Tuesday, November 30, 2010

French Knots

I've almost completed my 'House of the Seven Gables' needlework pattern from 1940.  A few of you were asking about needlework stitches and I thought I would show you how to make a French knot which is used extensively in this pattern.

It is used for these Larkspur flowers:

And as the center in these Daisies:

First you will need to determine how many strands of thread to have in the needle.  The patterns from this time period are very specific.  I am to use six strands of thread for the French knots.  This is the standard number of strands in embroidery thread:

I am really happy that all the thread came with the pattern!  So if you use all six strands then just put the end of the thread (as pictured above) through your needle.  If it says to use only three or four strands then you'll need to separate off two strands of the thread.  Hope that makes sense.

Your threaded needle will have the longer thread and a short tail (just keep enough of a tail to work comfortably without fear of your needle losing the thread!):

Then you can either knot the end of your thread or leave it loose and just not pull it all the way through the fabric (whichever way you prefer).

Step 1: Start from back to front.  Bring the needle through the mark on the pattern for the French knot:

Step 2: Bring the thread all the way through the fabric:

Step 3: Hold the thread taut with your left hand and bring the needle up against the thread:

Step 4: Wrap the thread around the needle (from top to bottom to back to front) the number of times indicated on the pattern.  I've wrapped it twice around the needle:


Step 5: Continuing to hold the thread taut, reinsert the needle into the fabric very close to where it originally came through the fabric (but not in the same place):


Step 6: Continue to the hold the thread you wrapped around the needle with your left hand as you pull the needle through the fabric.  You'll need to pull a bit tougher at the beginning as you are pulling through all the thread (it will be easier once the tail goes through the fabric).  You can hold the thread less taut when you first pull the thread through the fabric as that will make it easier to get all the threads through the knot and you can then hold it more taut as you get closer to pulling all the thread through.  In this photo the needle has just gone through the fabric and you can still see the tail thread on the right:


Now the tail has gone through and it is just a small amount left to pull through:

Et viola!  Once you've pulled all the thread through, you should have a French knot:

You can change the size of the knot by the number of times you wrap it around the needle. The orange knots in the picture above were wrapped twice around the needle.  My pattern says to wrap the thread once around the needle which gives a smaller knot (the right one below):

I'm not using an embroidery hoop in these photos (sometimes I use them, sometimes I don't).  Overall, they are very helpful for keeping the fabric taut as you embroider but you can also embroider without one.

Hope that was helpful--it's definitely less daunting then it appears and it's fairly easy to correct mistakes (just cut the thread and pull it back through and start over!)  This is actually my first time making French knots--so if you have other techniques, please share!

I'm super excited that I'm almost finished!  I am going to wrap it up as a family present for Christmas (my family is doing the pick a number and choose a gift thing this year!)

What about you?  Do you embroider?  Have you ever wanted to try some of the vintage needlework patterns?

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Snowing!!

Our village is covered in snow!


So pretty! Every time it snows I think of the song from White Christmas:



Except I like to say 'sew, sew, sew..."  :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today's my mum's birthday! I'm sad to be so far away but thank goodness for skype :-)

Here's some photos of my mom from June 1964, isn't she stylish?  I've been wanting to make a pink suit like this for awhile:

And I love this outfit:

My mom and I are very similar--we have the same funny sense of humor, we both delve passionately into our projects, we both get all teared up at silly commercials and sad movies and we love staying up late and talking about everything!  I love you mom and hope you have a fantastic birthday!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here's some great photos from the November 1940 McCall magazine:
We thank thee, Lord...For all these bounties, deep and dear and living...For the unclouded trust in the face of a child as Grandfather says the blessing...For the steadfast clasp of an old man's hands...For the peace in a mother's heart when those she loves are close to her, safe and together and unafraid...We give Thanksgiving....

The color scheme for the 1940 Thanksgiving meal were taken from Old Glory's red, white and blue:

On the 1940 Thanksgiving menu is:

* Stars and Bars Turkey Platter
*Oyster Stuffing
*Cranberry Cutouts
*Giblet Scrapple Squares
*Sauteed Pineapple
*Creamed Onions with Pimiento Stars
*Glazed Yams and Oranges
*Raw Relish Bowl
*Blush Apple Pie
*Coffee & Tea

What's on your Thanksgiving menu?

This year I am so thankful for:
-A wonderful relationship with my partner and a love that grows deeper every year,
-A family that has supported me in everything I've done and constantly shows their love,
-That I get paid for doing work that I love and get to challenge myself intellectually on a daily basis,
-For the opportunity to live in a beautiful country and to travel around, and
-For the super supportive and fun sewing community (all of you!) and to have a fantastic hobby (that I get to wear the results of!)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The 1939 movie that inspired fashion....

Gone with the Wind!

One of the movies of the century!  I must admit, I don't really like this movie (I know, I know).  I find all the characters despicable and it's hard for me to sit through the 3+ hours of abusive and manipulative relationships.  BUT I do love the scenery and costumes and I love seeing how this movie influenced fashion in both 1939 but also into 1940.

The fashion?  It's all about the hips:

You can see where McCall 3558 and 3559 got their inspiration (more hips!):

McCall 3559: This evening dress has a corset-like bodice and an extended hipline.  Sewn inside are "hip-rounders," pieces of crinoline, doubled and pleated.  They, plus the gathers, plus the bows, do much to make the waistline seem smaller.

McCall 3558: The ultra fashionables are making their hips swell out in order to make their waistlines cave in.  So they are wearing hip pads. (Of course the dress can be worn without them.)  The fulness at the bosom helps on this hour-glass effect.

Here's the back of the dresses which are very 1939/1940:

While I don't think I'll be breaking out the hip pads anytime soon, I do LOVE ruffled and peasant blouse necklines and sleeves:
And these dresses from the 1940 Sears Catalogue (as pictured in Everyday Fashions of the Forties):

I also LOVE the high neckline, victiorian-esque dresses:


This dress reminds me a bit of McCall 3567 (the one on the right).  I also love the sweetheart neckline of McCall 3568 on the left:
In the description it says McCall 3567 has hip pads as well but they seem much more subtle (at least from the drawing above).

Last, but not least, we can't look at the influence of this movie on fashion without talking about hats!!  I love this wide brimmed hat:

 And there are these lovelies:

And they are for sale in the sears catalogue:


So much fun! What do you think? Did you like the movie?  Would you wear one of these bonnets?  What about the hip pads?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Progress on McCall 789

Thank you everyone for the lovely, lovely comments on my blogiversary post!  You are all so wonderful!!

I wanted to show you a sneak peak of my progress on McCall 789:


Lauren from Tea and Crumpets suggested that I show a few of the stitches used for this pattern!  What  a great idea for a post this week! Thanks Lauren!  You can see part of the front of the house isn't finished.  This is what the transfer guide looks like.  I was very lucky to have bought this already transferred onto the grey linen and all the thread with it!  Plus, the previous owner had started in on the pattern.  YAY!  I hope to finish it up this week....it's so pretty.  I am loving it!

Oh, I also wanted to mention that I came across McCall 3638 which is the pattern I used to sew up my grey dress on ebay.   Unfortunately, there's only 4 hours left but NO ONE has bid on it and it's going for $1.99.  Check it out.  It's selling in a size 14 (B32).  Let me know if you end up winning it as I would love to see someone else's rendition of the pattern!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My one year blogiversary!

This week, 12 months ago, I started sewing in earnest and tracking my thoughts/progress on this blog!  It's been such an amazing experience and outlet for me.  I've really seen myself grow over the past year and I've met so many wonderful people along the way.  You are all such an inspiration to me!!

So, I thought I would take a little stroll down memory lane and rediscover the fun, the inspiration and the tough moments along the way.

How I Got Started:
I had taken some sewing lessons (3 to be exact) from a sewing tutor I found on Craigslist in New York City.  I had always been attracted by vintage clothing and when I started to look online for vintage styled pieces, I stumbled across a few sewing blogs.  I was hooked--both on reading about other people's sewing projects but also by vintage patterns.  So I enlisted the help of the sewing tutor and bought more patterns than a novice really needs and started out.

It was a bit daunting and very slow going in the beginning.  I didn't end up finishing that 'first' dress until this year (and I took the sewing lessons in 2005).  Starting a blog about sewing and my projects really helped me to integrate into the online sewing community (which is so supportive) and encouraged me to get over my fear and really start spending the time doing what I loved.

There were two bloggers that I think really got me hooked...Lauren from Wearing History and Casey from Casey's Elegant Musings.  I loved that both wore and photographed themselves wearing their creations and did their hair up in vintage styles and really evoked the time period of whatever they were creating.  That really captured my creative imagination and inspired me to no end.  I think I have read every single post from both of these bloggers (multiple times!).  It really unleashed my own creativity and thinking around creating vintage and period pieces of clothing.

Of course there are many, many others that inspire me now but those two ladies were two of the first (thank you Lauren and Casey!)


Blogging Cohort:
I don't know if this is the case with everyone, but when you first start out blogging, do you remember the others that started out around the same time as you?  For me, my blogging cohort, has been a tremendous amount of support.  There's something about being at the same stage as someone else--especially in those first few months.  My blogging cohort consisted of: Enken from Whipstitch Sewing, Karin from Ancien Nouveau, Stephanie from the Naked Seamstress, Susannah from Cargo Cult Craft,  Lisette from What Would Nancy Drew Wear?, Rachel at Boo Dogg and Me: A Sewing Journey, and Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons.

Inspiration and Support Along the Way:
 First and foremost I wanted to give a special thank you to my partner, David--who has been so supportive of my hobby.  He's the photographer behind nearly every photo and is so enthusiastic about my projects and outfits (the first words out of his mouth are always "WOW!" or "That's my favorite so far"....how encouraging is that?  I love it!!)  It's been so helpful to have someone who is so supportive.

I also wanted to take time to mention two other bloggers that have left a special mark on me.  First is Trudy from Sewing with Trudy.  Trudy was one of the very first bloggers to comment on one of my posts and welcome me to the sewing community.  Trudy is such a generous soul and I find that when I go onto a new blog--she's already been there and is so encouraging and enthusiastic--it really is so supportive of new bloggers.  Thanks Trudy!

Also, another big support was Sarah from Rhinestones and Telephones.  I'll never forget a time when I was a bit down and hadn't created anything in awhile and hadn't posted anything in over two weeks.  I received this lovely email from Sarah saying she missed my blogging.  That was the sweetest thing ever!  It totally revived my creativity and got me back in the saddle!  Thanks Sarah--your email was so timely and sweet!

Another big moment in my blogging life?  Meeting up with Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons!  Meeting up with another blogger is a bit nerve-wracking!  But Tilly and I had such a blast...it was really so much fun!

I also want to thank all of you for coming with me on this journey and being so supportive!  It really is a lovely community we all share, isn't it?

Project I am the most Proud Of:
Ok, onto the project I am most proud of...which is definitely the dress that spanned space and time (my very first dress--revisisted & refitted 5 years later)


Hardest Moment:
Hmmm....the hardest moment from the last year.  I must admit it was probably the end of May/beginning of June 2009.  There was a lot of drama happening at my (now previous) job.  It was towards the end of Me Made May and I realised I hadn't sewn enough garments to fully participate.  I was feeling like everything was taking me forever to sew and that I was losing momentum (probably because I was so worn out from other stuff going on).  It was sort of a moment when I thought "what am I doing?  Can I keep this up?"  That's when Sarah sent me an email and it was all I needed to snap out of the weird mood I was in and focus on what I really wanted to do---sew!


Ideas that Didn't Pan Out:
Remember my accessories calendar for 2010 (don't worry if you don't, because I have trouble remembering too).  It was such a good idea but given the speed at which I started out sewing, was probably a little too unrealistic.  Maybe I will revisit it in the future!

Project I Would Most Like to Redo:
I feel a little bit bad for the recipient of my very first sewn gift (my sister). While I think the coasters turned out great--I think I could do so much more now :-)

Easiest Project:
This is a bit of a toss-up because in my mind, easiest and quickest still are so closely related.  But I think the easiest project had to be the 1930's lounging pajamas.  It was the first time that I really worked with nice material (stretch satin) and what a difference it makes.  Plus, this outfit didn't have any closures.  I have to say the hardest part was the belt--but even that was straightforward.  I must make this outfit again soon!

Quickest Project:
 I think one of the quickest projects I have made is the Simplicity Repro pattern hot pink blouse:
I don't know why but I really ripped through this pattern.  I was so anxious to get it sewn up that I did it really quickly.

Piece of Clothing I Wear the Most:
Without a doubt, this would have to be the 1941 Simplicity trousers (from the photo above).
I wore them just yesterday and must wear them at least weekly.  They are very versatile and comfortable.  I love them and plan on using the pattern to sew up another pair again!

Most Surprising Project:
Also a definite answer for this one is the 1940 skirt pattern:

I don't know why I don't get as excited for skirts as other items of clothing but this skirt pattern is amazing (especially with lightweight wool).  I LOVE it!!!

Scariest Moment: 
Until recently, I found doing buttonholes really scary.  My first shirt with several buttonholes was the scariest!  Also, since I had been having problems with my buttonholer.....there was a lot of anxiety around doing these buttonholes:
Luckily, the buttonholer cooperated--but I was definitely nervous!!


Ideas and Dreams for the Future:
I have loads of ideas and dreams for the future.  In terms of blogging, I would love to play around with the format of my blog a bit more--try out different styles.  I am definitely blogging more than when I first started--post ideas are coming much quicker now!  I love it!

In terms of sewing, I have tons-o-ideas!  I am definitely sticking with the 1939-1940-1941 time period for the time being.  I would like to get a bit quicker with sewing.  It's not that I am slow, it's just that I have been in a mindset for so long that I need large chunks of time to set aside to sew.  Now, I am realizing that I can do quite a lot in an hour here and an hour there.....so, I am trying to keep that up!

Most of all, I am excited to share this journey with you!  Thanks for reading and sharing your own thoughts!  Here's to another year of sewing!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

McCall 3638 is finished!!

YAY! I finished up McCall 3638 just in time to catch what was left of the daylight for some photos!


I made view A which is the collarless version:

Here's a close-up of the bodice:



You can see our town in the background of this photo:

I had originally wanted to have tartan covered buttons, but alas, the fabric was too thick to make my own buttons with--so I made the tartan belt instead (which matches the jacket, shoes and purse)!

 With a jacket the dress becomes a suit frock!


Oh...I love it!  It's such a great basic color....what do you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another 1940 film that inspired a pattern...

The House of the Seven Gables isn't alone.  There are several other films that have inspired McCall patterns during this time period.  One that I particularly love is Pinocchio!

Check out McCall 742 for a Pinocchio inspired outfit: 
Oh dear! How cute is that?

There's also McCall 746 which is an embroidery pattern of some of the favorite Pinocchio moments of the film and McCall 748 which is the house in Disney Land with Pinocchio walking up the walkway to the house:


Here's the description of the little boy's pattern:

Hail, Pinocchio!  The 1940 Movie star gets a warm welcome from McCall with three new Pinocchio patterns. Fitting right into the every-day lives of little flesh-and-blood boys, we present first the Pinocchio Suit No. 742.  It has the same bolero he wooden boy wore.  The same shorts and shirt.  The same feathered hat.  Even the trim at the sides of the shorts is featured as Pinocchio wore it.  With everything set for the Pinocchio moving picture to be seen all over the counry, very little American boys will lvoe to wear this suit.  Just see! It's a good design for linen, cotton broadcloth, pique or flannel.  The trim may be embroidered in outline stitch or carried out in soutache braid.  Then there's a costume-party version (small view) which older boys will enjoy.  This would be nic ein sateen or chintz, and felt could be used for the bolero, hat, gloves and shoes.

I also just saw this pattern on ebay--I hope whoever bought it, sews it up for a little boy...it really is just so adorable!
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