Thursday, December 31, 2015

1940 McCall Project Update

Whoohooo...the end of 2015! I am so excited for a new year.  I didn't do a lot of sewing in 2015 because I was so busy with work (and then so tired when I wasn't working as a result), but I'm looking forward to changing that balance in 2016.  One way I hope to do that is to to continue to focus on what I'm really passionate about– the 1940 McCall Project.  For those that may not know, I am absolutely obsessed with both this year and this pattern company and am trying to hunt down and sew all the patterns from 1940 from McCall.

How far have I come with the project?

Pattern Collecting
For the pattern collection, I estimate there are 456 main patterns with the copyright of 1940 and 89 transfer patterns (for a total of approximately 545 patterns from the year 1940).  I now own approximately 49% of all the main patterns and 65% of the transfer patterns! Woohooo...half way there!  You can follow my pattern collection on pinterest.

To date, I've sewn up 24 garments from the 1940 pattern collection (+ 1 honorary mention, the last transfer pattern from 1939).  I keep track of all my sewing on a special 1940 McCall Project blog page.

Below is a photo recap of the garments I've sewn and some of my favourite items.

One of my favourite fabrics to sew with has been viscose because of the drape and it's good match to the 1940 designs.  I've sewn up four dresses using viscose fabric:

1. McCall 3939, the Acai 'Hiatus' dress; 2. McCall 3638, the grey 'Tea Dance' dress; 3. McCall 3560, the brown 'Birthday' dress; 4 McCall 3820, the 'Scottie' dress

Separates, separates, separates...I love separates.  You will have seen by my recent post that I love sewing and wearing 1940s trousers, which makes it great to also sew matching topper jackets, blazers and blouses.  I hope to sew more of these types of garments in 2016!

1. McCall 3619, the 'Swing' jacket; 2. McCall 3769, the 'Lantern Army' jacket; 3. McCall 764: the 'Birdie' blouse; 4. McCall 3662: the 'Sew Bossy' top

More separates and matching pieces as well as my only needlework pattern to date (the House of the Seven Gables cross-stitch pattern):

1. McCall 3864: the 'Windy' skirt; 2. McCall 3606: the 'Christmas Collegiate' skirt; 3. McCall 789: the 'House of the Seven Gables'; 4. McCall 3554: the 'Black Cherry' blouse

Three of my favourite makes include the Scottish Christmas dress and hat and the 1940 nightgown (wearing that now!):

1. McCall 741: the 'Scottish Christmas' hat and McCall 3574: the 'Scottish Christmas' dress; 2. McCall 3624: the 'Luck o' the Irish' dress; 3. McCall 4043: the 'Mysterious McCall' dress; 4.  McCall 3980: the 'Wish Upon a Star' nightgown

I didn't set out to sew around a colour palette but apparently, I sew a lot of red, white and blue.  For my next makes, I'd like to focus on making a capsule wardrobe of pieces that go together but I'm still deciding on the colours.

1. McCall 3744: the 'Summer Days' dress; 2. McCall 3678: the 'Famous Hooded Princess Dress'; 3. McCall 3968: the 'Jumpin' the Shark' skirt; 4. McCall 3641: the 'Rabbie Burns' dress

I'm happy that I have a mix of summer and winter dresses.  I would like to sew more summer related work clothes for travel.  Here's my summer collection of dresses:

1. McCall 3865: the 'Bright Side' dress; 2. McCall 3684: the 'Clackett Cantina' dress; 3. McCall 3686: the 'Fall for Cotton' dress; 4. McCall 3908: the 'First Crepe of Summer' dress

I can't wait to focus more on the 1940 McCall Project in 2016.  I've got some fun ideas and projects lined up!

Hope you all have a lovely New Year's Eve and are dreaming about sewing plans :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

McCall 3606: The Collegiate Christmas Skirt

YAY! Another 1940 McCall make!  Many of you know that I'm on a mission to sew up as many of these patterns from the year 1940 as possible.  Check out my progress here.

I made up McCall 3606, which is a straight skirt with an option of sewing the skirt with belt loops or without.  I choose to forego the belt loops on this version.  I also sewed up this pattern without instructions. Thank you 1940 McCall for your awesome printed patterns!

I made the skirt out of lovely green wool that I bought a couple of christmases ago.  Sewing it up was fairly easy but I did have to grade it up about 4 inches, which was easy to do although I did have to cut out the waistband twice.  It also has a lapped side zipper and interfaced waistband.

I paired my new green skirt with my 'Black Cherry' blouse, another 1940 McCall make:

It's been unseasonably warm here (though it was still cold in these photos).  I like how the skirt can be worn in a collegiate style as well with a nice big chunky sweater (I just need some saddle shoes!):

I love the new skirt...and here's some twirling to show you how much I love it....right in front of Holyrood Palace...heheheeh:

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas weekend and got up to some sewing!  I'm looking forward to some more year end sewing.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Simplicity 3688: Holiday Graffiti Trousers

Awww...Simplicity I love thee.  This is my TNT (tried 'n true) trouser pattern.  This time I made it up in a earthy brown coloured wool.  I got this fabric at a charity shop (I love Scottish charity shops, where I regularly find metres of wool!)

The only alteration I make to this pattern is to cut the legs pattern pieces slightly longer.  It has two darts in the front and four in the back and closes with a lapped zipper on the side:

This is my 6th trouser make from this pattern!!  And it's fair to say that these trousers are a staple of my wardrobe and are worn on a weekly basis:
Top left: Green lightweight trousers; top right: the tweed ensemble; middle left: the first pair in lightweight navy wool fabric;  middle right: trousers in greyish black; bottom left: trousers in Italian grey wool and bottom right: my new trousers!

I love the fit of these high-waisted 1941 (reproduction) trousers pattern.  It looks great with a suit jacket (this one is from my favourite Scottish company, Ness) or styled in the 1940s way.

We took these photos in Florence where we spent the Christmas holiday period. The city is so charming and colourful.  There were light displays throughout the city.  These photos were taken at the Santo Spirito cathedral which had children's drawings project onto it throughout the night.  How lovely is that?

YAY for favourite patterns!  What is your tried 'n true pattern?

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Thin Man: My Favourite Holiday Movie

We have a new holiday tradition – watching the 'Thin Man' movie.  Filmed in 1934, it features two of my favourite actors together, William Powell and Myrna Loy, for unforgettable on-screen chemistry. It also features some amazing art deco outfits!

Probably one of my favourite outfits, and one I am hoping to replicate someday, is Myrna's tartan and velvet ensemble:
I found a few patterns that could help recreate the look:

Upper left corner: 1930s New York dress pattern, middle left: 1930s Butterick bow blouse; lower left corner: 1930s instant download beret hat pattern; Right side: Adorable 1930s DuBarry dress and jacket pattern

For the bowed blouse, either the Butterick blouse or the New York dress pattern (upper left corner) would work under a jacket like the one from the DuBarry pattern. There's also the perfect beret hat pattern (with or without the bows)!

And for the mini Myrna look, a matching children's pattern:

How adorable is that?

Also, the film features some of the most divine coats.  I must say, I really love the high fur collar on this classic art deco coat:

Here's a few patterns to replicate the look:

Left: 1930s instant download coat pattern in any size; Middle: Mode du Jour Magazine from 1931; Right: 1930s Autumn Coat instant download pattern in any size.

Myrna also has several one-of-a-kind art deco ensembles such as this jacket:

It's hard to tell if the blouse is attached to the jacket as one piece or not (or if it's a faux blouse and just serves as the jacket front).  I haven't been able to find a pattern like this but it is evocative of glamorous jabots and neck pieces such as this pattern below from the NRA period (1933-35):

1930s Simplicity dress pattern featuring a gilet over a peplumed vest and open back dress

Finally, this pattern reminds me of all the jackets from the movie:

So much fun!

Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The "Tropical Doctor" Alma Blouse

Last week I was in Zimbabwe for work and it was so lovely to have some sunshine and warmth!  I knew I was going there at the end of November so decided to sew up a warm weather blouse in advance.

Enter the "Alma" pattern from Sewaholic Patterns.  This has been on my to-sew list for a long time.  I love these patterns; they are easy to sew and the instructions are super clear.  I decided to make "View A" with some mixed fiber fabric that I purchased in the Philippines.

I'm still getting used to the sleeves.  I love the gathered sleeve cap but they might be a bit short on me?  Next time I can't wait to try the longer short sleeve on view B.

The neckline is what sold me on the pattern.  I absolutely love it and it's super easy to sew.  

The blouse closes by a side zipper, which you can see in the photo above. That allows the blouse to be form fitting.  I did take some length off the blouse so that I could wear it either untucked or with my high-waisted 1940s trousers (by the way, these trousers are newly sewn as well from my favourite 1941 reproduction pattern!  More on them to come in another post).

A great warm weather blouse!  The fabric print makes me happy too :-)

By the way, I flew back the day before this:

My graduation ceremony for the PhD.  Though it's been official for awhile, it was great to celebrate becoming a Dr. (and thank you to the reader that recognised me in the audience--what a sweet email)!  Now it's time for a sewcation to celebrate!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vintage Gown and Holiday Party Patterns

Thanks for your comments on my last post about vintage holiday gowns.  In perusing for photos, I found several lovely, inspiring patterns!

Here are some of my favourites from the 1930s:

1. 1930s Pictorial Review dress pattern, 2. 1930s McCall gown, 3. 1930s McCall strapless gown, 4. 1930s Mail Order H-3391 gown pattern worn modelled by Loretta Young

I think both the 1930s and 1940s patterns are very glamorous.  Here are a few of my favourites from the 1940s:

5. 1940s McCall draped gown pattern, 6. 1940s Simplicity sheer dress pattern, 7. 1940s McCall lace overlay gown, 8, 1930s Simplicity dress pattern

I have the 1940s gown pattern listed in number 5 above.  I simply love the draping!

I love the 1950s for cocktail gowns and the great necklines:

The 1960s gowns are very chic and perhaps the most wearable to a variety of events and parties.  I particularly like the Vogue Couturier pattern (no. 13 below), it reminds me of what Audrey Hepburn wore for the movie 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'.

Of course there are some real gems in modern patterns as well (modern for me is anything post

17. Edith Head designed Very Easy Vogue American Designers Original pattern, 18. Calvin Klein Vogue gown pattern

Perhaps one of my favourite things of dressing up is all the topper and accessory patterns.  I'm currently plotting and planning to make a vintage cape pattern.  Here are a few more coat toppers that I love:

For some reason I also associate the circle skirt with the holiday season (perhaps all those tree skirts made into circle  But I just love Gertie's quilted circle skirt as well.  Here's a few patterns that remind me of that 1950s glamour:

Whenever I think of glamour--both Vogue and Modes Royale patterns come to mind (isn't no. 25 below stunning??):

And what would glamour be without gloves and adorable handbags?  I actually really love the lace, fingerless gloves below:

It's a bit sad that there are not more men's patterns for fancy occasions.  But one I did find is from Mrs Depew for a men's tuxedo pattern from 1950:

28. Downloadable 1950s men's tuxedo pattern

I actually have plans to make this for David sometime this next fun would that be?

Which patterns are your favourite?


Monday, November 16, 2015

Hollywood Glamour Gowns

It's the perfect time of the year for thinking about sewing a holiday gown!  I absolutely love New Year's Eve and all the holidays that allow the chance for dressing up.  Here are a few gowns that I've been looking at lately for inspiration:

Rita Hayworth from "You Were Never Lovlier" (Columbia Pictures, 1942)    

I love Rita Hayworth's dress from the movie 'You were Never Lovelier', especially the lace that becomes a glittery shooting star.

Rita Hayworth - Studio publicity portrait for "Blood and Sand" (20th Century Fox, 1941)  

For those south of the equator, halter dresses can also be very glamourous and Rita looks fantastic in all dresses.

Ann Sheridan (Photographed by George Hurrell, 1940)    

This is also the time of year where glittery and lamé fabrics give a gown the extra glamour like the dress above worn by Ann Sheridan.

Veronica Lake from "Ramrod" (United Artists, 1947)  Costume designed by Edith Head    

I'm slightly obsessed with Veronica Lake's gown – it has a country feeling of glamour and the bodice details are just stunning.

Myrna Loy in a bias-cut crêpe cocktail gown.  
This is around the time of first movie from The Thin Man series (1934-1936)

Myrna Loy always comes to my mind when I think of Hollywood glamour.  In fact, the first Thin Man movie is one of my all-time favourites.  This dress is in a spongy and sparkly crêpe fabric; I just love the drape of the bodice and shoulders. Simple yet elegant.

Joan Bennett -  in her brunette "femme fatale" phase (between 1939-46) 

Holiday gowns also provide the perfect opportunity to sew with velvet – one of my favourite fabrics to wear.  I really want to try sewing with silk velvet. Unfortunately, it's a fabric that is hard to get at my local fabric stores, so I might have to try and source it online.  Any good recommendations?

Carole Lombard from "No Man of Her Own" (Paramount, 1932).  “Connie Randall” beige gown by Travis Banton    Check out the Colette blog about him here.  

I think this dress worn by Carole Lombard is what I would consider the ultimate glamour gown!  Now, can you imagine this in a velvet silk?

Do you have any plans for holiday sewing this year?
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