Sewing for Victory: Inspiration

It maybe was a foolish decision to sign up for Lucky Lucille’s Sewing for Victory sew-along. But, I already knew that I needed a new dress for my friend’s wedding in April (hey–I’m not going to make the bridesmaids something new and then not make something new for me!) for which I have given myself permission to buy fabric. And, I do love the 40s, so it seemed like a good time to combine a few goals into one sew-along.

And, if I don’t get all my winter sewing done–no biggie!

Yep, feeling pretty chill over here.

The first step in my process was to check out my 1940s sewing patterns in my stash. The results were. . . uninspiring. I have one pattern and it was not at all what I was going for. (I don’t have a large vintage pattern stash like some of you lucky gals.)

So, I next consulted the Google which led me to some lovely lady’s Pinterest page of 1940s inspiration. Thanks Pinterest Lady for doing my work for me! Especially since I found The Dress that I knew I needed to make.

Orla Kiely Dancing Girls Dress

It’s an Orla Kiely, whom I had never heard of before. But since finding this dress, it seems that her name is everywhere. I don’t pay attention to designers because I just can’t be bothered to care. So, the fact that I’ve noticed her name really means something.

I couldn’t trace the picture back to its roots (when I clicked on the Pinterest link, it led me to an empty page), but I did find a similar dress (just a different fabric) here. Since this is a new dress, I began to wonder if it really was 40s inspired. I mean, it looks 40s, don’t you think? But, I really wanted proof, so I started looking at actual 40s patterns to find similarities. I found these two:

40s dress 2

Click for source.

I know this one (above) isn’t exactly what I’m doing, but what are those? Darts with gathers??? I’m intrigued!


Click for source.

This one has a similar yoke and gathers thing going on.

Really, the only part of the dress that I couldn’t find in an actual 40s pattern is the collar. But the collar is my favorite part. And since I’m not really a strictly vintage girl, it’s okay to me if it’s not entirely “authentic.”

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I remembered a chest in our sitting room that contains tons of family pictures from my grandmother’s house. I went a-digging and found some really adorable pictures.

Sewing for Victory Inspiration

My grandparents. This is early 1940s. Can't remember the exact date.

My grandparents. This is early-mid 1940s. Can’t remember the exact date.

Sewing for Victory InspirationSewing for Victory Inspiration

Love this one!

Love this one!

Thanksgiving, Nov. 1946

Thanksgiving, Nov. 1946

Love this shirtdress!

Love this shirtdress!



My only complaint is that it’s really hard to see the details on any of these dresses. I think that if I were to try to copy any of them, I’d do either the gingham suit (for fall/winter) or the shirt dress seems very similar to the one I made last summer.

After all that, I still felt very strongly about the Orla Kiely dress. So, how am I going to make it? Well, that’s a good question. . .

I’m thinking that I’ll start with Simplicity 1801. I’ll modify the front yoke to match the OK dress. I’ll need to either draft new sleeves, or modify the existing ones. And I’ll add a collar.  This is part that really baffles me. How do I do that collar??? What do you think? Right now I’m pondering attaching it like I did the neckband/bow on New Look 6107. Perhaps I could even add a little bow at the neckline instead of wearing a tie around the waist. I’m also considering converting the skirt gathers into pleats.

Now for the fun part: fabric! These are the two I’ve picked so far (I know I mentioned before that I wanted emerald green. I still do, but I can’t find it anywhere!):



They’re both cotton voile. I originally was leaning toward the top one, but now I really love the colors in the second. Hmmm. . .

All this means that I have an enormous lot of work to do in the next few weeks. Wish me luck!


19 thoughts on “Sewing for Victory: Inspiration

    • Yes–I’m leaning towards the top as well. It just fits the dress better, I think.
      I do love that second fabric. . . it doesn’t count as adding to the stash if I use it immediately, right?

  1. Gorgeous photos! Just wanted to let you know that I’d like to nominate you for some blogging awards- Very Inspiring Blogger, One Lovely Blog, and the Liebster (which is for people with less than 200 followers.) If that’s good with you, I’ll put it in a post very soon! 🙂

  2. Oh wow, I love the Orla Kiely inspiration dress! And thank you for sharing the photos, it really puts that era in perspective. How cool!
    I’m also thinking the pink is the way to go as well.

  3. Wow the family photos are amazing! What a find and what inspiration!

    I love both fabrics. And the Orla Keily inspiration dress is beautiful. Good luck!

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