Friday, May 8, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards: Vintage Tweet from Niagara Falls

Postcard 35

Sender: Nellie
Addressee: Miss Lilian Maguire, 1902 G Terry St, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Date: Aug 12, 1908
Image: General View of Falls, Niagara Falls

The fabulous Niagara Falls, looking fabulous in 1908. Comparing this image with a recent image on this page (which looks like it was taken from the same vantage point), it would appear that the structure in the lower right hand corner no longer exists.

Dear Lil,
Am having a
fine trip hope you
are enjoying yours
received you[r] cards.

Well how fun! Nellie is enjoying her summer trip to Niagara Falls, and is assuming that Lillian (misspelled as "Lilian" in the address) is on vacation too. This is the first we have heard from Nellie, who could be a friend or a family member. And evidently Lillian has sent her several post cards. In any case, lucky Nellie to be able to visit Niagara Falls, it was no doubt as thrilling then as it is now. From the postal stamp on the front of the postcard (Seattle, Aug 14), this postcard only took 2 days to reach Lillian!

And where will you be spending your summer vacation?

1907 Jabot Blouse

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Ribbon Accents for a Girl's Frock

So far the tips that I have posted from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s have been for women, but Ruth also wrote sewing tips for infants', children's, and men's clothing too! In this tip, a sunny summer frock for a girl is dressed up with some flower accents created with slim "baby" ribbon. Ruth describes the frock fabric as organdie, and the ribbon as two-toned or double-sided. I found several shops on Etsy that carry just this type of ribbon (for example, SewVictorianCrazy). I am sure that you could find more. It just depends on how true to Ruth's tip you want to be. :) Sweet tip!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seen in a Shop Window: The New Shirtwaist Dresses?

I spotted these shirtdresses in the store window of Anthropologie in downtown Seattle, and was reminded of the classic shirtwaist dresses of the 1940s through the 1980s. These dresses differ by dispensing with the waistline. Both shirtdresses are short and perfect for summer.

This madras shirtdress has a lovely asymmetry in the hemline and a lovely, flowing drape.

This button-pleat shirtdress is formal, demure, and flirty at the same time. The even hemline of this fully-lined cotton dress gives it a tent-like silhouette.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Pattern of the Week: Darling 50s Summer Ensemble for a Girl

Everything about this McCall pattern from 1951 for growing preschoolers makes it special.  I simply love this matching ensemble of short sun dress, bloomers, and bolero, decorated with cute little poodles or rosebuds for that special touch. Such smoochy cuteness!

Some of the charming details include:

  • faced bodice
  • sweetheart camisole neckline
  • gathered dirndl skirt with scalloped trim of your choice
  • back button closing
  • scalloped edges on the bolero
  • your choice of hand-embroidered poodles or petite rosebuds

Check out the details of the adorable poodle transfer:

The tiny rosebuds on simple vines make a delicate and dainty motif:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Make a Simple Frock with Lacy Flounces

Need a fabulous party frock for a Great Gatsby party that is also easy to make? Use this great tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s! This lacy frock is adorable, and with Ruth's instructions and illustration, I can easily visualize sewing it for a summer party. If you tackle this project with its embroidered eyelet trimmed with a footing of net, send me a picture!

And aren't those cute shoes she's wearing? Yum.

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!