Category Archives: McCalls Patterns

The Hanoi Blues Dress

Another day, another shirtdress, am I right? But there is something about this form that gets me every time, and that is why I have made so many incarnations of the shirtdress, from vintage to modern, and I think I have finally figured out what exactly that thing is that I love so much.

It’s pretty simple, really. Shirtdresses make me feel put together.

See, the thing about that phrase is, and I really believe that, it is something that women with curly hair rather hear in regards to themselves. Growing up, when talking to or about other women, I heard this phrase for some of them over and over again. My friend Presca, in college, who had and still has great style. My friend Betsy, who I studied abroad with, ditto. My friend Becca, also great style. But I have lots of friends with style! I mean, I don’t want to brag or anything, but, um, my friends are great. And they certainly know how to “put themselves together”. I mean, I hardly ever see one of them losing a tooth or a finger or something, ya know, falling apart at the seams. So what separates “put together” with not put together? I would admit that when I was younger, especially before I started sewing, I didn’t have a defined idea of my style. So I get that, up to a point. But in the years since I’ve been sewing, I have certainly found an aesthetic that I think works for me, and given that I, well, put it all together, it surely has some sense of cohesion, of being “together”, doesn’t it?

And yet, I have never heard that phrase directed at me. And I have to say, I think it’s the hair. I think there is an association with straight hair as smooth, cared for, styled, that there is a thought process behind it and therefore it is put together. It makes women look like they have tried. Well, first of all, women have tried in eight million directions outside of hair, people, so that’s something right there, and why do women have to try, at all, god knows it rarely seems like some men do, and then there are the cultural and racial implications of who has “straight” hair and who doesn’t and what that is supposed to mean about us, containing our curls across cultures. And then of course, there is the act of having curly hair at all, which, I can assure you, also takes maintenance, moisture, and money, so the idea that curls springing from one’s head means someone didn’t put the time in is just…all kinds of idiotic.

But whatever the world thinks about my hair, and, screw everyone who DOES feel some kind of way about my hair, by the way, whoever you are, a shirtdress does make me feel put together, no matter that no one has every told me that my thought process is reflected in their own. The coherency of the design, the crisp collar, the extension of the shirt into a skirt, it all works for me, it makes me feel purposeful, assembled, in line with myself. Which is, I believe, all put together should really mean. Regardless of this straight hair conspiracy.

I like to take my shirtdresses with me on the road, and this one accompanied me to Vietnam where I traveled with my friends Ben, Jill, and Travis, who indulged me in a photo shoot at this Buddhist temple.

The fabric is the star here, because it’s this lovely blue that actually shifts in tone, an ombre, hombre. When I saw it I knew I loved it, and I knew I wanted to make a dress that when from lighter blue around my shoulders to deeper blue around the hem. That meant I had to cut it on the crossgrain, and I’m okay with that.

I used McCalls 7351, once again, as the bodice, and added my usual two waist darts at 1.5 inches each on size 16 to get more waist definition. For the skirt, I simple draped it myself AKA it is just some big box pleats. Everything that can be french seamed is french seamed, and I have made this dress many a time, so to quote Bigmouth, NO NOTES!

I enjoyed this temple. First of all, it was pretty, and a fun place to take photos because it gave my friends places to photo bomb me from:

Where is Jill? It’s so mysterious, I have to look off in the distance.

Second of all, it included helpful advice for how to live your life well now to avoid unpleasant karmic consequences in reincarnation:

The use of the lower back tattoo as “too much cleavage” is magnificent.

Apparently becoming a mental illness means playing in a rock band in a mental institution which actually feels like a great movie idea, but what do I know.

It really was quite pretty, though:

And we found some great spots for me to poise against, which is of course the only reason to see anything, right?

So there you go. Don’t I look put together?

 

Well, frankly, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks, right? It matters what I feel.  And in this, or any shirtdress, I feel put together as hell. 

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The Give Me The Gingham Dress

First of all, I just want to let all of you know that hey, my novel, America for Beginners, is 100% out there in the world! You can buy it in the US! You can buy it in the United Kingdom! You can buy it in India! You can buy it all over the place! Please do! And then tell me what you think!

This dress that I am going to show you actually looks excellent with my novel, which is great because this is what I wore to my book launch party at Powerhouse Arena, which is a wonderful bookstore and a fantastic space, a place that frequently hosts authors in conversation. New York friends or people in the area, check it out!

Now, to the sewing. Those of you who read my blog regularly, aka my mom, will know that I am not a person who wears a ton of green. It’s not that I don’t like green, I do! I really do. I just don’t gravitate towards it the way I do some other colors. But every once in a while, you see something that just breaks you patterns, you know? I bought this fabric in Kolkata, which is great because one of the characters in my novel, Pival, is from Kolkata, so that all worked out rather nicely, didn’t it? I saw it in New Market, a market I never go to, and I wanted it immediately, despite the fact that it’s a color I never wear, yet despite all that, something about this reached out and grabbed me, and I’m thinking, well, I think it might have been the fact that it is gingham. People, I love a gingham. Love it.

Lots of people love it! I mean, Brigette Bardot wore it as her wedding dress!

There is a rumor that this actually created such demand for the fabric that it caused a fabric shortage in France! But that could totally be a myth. Still, it’s pretty fun to think about french girls rioting over gingham.

At any rate, I love a gingham like a french girl in the 1960’s. And so, despite all the things around this fabric, it had to be mine. When it comes down to it, I’m pretty much always going to be like, GIVE ME THE GINGHAM!

And so! Another iteration of McCalls 7351, which I have adjusted with two 1.5 inch bust darts, slimming the waist and giving the bodice a little more shaping. In a large-scale green gingham that I absolutely adore.

In celebration of my super green dress, I made my friend Victoria take these photos in a super green place! So while visiting her up at the Berkshires we snagged this lovely spot in picturesque Stockbridge, and went nuts. I think I blend right in…

It’s a super cute place. This adorable building has become…a Yankee Candle. SIGH.

Still, everything was brilliantly in bloom, which was magnificent!

And I went to a store that had knitted dinners!

Instead of using one of the skirts from the pattern, I wanted to capitalize on the gingham and figured box pleats would do the trick.

I cut the yoke on the bias, which I always love with a checked or plaid print. It’s just fun!

And I suppose that’s about it. I’ve made a lot of shirt dresses at this point and I could make something else, but…I love a shirtdress! So I’m probably going to keep on keeping on in that direction. Although I do want to try some new patterns in the coming months. Ah, conflicting desires!

A little close up of the bodice for you. Why did I use white buttons? Because that is what I had in my stash! Sometimes you just do what you need to do. I don’t think it’s clear in any of the photos, but the sleeve cuffs are also cut on the bias. Just a little detail only I know about, I guess!

I also put in pockets. Obviously. As one does.

Well, there it is. An unusual choice for me, but still, very much on brand. The point is, gingham is great, try colors you don’t usually wear sometimes, and buy America for Beginners!  Then you, too, can match my dress.

 

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The Khadi Body Dress

My love of khadi, the Indian handloom cloth popularized by Gandhi as the icon of the Swadeshi movement, knows no bounds, but most of my experience with the cloth has been crafting shirts for what’s-his-face, which you will never se because he is very not into being featured on the internet in any form. What’s-his-face is firmly of the opinion that the internet is for him to learn about the world, not for the world to learn about him, which I respect. But that means that the many lovely khadi shirts I have made him to help battle the intense humidity of Mumbai (and this summer, New York, more on that later!) remain undocumented. Sigh. C’est la vie. I have made some khadi stuff for myself, although not as much as I would like to, and this dress, made for our friends’ wedding, is a good start towards a khadi filled life.

I found this fabric on a trip to Kolkata, because the one thing that Mumbai DOESN’T have is khadi. I really don’t know why! But the lightweight wonder is absent from those Marathi shores. So it’s something I look forward to whenever I go to Kolkata because I get a chance to really go nuts and indulge. As opposed to my regular life in which I….buy a lot of fabric regardless.

The big revelation I had recently was that khadi can be silk as well as cotton. Point of fact it can be wool, too, I read, but most of my life isn’t super wool-friendly right now, so I’m sticking with silk and cotton for the moment. I snagged this truly excellent silk khadi with my mother-in-law about 8 months ago, and I knew, I just knew, it would be ideal for the wedding. And sure enough, it was!

It’s my new favorite, McCalls 7503, which I have now made four times!

Although….it also turned out super super duper low cut, which…I don’t really understand? Because I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times now? But somehow, I don’t know, in the cutting or stitching I must have lowered the neckline or something because this is…a lot of decolletage! A not-India-appropriate level of decolletage. Which is fine! Because the wedding was in America! But oh boy, India has totally changed the way I feel about parts of my body being out in the public gaze….oy. Something else to talk to my therapist about!

The fabric, it’s the star here, seriously.

I mean, look at it! And it’s khadi, and it’s silk, and oh boy, that’s a lot of my chest out there. But the fabric!

The design lines totally get lost in the busy print but I am fine with that. Maybe I should make it in stripes or something, something to highlight that.

I drafted the skirt, aka pleated it in a way that I thought looked nice, and the sleeves, and underlined and lined the bodice, and underlined the skirt, because this silk is so lightweight I knew it needed some structure.

 

Sideview!

 

This is what happens when I wear heels! Not a ton of balance, here….

And there you go! A khadi dress, for a khadi lover, so now I have a khadi body!

 

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The Chicken Little Dress

First of all, enter here to win an advanced reader copy of my novel! Or not, it’s your life.

Isn’t it wonderful how far curiosity can take you?

This is the story of the time that I grabbed a swath of cloth with fabric shopping at Thakur (OBVIOUSLY. I literally don’t buy fabric anywhere else anymore) and then ended up grabbing a second piece of that fabric while shopping there again with my friend Ana (hi, Ana!). I just couldn’t resist it, because it was too cute for words, and I knew exactly what I would make from it and what I would call that garment. (Of course, knowing what you would make from something is probably the best and most efficient and least wasteful way to shop for fabric, but I don’t always do that, much to my shame. How do you guys feel about stashing? Pro or anti?)

At any rate, this does not always happen to me, that a fabric calls out to me, like a siren, tempting me as I sail, lashed to the prow of the ship, trying to get home to Ithaca, sort of, while I bang a bunch of other ladies on the way. Sidenote, have you seen this excellent thing? It is excellent.  

But this fabric did call me. Or rather, clucked.

It’s chickens! Yes, yes it is. What was that about trying to dress more like an adult? I don’t remember saying something like that on numerous occasions, do you?

Sidenote, once Whats-his-face told me, “you shouldn’t buy more animal printed fabric” and it was the closest we’ve come to divorce yet.

How amazing are these chickens! And given that I live in India, a place where I literally constantly see chickens everywhere around me, I feel like it’s very appropriate. Of course, this is sort of a cutesy version of my reality. It’s like this:

(OTHER SIDENOTE did everyone know that Jane Krakowski starred in the London production of Guys and Dolls in 2005 AND JUST FORGET TO TELL ME????)

But my reality is like THIS:

This is a real photo from my actual life.

At any rate, I loved the fabric, idealization of chickens in my life or no, and I knew it would make a nice version of my new favorite pattern, McCalls 7503. 

As you might recall from careful reading of this blog, I made a test version of this for a fancy project. That worked out well, if a bit loose, so I went down a size to a 16 and it’s perfect! I didn’t get a chance to document said fancy dress, sigh, ah well. It’s hard to get good photos at evening events, don’t you find? What do you guys do in that case?

So at least I can show you the fit with this, my Chicken Little dress!

Oh, and that leads me back to the point about research. Took me a while, but I always get there! I loved the story of Chicken Little when I was a child. You know it, I’m sure, a chicken gets hit in the head with a leaf or a feather or an acorn, what have you, and thinks the sky is falling. He gets a lot of other animals on board with this story, and they go off to warn the king of the incoming danger. Like so many folktales and fairy tales, it has a modern sanitized ending, in which they do indeed warn the king, but the original version has them all eaten up by a wily fox who knows, even if the credulous animals don’t, that you can’t believe everything you hear. In this era of “fake news”, isn’t that a good lesson for us all?

So when I looked up Chicken Little, just to get a link, really, to the folktale, I found out that the story, like most, is much older than I thought! And readers outside of the United States might know it better as Henny Penny, which is arguably far more adorable.

Check out these illustrations of the story from different eras!

This illustration from 1916 proves that everyone looked better when we all had to wear hats and obviously the fox is a villain because HE IS THE ONLY ONE NOT WEARING A HAT GET IT TOGETHER ANIMALS!

This one is from 1840!

Another version of the story calls the character Chicken Licken, which is delicious for obvious reasons, and the original Danish version of the tale called him Kylling Kluk which is….amazing. Just absolutely amazing.

But I know the character as Chicken Little, and that is the name I have given my dress.

To the dress!

With the busy print it’s a little hard to see the pattern, but it’s adorable, I promise.

Maybe you can see it a bit better here. I rounded out the neckline on this one for variety, but otherwise made no changes, except for using bias tape instead of a lining. It’s hot here!

Oh, I suppose I also omitted the horsehair at the hem this time for the simple reason that I didn’t have any. Although I will say, it’s a bit scratchy on my other version, so I might just throw a petticoat under this (I finally broke down and bought a petticoat and it’s waiting for me in Philadelphia and I’m so excited!) if I want more swish. I feel like horsehair should be reserved for dresses with a lining, maybe? What do others do about that scratchiness?

Although it does have a decent swish right now, when I move!

Love a good twirl shot.

 

I do like that v back. This is the first version I’ve made, actually, of the three I’ve made, that is sleeveless, just like the original, and I like the armscye depth and strap thickness.

You can almost sort of see the princess seams there, but not quite. Ah, well, I suppose that’s not the end of the world. I mean, who is sitting around looking at everyone’s seamlines? Other than….people like me?

And there you have it. A dress I can wear whether the the sky is falling or not. I’m seriously loving this pattern! I’m thinking of stitching it up for a friend’s wedding, which is a daytime event, so hopefully photos to follow!

In other news, I’m working hard on my #makingmaisel garments! How about you? And congratulations to Miriana and Esme for winning patterns from the giveaway! Speaking of stash busting, keep an eye out for a fabric one to follow soon…..

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#MakingMaisel Pattern Ideas

Happy Monday, all! My gift to you is some pattern inspiration to help you figure out how to make that Maisel costume into the outfit of your dreams. I still haven’t decided what I’M doing yet, although I do know that I’m going to make SOMETHING in a wool, potentially a raspberry or a grey, classic Midge power colors. Know what I mean?

Now, of course there is the option for this one to go vintage pattern, and I may well be taking it, honestly, but thank goodness we live in a world that also gives us the opportunity to buy vintage reproductions, in a multi-size pattern, that we don’t have to worry about scaling or changing or damaging throughout the sewing process, am I right?

So here are some of my thoughts, although I welcome your ideas too!

Obviously, the outerwear is amazing. I don’t know if I can justify this to myself because…when would I wear it, but gosh, I’m tempted, aren’t you? All those gorgeous coats, so impractical with no closures, so amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, there are some options for you if this is your deal.

 

 

 

The obvious contender, and it’s already in raspberry! IT’S A SIGN.

Also an option.

Sometimes these dress patterns sneak in a coat pattern. LUCKY FOR US!

The Colette Patterns Lady Grey would also work as a tribute piece!

I feel like if you made that up in a wool it would totally echo that tan coat Midge is sporting above, no?

This is technically not a coat but, I just, I die:

Separates:

The men of Maisel rock a separate, and Susie is all about a jeans and knit top combo, with her leather jacket, natch, but more often than not, Midge and Imogene are in dresses. Rose is all about a suit, very appropriate for her age in that period, and Rose is all ABOUT appropriate, as we know. This would totally be the time to make a suit, if anyone is itching to do that, but for now, I’m going to focus on the more unconventional separates the show gives us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love Midge in pants, so beatnik chic! There are some great options for that flat-front 1950’s look that was so popular, apparently people felt that the zipper front on women was vulgar.

I have been searching for a cute 1950’s blouse pattern for YEARS, any leads? But for the turtleneck, look no further than Seamwork!

Shorten Neelah into a shirt and there you go!

This outfit is a popular one on the internets, maybe because it’s so contemporary looking? I like the color combo, though, so bold! For this one, you might like the combo of Colette patterns Selene with a knit tee in a merino wool. Oooohhh, that would be cute…

 

And of course, who doesn’t love Midge’s work out gear?

 

For the shorts, I think the Weston shorts are a solid option:

 

You could also lengthen these to make Susie’s high waisted pants!

And the Astoria sweater would be too cute for Midge OR Susie! Material is everything.

And for the leotard, I mean, look no further than the Closet Case Nettie…

 

 

Okay, okay, fine, let’s get to the dresses!

I love literally everything each of these women is currently wearing.

 

This simplicity number feels right on the money! Add a bow, it’s there!

 

The top is a little off, but I think you could alter this one to make it work, and I love that back detail! It also reminds me of this number:

And then we have this one:

This one is a little intense, but also excellent. And look at that, a near-perfect pattern match!

Oh, love it all. LOVE IT ALL! Nothing exact here, but some options for an approximation:

 

Colette Patterns Claudette Dress, a classic!

Love those design lines.

And then of course, the party wear:

Now, Gertie said she might be developing something similar in an instagram post, so, ya know, maybe? But this is also not terrible:

And of course, the dress that requires pearls:

Oh, hello, lover. I mean, look, I have no idea if anything will ever be this good in terms of FIT, but in terms of LOOK, I humbly offer a few options:

Siiiigh. I had nothing for the men, honestly, although I’m happy to source that if anything is going there….

What do you guys think? Any other ideas of great patterns to use? Any real vintage favorites?

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, Colette Patterns, McCalls Patterns, seamwork, Sewalong, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Be A Pineapple Dress

I have to admit something, a dark and shameful secret. I am terrible at muslins. I just am. I never really make them, is the thing, because I always want them to be wearable because, well, I don’t know, I guess sometimes it feels like a waste of time although of course it IS NOT and I have botched a lot of things and ruined good fabric more times than I can count through NOT really muslining, by just cutting out a dress or shirt or whatever and realizing it doesn’t fit correctly and I hate it. Ugh, sigh, foolish Leah. I don’t know, I just have a hard time sewing when it doesn’t create a wearable product, which isn’t great, I should be more process oriented, more fit oriented, but I find myself just…not being that way.

Should I just bite the bullet and actually commit to muslins? Yes, yes I should. WILL I? I honestly can’t say.

So this dress was my SECOND muslin/tester/just a dress I made because I’m a muslin fail, as you know. I have to make a dress for my friend Ekta’s upcoming wedding (hi, Ekta!). Well, I mean, I don’t HAVE to but I want to! And it has to be formal, a gown, really. I have been encouraged to make something Indian, but I just, can’t even with that. First of all, I like traditional Indian clothing on other people but I’m not all that wild about it on myself, unless it’s like a sari or a lenhga. The whole mashed-up Indian outfit options are beautiful, but just not really me. I think it might be the lack of waist definition, which is so big in concepts of Western beauty, but not as important here in Indian clothing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See, all very nice, but not very me. So Ekta will have to be down with my gown!

I knew I wanted to take a dress pattern and lengthen it to make it a gown, so I decided to try my hand at New Look 6526, because I really liked the bodice details. But alas, it was not to be. There were so many issues, from the bust to the armscye, and I just didn’t know where to start or if it was even worth it. So I took a step back and thought about what I liked about this pattern, really liked about it, and decided it was the princess seams and the v-neck. So I took out another pattern I had, McCalls 7503, with some similar elements, and tried that one out for size. This pattern also had multiple cup size options, which is always a good sign, because New Look 6526 is going to need a full bust adjustment and a HALF to get that to fit.

I was worried about the bust size, though, so I cut an 18 for my tester, which means this dress, which is a dress, honestly, not a muslin, I mean, I frenched every seam, I’m insane, is a bit big, but that’s fine, for a “day frock”, as my friend Lucy, who shot the photos below, put it. I will go down a size all over and maybe two at the waist for my dress for Ekta’s wedding (technically it’s for her Sangeet, the wedding gets a sari!).

But honestly, this dress could be four sizes too big and I would still love it because the fabric is just the best. It comes to me courtesy of my friend Meredith, who handed it over to me when she left India, because she never got a chance to take it to a tailor. Meredith’s loss is my gain!

Pineapple party!

Good advice for us all. I am not tall, but I did wear these wedges, so that helped, but hey, where is my crown?

As I am fond of remarking, one of the positive things about India is the constant abundance of fresh tropical fruit. Does it make up for the constant abundance of feces dotting the streets? Jury is still out. Still, I love me some watermelon, so I enjoy that daily, and we have recently started adding pineapple to our green juice (yes I drink home-made green juice daily, don’t care that it’s #basic, it’s healthy!), which I buy from a streetseller across from my gym. And now I can match him!

So I made a few changes to the original design, adding these flutter sleeves (the sangeet version will have cap sleeves, fyi) and moving the zipper to the side. I didn’t have enough fabric to line it, which is okay, this is a solid cotton, so I finished off the sleeves and neckline with bias tape.

This fabric is so busy that you can’t really see the princess seams, etc, but they are there, along with a bust dart. It’s a nicely drafted pattern, I think!

I finished the hem with horsehair, as instructed, which gives it a little body and bounce. I struggled to figure out how to describe this in my notions shop, but it turns out the word in Hindi for horsehair is…horsehair.

 

This was an easy make, even with all the french seams I did, which I think is a good thing, because I’m about to attempt this in a different fabric, with a full length skirt, which will be flared if I have enough fabric, and something else if I don’t…and lined, and fancy, and probably a bit more challenging. So at least the base pattern is easy!

Lucy took these photos at golden hour, so this was me trying to do my most romantic golden hour pose. Nailed it.

We took these photos in this gloriously empty lot near a movie theater after watching The Post (it’s pretty good! Meryl is amazing, Hanks is good, the costumes are fun, the press stays free) and there was also this giant jar there. WHAT IS THIS THING?

Never mind, I will just keep on being a pineapple.

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The Days of the Raj Dress

Whenever I come to Kolkata, which is not infrequently, as my in laws live here, there are a few things to which I look forward. The first of which, or I suppose the second, because the first is my in laws, (gotta win those daughter in law points, hope they are reading this!) is the food. Kolkata is famous for it’s cuisine, a mix of delicious things, from Bengali steamed fish with mustard sauce and banana flower cutlets, to rich Adwah biryanis and grilled meats, to some of the best Chinese food, albeit Indian tinged, I’ve have on this subcontinent, to delightful European style baked goods. Kolkata is a city of laid back pleasure seekers, and people wake up from their dreams about breakfast, spend breakfast discussing lunch, and spend lunch planning dinner. So it’s my kind of town, obviously.

But beyond the food, which is stunning, I will say, that Kolkata is an interesting place, and for me it’s one I like visiting because of its colonial charm. Of course, when I first came to Kolkata, TWO YEARS ago (I have been in India for two years I need someone to kill me now, thanks, bye), I had read a series of books about India’s history, including Amitav Ghosh’s spectacular Ibis trilogy, and I was prepared for a well-preserved colonial city when I landed in West Bengal. Of course, now I know that preservation is a foreign concept in India, in many sectors, but especially as far as history is concerned, but at the time, woefully naive child that I was, I believed that such things were possible. If your expectation of Kolkata is anywhere close to my own, well, you will be sorely disappointed in the city. If, however, you are willing to look behind the crumbling ruins, the horrible renovations and construction, the layering of signs and informal businesses and grime and poverty and decay, well, there you can find some shadows of the British Raj, some echoes of the princely Bengali millionaires or babus who built mansions and lit cigars with one rupee notes back when one rupee meant something. Here and there you can see the gorgeous buildings funded by Bagdhadi Jews in the 1800s, streets named by Anglo Indians in the 1920’s, glimpses of Calcutta in Kolkata of today.

As a history enthusiast, it is that city I am always on the lookout for in Kolkata, in between meals, of course. And this time, I made an outfit to match my search, McCalls 7153, from their Archive Collection.  I don’t know if any of you have seen or heard of the BBC show Indian Summers, which I believe was intended as the inheritor of all those Downton Abby fans (richly detailed historical drama featuring strong class issues? Check!). I have no idea how successful that was as a plan, but it’s set in 1930’s Shimla, against the dying breaths of the British empire, and the costumes are sumptuous as hell. 

This was actually the first McCalls Archive collection pattern that I have ever bought or made, so that was an adventure! I mean, it was fairly straightforward, I suppose, but still, trying new (old) things! The pattern is a 1930’s style dress, a new decade for me but one I am deeply into. I don’t know if anyone else got to check out the 1930’s Glamor exhibit at FIT, but it was stunning, and really showed me how the 1930’s was the first truly modern fashion era.

So here we go, my 1930’s dress! As a non-Indian in India, I felt like I should really be oppressing people in India while wearing this. My husband took these pictures, so maybe that counts?

There I go, looking off into the distant past, wishing I still controlled the tea and opium trade. AND THE WORLD!

This dress is pretty easy to put together, and I used this iteration as a sort of “wearable muslin”, throwing it together quickly (so quickly I made a mistake on one of the skirt panels, a sharp eyed reader can totally spot it, I DON’T CARE), and pinking all the seams. I got this fabric at my beloved Thakur, and it’s an indigo (or synthetic indigo) print, which I thought was lovely and fun for this dress. The pattern image is in stripes, and I liked that for a first try. It’s jaunty! Just like 300 years of British rule! A total lark!

In this dress, I feel like I could build a bunch of railroads, introduce several non-native foods that would become essential to the Indian diet (potatoes, tomatoes and tea, I’m looking at you guys) and systematically strip a nation of its natural resources while telling them it’s for their own good. I’m sure that’s JUST what McCalls intended.

I am pretty happy with the way this turned out, although next time I would change a few things:

  1. I was a bit worried about the bodice fit, because there were no darts or anything to do a full bust adjustment, and the bust measurements seemed slim on the pattern envelope. BUT THAT WAS A LIE! Damn, you, McCalls! I cut a 20 in the bust, and graded down to somewhere between a 16 and a 14 in the waist, but I feel that this bust has AMPLE room, and frankly, the bias panels mean the whole dress has a lot of wiggle room and ease, so next time I might just do a straight 16 and call it a day. As you can see in these photos, I have a lot of ease around the arms and bust.
  2. I might shorten the hem. I KNOW, I know, that’s what makes it so 1930’s, but I think even an inch or two might make it a little more wearable.
  3. I would french seam it all. THAT IS HOW I ROLL.

Still, I like this dress a lot, and I really do feel that 1930’s fashions DO work even today, without feeling too costumey. But maybe that’s just in Kolkata?

What’s-his-face wanted to try “fashion photography”. I gotta say, I kind of love it! Well done, what’s-his-face, I will now be demanding this every time.

 

I wanted to take these photos at Victoria Memorial, but it’s such a tourist trap, darling, you don’t want to be where all the commoners are, do you?

A little bodice close up for you. I love the details, the winged bodice, so chic.

Thinking about which of my suitors to allow to take me tiger hunting over the weekend. Probably. Wait, what’s a weekend?

A glimpse of our “shoot location”, probably from the 1920’s, judging from those balconies. Practically modern, relative to the dress!

So there you go, chasing the days of the Raj in this dress. Well, not chasing, of course, a lady wouldn’t do that. Mincing behind the days of the Raj, maybe? Swooning around the days of the Raj? Something like that. You get it.

 

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