Thursday, July 3, 2014

WWII Cotton Blouse & Linen Slacks

Back at the beginning of June, Cori and I traveled to Reading, Pa to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum for a WWII event. I talked a little about it in my last post where I shared with you my Red Birds Dress. That was my outfit for day one. Here is what I wore on day two! We had so much fun and met so many great people.

Another staff car photo! I was trying to recreate this photo from last fall.
First up the fabric and the patterns. The blouse is made from Hollywood 1530 using 100% cotton with a cute retro style print. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a true 30s/40s print but I think it's pretty close. Plus I liked it best out the options I had in the stash. Actually, this came from my mom's fabric stash, as did the fabric for this year's birthday dress and red bird dress. There should be an extra 2 inches of fabric on either side of the blouse fronts but I didn't have enough fabric. As you can see looking at the pattern pieces laid out it was a tight squeeze! Surprisingly this didn't have a huge impact on the fit of the blouse, I feared it might turn out too small but it was just fine. The only other change I made was to add a second pocket, but really that was because I accidentally cut two pocket pieces and didn't want to waste the fabric!

Sadly, the short sleeve piece is missing from this pattern. I replaced to using the short sleeve pattern piece from McCall 3306. (There is a copy of this pattern for sale here.) Both patterns are late 1930s so I felt this was a good substitute and I really like the little pouf that McCall 3306 creates at the top of the shoulder. It's one of those little details that I love about the 1930s and early 1940s. :) The green fabric you see is the same as my 2014 Sew For Victory dress. There was juuuust enough to make a blouse with the remainder of that fabric as well.

Getting ready to cut! Always the scary part. :)
Here you can see the part of the blouse center front that I had to eliminate.
Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Blue cotton from the stash
Pattern: Hollywood 1530
Year: late 1930s or early 1940s
Notions: Thread and buttons from the stash
How historically accurate is it? Very! The fabric is pretty close to period prints. The buttons are modern but look just like vintage ones. I'd give the blouse a 9 1/2 out of 10.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Button holes.... enough said
Did you change anything? Not much. The short sleeve piece was missing so I used one from a different pattern I added a second pocket because I cut an extra one and didn't want to waste the fabric. I didn't have the exact amount of fabric so the finished blouse is a touch shorter and narrower but still fits great.
Time to complete: Around 8 hours I think
First worn: June 2014
Total cost: Everything but the pattern came from the stash, so less then $5!
Notes: Love this blouse. I need more separates!

The slacks were made using Simplicity 1306 and linen left from an 18th century project. There is a discount fabric store near by that occasionally gets 100% linens and wools. I stop in every once in a while to see what they have. It's one of those places, like a thrift store, that if you see something you like you'd better buy it because there's a good chance it will be gone soon. I tend to "stock up" when I find good linens and wools there.
40s -Simplicity Pattern No. 1306- Womens skirt, slacks and vest. The skirt and slacks are fashioned with trouser pleats at front waistline, darts at back waistline and vertical pockets at either side. A center front inverted pleat trims the skirt front and the skirt back is seamed down the center. The slacks have a fly opening secured with a slide fastener. Welt pockets trim the dart fitted vest which features extended shoulders and a four button front closing.
Simplicity 1306
I find the fit of Simplicity 1306 is much better than Simplicity 3322 (reproduced by Eva Dress and the Vintage Fashion Library). I used Simplicity 3322 to make a pair of slacks last year for Sew For Victory but was never very happy with them. Although both patterns are very similar in cut and style the main difference, other than a zipper front and side opening, is the treatment of the slacks front. Simplicity 3322 has front darts where Simplicity 1306 has small pleats. Both patterns have darts in back. Slacks from the 40s are meant to be baggy but sometimes this style can be really unflattering. I found that by extending the length of the front pleats a little more helped create a smoother fit Next time I use this pattern I will need to make some minor adjustments to very top of the slacks and waistband. I ended up making two small tucks in the waistband so the slacks would stay where they needed to at my natural waist.

I completed my look at day with a red scarf, victory rolls, and my Army/Navy E-award pin and another WWII era victory pin. You can see close ups of the pins here.

I really wish I good recommend the vendor who sold me the sunglasses I'm wearing, but sadly I cannot. It's a long story and not one that I want to go into detail here. Let's just say the costumer service started great but ended poorly. The glasses don't fit as well as I would like them to and I can really only wear them for short periods of time.

Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Brown linen left from another project
Simplicity 1306
Year: 1940s
Notions: Thread, zipper, and buttons from the stash
How historically accurate is it? Very! I'd give the pants a 9 1/2 out of 10.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Button holes and zipper placket.... enough said
Did you change anything? Not much. The pattern needed to be shorten, no surprise there. I also needed to take them in at the waist.
Time to complete: Around 10 hours I think
First worn: June 2014
Total cost: Everything but the pattern came from the stash, so less then $15!
Notes: Love these pants. I need more separates! I need to make them a touch shorter next time but I will be using this pattern again. :)

By the way, I'm having another sale on Etsy. Use the coupon code FLASHSALE to save 15% until July 5th. I'll be adding some more items after the holiday weekend.


  1. So stinkin' cute!!!! I love the entire outfit - you look like you walked right out of a mid-40s movie!

  2. Yes, so cute! I would love a pair of vintage trousers, but I can't convince myself to make them yet...

  3. I love this whole adorable outfit: the styles, the colors, the pattern on the blouse. I've been wanting to make wide-leg pants that fit (my first attempt was a misfire), and this is great inspiration.

  4. Oh my stars and garters but you are so darling!! I am loving this look! It is fun to use actual vintage patterns...except for when a piece is missing ;-)! You have done a most fabulous job on your outfit, hair and makeup! Yeah!!

  5. Thank you ladies! You're all so very sweet. :) I highly recommend Simplicity 1306 for making 40s pants. Super comfortable. They went together easily. The only trouble I had was sewing the zipper, but I hate sewing zipper! LOL

  6. I only started to wear trousers about 6 months ago having been a skirts/dresses person.

    I would love a pair of vintage slacks as they are so modest in appearance but I am afraid I am not terribly gifted at sewing.

    I think I will have to buy a ready made pair!

  7. Rebecca, I've heard really good things about Wearing History's "Smooth Sailing" pants pattern. Also, once Lauren gets her clothing line up and running I believe she will be offering ready made pants.


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