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February 17

My 1940’s Suit

I’ve long since wanted a vintage suit in my wardrobe, somehow stars aligned and I felt compelled to finally make one for my very own.

A 1940s Suit

This pattern I used is McCall’s 5094, a sweet little suit from 1943.


Looking back on my Etsy purchases, I bought this suit back in 2011 – if you can believe it!  I bought it because at the time I loved the spring suit look (view B) and knew it would look divine in a swingy rayon.

Instead, I made this up in view A, but I made my sleeves full-length.

A 1940s Suit

I knew that I would get much more wear out of this during the winter in long sleeves than I would in shorter ones.  I used a mid-weight wool crepe in a muted blue that I had in my stash.  I had intended this wool crepe to be used on a different dress, but oftentimes things get reallocated, and I had enough yardage in this one fabric to make both the top and the skirt.

A 1940s Suit

Besides my normal fitting adjustments on the bodice, one major modification I made was to the skirt.  The skirt is a very simple one, rectangles that are simply gathered at the waist – aka a dirndl skirt.  I cut out my fabric and basted in the waistband to check the fit with the bodice – it was awful!!  The skirt was so full at the waist with all of the gathers it looked like I was wearing a sac and the peplum stuck out at the oddest angle because of it.

I wish I had pictures to show you just how bad it was… Suffice it to say I took at least 6 inches (on the fold!) out of each skirt piece.  I nearly reduced the skirt fullness in half and it now looks much closer to the pattern envelope.  I could have gotten two skirts out of the original fabric pieces.

A 1940s Suit

It may have been an appropriate skirt if I was using a light weight fabric like a silk crepe de chine or a rayon – but in my wool crepe it was just too puffy-looking.

A 1940s Suit

This is one of my favorite makes of 2015, and really, it holds a place in my top 5 outfits I’ve made, of all time.  It’s not a garment that gets frequent use in my wardrobe, but I love it ohh soo much.  It’s one of those unique, chic pieces that I can now always turn to when I need something a cut above the rest or for work functions.

A 1940s Suit

I have a propensity to make all sewing projects more complicated than they need to be.  I purposefully wanted to keep this suit simple so that I could finish in time for a deadline (a presentation I was giving at work).  True to form, one thing led to another and I found myself adding lining to the bodice and making my own shoulder pads.

A 1940s Suit

Felix and I ventured out to the University of Chicago campus for these photos.  There’s wonderful architecture down there and I knew it would be a perfect backdrop to pair with this suit.

A 1940s Suit

While the University is extremely close, I haven’t made the time to walk around as much as I should – what with all of our house work and winter upon us.  So driving down to scout out cool locations for blog photos is a wonderful excuse for us to see more and more of campus.

A 1940s Suit

I don’t think I addressed it before but my hair – it’s now brown.  :D  I loved my pink hair and I kept it pink for a full 9 months.  But it was so much upkeep I couldn’t handle it anymore and I thought it was time for a change.  Do I miss my pink hair – Yes!  But I could only wash my hair ONCE a week in order to keep the pink from fading until my next 6 week refresh.  And I do love being blonde (my natural hair is an ash blonde) – but I wanted to try something different – and chestnut brown seemed like a nice change of pace.

A 1940s Suit

This is my first time setting my brown hair too.

A 1940s Suit

While nearly ever outfit I think “Gosh this would be even cuter with pink hair” I think the brown looks nice and rich.  Perhaps I’ll go blonde again in the summer months, but for now, the dark brown is continuing to grow on me.

A 1940s Suit

Happy Sewing you guys!

  1. Anneke Caramin / Feb 17 2016

    That suit looks amazing! As for the fading of brightly coloured hair, I feel your pain… I recently discovered Overtone conditioners and they work really well for me. The idea is that they touch up the color you lose with every wash, I just slap it on after my regular washing and conditioning. It’s hard to apply evenly but I kind of like that too since my blueish teal ends now have so much variation in color it almost looks natural :p

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Thanks Anneke. It seems I’m doing the same thing with my brown color. My salon lady gave me this foam tint that goes on after every wash (before my conditioner) and it adds a bit of color to every wash, essentially adding back what was lost in the shampoo. It seems to be working. Wish I could have gotten a pink one… ahh well. It was good while it lasted.

  2. Llynnda / Feb 17 2016

    I would never ever venture to make, much less wear your choice of patterns. BUT I have to say I really love the patterns,styles and fabrics you choose. Keep up the blog please, I love to see what you are up to. This is from a 72 year old who who also loved your pink hair.

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Thanks so much Llynnda – I definitely have a back-log of projects/makes to share on here. Hopefully I can continue to keep pace as spring rolls around (when more house projects will commence again).

  3. SeamstressErin / Feb 17 2016

    This suit is divine!! I had hoped that this winter I would finally sew myself a suit, but I have zero need for a suit while pregnant, so perhaps next winter. Yours is definitely an inspiration to try out a 40’s pattern. I love it!

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Lol – Unless you’re planning on being pregnant with many more little ones it would be hard to justify making something as time consuming as a suit (or a coat). Thanks so much Erin, hopefully you’ll be able to make one next winter.

  4. Breenah / Feb 17 2016

    The dark brown looks great on you and helps this look even more era-appropriate. I feel like you could easily go help Agent Carter any minute now :)

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Aww best compliment ever. :D I’m (im)patiently waiting for Agent Carter to come to Netflix.

  5. Tasha / Feb 17 2016

    I loved your pink but I love brown on you too, all colors suit you great! If you ever do go back to pink, I HIGHLY recommend Overtone color-depositing conditioners (they have 3 intensities of pink), omg what a difference it’s made in my ability to keep up red/orange without wanting to get stabby. Like, 500% better. And you don’t even have to rinse with cold water. (GAH.)

    Now that hair is out of the way… I LOVE your suit, and it’s perfect on you! Gorgeous color, too. I feel like I’ve either seen this pattern of yours or others with that ruching down the front and I always wondered what it would look like on an actual body, not just a pattern envelope, you know? Well the answer is: beautiful. :) Congrats on a great suit!

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Thanks Tasha. WouldaShouldaCoulda on that Overtone. :( I guess I should have blogged about my pink woes a lot sooner and I would have found out… waaaahhh Ahh well, I’m rockin the brown now.

      Oh yes – I’m very short waisted so I wasn’t sure if the gathers were going to work on me either. Luckily the muslin was just right – only needed a few minor tweaks.

  6. K-Line / Feb 17 2016

    OMG – this suit is just gorgeous! And I know what goes into making a suit, so kudos. And you look so seriously 1942 in that black and white photo. I’d totally believe it was from the 40s if I didn’t know you.

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Thanks so much Kristin, that’s such a great compliment. :D I wanted to have all the photos B&W but I couldn’t bring myself to do it; I love that blue too much.

  7. Linda / Feb 17 2016

    What a lovely suit! You’ve made a great job of it too, lovely colour and drape of fabric, looks fabulous! I love your location too:)

  8. Michele / Feb 17 2016

    I can understand why you love that suit so much, you did an amazing job making it and it looks fantastic on you. I love that blue colour against your hair. Your pictures are amazing. Cheers, Michele

  9. SC / Feb 17 2016

    Your suit is STUNNING and I love the new hair color too.

  10. Michelle / Feb 17 2016

    I love this suit! It reminds me so much of something Kate Hepburn would have worn in Adam’s Rib. A sassy suit is on my list of ‘someday’ projects. :-D

    • Liz / Feb 17 2016

      Thanks Michelle. I still need to see that one – I have it in my Hepburn/Tracy collection but haven’t gotten there yet.

  11. Marie / Feb 17 2016

    Gobsmackingly stunning…the suit, the hair and your good self :o)

  12. Sonja / Feb 17 2016

    Wowza! What a beautiful, unique suit! It really looks great on you! I like your new color, too- there’s something nice about going with a deeper, richer color in the winter. I’ve been thinking about a similar color, but truth be told, I’m so awful with color upkeep that I probably shouldn’t do it. You’re tempting me, though!

  13. Cari / Feb 17 2016

    Wow I love this suit. That blue color is perfect for the era too.

  14. Akram Taghavi-Burris / Feb 17 2016

    Liz this suit is beautiful. I have a similar vintage Simplicity pattern that I’ve been wanting to make. After seeing our fantastic make I’m going to have to dig though my patterns to find it and make it. Thanks for sharing this awesome outfit.

  15. Elena Knits / Feb 18 2016

    This suit looks so classy! I’d love to make one for myself but the occasions to wear it would be none, so I’ll just admire yours :)

  16. Lisette / Feb 18 2016

    You look like a 40s movie starlet! I’ve always wanted to make a 1940s suit. How long did it take you?

    • Liz / Feb 18 2016

      Hmmm… I was sewing with a deadline on this one. I think I got it done in like a week or so (probably plus one weekend day). That being said, I’m a slow stitcher and that’s all I did in the evening for the whole week.

      I didn’t add in any tailoring on it – I tried to keep it simple. But I did construct my own lining for it and hand stitched all of that down.

  17. Norma / Feb 18 2016

    Fabulous suit! I just love looking at it. Hope I do as well with my 1930s dress.

  18. Melissa / Feb 19 2016

    The suit is perfect in every way!
    I love your new hair color. Mine is naturally medium brown, but has gotten to be dark brown over the years due to dye accumulation. After seeing your hair, I’m inspired to go chestnut. Thanks to all who recommended Overtone. I might give that a try also.

  19. bonita / Mar 3 2016

    I adore the powdered blue colour of the fabric and the pleating detail on your jacket is so lovely! It’s a quintessential 40s look, and it suits you so well; particularly with your new hair colour! :) ?

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  20. nanna / Jun 1 2016

    Woaw Liz that is a fantastic suit, you look great
    Br Nanna

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