Sew For Victory – Rosie the Riveter shirt dress

Happy days – I managed to finish my Sew For Victory wartime-inspired dress!

20130331-185150.jpg

A little more than a week ago, I told you about my last-minute change for this project, opting to take inspiration from women working in WW2 rather than the post-war pattern I had originally planned on making. I couldn’t resist getting my friend Martha, who designed this blog’s header and logo, to make me a Rosie the Riveter-style poster as well as taking some snaps of the dress for me. She’s a talented cookie, that one!

20130331-191411.jpg

As you may have already guessed, I used yet another pattern from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing. Man, oh man am I in love with this book. The patterns are beautiful and the instructions even more so. Due to lack of time, I just winged it with this one and went muslin-free. Daunting! But it’s turned out quite well.

The only major alteration I made was the length – I lopped off a whopping eight inches from the skirt. EIGHT INCHES. In case you hadn’t guessed, I am pretty much a hobbit. Gertie must be ridiculously tall. I crave her power.

20130331-191853.jpg

The only other adjustment made was to the sleeves. Originally, the puffiness looked absolutely ridiculous on me, so I fudged it a bit and managed to make them a bit more conservative. I think I needed to take a bit off at the top of the armhole because the shoulders were a little wide for me. Everything else worked like a dream. The elastic shirring at the back makes the dress fit beautifully without making you feel constricted. Thumbs up on the design.

I would tell you what kind of fabric I used, but I’ve completely forgotten…

Those of you who have followed the blog for a while may notice one little milestone here…

20130331-192924.jpg

Bound buttonholes! ALL SEVEN OF THEM! One’s a little bit wonky but I don’t actually care because I finally managed to do more than one vaguely presentable buttonhole. There is something rather therapeutic yet distinctly horrifying about making bound buttonholes, but it’s the best feeling ever when it all comes together.

20130331-193323.jpg

In all, not half bad considering I only started a little more than a week ago. Now I can look forward to perusing all of the other lovely creations on the Sew for Victory Flickr group. Exciting!

Hopefully, I can pull it out of the bag for the Mad Men challenge and all…

20130331-194600.jpg

Sew For Victory – Women at work

I’ve had a change of heart since I last wrote about Sew for Victory. Instead of a post-war Butterick 5281, I think I’d rather channel Rosie the Riveter on this one.

women of britain factories

Before war broke out, society had clear expectations of where a woman should be – at home. If she were to work, she shouldn’t earn more than her husband and marriage was meant to put a stop to any semblance of a career. But when World War II began, society had to buck up its ideas.

Suddenly, women weren’t just working in industries previously considered ill-suited for females, they were also actively encouraged to get stuck in as part of the war effort.

In the UK, unprecedented amounts of women joined the industrial workforce out of sheer necessity. Between 1940 and 1945, in engineering alone, the amount of skilled and semi-skilled female workers jumped from 75% to 85%. The picture was very similar over the pond, as thousands of American women helped make machines and airplanes in their hundreds.

It’s fascinating – while there are still problems with sexism in the modern workplace, we’ve come a long way from the idea of a female engineer being “radical” or just a plain necessity because of a shortage of men. For probably the first time since World War I, no one batted an eyelid at women carrying out so-called unfeminine work because they had more important things to worry about.

When the war ended, it was automatically assumed these women would leave their jobs as the men returned. In London, the monument to the Women of World War II depicts 17 sets of uniform and clothing which represents the hundreds of jobs women undertook and then left at the end of the war.

I think it’s safe to say, that while things didn’t change immediately, the work women did during the war began a shift in the perception of women’s role in society. The more I thought about this challenge, the more I wanted to pay tribute to that.

Practicality is key. The plan is to make something which isn’t restrictive and which could easily fit in to the wardrobe of a 40s working woman. And hey – while I usually sit in an office most of the day, every now and then I have to do something silly like tramp around mud looking for evidence of fly tipping (this resulted in some embarrassing photos), so it wouldn’t hurt to have a smart yet practical item for any journalistic eventuality.

Given my last-minute decision, I won’t be making trousers, because I’ve never made them before and I wouldn’t want to rush it! Instead, I’m going to take inspiration from Rosie and go for a classic shirt-dress. Comfy and non-restrictive, that’s the aim of the game!

How are your challenges going? It’s just as well Rochelle extended the deadline on this one, phew!

Two challenges to see Spring through

It may not feel like Spring what with all this BLOODY SNOW but there’s nothing like a sewing challenge or two to pep you up for some warmer months.

Sew For Victory



The first comes courtesy of the lovely Rochelle of Lucky Lucille, who has challenged the blogosphere to a trip back to the ’40s – when fabric was scarce, fashion took a back seat to the war effort and everyone was encouraged to make do and mend.

She’s already provided a plethora of inspiration to get us going over on her blog since the challenge was announced, which means I should really get my skates on! I have a pattern picked out but have yet to actually get cracking on a muslin or even choosing fabric, erk!

I was in two minds about this challenge – with dreams of making a pair of high-waisted trousers and pairing it up with the Mathilde blouse from Tilly and the Buttons, which would have been more 40s-inspired than an accurate reproduction.

20130312-103431.jpg

But then I found this great Butterick repro pattern (Butterick B5281) from 1946 which has remained in my sewing box unmade for a number of years now. The pattern looks absolutely beautiful on the envelope, but then I saw Butterick’s version, which just looks AWFUL.

I’m starting to worry a little bit, even more so because i haven’t started work on it at all! 

Being a post-war pattern, I feel I can plump for a brighter colour like purple, but I may still keep it to a darker shade. At this stage, anything could happen!

Mad Men challenge

Secondly, we’ve got Julia’s Mad Men challenge. How did I miss this last year?!

mmc27

As it happens, this challenge is far simpler for me! I’ll let you all know a bit later which particular dress I’m hoping to emulate, but it’s definitely a Joan make, for sure. I may not be as bombastically curvy, but I’m sure I can rock a good wiggle dress…

Those of you who have signed up for the super-fun-cool project for Seamless – THANK YOU! I’ll be sending out the top-secret instructions ASAP. There’s still time to register your interest – head to the post here to find out a bit more.