Saturday, January 31, 2015

Vintage WWII Era Slip

The Sew Monthly Challenge for January is Foundations. The first item that came to mind was a badly  needed 18th century shift. After all, shifts are foundational for wearing and preparing the outer garments. Alas I've been very much under the weather for the last two months so I tried to think of something a bit less aggressive, although a shift sounds perfect in that all I need to do is hand sew it...lots of hand sewing. In my convalescence, I had plenty of time for that. But I coughed a lot in December and January (bronchitis) which left my sides I don't like to move a whole lot, much less get on the ground to cut my fabric. Cutting out a shift is a lot of floor work...after lifting a heavy bolt of linen off the top shelf of the upstairs fabric stash closet.  Then it would take all month to sew. Oh no, I was not up to that in early January.
After quite a bit of thinking, and researching, I decided to make a vintage slip.  That would be a lot less fabric. I had all the supplies at home. I could quickly whip that up on the sewing machine.  Also a slip, for me, would definitely meet the Foundation Challenge. I have always worn slips under my dresses because my mom and her mom always told me that I *had* to wear a slip when wearing any dress, for modesty purposes. That thought has stuck with me so that now I would feel most improperly dressed without a slip under my dress. Also I'm sure that like the 18th century, a modern slip protects the outer garment from oils and such from the skin, helping to preserve the garment, etc.  So yes, slips are foundational!
Also I needed a vintage slip to wear with the WWII era dress I made last spring. Incidentally, I wore a similar embroidered eyelet slip with my dress for the photos in the previous link. I had purchased that slip cheaply years ago and love it and want more. One thing I don't like about that slip though, is that it has elastic in the back of the bodice. However the slip I found that is quite similar (and linked below) was otherwise similar. Win, win!
As I did my research, I decided to ask my mother-in-law advice for the missing information I couldn't find.  She was a little girl during WWII and had three older sisters. She confirmed that my pattern (for free here) was a good choice, and that eyelet cotton was indeed available.
The reason why I classify this as a WWII era slip, is because it comes just below the knee, just like the requirements of dresses in that era. Also the skirt is not ultra-full (like the 1950's) or cut on the bias (like the 1930's). It looks very much like the WWII era dresses which had strict fabric requirements due to war time rationing, which I wrote about here.  
Her information supported that the dating on this listing was most likely properly dated! I love these two vintage slips with the different types of lace and original labels.
I also found these images, as well as these.
Last week I printed out the e-pattern. I was not up to climbing up and down the stairs so my daughter retrieved the 29 pages of the pattern for me. I was worried about putting this together.  I spent most of the afternoon figuring out how the pages go together, and it went much easier than I thought. I figured out a system of laying out the papers, positioning them properly, and taping them together.  I wasn't certain which line to cut out though.  It looked like I was a medium for the bust and a large for the waist and hips. (Measurements are given at the link for the pattern. Scroll down for all the blog comments for interesting and helpful details about the pattern.)  Oh dear, I don't like trying to figure out how to reckon those differences. I don't know anything about that stuff.  Furthermore, I forgot that our printer's color ink was low, so the colored lines for the different sizes were off, then with a size lines and cutting lines all blurring together to my muddled eye, I decided to just cut around the largest size and hope for the best.  I've learned how to drape in the 18th century manner. Why not use some of those ideas? I figured that being a slip, and the fact that ease was built into garments by WWII, I should be safe.


I was tired after all that putting together and cutting of the e-pattern,  so I finally set to work cutting  out the fabric and stitching it together today.  As I sewed each section, I held it to me for a "fitting" of sorts and everything was good. The dart for the bodice was way off for me. I decided to fiddle with it, pinning the excess to stitch down and that worked!


Piece by piece everything nicely worked together for me. Then I dug around my lace stash and found this eyelet lace...and some white satin ribbon...Fun, fun! Reminds me a little bit of one of the vintage ones pictured here.

Threading the ribbon through the eyelet lace.

At the end I slipped it over my head and it fits!
In fact, I am so pleased with this slip, that I'm going to make more for both me and my daughter to wear with modern dresses! I haven't been a fan of modern slips for years but I've always liked these vintage ones. Double win, win!


Front view...


Close-up of the bodice...


Closse-up of the hem...


Back of the slip...


Close-up of the back...


And now for the HSM details!
HSF 2015

The Challenge:
January – Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.

100% cotton eyelet border fabric 

vintage e-pattern available for free here

WWII era

eyelet lace, ribbon, thread

How historically accurate is it?
About 90%. I'm not sure if there was eyelet *border* fabric, but eyelet fabric was definitely used. Nor am I sure if the eyelet lace with ribbon is exactly accurate.

Hours to complete:
About a day.

First worn:
Not yet.

Total cost:
Free for me, since I have had everything in the stash for years. However it only took 1 yard of eyelet border fabric, which must have cost about $3, lace-$2, ribbon-$2, thread-$1, total-$8 

I have also entered the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, which I posted about here. So here is my first vintage pattern completion for the year! Triple win, win!


  1. Nice! Lovely that you found a project you could tackle and that it counts for two projects you're participating in. My mom always told me that I had to wear a sip with my skirts and dresses, also, so I continue to wear them except with tight mini skirts (which, as I approach 30 I wear much less often than when I was close to 20!). I think I'm unusual these days, though, because most women in their 20s that I know do not wear slips with dresses and skirts. Ah well, some of those ladies should learn that light allows those around them to see right through their dress/skirt fabric! :)


    1. Have you seen the Princess Diana photo from before she got married? She became engaged to Prince Charles while I was growing up and I became an instant fan of hers and watched all the news reports of her. Well the media shot a picture of her...and it was obvious she wasn't wearing a slip. Much was made of that photo! Oops!

  2. So pretty, and so useful as well. I can see why you plan to make more of these.