Friday, July 30, 2010

Vtg McCall 5600

Here's McCall 5600, a mid-1940s blouse pattern:

It is SUCH a sweet little blouse! I love it! I made my version in a white spotted voile, nearly a dead ringer for the cover illustration. I made View B, with the yoke from View A.

View B has a separate pattern piece for the yoke, a straight piece with darts marked to miter a straight piece of lace or ribbon to create the yoke. Very clever! View A has a traditional square-shaped yoke piece that is self-fabric faced. I love the gathered center front! I needed no alteration to this pattern other than scooting the CF away from the fold 1.5" to allow for a bit of an FBA.

The yoke is applied to the bodice front/back by turning under the seam allowance on the yoke, then topstitching in place. I see this technique all the time on 1930s and 1940s patterns. There were so many interesting seams in that era, and using this technique would be the easiest way to achieve intricate seaming. Here's a closeup of the topstitching:

The facing is then handstitched to the inside, covering the seam.

The back bodice has a small, faced placket. The placket & facing square are slit, stitched along the edge of the slit, then the facing turned in. Edges are turned under and topstitched. Very simple and actually very pretty! There is a loop & button closure at the neckline.

I used a vintage white rhinestone center button. It's just faded and "old" enough to make me very happy to see it at the back neck! Hopefully the rhinestone doesn't fall out the first time I handwash this blouse! (I have spare rhinestones, no worries!) My blanket-stitched button loop is just sad. I'll be cutting it off and redoing it shortly. I'm out of practice!

There are tiny turned up hems at the sleeves and hem. I did not gather and apply the binding to the short, puffed sleeve. It was a last minute decision because I thought the fluttery effect was well suited to this voile blouse.

I will say the center front gathering does have the slightest maternity look if untucked. But the fabric is lightweight enough that it does not pouf out in the least. I've already worn it! I wore it to the movies last night with my buddy StickGirl. I didn't get a photo of it on, but I'll try to get one in the next couple of days. I spilled coffee on it getting in the car for the ride home of course! So it's already been handwashed and needs pressed again.

Love, Love Love this. I can see more in my future! One of the things I've been learning from my vintage pattern endeavors, is to slow down and pay attention to the experience of creating garments. There are so many little bits of sewing information and techniques that require you to take your time or at least put a little though into them.

For example, carefully pressing under the seam allowance of the yoke with precision so that it matches the seamline of the blouse, or creating a blanket-stitched thread loop by hand. Every few steps in the instructions there is reason for me to pause and take my time in the creation process.

Nothing I've encountered has been difficult or, to be honest, better replaced by a more modern technique. In fact, I find I'm preferring the vintage techniques over modern shortcuts.

Next, I've got to finish a couple of skirts! I have 5 days of summer vacation left and I plan to make the most of them! One more parting shot of my pretty, vintage blouse:

I'll be cross-posting at We Sew Vintage!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Foiled again. I started out Monday afternoon working on that lovely madras 1960s sundress, remember? Well, as things in my life have a way of doing, everything about this project went south right at the finish line.

Here's the cute pattern, very similar to my previous 1960s sundress, so I expected good things. It's Simplicity 5445:

I used a fabulous white/aqua/navy madras print from Hancocks (lovely, silky feel. And on sale this week!) and white bias trim. I was making view 3, but with the trim from view 2.

See my booboo?

It's a rather large one, but even I didn't notice it until I was topstitching the skirt placket. I sewed the entire left front skirt on upside down!!! ARGH. And I took my time to carefully match the plaid when cutting too. Note how well I did on the bodice front matching the plaids.

And all that meticulous topstitching of that TEENY TINY bias trim!

It was perfect, I tell you!

Other than the extreme mismatchy plaid of the FRONT skirt. Had it been the back, I might have been able to live with it. (Probably not. Even though there's a ton of RTW out there with mismatched plaids.)

Sigh. I've lost the gumption to pick it all out and flip the skirt right side up. In fact, its a bit wrinkly in these pictures because it was wadded up and ready for the circular filing cabinet. But I thought you all might enjoy it, just the same.

And the pattern is wonderful...all fitted and bullet bra pointy boobish (a silhouette that works well for me. Ahem.) I'll be making it again, I've no end of wonderful cotton prints. I hate that bias binding in the 1/4" size though. Very tiny and fiddly to work with (Amanda, you must give me pointers!) I have 5 more packages of it in a variety of colors that I now feel obligated to use of course.

Next, I'll be taking a break from sundresses that likely won't get a ton of wear for what's left of this summer (although it is steaming hot today. Don't let those beautiful blue skies in the pics above fool you. The heat and humid, heavy air take your breath away if you walk outside.) Instead I'm tracing off and doing a tiny bit of alteration to this 1940s ebay gem:

I have the perfect fabric too, a dead ringer for the white spotted cotton in the cover illustration. I'll be making a short sleeve version, without the ruffle. And maybe use some vintage lace to trim the square neckline.

The pattern has the sweetest, awesomest notation on the flap. It reads:
"Finished white dotted swiss blouse, August 15, 1946" and
"Finished lawn blouse (nightgown) March 12, 1945"

I LOVE vintage pattern notations! Do you think she made the lawn blouse from an old nightgown? It would have been right in the middle of hard rationing of fabric goods during the war. Don't you wonder where Nelda is now?

I have to say, one of my favorite notations is a 30s/40s pattern with "Angie" written in the top corner, specifying which dress "Angie" wanted. I always thought my name was of more recent popularity (the 1970s?). I've never seen it on any vintage ephemera before.

I hope you're all staying cool and having better luck than me on the sewing homefront! I'm off to eat a Subway flatbread chicken sandwich and watch my lover Clark on Smallville.

Shut up. He does too love me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lu's Shadow Smocked Dress

Well, it's been quite a little weekend at my house! First I had a bit of a stomach virus (yay.) Then I discovered I was the proud owner of the rarest of rare Macbook Pro' with a crashing hardrive.

Do you know how long it takes to do a complete erase and install? Forever. Especially when it doesn't work and you have to do it again. And again. And finally give up and have to schedule a phone chat to explain it to the AppleStud (hi Mike!) who in the end says, 'Dang, girl. You already did everything I was going to make you do. Best send it in.'

ANYWAY. No sewing going on here, just dreaming of sewing. And no blog or email reading and I MISS YOU GUYS. I'm on a borrowed laptop now for kicks and giggles. (Addicted? Me?) And since I don't have anything new to show you, I thought I'd share something old!

This beautiful dress was an Easter dress for Lu when she was 3 years old.

The inspiration for the dress was an article in Sew Beautiful's Easter 1998 issue (my favorite issue ever!) I believe it was a Kay Guiles pictorial. I used a basic yoke dress pattern and the instructions in the magazine for the shadow smocking.

The smocked portion of the dress is at the waist, and involves a strip of fabric (in this case, a scalloped strip of blue cotton batiste) basted to the back of the skirt (white cotton batiste). When the skirt panel is pleated and smocked, the blue shadows through the white batiste creating the "shadow smocking".

The embroidery included a double feather stitch in cream with pink silk ribbon rosebuds.

The collars were treated to the same shadowed blue batiste and pink silk ribbon roses, then edged in gathered creamy cotton lace.

I have a real soft spot for this dress because of the laces. All three laces used on the center front bodice were vintage scraps from my grandma's sewing basket. I have a bit left of the narrow version, but I believe the wide center lace was the last of that piece. A little bit of my grandma stitched into Lu's dress. I'm the only grandchild who sews, so it has always been something I like to think I got from her.

There is featherstitching between the laces on the front, and I remember fussing over the silk floss I used (my first go at silk floss. And possibly my last. I've never mastered its slippery feel!)

The puff sleeves were trimmed in cotton laces, one a Swiss insertion and the other a gathered cotton.

The back of the dress buttoned down with creamy buttons. I hemstitched the placket by machine using one of my "fancy" stitches.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk back through early Quality Time sewing! I still have several things from Lu's baby & toddlerhood to share in the future. My utmost favorite dress, my own design, is yet to come. It is (if I do say so myself) DIVINE.

And there's sewing mojo too...I'm seriously into the 1930s right now, but another 1960s frock in white & blue madras plaid is calling my name too. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

vintage yellow dress.

That description doesn't nearly say it all. How about an absolutely, perfectly, WONDERFUL vintage yellow dress (that I found on ebay!) This post is full of big pictures. They're worth the wait to "download" though! I left them larger than I normally do because the color and print was hard to photograph; I don't think you'll be able to really see details until you click them to make larger.

This adorable 1940s-era dress isn't my first vintage garment purchase, but it IS the first "real dress" that is in good condition and actually very wearable. It fits me like a glove, literally like it was made for me. As it is a handmade dress (i have lots of inside detail shots!), I think its kind of awesome to think of a 1940s girl who loved this dress style, this color, and was exactly my size.

Isn't it flattering?? I'll go through the dress so you can see the specifics. Here's a full shot of the dress on a hanger.

The bodice has a round applied yoke that extends across the shoulders. The bodice gathers both to the shoulder portion and to the 6-gore skirt. Yoke:


Bodice gathered to waist (just where a dart would be, not across the entire waistline):

The cut-on cap sleeve is turned up and stitched for a hem:

I'm not sure if this next picture is a design detail or a fitting adjustment. There are gussets under the arm, but they're finished in such a way that it seems to be purposefully done this way, not as an adjustment for a too-small dress. The gussets are made of 2 pieces, including a separate "hem/facing" piece at the top of the gusset.

The back yoke attaches to the front yoke/shoulder piece:

Then there are these FABULOUS pockets on the front skirt!

The dress is made by hand, with pinked seams and only straight stitching by machine or handstitching. This is the shoulder gathers attached the yoke piece from the inside of the dress:

And here is the back yoke/facing/lower bodice. You can see the pinked bodice seams, and the handstitching around the yoke. I have to say, even though I dislike facings in garments as a rule, I like this more narrow one. It lies very flat. I may have to inspect it a little closer!

Now I have a dilemma...I love this dress. I would wear this dress all the time if I could! While the dress itself is in excellent condition (no rips, holes, rotting fabric, stains, nothing!) The threads are fragile. I'm thinking about re-stitching every seam with new thread so I can wear it!

But first, I'm trying to decide how best to copy the pattern. If I'm going to restitch it anyway, should I take apart all the seams and completely remake it? (Thus, giving me pattern pieces to trace.) Or, should I just use a different method of creating pattern pieces?

Any suggestions??

Seriously though, how perfectly made for me is this dress?? Even the length is perfect!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

home again!

I'm back from Louisville, Kentucky and LUCKY ME, I caught a cold from the filtered air on the planes. Yuck!

But, other than some tiredness and sore throat/minor cough, I'm just happy to be HOME. This was my first trip to Kentucky, and I did not get to see much more than downtown Louisville. That in itself was interesting and fun though!

We stayed in the Galt House, right on the Ohio river. We were too exhausted Friday night to take the riverboat cruise, but we really did mean to!

We did squeeze in a visit to Joe's Crab Shack though. Look, it's my lawn BS tunic. Perfectly cool and comfy for the hot, humid day.

Downtown is very picturesque, with lots of interesting architecture.

I love the thought and attention that went into making the sidewalks so interesting to walk. Every few steps there was something quirky or fun or charming to inspect. (As usual, I'm the one behind the camera, so these lovely ladies are some of my fellow school buddies.)

We rode the trolley around Main & Market street:

And of course we walked a few blocks to the Louisville Slugger museum and factory:

Lu was excited by this picture.

the Babe's bat!!!

We didn't have time or transportation to make it out to Churchill Downs, which was a little disappointing. But that just leaves more things to do the next time I'm in Louisville! I also didn't make it to the Muhammad Ali Center, which was just across the park from my hotel,

I'm so happy to be home now, to enjoy my last few weeks of summer vacation. I go back on contract at school August 4, so I have about 2 weeks to finish my summer sewing fiesta and do all the loafing I can squeeze in.

Here's one final photo, this is me, somewhere over Michigan, waving to Kristine: