Tag Archives: mccalls

NYC Part 2: Touring the McCall Pattern Company

25 Aug

Ok, y’all, time for part 2 of my NYC journey – touring the offices of the McCall Pattern Company! Whoop whoop!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Before I get too far into this post, there are a couple of things I’d like to address, as I’ve had some emails and comments about this:
– The McCall Pattern Company did NOT fly me into NY to visit their offices. Umm… I wish? I paid for my plane ticket all by myself, sorry!
– I did not come to NY specifically to visit The McCall Pattern Company – I was here to teach a workshop at Workroom Social. As soon as I announced my impending visit, I was emailed by Meg from McCall’s and offered an invite to tour the offices while I was there.
– Meg is the new Social Media Pro at McCall’s. If you’ve talked to anyone from McCall via Twitter, Instagram, their blog, etc – you were likely talking to Meg. I personally have known Meg for a couple of years now – well before she went into working for McCall’s – which is why she reached out to me to visit while I was in the city. Much to some the butthurt anonymous commentary on my blog, McCall doesn’t have a grand scheme of shutting me down (I mean, let’s be real you guys – I’m not hurting their sales when I post commentaries. There are a WHOLE lot of other sewists out there who don’t read my blog/don’t read blogs/don’t care about my opinion on Koos Van Den Akker. They still buy the patterns – some of the traffic coming directly from my blog. So there’s that.). They simply wanted to reach out and let me see the company, so, (in their own words) that when I’m talking my shit, at least I’m getting the facts straight ;)
– I’m sure there are people who are thinking about what a sellout I am right now. That’s totally fine. You do you! I got over that whole ~sooo underground anti-coporation~ shit when I was like 17. DGAF.

With all that being said – OMG! Longtime dream – accomplished! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to lurk around the offices of this pattern company (as much as I poke fun at them, it doesn’t excuse the fact that we are still talking about dream job territory here. Nevermind that I’m not a patternmaker in any sense of the imagination, nor do I plan to become one), so this was an absolute treat for me! Full disclosure – I went into the offices with every intention of taking lots of photos (hence my phone in my hand in, well, every picture haha. Wish that dress had some pockets!), but since I never end up doing what I planned, all the photos you see in this post were taking by Meg. Thanks, Meg!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I got the grand tour, you guys – I saw every department, met sooo many people (except the CEO, who was unfortunately in a meeting when I arrived. Oh well! Next time!), and a few of them even knew who I was! So crazy!

One of the biggest things I learned was just how freakin’ small this company is! Sure, they had a hell of a lot more employees than any of the indie designers we know and love – but it’s not like there are thousands of them, scattered across the world in giant corporate offices, with a big fat CEO smoking a cigar in his silk bed jacket and laughing all the way to the bank (I mean, I know I just said I never actually met the CEO but I’m just gonna ASSUME here, you guys). Everything is done in-house in NYC – they produce the patterns for McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, Kwik Sew, and even do Vogue Pattern Magazine. Each individual department is very small – some only having a couple of employees at most. It’s also one of those companies where everyone is basically family, which I just think is really nice and feels good to be around. Everyone was extremely friendly and clearly very happy to be there.

There are a LOT of rooms and departments – the fabric library (where they keep zillions of swatches, plus buttons and trims and notions and, oh god, it was heaven in there), drafting, dressmaking, customer service, in-house photography (complete with racks of clothing and even more racks of shoes aieeee), etc etc. All in all, I think I was there for about 3 hours – flitting around, chatting everyone up, getting all grabby hands on the various fabrics (and apologizing every few minutes. Forreal, my mom hates shopping with me because I’m incapable of not touching things. This is why I hate museums and love flea markets, haha).

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour
Checking out the fabric room and perusing the samples was one of my favorite parts. Sooo much eye-candy!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

This look of wide-eyed wonderment was pretty much plastered to my face the entire time I was in there, ha!

Another highlight of my tour was getting to finally meet the famed Vogue Pattern Designer, Carlos Correa (I didn’t get a photo with him, but you can see him chatting about some of the designer pieces in this McCall blog post). The very first thing he said to me was, “I LOVE YOUR BLOG!” hahahahaa!! Apparently, he reads it and loves the pattern round-ups (and I reckon he’s reading it right now, so HI CARLOS!). I spent a long time in his office, talking about the pattern and their styling vs how they look in real life, and saw some of the new designs for next season as well. I can’t say much about those, but what I can say is I kept going, “Oooh! I want one of those!” haha!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I also stopped in the Vogue Pattern Magazine offices, to chat with the Editor and LURK THOSE DESIGNER DRESSES.

Did you know that the outfits on the Vogue American Designer pattern envelopes are actual designer garments? That was news to me! Take Vogue 1409, the Saber-Toothed Tiger dress, for instance. This dress literally came from the Donna Karan Collection – and McCall’s based the pattern off it, then used the actual dress in the photoshoot. It wasn’t sewn by them, nor did they choose the fabric (since it’s from Donna Karan). If you look inside, you’ll see all the tags – including the original price tag. This is much better explained on the McCall Pattern Blog, but that’s the general gist.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

With that being said, the next order of business was to try on the $10,000 Ralph Rucci coat.

Me: If it fits, that means I get to keep it, right?
Everyone else: lolololololol

Damn, that thing was a work of ART! I know I hated on the arm holes at one point (that’s such a random thing to hate on, ha), but seeing it in person absolutely made me change my mind (and I still think it looks weird on the envelope photo, maybe it’s just the way the model is standing?). The inside is amazing – all bound seams and even some hand stitches! Apparently there’s a whole Pinterest board for lurking the inside of the designer garments, so we can all drool from far away.

After that, it was obviously time to play dress-up. Because, duh.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

In another Ralph Rucci original (pattern is Vogue 1404), featuring the wind machine ;) Also, those shoes are like 4 sizes too big.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

Obviously I had to try on the Guy Laroche purple nightmare (that is actually silk chaurmeuse) (pattern is Vogue 1416. The sleeves were cracking me up to no end.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Hahaha!
(side note: holy shit I need to touch up my hair color)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ughhh WANT THIS COAT (pattern is Vogue 1419)

I had an amazing time visiting the offices and meeting all the wonderful people who work so hard to produce all these patterns (whether you personally love them or not, I think we can all agree that the sheer amount of patterns they put out every year is quite impressive!). I did bring up some personal beefs – the excessive ease, the styling situation – as I feel like these are areas that do need some improvement. My opinions were definitely heard, and some things were already in the process of being addressed before I even brought them up, thanks to customer feedback. The McCall Pattern Company is absolutely interested in what the consumer has to say, and they’re making a huge effort to reach out to the online sewing community and bridge that gap. I know it’s really easy to hate on the ~big guy~ for just being there (especially when it’s a faceless corporation), but at the end of the day – I want to support the sewing community and it’s future! I’m absolutely invested in doing whatever I can to bring home sewists more options, and that includes supporting the Big 4. It was such a treat to visit the offices and get to know the people who make things happen there.

If you have a question or a complaint about a pattern from the McCall Pattern Company – contact them! They don’t know there is a problem unless you tell them, and their customer service department is extremely dedicated when it comes to helping. Follow their blog to learn more about the company, Like their Facebook page, lurk their Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to reach out and chat them up if you have a comment or concern. I’d love to see the gap close between the Big 4 and Indie pattern companies – I mean, we’re all in this for the love of sewing, right?

McCall Pattern Company Tour
(me hanging in the styling room. I was told to pretend I was fixing my hair – I promise I don’t sit at every available mirror and preen, haha! Although my hair did look really good that day. Minus the whole I need-to-redye-it situation)

Now, I can’t stop thinking about that Ralph Rucci coat…
So, like, if I paint it... I have to sew it, right? ❤️
I am definitely going to sew the shit out of that pattern. Just need to find my perfect red wool.

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Project Sewn: Hello, Dolly!

4 Feb

All right, dudes and dudettes – Project Sewn is up and running! This first week, the theme is Style Icon.

I’m just gonna be real with y’all – as soon as I saw that challenge, my personal motto started rolling through my head. The thing is – I don’t have a style icon. I honestly don’t have a person (or designer, or whatever) who I use as inspiration for my outfits. I mean, I like the way lots of celebrities dress and I’m no stranger to the siren song of a good Joan Holloway outfit, but as far as picking a particular person… naw. I don’t even know, y’all. In the end, I decided to go with someone who I admire as a person who just happens to have amazing style….

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Dolly Parton!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I mean, who doesn’t love Dolly, amirite? She’s such an incredibly smart, funny, generous – and not to mention talented as HELL – woman… a true icon in my book. Speaking of books, have you ever read her memoir, My Life and Other Unfinished Business? Or heard about her program Imagination Library, which sends free books to kids to get them excited about reading? Or, hell, have you been to Dollywood?? This woman, she is amazing. She’s not just a style icon for me – she’s a real life icon, the kind of person I want to emulate.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Plus, Dolly (specifically circa 60s-70s) was no stranger to an overly decorated/borderline tacky western shirt. And, dammit, I wanted a western shirt! I’ve actually been looking for an excuse to sew one for years.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I made my entire outfit, obviously, but let’s talk about the shirt first. My fabric is a tiny check gingham seersucker from Mood. I used the Archer as my base pattern (lol, poor Jen, probably never thought her pattern would get used to make this sort of monstrosity SORRY JEN I LOVE YOUR PATTERN THO), and made a few modifications, beyond my normal ones of changing the sleeve placket, narrowing the side seams, and a different method for attaching the collar and collar stand. There’s quite a bit of piping, since we all know it’s not a real western shirt without gratuitous amounts of piping.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Adding the piping was really fun, and definitely adds some pizazz to an otherwise plain shirt. The piping at the back yoke and top of the sleeve cuffs was easy – I just sewed it along the seam allowance before attaching the other pieces. For the front yoke, I had to do a little bit of drafting and figuring out – I ended up tracing the front piece and cutting off where I wanted the yoke to hit (right above the pockets) and then drew my scallops with a french curve. To attach the piping, I first sewed it to the bottom of the yoke, clipped and trimmed and pressed and it toward the wrong side, and then laid the yokes on top of the front piece and topstitched along the piping. The raw edges of the piping are enclosed inside the yoke, so the inside of the front of the shirt is perfectly clean except for a line of topstitching. I think it worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Once I had the shirt entirely assembled, less the pearl snaps and hem, I hung it on a hanger and stared at it for over a month. What to do next? I liked the way the effect was going, but it clearly needed some embroidery at the yokes to give it that western flair. I realized at the point that the tiny gingham check was working against me – any embroidery was going to get lost in all that action.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I had my epiphany right before I fell asleep one night – APPLIQUE! That would show up against the check, and it would still allow me to involve some of the embroidery I so desperately wanted. I knew I still had a piece of vintage barkcloth in my stash that would be perfect (I used the majority of it for my birthday dress a few years back, and have been hoarding the remaining yardage ever since!). I painstakingly cut around each rose and leaf, arranging the pieces so they would be mostly mirrored at the front, and attached them with fusible web to the yokes. Then I hand-embroidered around every piece – partially to keep them attached to the start, but mostly because I just loove the texture of hand embroidery!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

I am pretty freaking THRILLED with how it turned out, what do you think??

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

The last thing my shirt needed was a little bit of pearl snap action! I got mine from Cowgirl Snaps on Etsy, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall experience. I actually bought both red and black pearl snaps, but once I got the shirt finished, black was the clear winner. Also, I just really love hammering shit in my sewing room, ok.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Ok, now let’s talk about the pants! I used a Theory stretch denim from Mood and my pattern is McCall’s 6440. This is my first version of this pattern (you’ve already seen my leopard pair, ooh la la), and I went through a BIG fitting curve with these. I initially cut the size 8, based on the finished measurements – and they were huuuuge! Pretty much every thing about them sucked except the crotch curve, basically. I spent an entire evening trying on, pinning, basting, trying on, repinning, basting, trying on… ad nauseam. I’m happy that they worked out in the end – they are SO fun to wear, and look super pin-up, yay! – but getting there was a process, plus the insides are full of thread tails from all that basting. Oh well!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Some gratuitous butt shots for ya. You’re welcome.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Oh, yeah, and in case you were wondering – I can also wear this shirt untied with the sleeves rolled down, like a proper Archer, which makes it much more wearable in day-to-day life :)

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Now at this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Ok, fine, but where the hell are you going to wear that thing, anyway??” Guys. Guys. I live in Nashville. I’m not so stuck up my own butt that I’m not above rolling down to the tourist district and getting my Honky Tonk on. Let’s be real – Honky Tonkin’ is the best part about living in Nashville, as far as I’m concerned. OF COURSE you can go dancin’ in normal people clothes, but why the hell not throw on your best western digs and cowboy boots and dress the part? This being made of seersucker is even better – it’ll be much more comfortable come summer, compared to my RTW black cotton western shirt, especially with the looser style.

I’m also going to wear it just for the heck of it because, well, it’s awesome ;)

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Also, in case you were wondering – I DO have cowboy boots! I just thought this outfit needed a little tone down from the ~country~, hence the Keds :)

Ok, hope you’re ready for some detail shots… I took a million :\….

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

The waistband of the pants is faced with more gingham seersucker. I love when my pants match my top, even if it’s only on the inside!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Don’t look too closely, but the embroidery on the front yokes is actually not a perfect mirror. Since the flowers weren’t printed to mirror, I had to get super creative with my cutting and appliqueing on one side, but I think it worked out quite nicely!

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Sleeve placket + pearl snaps + piping = ♥

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Yokes

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Embroidery – the flowers are outlined in a 4 thread split stitch, and the leaves are outlined in a 2 thread chainstitch. I love the effect and textures with the applique and embroidery – it’s just a little bit Alabama Chanin.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon
Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Snaps to anyone who sat through this entire post! I have one gift for you, which I found while I was trolling the nets for Dolly inspiration (click for source):

dolly parton style inspo

NOW do you see why I chose her as my inspiration? God, I love that woman.

Project Sewn, Week 1: Style Icon

Now head on over to Project Sewn and see what everyone else has been up to! Don’t forget to vote for your favorite!

Completed: Some Fabulous Silk Birds

17 Jul

I am just going to preface this post with a warning: This is my VERY favorite thing I’ve ever made. Forget everything else up to this point. This here, this is the winner.

Also, I tried REALLY hard to cull down the number of pictures, but there are still a lot. Sorry, not sorry.

Marc Jacobs Birds

I initially saw this fabric on the Mood Fabrics Instagram (which, if you’re not lurking that – WHY NOT, THEY POST THE BEST FABRICS!!). Isn’t it fabulous? I immediately called the store and had them set aside 4 yards for me. When I finally had it shipped all the way to Nashville, I was amazed at just how wonderful it was in person. The designer is Marc Jacobs, and it’s a soft silk Georgette with a gorgeous drape and some incredibly saturated color.

Of course, I had no idea what I was going to do with 4 yards of bird silk Georgette. I hoarded it for about 2 months, while plotting and planning.

Marc Jacobs Birds

I had a Sewing Epiphany while on the way to work one morning (does anyone else have those? Aren’t they so awesome?) and realized that the print would work perfectly with a 40s style dress – and the drapiness of the silk would be a 100% match for McCall’s 6113. Yes, the same pattern I used for last month’s Mood dress. What can I say – I love this pattern, and I want to make a million of it’s babies.

Marc Jacobs Birds

Since this was my first time sewing with silk Georgette, I spent a few weeks devising a game plan and learning all I could about this fabric before slicing into my yardage. Georgette – or, at least, this Georgette – is on the sheer side, so it was going to need some sort of underlayer to keep things opaque. I didn’t want to underline the dress and compromise the flow of the fabric, so I decided to make a slip to wear underneath. Bonus: this is quite handy on a windy day! Already tested that theory :P

Marc Jacobs Birds

I used french seams to construct the entire dress, except at a few sections where it was impossible to sew them – such as the curved yokes. For those parts, I pinked the seams to keep them from fraying. I also stabilized the fabric underneath the yokes with a piece of black silk organza. Since the Georgette is so lightweight and that area gets so much stress, I wanted to give it as much support as possible. I also found the use of my walking foot quite helpful while assembling the dress – it kept the layers from shifting (and me from crying tears of frustration).

Marc Jacobs Birds

Despite having made this dress twice already (my red wool crepe version, plus a boring ol’ muslin), I still encountered some construction challenges unrelated to the fabric. For one, the sleeves gave me HELL when I was trying to set them in. I don’t even understand how it happened – they eased in perfectly with the crepe, but for some reason, it just didn’t work with the Georgette without including a lot of unwanted puckers. I was stumped and let the dress simmer for a few days on my dressform. I even considered leaving it sleeveless, no lie.

Marc Jacobs Birds

Fortunately, I remembered that Casey posted a tutorial on excess sleeve ease on her blog a couple years ago, so I followed the instructions for redrawing the sleeve cap and crossed my fingers.

Marc Jacobs Birds

I am happy to say that it worked! I’m so glad I was able to figure it out – the sleeves really make the dress!!

Marc Jacobs Birds

Marc Jacobs Birds

Marc Jacobs Birds

I just think this pattern is SO PERFECT for such a bright print! Isn’t it beautiful?

Marc Jacobs Birds

I even got super fancy and put a (non-functional) fancy button where the front of the dress fastens.

Marc Jacobs Birds

Marc Jacobs Birds

Marc Jacobs Birds

Marc Jacobs Birds

Now, let’s talk about my slip! I am going to post pictures which I realize is essentially me in my underwear, so bear with me here.

Silk Slip

I’m not going to lie – like 99.9% of the reason why I decided to go with the matching slip was so I’d have a chance to get my hands on some 4-ply Silk Crepe. I’ve heard some amazing stories about the stuff, but never had a chance to try it for myself. It tends to run on the expensive side (truth, this silk crepe cost more than the silk Georgette!), but a slip doesn’t require a whoooole lot of yardage, so I sucked it up and put in my order. I didn’t know what to expect when the package arrived at my door.

Silk Slip

People. This stuff is INCREDIBLE. Throw out any mean thoughts you had about silk and focus on the 4-ply. It’s not at all slippery – even when I was cutting bias pieces, the fabric stayed put. It’s nice and robust and opaque, and it feels amazing against the skin. It presses beautifully and sews like a dream. I was extremely skeptical before I properly introduced myself, but I really think it deserves the hype.

Silk Slip

To make the slip, I used the free Ruby Slip pattern. I spent a lot of time redrafting shit to get it to fit right, and it was kind of a nightmare and I kind of almost gave up (no hate on the pattern itself – I’m just VERY particular about how my slips fit!). I started with the size 8, made a lot a lot a lot of changes, and I’m just going to list them here:
– The original bodice was very small, so I added a 1/2″ FBA using the sew-along tutorial. Truth, I tried to get away with not doing this (I wear a DD cup, but let’s be real here – the only thing “big” about my boobs is the proportion, not the actual size, kwim? I could totally fit into like a C cup if the band was small enough), but my first muslin informed me otherwise.
– I then redrafted the bodice to include a center front seam and underbust gathers, following this tutorial.
– My second muslin showed that now the bodice was too big at the center front, and the gathers were sitting in such a weird place… I looked like I had puffy nipples. So awesome, except not. I wish I could tell y’all I did some mathematical pattern drafting magic and fixed it, but honestly I pinned that fucker to my dress form and manipulated it until I had a decent fit. I pinned out a chunk of the center front seam, redistributed the gathers, and chopped about 1″ width off the back midriff. I readjusted the side seams of the skirt (that shit fit almost perfect with no adjustments, thank god) and crossed my fingers.
– Since the new back midriff was slightly (I’m talking 1/2″ or less) smaller than the skirt, I cut that piece on the bias and carefully eased the two pieces together. I think the result is pretty good – it fits my small back, and the bias makes it easy to pull on and off!
– I also cut about 5 1/2″ off the hem of the skirt. It was long, and I need this slip to be shorter than my skirts!

Silk Slip

Silk Slip

Finally, I added some beautiful lace around the top and the hem, and a little self-made bow in the middle of the bodice. The straps are just satin ribbon outfitted with strap adjusters and rings – very easy to put together.

Marc Jacobs Birds

Now, here’s the real question: I still have like a yard (maybe more) of this bird fabric left. WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH IT?

Completed: 40s Wool Crepe Wrap Dress

12 Jun

I know, this dress looks strikingly similar to the 40s wrap dress that Peter made for his identical cousin Cathy earlier this month, not to mention I’ve already dabbled in wool crepe for summer wear, as well as a full 40s wool crepe dress. Yeesh. Ya think it’s possible for me to branch out a little here? Nuh uh, no way. Not me.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

I actually bought this fabric ‘way back when I was visiting Mood Fabrics in NY. I’m sure y’all are sick of hearing about it at this point, but heyyyy I’ll be working through that stash for at least the next couple of months. Just so we’re clear.

Anyway, fabric. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t planning on buying any wool crepe – but again, Carolyn talked me into it. She’s SUCH a good enabler! This wool crepe is actually a bit thinner and drapier than most wool crepes I’ve come across, making it a good weight for a smart summer dress (oh god, did I really just describe a dress as “smart”? I am totally stuck on this 40s thing…). With Carolyn’s advice, I underlined the entire dress in a lightweight cotton batiste, to combat the slight sheerness and make the dress more comfortable to wear in the heat.

McCall 6113

I used McCall’s 6113 to make this dress up. Isn’t the pattern gorgeous!? A friend found it (along with an entire paper grocery bag full of patterns – ranging from the 40s to the 80s, all in my size. I MEAN COME ON, WHAT ARE THE ODDS) in her attic, and gifted the whole stash to meee! Yes!! The pieces are intact, but unfortunately… the instructions are not. Wah wah. Thankfully, I’ve made a few wrap dresses in my day, not to mention I feel fairly confident in my assemblage skills, so I decided to give it a go.

McCall 6113 - pattern piece

… this is what I found when I pulled the pieces out. Not only is everything labeled (thank you, printed patterns!), but there are construction notes printed ON the pattern sheet, AND the notches are numbered in the order that things go together. PRAISE THE LORD. Although, in all honesty… I probably could have put this together without the help. But MAN, it was nice to eliminate most of the guesswork!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

Despite the pattern being in my size, I did have to make a few adjustments to get everything to fit nicely (I generally like to go down a size or two – sometimes more – since I find most patterns tend to have more ease than I prefer to wear. Yep, even vintage patterns. What gives; am I just in denial of my size or something??), mainly in the form of taking in the side seams and shortening the shoulders, as well as hacking about 5″ off the length. I made a muslin for fit, but it ended up also giving me a great idea of how the pattern was put together so I had less guesswork with my wool crepe. Which is good, since wool crepe can be a sneaky little bitch when it comes to ripping out stitches.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

In hindsight, wool crepe is definitely a little on the bulky side for the gathers in this dress. I’m afraid I look a bit boxy at the waistline here :( Oh well!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress
Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

I do love the little tucks in the back :)

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

And the curved hem at the overlap.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

I don’t know what’s going on with this picture, I just thought it was funny. ~Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline~

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress
Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

Oh, did you notice my pretty embroidery? This all happened entirely on a whim – I finished the dress, put it on and looked in the mirror, and it just looked… red. Overwhelmingly red, and plain! I decided to add a small punch of (neutral)color by embroidering the shoulder detail. The embroidery is from the Hoop Love Vintage Transfers Flickr Group, and it’s all just a basic back stitch with french knots in the middle of the flowers. Ha, that sound so easy but it seriously took me about 6 hours to do. Embroidery is definitely a time-suck!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

Here you can see the underlined inside, as well as the series of snaps and hooks that hold the dress together.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

And there it is closed!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

How many of you will groan if I finish this post with something like, “WELL I GUESS THAT WRAPS IT UP!!”

Sorry.
Not sorry.

Completed: Red Thurlows & McCall’s 4488

22 Feb

I know it’s only February, but try telling that to my spring fever! GAH can it go ahead and get warm here already!? Since I can’t control the weather (something I’m still waiting patiently for, as well as for my own Hoverboard and Jaws 19), I can at least get a head start on pulling my warm-weather wardrobe together, yeah?

Red & Seafoam
I said I wanted red pants… and I got my red pants! This is my second incarnation of the Thinlows, btw. Those are totally Thurlows hiding within those skinny legs.

Red & Seafoam
Since the red cotton twill I used does not have any stretch, I was very careful about how much I tapered down these legs. As much as I love the super-duper skinny legs, I think I’d need a little bit of stretch to get my foot in there!

Red & Seafoam
Thinning these down was… interesting. I scrapped my original pattern mash-up and properly retraced each pattern piece. Then, I straightened the line of the flare with a long ruler. I made a quick muslin using some thick denim I had lurking in my stash – I wanted to make sure these would be wearable, as I’ve only made Thurlows with fabric that had some give. I was also able to pin out a little more excess from the sides, and transfer that to my pattern pieces. Sewed them up, and everything fits. Yay!

Red & Seafoam
There’s a bit of pulling at the crotch, as you can see – the pants themselves feel fine (not too tight, not too loose), so I’m not sure if many this has something to do with the lack of stretch? Hm.

Red & Seafoam
The only other pattern adjustment I made was to shift the pockets about 1″ toward the side seams. I noticed in my muslin that I needed to sew inside the back extension line to prevent gappage, and this was making the pockets come close to touching. Now they sit in the right place, however, I think next time I need to shorten them. The proportions look a little off. Not that you can tell from this picture at all, but eh.

Red & Seafoam
I’ve also got a little wrinkling under the butt. Not too bad, but it’s there.

Red & Seafoam
To complete my ~come hither spring~ outfit, I used this amazing seafoam rayon jersey to make McCall’s 4488 (a pattern from the 70s). It’s hard to capture this exact color in my photos (look at the picture Mood has on the site, it’s much more accurate), but I LOVE IT. Pretty sure this shade of seafoam goes with every color I own.
Also, that top was a bitch to make. I have no idea why – I made the crop top before and it turned out fine (and BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING, they use the same pattern pieces up top, ok!) – but this lil shit was out to get me from the get-go. After a lot of cutting and cussing, I think I fixed it. I just have to be careful about those gathers over the boobs. If I’m not careful, things can get a bit… nipply.

Red Thurlows

Red Thurlows
Check out that floral cotton print lining! Oooh, fancy!

Red Thurlows
God, I just want to take my pants off and show everyone. The lining, I mean.

Red Thurlows
This is only slightly related, but check out the gorgeous button hole my machine makes! FUCK.

Red Thurlows
I think this might be the best-looking welt pocket I’ve ever made.

Seafoam top

Seafoam top
I really love that I got to dig into my stash of weird colors when it came time for serging everything. True happiness is having seafoam green thread, guys.

Red & Seafoam

Come on, spring!

Completed: McCall’s 5972, The Vintage Floral Sheath

4 Dec

I just realized the title of this post is a little misleading. This is a new dress, made from a new(ish) pattern. I’m fairly certain that even the fabric is somewhat new. I’m calling it vintage because of the colorway and the overall look of the finished piece :) Just so we’re clear!!

Vintage Floral Sheath
ANYWAY, meet my new favorite dress, y’all!

This is McCall’s 5972, which is Laura Ashley pattern. Funny, I actually bought this dude a few years ago with the intention on making view C, with those ridiculous neck ruffles. Spoiler: I still haven’t managed view C. But I have made view B twice – once in a gorgeous purple lambswool (pre-blog, so no pictures – but I wear it frequently in the winter!), and then this piece you’re looking at right now.

Vintage Floral Sheath
The fabric is a bit special, only because it’s fucking GORGEOUS and I had the tiniest piece. I found it at the flea market over the summer, although I don’t think it’s vintage – it’s a Waverly print (says so right on the selvage) and it’s definitely upholstery fabric. I would not be surprised at all if this is a print that they are currently selling at Joann’s. However, that doesn’t make it any less amazing, amirite.

Vintage Floral Sheath
I’m really surprised that I was able to get this much dress out of the fabric. Like I said, my piece was pretty small – I think I had about a yard and a half, but it was only 35″ wide (I suspect it was 60″ at some point, as there was only one edge with a selvage. Also, holy shit I am abusing these parenthesis today). I initially wanted to make a wiggle dress, but I knew there was no way in hell I’d have enough fabric. I barely squeezed this one out as it was – I cut everything on a single layer. Almost all the pieces are cut on the fold, which meant I had to do a lot of flipping and tracing. It was worth it, though! I even had enough to cut the collar, although I did have to slice it on the center back seam since there wasn’t enough fabric to do it in once piece. I’m so pleased with my fabric stinginess!

Vintage Floral Sheath
I know the belt that I’m wearing here doesn’t really match. Shh! I plan on making a self-covered belt (I should have just enough fabric to pump one out), but I need to buy belt backing.

Vintage Floral Sheath
I made this dress entirely with stash stuff! The lining is china silk. I usually prefer to line with Bemberg Rayon – I think it feels so freaking luxurious, even better than silk! – but this stuff actually matched perfectly. And, surprisingly, it was easier to sew than the rayon. Imagine that.

Vintage Floral Sheath
I did have a bit of an issue with the fit. As I said before, this is the second time I’ve used this pattern. The first dress fits wonderfully, just the way I like it. For this reason, I did not make a muslin. I don’t know what happened between the pattern and the first finished dress, but there is definitely a size discrepancy – and I’m not really sure what I did to make it fit (other than, you know, NOT ALTERING THE PATTERN TISSUE), since it was finished so long ago and I didn’t leave my future self any notes. Thankfully, I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to fit – I try on my stuff frequently as I go, just to be sure there aren’t any little surprises waiting at the end. I caught this right before I put the zipper in. I ended up taking in the zipper side seam by quite a bit – 1 3/4″ at the bodice, 1 1/2″ at the waist, tapering down to nothing by the hip. I may need to go back and deepen the darts on the front skirt; they bag out a bit because I guess I don’t quite fill it out. So weird!

Vintage Floral Sheath
I only made a couple of construction changes to the pattern:
– The finishing calls for bias binding at the armholes. NOPE, SORRY. I pulled out my Rooibos pattern and followed the instructions for inserting the bodice lining – and it worked! No handstitching here, and it looks much cleaner :)
– The collar does not call for interfacing. I decided to underline mine with some of my precious silk organza. Ah. I love silk organza ♥
– I inserted a lapped, hand-picked zipper instead of the invisible dude. So pretty and sleek and yay!
– Due to aforementioned fabric shortages, the underside of the collar is china silk (same as the bodice lining), instead of self-fabric.

Vintage Floral Sheath
Ignore that belt and imagine this with something more, er, matching.

Vintage Floral Sheath

Vintage Floral Sheath

Vintage Floral Sheath
Here’s that handpicked zipper! See the stitches? NEITHER DO I.

Vintage Floral Sheath
Probably should have stuck a zipper guard in there. Oh well, no care!

Vintage Floral Sheath
I took a few extra steps to make this special – including binding the waist seam.

Vintage Floral Sheath
And this lace hem is super happy :)

You know what else this dress looks super good with?

Wait for it…

Vintage Floral Sheath
THAT DAMN AGATHA CARDIGAN, YEEEEAH!!

Vintage Floral Sheath
Seriously, tho, let’s talk about how this is a fucking match made in Heaven.

You probably noticed Amelia lurking on the serger table during all these pictures. That is basically what she does the entire time I’m in the sewing room (unless she’s napping on top of my pattern. Or fabric. Or scissors), and the reason why I moved my sewing machine to be away from the window. Her big butt was always in the way!

Vintage Floral Sheath
Notice her look of pure disgust. This cat hates me hahaha.

Vintage Floral Sheath
Shitty Cat is staring into your soul.

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