Friday, April 24, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards: Vintage Tweets - July 22 1908

Postcard 34

Sender: Mrs. M.
Addressee: Miss Lillian McGuire, 1902 Terry Ave, Seattle, Wash. Flat G
Postmark: Sedro Woolley, Wash
Date: July 22, 1908
Image: At Eventide (ships at anchor) Marine Series No. 3807

This is a rather somber image, a photograph of ships at anchor, probably at dusk.

Dear Friend:
Am having a
nice time only
wish my friends
might share it.
Will tell you about
it when I return
Mrs. M.

My curiosity is piqued by this short missive from Mrs. M! Who is Mrs. M? The temptation is that it is Lillian's mother, but I think not, since she addresses Lillian as "Dear Friend". For that reason it also is not likely to be Lillian's sister, Mrs. Mueller (with whom Lillian is still living at this point in time, based on the address). So it must be a married friend, probably visiting the Pacific Northwest from the St. Louis MO area. The card was published in St Louis, but was mailed from the small town of Sedro Woolley, Washington, about an hour and a half north of Seattle (by today's travel methods, of course!). :)  She says that she will "tell you about it when I return", implying the journey will take her back to Seattle. I can only imagine what an outing like this would have been back in 1908 and Sedro Woolley was just a logging town. Click here to see a museum of vintage photos from the Sedro Woolley area.

Note that Lillian and her sister's family live in "Flat G" at 1902 Terry Ave in Seattle. How very British to refer to an apartment as a flat. We have lost the use of that term here in the United States.

A lovely blouse from 1907

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Estate Sales: A Life Told in Vintage Sewing Patterns

My favorite source for patterns (for my Etsy shop) are estate sales. Typically the estate sale is a treasure trove of patterns sewn for the family over the decades. Not only does it provide a wide range of patterns, but typically it also includes some craft patterns and hand-made patterns cut out of newsprint.

An estate sale purchase was, in fact, how I "fell" into running my Etsy shop. I purchased approximately 300 patterns from an estate sale in my neighborhood. There was no interest in them from other buyers and I took pity on them. :) My neighbor had sewed for her family all her life and her stash included patterns for children, women, and men, and spanned 5 decades or more. What a history of fashion! That was back in 2008, and I continue to search estate sales, as well as other sources, for patterns for my Etsy shop.

This recent purchase is typical example. The mother kept her patterns in a special decorated box (a little worse for the wear).

As expected, the patterns include fashion for all occasions (from sleepwear, to every day, to special occasions) for men, women, and children of all sizes. It also includes a handful of craft patterns, a booklet on crafts, and other hand-traced craft templates.

Also typical are hand-made patterns, like these bodice or blouse pieces. Thrift is often a key element found in estate sales. I love this peek into the historical times of a sewist's life!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Before and After: Double Duty from a Single Remnant!

It has been a while since I last posted a "Before and After", and this is a marvelous one! My customer Mark McNulty (Irish fashion designer and illustrator extraordinaire!) got great mileage from two patterns and a single remnant of fabric for 4 Euro!

The Pattern: Simplicity 2895 (1940s)

The Results: With this pattern and the fabric remnant, Mark made a beautiful dress for his younger sister. I love it! The swirly, twirly ballerina length is perfect.

It wasn't a perfect fit, though, for his sister, who is 6'1" (and looks like a fashion model, don't you think?). So he took a pattern from the 1960s and was determined to re-purpose the fabric into a jacket! 

The Pattern: McCall's 7593 (1960s)

The Results: He says, "I absolutely fried my brain trying to lay out the pieces of the fabric and trying to get the patterns to match for this sprig little blazer. After a lot of pulling hair, it worked and i even got two cute little bias cut pockets into it too!" I love the lapel pin - adds a dash of class!

Pocket close-up (I think making the pockets bias-cut was totally inspired):

Neat use of hooks-and-eyes make for a slim closing:

Mark, as always, is inspired by fashion. You can see a post about a recent winning illustration of his here. And if you are on Instagram, you can follow him here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s - a Smart Box-Pleated Skirt

Well, a bit of life got in the way of my regular posts, so sorry for going silent for a couple of weeks! Let me resume with a tip from our favorite 1920s sewist and fashion advisor, Ruth Wyeth Spears. :)

Delivering "preppy" style, this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s describes how to create a box-pleated skirt that is attached to a camisole. The skirt is intended to be worn with an overblouse and a sweater. Note the rule of three times your hip measurement for determining the width of the fabric for the skirt. I love the tip of hemming the skirt before pleating, and then adjusting the length where the skirt joins the camisole (rather than in the hemline). I just love Ruth's tips. Enjoy! Oh! And refer to my post on sewing a 1920s tunic dress foundation garment for a better understanding of the garment construction in this tip.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Voices from the Past: Hurry Up, Mother, and Sew This!

A young woman sent a clear message to her mother when she wrote on the back of this lovely, swanky Advance pattern:

You can see her remarks in pencil: "Hurry up with my suit Mother! Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, Hurry". Just a tad anxious, do you think? :) Or was she just practicing her penmanship?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2015: Update on Project 1

My first project for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2015 has begun! This past weekend I cut a muslin version of the dress and I have to admit - really, is a muslin necessary? But even a long straight waist-less dress deserves a proper fitting. :). Here are the pattern pieces cut from muslin, laid out on my living room floor. (To refresh your memory on what I am sewing, look at this earlier post.)

Notice all the printing on this early 1920s pattern from McCall Patterns. What makes it fascinating to me is that all the instructional information (how to lay the pieces on the fabric in preparation before cutting, how to sew the pattern, and other helpful information) are ALL on the printed patterns. Here are some close-ups.

Here are the guideline diagrams for laying the pattern pieces on the fabric.

Here are the actual sewing instructions - just four simple steps and a single diagram!

And also illustrated are inspiring possible combinations of fabric and ornamentation for the dress. I would love to try the dress on the far left, which is accented with hand embroidery or beads. The other combinations are equally interesting, though. Note how the embroidery pattern number used in the illustration is provided below each dress. Now if only I could order those! One thing that strikes me is just how versatile this basic dress pattern is - it looks perfect for dressing up or dressing down. :)

The other main pattern piece illustrates "how to" tips on binding a slash opening, finishing a plain hem, finishing a hem with seam binding, general seam finishing tips, how to make a bias binding, how to make a bias underfacing, and how to make tailor's tacks. You will notice that the pattern includes no facings (typical), so I will be using those skills to face the neckline and sleeves with bias binding. I'm not sure yet if I'll make the binding or buy it.

The pattern pieces have a skinny 3/8 inch seam allowance throughout, with the exception of a widening to a full inch through the hips, in case more room is needed there. So thoughtful. :) And the dress provides a generous 3-inch hem.

I'll keep you posted on the fitting!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards - Vintage Tweets: Tillie Has a Nice Vacation

Postcard 33

Sender: Tillie
Addressee: Miss Lillian Maguire, 1902 G" Terry Ave, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St Louis MO
Date: July 21, 1908
Image: Nature art (spring; polychrome art series)

Well, there's not much information about this art reproduction. The picture paints a lovely spring scene in nature. The trees are just starting to leaf out and is that a flowering cherry tree in the center?

Hello, Lillian; - 
How are you, I 
received your pretty postal,
was very glad to hear
from you, and I thank
you very much. I had
my vacation last week,
had a fine time. I
will write later, and tell
you all about it. Hoping
you are all well, and I
hear from you again soon.
Your friend, Tillie

Lillian's former co-worker, Tillie, sends a hello to Lillian in this postcard. She thanks Lillian for her last postcard, lets her know she just had a week of vacation and will write later with the details in a letter. Now if only I had those letters! :)

A lovely blouse with jabot and beautifully trimmed vest (1907)