Sewing for World War Two

Office of War Information, Library of Congress

Office of War Information, Library of Congress

When I think of women going into industry during the Second World War, Rosie the Riveter comes to mind.  However, there were also many war related jobs that involved sewing skills.  Entire factories, like the Cincinnati plant that made Fashion Frocks, were converted to making military supplies.

In this photograph, women are training to use their sewing skills to create the structure for an airplane.  The Department of War Information photographer, Howard Hollem, offers this commentary, “The ladies sewing circles has a grim meaning in De Land, Florida these days.  Here’s one of its daily sessions, sewing fabric on airplane wings they hope will be flying over Germany some day soon.”

These women are wearing special clothes intended for factory labor–short sleeved shirts to facilitate movement and bib overalls to protect their chests and legs.  One of my favorite blogs, Unsung Sewing Patterns, shows that there were special patterns designed for women to make their own work clothes.  I wonder if these working women were inspired by their outfits to start wearing pants outside the job.

 

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