pattern printing! I'd have lazily thought, 'fading', but clearly it isn't!

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  14. Beautiful pattern:) Can't wait to see it

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  15. Honestly, I think that your version looks better than the envelope! Gorgeous.

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  16. Hi Jane, it's a great pattern and I'll be reading with great interest to hear it it goes as I have a small hoard of vintage 40's patterns (including 2 x suit ones) which I have finally bought fabric for. Poor Marcus, I make him bring back patterns each time he goes to the US as there is so much more choice out there! Bethx

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    1. Poor Marcus indeed, but lucky you! Oh please, please make a 1940's suit for yourself Beth!
      Yes vintage pattern availability in the US makes me v envious, especially when I read about sewing bloggers going to estate sales and picking up a whole box for about $5! x

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  17. Hi, gorgeous pattern. They are different though in that the first is a 32 bust and the one you bought is a 34 bust...... Can't wait to see it made xx

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    1. Thanks! Yes, that's why I wondered if they printed different coloured covers for different sizes. x

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  18. Frumusetea si unicitatea bijuteriilor handmade este nepretuita. Inca nu am ajuns sa punem pret pe adevarata valoare a lucrurilor facute manual. Felicitarile mele pentru munca depusa.

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