There’s a War On: Weldons So-Easy Patterns

January 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

Bomb with lipstick kiss in Bomb Girls' munitions factory - Jumping Tracks

Bomb Girls is back. For me, much of the show’s interest lies in its portrayal of women’s wartime fashions, both on and off the factory floor. One line of sewing patterns that I associate specifically with the Second World War is Weldons So-Easy patterns.

1940s Weldons So-Easy 34 - English coat pattern

Weldons So-Easy 34 (c. 1940) Two smart coats. Image via Vera Venus.

Founded in 1879, Weldon’s was England’s first major pattern company. The So-Easy line seems to have been introduced during World War 2. Weldons So-Easy patterns included a range of designs, from day wear to toys; the earlier women’s So-Easy designs tended to be available in only three sizes.

So-Easy patterns don’t bear copyright dates, but some include the war rationing notice, “Professional dressmakers are reminded that they must comply with the Making of Civilian Clothing (Restriction) Orders.” These measures were passed in 1942-43. (For the text and discussion see Cargo Cult Craft’s posts.) According to U.K. vintage dealer Tracy of Wickedlady Collectables, Weldons did not promote So-Easy patterns in their magazine, but the mention of purchase tax, introduced in late 1940, can also help with dating.

One thing that distinguishes wartime So-Easy patterns is their pinup-style illustrations straight out of Mrs Henderson Presents. Here is a selection of World War 2 Weldons So-Easy patterns, with an emphasis on lingerie.

This ‘Pretty Undies’ set includes a brassiere, full slip, and knickers with pointed yoke:

1940s British lingerie pattern, Weldons So-Easy 50

Weldons So-Easy 50 (c. 1942) Pretty undies. Image via Vintage British Style.

These ‘Slim Line Undies’—a full slip and knickers—are held in the National Trust Collections:

1940s British lingerie pattern for slips and knickers, Weldons So-Easy 64

Weldons So-Easy 64 (c. 1942) Slim-line undies. Image via eBay.

These ‘Simple Undies’ include a nightgown and slip with seam interest:

Weldons So-Easy 72 (c. 1942) Simple undies. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This pattern includes a bra and knickers in two styles, French and Directoire (bloomers), the last with interesting details:

Weldons So-Easy 85

Weldons So-Easy 85 (c. 1942) Brassière and two knickers.

This two-piece bathing suit with skirt was available in four sizes:

Weldons So-Easy 154

Weldons So-Easy 154 (c. 1943) Two-piece bathing suit and skirt. Image via eBay.

My personal favourite must be the Two-Way Siren Suit, an air raid coverall with options for a hood and gathered ankles:

Weldons So-Easy 19 (c. 1940) Two-way siren suit. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

For fans of Bomb Girls, which films in the Toronto area, it’s possible to visit some of the locations for the show. Victory Munitions and other sets were built in an old furniture factory in Etobicoke, while street scenes were shot in Hamilton. The Witham mansion is Oshawa’s Parkwood estate, the former home of General Motors founder R.S. McLaughlin. (Read an interview with the cinematographer here; download production notes here.)

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