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!

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.