So often we hear that imitation is merely a form of admiration, yet many times one does not feel like such is the case. One only feels plagiarized, copycatted, or even misappropriated (when it comes to culture). However, no matter how cliché, it is a very true that imitation is a form of respect when it comes to my own military-inspired style, especially when that involves either camouflage or anything related to WWII. In this case, my post’s outfit includes both! In honor of Veterans Day, and to find a way to express through fashion the admiration, appreciation, and respect I have for those who have served and are currently serving to protect all that we hold near and dear, I’m joining in – just a little – on their military style.
I am weirdly very preferential when it comes to camouflage and military greens. Everything in either department all looks really good to my eyes but I do have favorites. Wide and blotchy disruptive patterned camouflage in darker earth tones is my failing, hence why this pullover sweatshirt totally makes me giddy! Along this vein, my true military favorite camouflage preferences are ones that are of a similar pattern – the 1942 WWII United States “Frog Skin” mottling and the 1937 dotted German “Platanenmuster” variations for vintage examples in my highest esteem, and the 1990s era “Central Europe Camouflage” of France, the “Desert Camouflage Uniform” of the USA, and even the “Soldier 2000” of the South African National Defense Force all following in second place.
Part of the reason for my pickiness probably has to do with my dad’s job (referred to here at the end of this blog post) but also I love a camouflage for how it can work for our local environment to make one blend right in and be ‘hidden in plain sight’. At every WWII reenactment we’ve attended in our home state, the Germans are the ones hardest to sight when they’re sneaking up to ambush and a camo which succeeds that well impresses me. Perhaps 90’s era camouflage gets to my heart because of memories. My dad was working so much overtime during that decade to support our military as a government employee with a specialized job and my mom and I were going to events – me in a homemade “Betsy Ross” costume – to give our service men and women the encouragement and civilian support they needed in our own way. I even was on the nightly news for such an event when I was 10!
My pants are the best of the best – they are true vintage WWII mens’ military bottoms! My pair have a production date of 1947 stamped on the label, so they are a post-war production of the war-time style. The label says they are cotton sateen, but I have ever seen such a study version of such a material. They are super sturdy thanks to being as thick as a heavy wool yet extremely soft, well broken in (by now, they should be), and a joy to wear. If they were not almost 80 years old I would want to wear them all the time. The WWII military green colors are my favorite anyway. Their olive greens are not overly dusty or are too dark. A soldier would not like to hear this but I dare call the colors ‘pretty’. Yes, this is one of my more eclectic outfit combinations – a little bit of modern paired with a truer vintage than anything I could make, also indeed a military style in more ways than one, as I said!
FABRIC: Two one-yard cuts of all-cotton knits for both the sleeves and the printed main body, fully lined in a lightweight polyester interlock jersey. The cuffs and bottom band, as well as the neckline, are a heavyweight poly knit leftover from making this 60’s dress.
PATTERN: Simplicity #1317, a year 2014 pattern
NOTIONS: As this is a knit no interfacing was needed, just thread. The decorative add-on studs were something I’ve had on hand for a few years, saving for the right project.
TIME TO COMPLETE: This only took me 3 hours to make and it was finished on November 8, 2018
THE INSIDES: all cleanly serged (overlocked)
TOTAL COST: The fabrics for this sweatshirt had been bought several years ago when the now defunct Hancock Fabrics was going out of business so it was really discounted…also part of the reason I had to make this on two small remnant cuts (I could not go back and buy any more). The poly knit lining was a new purchase from my local JoAnn store. The studs were from Hobby Lobby for a few bucks. All supplies counted together, this sweatshirt probably cost me just about $20. Pretty good deal, huh?!
Making the actual sweatshirt was a breeze. It is so versatile – the velvet one on the cover compared to the more casual ones and the one with the fringe all show that this top can be anything you want it to be. Two small remnant cuts were all I needed, don’t forget! I took a bit more time on my sweatshirt to line it, but this could easily be a one afternoon ‘have it ready in under a few hours’ project. Even better, all the reviews I saw online when considering this pattern looked so very good. This is really a no-fail pattern…I would think even if you sew this badly it would still look great, I dare to assume. A sweatshirt is such a chilly weather staple item, and with everything this pattern has going for it there is no reason to buy a RTW one. I can’t wait to use this pattern again.
The only thing I did consistently notice was that the sizing seemed to run between true to size and a little small for most people, and I feel this is true. I wanted a loose and relaxing fit for my camouflage version and I found just that by going up one whole size, so the fit much be right on. There are two neckline options and I went for the more closed, rounded neck of the two. I like that the neckline is close enough the keep me cozy yet open enough to not sense I am confined in it like most RTW sweatshirts. I like when my collar bone is exposed and I can show off a neckline if I want or wear a turtleneck under this if I really want to layer up…all perfect with this. Even the width and fit of the cuffs and bottom band are perfect, not too tight but loose enough to be comfortable. This is an awesome pattern for a modern one, and this is coming from someone who primarily works with vintage designs and half expects to be disappointed by new ones!
I fully lined the sweatshirt for extra warmth, comfort, and a nicer appearance to the outer cotton knit. I have used a similar all cotton knit for several projects now, and by now know the best way to go beyond my half-hearted hate of that material with the perfect pairing of a secondary fabric. 100% cotton knit is very finicky to sew, doesn’t drape well on its own, and has the tendency to be sticky”, both to itself and other fabrics and lingerie like Velcro fastening tape. Pairing that knit with its opposite – a slinky poly jersey – is like a match made in heaven. The two materials stick together, but the poly makes the cotton act and feel better than it is on its own. Besides, a little extra ‘oomph’ in the seams actually makes the cotton easier to stitch together. Check out how well such a pairing worked for this dress! Now you know my hot tip, an insider’s secret. You’re welcome.
Oh, how I love what I did to jazz up the neckline, if I do say so myself! I love the look of studs but didn’t want the commitment of the true metal kind that cut through the fabric they sit upon. A cotton knit like what I used ravels easily and acquires holes effortlessly, even from stitching. I could not count on my fabric to stay together through washings with regular studs added so I used these plastic sew-on kind that I had been hoarding for the last several years. They can also be considered as ‘sew-on stones’ or ‘backless buttons’. They are frequently found in the button section of the fabric stores, after all. I was tempted to go full bling and use all of them up but I spaced out half of what I had to strategically stitch down in place how you see them in my pictures. Sadly, in most lighting they blend in a bit too well put they are a low key shine that I wanted to let my top’s camouflage take center stage. Only in the glowing, golden hour of a late autumn sunset do the studs show off.
It is very important to be yourself yet remember to respect others. I think forgetting such is where all sorts of problems stem from…be it wars or hurt relationships, sadness or anger, selfish politics or the whole slew of ill events and feelings which can happen in life. This also applies to my pet peeve and the main enemy of truly original artists out there – plagiarism, copycatting, the stealing of ideas, and especially doing such for profit. Closely related is the approbation of a culture, a certain way of life, or mode of dressing out of laziness to pursue greater understanding. Not meaning to get too heavy here on the heels of Remembrance Day in honor of all the beloved veterans who have been taken from us, but I just wanted to clarify my military style is not at all meant to be a knock off of what the best humans our world has to offer wear in their official duties. Let freedom ring, but also let kindness prevail. Remember to thank a veteran, today and at any other time. Let all people know they are respected and appreciated by what you do and say before they can no longer hear you. So I’ll just post here about my love for camouflage out my awe and respect for the success and ingenuity of the brave military who need to wear a bit of ingeniously patterned cover to save their lives. More power to them! I want in a piece of that awesomeness and bravery if I do say so myself.