Wearing O’ the Green…1941 Military Style

As the perfect example of the modern opportunity to mash things up as one desires, I used a recent holiday – St. Patrick’s day on March 17 – as an excuse to wear a military-green 1941 vintage suit blouse I recently made to complete a set.  ThereAgent Carter badge.80 was a famous WWII B-17 G bomber called “Bit O’ Lace”…well, here I’m wearing a little bit o’ green, and a whole lot of cheer.

This is another post part of my “Agent Carter” sew along.

100_4793-comp     A good part of the decade of the 1940’s was consumed by the effects, and after-effects, of World War II.  It comes as a simple matter of fact that a good part of the fashions of the 40’s also took on a bit of a war-time influenced appearance.  I’m supposing adopting a military-influenced style was part patriotic, part necessity for the 40’s, but what’s to explain the prevailing popularity of combat style fashion even ’til today?!  Whatever the reason, those who have served, or are serving, to protect the country they call home should be flattered by the way that a military fashion style is persistently trendy.  Imitation is the best form of flattery, so the saying goes.

100_4783a-b-comp     My military 1941 blouse is an ironic mix of the bitter and the sweet, from a sewing point of view and from a historical tribute point of view.  From a sewer’s viewpoint, all quality materials went into this suit blouse, wool and rayon, with vintage notions and silk as the lining, making it like butter on the skin – all the very sweet part.  I also thought that this blouse’s high quality would come easier than if making a full out jacket…but, no, it didn’t.  This is the first half of the bitter part to my blouse.  I finally assumed that the styling would be incredibly slimming and easy to wear.  Not that it doesn’t fit me very well, because it does, indeed!  The blouse is just hard for me to feel like it, well, “suits” me (pun intended) and compliments my figure as much as I expected.  However, making one’s own clothes does have the advantage of trying new styles, and I have indeed worn other styles much stranger (such as this one or even this one).  So, my final happy resolution is that as long as I fits and feels good to wear, what do I really have to crab about?  I’ll just wear it and be happy, and let the Irish “cheery and positive” part of me shine!

100_4784-comp     Taking the historical tribute point of view, my military 1941 blouse is a quiet tribute to the bravery of “Our Soldier Dead”, as is said above the building in my background.  On a beautifully warm morning, my family and I visited our town’s Soldiers’ Memorial building, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1938, and soaked up knowledge in the inner museum.  It is amazing to see all the bravery of our country’s soldiers remembered in one spot from 1860’s on to today.  Furthermore, my dad and my hubby are both entirely sucked in with interest to a shared gift of the book on tape of the story “Unbroken”.  The great “Liberator” B-24 bomber planes were key to the story of Louis Zamperini, hero of “Unbroken”, and so I wore an enameled pin of a B-24, a gift from my dad years ago, on my blouse as a quiet military/WWII remembrance.  It is sweet but sad at the same time to recount and remember such history.

100_4807-compTHE FACTS:

FABRIC:  My suit blouse fabric that you see is a fine half wool, half viscose rayon blend, in a deeply dark forest green color.  It is a wonderfully smooth (meaning non-itchy), textured twill with a medium weight, a fluid drape, and a slight stretch.  As the lining, I chose a bright apple green 100% silk, “China silk”100_2851 yr 1941 suit set habotai

NOTIONS:  All my notions (except for thread, zippers, and shoulder pads) are authentically vintage.  100% rayon hem and bias tapes were given to me by my friends at a retro shop.   Thank you for that kindness!  The buttons are also vintage but from my inherited stash of notions from hubby’s Grandmother.

PATTERN:  Simplicity 3961, year 1941

TIME TO COMPLETE:  I’ve lost track of how much time was spent on this suit blouse…it seemed like the project that would never end.  I do believe it took more than 20 hours, but could have even took more than 30 hours for all I know.  My blouse was worked on every day over the course of a week and a half, which seems like a very long time to me, as I’m used to a project or two in a week.  It was finally finished on March 13, 2015.  (Much shorter completion time compared to my first suit set!)

THE INSIDES:  Very nice indeed!  The side seams and the sleeve seams are done in French finishing, while the sleeve and blouse hems and center front are covered in vintage dark green hem tape.  The inner neckline and armhole seams are covered up by vintage bright green bias tape.

100_4816-compTOTAL COST:  The wool/rayon twill was bought at Hancock Fabrics as an end of season clearance at only $2.25 a yard.  I bought two yards but actually used less than that (only 1 1/3 yd.), so the wool/rayon was less than $4.50.  The silk was ordered from Fashion Fabrics Club at about $22 for two yards.  I bought the thread and zippers from Hancock, to add on about $4.00.  So, my total cost is probably more or less $30.

All my preaching and facts aside the construction of my 1941 suit blouse was really easy, just time consuming.  The skirt of the suit has already been made and posted about (it can be seen here).  That bottom half was easy to make and fit well, so I felt assured of the fit to the top half and cut it out as is with no changes.  The sizes of this pattern are a size bigger than I technically need for my measurements, but I think this pattern runs a tad small.  There were only three adaptations I did make.  The first was to cut the sleeves out on the bias, for a non-confining fit which moves with my moves, rather than on the straight grain as instructed.  The second small adjustment was to snip off only 1/4 inch, starting from the underarm down to nothing at the waist, from the sides of the bodice front, to decrease the bust size to fit me better.   Thirdly, I eliminated the center fifth button/buttonhole in the middle of the front band.

100_4633-comp     My blouse seemed like some tiny thread monster with a giant appetite.  For such a little project, I went through so much thread!  My total spool count was just about three, and I still wonder where it all went, or if it weighs the blouse down.  Using up a lot of thread makes sense, as I had to baste the silk to all the pieces individually, make old-fashioned “windowpane” button holes, sew around seam allowances, and top-stitch the front piece in two double stitched rows.

100_4812-comp     Let me briefly highlight some of the blouse’s interesting features.  There are the traditional early to mid-1940’s style sleeve top darts, to create a very squared off, wide shoulder look, which I filled in with shoulder pads.  My long sleeves are very tapered and skinny at the wrist, having a trio of elbow darts, with a snap wrist closure, very similar to the sleeves of my red 1946 dress.  The bust darts are long French darts,100_4802a-comp which go across the bias of the fabric and start at the waistline from the side seams.  I have not yet seen French darts on a 40’s garment before (I see most of this feature on clothes between the 50’s to 70’s), but, nevertheless, it does always create amazing shaping in a very comfy manner.  A back neck zipper aids in slipping the suit blouse over one’s head, since there is a rather high V-neckline to the front.

100_4800-comp     My blouse has a side zipper, too, which incredibly amazes me.  What’s so amazing about a side zipper, you might wonder?  Well, the side seams have an incredible curve, with the height of the dip at the waistline, where the French darts come in.  If you’ve never sewn a closure into a curve…believe me you don’t want to unless you would like a big anvil to fall on you.  If you have done one, you’ll understand with me that installing a zipper into a curved seam is fully possible, just one big frustration.  I have done zippers like this before, but never with a curve so steep, and – for the first time in my sewing – I actually got quite foul, angry, and worked up into an exasperated sweat.  In disbelief, I read the pattern’s instructions and stared at the instructions, but yes…they said to insert a “slide fastener”, meaning a zipper, or snap tape.  As things turned out, I had to try four whole times both sewing down and unpicking to finally come out with a decently perfect zipper installation.  I was bull-headed enough to stick to getting it right, and boy did I learn from this experience!

The back neck zipper was no problem at all in comparison.  The instructions said to draft your own strip of facing, 3 1/2 inches by 7 inches, and sew this on, snip the slit, and turn inside like any other faced opening, then add in the zipper.

100_4810a-comp     The front panel band is THE piece that truly makes the suit jacket, I think.  After all, making that piece took up about one-third of the total time spent on my suit blouse as a whole.  The big irony of the front is all that time and effort goes into something purely decorative – even the windowpane buttonholes, darn it!  I like a challenge and test my skills, as well as constantly do things a bit differently, so I feel the extra effort was entirely worth it, in the end, especially since the panel band is on display in the front.  I do enjoy making this style of buttonhole, and, as this is the second time using them on a project, I am even happier with how they turned out than the first time (which can be seen here).

100_4814-comp     An interesting unexpected trick is involved in lapping on the front panel band onto the front of the suit blouse.  I was directed by the instructions to first completely finish the blouse (hem and all), and next work on the band making the button holes then turning under the seam allowance (1/2 inch), keeping a straight un-notched bottom.  The band gets sewn to the inside of the top, wrong side to right side, just stitching a small V around the center bottom (see picture).  You snip out the fabric from under/in between the triangle stitched at the bottom, so you can turn the front band to the right side.  This was a hard step because that spot is about the bulkiest spot on the blouse, as the center front seam ends there as well as the hem being turned up, too.  I was afraid the pressure I had to put into snipping through all those layers would get carried away, and snip too far to ruin my blouse just as it was almost done.  It worked out fine, as you can see, and with a little “Fray-Check” liquid on the inside points, the front panel band was lapped onto the front and top-stitched down in double rows (one 100_4803-compon the very edge and one 1/4 away from edge).

The lack of neck facing was a sort of relief.  It’s nice to have things done differently…it keeps one interest piqued.  Besides, I really didn’t feel like doing the hand sewing that would have been necessary to keep the facing down.  I used my vintage rayon bias tape, which matched perfectly with the silk lining, as a simple, skinny, bias facing.

We had the hardest time ever picturing the colors true to reality.  The sun was bright and overwhelmed the exposure.  Cloudy days are almost always the best time to get the real colors to show up in our pictures with our camera.  The best explanation I can give for the color of my wool blend twill is that it is the same color as my late 1930’s Kenmore Rotary sewing machine (see this picture).  It is not grey!  As for the true color of my silk lining just think of the color of some “green apple” flavored hard candy, and you should see the shade close to correctly.

100_4785a-comp     My hat is actually a mid-1940’s era piece.  I think the brown tone matches well enough, and the styling is close enough to work.  I love the interesting design of the fold-over pleats!Peggy and the Howling Commandos-cropped

Agent Carter took on a good amount of military clothes, with similar beautiful complex details, for “The Iron Ceiling” episode, fighting in Russia, as well as in the “Time and Tide” episode, where she explores the underground.  Check out my links and see how Peggy Carter uses items in her wardrobe already, to mix and match for a complete change up of appearance as needed.  (See my blog on the skirt of my suit for a different way to change up the look of one piece.)

Do you possess any military themed vintage notions, jewelry, or fabric?  Have you seen any of those “buttons looking like planes or studs that look like bullets” which I have read about in Chapter 4, “Independence and Limitations” of the book “Forties Fashion” by Jonathan Walford .  Make your own tough-and-feminine mix and share it here with me!

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“Down to Earth” – my Early 1940’s Separates

Where else but in vintage wear can you look all prim and classy while also feeling as comfy and easy to move in as if in casual clothes?  The 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s had mastered the use of pleats, godets, bias cuts, and the like to make clothes styled well and also move nicely, keeping up with a modern woman’s busy life.  Here I’m getting down to deep, rich earth tones in a “down to earth” outfit of easy to make, effortless to wear early 40’s pieces.Agent Carter badge.80

This is the first post which is officially part of my “Agent Carter” Sew Along.

100_4387     I feel this is a perfect “Agent Carter” inspired clothing set.  It is a mix of two of her style tendencies.  She often wears wonderfully tailored blouses in deep colors, with collars so beautiful I always sigh when I see them.  Although she is not afraid to stand out, she is also leading a secret life as an SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) agent, so she also tends towards nondescript, often neutral separates.  Let’s think of charcoal grey with lavender or dark brown with pink.  However, working in a man’s world, she needs a feminine touch.  Finding that perfect blend of both can be challenging and fun, but I think if it can be actualized for your wearing, it is generally flattering and also classic of the 40’s era.

2051104_CA_Agent_Carter_KDM_     Before I go on, here are THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  For my skirt, I used a very fine, medium weight, 100% wool twill.  It is a tan/brown color that is slightly heathered in bits of grey and cream.  The blouse is made out of a lightweight 100% cotton broadcloth which just seems to get softer at each washing.

NOTIONS:  None were needed to buy – everything was on hand, which is very convenient (and practical).  The buttons for both pieces are vintage and come from my hubby’s Grandmother’s stash.  I used regular lightweight iron-on interfacing for the collar and cuffs on the blouse, but I used tarlatan, a a thin, stiffened, open-mesh cotton fabric, to support the waistband of the skirt.  (Teaser…I’ll soon be posting more about tarlatan and a neat, new project I made using it!)

PATTERNS:  Simplicity #3961 was used for the wool skirt.  #3961 is a year 1941 suit and skirt set with the option of two different top halves – either a jacket or a blouse.  I used Simplicity #4602 from the year 1943 for the cranberry cotton blouse.

Simplicity 4602 cover drawing100_2851 yr 1941 suit set

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My blouse was completed in 6 to 8 hours and was finished on January 18, 2015.  The skirt was made in 5 or 6 hours (start to finish), and was done on January 26, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  Every seam of both the blouse and the skirt, excepting the hems of course and the blouse’s shoulder seams, is done in French seams for a clean and couture finished look inside and out.

100_4405TOTAL COST:  The fabrics for this outfit were bought at Hancock Fabrics on a deep discount.  The total cost for the 2 yards I needed for the skirt came to $4.60, while the total cost for the blouse was about $4.00.  I did buy a zipper for the skirt side closure, but it was purchased maybe half a year ago and I normally pay under $1, so I’m not really counting this as well.  In other words, I suppose total for the set is just under $9.00.

There’s not too much to say about my blouse except that I absolutely love everything about it.  This is the second time I have made this blouse (you can see my first version here and here), and this time I made sure to take the time to have this pattern last for many more years so it can become my standby 40’s blouse pattern.  The pattern itself is on unprinted tissue, and has slight water damage, making it fragile and brittle.  I was able to use it “as is” for my first blouse, adding on the fitting adjustments where needed and making thorough notes so as to repeat what I had done for a perfect fit.  However, some slight tears in the paper were inevitable, so…this time I traced out a brand new paper copy of the blouse with all markings transferred and my personal fitting needs added on to become part of the pattern.  I love the fact that this blouse has the collar in-one with the blouse and facing (there isn’t a separate piece to sew on) because this always seems to make this blouse very quick, easy, and fun to whip up.  Now that I have a custom paper copy, creating Simplicity 4602’s blouse should be easier than ever.

100_4395     As I mentioned above, one of the features of my blouse is the “all-in-one” collar that’s part of the blouse, but there are plenty of other redeeming and classic 40’s features to this blouse.  First of all, I love the fact that this pattern only needs three buttons – how easy is that!  Personally, I find quite a number of really cool vintage buttons in a count of three.  I suppose it is an odd number that is not needed in too many patterns.  Besides this point, it is always easier to find special vintage buttons in small numbers than it is in large amounts, like a dozen or more. For my own blouse, I wanted to avoid buying anything, but Hubby’s Grandmother’s stash doesn’t have many buttons in red, so I chose a single interesting odd-ball button for the top, first closure, and two matching/contrasting buttons for the rest of the blouse.  All the buttons are vintage and have a the same type of fiber optic style glow, but the top one is definitely older (more possibility of being 40’s era with its center carving) than the other two.  After all, the 40’s were all about “making do” with what was on hand!  Pardon the raindrops speckling my top…

100_4400     Secondly, the blouse has the very flattering and very classic forward shoulder seam, with gathers where the front panels meet to create soft gathers for subtle bust shaping.  The darts to shape the hips and waist are curved in such a way that they make the blouse have almost a peplum look when it’s not tucked in, and also minimizes too much excess blouse to tuck in like some other blouses.  (Don’t you hate when there’s too much bottom fabric to a blouse to tuck in a snug fitting skirt and it looks funny?  I do.)  As is usual for my blouses, I finished the cuffs of my cranberry cotton top in two pairs of 5/8 inch button holes, so I can close the cuffs using cufflinks.

I hate to be a bore or seem too predictable, but look for yet more versions of this blouse to come.  I’m contemplating adding an interesting pocket to the front of my next Simplicity 4602 blouse.  It really can’t get any better once you find that perfect vintage top pattern which gives you all the comfort of modern “play” clothes in classy past style.  No kidding, I totally have room to do anything in this set – swing at the playground with my little one, look nice at a restaurant, or even do some Peggy Carter’s athletic “good-girl-taking-out-the-bad-guys” type of moves.  You see my feeble attempt at re-creating “the tiger”…I suppose it shows how much I like watching ‘karate/kung fu’ movies.

100_4404a     The skirt was easy but slightly hard for me at the same time.  Confused?  Well, I am a very precise type of person, to the point of making things hard on myself.  This skirt put my precise skills to the test.  Even though it looks easy on the pattern envelope back (hey, there’s only two tissue pieces, as you cut two of the back and two of the back), I was very exact with marking the dots of where to fold the pleats.  The front has a center box pleat and a regular pleat on each side while the back has a simple center box pleat.  You fold the box pleats in so as to meet at the center seams of the back and front for relatively easy matching.  I did not sew down the edges of the folds, like for this basic black 30’s skirt, but I did obsess over making the pleats permanent and even all the way down to the hem when I did my final ironing.

100_4396     For some strange reason, I have found in my sewing experience to notice that many 1940’s pants and skirts seem to run slightly smaller than the size shown.  Thus, I often forget but need to remember to give myself and extra inch above what seems necessary to reach a comfortable fit.  The 1941 suit pattern I used for my skirt is actually too big for my sizing but turned out fitting just right for me.

100_4410     Many vintage patterns also call for deep hems, as well, although the widest hems I’ve seen come from 1920’s patterns (see my 1928 dress – it has a 5 inch hem).  This skirt pattern called for a 2 inch hem, but to fall at the proper length on my body, I needed to make a wide 3 1/2 inch hem.  I hand-stitched down the hem, after measuring and ironing the hem in place, to have an invisible finish.  Wide hems can be quite nice, almost like weighing down the whole garment slightly in a way that keeps it in its place.

100_4392     Hey, hey, look in the above picture – I pulled out my favorite “made in Italy” vintage seamed stockings for this outfit.

Waistband closure ends are often quite thick and bulky, so most of times I do not attempt a button hole.  I like to use large, sliding-style, waistband hook-and-eyes most of the time, but for this skirt I chose to add on a loop and button closure method.  Maybe I like to add loops merely because I enjoy making those tiny bias loops.  Anyway, the waistband button is neat, unique, and highly detailed, also from Grandmother’s stash of notions.  I hope you can see the tiny grooves and swirling design, like veins, and the two different brown/tan tones of the material.

100_4415     Both my blouse and my skirt are an unintended outfit.  Both my blouse and my skirt were actually made to go with other pieces.  My wool skirt is the bottom half of the full suit.  I am in the middle of making the suit blouse from the Simplicity 3961 pattern, using a rich forest green wool crepe.  The cranberry blouse is meant to match with a wool tweed, in a grey and white, green and cranberry plaid, to be made into a war-time jumper from a mail-order pattern.  However, a 40’s gal would not have made clothing pieces that did not completely integrate into the rest of their wardrobe, so I suppose I did things the right way with my separates.

I still have several yards’ worth of my skirt’s wool twill to make a man’s 1939 coat/large pocket shirt pattern, so my hubby can have more handmade vintage wear, too!

Do you have any earth toned 1940’s creations?  Have you done (or are inspired to do) any sewing in my outfit’s similar colors or fabrics, maybe even something in wool-look alike fabric, or in a blend of the feminine and masculine touch, like Peggy?  Are you envious like me of Miss Carter’s amazing agility?

Year 1943 – My “Workday Style” Plaid Skirt

I have found that, for myself, once a weakness or fear is conquered in regards to a certain sewing skill, that it then becomes something very enjoyable to do.  Such good feelings happen because I end up with more confidence towards something which had been a boundary.  I don’t want any walls to hold me back from what is possible.

This plaid 40’s skirt falls into that rank of “confidence building projects”.  I wanted this to be a very casual, comfortable, unassuming wartime wardrobe staple – and my finished skirt most definitely fulfills all those wishes.  However, at the same time, I am hoping that my 1943 skirt has a special classiness that shows in the time and attention which I spent in meticulously matching all eight plaid panels.  So many RTW (ready–to-wear) store clothes sadly lack precise matching of fabrics which are plaids or stripes, and I hope that a skirt like mine inspires others to see at least one obvious benefit to making clothes for oneself!

100_2691aSimplicity 4602 cover drawing     Here in the above picture, I am aiming for a “Bomb Girls” or a sort of “Rosie the Riveter” look, as if I just got off from ‘work’ at the late Art Deco style factory building where I’m posing.  My blouse is also from a 1943 pattern, but it is a Simplicity #4602, (left picture) blogged about in a previous post (click here for link).

The waist band is a wonderful and unique 40’s design.  It was a bit more complicated to get it right than I realized, but it was still easy enough.  There is a similar skirt worn by the actress Ginger Rogers in the 1940 movie “Lucky Partners”.  Unlike my skirt, her look-alike skirt was part of lucky partners 2a suit and in a solid color, but the high, curved waistband is the same.  The pattern for my “workday” plaid skirt comes from a vintage Hollywood pattern which doesn’t have a famous actress or a movie directly associated with it, only the “four star” guarantee that it is a high fashion (for ’43) and quality design.  I would like to think I have found one source of design inspiration for the pattern used for my plaid skirt by finding the renowned Ginger Rogers wearing a similar style feature (see the scene in the right picture where she’s with actor Ronald Colman).

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The olive plaid fabric for my skirt has been in my stash for as long as I remember, so I am making a calculated guess as to what it is made of.  I am almost 100% sure it is a rayon and linen blend, and it might even have cotton, but there is definitely no synthetics.  The plaid fabric’s raw and nubby hand, soft drape, and open weave characteristics are very similar to the fabric I used for my “Geometric Lines” 1920’s tunic top.  However, my skirt doesn’t wrinkle as easily as the fabric for my 1920’s tunic, so I know there’s another unknown fiber in the content.  Whatever my fabric is made of, it is very comfy and easy to wear, but wrinkles like crazy when it’s washed and looks like it got rolled in a ball when it’s dry.  Ironing is a must!  The skirt is lined in a beige/tan color polyester (I know, ‘modern’) cling-free lining, which came from my stash as well.

NOTIONS:  Besides buying a zipper for the side opening, I had everything else I needed on hand: thread, interfacing, waistband hook and eye.hollywood1117_yr1943

PATTERN:  Hollywood #1117, year 1943. (I want to use this pattern to make the short sleeve ruffle blouse, too!)  I used a modern, basic, two piece skirt for the lining.  It was a pattern I have used before, Butterick 4522, year 2005.  This skirt is cut on the bias so it would ‘move’ and flow well underneath.Butterick 4522 skirts pattern yr 2005

TIME TO COMPLETE:  From start to finish, my plaid ’43 skirt took about 6 to 8 hours.  It was finished on April 6, 2014.

THE INSIDES:  The raw edges are finished like they would’ve done it in the 40’s – just a simple zig zag stitch along the raw edges of both the lining and the plaid fabric.  Self-fabric facing inside covers up the raw edges all along the waistband, while the lining covers up the inner seams to the plaid fabric.  The side opening edges were turned in and sewn down to make a clean edge before the zipper went on (see picture).  A large sliding style hook and eye holds down the waistband extension.   

100_2699FIRST WORN:  A vintage market fair was the first place I have worn this 1943 skirt.  I wore it with the ’43 blouse, just as you see it paired in my pictures.  I got a number of compliments from vendors who seemed to appreciate the fact I was dressed in authentic vintage.

TOTAL COST:  The only money spent on my skirt was from buying the zipper, and everything else was completely from my stash.  Thus the total cost is at $1.00.  There’s 40s frugality!

The Hollywood pattern I used for my skirt is my second unprinted pattern to use.  The white blouse I’m wearing in my pictures is the first unprinted pattern I’ve done.  I’m really liking unprinted patterns…or at least getting used to them.

I had to be quite careful to label which pattern piece was which, since the pattern has four skirt panel pieces (eight fabric pieces).  All those panels actually helped me match up the plaid, as well, since I got to use all the balance marks to align the lines properly.  The pattern also really impressed me with beautiful shaping and curves built into the pattern pieces around the hips and waist, especially around the side seams and…ahem…the behind.  I don’t see such beautiful details in modern patterns too often.

100_2696a     I had to grade up because my pattern size was too small.  The total amount I needed to add was four inches, but, breaking it down between the four skirt panels makes it much less intimidating.  A scant 1/4 inch was added to both sides of each skirt panel pattern piece to add up to a total of four extra inches. This wasn’t a big deal until I had to adjust the waistband.  I made a paper copy of the original pattern piece for the skirt then worked on grading up the copy.  I marked the front center, back center, side seam, and the rest of the spots where the skirt panel seams meet at the waistband.  Then I split the skirt waistband at each of those places where I marked so I could spread it open in intervals of 1/2 inch.  For some reason, adding only 1/2 inch to the waistband where each skirt panel comes up did not get the tabs to match up.  Only when I added 3/4 inch at the center front, center back and side seam did the waistband match the skirt.  You can see my grading work to the waistband in the picture below at left.100_2688

Lightweight interfacing had been ironed on to the back of the waistband pieces, even though the instructions made no mention of doing this.  I am so glad I did that step, because it helps the waistband keep its unique shape instead of wrinkling up.  After trying on the skirt before adding the waistband facing, I unexpectedly realized I needed to further adjust the fit for the curved panel to succeed.  I added a tiny 1/2 inch dart to the waistband side seam, while the each of the two waistband tabs at the zipper opening had 1/4 inch darts added right where the zipper meets.  The darts brought the waistband in slightly, shaping it to a woman’s curves, otherwise it would have stuck out stiffly like an ill-fitting corset.

100_2701     Two inches were cut off the bottom of the hem to bring it to a good length at my legs and make it even with the hem of the lining.  A longer length seemed to make the skirt appearance a bit more dowdy.  Besides, the shorter, below-knee, mid-calf length I chose would have been just right for the activities appropriate for a 40s woman wearing a skirt like this: gardening, biking, shopping, and the like needed to be done while still looking feminine.  I sewed a small 1/4 inch hem on my skirt, which brought it even with the lining hem by about a 1 inch difference in between the two (see above picture).

100_2698a     Throughout the entire construction process of my 1943 plaid skirt, I was very skeptical as to whether or not I would hate, love, or merely tolerate the finished garment.  About 90% of the time I was generally on the ‘hate’ or even ‘merely tolerating’ side of emotions.  However, as usual for many garments I’m skeptical towards, once my skirt was done and mRosie-the-Riveter-poster-satched up with shoes, belt, blouse, and even the right hairstyle, I could smile and honestly say I really love it!

Wearing my “workday” outfit put me in the mood to do my very own  “Rosie the Riveter” poster imitation.  I even turned our picture into black and grey tones to get an even better 40s feel to it.  Look at my muscle!100_2694-b     I am planning to build upon my 1943 skirt, adding to the aim of it being the foundation of a wartime wardrobe of easy separates.  Thi100_2851 yr 1941 suit sets coming Fall season, maybe early September, I would like to use another vintage pattern I own – a year 1941 Simplicity 3961, in the right picture – to sew up a suit jacket or suit style top to wear with this plaid skirt.  I have a nice rayon gabardine or linen in mind for the fabric, and either an ivory, a brown, or an olive green for the color of the suit jacket or top from Simplicity 3961.  I think a suiting separate will easily take my “workday plaid” into a higher “Sunday-worthy” sort of classiness.  The versatility of my new skirt is endless!