Hot! The “Gal in Kalamazoo” outfit

The Facts 

Fabric: Shirt: red, white & blue seersucker from Jo-Ann’s in sale – 2yds, $8.98, Skirt: left over indigo denim from stash.
Patterns: New Look 6106 and Butterick 4985
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Zip $1.49, white buttons from stash, red buttons $1, fusible interfacing from stash
Time to complete: 18 hours
First worn: May 20th 2012
Wear again? Absobloominglutely!  Total Cost: $11.47

The challenge: “Out of Time: Sewing something from the 1940s”.

Gee wiz this week was fun!

There are some weeks when I have to remind myself that there’s no point in doing a challenge unless its fun…..or that I learn something from it. But gee willikers, this week was a breeze, yes sireee.

Can I stop using my very bad American 1940s/50s accent now? Phew, thank you.

Me, with an REO kids didn't get the reference

But seriously, this week WAS fun. There are going to be some vintage-lifestylers out there tutting at me not using vintage patterns and who could probably point 102 things wrong with my outfit. But the rest of you know by now my attitude to people who tut and tell me what to do….

In my defence, though I don’t actually need to offer any, this is possibly the challenge I’ve done the most research for…..and research is one of my big things to help the fun along each week anyway. Internet websites were searched and perused; there was a big hunt for info. and sources of inspiration at the library….

I watched 1940s movies (especially westerns) whilst sewing and had great fun discovering new songs and rediscovering old favourites from the decade using Pandora (I created a channel giving it The Andrew Sisters, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday and Flangahan and Allen and it did the rest keeping me happy with big band numbers especially all week).

Yeah so some purists will turn their noses up at me using modern patterns (though I hope from my research that they fit shapes, hem length, fitting and materials that wouldn’t be too out of place if a Delorean ever transports me back to 1944) but they should see the other sewing project I had on this week – a Sacagawea outfit for Melchett, my youngest, for her school’s end of term Living Waxworks Museum! Trying to balance sensitivities towards a culture much mistreated through history whilst making sure I kept my ‘client’ happy who wanted it to look just “like the one in Night At The Museum”….hmmm, that was fun.


Both patterns were really fun to sew up as well. A welcome surprise compared to some of the recent challenges. Those of you following my twitter will have seen the joyous moment when I sewed both arms to their correct armholes (ie. not the neckline as last week)….I even sewed the hook and eye on correctly first time! Wonders will never cease.

The challenge theme seemed rather appropriate as my boy, Mr D is away across the seas in service (well, in business conferences actually). I’m keeping the homefires burning for him (actually that’s the LAST thing I want to do in Phoenix at the mo, we’re into the 105s now), standing by my white picket fence until he comes back home from Malaysia, Hong Kong and currently India. But he’s home on Thursday – woo hoo!

I lie. This obviously isn’t MY white picket fence…

It’s part of our local farm museum, but it’s so gorgeous to see anything older than 1990s around Phoenix. Our home back in Shropshire, UK was actually older than the state of Arizona (which has just recently had its 100th birthday). The house behind me is considered a treasured antique, though its from 1912. They have had the loveliest hollyhocks growing there, which I didn’t realise could grow in our soil, so I might just have to have a try.

And why is this my Gal in Kalamazoo outfit? Well, many of you will know the song, but for those of you who don’t here it is with a fabulous dance routine from the Nicholas Brothers worth waiting for….and it just seemed rather appropriate while I wait a few more days for my guy to get back home. “A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I gotta guy, in Bengaluru…..” (doesn’t have the same ring to it really).



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. Great take on a 40’s inspired theme. Glad you had such a fun week of sewing, it’s very reflective in your happy photos! You look like you are having a great time. Love your outfit, especially that cowgirl blouse!

    • Thank you Barbara. I was quite amazed at how happy I look. I’d been coming down with a cold and was feeling lousy….I’ve decided after looking at these pics though by the wonderful Goth Child (my eldest) I ought stay ill for the rest of the year ;)

      Though seriously I really loved this week’s sewing and the journey :)

  2. Hey Tempest, you keep stepin’ to your own drum, I so look forward to reading your post. Sewing should be fun and that’s what inspires me. Thanks.

    • It’s taken me a while to get into the second phase of the Sew Weekly journey…..phase 1 was all about learning about my shape and how to fit it and basic sewing techniques. Now in phase 2 I’m determined to be slightly more daring and experimental…..but if it ain’t fun then I know I need to stop, reassess and find a way to make the challenge worthwhile… is too short. Thank you.

  3. Lovely – the both look great. I particularly like the blouse, have lost that pattern somewhere in my mess. Love the hair too!

    • Thank you. LOVE your denim trousers! Actually why am I saying that here….you won’t read this…..hang on I’m coming to comment on your post….

      Thank you about the hair, I’ve never fully mastered victory rolls as my hair is so thin, but this week’s efforts have made me want to carry on trying, it was fun :)

  4. You look great! I like that you thought about line and shape to participate in this challenge. Love your hair!

    • It was really good fun, I’m going to be watching period dramas (well the wartime ones at least) with a whole new fascinated eye).

      Thank you so much 8:)

      (that’s me as an emoticon with victory rolls!)

  5. With this dance, the Nicholas Brothers must have influenced Gene Kelly/Donald O’Connor in Singin in the Rain and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. Thanks for the link. Love your hair and the outfit. I was in PHX last wk and am glad to be back home where there are diciduous trees to duck under for sun protection.

  6. I made a 1970s button-up shirt from that EXACT fabric. And I live about 90 minutes from Kalamazoo. :) Love that pattern. Very cute.

    • I have to admit as a Brit I had to look up whether Kalamazoo was a real place and was delighted to find it was….it was a bit like when you’re a kid and you find out with glee that Timbuktu actually exists. I haven’t visited Michigan yet, but hope to one day. Thank you :)

  7. I love your ensemble and photos. I have that shirt pattern too, just might have to borrow your inspiration. When I saw the title I had to click on it, i visit kalamazoo, Mi for work on occasion. I never heard the song.

  8. Love reading your post every week. Great wearable interpretation of the theme. I live in Shropshire, UK!!!!

    • Ooooh fantastic Karen, where do you live in Shropshire? You’re probably not going to see that are you….I lived there for nearly 17 years, mainly near Much Wenlock so I’m getting very excited about the Olympics….oooh you’ll be seeing the torch come through Shropshire tomorrow (30th May). Thank you for the kind words!

  9. This is my favourite outfit you’ve made that blouse! the fabric choice and the cut are a perfect match and teamed with the skirt PERFECTION. Another fabulous post Tempest.

    • Thanks Kazz… ALL HONESTY, I bought the material for this blouse after seeing your triple collared one a few weeks back. The skirt and blouse are possibly my most worn Sew Weekly items yet….at some point my husband is going to have to persuade me to put them in the wash ;)

  10. Hahha, I live in Kalamazoo, go to Kalamazoo College, and that song was (apparently) written about my best friend from middle school’s grandmother. But enough about me–I love the blouse!

  11. Fantastic outfit Tempest!! Every time I see that blouse made up I want the pattern. It looks so much better in real life than the pattern envelope.

    • Yes the pattern envelope doesn’t really sell it does it? I do like these two-piece sleeves….perfect for hot weather whilst still giving a little coverage. Thank you so much.

  12. I’m also quite close to K-zoo! I had to read this to figure out the reference. I love, love, love your top. Very patriotic and “home steady”, but also totally wearable today. I also love your “sailor” skirt. I might have to give that a go, rather than shorts or pants. Very cute!

    • I couldn’t decide whether to put the rows of three ‘sailor’ type buttons vertically nearer together near centre which was possibly more 40s (but possibly straying into more costumey, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia would tut) or have them ‘lining’ the pocket openings….I bet the former would be more flattering on someone with a wide frame like mine, but I think I went with the more day-to-day wearable. Thank you so much!

  13. Love it! Your dedication to research and non-purist approach are very cool. Way to hold down the home front.

  14. This is simply adorable and quite “of the era”. Besides, this is about OUR interpretation of a look so keep up the good work! I,too, had similar hair issues when trying to do the victory rolls so I’m going to see my grandmother for a tutorial. If I come back with any fabulous tips, other than use a ‘rat’ or get a wig, I’ll let you know : )

    • Me? In adorable items? Aw shucks :)

      ‘Rats’ aren’t that bad….I use one when I do a pompadour, but I find my hair so thin they show too much with victory rolls. I think the answer is one day old hair (I mean not newly washed), plenty of root boost hair product and tons of hairspray. And practice…it’s this last one I need more of. I want to get to the point where both rolls are more vertical so you can see through them more. I can roll ok, it’s just the lengthening on the head bit I need to do until it becomes natural. Expect to see more attempts during the year.

  15. Adorable!!! I love that blouse with a fiery passion, and bravo on tracking down the research!

    • Haha thank you, but you’d better keep that fiery passion to yourself or you’ll catch this horrible headcold I’ve got. Love your Land Girls dungarees (as we call them in Blighty).

  16. Love this blouse and the fabric is gorgeous!! Nice hair, too. Thanks for sharing tips in the comments. Very inspiring all around.

    • There are some fantastic tutorial videos on youtube about retro and vintage hair – possibly the most authentic (because the girl lives vintage) is Fleur, the Diary of a Vintage Girl’s: but I usually prefer a more modern rockabilly look and PinUpDollAshleyMarie (who has thin hair like me)and TheCherryDollFace. I really ought to style my hair more for Sew Weekly photoshoots…coz it’s fun :)