Tuesday, January 23, 2018

title pic A 1940s Christmas Swing Dress

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 9, 2012

 In this week’s installment of the “Christmas dress parade”, I’m going to show you an olive green 1940s dress which I wore yesterday while touring a vintage airplane museum, a historic house, and Fort Vancouver’s Christmas festivities!  I realize that this dress is not quite as vibrant as the red and green outfits I’ve been showing you the last couple of weeks, but I promise to share some much more intricate Victorian Christmas gowns with you soon!


This 1940s dress was made from the Swing Dress pattern by Sense & Sensibility which became well-known through Casey’s Swing Dress Sew-Along in early 2011.  At the time I was much too busy with sewing projects to participate in the sew-along, but I had a blast sewing it by myself this fall.


The Swing Dress pattern features a wide curved waist panel that joins the gathered bodice to the skirt, and I love the dropped shoulder and gored skirt details!  This is a really excellent pattern for seamstresses who are tired of “predictable patterns” – you know, “sew shoulder seams, sew side seams, insert sleeves, sew all skirt pieces together, attach skirt to bodice, and hem the skirt and sleeves”.  On the contrary, the many vintage sewing techniques make this dress soooo fun to assemble.  When I was putting together the collar and upper bodice pieces, I was thinking to myself, “One person should not be allowed to have so much fun sewing!”  All the little detailed steps it takes to assemble the first part of the dress are really a joy to sew.


As the pattern instructions say, you definitely need to shorten the upper bodice pieces unless you are very long-waisted.  In all the versions I’ve seen of this dress, I would have to admit that a lot of women probably don’t shorten their bodices quite enough, and that’s a very important step to having your dress fit you properly.


In regards to the fabric, I used an olive green faille which looks so much like a 1940s rayon material.  I think the color is a bit more drab than what I’m familiar with wearing, but this shade of green lends a definite military/WWII feel to the dress which is quite appropriate for the decade.


I had a most enjoyable time touring the Pearson Air Museum, and the staff were so inviting and helpful!  The enthusiastic museum director kindly offered to let us get closer to the planes, and insisted that I stand right up next to an antique WWII aircraft.  Unfortunately my knowledge of airplanes is not as large as the rest of my family, so I’m not entirely sure what these planes are called… 


It’s kind of silly that since my family has been gun-hoe for vintage aircraft since I was a little girl, I still haven’t picked up on many of the models and names.  In my lifetime I’ve spent hours upon hours of time at the Evergreen Aviation Museum (Oregon), Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (D.C.), Udvar Hazy Museum (Northern Virginia), WAAAM (Oregon), Museum of Flight (Seattle), not to mention the Johnson Space Center (Houston), so you’d think I would be a little more aircraft-savvy! 


 But unfortunately I can’t recognize too many planes besides the Sopwith Camel, the Wright Flyer, and um… well maybe the Spruce Goose. :)  I guess I save all my memorization skills for costumes and historical clothing!  But I do sincerely love touring airplane museums, and I LOVE the history at them!!  At the Pearson Air Museum yesterday, I learned that aviation greats such as Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle(!), and Jackie Cochran all flew through this air base.  If you are into aircraft history at all, you should definitely put this on your list of places to see!


Oh yes, and lest I forget, I found these shoes I’m wearing at the outlet mall in a Naturalizer shoe store.  But as soon as I saw them, I thought, “1940s!”.  They are remarkably comfortable to walk in, and they even felt fine when I danced in them, too.


Speaking of dancing, there was a big historical dance event that was going on inside Fort Vancouver yesterday.  And since I agree wholeheartedly with Frank Churchhill of Jane Austen’s Emma, (“There are simply not enough opportunities to dance!”), I decided to partake in the experiment myself.  It was almost an entirely successful experiment, although when you’re doing a dance that you’ve never learned before you are sure to have a few squashed toes afterwards.  :)  I have been dancing since I was a teeny-tiny little thing, and if there was one thing I learned in ballet it was to pick up a dance rather quickly.  So I had SO MUCH FUN!!!  I can’t tell you exactly what this dance was called, but it was some sort of folk/round dance that would have been popular in the mid-1800s.

So I will go ahead and share some pictures of the dance yesterday, but please be aware that these are “in action” shots which were taken during lots of twirling and jumping!  Also note that in addition to the costumed volunteers at the Fort, you also see a mixture of modern-clothed tourists.  And then there’s me in my brown 1950s coat dress. :)   You can click on the photo for a larger view.


The live fiddlers made the room quite crowded, but boy was it fun!

So that’s what I did this weekend, and I hope you all are having a happy holiday season!  I’m looking forward to sharing some more ornate Christmas projects with you soon.

Happy sewing!