Sunday, May 11, 2014

Black and White WWII Dress

A few weeks ago I gave a sneak peak of my new WWII dress which I made for our latest history presentation. (At the link you can also see photos of the sheer lavender striped dress I made for my daughter, using the same pattern I used for my dress.) 
I used Simplicity 1587, which is a reprint of one of their vintage patterns.  I was a little worried about my ability to sew it, but it turned out to be rather easy! 
Before I began sewing my dress, I did a great deal of research, though I can't find it now.  However I did find  this research paper with similar information. I also looked at gobs of pictures of actual dresses and pattern envelopes of the era.

Because of WWII, styles changed drastically.  Fabrics for clothing were limited in type and yardage.  Silks were needed for parachutes, so I decided not to use silk although it was a recommended fabric on the back of the pattern envelope. Therefore I decided to use 100% cotton, which was typical for day dresses.

Other clothing requirements were that they should come just below the knee, and no longer.  I usually prefer my dresses to be a bit longer, so it was difficult but historically accurate to keep the length right below knee level.

Historically the fashion industry is set in Paris, yet during the Occupation, this was impossible.  This allowed American fashion designers to come into their own, taking strict fashion requirements to a new level of imaginative design to perk up what could otherwise have been quite a boring look. The end result was a distinct American patriotic style, that is often emulated today by many bloggers I have met who enjoy the style enough to wear it was everyday wear today!   

Even though Hollywood movies made during the war might seem to break all the rules, they were allowed to reuse any old costumes and fabric from those costumes that they already had in storage. Otherwise any new outfits made from new fabrics had to follow the same rules as everyoone else. 
One of my favorite stories that I found in the above research link is about the filming of the movie, Casablanca.  Apparentlybeautiful evening gowns had been designed for Elsa (portrayed by Ingrid Berman)  which the producer nudged into a different direction.  He suggested that the real Elsa, running away to freedom, would not be wearing elegantly affluent clothing. He suggested a simple broche as opposed to several necklaces and a simple business suit type look. As I recently read this, I recalled admiring her understated elegance and simply lines, quite tasteful to the setting of the picture. Mission accomplished!

While watching a youtube of dancers, the specific one I saw I cannot find but it's probably one of the ones linked to our WWII history presentation set at the Hollywood Canteen during WWII, I took notice of how the ladies dressed, which inspired my own dress and hat. I think I would have easily fit in to the scene of sending off the troops to their overseas assignments!

I also sewed the same dress for my daughter out of a sheer striped lavender 100% cotton.

How about sepia tone?

Now for some black and white color!

I made the hat too, which I featured in this blog post.

Now for the HSF details:

HSF 2014

The Challenge: #9 Black and White

Fabric: cotton

Pattern:Simplicity 1587

Year: WWII

How historically accurate is it? not sure

Hours to complete: lots

First worn: history presentation

Total cost: $20

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