Archive | September 2013

How to be a Perfect Hostess… McCall’s 6664

First and foremost, make sure no guest steps on the cute house bunny.  I know, Lala should be in his cage with some yummy veggies to eat when there are guest.  But the guests let Lala out.  Have plenty of party treats.  For the book club, make sure to have wine and the discussion questions.  Also, shouldn’t every hostess have an adorable apron?

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I probably shouldn’t even have bought this pattern to begin with.  But when I came across an E-bay listing for 20 vintage apron patterns, all reasoning went out the window.  Flipping through the lot, this one caught my eye.  It was totally adorable.  This is the one I have to make this year for white elephant for work.

The only gingham that was at my local fabric store at the time was a pearly polyester.  Not exactly what I wanted (I wanted a cotton), but it will work.  Really, unless the receiver reads this blog, I doubt they will know I had wanted cotton instead of polyester or that the apron is even made out of polyester.

I have never done smocking before.  I went and checked my trusty Vogue Sewing manual and it didn’t have anything in it either.  I probably should have checked some of my older sewing manuals, but didn’t feel like it.  So, I tried just following the instructions in the pattern.  It was a little tricky working off of figures only.  I had this feeling like I was missing something and whatever I was doing was wrong.  I found a honeycomb smocking tutorial video on the internet.  I will include a link to the video at the end of the blog post.  Using that and my instructions, I started again.

There are 15 rows of smocking on view A of this apron (half apron).  Be careful.  I missed the part on row 4 to skip a row of white squares, so I had to go back and remove the 5 smocking stitches I made.  After getting the hang of what I was doing with the smocking, the overall chart became much easier to read.  It took me about 3 rows to really get the hang of smocking before this happened.  Looking at the chart, I think I missed a couple of stitches in those first 3 rows.

So I wouldn’t have to bias trim the pocket, I cut a second pocket piece as a lining. The two pocket pieces were sewn together and then attached to the apron.  Instead of self-bias trim all around the edge, I decided to just purchase bias packets from the store. It makes it faster to put together.  I am very slow at making bias trim.

To be completely honest, I am not certain why McCall’s hasn’t reprinted or used this pattern as an inspiration for a new apron pattern.  Maybe they did and I haven’t been sewing long enough to know better.  The pattern envelope is really cute, including the sixties hairstyles.  I know that all the details in the smocking means that it doesn’t go together quickly.  But is time it takes to make something up even considered?  All the handwork details are what makes this apron really special.  I don’t want to make something for a gift that one can go to a store and get practically the identical item.

Hopefully whoever gets this in the white elephant will enjoy his or her new apron.

Smocking tutorial used:


What to do with the Left-over fabric? Heritage Doll Fashion Bubblegum


So after cutting out my plaid summer dress, I was adding a lot more fabric to the odds & ends fabric scrap pile.  The stuff that is not enough to make an article of clothing for me but too large to just throw away.  I don’t quilt so the amount is starting to overrun the box it is in.

I thought about making more items for Toby.  (Toby is probably thinking I have way too much time available and to not make anything for him.  Halloween is one outfit too many.)  One day when I opened up my closet, I remembered about the American Girl dolls I have.  I own four of them altogether (Felicity, Kristen, Samantha, and Molly); two were originally my sister’s dolls but she didn’t want them anymore.  Those scraps of fabric will work out perfect for making doll clothes for them.  Also, I may be able to donate the extra clothes I make for the dolls to either Toys for Tots or the Christmas Worthy.  I am sure Toby heaved a sigh of relieve as I am typing this.  Granted I may still make him a t-shirt out of the orange plaid cotton so he can have an outfit to match my summer dress.

After spending a couple of hours cleaning up all four doll and washing their laundry by hand.  Apparently my kitchen island isn’t big enough for the laundry of 3 American girls.  They cleaned up very well for being a box for several years.  I told my dad he gets the privilege of going to the American Girl store to shop for socks, panties, and stockings.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to get him to come with me four different times so that is why all four were cleaned at once.  I think I am going to display them in the living room.

So, first up on this American Girl sewing adventure is Heritage Doll Fashions “Bubble Gum” 1940s dress for Molly.  I got the pattern from an Etsy store.  It is an easy to use pdf pattern.  I used the orange plaid cotton I had left over from McCall’s 6340 dress.  Colors may not be historically accurate but at least the fabric will be.

As far as I can figure my American girl dolls were purchased around 1992 to 1995 (at the latest).  I am providing Molly’s measurements just as a comparison for anyone who is making this for a more modern doll.  I know there are differences between new and old but I am not sure how much.  From what I read on the internet, my older dolls are chubbier than the new ones.

Bust:  11.5 inches

Waist: 11 inches

Hips: 13 inches

In the end the waistband area seems a little tight on Molly.  I am not sure if it is because of Molly’s waist or just seam bulk.  If anything an additional quarter of an inch would probably make the waist fit better.  The bodice of the dress fit Molly just perfectly.

Looking at the pattern, I thought the hardest part of the pattern would be the rounded yoke.  It was not.  The hardest part turns out to be the sleeves.  So be prepared for that.  During construction, I went ahead and basted the lining and the bodice together at the side seams and the waistband to make it easier to sew.

Summer of 1962- McCall’s 6340


Here are the highlights of August 1962:

  • Actress/ Icon Marilyn Monroe passes away
  • Nelson Mandela is arrested
  • Patsy Cline releases “Sentimentally Yours”
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Berlin Wall riots
  • 1st Mediterranean Grand Prix
  • NASA launches the Mariner 2 to Venus
  • Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago become independent countries.

Actually I didn’t realize this at first, but my dress would work for the Sew Weekly Reunion.  I never got to participate when it was going on but I wanted to at least try to do a couple.  But I was sick Friday and couldn’t take pictures.  Then Saturday was too hot for makeup.  Sunday was too wet.  I got my pictures done today but it was too late to participate.

The Facts

Fabric: 100% cotton

Notions: Thread from stash I didn’t care about what color I used so there is some light pink, white, and light yellow. The pattern is too busy to tell the thread changes colors mid-way through the hem.

Pantone Challenge colors: Koi and Vivacious

mccall 6340

Pattern: (post a picture of the pattern) McCall’s 6340 (Copyright 1962 McCall’s 6340 sewing pattern for misses retro Muu muu in two lengths. Four-gore muu muu, in choice of two lengths, with or without raglan sleeves. Muu muu is gathered to faced neckband at back and front. Contrasting, gathered ruffles in sleeve facing seams of longer muu muu. Shorter muu muu has gathered, self-fabric ruffle on lower edges; separate tie belt.)

Year: 2013

Time to complete: 4 hours total

First worn: Labor day weekend

Wear again? Yes. I adore that it is cute and fun. An easy wear for the heat wave we are having.

Total Cost: $22.00

I decided to go to the fabric store after I wasn’t able to find a decent sized watermelon for Toby (family doggie) one evening. Isn’t a fabric store where everyone wants to go to after a disappointment? I was able to find a cute light weight plaid cotton fabric in the clearance section. I couldn’t wait to cut the pattern out, so I didn’t pre-wash the fabric. I know this is bad but the pattern I picked is for bust size 38 to 40, so I think I should be alright if it shrinks in the wash. I may only put it in the dryer once to shrink it a little.

The pattern is super simple. It is perfect for those wanting to try out vintage pattern and for those just learning to sew. It isn’t highly fitted and makes an adorable summer dress with a belt. For it being a 1962 pattern, the style is still very current.  Very important a belt is needed otherwise it is a huge tent on.  No zipper or fasteners so it worked out perfect for me to try to get over my machine disappointments. I was able to get it half way finished in 2 hours. That was cutting and mostly piecing together. After that two hours I was missing a ruffle, finished arms, finishing back of neck and hemming.

I didn’t do any pattern alterations except for shortening the pattern. I started with about 2 inches. After piecing most of it together I took off another 4 inches of length. I also took in the side seams a couple of inches on each side. I did end up with a dress that is probably a little too big but makes a perfect loose summer dress with a belt. If I make it again, I may want to consider taking a couple of inches out of the center front and the center back seams instead of the side seams. Also, I probably should interface the neckline. The shoulder seams stick out a little. I think washing and wear should help this out some.

Thinking of other possible fabric choices it would have to be some sort of light weight woven like a rayon Challis or cotton lawn.  A knit fabric would possibly stretch out (especially on the maxi length) and may not gather as nicely on the neckline and the ruffle.

I sort of want to make the maxi-length dress. I haven’t quite decided yet on whether I should. But after seeing this dress completed, I have been considering it even more. It would definitely have to be sleeveless (view B) otherwise it will look like I am playing dress up because it is just too big and overwhelming for shorter people with the sleeves that have ruffles at the end. Anyways I am not sure I like the ruffles at the end of the sleeves for view A.

I picked the highlights of August 1962 from the Wikipedia article.  There are many other events that I didn’t include.