1940s lingerie

It’s been a very long time since I posted anything on here (or on my own blog for that matter) but I have several projects from the last few months that I’m working on getting photographed and posted.

One of my favorite (and most recent) projects from the past few months is this 1943 nightgown in black silk, trimmed with silk ribbon bows.

I bought this fabric some time ago with plans to make a pair of 1920s/30s combinations, but the company I ordered it from accidentally sent me twice the yardage that I ordered (at no extra charge) so I had to reassess my plans for it. At some point in the last couple of years I came across an original copy of McCall’s 5441. The yardage required was just under what I had of this printed silk, so I decided to make myself a snazzy nightgown for lounging around the house while I grade papers and do laundry, because even those mundane activities deserve a little bit of fabulous, right?

Couldn’t help sneaking a my darling Bruce into the picture as well.

It was a very quick pattern to put together. I had the whole thing finished in a day, more or less. It did take me much longer to decide which color ribbon to use to trim the shoulders, but I got it figured out the next day with a little input from my main squeeze. He turned out to be a pretty good color chooser.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Please excuse all the wrinkles. Having just moved everything has been in and out of boxes and bags and I haven’t had a chance to iron anything as I’m still trying to just get things organized. I decided it was more important to get pictures taken than to make sure everything was wrinkle and crease free. The nightgown is ankle length, with a rolled hem at the bottom and the armholes. The neckline is faced front and back and hand stitched. I will admit, I didn’t get the shoulder straps lined up perfectly with the inverted pleats on the bodice fronts, so the bows were partly to camouflage my minor mistakes, but everything is better with bows anyway. It took me forever to decide what color ribbons to use, but my sweet Mr. S. decided the lavender and copper were the best of the bunch and asked why I couldn’t use both. Good question. Both it is then. I think he did well.

Other than the gentle shaping in the pattern pieces themselves, the inverted pleats at top and bottom in the bodice fronts and the self-fabric waist ties are the only real shaping to the nightgown, which keep it looking just tailored enough while still being very comfortable. The silk itself is a dream where comfort is concerned as well. It’s so soft and feels light as air since it’s such thin fabric.

As far as the pattern itself goes, as I said it was a very easy pattern to put together, and while you may or may not be able to get hold of an original copy, Evadress has it available as a reprint in multiple sizes. I haven’t used the jacket pattern yet, but I’m sure it’s not too much more complicated than the gown. Being silk, it took a lot of pinning, but the pieces fit beautifully and the construction was very straightforward. The waist seam is top-stitched, I hemmed the armholes and bottom with my rolled hemmer on my Featherweight, and did all other finishing by hand. As the copy I have is a size 12 (just a tad too small for me) I added a little at the side seams, but this was done very easily without requiring any alterations to the pattern pieces themselves. I think this pattern would work up really well in a very light cotton as well, for something a little more practical perhaps.

The nightgown didn’t use up all of my fabric, however, so I had to find something else to make and decided to try out the Pauline bra pattern I’d had sitting around for months. I was, as usual, impatient and didn’t make a muslin, but it turned out pretty well for a first run through.

I ended up with a little bit of wrinkling in the left side of the bias band, but other than that I didn’t really have any issues. The top edges are faced with a bias strip and hand stitched, and I made a matching bow from the silk ribbon I used on the nightgown to trim the center front. I used the findings I had cut from an old bra to finish the closure and straps. I really could have taken a tad out of the center back to accommodate the bra hooks, but it still fits pretty well, while perhaps not quite as snugly as I would like. This may also simply be a function of the fact that I generally wear much more structured bras. It’s really comfortable all in all though, and great for hanging around the house when I don’t want all the extra elastic and wires. I generally wear a 32C and this fit pretty well straight from the pattern, which says it is for a 34 inch bust.

I still have some of this silk left, even after the nightgown and bra, so I’m going to make myself a pair of silk knickers (with bows also of course) to use up the last of the scraps. Hopefully I’ll have those together in the next couple of weeks so I can get them on here as well.

 

• Meet the Author • Evie


I'm a spanish teaching, classic movie loving, fabric hoarding, yarn coveting, chicken keeping bibliophile, and mother to a beautiful, wild little boy, with too many projects and nowhere near enough time to finish them all. Sewing and knitting are what help keep me sane.


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8 comments… add one

  • Oh, it’s beautiful! I have the same pattern but only just realized the bodice for the gown is missing, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to whip it up myself—the design is simple, but oh-so pretty.

    Beautiful fabric choice, too. It’s really elegant!

    Reply
  • How lovely! What a great job you did! Looks like you will have comfort and style!

    Reply
  • Love it!

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  • Wow that nightdress is beautiful, but it is far too beautiful for just lounging around the house, I think you need to have a glamorous pj party with cocktails to show it off!

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    • Sarah, I think that is an excellent idea!

      Reply
  • Excellent website, you’ve done a good work here.
    retro darling

    Reply
  • Just beautiful! I hope you eventually the knickers made to match?

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    • Jeanne, I did finally get the knickers finished. No pictures of the finished product, but they are a pair of side-tie panties with four rows of ruffles and a self-fabric bow on the back. Completely practical ;)

      Reply

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