Friday, October 19, 2018

McCall 3659: The 'Autumnal Cape'

Nothing says Autumn like a wool cape!  I'm delighted to have finished MCcall 3659 in a green wool to match my existing me-made blouse and skirt!

This pattern is so amazing. It's part of my 1940 McCall project.  I made the middle length cape version with buttons and the hood:

 The pattern is beautifully designed. It features a lined hood and pleated sleeve caps (which are designed to look just like a sleeve cap but minus the sleeves):

Here's a close-up of the sleeve cap:

The back of the cape is very straight but I love how the sleeve caps give it quite a bit of structure.

The hood is loosely draped--and you can flip it slightly back so some of the lining shows as I've done here:

Here's a shot of the hood in the back.  By the way, how AMAZING is my 1930s hairdo from Ariana at Vanity Thrills? I feel very original 1938 Snow White!

The entire cape is lined in the same silk fabric as my blouse fabric:

The cape itself is a delicious wool.  I had this wool leftover from a previous skirt project. That original skirt I made five years ago and I still have it but it's since shrunk in the wash (oops)--so is a bit shorter than knee length. So I decided to make another green skirt--this one in a lighter suiting fabric.  Check out my separate blog post on the creation of the blouse and skirt here.

Isn't Edinburgh in the Autumn gorgeous? We took these photos at Blackford Hill --a forested area in Edinburgh.  The amazing tree colours included bright orange and pretty!

I'm so pleased with the cape! The only tricky thing is wearing a purse with it! hahah. I'll just have to take a carry bag/briefcase of some sort!  But I'm hoping I get a lot of wear out of this in the next couple of months!

What about you? Do you like capes?

MUAH: Vanity thrills
Photos: Darja Bilyk


Thursday, October 18, 2018

1940 McCall Sewalong Week 1: About the Pattern

Welcome to week 1 of the 1940 McCall Sewalong!  Today we will be taking a peak inside the 1940 McCall pattern we will be using, pattern number 3863.

All the early 1940s McCall patterns are very similar.  The first place to start is the back cover instructions.  This is where you will find 1) the different styles included in the pattern, 2) the pattern size conversions, 3) fabric requirements and types of fabrics they recommend for the pattern and 4) a view of all the pattern pieces.

This pattern has multiple versions.  There are three sleeve options: 1) View A sleeves which are full length and tapered to be tighter towards the wrist, 2) View B sleeves which are often called 'bracelet sleeves', which is a 3/4 length looser sleeve and 3) View C sleeves which is the short sleeve version.  There are also two skirt lengths included: just below knee length or ballgown floor length.

There are also two options for the front: 1) one bow on the neckline and a simple waist (see version C drawing above) or 2) two bows as seen on the pattern cover:

One of the interesting things is that the McCall pattern company had the patent for printed patterns since the early 1920s.  So all the patterns are printed compared to other patterns from the same time period that don't have any markings on the pattern pieces.  The seam allowance is also different for older pattners-- 1/2 inch is allowed around the edges compared to today's 5/8 inch seam allowance.

The 1940 McCall patterns all come with a one page diagram with instructions for how to sew the pattern.  One of the coolest things is that the seams are numbered both in the instructions and in the pattern pieces for the order in which they should be sewn!

I know for those who might be more used to modern patterns, the instructions may seem sparse but there is a lot of information packed onto this one page and I really like the accompanying pictures which are way better (in my opinion) than modern patterns.

Here is the marking of the order of the seams and the markings on the pattern pieces:

The instructions also contain small boxes for common techniques (hemming, inserting a 'slide fastener' or zipper--also very innovative for 1940, inserting sleeve padding, etc).  We will cover each of these extra techniques--both with vintage methods and also modern approaches--throughout the sewalong.

So that's a sneak peek into the 1940 McCall pattern.  Don't forget you can order a copy of this pattern from Lady Marlow on Etsy and use 'Debi15' at checkout for a 15% discount on the pattern.

Next week we are going fabric shopping to explore the potential fabric choices for this dress! I can't wait!


Saturday, October 13, 2018

McCall 3774: The Lady of the Lake Blouse and Hollywood 1521

Delighted to have finished two new makes – a 1940 McCall blouse and one of the first patterns I ever sewed, Hollywood 1521 for the skirt.

Let me introduce McCall 3774, my newest 1940 McCall make.  I wasn't quite sure how this pattern would translate into real life with the double row of small buttons on the bodice. The pattern also has two different collar options--collarless and small peter pan collar.

I am delighted with how the pattern turned out.  I just adore the fabric--I think because it's a busy print it works well with the design.  But I chose this pattern to match this fabric specifically because I already had these small green buttons that I thought woudl go perfectly with the pattern.

I choose the collarless option with plain sleeves. The fabric is silk and I just adore the pattern. I don't wear a lot of green but it's a colour that I really love.

The second part of this outfit is the Hollywood 1521 skirt.  This was one of the first patterns I ever sewed with (also for the skirt). Though at some point I really want to make the blouse from this pattern too!

It's a simple A-line panel skirt but I just love the shape. Both times I've made this skirt from fairly lightweight fabric.  This time from a lightweight synthetic fabric that's very similar to lightweight suiting material.

I do love the shape of the skirt--it's also very comfortable and easy to sew.

I had this skirt in my projects pile--all cut out--for nearly 6 years!!  It's funny because when I decided on the blouse pattern, then the skirt came to life as a perfect partner.

We took these beautiful photos at Lake Kandawagyi in Myanmar.  It was such a gorgeous park with the pagoda visible in the distance.

So very happy with this pairing! And there's another piece to this set--I just took the photos of it today so it will be coming to the blog soon!

Photography: Chiara with Shoot My Travel


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The 'Yangon Yellow' Blouse

A highlight from my recent trip to Myanmar was visiting Shwedagon Pagoda – one of the country's biggest landmarks. And I had the perfect new me-made blouse to wear for the occasion :)

I made the blouse using this Economy Design pattern. The blouse features an awesome scalloped collar, faux buttons (it slips over the head) and a neck closure (no side fastenings).  It's great because it requires only 1 yard of fabric and is perfect for when you have a piece of special vintage fabric!

I've made the blouse once before with some feedsack fabric:

 Photo credit: Darja Bilyk

The fabric for this blouse is mid-century vintage that I got at the local vintage fair and I only had a small amount--so it was perfect for the blouse pattern.

This time I also inserted yellow lace around the front faux placket and the cool feature on the sleeves...

I paired the blouse with a vintage skirt that I also got at the same vintage fair.  I just love the colourful look-- it fit right in at the pagoda with all the rich yellow colours.

The pagoda was's a Buddhist pilgrimage site and the locals come to meditate and pray.  There's 'corners' for the day on which you were born where you are supposed to pour 21 scoopfuls of water over the Buddha and other statues.  My corner was the 'Friday corner' and it was really great to see everyone taking part--from young to very old and they are very welcoming of tourists as well.

No one wears shoes either inside the entire complex as a sign of respect.

There were so many little pagodas and shrines within this massive complex.  There were also several big gongs that you could hit (the custom is to hit it three times)--and anyone could do this.  It was really great to see all the ways in which people could participate in making the space their own -it was truly a community space.

So I'm super happy my new me-made blouse got a special outing to this spectacular country and location!  I'm also hoping to make more of these blouses as they are super quick to sew but also very versatile for traveling!

I'll be going to Myanmar a few more times over the course of this year and next for work --so I'm hoping to explore more of the country!  And more pictures from this recent trip are coming soon!

Photography: Chiara for Shoot My Travel

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Join me for a 1940 McCall Sewalong!

I'm so excited to be hosting a sewalong using one of my 1940 McCall patterns!  This is McCall 3863 a ladies' and misses' dress with two different skirt-lengths and short, middle or long sleeves!  There's so many variations you can make with this dress including leaving the bows off, or bows only on the upper bodice, etc.  It would be a great holiday and/or new year's dress.  I'm very lucky to be co-hosting this sewalong with my good friend Rachael (@ms.carnivale) on instagram and she has started a facebook group for the sewalong.

There's a group of ladies in Edinburgh who will be making this pattern together--so we will have lots of in-person but also online support and we will share our in-person learning with all of you as well!  So whether you are a seasoned sewist or a newbie--why not join us?

I'm happy to say that Margot over at Lady Marlowe patterns on Etsy has graciously graded this pattern up to a bust size 44' for the paper pattern (link for the paper pattern) or you can purchase the instant download that you print at home in the size Bust 32 here!!  You can order the paper pattern or a download version of the pattern over at her website. And she is offering 15% off for sewalong participants! Just use code Debi15 at checkout!!

The sewalong will take place over the next two and a half months--so plenty of time to go at your own pace.  I'll be posting content over that time (and Rachael will also be co-blogging and checking in with our facebook group). But here's the blogging schedule:

15-21 October: About the pattern

22-28 October: Choosing fabric and trim

29 October - 4 November: Testing the fit: Making a muslin or fitting the paper pattern

5-11 November: Working on fitting issues

12-18 November: Cutting out your fashion fabric

19-25 November: Constructing the bodice

3-9 December: Attaching bodice to skirt and inserting the zipper

10-16 December: Constructing and setting sleeves

17-23 December: Hemming and finishing

24-3 December: Finishing up your dress + photo parade of finished dresses

Hope you will join us!! Should be fun!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Adventure 1: Jordan

So excited that the first adventure from my list was Jordan! I went there for work and it just so happened that my really good friends, Zain and Kinda (who are sisters) were home visiting family as well. So we were able to spend a fabulous long weekend exploring some amazing sights!

This was also my first trip to the Middle East and it was so phenomenal.

Our first stop was Petra--the iconic ancient city carved out of stones. The landscape of Petra is so amazing--everywhere you turned there were caves and interesting and beautiful stone features:

We walked about a mile to reach the most famous stone building 'the Treasury'....

And my goodness, it was MASSIVE!  They don't let you inside but you can see the scale of it in this photo:

And of course, lots of fun photo opps along the way--including these ancient would have been so interesting to see this as a functioning city way, way back in the day (it was started in the B.C. years).

Petra was amazing but just as wonderful was the Wadi Rum Desert.  There's something about the desert that I find soothing and awe-inspiring. It's a bit like being near the ocean for me --I love the vastness of the natural beauty!  And the Wadi Rum Desert is SO BIG!

It's the same desert that was in the Laurence of Arabia film and it's so humbling to be the only people out there for as far as the eye can see:

Lots of neat rock formations...this one is known as the 'elephant'. I think they film quite a few movies in this area that are supposed to be related to 'Mars' and you can see why! It's very otherwordly.

The Wadi Rum Desert has two parts, the 'white' and the 'red' deserts and we visited both.  I really like the red desert..

All my outfits are either me-made (McCall 3865 is the dress above and my 1950's 'Desert Dreams' Style Print dress) or vintage and specifically chosen for the climate!  It was so much fun to spend the time in our desert camp with my two great friends!  I so can't wait to go back to Jordan!!

YAY!  So still on my list for Jordan is the Dead Sea--which I will have to make happen on my next trip! 

What about you? Have you ever been to a desert like this?

Photography: Kinda Kurdi (@kinda_kurdi)

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