Official Vintage Pledge


Hello everyone, thanks so much for all your kind comments on McCall's 6800. The red coat is already in high rotation in the wardrobe.  I love it when modern patterns fit right in with my vintage or vintage inspired pieces. Speaking of vintage sewing, it's time for me to officially declare my vintage pledge for 2016.  Gotta have your goals written down....mostly because mommy brain seems to be a condition that you never fully recover from.

During 2016, I Heather Beckley, pledge to sew up 5 vintage patterns. This includes vintage re-issues and "true" vintage patterns.

Back in January I posted a list of three 40's era patterns to sew this year and have made a small bit of progress on that front.  So far Hollywood Patterns 1032 has been successfully graded and muslined.
 I hit a snag after realizing the fabric I'd had in mind would be too thick to work with the pattern. I'd been thinking "suit jacket" when the pattern was thinking "blouse".  Probably because the pattern envelope clearly said blouse. Ha haa, Reading!  Anyway, the blouse portion has finally been started in real fabric so you "should" see that sometime in March.

This week I've also belatedly realized that Easter is in March this year. Curses, already behind on any Easter dress sewing. Why was I not born a natural planner? Oh well, surely my speedy sewing skills can overcome any planning inadequacies. With that cocky attitude I purchased both of these dress patterns yesterday because sometimes you can't choose.
Both of these are already in my bust size so I'll only need to bump out the bottom half a bit. Seems like finishing at least one of them for Easter is doable. Cross your fingers for me. :)

Lady in Red - McCalls 6800


Ooooo what's this? Did someone finally wrestle her startitus into submission and finish something? By Grabthar's hammer I Did!  It took a lot of cookie eating, muttering crazily to myself and putting on my "Big Girl Decision Making Pants." One does need bigger pants after so many cookies.
My startitus trouble was caused by the inability to choose fashion fabric. After the muslin stage I hit a wall trying to figure out what fabric to use, get frustrated and start a new project. Then multiply that process a few more times. This problem was a new one to me because Past Heather would have solved it by shopping for more fabric. It's not that new fabric purchases are banned around here or anything. It's just that I've been trying to rifle through the stash first to make sure there isn't something appropriate. Then it seemed like it was always too much trouble to actually go look in the stash. My husband was sleeping the room or it was only 10 minutes until it was time to pick up Des or I felt too tired to pull everything out.  Those of you without dedicated sewing areas know how it is.
In the case of this project, McCall's 6800, I did know exactly what fabric to use but there wasn't quiet enough yardage. I must have spent a week and a half thinking of all the different ways to squeeze this pattern out of 4 yards.

1. Shorten the skirt length like I did on Butterick 5824.
2. Buy some faux fur to use on the collar, hem and cuffs.
3. Switch to the funnel neck option and sew the short version offered in the pattern.

All good options, unless you get stubborn and decide the coat must be sewn like you imagined it. Not living up to being a stereotypical Taurus, not at all.  Anyway, I inconvenienced everyone else in the house by putting 4 yards of 60" coating on the floor and spending a few hours working my cutting layout tetris. "No you can not have any food while I do this. The kitchen is closed....literally because I've blocked the way with fabric."

Aided by the fact that this wool coating doesn't have a visible nap, I rotated all the side fronts/backs in the opposite direction to the middle fronts/backs. Being able to nest the pieces with large skirt sweeps together freed up a lot of yardage. After that the only piece that wouldn't fit was the facings. Being so close to victory I decided to piece the facings together at the waist thereby using the two small chunks of yardage that was left. Voila, my stubbornness paid off. "HA HA! I Told You I'd Make It Work," I yelled at nobody in particular. Des just sighed and asked if he could finally have a snack now. (He'd eaten 4 things in the previous hour so don't feel sorry for him. He's got his mother's "must always be foraging" genes.)
Now that I've woven my tale of fabric cutting drama let's talk about McCall's 6800 a bit. This is one of those patterns that popped up on my radar after seeing some FO's appear on the internet. My interest was peaked enough to go have a gander at the technical drawings and Holy Cow this is Big 4 patterning done right.

1. Pattern Comes With A Two Piece Sleeve! Granted coat patterns with one piece sleeves might be my own personal pet peeve instead of a conspiracy of lazy drafting. Seriously though it's better drafting for outerwear meant to be sewn in a heavy weight fabric.

2. Collar and Hem Options Huzzah! This is the sort of thing that fills me with goodwill towards a pattern. When you're working from the block these sort of variations don't take too long to draft. But if I was trying to reverse engineer a coat with lapels to higher neckline it would be a total pain in the ass.

3. Additional Design elements. Just having the various collars and hems was swell but they didn't stop there. The pattern also comes with a button in hood or faux fur collar and a belt option. Good on you McCall's, this pattern is stuffed with ways to customize your coat.

I do have two very minor niggles about the pattern. The first is that the pocket bags are very shallow. I subbed in the ones from Butterick 5824 since they were perfect.  The second is that the button placement might be a bit too far apart.  I say might because I'm not 100% sure that my button choice isn't to blame. Anyway both of these "problems" are easy to fix and do not detract from my obvious love of the pattern.
My version is mostly View B. Instead of the waterfall hemline the straight hemline from View D was swapped in.  I also decided to put the pockets in the side seam area instead of using the front princess line seam. The pattern marks pocket placement in both locations, so that's easy peasy. You'll see in the review area that I also lucked out and didn't have to do many fitting alterations on my muslin. In fact the only Oops moment was not accounting for the weight of the skirt changing the fit around the waist.  My muslin fit perfectly, but in the heavier wool that area had lot more ease than I was looking for. This would have been slightly less of an aggravation if the lining hadn't already been sewn closed. Derp.  In these photos the side seams have been taken in about 1.25".  Afterwards I went back and took in the CB seam about 1" and moved that top button a bit.

McCall's 6800 Model is like, "I can't hear you over my sassy coat."

Fabrics used
Italian Wool Flannel coating originally from Gorgeous Fabrics. I bought mine in 2013 but they seem to stock it regularly every year. This is the same coating that I used for both Butterick 5824 and the Ottobre coat I made for my sister.

Rayon/Acetate Lining. Also a stashed GF purchase but they seem to have it/something like it still in stock.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Blended together sizes 16 and 18.
2. Made my standard 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment to both the shoulder and sleeve.
3. Took in the back 1" spread evenly between the side back seams.

My on the fly alteration of the waist was to curve in the seam just at the waist area.  I took a total of 1.25" out at each side seam and 1" out of the CB seam.

- If you're using a medium weight wool like me I'd suggest fitting the muslin very close to the waist. The weight of the skirt will pull the waist area out giving you more ease.

- If you don't sew muslins then don't be like me and do a final fit check after sewing the bottom of the lining to the coat. You know so you don't have to rip up a bunch of hand sewing to take in some side seams.

- I am wearing a petticoat in these pictures to fluff the skirt out a bit. The coat does look nice sans petticoat but I forgot to take any pictures.

Husband Comment
"Hey princess, I like all your seams." Then he grabbed the lapels and folded them up towards my neck and asked why there wasn't a button there to secure them.  I think he must have been sneakily staring at the technical flats.
P.S - We had a disagreement that my scarves wouldn't fill in the neckline area.  Feast your eyes on the photographic evidence Steve. ;)

My Final Thoughts
You already know I think the pattern is pretty great. Lots of design options, great drafting, you can buy it on sale right now for 3.99 on the McCall's website. The only downside might be the amount of yardage you need for the longer view. If you don't have 5+ yards of coating in your stash, Gorgeous Fabrics does have all the Italian Wool Flannel Coating on sale right now for $15.00 a yard. I'm sure Fabric Mart has some even better deals on coating if you do a bit of browsing.  And with that I will stop being an enabler and leave you with the sort of twirling picture necessary when full skirts are involved. Until next time my friends.

PR Hacks - Linda Top with Extra Ruching


Hey Guys,  I started February off with a bang of startitis and quickly found myself muslining 3 different projects. The sewing area looked like a tornado of tracing paper had hit and my brain had a similar feeling. I can juggle 2 projects pretty successfully, but 3 was a bridge too far. So either you'll see a ton of FO's at the end of the month or I'll be hiding in the other room with some knitting pretending the trace paper situation isn't insane.

In the meantime I do have a fun piece of business to share, this month's PR hack of the Linda Top.
It's Linda's birthday so Deepika and I decided to celebrate by giving her a new twist.  This version has a scoop neckline and ruching on the sleeve. The hacking skill level on this one is easy! It shouldn't take you more than an hour to adjust the pattern. So if you just want to dip your toes into some pattern manipulation than this one's for you.
As usual all the details are on the PR blog.  Hack on my friends.

Flashback to 2013


I hope your beverages are securely fastened because we're about to do back in time. Queue spinning tardis and Dr. Who theme song. Doo dooo dooooooooooo! We're going back to 2013 when I was about 15 lbs heavier and hadn't completely jumped on the vintage train. It was late August, exactly the time you want to start your Fall/Winter knitting, and plans were afoot.  Past Heather decided to cast on a sweater that had been in the mental queue for a year, the Thermal Pullover from Allyson Dykhuizen.   
As far as I can remember my thought process was, " That stitch pattern is cool and I can finally knit up that gray Cascade 220 that's been in the stash since 2009."  Both good points especially since I'd already purchased the pattern in 2012. On the other hand, I'd been knitting long enough to know that a drop shoulder sweater with no shaping wasn't a great idea. At least for me.  
What I remember of the knitting process is that the stitch pattern sucked up yarn and it seemed like I was constantly buying more skeins. Also the first sleeve came out huge and I had to rip it entirely out reknit. It was about this time that I soured on the project, stuffed it in a bag and stuffed the box into a cabinet. What sweater?  I don't know anything about a sweater?  There are only socks.
This year I finally got tired of the sweater taunting on my Ravelry project page went looking for it. Once it was freed from its cabinet I found there was literally only a sleeve left to knit. Really Past Heather? You couldn't buckle down and finish one sleeve.  Oh well, maybe some shiny new project distracted her. It's not like that still happens all the time.  Anyway I spent the end of January knitting the second sleeve and now I have a warm sweater that makes me look dumpy. At least I'm blaming the sweater and not winter induced cake eating.

Now for some actual pattern details.
The body has no shaping as written but I decided to add some in.  Most of the sweater is the 39" bust sizing, but I cast on the stitch count for the 41 3/4" bust.  Around the side seam area I didn't purl 5 to increase one of the "bubbles". After that the border stitches were gradually decreased out until the sweater was at the 39" stitch count.  Here's a shot of that on one side of the sweater.  It's not the best but I wasn't in the mood for recalculating all the numbers to drop in a fake side seam.  After knitting this I'd say that adding more hip room really wasn't needed because the stitch pattern turned out to be very stretchy. 
As mentioned before the sleeves turned out to be very wide.  The stitch count at the cuff in my size is 60 stitches which seems a bit overkill in worsted weight. On my sweater I made decreases in the underseam about every 6 rounds. That made the cuff stitch count closer to the 40 range.  (I didn't do a final count though, so that's a guess.) The twisted rib portion of the cuffs is also an inch longer than suggested because my sleeves were looking a little short.
No changes were made to the collar area which happens to be my favorite part of the sweater.  I sure do like looking at twisted rib even if knitting it kills my wrists. Overall the pattern gets points in my book for it's minimal finishing. The body is knit all in one piece then seamed the shoulders.  The sleeves are picked up afterwards and knit down. The collar is also knit on leaving you only the bottom edge to seam at the end. I'm not sure if I would have completed this project if most of the finishing hadn't already been done.

So you can tell I'm not super enthused about this make, but that's mostly because it doesn't fit my tastes. The stitch pattern wooed me and made me forget about my problems with drop shoulders and oversized sweaters. However if you love those things than I would recommend this pattern. My only real issue is the sleeve width, but that's an easy issue to fix on the fly. Or maybe giant sleeves are also your jam and you like to smuggle pots of jam in them. I won't judge, I've got balls of yarn up mine. 
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