When I recently acquired 3 yards of this baby blue cotton, the random little white triangles in the print reminded me of ship's flags, which naturally led me to think about sailor style dresses. There are a lot of variations on sailor style dresses, and I've never made one though I've admired many of them. They were very popular in the 1940s, along with other military influence fashions, because of general patriotism and support for the war effort. So it was easy for me to choose this decade as a good fit for my fabric.
The pattern I chose doesn't have a true sailor collar, so I'm not quite sure if this counts as a sailor dress, but it still definitely has that vibe. It was a simple shirtwaist pattern with a slightly blousey top and flared 4 piece skirt.
I did the collar and added sleeve bands from my trusty length of white linen (which sadly is running low!), then embroidered them with navy blue thread. Of course I didn't figure out the best method of embroidery until partway through the project, so one sleeve looks better than the other. (Maybe a hint I shouldn't be so impatient and do some trial embroidery on scraps first??)
Thankfully, the irregularity in the stitching doesn't show up at a distance, and the blue trim does add a nautical flair and interest to an otherwise basic dress.
I chose large navy buttons, thinking that way I could accent with either navy or white belt and accessories, and really like how they look. They are also much easier than smaller buttons to button and unbutton with one hand for nursing, so I will keep giant buttons in mind for more projects in the future.
I did not shorten the bodice on this pattern because when I laid it out, it already looked short. Sure enough, the waist still hits a half inch high - if I make this pattern again I will have to lengthen the bodice pieces, which never happens!
I also flatlined the bodice, so I can wear this dress with just a half slip. Which makes it comfortable for summer even with the light color that usually means layers.
I like the wearability of this dress. It's the best kind for a busy or warm day - just button up, add a belt, and go!
I accessorized with vintage navy suede heels, perfectly coordinating cute white gloves with navy stitching, and a straw hat with a navy velvet band which I've had for years. It goes with everything. I added the vintage millinery flowers and strip of veil a while ago and never removed them since they fit so well.
This was a very speedy project, and would have been even speedier if the embroidery hadn't taken an extra day to complete. Once again, I am really enjoying exploring the possibilities of basic dresses, and the fact that they are simple and quick to put together is also a bonus. The only fiddly part with this dress was figuring out where I wanted the collar to meet and the embroidery to end on it.
I would still like to make a proper sailor dress some day, with the right style of collar and added bands of contrast, but until then this one is close enough to suit me. And I like how very 1940s it looks!