Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on June 23, 2012
Simplicity 1777 Pattern Review – A 1940s Vintage Design
I was sooo excited when I saw Simplicity Patterns’ new fall collection last week, because it contained the first real vintage design that Simplicity has released in some years! Four years ago Simplicity had a couple gorgeous 1940s formalwear patterns that I snatched up, but ever since they’ve kind of left that category for Butterick and Vogue to take care of. So imagine how very thrilled I was to see that Simplicity 1777 is a charming 1940s dress pattern with all the retro details and unique styling that vintage patterns are famous for – and which the most recent Butterick and Vogue designs have sadly been missing.
Not only was the dress itself quite adorable with ruching and gathering in the waist and hip areas, Simplicity also did a terrific job on the 1940s photo shoot! I think that a real vintage hairstyle and period-correct makeup can make all the difference between truly looking like you stepped out of the 1940s, or just looking “retro inspired”. I love the big victory rolls on the top of her hair, with the rest of the hair curled into ringlets. In the picture with the red dress, the model is wearing the most wonderful pillbox hat!
So, if you haven’t already guessed, I immediately ordered the pattern in hopes that I could whip it right up and post the first pattern review online of this new design! Since it hadn’t yet hit the stores the only way to order it was online, which meant I had to wait for it to come from Tennessee to Oregon… But in the meantime I got everything ready that I possibly could to sew this dress, including writing much of this blog post before the pattern had shown up. : )
On Friday afternoon I got a package in the mail from Simplicity, and was so excited to see the new pattern in person! I started cutting out the pattern immediately, and finished the dress in record time. By Friday evening it was all but finished, and early Saturday I was heading out the door to have a real 1940s themed photo shoot! (Inspired by the vintage pictures above, I think I finally managed to achieve a 1940s hairstyle, too!)
For quite some time I had thought that WWII era airplanes would be a great backdrop for a 1940s dress, so it was so fun to get these pictures taken. : ) I’ll give a review of the pattern in a minute, but first I’d like to talk about the fabric.
This black silk charmeuse was given to me when I was sixteen years old, and I’ve been saving it in my stash for the last seven years. It has a lustrous feel and almost iridescent finish, and was purchased at a silk market in the Middle East before finding its way into my fabric collection. Ever since then I’ve been saving it for something 1940s, which is interesting because when I first received this fabric I’d never sewn anything besides modern clothing!
So now about the pattern! Simplicity 1777 was a teriffic design to work with, and I love how they used a different order of construction than we use today. Many dresses from the 1940s were assembled with what we would think of as unusual techniques, but I think that’s what makes vintage sewing so much fun!
This dress makes you feel like you’re making a lot of fast progress, because you start out by doing all the fun shirring and pleats in the bodice and skirt front. Once the pleats are in, you assemble the entire dress front right off the bat!
This dress does have a lot of darts, with a total of twelve darts in the back and sleeves (not counting all the pleats in the front, of course).
Oh yes! And I almost forgot to mention that I managed to squeeze the pattern pieces into a mere two yards of fabric! For my size the pattern called for 2 7/8 yards, but this two yard piece was all I had so I knew I needed to make it work. At first it looked like a hopeless cause, but after lots of re-arranging and prayer, I barely crammed all the pattern pieces onto the yardage. It felt like quite an accomplishment!
The only changes I made to the pattern were shortening the sleeves (just so they would fit on the fabric!) and adding a couple inches to the skirt so it wasn’t above the knee.
While I definitely prefer wearing those over-the-top 1950s styles, I have recently taken a sincere liking to 1940s dresses! Not only do they require an insignificant amount of fabric to create, they also symbolize a poignant time in American history when we were fighting for freedom and the principles we’ve always held dear. When I hear “1940s”, I think of victory gardens, feedsack dresses, swing dances, good old-fashioned soda fountains, and young brides waving goodbye to their uniformed husbands who were heading off to war. You can almost feel how the women back then would have felt, when even though they weren’t actually fighting themselves, they were still helping America win the war by conserving fabrics, growing their own vegetables, and knitting socks for the boys off at war. But since I wrote a lengthy post last week on how much I love the 1940s, I’d better stop before I get too carried away!
One last thing I neglected to mention about the pattern is that has a wonderful center bodice panel that reminds me very much of the typical “World War II wedding dress” look! The general idea is that of princess seams, but as it gets closer to the waistline it tapers in quite a bit which looks so lovely with the ruching! I am definitely thinking that this bodice could be paired with a floor length skirt and fluttery sleeves for a stunning 1940s evening dress, or even a vintage wedding dress design!
So all in all, I highly recommend Simplicity 1777! I initially thought that it would only work with drapy fabrics, but the pattern envelope says you could use anything from crepe all the way to a shantung! I do believe I will be using this vintage pattern again in the near future, though I’ll probably omit the sleeve and add a more summery looking ruffle at the shoulders.
And since no one can be serious all the time, I had to be just a little silly…
On a more serious note, I am so thankful to be living in America. As we get closer to the Fourth of July, I can’t help but remember all the brave men who laid down their lives for our country. Like I shared last week, I would have loved to live in an old-fashioned 1940s sort of America! One would hardly recognize it as the same place if you had jumped from the “smalltown America” of WWII to our modern day nation where violence abounds, but I believe that God can change the situation if we ask Him! This Fourth of July, let’s remember what made this country great, and endeavor to live lives worthy of the people who died to save America.