I Found the Old McCall Building!

I spend a good amount of time in my day job as an architectural historian using old photos to help tell the stories of historic buildings and the people who lived, worked or otherwise spent time in them. So one day I took on a personal project and searched for sewing-related images.

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You know what first clued me in to searching for photos of the old McCall Building? I was about to head into Mood when I happened to spot faded “ghost signs” across 37th Street. See them in the photo above? Windows have since been punched into this side wall, but at one time the sign was very hard to miss. Scroll to the very end of this post to see what the building looked like over a century ago.

So, yep, at one time, McCall’s was right in the thick of things in the Garment District!

All photos and captions are from the Museum of the City of New York‘s digital collection. These were taken by the Byron Company in 1913.

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Gathered Butterfly Skirt

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I loved this silk chiffon fabric the second I spotted it at Mood here in the city. Maybe because it was back in cold and snowy January, and this looked happy and springy to me.

Even though I bought two yards (60″ wide), I could’ve easily gotten away with buying just one yard for this gathered skirt. And, honestly, I really only used two-thirds of a yard anyway. Kind of kicking myself now because the fabric was a bit pricey, but maybe I’ll turn the remainder into a dress…

I cut two pieces that were 24″ long and about 28″ wide (including seam allowances). I used the gathered skirt of the Sewaholic Cambie dress as a guide, but I ended up going with 1/2″ seam allowances instead of 5/8″. I feel like gathered skirts can be somewhat tricky for rectangular figures, at least on me. It’s a comfortable design for summer though, so why not?

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Simplicity 5554, The Newport Dress


My first attempt at a 1970s pattern, big collar and all! I was a little hesitant about that feature at first (and even traced a more standard-size collar), but I was swayed in the end. If I can be true to the original details of a vintage pattern, I will.

In all honesty though, the view I picked (view 3) is not over the top at all. I’m pretty sure I found this pattern – Simplicity 5554 from 1973 – at a thrift store in Virginia, a magical place full of patterns that only cost 25 cents a piece. The thrift store that is, but Virginia is pretty magical too.

There doesn’t seem to be a review of this pattern on the internet, so I’ll provide some more details. I’m also happy to be contributing my first project to the Vintage Pledge challenge run by Marie of A Stitching Odyssey!

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Butterick 5546, Palm Fronds Wrap Dress

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So, as I’m a little behind schedule with posting my finished projects, here is another one that I completed in late May. This is a pattern I’ve used before, but this time I went with the short flutter sleeves option. I really love the look of those wee sleeves! Although as you’ll notice in these photos, the right sleeve flipped up from when I had my bag straps on my shoulder. I was in a bit of a rush to take these photos so I didn’t take the time to notice. Oops. Also, my name tag flew over my shoulder. That white string isn’t a necklace. ;) Why was I wearing a name tag, you may ask? Well, read on…!

The fabric is a cotton jersey that I bought for super cheap several years ago. I remember loving the softness of the fabric at the time, and the print just seemed happy for whatever reason. Probably because it reminded me of, well, palm fronds and warm weather. :)

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Seashell Southport Dress

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Happy summer, everyone! I kicked off the season with a beach-themed Southport Dress, the latest pattern from Kelli at True Bias. It’s only been finished since, oh, before Memorial Day (end of May) – oops! Actually, I have a few projects to share from the past few weeks. I’ll get to those soon.

In any case, this is my first attempt at a True Bias pattern. I’m a sucker for dresses, as some of you know, and I love the silhouette of this dress. It can be casual or dressy depending on fabric, styling, etc. Also? Very few pattern pieces made this dress come together quickly. That’s a huge plus in my book! I still can’t get over how many pieces it takes to create the facing of the Colette Beignet skirt. Oy.

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