Alexander Henry’s “Las Senoritas” Mexican Calendar Girl Shirt.


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My husband digs his Mexican Calendar Girl party shirt, made with McCall’s 6044!mex shirt sm

Tom’s chest measures 42in/106cm, so I made the size Large, which resulted in a roomy shirt. The 100% cotton fabric is once again Alexander Henrys “Las Senoritas”, which I just LOVE!!! I have more of this rockin’ fabric and plan to make a rockabilly looking dress for myself. Tom prefers Hawaiian style shirt for parties because they are comfy, loose – so he won’t get too hot, and come in wild prints. He requested that I find a pattern that has the separate collar and collar stand. He doesn’t like how shirts with the all-in-one-piece collar and collar band combo sit on his neck. He won’t even buy ready-to-wear with that type of collar. An example of this collar-and-band-in-one technique is Simplicity’s 5581:Simp 5581

This one-piece collar-plus-band also results in wide facings down the shirt front, which my husband also finds objectionable. I used the Simplicity shirt pattern only once and now I just save it for the hat and cargo shorts.

On McCall’s 6044 pattern I made a couple of modifications. I straightened the curved-in side seams because he is not nineteen years old and has a regular middle-aged man’s figure. And to make it easier to match the fabric print on the button band, I added the button band pattern piece to the shirt’s front pattern piece, overlapping and lining up the stitching lines, so I could cut it out in one. This simple fold over button band made it WAY easier to match up the fabric print.

My husband felt the sleeves were just a tad short when compared to ready-to-wear shirts of the same style, so the next time I use the McCall’s pattern I will add an inch to the sleeve length. I also felt the pockets were placed an tad too high on the chest, so I will be lowering their placement by 1/2 and inch.Beeytjam 16My dress is Vogue Easy Options 8555, which I used for my 2012 Halloween Ginger Costume. The fabric is another of Alexander Henry’s wicked cool prints called “Corazones Hearts”.AH Corazones Hearts

Las Senoritas Calendar Girl Shirt – Take Two – picky details


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My husband really likes the Mexican Calendar Girl shirt I sewed for my painting instructor and asked me asked me to sew him one too. There’s a party we’re going to this weekend and this was the perfect excuse for me to rev up my sewing machine. I just finished up last night with two days to spare, so I’m going to sew a new dress for myself to wear to the party too. Nothing gets me going like an imminent deadline! Like the first Calendar Girl shirt, I used McCall’s 6044, but this time View A. My husband requested short sleeves and a straight, Hawaiian Shirt style hem. I’ll post more photos with him modeling his shirt next week. In the meantime, here are a couple of picky details.

I matched the print’s pattern in the pockets and the shirt’s button front. It takes more time and more fabric to match the print, but the results are so worth it! And I’m pleasantly surprised by how many men notice that level of detail.Las senoritas 3Las senoritas 1

And this may be really, really picky, but I didn’t notice I had stitched the button band’s topstitching line (the line on the right) at a 2.2 setting (Janome’s 14 sts per inch/ 6 sts per cm) and the line on the left is 2.6 (11 sts per inch/ 4.2 sts per cm). That might seem insignificant but it looked amateurish or “made with loving hands at home.” Las senoritas 2

So I ripped it out and re-sewed the topstitching at 2.6. Much better! That may seem overkill, but even from a few feet away, the difference could be seen, even if it was only a subconscious niggling feeling. I’m glad I took the 10 minutes it took to re-do it. I want it to look as professional as possible since my husband will probably brag how I sewed his “party shirt”.


McCall’s 6044

Gertie’s Slip – Butterick 6031 Finished

I just finished attaching the hem lace to my Butterick 6031 slip and now I have a custom, sexy red slip. This is a great pattern to work with and if you can figure out a good size, you can end up with a nice form fitting lingerie slip. I find the Butterick sizes run a bit large. What is very convenient though is that several bust cup sizes are included in the pattern so I didn’t have to do a FBA. I do not sew many knits so I followed along with Gertie’s online step-by-step slip sew along. Very helpful were her suggestions for zigzag stitch width and length for the different seams. And although Gertie’s instructional blog posts were spread out over a few weeks, really, this slip can be cut out and sewn in an evening.Gertie Slip 1

Looking at the photos online I realize I should have given it a light pressing for the camera.  I varied from the construction techniques by not  trimming away the fabric from behind the lace at the upper bust edge to eliminate the need for the 1/8″ elastic strip to be sewn to the back of the lace. Doing this also added some durability to the neckline. I also chose to forego the little bow trim and the center front. I don’t like the way bows and rosettes create lumps under my clothes.Gertie Slip 2

I found all the red stretch laces and red picot elastic at Sew Sassy Fabrics. At the hemline, I eliminated the slit detail. The hem edge has enough width that I didn’t need the “walking slit”, plus I hemmed this up at a mini length and the slit would have sliced right up to my panties.Gertie Slip 3

I am so glad Sew Sassy carries different colors of the picot edged elastic. The picots peeking up along the back edge give it a professional looking finish.Gertie Slip 4

According to the measurements on the pattern envelope, I should have cut a size 16, but I cut a size 14 because I measured the pattern itself and it is still a tad large. Those darn big 4 pattern companies seem to run large typically and add unnecessary amounts of ease. I got Gertie’s slip kit in Lavender from her Etsy online shop so I’m thinking I’ll cut this next one at a size 12 for a “negative ease” so the fit will be absolutely form fitting.

Butterick 6031

My Grandmothers’ hairstyles

Sorry theses photos are small. They are scans of cameo locket photos. This is my paternal grandmother Marie in 1930. She had sisters who did the complicated fingerwave hairstyles for each other. It helped that they all had naturally curly hair, and all were strawberry blonds. I wonder if those are bakelite beads around her neck?










My maternal grandmother Erlinda in 1941. She was fond of victory rolls and liked to try different configurations. She worked to help put her brothers through college before they both went into the Army-Air Corps in WWII. I love the delicate hand tinting of the photograph.

Erlinda Bautista









Marian Martin 9247 finished

Here is my finished Marian Martin dress for Pattern Review’s Vintage Contest. I like how this dress turned out. I had to make some minor fitting adjustments to the test muslin such as adding to the bust, which is super easy to do on princess seams.  I also had to bring in the shoulder width by 1”/2.5cm. Shoulder pads were commonly used in the 1940s and I already have broad shoulders. Additional shoulder padding on me is ludicrous! I just end up looking like a line-backer. One advantage I did discover though is that older vintage patterns are often drafted with a shorter shoulder-to-waist length, which suits my short-waisted torso perfectly.Marian Martin 9247 front

I chose to replace the short keyhole opening at the back of the neck with a lapped zipper on the center back seam. The fabric is very light-weight, so I did use strips of iron-interfacing to reinforce the seams where the zipper is sewn, but to keep the vintage vibe I used the hand-picked method for the zipper itself. I also eliminated the 12”/30cm long section of snaps at the side seam. I practically have to dislocate my shoulder to get into a dress with the keyhole-neck/side-snaps combination. Plus I really don’t like the look of lumpy side seam snaps.Marian Martin 9247 back

You can see the stitching for the hand-picked zipper here:Marian Martin 9247 zipper detail

The sewing instructions are like most from that era; they assume you have a good knowledge of dressmaking skills and can fill in their minimal instructions. They don’t hold your hand step-by-step through the construction sequence. Also, I have found that the older unprinted patterns have problems with markings matching up and wobbly lines where the pattern edge should be straight, like on a belt piece. So a test muslin is highly recommended.

I’m wearing a vintage enamel jewelry parure (set) by Coro.Marian Martin 9247 side

This dress is not lined, so I finished most of the longitudinal seams with Hug Snug, and the armhole seams with the serger.MarianMartin 9247 f

Around the neckline, I did half with a self-drafted facing and the other half with the bias binding method from the instruction sheet. I’m not sure I like the bias strip method because the directions have you hand tack down the inside edges to the garment instead of a top-stitching finish.MarianMartin 9247 d

I had to use extremely tiny bites with my needle so the stitches aren’t so visible on the right side of the neckline, but I wonder how it will hold up.

MarianMartin 9247 cAnd since I don’t own a vintage hand bag, I’m just carrying Miss Sophie instead:Marian Martin 9247 kittyWhat I love about this dress: The unusual gathered details around the elbows of the sleeves, the iconic WWII Sweetheart neckline, the princess seams which are super flattering to most figures, and the super soft, floaty rayon fabric. What I would do differently if I made this dress again? I would fully line it for a cleaner finish around the neckline and eliminate the need to wear a full slip. This fabric is almost sheer!


Marian Martin 9247 – muslin mock-up

I didn’t get to the Marian Martin dress for the Sew For Victory challenge. I only had the time to sew Hollywood Pattern 789 (photos coming soon). So now I’m getting another opportunity to use Marian Martin 9247 for the Vintage Challenge on Pattern Review.

Marian Martin 9247I like the detail of the small, curved gathers on the sleeves near the elbows. My test muslin is done and only needed some minor adjustments to the fit. I will be changing the back center seam to a zipper in place of the short keyhole opening and the snaps in the side seam. I don’t like struggling to put on a dress and the buttoned-keyhole/side-snaps combo makes me have to contort uncomfortably. Plus I really don’t like the appearance of side seam snaps. They look all lumpy bumpy on the side and don’t have the look of a clean finish.

Marian Martin 9247a

There aren’t shoulder seams at the top of the shoulders. Instead the back bodice extends up and over the shoulders to the front to meet the gathers on the front bodice.Marian Martin 9247bI love this sleeve detail at the elbows.Marian Martin 9247cWell I’m off to cut out this great vintage rayon challis I got from Sharon’s Antiques.

Vintage Rayon birds




Call the Midwife – Season 3

I am always so behind on what’s currently on TV. Season 3 of Call the Midwife is almost done and I’m just now watching the new episodes back-to-back on PBS online to catch up. I love this series because 1) it’s based on a true story, and 2) they don’t feel the need to have and over-arching villain trying to destroy the people around them. Instead, this group of women strive to find their inner strengths so they can pull together, and sometimes pull apart and pull together again to deal with the problems and difficulties around them. In this season’s opener, the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House move into their new digs since their original home was crumbling and condemned by the government.

CalltheMidwife 3 a

The original cast is joined by a new sister, Sister Winifred, a somewhat innocent and warm-hearted young nun from the Mother House, and a new mid-wife, Nurse Patsy.CalltheMidwife 3 cNurse Trixie gets a new, mod-looking bob, although I’ll miss her darling pin curls.CalltheMidwife 3 d

CalltheMidwife 3 eAnd a handsome new curate comes to the area who looks to be a possible love-interest for Nurse Trixie.CalltheMidwife 3 iAs always, the sets and costumes are superb in this series.

CalltheMidwife 3 fChummy always remains one of my favorite characters. Looks like she’s taking fashion pointers from the Queen here.CalltheMidwife 3 k

The vintage style dresses, even though most of them are on women in advanced stages of pregnancy, are such a source of fascination for me. I have got to see if there is an interview somewhere on the web with the fashion designer of the show.CalltheMidwife 3 m

CalltheMidwife 3 h

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 1.00.56 PMCalltheMidwife 3 lThe good news is that Call the Midwife will be back for a fourth season. The sad news is Nurse Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) will be exiting the series. Nurse Lee is the character who first introduced us to Poplar in the poverty-stricken East End and whose voice opens and closes each episode. I’m curious to see how the show will evolve.

CalltheMidwife 3 o



Toast – Movie Fashion & Food


Toast is a biographical movie about English food writer, journalist and broadcaster chef Nigel Slater. The movie opens in 1967 with nine year old Nigel Slater (played by Oscar Kennedy) who loves his mother even though she is a terrible cook. The best she can do is toast, meanwhile young Nigel drools over the pictures of food in cookbooks under the covers with a flashlight at night. His mother dies of asthma and Nigel is left with a distant father. Mrs. Joan Potter, played by the delightfully quirky Helena Bonham Carter, arrives on the scene to be the new cleaner and it’s clear she is aiming to be the next Mrs. Slater by teasing Mr. Slater with glimpses of the tops of her stockings and garters whilst dusting in high places. Joan is also a very good cook but this only makes for rivalry with Nigel, who as he gets older and is the only boy in his cookery class at secondary school, competes with her to gain his father’s love and approval.

Nigel helping his mother attempt to bake a cake. The colors are all autumn-like, mustards, browns and greens in the set decor and clothes.

Toast 1

Nigel looking very much in the mid-sixties in his plaid shirt and short pants.

Toast 3Toast 2

The food styling cracked me up. The food spreads look like they came right out of my mother’s 1960s Betty Crocker cookbook. The new Mrs. Slater made most of the food for her wedding to Nigel’s father. Nigel is incredulous that his father could interested in a woman who wears Crimplene.

Toast 4

Here is the scheming Mrs. Potter whipping up her stellar cake.

Toast 5

The competition between Nigel’s Trifle and Joan’s Lemon Merengue Pie.

Toast 6

Populaire – Movie Fashion

I watched a delightful French movie last night (yep, that means subtitles to read) on Netflix. “Populaire” came out in 2012 and is about a young woman in 1959, who aspires to leave her life as a shop girl in her father’s provincial grocers and become a secretary. Big dreams in those days. Instead, she ends up in a national typing competition. It’s a cute, confectionary of a little story with a predictable ending but it gets the time period spot-on! The costumes, hair, make-up, music and sets are so authentic to the period, it’s like time traveling to the recent past.

Belgium actress Déborah François as the sweet and perky typist Rose Pamphyle.

Belgium actress Déborah François as the sweet and perky typist Rose Pamphyle.


At Rose’s first competition, she wears this dress with the scalloped yoke. It looks like an appliqué laid on top of the bodice fabric.populaire scallop neck

A look at the back of the same dress. How on earth did women button up the backs of their dresses? Especially if there was no one around to help?

Scallop neck back

What an iconic shot here with the Eiffel Tower, the gorgeous car and the two main characters in period correct costumes. I love Rose’s little blue hat that looks like it’s made of the same fabric as the dress. Her boss here, Louis, in his suit looks like something a business man would wear today. Mens business attire hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years.

Populaire blue dress

That enormous foam green colored typewriter cracks me up! Déborah François is a very slender woman who pulls off wearing those voluminous gathered skirts without looking stumpy dumpy.

populaire still

You’ll have to forgive the following photos. They are just screen captures from my computer of the movie. Here is “Marie Taylor”, the modern, model housewife in the movie in her cute top with the asymmetrical tie and the coordinating capris.

housewife3This is a very pretty dress with its combined halter strap and off the shoulder style. It looks like the halter strap ends at the side seams under the arms.

blue competition dress


Enter the French national reigning champion typist in her smokin’ hot purple satin dress with huge satin covered buttons down the side of the skirt. I dig her beehive hair-do.purple dressRose and Louis do a kind of Cha Cha in the living room at Louis’s family Christmas party.

dancing xmas 1

Then the whole family joins in the dancing.

dancing xmas 2This very pretty red dress is the finale dress.

Red dress 2A look at the back of the red finale dress. Those deep “V” necklines in the back are so subtly sexy and elegant.

Red dress backSo if you have an evening where you don’t mind “reading” a movie, go catch this little gem.





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