Monday, July 26, 2010

Patchwork Dress - WWII Era

Here is a recent very interesting find from an antique shop in Sisters, Oregon.

At first I thought it was a wrapper but on closer inspection discovered it was a dress for it actually has to go on over your head. It has a metal zipper on the left side to facilitate this.

The interfacing of the neckline contains the following numeric and alpha symbols " 011-Allen P."

It doesn't strike me as a summer dress. The dress is fully lined in flannel! Well, actually, the flannel is used as the "ground" of the patchwork. But this alone makes it an extra warm dress.

Upon first inspection, I dated the fabrics late 30s to early 40s.

Upon closer inspection, I found a fabric scrap bearing a military insignia on both the front and the back of the dress. That - and the way the shoulder detail is handled - made me think of the WWII era.

Sorry the photo is slightly out of focus but this shot gives you a good look at how the waist is handled.

The waist has the look of a cumber bund on the front and can be tied tightly to some degree, but it is not a draw-string.

It is a bit too loose for me to fit my taste but that made it easy to get on and off.

I was really quite pleased to find this garment, especially since I had just finished reading *Sue Reich's book about WWII era quilts and military insignias.

(Click on photos to enlarge.) One of the quilts from my collection is in Sue's book.

If you look on pages 122 and 123 of Sue's book you will see two different quilts made from insignia patches from a sailors uniform. The "ranking" on these Navy patches on both quilts range from one to three stripes.

The Navy insignia that appears in the fabric in this dress has 2 stripes. The graphic under the eagle, however, is neither two crossed flags or two crossed keys as seen is Sue's book. Instead, it looks like an X with a tiny dot on each of the spokes of the X, rather resembling a lug wrench.

(full view of back of dress)

Have you made any patchwork clothing yourself? I'll share some of my mother-in-law's work in another post.

Meanwhile, keep those needles flying or those fingers recording the history!


PS: My 1941-42 Navy Signature Quilt is included in Sue's book. To see a complete list of all 250+ names posted on line in the Quilt Index Signature Quilt Project click here.

*To contact Sue Reich about WWII quilts, click here.


  1. Girlfriend,

    You find the neatest things! I'm glad you shared it with us.

    Lisa P in Ohio

  2. Model,

    Most interesting dress, enjoyed seeing it and you modeling it.
    Pat in San Diego

  3. This is lovely! I was in Sisters for quilt week too, but missed this great find.

  4. What a unique find!! And you look quite good in it:)

  5. Thank you for all your comments! I love to share my "finds".

  6. Jill Kane from the British Quilt Textile History List emailed:

    “It brings to mind the patchwork skirt, which Birgit posted a picture of, with other Danish patchwork clothes. It reminds me of the style of late 40s/early 1950s dresses, but does look like a housecoat. I've never seen military insignia fabric like that in your dress. Has anyone seen similar fabric in the U.K.? …the inked marking reminds me of the way personal items are marked for schools, camps, hospitals etc. They often have the dorm. or room number before the owner's name. I have several items of late 19th/early 20th century underwear that were made at a boarding school and are marked in just such a way.”

  7. Rachel Nichols from the same BQTHL list emailed: “Even on 1980's my son's clothing was marked with his surname and initial and then had the initial of his school "house". I always assumed for laundry and lost clothing purposes!”

  8. Karen, I wonder if the X on the military fabric could be crossed rifles? I'll try to look at some of Tim's books. Great to see the pictures of you!

  9. Hi Barb, good to hear from you. I bet they could be crossed rifles. Have you seen Sue Reich's book yet on WWII quilts? It would be a great library book for the Reston QU library.