Sunday, March 6, 2022

Yee Haw!

 My youngest sister lives in Tucson,  AZ. Her birthday is in late February,   which is also when the Tucson Rodeo is held.  

This combination of events provides the perfect excuse for a vacation. A warm dry location,  family, and fun stuff to do.   The rodeo is a big thing in Tucson. Schools close for two days so that everyone can attend the Rodeo parade. People get dressed up, fancy boots, jackets, blouses/shirts and hats. Last time I attended the Rodeo, I wore "east coast go to the county fair" clothes.  This time I was determined to blend in. I had the boots. They were leftovers from a western themed marketing campaign at the company I worked for. Employees were given the opportunity to buy a pair of Lucchese boots for ~$40.  A lot of employees immediately sold theirs on eBay for about 10 times the price they paid, but I kept mine.  

I wanted to sew  a top or jacket in a western style to wear with my boots.  In my Google search for patterns and inspiration I came across many colorful, embroidery embellished,  vintage western garments from the 1940's. It appears to be a time when there was a lot of interest in the western lifestyle, and Hollywood  released lots of cowboy movies. I also found McCall's patterns  for western themed clothing from the same time period. Below are  some of  the women's patterns, but there are also similar patterns for men and children.

McCall 1295

McCall 1348

McCall 1297

 I loved them. But these vintage  patterns, if available, were very expensive.  Luckily one link popped up for  Decades of Style  pattern #4008 1940s Rodeo Gal Shirt.  It appeared to be a reproduction of McCall's 1297,  and it was available in PDF format. The Rodeo Gal Shirt cover drawing shows the exact same illustration as the McCall's 1297, but with less embroidery and minus the smile pocket (non-flap, open chest pockets that are curved, like a smile, with a stitched arrowhead shaped tack on the ends.) I immediately downloaded the pattern.

Decades of Style #4008 1940s Rodeo Gal Shirt

Wool blend gabardine was a fabric that was used for 1940 RTW western wear and also recommended by the patterns.  I used a large piece of cream gabardine left over from my New Years Eve pants for the yokes and cuffs. I found a a rusty red rayon wool blend gabardine for the sleeves and lower bodice in my stash. The metallic gold piping was also from my stash. The snap fasteners from Amazon. Bemberg rayon was used for the  yoke lining.  The pattern sizing is current and the  instructions were good.

 There was one unusual detail  I had never seen before . The sleeve had an  horizontal slash dart a couple inches from the bottom that secures the sleeve pleats. The slash dart is sewn with the raw edges to the right side of the fabric and is later covered by the cuff.  I think it  is a clever way to add pleats above the cuff without  extending them  to the bottom of the sleeve, where they might have caused bumps in the seam where the cuff is attached like a reverse facing.

Slash Dart

 I chose to do all the embroidery that is shown on the  McCall's pattern cover.  It is fairly simple as embroidery goes. Satin stitch and stem stitch. But I had not done this kind of embroidery since high school(40+ years) when I decorated my blue chambray work shirt with flowers, peace signs and hearts.  I had to buy floss, a  hoop, and needles. I also  watched a lot of YouTube video on pattern transfer methods and stitching. Knowing my first embroidery attempts would be a bit clumsy (an understatement) I started working on the pieces of fabric that the cuffs were to be cut from. I could hide the cuffs behind my back if necessary. By the time I embroidered the front yokes, and purchased a magnifier for close work,  my stitching  looked much better. 

#4008 1940s Rodeo Gal Shirt Front

#4008 1940s Rodeo Gal Shirt side

#4008 1940s Rodeo Gal Shirt back

As you can imagine, this project was a lot of work. I had to do my normal fitting alterations, plus embroidery, piping on shaped yokes, and applying snap fasters.   But I got it done.

1940's McCall  Pattern Rodeo Shirt

We had a great time at the rodeo. We watched it from The Vaqueros club (equivalent to box seats) out of the direct sun, with lots of drinks and food. I got several compliments  on my blouse from other ladies in the club.