Akram's Ideas
Akram's Ideas: Sew for Victory Dress

Sew For Victory Dress – Vintage Simplicity 1649

Back at the end of March I made mention of the Sew for Victory, sew along, being hosted by Rochelle, of Lucky Lucille. The idea behind the sew along is that everyone participating would sew a 1940’s or 1940’s inspired pattern, for the month of April. 

Early on I had a plan of action. Having collected many 1940 patterns recently, I had a few choices but decided to go with a 1946 Simplicity pattern 1649.

Akram's Ideas : Simplicity 1649
1946 Simplicity pattern 1649

My plan was to sew version 2. I liked the short sleeves and the pockets. I felt like the style of the dress was simple and fun to use as a day dress; something to wear around the house for sewing and the like.

Originally I was going to make the dress in a pink flower fabric. However, after going though my fabric stash a second time I found a fabric rather similar to the one on the pattern.

I didn’t actually have enough of the pink and white stripe material to do the whole dress, but just enough for the main part. I also found that I had some solid pink fabric that was a good match to the pink stripe in the my selected fabric that could be used for contrasting parts, such as the collar and facing.

Akram's Ideas: Sew for Victory fabric
Pink and white stripe fabric, paired with a complementary pink fabric and pink buttons.

With the pattern and fabric all planed out it was time to get started on the project. Sadly though, April is a very busy month, being the end of the spring semester. This means I would be busy with students’ final exams and projects. Therefore I didn’t even really start this project until April 26. That left me about a week to work on the dress, though most of that time I would be at work and could only work on the dress in the evening, I wasn’t sure if I’d meet the April 30th deadline.

Nevertheless, I began with grading the pattern. The pattern I had was for a 36 bust, but I needed a 38 bust, so I used the Pattern Grading 101 tutorial from Elegant Musings, to adjust the size.

I had to grade both the bodice and the skirt waist. Since I prefer a higher waistline on my dresses, I shorted my bodice length.

Akram's Ideas: Pattern Grading
Here you can see my bodice grading, along with my placement of the pattern and pattern instructions.

By the end of the first day I had traced and graded my pattern, cut out all the pieces. Doesn’t seem like a lot but it did take quite a long time.

The following day I managed to sew together the bodice  sides and skirt sides.

Akram's Ideas: Bodice pieces
Bodice pieces sewn together

Lately I’ve been favoring the use of a French seam, because of how clean it looks on the inside. However, because of the time crunch and for more authenticity, I decided to use my new pinking shears to pink the seams. This saved a lot of time and looked fairly well.

Akram's Ideas: Pinking seams
Example of my pinked seams

Since I had to work on Monday, I didn’t get to work on the dress until that evening after work. I did however managed to sew the collar and facing to the bodice.

Because I was short on main fabric I opted to use the pink on the collar, I thought that would be the best place for contrast and was really happy how it came out.

Akram's Ideas: Collar Facing
The collar facing attached to the bodice.

While I was pinking the seams I decided last minute to French seam the skirt to the bodice, just so the waist seam would set a little flatter, at least that was my thought.

When attaching the bodice to the skirt, there seamed to be a bit more bodice than skirt, so I had to ease it in.

Akram's Ideas: bodice and skirt
The bodice sewn to the skirt

At this point I had two evenings left to work on the dress, but because of late work nights I thought there was no way I would finish the April 30th deadline. Then Rochelle announced that she extended the deadline to May 5th. Yes! Just enough time for me to finish the dress.

Thursday evening I worked the sleeves. One of the things I really liked about the pattern was the contrasting direction of stripes on the sleeves and pockets, and really wanted to keep that feature. However, because of my limited fabric I had to cut the sleeves in pieces. I managed to make these spliced together pieces meet at the under arm of the sleeve so you can’t even tell that the sleeve wasn’t cut as one piece.

Akram's Ideas: Sleeve Pieces
Limited fabric required the sleeve be cut in multiple pieces at the under arm.

I suspect that the sleeves on the original pattern are a bit on the baggy side. However, since I have what we call Oklahoma arms, and sleeves always tend to be a bit small for me, I decided to grade the sleeve as I did the bodice. Also I had to accommodate the 1/2″ seam on the sleeve pieces to get it all attached. I must have over compensated because the sleeve was much larger than the sleeve hole.

After trying to ease in the sleeve, I finally gave up and decided to gather the top half of the sleeve, then attach it. While it’s not like the original pattern, I rather like the somewhat 50’s look of the sleeve.

Akram's Ideas: Sleeve
Sleeve gathered at top

With the sleeves done now all was left was to add the buttons and pockets. When I got ready to add the buttons I discovered I didn’t have enough matching pink buttons in my button stash. This meant that I had to go buy some. I was hoping to find a nice vintage set of buttons, and I needed 12. So, I waited till Saturday (May 3) to hit all the area antique stores in search of buttons.

While I did manage to find a few pink buttons, I finally found a home run at store number 5. I bought a darker pink button, close to the contrasting fabric color. They were a $1 for 10 buttons, so I bought 2 packs for a total of 20 buttons. The following morning I added the buttons and buttonholes.

Akram's Ideas:  Vintage Pink Buttons
Vintage pink buttons attached

The last thing to do was to add the pockets. The dress fabric was a bit thin, and while there was no mention of a facing for the pockets I decided to line the pockets, with the contrasting pink fabric.

The pockets also doubled as a belt loop, with an accent fold. I really liked this whimsical feature and I wanted to keep the striped fabric on the fold. This meant I had to sandwich the stripe fabric, pink contrast and just enough remaining strip fabric at the fold to create the pocket.

To avoid any harsh seams I decided to sew the pieces together with outsides facing and then turn the whole pocket. This proved to be a bit of a challenge, because some how I stacked the fabric pieces wrong, and when turned I ended up with two right pockets.

I had to redo one of the pockets 3 times before I realized what I was doing wrong and managed to get a left pocket out of it.

I added the pockets to the dress, by topstitching them in place.

Akram's Ideas: Completed pockets
Completed and lined pockets

With the pockets finally sorted I was done with the dress, late Sunday evening. All that was left was to take proper pictures of me in the dress.

So early Monday (May 5 and the sew along deadline) I managed to try on the completed dress and take pictures.

Akram's Ideas: Sew for Victory Dress
Completed Sew for Victory dress

With the belt loops the dressed needed to be worn with a belt and I had the prefect one. It just so happens I had gotten a pink heart belt on clearance last year and it was a prefect fit for this dress.

Akram's Ideas: Heart Belt
Pink heart belt paired with dress

The last addition to the dress was a vintage broach I came across while antiquing for buttons. These little birds were not only adorable but just the right colors for the dress.

Akram's Ideas: Vintage bird broach
Vintage bird broach

A few minor issues I have with the dress is that the bodice is a bit on the baggy side. Not much but I can tell. I assume the original dress has a loose fit, so with the grading I think it made it baggier. Other than that I really love this dress.

It’s has a loose fit and it’s very comfy in the soft cotton fabric I used. I also kind of feel it has a more 50’s look, coming from the gathered sleeves. I was also told that the color/fabric kind of looks like a candy striper uniform, but I can’t help but love it. Overall it’s just beautiful and I love everything about it!

Akram's Ideas: Sew for Victory Dress
I love my Sew for Victory dress

In the end I think I did a good job for my first sew along, short time frame and only having really learned to sew about a year ago or so.

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Akram Taghavi-Burris

designer, writer, educator, tech nerd, crafter, baker, sewer and vintage collector, who Brings Creative & Crazy Ides to Life.

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