Sunday, November 6, 2016

The 'Luck o' the Irish' Dress in Autumn


It's starting to get really chilly here in Edinburgh – so I'm on a mad rush to wear all my Autumn dresses.  I also visited my favourite stylist, Ariana at Vanity Thrills Vintage Beauty Parlour, to update my vintage cut (I went with a Middy Plus cut) and she did an AMAZING job creating an early 40s wet set:


Her styles are amazing!!

I wore my 'Luck o' the Irish' dress which is made from McCall 3624, a pattern from 1940 and part of my 1940 McCall project (where I attempt to find AND sew all the 1940 McCall patterns)!


I love this colour of green (which is hard to photograph--it's more like a kelly green than is showing up in the pictures!) and matched it with some yellow pearl buttons.  I have a matching belt somewhere but for the life of me can't find it (note to self: time to organise and keep the belts with the dresses! gah!)


This dress is a classic shirtwaister but the details of the pattern are perfect for soft, flowy fabrics!  The fabric I used is a brushed silk and omg it is SO SOFT.  I am seriously in love with this fabric.  I found it in Goldhawk Road down in London on one of the most amazing blogger meet-ups and I've been dying to pick up more since.  For some reason, they don't carry this type of fabric in any of my local fabric stores!


We took these photos on a crisp Autumn day in Edinburgh – our trees are now fast losing their leaves!!


I am also super excited to get my first pair of Swedish Hasbeen sandals.  I've been seeing these all over the blogosphere.  The thing is that I'm allergic to the chemicals they use to tan leather – so all my shoes are of manmade materials.  You can imagine my delight when I found that all of their shoes are vegetable tanned! YIPPPPEEEEEEEE!  So I am giving them a try!  I love how they look very similar to sandals from the 40s.  So far, they are very comfortable.  I did have some problems with the strap rubbing my ankle but I think that will go away when the leather softens a bit!


Happy November everyone!! xx

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The 'Fleur Dress' at Hogwarts



Happy almost Halloween!  This year, I've been very Harry Potter inspired.  Specifically, I wanted to recreate the outfit from one of my favourite characters, Fleur Delacour from the Goblet of Fire movie.

The Beauxbaton uniform is very late 1930s, early 1940s inspired:

I found the perfect blue colour at Edinburgh Fabrics, a synthetic crepe that is very soft to the touch and drapes wonderfully.

I made the 'Fleur Dress' using McCall pattern 3733 from the year 1940.  For the cape, I turned to McCall 8776 from 1938 – which has the absolute perfect mid arm length, tie-front cape.  I made my version without the collar in the same blue fabric.


And what's even better is that David and I went to see the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour just outside of London.  Oh my goodness...what an AMAZING place.

Going through Platform 9 and 3/4:

They have done such a wonderful job of preserving all the backdrops, props and aspects from all of the movies.  We started our tour at around 4:30pm and didn't finish until almost 10pm – and we had to rush through the final rooms.  There is so much to see!  They've recreated the Hogwarts Express:


As well as the inside of the trains:


The tour starts in the Great Hall – and it is phenomenal! The hall is very large and it's great to see how they were able to film the movies within this fantastic set:s


Just to get the scale of the hall with the giant gargoyle lanterns and long bench tables:


One of my favourite set pieces is definitely the bridge.  It's crickety and twists and turns and the details are just fantastic!

Perfect for the Fleur Dress! Of course, being among so many Potter lovers was great too.  I got lots of compliments on the outfit and a few people thought I worked there!  haha.

However, to really complete the outfit, I knew I wanted to get the hat!  This hat is very reminiscent of some 1939 hats I've seen.  I found an amazing online seller, MontanaKnitWitsFelts, who makes these beauties by hand in whatever colour you want.


I thought long and hard and decided to go with a darker Navy blue hat to match my shoes – as I knew I wanted to wear the hat again with different outfits.  I absolutely love it! It fits perfectly and was custom made for me. Rebecca was such a great and communicative seller.  I'm hoping to commission a few more period hats from her!


EXPECTO PATRONUM......teehee...  David and I were debating what my Patronus would be...we are thinking either a Lynx, a tiny bee or a giggly bunny....


What about you? Any crafting for Autumn or Halloween?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

McCall 3733: The 'Fleur Dress'


Never mind it's August, I just made a long-sleeve dress! Thank you very much Scottish weather.
I'm happy to introduce my latest muse, the 'Fleur Dress'.


I made it using McCall 3773, continuing with my quest to find and sew all the McCall patterns from the year 1940.  This pattern features a neat gathered partial bodice insert with curved neckline. I opted for view C which has the straight long sleeves.  I'm still planning to make the green version with lace as seen on the pattern cover (sometimes the pattern covers have the BEST ensembles!)

I made this using a medium-weight soft synthetic rayon fabric that I got at Edinburgh Fabrics.  I just love this colour of blue.



The dress was fairly easy to put together but I think I might need to put more ease into the elbows on the sleeves as it's not very easy to do the whole over head shimmy into the dress primarily because of the arms! Ha!


I made this dress for a big event--more pictures from that and the associated accessories tomorrow :-)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July

Photo credit: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Happy 4th of July to all my American sewing friends!  I'm wearing my star hair clip today in celebration :-)




Sunday, July 3, 2016

McCall 3792: The 'Vintage Pattern Pledge' Dress


I'm guest posting today over at Kerry's blog, Kestrel Makes, about my latest 1940 McCall make for the Vintage Pattern Pledge July challenge using McCall 3792:




 You can read the full post here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

McCall 3615: "The 1940 Sears Catalogue Replica Dress"



I am beyond excited to show you my latest make, McCall 3615 which I am calling "The 1940 Sears Catalogue Replica Dress".  The original inspiration came from a page in the 1940 Sears Catalogue.  I fell in love with the fabric and David recreated it in Photoshop from the not very good quality photo below!  See his post here on the design process.  I then got the design printed on cotton satin fabric through an amazing new fabric printing service in the UK called Contrado.  They are a great company because they don't have a minimum order size, they are based in the UK and are family run, they have an amazing array of fabric choices and they are going to start carrying other products that you can print on as well (hello shoes!)  I am beyond excited to start doing lots of replica outfits with this new service!


I used McCall 3615 as it was the 1940 pattern that was the closest match to the original dress design .  It features gathers and overlapped seams on the bodice shoulder front, a really interesting waist detail, a great high side neck as well as gathered sleeves.

Here are some close-up shots of the fabric and pattern details.  I just love the fit of the dress and the fabric design! I am also happy that I managed to line up the bodice lines with the seams in the skirt front.


Here's the back of the dress which is pretty basic. I probably could have made the bodice back slightly shorter but I'm also not standing up perfectly straight.  Isn't this hat fabulous?  I found it at a  vintage store in Portland last year.


One of my favourite things about this pattern is the neckline. I just love the ever so slight high-neck look.  I would love to make this dress in a plain fabric as well so that the bodice details would really jump out.


YAY! So very happy with my new make.  The fabric is a perfect weight and cool because it is cotton but also has a nice soft hand with the satin and is a dream to sew.  I plan to print many more fabric designs!

What about you? Have you ever thought of printing your own fabric?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Guest Post from David: Designing the Fabric


     Out of the fabric samples and catalog photos I showed Debi, this is the one she immediately gravitated to.  I liked that the pattern of flowers was simple but didn't repeat often - there was an organic flow to it, which I wanted to replicate.  It meant a bit of extra work, but I thought the effect would be worth the time.


I couldn't find a pure scan of the catalog cover, so unfortunately, the jpeg I had to work with was a poor photograph of the page.   I brought it into Photoshop and realised I would have to create the different coloured flowers from scratch.   I essentially did the digital version of tracing:  I set the catalog page image as the background, then opened a new layer above it, setting the transparency to 50%, painting over the image until I got the feel for the technique of how the flowers were created.




     I ended up creating a few flower shapes with the colours sampled directly from the original image, then saved each flower as a separate file, placing them individually on a background also sampled from the catalog image.  Since each flower was an individual layer, I was able to replicate the bunches by arranging the layers and erasing sections of the flower above so they would fit together.




     I came up for air (a cuppa tea, truth be told) some time later, with a good section that matched the pattern of the fabric pictured on the catalog page.




     Then I went about adding the random elements I had liked about the original fabric pattern.




     Once that was done, I began replicating the pattern by layering copies of the finished section and making sure they blended seamlessly.  I wanted the flowers to be about 2-3cm big, so I scaled the image accordingly and uploaded it.




     I wasn't entirely satisfied with the quality of the image, so I decided to create a full-sized image of the 1 x 3.5metre fabric to ensure that there would be a seamless repeat in the pattern for the entire length, to make it easy for Debi to place the pattern pieces and avoid unnecessary waste.
     This proved to be more complicated than I'd first thought; thankfully, I've since figured out a simpler way to do it but that afternoon was spent waiting for the graphics to render bit by bit.




     We ended up printing a larger version of the pattern on cashmere and the full 3.5 metres on cotton lawn.   The former will be used for a jacket and the latter for the dress.  Both fabrics are very soft to the touch and have a nice drape.   I think Debi's going to look great in them!

     The photo above was taken in poor light - the colours match perfectly and we're very pleased with the results.   I'll take some better photos once Debi's finished sewing her outfit.

Monday, June 13, 2016

1940s Fabric Collaboration

I am currently working on a very exciting project.  I was recently approached by Contrado, a company that prints fabrics.  You can design your own fabric and get it printed onto any type of fabric, from cashmere to silk to cotton to you name it!  They have everything. Check out Handmade Jane's post on her tour of the factory.

I had always wanted to try printing my own fabric, but all the companies for doing this are based in the U.S., making it very expensive to order any fabric.  Until now! So I am delighted that this company is UK-based (and also family-run! double hurrah!). They let me try out their fabric printing service for an upcoming sewing project.

My inspiration for the fabric collaboration came from this 1940 Sears catalogue photo:


I'm using this pattern to try and recreate the look:


I'm almost done sewing (just need to attach the bodice to the skirt, insert zipper and sleeves and hem it).  Whoohoo.  Very excited.  Tomorrow David will share a guest post on how he designed the fabric based on the 1940 Sears Catalogue photo.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Butterick 5209: The "Garden of Dreams Dress"



One our favourite place in Kathmandu was the 'Garden of Dreams'.  Our friends recommended it to us and it did not disappoint! It is a garden that was designed by Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana in the early 1920s as a private garden.  It has since been open to the public, restored (during 2000-2007) and is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the bustling city.

How stunning is this photo of the garden pond in the late afternoon light?  It looks like a beautiful painting:


For our anniversary trip, I decided to tackle one of my UFOs, Butterick 5209.

This is also one of the patterns for 'The Big Vintage Sew-along'.  If you haven't already, check out this super fun sew-along using vintage Butterick, McCall and Vogue patterns.  The perfect impetus to finish my UFO (aka 'unfinished object).


Butterick 5209 is a pattern from 1947 that features a stunning halter top or cap sleeved dress.  The bodice is smooth around the midriff and then creates a stunning gathered halter top effect.  The skirt is attached through a gathered waist.


I chose a fabulous tropical print pattern with bright orange flowers.  I'm not sure what the fabric is but it is very easy to work with and drapes well.  I got the fabric several years ago from Fabric Depot, a massive fabric store, in Portland.


This poor dress languished in my UFO pile for three years!  Why you might ask?  Well, I started sewing the halter dress and then halfway through decided that maybe the cap sleeves would look better on me.  I went back to the patterns and realised each version was sewn a completely different way and I would have to unpick the halter to make the other version.  Silly me.  But with my good luck the The Big Vintage Sew-along was announced and I immediately remembered the dress!  Finally, I could successfully participate in a  sew-along and finish my UFO! teehee.



I got the dress back out and realised I liked the halter version better anyways and just finished it up!  It was the perfect dress for our adventures in the Garden of Dreams:


I was even able to find out what the Garden of Dreams would have looked like in the 1940s:

The grand building in the background is a restaurant and that is where David and I had our anniversary dinner--looking out over the garden.



I even had the perfect orange shoes to wear with the dress:


YAY! What a fantastic day!  So happy I was also able to participate in the Sew-along (looking forward to more in the future??)


And I'm hoping that now that I have a fantastic summery halter dress that I will go to more warm and sunny places in the not-so-distant future :-)
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