Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sewalong Week 2: Choosing Fabrics

This week for the 1940 McCall Sewalong we are discussing fabrics for the pattern.  The back of the pattern envelope lists the following potential fabrics (with links to descriptions for each): a) crepes, b) satin, c) velvet, d) chiffon, e) lace, f) jersey, g) surah, h) challis, i) dimity, j) sheer woolens, k) chambray,  and l) dotted swiss

One of the biggest factors for choosing a fabric will be how well it gathers! This pattern has quite a few gathers across the bodice.

One way to see how fabrics might look while gathered is to pull it together between your fingers.  I visited Edinburgh Fabrics--my local fabric store and looked at some specific fabrics to see how well they might gather!  The red fabric below is a crepe fabric:

Some fabrics will create thicker gathers--which are good if you want to maximise the bodice area. If you are full-busted, it is better to get a fabric that produces soft gathers, such as the cotton lawn fabric below:

Another great fabric for a dressier look is satin--but this will produce thicker gathers but the shimmer of the fabric would be very classy.

There are some fantastic synthetic fabrics as well:

There's also some great linen-like synthetics:

What fabric would you choose for the pattern? I'm thinking of a couple of options including a silk velvet and a cotton version and I *might* use the hot pink Chinese fabric--not sure yet though :)


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

McCall 3557: The 'Agent Carter Suit'

Nothing says film noir like a good suit and this one is an absolute gem!

Meet McCall 3557, a skirt suit with an adorable fitted jacket and paneled skirt.  I made view C which is the short-sleeved version as I need a suit that I could wear across seasons and into warmer climates when going abroad for work travel.

I used an amazing synthetic wool type fabric that has great body.  The skirt has six gores/panels which makes it fall really nice.  The jacket also has really nice paneling and can be buttoned up to the top or if you don't button it all the way up then it also has a nice lapel.

Here's a great photo of it buttoned all the way up. The jacket sits just on the waist line which creates a very flattering effect.  The sleeves are plain with pleated sleeve caps and they end just above the elbow.

I had a fun time channeling one of my favourite characters -- Agent Carter--or Captain America's girlfriend and star of her own tv show-- for these photos!  

This is already my go-to outfit, I love it so much! I will definitely have to make this pattern again--perhaps in long sleeves as it's so versatile!

photography: Tigz Rice for outdoor shots and AltStudio for the film noir photos


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
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