vintage may: inspired by rosie the riveter

we’re back with week 2 of vintage may!  last week, Jess and i launched this year’s festivities with a joint photoshoot with our little gals, and today, we both decided it’d be fun to sew vintage-inspired looks for ourselves!

i decided to sew a look inspired by the female propaganda icon of World War II, Rosie the Riveter.

rosie the riveter inspired

Rosie” was the face of a government campaign to bring women to the workforce to take on jobs traditionally done by men while they were away at war – especially in munitions and aviation factories.  it portrayed factory work as patriotic, and Rosie has since been adopted as a symbol of women’s strength and feminism.  i can get behind that!  the expectation was that women would return to their former jobs/lives after the war, but the symbol of Rosie lived on, as women realized they could do work traditionally done by men and they could do it well!

in doing the research for this post i saw that the “we can do it” poster commonly associated with Rosie the Riveter isn’t actually supposed to depict her which is a bit confusing, so hey, let’s talk about the clothes.


rosie the riveter inspired

i wanted to make an outfit that nodded to Rosie’s traditional blues, but could be worn as present-day wardrobe staples as well.  i used Grainline Patterns to create both the shirt and the shorts.  it was the first time i’d used Grainline garment patterns (i sewed a Portside Duffle around Christmas) and i’m totally in love with these clothes!  i keep finding excuses to wear them!  i’m now a Grainline groupie!

rosie the riveter inspired

the shirt is the Archer, sewn in a navy swiss dot from Mill End.  i sewed a size 8 straight up and it fits great.  it’s flattering and easy to wear and i love wearing it.  i actually used the Archer sew along on the Grainline website as my instructions – the one thing i noticed with Grainline is the actual pattern instructions are pretty bare bones, but Jen does a great job of posting photo sewalongs on her website that even include Wes Anderson-style videos for the trickier parts.  love that.

rosie the riveter inspired

a button down shirt is the kind of garment where taking your time on the details really pays off and it can be intimidating; but the result is just so great it was worth the time and effort for sure.


aaaaand since i’m not quite back to my normal shape around the midsection and need to be able to nurse a baby on a moment’s notice, it’s a perfect wardrobe staple for me right now.  i definitely need more Archers in my closet!

rosie the riveter inspired

now the shorts!  they are the Maritime Shorts, also by Grainline, also in an 8 with no modifications.  and again, there is a sewalong, which i used as my instructions and loved (especially since i got stuck on step 1 – be sure to snip into your seam allowance BEFORE you try to match those curves up!).  this was my first time inserting a zip fly and though i have no photos of it finished, it went in great!  like a dream!  new technique mastered.

rosie the riveter inspired

i’ve actually been struggling with finding good shorts most of my adult life – i don’t want to look like a teenager but i don’t want knee-length either, and most of the shorts i go try on are either too short/tight or too long/matronly.  i love how these fit.  maybe i’d add a tiny amount of length next time but they’re not uncomfortably short for me by any means!  i sewed them in a nice chambray (again from Mill End) and they’re super comfy.  ready for summer!

my headscarf is just a 31″ square of red polka dot cotton (similar here).

rosie the riveter inspired

now as badass Rosie, i INSIST you go check out Jess’s creation.  she looks so great in her vintage-inspired wear.  and hey, she took my photos today!  super fun to have a fellow sewing blogger as photographer – too bad she lives so far away and we can’t do it more often!  thank you so much, Jess!







20 thoughts on “vintage may: inspired by rosie the riveter

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow! These are fantastic! I have been eyeing the Maritime Shorts as I too am still quite post partum (coming back after #5 has been a bit more difficult! Course a snuggly baby makes it all worth it! 🙂 ) and I am not looking forward to finding shorts that would actually fit….so skirts and these shorts will be great this summer! Thanks for the tips and info on the sewalongs.

  2. Brooke says:

    I’ve been waiting to see how you interpreted the archer and the shorts. Loving both. And your photo shoot is so cute! I bought some purple chambray to make some shorts and after seeing yours I can’t wait to find time for mine. Also I’ve had the archer printed out forever and have yet to make it! I might just have to copy you again and pick up some Swiss dot for it! I’m definitely a grainline fan- her photo tutorials are so helpful! Oh to find the time to sew all the clothes!

  3. Mie @ Sewing Like Mad says:

    Wow, this is fabulous. As usual your garments looks store bought – which is meant as a compliment, ha. Looove the shirt in that fabric. Perfect! And the shorts are great too. You look amazing!

  4. Kelly says:

    Oh Em Gee- you are the cutest!!! Welcome to the Grainline obsession 😉 I love your Archer, that Swiss dot fabric was such a great choice. And the shorts- they are perfect! They don’t look too short at all. Such a great modern take on Rosie!

  5. girllikethesea says:

    Rosie the riveting! Those legs!
    Your outfit is really impressive. To sew a legit button down top AND a pair of zip fly shorts and have it all look great…pretty sweet.

  6. Teresa says:

    This whole outfit is awesome! And you have just given me the push I need to buy the maritime shorts pattern. I have some herringbone chambray that I had just purchased and would be perfect for this pattern! And you look amazing!!!

  7. rachel says:

    wow. i love this outfit so much and you look absolutely stunning! beautifully done, kristin! it all looks so professional and perfect. these photos are amazing, too. i adore them! i’ll bet your kids will love them, too, someday. those kind of photos are a gift! oh and i have red toms too, but in the beachy sole. 🙂

  8. craftinessisnotoptional says:

    you are so adorable, K. And thanks for letting me try on your Archer! i have the pattern printed and cut out-just need some time! I can’t wait though. I loved taking your pics too-that was a quick but hilarious (in hindsight) shoot!

  9. gail says:

    i love the archer – it looks (and fits) so great! i would never in a million years think it wasn’t store bought. suuuuuper impressive!! and great photos 🙂

  10. Meghan says:

    Amazing outfit! I’m so impressed you sewed a button down shirt and zip fly shorts for yourself. Those are definitely two things that scare me ha! What a great take on Rosie the Riveter!

  11. Erin says:

    Keep meaning to pop back over here and comment on this adorable outfit! And your amazing calves! hehe… So well done, Kristin. You are so good!

  12. Jane says:

    wow….love it! That shirt is fantastic! And now I’m thinking i might need to try to make myself a pair of shorts this summer b/c I can never ever find the right shorts 😦 (also, dammit you just reminded me that I was thinking about sewing up a portside duffle for my hubby’s bday in a couple of weeks! eek! )

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