Well I was going to do a sort of dress diary with this but that pretty quickly fell by the wayside. I did one in progress post which you can find here.
In the meantime I’ll just summarize the changes I made.
Shortened the skirt by 6 inches. This is a pretty drastic change to the pattern so I used the lengthen/shorten line and reshaped the skirt panels.
I took 4 cm out of the length of the bodice front and two out of the back. (sometimes I work in both inches and cm don’t ask me why…)
Did a bit of reshaping of the pattern pieces around the shoulder detail. The pattern pieces didn’t quite match up but luckily it was in a way that there was to much fabric not to little!
I eliminated the shoulder pads. My shoulders are slightly square so I think it still kept the 40’s look.
I thought I’s have to fiddle with the sleeve fullness but I ended up not having to. I do feel they stick up just a tad to much but maybe not. Thoughts dear readers?
I also did a lapped side zipper à la Gertie. I went with the “hand picked” option. In hindsight the zipper is a bit on the short side but it’s not a big deal.
I also changed my fabric choice at the last minute at the silk I had selected was a)silk and therefore a little odd for a war-time dress and b)the weave was a little rough for the nice delicate gathers I wanted to do. However this cotton is just that little bit to stiff for a nicely draped skirt. I’m hoping it will soften a bit with wear but we’ll have to see.
This pattern took quite a bit of editing to get it to the point that it is at now. Part of that is me trying to achieve a certain fit but part is the pattern. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of accuracy in the hand-drawn lines after it had been enlarged and printed out. I also had quite a bit of trouble taping the pieces together after printing them out on A4 paper here despite the fact that the pattern was supposed to be good for both European and North American paper. That being said I still feel that it was a worthwhile purchase as the shoulder detail would be difficult to draft on my own and the pattern was accurate enough for the skirt that I feel the scale is just what I wanted. I’m already thinking about making another one!
I’m still hunting for that silk satin to make slip. I’m thinking I’ll extrapolate this pattern for it.
So I started the mockup of the swing dress. It`s been slow going but hey, I’m doing this by hand! I slipped it on once I got the bodice cobbled together and immediately saw that the bodice was too long. I kind of expected this because I’m a bit short waisted and the pattern notes that the bodice tends to be on the long side. I took up the bodice a bit right away so no pictures of that but I do have pictures since then.
While I have been patiently sewing my mockup together by hand I’ve been watching some movies from and about the forties. I have a couple of favourites I’d like to talk about. I generally don’t write reviews about things so I hope you’ll be able to bear my unpracticed prose!
The first is The Way to the Stars(1945). This film is about an English airfield (and the local bar/hotel) during 1942. The film examines the relationships among the pilots and between the pilots and the local population at the hotel. The airfield is eventually handed over to American pilots complete with the predictable cultural differences which remain nevertheless amusing (flight gear in the mess hall? Positively Shocking!). I enjoyed this movie because of its focus on daily life on the ground. Despite being a war movie there are no battles and only one explosion. But there are still air raids and poignant moments brought on by the stresses of wartime. The movie stars John Mills and Rosamund Johns who both do excellent acting jobs.
The second that I quite enjoyed was Millions Like Us(1943). Again this movie focuses on life on the ground, a subject that particularly appeals to me and that I find quite relatable. It follows the story of an ordinary working class girl who gets conscripted to work in a factory. What struck me most about this film was how it portrayed the (limited) choices available to a young woman during this period. It was interesting to follow the main character and see how she deals with the choices that she makes. Again, this film includes many scenes that express the stresses of wartime life for ordinary folk. In particular a scene during an air raid while the main characters are working in the factory was particularly moving to me.
My personal experience of the recent past is essentially nil. I lived in a place that was miles away from the battlefields and I know very little about close relative’s personal experiences. I am, of course, far to young to have any direct experiences so there is quite a generational gap. Nevertheless both of these movies showed me how wartime affected ordinary people and brought home the many forms that sacrifice can take. I highly recommend both of these movies.
I was searching for a good sewing project that I could accomplish without a sewing machine and minimal tools. I didn’t particularly care if it took me forever but it had to be do-able. Now you’d think I would pick something eighteenth century, the height of handsewn awesomeness, but no, that would require layers which I don’t have in this country. I didn’t want to invest that much in a project that was just supposed to keep me entertained for the few months that I’m here.
I’d been following the Swing Dress Sew Along despite not being able to participate at the time, and I decided to revisit it. I read through the posts, deemed the project do-able, and here I am embarking on my first 1940’s dress.
Most of the fabric I wrote about in my last post is destined for this project.
From left to right: cotton organdy, silk/cotton blend, cotton voile, silk something (pretty!!)
I totally fell in love with this Japanese-style silk as soon as I saw it. I can’t wait to see it turned into a dress! You can also see the partially constructed pattern as well. I had a lot of issues with this pattern. The instructions state that it is sized to print out properly on A4 size paper but I’m not sure that’s the case. I’m unable to double check this of course but I found that a few millimetres was cut off on the long sides sometimes. I also found that it was not necessarily printed straight on the paper which prevented me from using the straight sides as a guide. The lines of the pattern are quite thick when properly sized, 0.5cm or more in some places. I was trying to take this project slowly and carefully and the lack of precision was a little annoying. Despite this, I found places with very subtle curves that I hope will result in a nice shape.
I’m going to use the black and white plaid as a mockup fabric. I’ve since started the mockup and I am regretting not getting a straight check instead of what has turned out to be a non-symmetrical plaid as I want to use the lines as guideline while working with the mockup. Too late now! I did want to use up whatever was left of the plaid for a lightweight summer shirt as well. We’ll see if there’s enough.
I also think I’m going to make some very subtle shoulder pads. I have pretty straight shoulders as it is so commercial pads would be waaaay to much for this dress. Again, I didn’t want to buy a bag of cotton batting so I grabbed a bag of cotton wadding from the parmacy. I was introduced to this product overseas and I’m not sure whether is actually available in North America or if I just never noticed it! I’m probably going to pad-stitch thin layer of this stuff to get the shape I want. I’m also definitely planning on cannibalizing a small piece of my bedsheet for this. I don’t need the whole thing right! Honestly though, I’m really trying to avoid buying an excess amount of stuff for this project and my sheets are a size to large for my mattress and the perfect colour for this!
I’ll hopefully find the time for further updates as I go!