Friday, March 30, 2018

McCall 3640 The 'PinUp Swimsuit'

I am so happy I finished my 'Pin-Up Swimsuit' in time for the Scottish Pin-Up Competition because it really is a special pattern and it deserved a special occasion (and let's be honest, I don't wear swimsuits a lot in Scotland! haha.)

I literally finished inserting the zipper and hand sewing the facing about 20 minutes before walking out the door last weekend (meep! nothing like a good sewing deadline, eh?)

I used McCall 3640 --the only swimwear pattern from the 1940 catalogue that was generously gifted to me from Peter at Male Pattern Boldness several years ago.  I used fabric that I won in a giveaway. The fabric is swimwear (I believe?), stretchy and a beautiful bright cherry red with small white flowers (a perfect 40s style print).

I made version A which has the bodice connected to the shorts closing in the back with a zipper (yes, a zipper for your pool wear...hmmm...) and a tie knot:

I just adore the back!!!  Soooo cute.  I'll let you in on a little secret...if you go back to the pattern illustration, you can see there are a pair of trunks you are supposed to sew that go underneath this.  It makes perfect sense because if I was actually going to wear this in the water, the shorts would be up around my neck because there is so much fabric there.  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fabric to make the under-trunks.  I don't think I'll be wearing this in the water anyways, it's more a poolside version.  I might make another version that is waterproof!  I also still want to make version B.

You can see from the photo below, the shorts has side front and side back pieces in addition to the main front and back pieces.  It's hard to tell in the photo but there is a pleat in the front and also in the back.  Took me ages looking at the illustration and pattern guide to figure out how to put the pleat in the back below the zipper.  I sort of winged it as I'm still not sure I exactly followed the guidelines. lol.

I love the bodice.  I faced it with a navy blue synthetic fabric (most likely not waterproof. ha!) because I like just the hint of navy blue on the front tie with the red and white fabric.

Super chuffed with the fit.  I actually totally forgot to grade this pattern when I cut it out and I'm so glad I forgot because with the super stretchy swimwear fabric, it was actually a little big--so I had to take in a little on each seam.

The BAIT footwear shoes are a perfect match.  I also had the hat in my collection and the hat was actually the impetus for me to use the navy blue interfacing (as it has a cute little blue bit on the crown). 

I got my hair and make-up done by the wonderful Arian at Vanity Thrills. It's amazing having one of the world's best vintage hairstylists in town.  I asked for Hedy Lamarr in front and Rita Hayworth in the back--and it's exactly what I wanted :)

Thanks to my friend, Magdalena for the pictures and another friend, Zara, took the photo below of me on stage. How excited do I look? haha.  I just love this swimsuit!!

Yipppeeeee! Sometimes sewing deadlines are good for moving things from sewing queue to real life. I am also super happy I was able to give this pattern a twirl in an actual pin-up competition--total 1940 Project McCall bucket list completion :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Scottish PinUp Competition 2018

I had the pleasure of being shortlisted as a finalist in the 2018 Scottish Pinup Competition that took place this last weekend.  This was my first time ever competing in something like this and I'm so glad I entered.  Instead of sitting at home in my me-made pyjamas on Sunday, I was pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, showing off my me-made clothes and meeting and making friends with lots of other lovely women!  I highly encourage those of you who love vintage and love the pinup look to enter your local competition.  It's such a fun experience, a great opportunity to practice some skills (like strutting your stuff and talking about what you like!) and also a chance to be appreciated for what makes you unique.  We all walked away feeling like winners and appreciated for our style.  And for those of you that may worry about how it portrays women – I can honestly say as a staunch feminist that this was probably the most inclusive and feminist experience I have had.  All of us were what you would call intersectional feminists --doing it OUR way--whatever that may be.  And that was completely empowering.

The competition started with a summer wear round:

I made my swimsuit from a 1940 McCall pattern (McCall 3640)--literally the day before the competition. It had been sitting in my sewing queue for years.  So I was happy to have an occasion to show off what I think is the ultimate swimwear pattern.  I'll do a proper blog post tomorrow dedicated to the construction of the swimsuit....but I'm super happy with the result!!

And I got to show it off onstage :)  How cute is the tie back?

The second round was evening wear and the interview combined.  I think it's safe to say we were all nervous about the interview but luckily we got the questions in advance so there weren't any surprises.  The three questions were:

1. Who is your pinup style icon and why?
2. What would you say your best feature is?
3. If a genie gave you three wishes, what would you wish for?

So nothing too challenging.  I was the last one to go for each of the rounds (they chose the order by random number assignment) and I really liked being able to listen to everyone's responses – the questions really did give everyone the chance to shine and showcase their unique selves :-)

Here's are some behind the scenes photos as we are getting ready for the last stage call.

I just love this picture of me and @markeedesaw getting ready:

There were many selfies and photos being taken:

Look at these glam girls!!!

I wore my 1938 McCall 'THE Awards Gown' for the final round:

And somehow survived the interview round – it is a bit of a blur what I actually said! haha

Everyone did phenomenal!  We had the most amazing judges too.  Below is Pedro, but there was also the amazing Claire Marie (@clairemarieglasgow) and Mini Blue (@minibluepinup).

Here's a handful of my favourite photos from the evening wear round:

And the winner was: Alice Higgins (@finella420 on instagram):

The winner and runner ups --everyone looks so happy!

 All in all, it was an amazing experience!  Something I would highly recommend to others :)


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

McCall 3893: The 'Film Noir Dress'

Oh! I am SO EXCITED for my most recent make.  One of my absolute favourite features of 1940 McCall patterns is the draping, shirring and gathers and this beauty is exceptional in all regards!

Meet McCall 3893--my new favourite pattern!  The photo above is from the Winter 1940 Singer Digest showing a model wearing the dress (photo from

And here is the original pattern:

I actually got this pattern early in my collecting days--but then had a blog giveaway for this pattern! Can you imagine? It was before I was super confident on drafting and the size 12 (bust 30) was a bit of a challenge.  Years later, as I really started to get into the 1940 McCall Project challenge, I realised what a treasure it was. Low and behold about 6 years after giving away the original pattern, I found it again online and in my size (size 16)! And boy did I snatch that pattern up quick! haha.  And I'm so glad I did!!

I made this up in a lovely deep teal colour viscose fabric.  Viscose is actually my favourite fabric to use in these patterns from 1940 that have a lot of gathers/shirring because the fabric is very stretchy but still substantial and they iron and wash well.  I'm planning to do a blog post maybe later this week with all my 1940 viscose dress makes.  I still have two viscose fabrics in my stash too--so potentially more viscose dress projects this year as well!!

The October 1940 McCall's magazine has this to say about the pattern: Right sided-- the thing that makes this dress stand out from other one-sided frocks, is the concentration of all the interest over at the right side. And that shirred pocket is a new note.

We took these very film noir inspired photos in the Rodney Street tunnel, an abandoned railway tunnel in Edinburgh. How amazing does the light look in this? It's very reminiscent of the film noir period--which is perfectly suited to this dress! It was amazing working with Philip Stanley Dickson for the photographs – you may remember him from the fabulous photos of my 'Aviator Dress'.

In terms of sewing, the dress was very straight forward – surprisingly easy for the amount of detail it contains.  The back and skirt is straight and all the detail is at the shoulder and pocket but with very clear instructions and fabulously drafted pattern pieces for the shirring and gathers.  I could have probably taken about a 1/4 of an inch off each shoulder--but the extra length there is solved a bit with the addition of the shoulder pads that I'm wearing.

I styled the dress with 1940s reproduction (and super comfy) swing shoes from Aris Allen and a cute little tilt hat that I got at the Urban Eccentric vintage store in Washington State.

I truly feel like a 1940s femme fatale in this dress. I love it sooooooo much! I might have to sew up this pattern again soon!!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

True Vintage: 1950s Snowflake Sweater

What to do when it snows in Edinburgh?  Wear your favourite 1950s beaded sweater that reminds you of snowflakes :) 

I'm a huge sucker for 1940s and 1950s beaded sweaters.  I own two – both in beautiful pastel colours with white beading.

I got this sweater at Carnivale Vintage shop in Edinburgh. You will hear me talk of this shop a lot because the owner, Rachel, is a dear friend and a fab member of the vintage community, regularly hosting fun get togethers in her shop and always up for a vintage adventure!

I thought it would be nice to do a regular series on some of my favourite 'true vintage' pieces.  It's so wonderful giving a vintage garment or accessory a new life and treasuring it as I imagine it's original owner(s) did.

What I love about this sweater in particular is that the beading is on the side of the sleeves as well as down the front and all around the bottom of the sweater:

Gah, what a great piece--I just love it to bits!  I am hoping to sew up a few boleros and do some beading myself but I appreciate the high quality of vintage beading.

Perfect atmosphere to appreciate a vintage snowflake weather! Thank you Edinburgh :)

Photos: @Dashiee

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The 'Economy Design Feedsack Blouse'

I'm so happy to share another recently finished sewing project that has been in the project pile for a couple of years!!

Meet my new favourite 1940s blouse pattern from Economy Design:

I've always enjoyed the pattern illustrations on these British patterns.  There is something about the drawings that are so rich in colour. And if you notice on the bottom left hand corner of this pattern it says it only needs 1 years of the narrowest vintage fabric (36").

Which made it the perfect pattern for this original 1940s feedsack fabric. There is an amazing history to feedsack fabrics ––which is basically that this fabric was actually a sack of mill/oats/grains at the outset of WWII. Amazing condition!!  When I got the fabric at an antique mall in Vancouver, WA, it was actually shaped like a sack with sections stitched together.  There is a great tracking link over at Collectors Weekly to find feedsack fabric on eBay (uh oh, I think I may become addicted! I just love the designs and history!!!)  So it's fairly safe to say that this is indeed early 1940s fabric.

There are a couple of amazing design features on this blouse that mean it can also use fairly minimal fabric.  What I love most is the scalloped collar:

How adorable is a scalloped collar?  I just love the effect--it's a bit of a every so slightly more feminine look than a peter pan collar.

The other design feature that is unique is the fake button placket down the front.  This is actually a slip over the head blouse. This also saves fabric and is why there is a slit at the throat that is then closed with a hook and eye just under the collar.  Absolutely brilliant construction.

I'm wearing the blouse with a pair of reproduction 1940s trousers from Miss Candyfloss which features a side closure with lots of matching buttons going up the side.  Love these trousers (though I will definitely also wear this with my me-made trousers from my tried-n-true (TNT) Simplicity 1941 reproduction trouser pattern (see the ones I've made here).

I made few alterations to the pattern except to make the bodice length a bit longer than called for in the pattern.

I do love the small details on this blouse including the bodice front detail of the overlapped seam over the small gathers.  This provides a great fit as well with the high neckline!

The back is very straight, no gathers or specific details but just a nice straight line:

These amazing photos were taken by @dashiee (instagram)--an amazing local photographer in Edinburgh at this small lane called 'Circus Lane'--it's so picturesque and seems very much like it hasn't changed over time. 

My hair was also done by the amazing Ariana at Vanity Thrills.  I just adore a mid-centre part a la Hedy Lamarr!!

I'm so, so happy with this 1940s blouse and I'm now on the lookout for more Economy Design patterns (don't worry--I'm still ultimately a 1940 McCall girl :)
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