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 :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

McCall 3857: The "Kathmandu Valley Blouse"



Oh boy! I've just returned from an amazing trip to Nepal.  Unlike most of my trips, this one was mostly pleasure (with just a small amount of work thrown in).  

Our friends took us to explore the city of Bhaktapur ("Place of devotees"), an ancient Newar city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley.  It was pouring when we arrived (which is great, as it's needed) so we climbed the stairs to a great teahouse with a 360 degree view and waited it out. You can see the teahouse as the second building in the foreground.  The sky clear after an hour and we were able to visit several Temples.

Here's a look up at the teahouse:

I made the blouse from McCall 3857 specifically for the trip.  I had this AMAZING 1940s fabric in my stash. I had bought the fabric several years back in the Vancouver Antique Mall and was waiting for just the right pattern to use it.  I combed through my 1940 McCall patterns and settled on this adorable blouse and jumper pattern (I will definitely make the jumper later).


I paired the new blouse with my 1940 McCall 3606 skirt (the "Collegiate Skirt") and am posing in front of the Bhairavnath Temple:


The fabric is so amazing.  Here are some close-up photos of the rich yellow colour.  I also had the PERFECT white matching flower buttons in my stash.  Don't you just love it when sewing projects come together with the perfect matching elements?


The blouse features a set-in collar, gathered sleeves and two tucks in the bodice waist front and back to create a very wearable silhouette.  The blouse also has small cuffs of matching fabric.


There's quite a bit of evidence of the destruction in several buildings due to the recent earthquake in 2015.  We were glad to see many of the Temples still standing but several are down or severely damaged.  The beams in the photos below are there to prevent further cracks and to provide a bit of support to the standing structures.


The most spectacular part of our visit to Bhaktapur was climbing up to the Nyatapola Temple, the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. The steps were a bit scary and I'm really surprised the Temple did not sustain major damage from the earthquake.  The statues lining the stairs were absolutely break taking.  



Nepal is known for many handicrafts, including pottery.  We had the chance to visit a local potter's shop and see him in action making various teapots, cups and incense and candle holders.



We enjoyed walking around and taking in all the sights and sounds of this lovely town.




What an amazing trip!  We so enjoyed everything--and I'm so glad I finished this blouse before we left!


Have you been to Nepal? Is it on your wish list?

Monday, June 6, 2016

1940 Around the World: Nepal


     Nepal

The next stop on our global 1940 tour is Nepal.  The Kingdom of Nepal declared war on Germany on 4 September 1939 and became involved in fighting in Burma against the Japanese in 1941.

I found the following photo of Bhaktapur, one of the three main kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley:









Photo credit: Explore Himalaya.com

The following photo is also from 1940 and shows a late 30s car being carried to the city because of the lack of accessible roads.  




Photocredit: http://imgur.com/uJNm3W8

I love the following two photos because they are so different from one another.  The first one shows a medical tent handling an outbreak of cholera, the second photo shows a group of men posing for a photograph--both are from 1940.

Photo credit: ECS.com Nepal

Photo credit: LostLightProject.com

Have you ever been to Nepal?

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