Loving Claire McCardell- the classic surplice wrap dress

Before Diane Von Furstenberg stormed the fashion world with her 1970s wrap dress, there was of course Claire McCardell whom I could wax lyrical about for… well… a while. 

A couple of years ago I took my first shot at making her classic surplice wrap dress using Spadea pattern 1146… a dress of which examples occasionally pop up in vintage fashion stores and that are featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, typically in gingham and checks. It is one of my fav McCardell designs because it is so classic, generally flattering and wearable… decades after it was conceived.

I decided that with Summer around the corner here in the Southern hemisphere, Christmas get togethers, picnics and barbecues, another go at this McCardell dress – with what time I can manage before the baby- would be well timed. So I decided to mix a few of my fav things: McCardell, Liberty floral lawn and the colour RED. I confess, I bought some shoes from Lord and Taylor a year ago in the same print and thought why not a matching dress? I found the fabric at fabric.com and bought what remained of the yardage (barely enough).

Got it right this time? A McCardell bodice (made using  Spadea pattern 1146

Got it right this time? A McCardell bodice (made using Spadea pattern 1146… the bottom part of the bodice gets sewn to a gathered skirt (basically) with nice deep pockets.

The images at the Met have been really helpful in terms of interpreting the folds on the pattern which I did have trouble with last time. But I think I have got it right… now all I have to do is baste the way I have pinned! (I find that tricky too at times to be honest, its so much easier to work with fabric on a mannequin than at a table- you can see clearly what you are doing…

Hopefully I will have a few more little opportunities to make some progress!

Another Sunny Spot dress finished- the Summer dress

Another Sunny Spot dress finished (see pages 16 and 17 of the book)- I actually started this almost two months ago and its been sitting in my to-finish-pile. 

A Sunny Spot Summer dress

A Sunny Spot Summer dress

The first thing you need to know is that this dress is loose. I always knew it would be from the photos but it REALLY looked loose when I finished it, I made it in the smallest size, a bit smaller actually for a one year old.The primary modification I made was to shorten it and add fabric covered buttons. I think I will probably end up layering this with a blouse or other- so have pictured it here as such. The fabric was vintage lawn leftover from another project.

Would I make this again? Probably not- there are so many other lovely projects in this book and I wasn’t as smitten as I was with the raglan style blouse featured in other posts.

Baby is due in a few weeks and really could arrive any day so I am really not starting new things right now- just plodding along with projects that have already been cut and that are awaiting a little attention.photo 1-25

Cloth covered buttons at the back, a small but much loved detail

Cloth covered buttons at the back, a small but much loved detail

Simple Summery Styles from the 1950s… more dreams of Claire McCardell

 

So Summer is definitely on my mind… or at least Spring! Though the weather has been literally freezing in Canberra I am pleased to have noticed a few little flowers poking their petals out towards the sun. Its a matter of weeks (if not days)? before our second child arrives in our lives. I am frantically working through what seems to be an ever growing to do list… all those little things I have been putting off (that typically involved some form of cleaning).

All the same, I still try to make time to enjoy some of the beautiful images in my pattern books.

I love the simplicity of some of the Summer dresses popular in the 1950s, not least of all Vogue 8003 which looks super easy to make… and yet so versatile for an afternoon at home, in the garden or at the market… what do you think?

Vogue 8003 as illustrated in a 1950s Vogue pattern catalog

Vogue 8003 as illustrated in a 1950s Vogue pattern catalog

photo-27

 

Claire McCardell is my favourite and thanks to the generosity of an etsy seller, SweetBeeFinds, I am able to share these gorgeous photos of a Claire McCardell sun dress that recently sold at the store. I had been eyeing it off and wishing, but ultimately couldn’t justify the expense with a little one about to arrive… when it sold I wanted to mourn, I just love the back cut out and the pretty cowl neck at the front.

I’d like to think there would be an afternoon I could put my feet up in something like this on a hot day and drink lemonade. But with two little ones (soon) I don’t see that happening for a little while! I do have a McCardell sun dress pattern (Spadea) which rather ambitiously I have started cutting (knowing I probably won’t finish it for eons if baby arrives sooner than later….)

Feast your eyes McCardell lovers! Don’t you just love the colour??? Look at that back… divine.

Claire McCardell- a sunny colour, a fabulous style!

Claire McCardell- a sunny colour, a fabulous style!

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

A moment to pause… a moment to be inspired

Thought I’d share this beautiful 1943 Vogue Pattern Book cover from my collection for the vintage fashion lovers out there,,, Shirt dresses are so glam, so classic, so Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca”… especially worn like this with the flattering gathered skirt and cinching belt! The pattern featured on the cover was Vogue 9721. Makes you want to whip one up on the machine…! (Especially now that I am no longer afraid of doing manual buttonholes)!

Enjoy the eye candy!

Cover of June July 1943 Vogue Pattern Book

Cover of June July 1943 Vogue Pattern Book

What I have been working on… a vintage inspired diaper cover…!

What I have been working on in the background whilst “life” happens….

I can’t really finish these until I know that the button placement is right (ie. after the baby is born) but thought I would share for those Enid Gilchrist fans who had seen her pattern for “modesties” in various pattern books. I did a few searches on the net and couldn’t find any examples so hopefully this might be useful to someone considering giving the pattern a whirl. These are designed to be worn over nappies or diapers.

The centre button accommodates two buttonholes. It is a 40s pattern but I have used a Lisette 40s inspired cotton with flannel for an inside lining… As you will see, I have deviated from the pattern to some degree but retained the basic shape providing 1/2 inch seam allowances when stitching this one up…!

So, here it is!

Awaiting buttons when placement is confirmed.

Awaiting buttons when placement is confirmed.

The view of the "modesties" when opened.

The view of the “modesties” when opened.

Sometimes there is magic…. KCW day 7… the finale

I hate buttonholes. Hate them, I do them manually on my elna SU. But somehow the moons lined up and I managed to finish one of my garments to blog about today… Sometimes, just sometimes, there is magic, I didn’t mess up a single buttonhole!  This is the pretty shirt pattern from A Sunny Spot japanese pattern book. The custom buttons, also in liberty lawn, are my favourite detail.

The front of the blouse from A Sunny Spot japanese pattern book

The front of the blouse from A Sunny Spot japanese pattern book

Liberty lawn, so classic, this design is just the prettiest for a little girl. This is the back.

Liberty lawn, so classic, this design is just the prettiest for a little girl. This is the back…

Primary modification was to eliminate the underarm seam and to cut the back and front in one piece… The sleeve elastic lace is vintage. I think this is one of my fav garments so far… I am ready for some serious sleep now though! Its been a long day!!!!

The front, detail...

The front, detail… I love the gathers on the bodice..

Buttons, Buttons everywhere… KCW Days 5 and 6

Custom made buttons ready to be sewn on to various projects...

Custom made buttons ready to be sewn on to various projects… I bought this little plate from a thrift shop in Tasmania when we were in holiday earlier this year…  thought it so sweet

So I have been fairly busy working away on my projects, including a couple more Enid Gilchrist garments… In fact, given today is a Saturday and our to do list was packed (we had to go looking for a new mattress for the cot, take our little boy to a playground for a run around, grocery shop etc etc etc etc), I got up at about 5.30am to make a start. I moved between a few things, but nothing is actually completed to photograph for today. Hopefully tomorrow will see some completed stuff to show! 

I did want to share my pleasure at receiving my order from Pat’s Custom buttons in Lodi, California. I dealt with Pat on the phone and at 83 its easy to see why she has been so successful… she is just such a lovely lady to talk to and clearly enjoys what she does.

Buttons, buttons, buttons...

Buttons, buttons, buttons…

The buttons all arrived in little plastic packages and I have popped them in a  pretty tin (see the lid below) I use to keep miscellaneous notions. That particular tin was picked up at a local flea market and looks like it is 1950s to me, but I have always loved the image of a the little girl and her dress looks gorgeous- a great inspiration for sewing!

Inspiration comes in many forms...

Inspiration comes in many forms…

40s style bloomers and an Enid Gilchrist bib – Kids Clothes Week (KCW) Day 4

Enid Gilchrist bib- pattern has been published several times since the late 1940s

Enid Gilchrist bib- pattern has been published several times since the late 1940s

Enid Gilchrist bib- the other side... the bias binding was made using offcuts from the halter dress I made earlier in the week.

Enid Gilchrist bib- the other side… the bias binding was made using offcuts from the halter dress I made earlier in the week.

As I didn’t really get to sew much (in a progressive sense) until last night, I am a day behind with blogging my KCW “makes”. Yesterday I worked on two items: finishing a reversible bib which I made using a pretty simple Enid Gilchrist pattern and a pair of bloomers for a two year old using a vintage pattern in my collection. 

The reversible bib has quilting cotton on one side and left over dress cotton on the other… I really thought the bias binding (self made with the leftover remnants of that fun, retro inspired cotton) made it pop and hopefully it will be a versatile staple in Little Girl’s wardrobe. I really enjoy mixing patterns actually and this was no exception.

The 40s bloomers were pretty straightforward also, cut from vintage lawn I purchased a few years ago….I really love working with lawn, so light and easy to handle. I used elastic lace (also vintage) at the bottom leg cuffs. Thought these would be fun in Summer. This afternoon I just have to find some ribbon for a little bow to complete the girly girl look…!

1940s style bloomers- made form a vintage pattern in my collection.

1940s style bloomers- made form a vintage pattern in my collection.

Vintage elastic lace was added using a zig zag stitch...

Vintage elastic lace was added using a zig zag stitch… Don’t you just love this pretty floral? Wish I had more… so cute for the garden!

How are your KCW projects coming along? Hopefully I will have a couple of other things finished in the next couple of days but that hour is really proving quite hard to come by! This is my first KCW and I am finding it a great motivator!