Last Minute “Sew for Victory” Dress

I learned about the Sew for Victory ’40s Sewalong challenge really late in the game (this past Sunday), but I decided that I really wanted to try to complete a project for it.

I’m keeping this post really brief in order to meet the deadline, but I may add a separate post in the next few days with more details about the alterations I made to the pattern.

Anyway, here’s the dress.

I had my husband take pictures of me this time. As I'm sure you can tell by the angle of the photos, he's tall. I'll see if I can get out tomorrow to take a few photos with the tripod. That way you can see my shoes, too. :)
I had my husband take some real quick pictures of me this time. As I’m sure you’ll be able to tell by the angle of the photos, he’s tall. I’ll see if I can get out tomorrow to take a few photos with the tripod. That way you can see my shoes, too. πŸ™‚

This dress took a LONG time because I had to do a lot of hand-stitching. The covered buttons and belt added a significant amount of time to the project as well, but I would say it was time well spent. Since I had no time to spare, I opted not to do the bound buttonholes.

My pattern of choice was Simplicity 4036, pictured below.

Simplicity 4036

I spent quite a bit of time on pattern alterations because this pattern was a couple of sizes bigger than I usually use. I’m happy with the fit, but I should have made the bodice just the teeniest bit longer. I do have a very high waist, but the waist on this dress is just a smidge too high.

Too bad it was cloudy today, but at least it wasn't too cold outside
Too bad it was cloudy today, but at least it wasn’t too cold outside

For this project, I dug out a vintage light blue Chambray from my fabric stash. I bought it at one of my favorite thrift stores in the area last year for about $2. For the buttons and belt, I used some material left over from the blouse that I used to make my reconstructed outfit for the 4th of July last year (see this post).

I spent the better part of an afternoon making buttons and a belt
I spent the better part of an afternoon making buttons and a belt

The print on the material is little red cherries with navy and light blue stems.

Side view
Side view
The back
I took these photos between going to church and going to an Easter lunch at a friend’s house. So, unfortunately the dress wasn’t freshly pressed, but hey, at least you can tell I actually wear it.
Cloudy day pictures are not my friend. Apparently, I need to invest in some concealer; I have some real baggage under my peepers. I guess it just shows how much I put into the dress (I stayed up ’til 2 in the morning finishing up the hand-stitching so I could wear it to a sunrise service at 7 the same morning).

The dress has a patriotic feel to it. Now I have a dress I can wear for the 4th of July, if I’m so inclined.

I love the buttons on the pockets!
I love the buttons on the pockets!
I see many more self-made belts in my future
I see many more self-made belts in my future


All in all, this dress is a lot of fun, and it's one of my favorites to date.
All in all, this dress is a lot of fun, and it’s one of my favorites to date.

Happy Easter, everyone! We had a wonderful day of celebration with friends and family. I hope you had a blessed day.

Me and my husband with my in-laws πŸ™‚
  1. Lorelai (@lloralye)

    March 31, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    The fabric buttons and matching belt are adorable. I see it as a great 4th of July picnic dress!

    xoxo Lorelai
    Seams Unbiased

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Thanks! That’s exactly what I was thinking. πŸ™‚

  2. strugglesome

    April 1, 2013 at 12:28 am

    This is gorgeous! I love it, well done in no time at all!

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Thanks! It was down to the wire.

  3. Marie

    April 1, 2013 at 5:25 am

    Oh my gosh, this dress is lovely…with such pretty details! Excellent work, it looks so wearable too! And your hair’s looking incredible ;o)

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Thanks so much, Marie! I will definitely be wearing this dress a lot. It’s such an easy little day dress. Thanks for the compliment about my hair. I’ve been growing it out for what feels like forever, but it has been worth it. πŸ™‚

  4. ann at thevelvetaubergine

    April 1, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Another beautiful, beautiful job! Becca, have you seen Bomb Girls with Meg Tilly? I think you would get a kick out of the forties fashion.

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Thanks so much! I haven’t seen that film. I’ll have to have a look, for sure. Thanks for the suggestion. I do love watching period movies and TV shows just so I can observe the costumes. πŸ™‚

      1. ann at thevelvetaubergine

        April 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        That’s pretty much my approach too! They have some great stuff there. I don’t know who is doing the costumes, but I love them.

        1. Becca

          April 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

          Yeah, costume designing and sewing sure would be a fun job! πŸ™‚

  5. the Garment Farmer

    April 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    lovely job, your dress is darling!

  6. larakrjacobs

    April 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    This is stunning – I love the combination of chambray and covered buttons!

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Thanks so much! I was so excited to find that the cherry material went to so well with the chambray.

  7. SabineC

    April 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I already commented in the Flickr SFV group, but now that I can see the buttons and belt from close by, I just have to tell you again how wonderful they are! Beautifully done, and I love that tiny cherry print. It gives the dress a whole new dimension, makes it playful πŸ™‚

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Thank you so very much! The buttons and belt were a lot of work, so I appreciate you taking the time to tell me you like them. πŸ™‚

  8. Kait

    April 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I just found your blog and love it. I am usually afraid to go near 40s patterns because I don’t want to end up with an 80s power shoulder, but the ones you have done look so cute and modern!

    Do you use shoulder pads or cut down the bulk in the shoulders?

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Thank you! I totally understand that fear, but there are many 40s patterns that can be altered to avoid that look. I usually omit the shoulder pads, especially if there are already gathers or darts on the cap. I also typically have to subtract from the width of the shoulder seams (my shoulders are somewhat narrow) and reshape the armholes.

  9. Major Moma

    April 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    You look wonderful in this dress! Great job. ~Major Moma

  10. Handmade Jane

    April 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    What a beautiful dress, I absolutely love it! It looks beautifully made and the cherry covered buttons and belt are the perfect finishing touches. x

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Thank you! I’m so flattered that you like it! Everything you make is so gorgeous. πŸ™‚


    April 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Love this! The cherry buttons and belt are a nice touch πŸ™‚ And the fit is perfect! Can we also talk about your hair here? I’m getting serious hair envy right now.

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:50 am

      Thanks, Lauren! I’m envious of just about everything about you. Ha! So we’re even. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been growing it out for so long that I’ve been tempted to make a change. Your comment may have helped save my hair from getting the chop.

  12. gingermakes

    April 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Adorable! This looks great!!!!

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

  13. Sew for Victory–Simplicity 4036 Chambray Shirtwaist Dress

    April 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    […] If you’re interested, you can read more about it here. […]

  14. Ripple Dandelion

    April 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I just love your dress! It looks so darling on you!

  15. vintagelovingal

    April 1, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    This dress is SO adorable! You did such a great job!! I love the fabric choices, it’s such a perfect day dress.


    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Thank you! I agree it is such a great day dress pattern, and the material is so easy to wear. The dress will be in heavy circulation this spring.

  16. Debs

    April 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    You did a beautiful job, and on such short notice too..

    1. Becca

      April 2, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Thank you so very much!

  17. bonitavear

    April 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I love the way your dress turned out Becca! The fabric choices are perfect and it suits you to a t. Fabulous job!

    bonita of Depict This!

  18. Milena

    April 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Hey! Just got your comment on my dress, and discovered it’t the girl who’s dress I liked in the flickr group:) Funny. I love the buttons, and this shirt-dress style is a killer. also have one, and need to make many more, definitely. Nice meeting you, keep in touch.

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Haha! The Sew for Victory group has been such a fun group to be a part of. Thank you! Shirtwaist dresses are one of my favorite styles. Nice to “meet” you, too! πŸ™‚

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Thanks! πŸ™‚

  19. spinneretta

    April 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    It is beautiful- I love the buttons and belt especially!
    I always hate it when my pattern came out with the waist too high- I have started adding length to all the bodices πŸ˜‰

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Thanks! I’m actually quite short (not even an inch over 5 ft), but I went a bit overboard with my bodice shortening alterations. It’s rare that I end up with a bodice that is too short. πŸ™‚

  20. Jhulysdiary

    April 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Gorgeous dress!

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Thanks so much!

  21. Heather Feather

    April 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    That fabric is fantastic and I LOVE that pattern! You did such a great interpretation of it! It looks cute, fresh, and modern!
    Thanks for linking up!

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Thank you! With all of the alterations I made, I’ll probably be using the pattern again, at some point. It’s a nice day dress to have around.

  22. domestic bliss squared

    April 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Gorgeous! You look amazing in it too!

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:26 am

      Thank you!

  23. nettie

    April 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    This is stunning!! So perfectly neat and tidy!!
    I’m always SO impressed with such perfect buttonhole and button placement, lol!!

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Thank you! Haha! It can be really difficult to get the buttonhole and button placement right. Lots of measuring and marking and measuring again a few times. πŸ™‚ Even still, I’m usually never completely happy with any button-down items that I make.

  24. SeamstressErin

    April 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    The buttons and belt are wonderful! What a great touch!

  25. larakrjacobs

    April 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve just given you a Liebster Award as I love following and reading your blog Hope you don’t already have one, although if you do you can just fill up your blogging display cabinet more! Hope you can pass it on as well xxx

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Thank you so much! I’ll get a post up about this as soon as I can. πŸ™‚

  26. sorbetsurprise

    April 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I absolutely love your dress! The pattern is gorgeous and the self covered buttons and belt really make it.

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Thank you! I agree, the belt and buttons make it special.

  27. Bec

    April 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Its lovely, well done. Buttons are adorable:)

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Thank you! I agree. πŸ™‚

  28. Cari Homemaker

    April 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    So cute. I love those fabric buttons and belt.

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thank you!

  29. Elizabeth

    April 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I love this dress! The fabric you used for the buttons and belt is so cute too.

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thanks so much!

  30. DeniseAngela

    April 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Beautiful dress & love your details, the buttons & fabric I adore! Thanks for stopping by my blog with your lovely comment!

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Thank you, and thanks for stopping by my lil’ blog. πŸ™‚

  31. Justine

    April 7, 2013 at 1:07 am

    This dress is SO adorable on you and while being a vintage pattern looks still quite modern!

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Thank you, Justine. It’s interesting how some styles can be so timeless.

  32. Amy Mayen

    April 8, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Very wearable, awesome dress! I love the teeny tiny print for your buttons & belt.

    1. Becca

      April 8, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Thanks so much! It will definitely see a lot of wear this spring.

  33. photosarah

    April 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

    So cute (you and the dress)! I love the buttons, the fabric, all the details! I doesn’t look last minute at all.

    1. Becca

      April 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Aww, thanks! I just worked late into the night a couple of times. Who needs sleep, right?

  34. Justine

    April 13, 2013 at 12:21 am

    You are so adorable! Featuring your dress at Sew & Tell Saturday tomorrow!

    1. Becca

      April 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Thanks so much! I’m flattered that you would feature my dress. πŸ™‚

  35. Me-Made-May ’13 Week 4 | Creative Notions

    May 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    […] Dress and Belt: Sew for Victory ’40s dress […]

  36. KS

    September 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Where did you find the pattern? I’ve searched for it online, but it seems Simplicity re-used that number, so it’s no longer that 1940s style dress.

    1. Becca

      September 16, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Unfortunately, this was a pattern that I found during one of my thrift store/flea market rounds. I tried searching “1940s Simplicity 4036” and that turned up a listing of the pattern on Etsy, but it’s sold. πŸ™ You never know when it may pop up again somewhere, and there are probably similar patterns from the ’40s out there. If you can’t find something similar, I would be willing to share it with you. I don’t think that I would want to part with the pattern, so maybe I could lend it… πŸ˜‰

  37. Megan Parkinson

    July 21, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Hi Becca, I love this dress! You’ve made a really good job of it, and the buttons and belt are very cute! I am actually just putting a copy of this pattern for sale in my etsy shop and was wondering if I could use one of your photos and put a link to this blog page in my listing. I think it helps to see a vintage pattern actually made and being worn. And to be honest, I like the way your version looks a lot better than the pattern illustration!

    1. Becca

      July 23, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Hello, Megan. Yes, you can totally use my photograph in your listing. I really appreciate your asking.

      1. amaranthadesigns

        July 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        Thanks Becca! Much appreciated πŸ™‚

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