1943 Mauve Print Dress

Summer temperatures lingered on here until just the other day, though they were not quite as hot and humid as they were on the 4th of July…

The day of the event started off a bit rocky, as I was confused about what time I was meeting my friends to carpool and so was just starting to get ready as they were getting in the car to leave the house I was supposed to meet them at, an hour from my house! I wound up driving to the event by myself and getting there a bit late. It wasn’t a great way to start the day, but at least it went up from there.

Being the beginning of July, it was hot, even in the morning. I was dripping sweat just standing still in the shade and I didn’t sit down until after pictures were taken because I knew how wrinkly my rayon dress would be as soon as I even looked at a chair! See, no wrinkles… yet!

As you have probably deduced by now, I made a new dress! The goal was to have a war-time 1940s dress made from a fabric that had been sitting in the stash since 2013 waiting to be made into a 1930s or 1940s dress.

The dress is constructed from 3ish yards of rayon. (I don’t remember the exact yardage.) It’s a greyish/mauve color with little teal clovers all over. It’s machine sewn and hand finished. The seam allowances are left raw on the inside–a detail I have noticed in 1940s dresses I’ve had the chance to observe.

The dress closes with 12 buttons which run in groups of two down the front (and a hidden hook and eye at the waist). It’s a perfect detail for wartime, when I’ve read that zippers were being used less frequently so the metal could go to the war effort. The buttons-in-groups-of-two detail was directly inspired by this image. (The image came from this post by The Closet Historian. It has many lovely dresses from the Spring/Summer 1943 Montgomery Ward catalogue.)

I spent lots of time looking at buttons on Etsy in order to find some that matched the particular shade of teal I was looking for. I was so pleased when I found them! It was only after I ordered them that I realized they were shipping from Europe. I was very nervous they wouldn’t arrive in time for the event! Luckily, they arrived just a few days before, giving me just enough time to sew them on the dress. Whew!

I couldn’t find a buckle in the same teal color and I thought that might be too matchy anyway, so I went with a slightly grayish mother of pearl buckle instead, also from Etsy.

The pattern is a mix up of two different things: a 1970s shirt dress pattern for the bodice/sleeves and a self-drafted skirt pattern. I wanted to get the two pleats in the front of the skirt like the inspiration image has while also making the hem as full as was allowed during wartime rationing–a sweep of 74″. These two requirements made it easier to pattern something myself than try to start with anything I could easily find. I like the pleats in the front, but wish I had placed them a little farther towards the side seams. Oh well!

The back of the skirt is shaped with darts. Turns out they’re a little tipsy and listing towards the side seams… oops. The square-shoulder 1940s silhouette is achieved with the assistance of some super thick shoulder pads. Looks pretty silly on a hanger but slightly less silly on me, thankfully!

I like this photo of those of us from our group who were dressed in civilian clothes. In fact, there’s a whole series of us walking towards and away from the camera. It was hard to narrow it down to just one!

Before I made it, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about an early 1940s day dress. I like shirt dresses when I see them but I don’t usually wear clothes with collars (nor many garments with buttons), so these were an unusual touch in my wardrobe. I’m pleased to report that with the proper accessories and hairstyle I felt perfectly comfortable and un-frumpy in this new decade. Win! Next up, a post with all the details of my successful victory rolls!

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10 responses to “1943 Mauve Print Dress

  1. I like it! Interestingly, I was going to say how much I liked the buttons in groups of two and the pleats near the front opening; gives the dress a nice vertical line. Two of the very details you mentioned. Although we don’t often reproduce WWII era clothing I think the emotional tug goes far to get us past our current “eyes” that aren’t used to seeing the war time details. Loved the picture of the “civilians” walking. Looks very authentic.

    Helen Sent from my IPhone

    >

  2. I love this! I’ve been on a big 40’s kick lately, so this is right up my alley. And I love your pictures of it!

    Caroline

    • Ooo, exciting! I’m way behind on reading your blog, so if you’ve posted pictures I have yet to see them. Regardless, I will look forward to seeing them one way or the other. 🙂 And thanks!

  3. Looks great! My favorite part is the paired-button details, I’ll have to try that on a dress someday. To ask so indelicate a question, what undergarments do you wear with this? 😉

    • I entirely support other people making things with the double button detail. It’s unusual and interesting. And you ask a great question. I wore modern undergarments, seamed nylons/pantyhose that go fully up to the waist, and a knee length slip. I thought of trying to be more accurate and getting a garter belt and stockings, but I don’t already have them and I decided to leave that detail for a future opportunity. I knew it was going to be hot and I just wanted things to be easy to wear and easy to wash.

  4. So, so pretty! You look great in ’40s styles! 🙂

  5. Oh my heavens! You make the perfect 1940s lady! I am so loving your dress with the button placement! That’s so fun! And your HAIR!!!! It’s perfection! The seamed stockings are even making me smile!! This makes me so happy!!!
    Blessings!
    g

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