It was the map dress that got me interested in 1940’s fashion. Prior to that project, my only real interest in vintage fashion was the fun, poofy, full skirted, dresses of the 1950’s. Then, I read about dresses made from old army maps at the end of the 40’s. These dresses intrigued me. So, I bought some map fabric and a re-printed 1940s pattern, and decided to make my own map dress. This drew me into observing 1940s fashion, and I fell in love with all the little details that make up the clothes of the 40’s! The shirring, pleats, tucks, darts, and draping are things to be admired. It was an era of rationed fabrics, so the tailored details make the clothing memorable rather than exaggerated silhouettes.
Once I returned home from the world race and a year of wearing my map dress around the world, I was eager to try my hand at making other 40’s style garments. Thus, I made myself and my mom each a dress, while my little sister got a dress, a hooded blouse, and a pair of overalls - all from 40’s re-print patterns.
In June I had the opportunity to test a 1940’s style skirt pattern for Brigid Everson, the designer behind Brijee Patterns. I've followed her blog since last year and appreciated her style, so I was excited to try out one of her patterns! This skirt was a little more everyday wear and a little less attention grabbing dress than my other 40’s style projects, so I figured it would definitely have a place in my wardrobe!
Thus, I decided to test the Casey Skirt pattern. I found some polyester suiting in the perfect shade of green and was ready to get started! As I mentioned before, the skirt is a little more basic than my previous dresses, but that doesn't mean it's short on fun eye catching details! In fact, when I decided to make this skirt I was actually worried that one of the details might be a little too eye catching.
The pockets! Oh the amazingly large patch pockets! I was afraid they might be too much, a little too large and visible. I considered leaving them off my skirt all together and adding my own inseam pockets instead. But pockets.
I really love nice large pockets in my clothes. And I really, really, appreciate it when designers actually decide to include such pockets in their patterns. Thus, I made my Casey Skirt with the pockets. And I don't regret it. Not one bit. Yes, they are eye catching, but every single comment I've had about this skirt has been positive, especially regarding the pockets. I don't think they're too much at all. No, I think these pockets are just right for this skirt. They perfectly balance out the single inverted box pleats on the center front and back of the skirt.
Neither detail overwhelms the other, which leads to a lovely, well rounded, final garment. A garment that pairs nicely with an awful lot of other things in my wardrobe.
It turns out, the particular shade of green I used for my skirt is practically a neutral color for me. I've worn this skirt with all sorts of tank tops and blouses I already had hanging in my wardrobe. I didn't need to make any blouses to go with it. Yet, I couldn't resist when Brigid requested testers for the 40’s inspired blouse pattern she’d designed to go with the Casey Skirt. I wanted to make the complete set!
I love the way this next pattern, the Brooks Blouse, is shaped with inverted pleats at the waist - two in the front and two in the back.
The blouse is perfectly designed to be tucked into the skirt, and still look good worn untucked with jeans and shorts as well.
The fabric suggestions mentioned the blouse could be made from both woven and knit fabrics. Being the practical person I am, I decided I might as well try this concept out by making two blouses, one from a knit with a crepe-like texture, and one from a woven rayon challis. After all, it couldn't hurt to make myself two new blouses, and comparing the results from each type of fabric might help the designer out.
First, I made the knit blouse. As no closures were needed (because knit stretches, it's awesome like that), this blouse was a rather quick sew. Typically I sew knit garments on my serger, but with this blouse I used my regular sewing machine, because I was just too lazy to re-thread my serger that day. The knit I used was relatively stable and very easy to sew on a regular machine.
I found the fabric at Joann's for 60% off, and with this pattern in mind, I couldn't resist picking up a bit. It has a really cool crepe like texture and I knew the colors would coordinate perfectly with my skirt.
So, I made my blouse one morning and wasn't disappointed at all with how the blouse paired with the skirt! Honestly, my only complaint at all about the knit version of the Brooks Blouse is that I feel the neckline is too high, but that's something I can easily fix on this blouse and do differently on any other knit blouses I make from this pattern.
Now the woven blouse doesn't have that problem. Even though I used the exact same pattern pieces for both the knit and woven blouse the woven blouse neckline came out at the perfect height. See, the woven blouse neckline is finished with a facing, while the knit neckline is finished with a neckband. The neckband on the knit blouse adds height to the finished neckline, while the facing adds no height. Next time I make the knit blouse, I'll cut down the neckline a bit prior to adding the neck band so the neckline will match that on the woven blouse.
I made the woven blouse a few days after the knit blouse, and it was really fun to compare the two. While I love how easy the knit version is to wear (and I've worn it plenty since completion), I think the woven version is actually my favorite.
I used a rayon challis remnant I had on hand for the woven blouse and it has a beautiful drape, very well suited for this pattern.
The drape of the fabric gives this blouse a softer, more fluid silhouette than the knit blouse. Which is why I prefer the look of this blouse. Also, I appreciate the extra detail the woven blouse requires.
Buttons! A row of pretty buttons marching down the center back of the blouse. I just love the aesthetic of buttons down the back of a garment!
Especially when those center back buttons line up perfectly with a center back pleat!
I quite like this collection of three 1940's inspired garments I made! These patterns are well drafted, easy to use, and were a pleasure to test. If you want to make these patterns for yourself, all the Brijee patterns can be found here!
I received the patterns for free in exchange for testing and giving my feedback on them, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own :)