Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Vintage Christmas - A 1961 Seattle Dream

I wish everyone a heart-warming holiday, and all the best in the new year! Enjoy these photos that I took of  this year's vintage-themed holiday window display at the long-time jewelry store Fox's in downtown Seattle. The display features items from late 50s and early 60s, with a special nod to the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Scraps from the Past: 1960s A-line Skirts in Wool for the Winter

The pattern: This wonderful and easy-to-sew A-line skirt from 1962 was a wardrobe must-have in that decade. It was easy to sew and flattering to wear! And this pattern from Simplicity provides the A-line skirt proportioned for short, medium, and tall heights. Now that makes it easy to fit!

The original sewist left her notes on the envelope front. Beginning at the top of the envelope, she wrote "For Jan - Dec '64". So, do you think the skirt was sewn for January - December 1964? Or do you think Jan is the person who got the skirts? In any case, the sewist goes on to describe what was sewn:
"Made blk herringbone - 25-1/2" waist
Took 3/4" seams on side
Fin lgth 24-1/2
3/4 yd - 54" enuf
Made blue skirt - 25-1/4" waist

Simplicity 4466

The scraps: Two small snippets of wool in a herringbone weave were pinned to envelope. Here is the black fabric that she used, and the very pretty blue. Both are a comfortable, light weight wool. Yum, classic fabric for classic skirts! Looking at the pattern can you visualize the skirts in these fabrics?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: A Ribbon Rosette for Your Evening Frock

With the holidays approaching and all the festivities that this season entails, another tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears for her 1920s sewists on the subject of evening frocks seems appropriate! This tip is for creating a large ribbon rosette with streamers to accent your 1920s party frock. Key to her tip is two-toned or double-sided ribbon (a different color on each side, not two colors on each side). You create knotted loops and sew them in tiers to a circle of buckram - easy-peasy!

I love Ruth's tips. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Search of Style: Aprons for the Bazaar!

Not too long ago I posted this wonderful pattern from Advance and 1960, which features four charming, themed hostess aprons. It sold relatively quickly, and it is easy to see why.

Tucked inside the pattern was this clipping, with a tip for "Step-Saver Aprons".  By adding a pocket for things "To Put Away" and another pocket for things "To Throw Away", you save a housewife many steps. :)

With its generous pockets, the apron is similar to the gingham apron and the cobbler aprons illustrated on the pattern. Note that the tip describes making the aprons to sell for $2 each! Those are 1960 prices. :) I do believe you could get more if you are sewing for your local community or church bazaar!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gaylyn's Cute Cat Shorts! And a Happy Thanksgiving to All!

If you were a growing girl, wouldn't you love these shorts with a cat face for the bib? Mail order pattern 120 for suspender shorts is certainly a charmer.

This pattern from the 1940s includes three different cat faces, rendered in applique and embroidery to create the bib. Note the string of daisies that accent two of the three faces. Those must be for the girls. ;) So sweet!

Also included with the pattern were Gaylyn's "measuremints" written on the back of half of a card. A good sewist will always measure before sewing!

When you turn the card over, there is a note to Bertha (our sewist?). Ella Mae McPherson from "the chapter"  (of the local DAR or a similar organization?) has written a very kind and thoughtful get well note to Bertha, sent along with a plant. It appears that this was written before "the holidays" - would that be Christmas? 

The translation for those who are not skilled in cursive handwriting:
"Dear Bertha - 

You may not be able to 
place me but I certainly 
do miss you in the
I'm so sorry you are 
ill and hope you will
soon be well again.
I hope this plant will
make your holidays a
little merrier. Sincerely
Ella Mae McPherson"

I love these fragments from people's lives in those days long gone. It is such a personal way to connect with the sewists of other eras.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Dress Up Your Frocks with Lace Medallions

It's "blond on blond" in this inspiring tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears and the 1920s. The tip is perfect for making a special holiday frock. The insertion of medallions of filet lace adds an elegant touch. The thin bands that trim the front bodice and dropped waistline are of filet lace as well. All the trimmings are placed on the fabric itself, rather than being see-through. Don't forget to add the satin ribbon bow & streamers of "deep strawberry tone"!

Dreamy fashion for the 1920s home sewist!

Friday, November 6, 2015

In Search of Style: A Natty "Mad Men" Blazer

A rare event: this "In Search of Style" is for a man's pattern!

The clipping: In a 1961 men's jacket pattern was tucked this clipping of a sharp blazer from a Sears catalog. Straight from the Mad Men era, this crisp jacket has slim lapels and a fine fit. So manly! And I love that little reference to "Neatniks" at the bottom of the page - haha!

The pattern: And here it is, Advance 9954, with the men looking very Don Draper-esque in pose and in fashion. :) This handsome sport jacket has the same lapels as the clipping, and the same cut-away hemline in front, though the pattern goes with patch pockets while the clipping features inset pockets. This pattern has very tailored details, including two-piece long sleeves for a perfect fit, and interfacing with both muslin and hair canvas. Shaping in the shoulders is well-detailed, and the back has contoured seams at the sides of the center. First rate!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Smart Neck Finish for a School Frock

I rather like the finishing touch that Ruth Wyeth Spears describes in this tip for her 1920s home sewists. Look how the bands incorporate the facings, which become part of the revers collar. And then those cunning little snaps on an underlay to close it all. This would be fun to try!

Another helpful tip for adding smart style to your sewing projects!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

1940s Raincoat Is the BEST EVER

Full of fabulous details, this very geeky-nerdy raincoat from Woman's Day magazine and the 1940s absolutely has enchanted me. It appears to be designed for someone who needs all manner of  writing implementss while outdoors in inclement weather. It includes:

  • a pocket for a retractable key holder
  • a pocket holder for pens and pencils (with a chain for one of those!)
  • a holder for 3x5 cards (yes, 3x5 cards!)
  • an invisible pocket for tissues
Pockets are located at the hips, at the waist, and on the arm - isn't that rather remarkable? I also love the attachable hood with visor.

I have marked up this illustration to point out the spiffy details:

On top of all these neato pocket details, the raincoat is lined, the hood attaches to buttons under the coat collar, and the hip and diagonal front pockets are bound. First class!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: A Ruffled Summer Frock with Picoted Edges

While Ruth Wyeth Spears feels that this style is for the "sub-deb" (that is, sub-debutante, so pre-teen girl), I think this very feminine summer frock would be lovely fashion for almost any age. Aside from sewing this frock from soft georgette, Ruth describes a technique for creating a picoted edge - very clever, our Ruth!

To learn more about hemstitching (which in the 1920s was evidently something the home sewists paid for, rather than created themselves) that you can create yourself, check out this very informative Youtube video from Professor Pincushion.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Search of Style & Scraps from the Past: A Dress Sewn from a Sears Catalog Pattern

It's the early 1940s, and where would you shop for a "Superior" pattern for an afternoon dress & bolero, as well as the fabric? Why, the Sears Roebuck catalog, of course! Today's finds were in a pattern from the early 1940s, and included both the catalog page that illustrates the pattern, and scraps of fabric from the resulting sewing project!

First, here is the pattern:

"Shop at Sears for Fashion-Right Fabrics and Patterns"

In Search of Style 

And here is the page from the Sears, Roebuck & Co catalog that was tucked in the pattern:

Note that the ensemble on the model is the very same pattern! And fabric at only 49 cents a yard! Which fabric swatch do you like? I actually like blue print that is on the model, though all the patterns are pretty. :)

Here is a close-up from the pattern instructions. Note the "peek-a-boo" breast pockets on the bolero:

Scraps from the Past

Also inserted in the pattern were these lovely rayon scraps (yes, rayon!). I can so visualize this ensemble in this wonderful floral pattern on a soft taupe-brown.

I'd say it is inspiring fashion from the 1940s and Sears!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Miss Lillian's Postcards - Vintage Tweet with the Latest News

Postcard 37

Sender: Ida Eilts
Addressee: Miss Lilian Maguire, 1902 G Terry Ave, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St Louis, MO
Date: Sep 25, 1908
Image: Holland Building, Seventh Street near Olive, St. Louis, Mo.

Built in 1896, the Holland Building was the tallest building in St Louis MO when it was new. So when Ida sent this postcard to Lillian, this building was one of the most interesting and beautiful office skyscrapers in the St. Louis central business district. This attractive and notable building housed predominantly medical and dental offices and was full of all the latest conveniences, such as elevators, restrooms on each floor, and piped iced water on each floor. It was demolished in 1973.

Dear Lilian; - 
Guess you
think I have for-
gotten you. No, I 
never. How are
you? I'm fine 
& dandy. Florence
married the man
she always told
us she was en-
gaged to. Mr. Ed.
Linda got married
last week.
Ida Eilts 

I love this message! I wonder what Lillian thought of the news? Starting with assurances that she has not forgotten Lillian and never would, Ida tells Lillian the latest news: Florence and Linda have married! I am assuming these are women in Lillian's circle of friends. Of particular note is the way Ida phrases the news about Florence, implying some original skepticism regarding Florence's claims to being engaged: "Florence married the man she always told us she was engaged to." Well, she was telling the truth after all - now that's a juicy bit of news. Ha ha!

1907 Fashion

Monday, September 21, 2015

Use a Guimpe to Create a Girl's Heirloom Gown

A guimpe? What's a guimpe? This beautiful girl's dress that I listed in my shop recently is an excellent illustration of a guimpe, also called a chemisette.  Typically of lace or embroidery or contrasting fabric, it is a fill-in at the top of a low-cut dress. 

As you can see, comparing the pattern with the following illustration (courtesy of Wikimedia), the term "guimpe" really is appropriate.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

While the McCall's pattern has the guimpe buttoned to the dress, more typically it seems to simply have been tucked into the dress. 

A guimpe can also be a short blouse or a dickey worn under a dress or jumper. And from this image, there seems to be no difference between the guimpe and a "modern" dickey or short blouse:

The advantage of the guimpe is the advantage of any detachable insert, that is, flexiblity! Like the detachable collar, you could switch out one insert for another and create a different look. 

And this is my little excursion into fashion history. :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sew a 1920s Wardrobe in a Weekend Using Ruth's Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s

So sorry that I disappeared for the summer! What can I say? Life took over and left little energy for my blog. Life hasn't slowed down any, but items keep popping up and I just have to get back in the groove. Besides, I have missed you all!

So I resume my blog with this shout-out for Costume Academy! They are hosting a "1920s Wardrobe in a Weekend" retreat this weekend! What a fantastic idea, I only wish I could attend. Wouldn't it be fun to sew a one-hour day dress, an evening dress, and an accessory, all from the 1920s, and all in one weekend? Be sure to check out their website, and all their period costume events. They are surely a place to put on your "must-visit" list! I love too, that they have events for other fashion periods as well. Something for everyone. :)

In honor of Costume Academy's event, here is a post from our beloved Ruth Wyeth Spears and another tip for home sewing from the 1920s. Use this tip to inspire you to "jazz up" your 1920s frock with lace!

On the subject of Ruth Wyeth Spears, I was contacted by one of the organizers (Nicole Carlson) of this weekend's event at Costume Academy, asking to know more about her. While I do not consider myself an expert on Ruth, I shared what little I do know. 

Ruth learned her craft first by serving an apprenticeship in a dressmaking shop, and then went on to art school (with her goal being a career in fashion). In 1921 she launched her career in fashion through illustrating sewing directions and the processes of sewing. Ruth's fabulous syndicated series began to appear on the women's pages of small and large newspapers throughout the US in 1925. I do not know the year that her series ceased publication, but I think she continued publication through the 1930s at the least. Ruth created the topics based on questions from her readers. Her illustrations were so popular that they were widely copied in books, booklets, classrooms, and patterns.

Hats off to the successful career of Ruth Wyeth Spears - inspiring fashion in her readers all the way to the present!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Teen's Petal-Skirted Party Dress

If you need a 1920s-style party frock for a teen girl, this tip from Ruth Wyeth Spears describes how to whip up a lovely petal-skirted dress.  Just get a few yards of crepe de chine in a lovely color and in no time you can have your girl looking chic for a summer party! The simplicity of the design amazes me - Ruth's techniques require no pattern and allow you to fit the dress to wearer. Don't be held back by the idea that this is a young girl's dress - I think it would work for any age!

As an interesting aside, girls remained girls much longer in the 1920s. Note how Ruth Wyeth Spears refers to "young girl" and "young daughter" in this sewing tip, but defines that as 16 to 18 years! Of course, back then sizes were defined in "years" as well. :)

Miss Lillian's Vintage Postcards: With Affection From Lizzie

Postcard 36

Sender: Lizzie Mulvey
Addressee: Miss Lilian Maguire, 1902 G Terry Av, Seattle, Wash.
Postmark: St Louis, MO
Date: Aug 24, 1908
Image: Reproduction of painting - outdoor scene labeled "Late Fall"

You can just barely see the title of this scene at the center bottom of the postcard - "Late Fall". It certainly looks like winter. The small figure in the lower right corner is most likely a person bringing in the harvest. It is a chilly scene for a postcard sent in August. :)

Dear Lillian,
Your postal
was received and more
than glad to hear from you
hoping to hear from you real
soon again. We certainly 
did have nice times
together. With much love,
Lizzie Mulvey

This is the first time we have heard from Lizzie, who is apparently a long-time friend of Lillian's from St Louis. Lizzie penciled this message in reply to a postal from Lillian. She recalls the nice times they had together, and signs it affectionately. How very sweet. :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Home Sewing Tips from the 1920s: Upgrade a Plain Dress to a Plaited Frock

I just love the way Ruth's mind works! In this tip for her 1920s audience, she solves the problem of wanting a pleated (or should I say plaited?) frock when all one has is a plain dress pattern. The solution? Pleat the fabric first, and then lay the pattern pieces! So clever. :)

Ruth Wyeth Spears is such an inspiration!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Scraps from the Past: Sunny Summer Wartime Frock

The pattern: Du Barry 5791 (1944)

I love how the original owner wrote her name on the pattern, and drew an arrow to the version that she sewed. Someone also wrote in very faint pencil vertically next to "This view": "no geathers will bring back" - a somewhat mystifying statement, I can only guess at what was meant. The handwriting is different from the writing in ink, so it may have been someone else.

The scrap: This floral cotton print is just a smidgeon of a scrap that was tucked inside this vintage pattern from the war years. But it is still enough to let us envision this frock in a summery print of blue flowers with pink and green bits. It paints a very pretty and sunny picture!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In Search of Style: Cute Mid-60s Swimsuit Fashion!

Are you ready for the water this summer with a cute vintage-inspired swimsuit? I recently posted a swimsuit pattern in my shop that had this page from the May '66 edition of Seventeen Magazine tucked inside.

Here is the pattern, Simplicity 5978! When comparing the two swimsuits in the ad with the pattern, I think the sewist had her eye on the lower suit, as it matches the swimsuit pattern the most closely.As you can see, the boy shorts-style trunks and the curved camisole bra top are not too far from the illustrated swimsuit (minus some ruffles) in the lower half of the ad. :) The only real difference is in the beach coverup - the pattern version actually resembles the bloused top of the upper swimsuit in the ad.

Any way you look at it, the suits are cute! (Not to mention their hair is cute too :) The nice bonus with Simplicity 5978 is that it includes a lovely slim dress with a lacy overblouse..

Simplicity 5978

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