Monday, May 27, 2013

On the Move

Rita Hayworth {source}

We're on the move!  It might be a bit quieter than normal here at My Happy Sewing Place over the next couple of weeks as David, Echo and I are moving into a new flat!  We are very excited and I can't wait to decorate my new sewing room.  In the meantime, I'm busy packing everything up and trying not to get sidetracked by my sewing


Thursday, May 23, 2013

News Alert: The Guardian Fashion Blog Gets into Sewing!

The Guardian--one of my favourite newspapers EVER....and guess who's just joined their fashion bloggers network??  Karen from Did you Make That!!!  I am SUPER excited to see Karen's amazing work featured and that she will get more people excited about sewing, crochet and knitting!  I LOVE Karen's writing so can't wait to see some of the features she has in store (Sewing in Sixty Seconds tutorials, guides to fabric stores, Knifty Knitting Projects...and more) YAY!

Yup, I think it's official...we are slowing taking over the world, one sewing project at a time :-)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Save the Date: Massive Vintage Pattern Listing Blitz

Sorry to have disappeared this last week. I was really sick with the nastiest cold I've had in years! I'm happy to say that I am feeling much better... I have some exciting news for a save the date event:

 SAVE the Date: June 7th

The PatternPatter Team, sellers of vintage and newer sewing patterns and notions, will be celebrating the team's 2nd anniversary by hosting a Black Tie listing party!!  These Etsy sellers will be listing patterns for formal gowns, men's formal wear, as well as a variety of patterns for all occasions.

In addition to the many new pattern listings being made available, many shops are celebrating by offering discounts to their customers! 

A list of participating shops as well as links to the new listings as they become live will be available in this public thread (or by clicking the picture in my right sidebar).

I am SO excited!!!  YAY for all the Etsy sellers that bring us beautiful vintage patterns!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

McCall 3908: The 'First Crepe of Summer' Dress

I feel like I say this about every 1940 McCall make..but I'm REALLY excited to show you my latest project!!  I adore this dress to bits!  It's McCall 3908, a beautiful pattern that's both fitted and bloused with interesting gathers and pattern lines:

While the pattern envelope doesn't show it, there is a view 'C' which includes short sleeves.  That's the version I made.

Can you believe this is my first time ever sewing with wool crepe?  I think I am in love.  I begged David to pick me up some when he was in NYC at the famous Mood Designer Fabrics store.  The funny thing is that wool crepe is so much cheaper in the states than in the UK.  Even when you take the exchange rate into account.  The only wool crepe I can find in Scotland is approximately £25/meter (which translates to just under $40/meter) whereas they were selling this beautiful wool crepe at Mood for something like $14/yard (or approx £9/yard).  Crazy, no?  I can't believe that in the land of wool (Scotland) there are so few wool crepe options!  Well, I know what I will be packing into my suitcase on my next trip to the States ;-)

Wool crepe is a fantastic fabric for the drape and details found in 1940 dress patterns.  This illustration is from the October 1940 McCall Style News booklet:

I decided to forego the pouch pockets for a more streamlined summer look.  Like with all my previous 1940 McCall makes, I am itching to sew this pattern up again.  I would love to make a winter version in a silk velvet with the pockets!

The pattern was straightforward to make and the wool crepe was a dream to sew with.  The bodice has really nice shaping with gathers at the neckline and waistline and a semi circle neckline yoke that is attached with a lapped seam over the gathers.  The waist is also attached to the bodice in a lapped seam.  This was a little tricky with the sharp v-shaped lines at the waist but I think I managed to get it pretty straight.  The pattern is designed to be bloused in the back which translates to a little bit of the bloused look on the sides as well:

The sleeve caps have three darts each.  I'm a big sucker for 40s darted sleeve caps.  The mid-length and long-sleeve versions also have this detail.  Normally the back would close with a thread chain loop and buttons but I decided to insert a zipper in the back.  There is also a zipper at the side of the dress (both handpicked).

We took these photos on a lovely pathway that runs alongside the Water of Leith.  The sun was just settling down in the sky and the light was beautiful!

I'm so happy with this dress and I just love the red colour (goes with my Ness shoes) and can't wait to wear it all the time!!

I'm curious...have you sewn with wool crepe?  Can you find it in your locality?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Me-Made-May Week 2

Another week of Me-Made-May outfits!  Isn't his month going by so fast?  Here's my round-up of outfits from this last week...

Day 5: 
In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I wore my 'Kitten' 1950s skirt and my 'Pretty Pendrell' blouse underneath a sweater (it's still not that warm yet!).

Day 6:
It's a Scottie dog day!!  I wore my new 'Scottie Dress' (McCall 3820 from 1940) with my Scottie dog shoes from Irregular choice and my Ness jacket.

Day 7:
I love my 'Luck o'the Irish' dress (also from 1940) so much--it's super, super soft.  The green is a hard colour to photograph but it's a bit more emerald green in real life!

Day 8:
I revisited an old favourite today, my 'Midcentury Madness' dress which I wore with a pumpkin cardigan and brown Mary Jane shoes.

Day 9: Big day at work today!!  This is my power outfit.  The 'Hawk's Eye View Dress' is from the BurdaStyle Sewing handbook.  I paired the dress with my red Ness Jacket, vintage 1940s shoes and a red belt.  We took the photo in our very brightly painted hallway--which messes with the colour a bit (no need to adjust your!

Day 10:
On day 10 I wore my 'Rabbie Burns' dress.  I just love this dress and wear it all the time.  I wore it with black boots and a black belt.

Day 11:
Date day!  David and I went to our favourite local tea parlour, Anteaques, to enjoy high tea.  I wore my 'Celebration' dress while enjoying Margherita Assam and a tasty scone with fresh cream and jam.

Day 12:
A trip through the local Regent Road Park called for a casual dress.  I wore my 'Purple Parfait' pinafore with my 1940s Dubarry blouse.

YAY!  Me-Made-May is so much fun.  A super big thank you to David for taking all the photos!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Scotland Sundays: Regent Road Park

Today I want to highlight a real hidden gem in Edinburgh--Regent Road Park.  This very small park is such a tranquil place with views of Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Palace,  and the parliament building.

It's a very quiet park, there were only a few dog walkers when we visited.  We had a great time strolling down the short park lane filled with wooden benches.  I wore my Purple Parfait Pinafore (sewn from the Parfait Colette pattern) and my 1940s DuBarry blouse:

My absolute favourite part of the park is a circle of stones and plaques:

These 'Stones of Scotland' were gathered and arranged in a beautiful natural exhibit to celebrate the new Scottish Parliament.  There is a stone from each of the thirty-two local authority areas of Scotland. Here's a fabulous poem that was written for exhibit:

In case it's a bit hard to read on the's the full poem:


It requires great love of it deeply to read
The configuration of a land.
Gradually grow conscious of fine shadings,
Of great meanings in slight symbols.
Hear at last the great voice that speaks softly.
See the swell and fall upon the flank
Of a statue carved out in a whole country's marble.
Be like Spring, like a hand in a window
Moving New and Old things carefully to and fro.
Moving a fraction of a flower here.
Placing an inch of air there.
And without breaking anything.

So I have gathered unto myself
All the loose ends of Scotland.
And by naming them and accepting them.
Loving them and identifying myself with them.
Attempt to express the whole.

Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)

How beautiful and touching is that?  Hope you have a lovely Sunday and a lovely Mother's Day to those in the States (including to my own wonderful mum)!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mad Men Sewing: Season 6 Episode 3

Time for another installment of Mad Men Sewing!!  But first I wanted to thank everyone for you lovely, lovely comments on my McCall blouse post!  *big hugs*  I also wanted to alert those of you that were looking for the pattern (McCall 764 from 1940) that there is one currently for sale on Etsy.

Also, I know the Great Gatsby opened yesterday in the States...I can't wait until it opens here this next Thursday (the 16th)!

Right, now onto Mad Men...I'm going back to episodes 3 to take a look at the fashion and to find similar vintage patterns.  But did you see last week's episode (episode 6)...definitely my favourite so far.  I can't believe Don and Ted will be working together!  What are your thoughts?

Episode 3
All of my favourite outfits from episode 3 were either worn by Peggy or Trudy.  This dress is a hallmark style for Peggy (and it shows up again in episode 6).  I love how sassy it looks:

This tie-neck dress style was very popular in the late 1960s!  Here are some vintage pattern gems in a similar style:

1. Simplicity 3522, available at the Cynical Girl Etsy Shop; 2. Simplicity 6895, available at Adele Bee Ann Patterns Etsy Shop; 3. Simplicity 5986, available at RetroMonkeys' Etsy Shop; 4. Butterick 3102, also available at RetroMonkeys' Etsy Shop; 5. Simplicity 7223, available at J Ferrari Designs Etsy Shop;  6. Simplicity 6057, available at Sydcam 123 Etsy Shop; 7. Advance 9453, available from the Cynical Girl Etsy Shop; 8. Simplicity 5832, available at Floradora Presents Etsy Shop.

I love Trudy's style but I definitely felt very bad for her this episode (and this whole season so far)...hopefully we will see her face in future episodes.  I love this floral rolled collar dress:

Here's a few 1960's rolled collar dresses.  I think this is such a classy look:

When I think of 1960's style, I always think of the classic two-piece dress suit.  Peggy pulls this look off very well.  I just love her fuchsia/blue colour combo:

There's a ton of vintage two-piece dress suit patterns.  My two favourites include a classic two-piece suit and also a dress with jacket:

1. McCall's 6052 from J Ferrari Designs Etsy Store; 2. Simplicity 4564 from RetroMonkeys' Etsy Store

After the two-piece dress suit, the other style I associate with the 1960s is the classic shirtwaist dress.  Here's Trudy in a shirtwaister:

Here's a few of my favourite 1960s vintage shirtwaist dress patterns:

1. McCall's 5774, available at Adele Bee Ann Patterns and Cynical Girl's Etsy Store; 2. Advance 9424, also available at Cynical Girl's Etsy Store; 3. Simplicity 4937, available at J Ferrari Designs Etsy Store; 4. Simplicity 3758, available at Mrs. Depew Vintage Etsy Store

Which 1960s style is your favourite?

Monday, May 6, 2013

McCall 764: The Birdie Blouse

I'm super excited to share my latest 1940 McCall make!  I want to introduce you to McCall 764 or 'The Birdie Blouse'.  The August 1940 Complete Needlework Catalogue describes McCall 764 in the following way:
McCall 764: Two-toned embroidery offers a charming trim for the sheer blouse of crisp organdy, batiste, fine lawn, dimity or crepe de Chine.  Or lace insertion may be used for an airy effect.

You may notice my almost exact replication of the cover illustration for this blouse. What can I say? Sometimes I love the cover illustrations so much that I want to make the exact same garment!  There is a big difference with this blouse.  Instead of doing embroidery, I used the lace insertion technique to insert a swallow print trim:

You see, I was contacted by Cloth magazine since they were going to include a free gift for readers of this month's issue (issue 18) of a vintage inspired 'swooping swallow' trim--they wanted to know if I would make something from the trim and send them pictures so that they could include in the magazine so readers could get some different ideas of how to use their trim.  Of course I said yes!!! I adore Cloth magazine and their blog (the most fashionable sewing magazine around imho).  I knew I wanted to make something that was completely me....and so I turned to my 1940 McCall patterns for inspiration and doesn't McCall 764 just jump out as the perfect match??

Here's another illustration of McCall 764 from the April 1940 McCall Style News:

I tried two different methods to secure the trim.  The first was to use a hand picked stitch to secure it. The second was to sew the trim down along the small blue border.  This method worked best, and I was able to find the perfect matching blue thread:

The blouse material is a crepe backed satin.  The pattern is brilliantly drafted and includes a front panel of multiple gathered sections, several pin tucks at the shoulder, and again on the sleeve.  The sleeve shape is really interesting and is constructed in three pieces with the trim running down the center, with pin tucks all around.  This leads to a very voluminous sleeve!  The peter pan collar is trimmed with bias binding from the same navy wool that my skirt is made from (the skirt is McCall 3968, my 'Jumpin' the Sharks' skirt, also from 1940). I opted to forego the bow at the collar...I think the blouse has enough going for it already ;-)

The blouse closes by zipper at the side and I really like the length and waistband on the blouse:

There is also a one-button closure at the neckline and a slightly bloused effect at the back:

We took these photos in 'The Meadows', a large park in the center of Edinburgh.  Such stunning scenery!  I also am really happy with my hair, which I had done at my favourite vintage salon in Edinburgh (Miss Dixiebelle).

I'm also very humbled to see my blouse pictured in issue 18 of Cloth Magazine, alongside the amazing By Hand London ladies, and Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons:

How fun is that?  A super big thank you to the folks at Cloth Magazine for including me!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Aston Hall: My New Favourite Historical House

When David and I were down in Birmingham last weekend, we made a trip to Aston Hall (which is located in the area called Aston about 20 minutes from the center of Birmingham.  As an aside, Aston was also the birthplace of HP sauce back in the day...).  This magnificent building is built in Jacobean architectural style, which basically means it was built during the reign of King James the VI of Scotland and King James I of England (i.e. early 1600s).  I think I have found my FAVOURITE architectural style--seriously, I want to go and visit every other Jacobean style building in the UK!!

Aston Hall was built primarily as a deer hunting estate and private lodging for a super rich noble, Sir Thomas Holte.  This is definitely the most impressive historical mansion I have seen.  There are a large number of rooms open for viewing.  I think I was most in awe of how much of the architectural detail is original to the time the hall was built, like the beautiful staircase:

If you love historical ceiling plasterwork, this is the place for you!  All of these ceilings are originals!  Such amazing condition and the details are overwhelming:

Despite visiting the Hall on a Sunday, there was hardly anyone there (which is a shame, really).  But it did allow us to get some great shots of the house (they allow photography inside).

One of the most awe-inspiring rooms is the Great Hall.  What you can't see from the photo below are the intricate details in the wood panelling, the impressive hand carved original marble fireplace, the original floors and another amazing plasterwork ceiling.

I wore my 1937 'Birthday Dress Suit' (McCall 9156) and my matching 1930s hat.  I definitely felt like I had walked onto the set of Downton Abbey!

This is the beautiful window at the opposite end of the Great Hall:

The history of the house is fascinating--it saw battle (the Great Siege of Christmas Eve) and even had cannon fire that destroyed a part of the staircase.  This was from the battle between the King and Parliament with Sir Thomas Holte pledging loyalty to the King.

Sir Thomas Holte had 15 children but he died after most of his children and didn't have an heir.  The house passed onto another relative and then was sold off to an antiquarian--which is probably why it has been preserved so well.  While many of the rooms remain in Jacobean style, there are several rooms, like the library, that are in a later style:

During the Victorian era, Aston Hall became the first historical country house to pass into municipal ownership.  It was converted into a museum in true Victorian style, complete with giant stuffed lions, giraffes and other oddities throughout the house.  The grounds saw tightrope walkers (without nets!), magicians, musicians, you name it!  Queen Victoria herself came and opened the museum to the public.  The museum also threw special events for the holidays:

Aston Hall is now a community museum managed by the Birmingham Museums Trust.  I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the Birmingham area--it's just a short taxi ride from the main part of town.  It's so beautiful and well maintained.  A real hidden gem!

I now have a new obsession...I want to check out all the other Jacobean style mansions/houses in the UK.  Here's a few links to some I've found so far:

Blickling Estate (Norwich)
Bramshill House (Hampshire)
Hatfield House (Hertfordshire)
Knole House (near Sevenoakes in Kent)
Plas Teg (Wales)

And check out this neat article by Britain magazine with some photos of Jacobean houses in the UK.

Have you been to Aston Hall?  What's your favourite historical house?
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