Hello friends! It’s time to unveil this year’s Sew for Victory dress!
If you aren’t aware, Sew for Victory is a 1940’s sewing challenge hosted by the lovely Rochelle at Lucky Lucille.
This dress is a bit different than others that I have made as it honors my grandpa.
My grandpa was a decorated World War II fighter pilot in the European theatre based in England (Rivenhall, Kent and Staplehurst, Essex) who was shot down during his 43rd combat mission over Bazougers, France. He and his plane were hidden by the local townspeople until he was captured by the Nazi’s and forced to walk across Germany before being interred in thirteen different prison camps, among them the infamous Stalag Luft III (site of The Great Escape) in Poland. He was liberated in May 1945 from Stalag 7A in Moosburg, Germany (“Kriegsgefangenen- Mannschafts Stammlager VIIA”). My grandpa went on to serve in the Korean War, was adviser to the Spanish Air Force in Madrid, Commander of the Venezuelan Air Force, and retired to our ranch in California in 1969.
It’s difficult to honor my grandpa in a few small snippets on a blog post, but hopefully I did him justice. I have been working on a long and arduous project of scanning the thousands of photos he has from WWII. Before he passed on in January 2011 after a long battle with cancer, he would sit me with me and tell me about the people and places in his photos. I was lucky enough to have those memories of his and document them and to have those times that I shared with my grandpa. I was his only grandchild and very close to him. I was fortunate that I lived next door to him and grew up with him and that I was able to see him almost every day until I went away to college. In his later years I returned home to our ranch and was there to take care of him until he went off on his last mission to fly in Heaven. Someday, I will finish gathering up my research and photos and truly honor him with a biography of his amazing life.
And now I bring to you my “Grandpa Dress”, in honor of my grandfather, Lt. Col. Arthur M. Mimler.
The pattern I used is the Wearing History “Palisades,”, a 1940’s wrap dress.
The fabric I used is a quilting fabric from the Freedom Collection by Windham Fabrics. It’s a vintage patriotic print with old posters from the armed forces. I bought mine from eQuilter.com for $10.75/yd. The moment I saw this fabric I knew that it was perfect for my Grandpa Dress. It has fighter pilots and WWII themes and you can’t get more patriotic than that. This fabric does have some WWI and Vietnam War photos on it as well, but it’s overwhelmingly WWII.
I actually just finished this dress yesterday…. yes, the Queen of last-minute sewing right here! I paired my patriotic fabric with red cotton broadcloth on the bretelles and sash and used white cotton batiste for the bodice lining.
This pattern went together well, but as far as the instructions go, it’s probably aimed more towards intermediate sewers and up. It’s based on a vintage pattern, but a bit easier than working with an original 1940’s dress pattern. I had hoped to wear this dress whilst doing tours and volunteering at our air museum as I believe it to be perfect for showing people around the museum’s collection of WWII aircraft, but being a wrap dress, I am not certain that it’s going to work. This dress wraps in the back, and I can just imagine a gust of wind blowing it up and showing off my chonies. If I do wear it, I will most certainly be wearing a slip and a camisole underneath to prevent some Marilyn moments. I honestly don’t know why I continue to want wrap dresses when there is always the chance of wardrobe malfunctions…. ah, I do not think I will ever live and learn! I originally had planned on using an original 1940’s pattern that I recently acquired, but I was uncertain of which to use and showed my husband both the Palisades and my 40’s Simplicity and he chose this one, so I guess I can blame it on him. 🙂
I do really love this dress and I know my grandpa would, too. My original plan was to take these photos in front of some WWII planes…. well…. the best laid plans of mice and men…. that’s what happens when you’re a last minute gal! This ol’ Dodge truck will have to suffice.
I found this P-51 pilot pendant at Hobby Lobby whilst meandering through the aisles and snapped it up as it reminds me of my grandpa. He would have got a kick out of the pilot hanging from the plane.
This is my grandpa’s original life vest from WWII when he was shot down over France during his last mission. When the townspeople of Bazougers found him, they buried it, along with his plane. My grandpa returned to Bazougers in 1997 and was honored by the town and one of the gifts he received was the return of his vest.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my grandpa and my garment homage to him.
And…. I don’t do vintage hair and makeup very often, so I had some fun with these selfies. 🙂
Happy vintage sewing,
- Dress: Wearing History Palisades dress in patriotic quilting cotton, made by me
- Shoes: LK Bennett
- Pendant: Hobby Lobby