Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thrifted Fabric Sewing

As you may recall, I found a bunch of vintage fabric at a local thrift store earlier this month....

I got busy right away getting it washed, folded, and put away so it would be ready to go when the mood struck.  Last week I tried a modern shirt pattern with some of the vintage polyester: 
I chose version E, and added some length to it so it would be tunic-length ....
I think it turned out fine, but it's rather big for me and I think polyester might not have been the best choice for this pattern (and no doubt why it wasn't one of the recommended fabrics!).  However, it was good practice on neck and armhole facings.  Whether or not I'll actually wear this is debatable.  

This weekend was warm and sunny, which put me in the mood for sewing something summery: 
I love tank tops and wear them all the time when the weather is warm.  This one was created from Simplicity #9930, copyright 1972: 
You can see that version 2 has a very low scoop neck.  So I will simply turn it around and wear it backwards!  There were no facings for the neck and armholes on this so they turned out a bit wobbly, but for a summer tank I won't worry too much about that.  This will work for workout wear and as a swimsuit cover-up.  Here's that low scoop: 
This stripe isn't something I would normally choose, but it's good to have a little variety in my often-monotonous wardrobe.  This project provided more practice in sewing with knits, too.  End result: not perfect, but totally wearable = success!  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Thank you, Beverly Cleary.

Books have been a big part of my life almost as far back as my memory goes.  I love reading and I love books.  When people tell me that they don't like to read, it baffles me.  Truly.

As a child, I spent many hours reading: at home, at school, and at the public library.  I can remember the Knoxville Public Library clearly.  I spent many hours there, happily lost in a good book.  And among my very favorite books were those written by Beverly Cleary, who turned 100 years old this week.  In honor of that, I want to thank her.

Fictional characters have always been some of my closest friends.  There are all different types of characters: those we hate, those we admire, those we want to be, and then there are those few very special characters with whom we feel we just might be one and the same person--those characters don't come along that often. Ramona Quimby was (and is) that character for me.

While I dreamed of  becoming a titian-haired detective like Miss Drew, it was Ramona to whom I could truly relate.  She suffered misunderstandings with her parents and teachers for her behavior as I frequently did.  She longed for beautiful long hair instead of boring mousy brown hair cut short--just as I did. And there were times when she got mad, really mad--just like me.  She had great curiosity and enthusiasm for life.  She had her own way of thinking and doing and it made her mad when adults laughed at her.  Just like me!

"She was not a slowpoke grownup.  She was a girl who could not wait.  Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next." --Ramona the Pest. 

I still feel this way.  Many grownups are slowpokes! As a child, I often felt that I spent most of my life waiting around for the slowpoke grownups to finish doing whatever boring thing it was that they were doing-shopping, errands, and the worst, "visiting" with other grownups--so that maybe, just maybe, I could do something fun.  Our parenting culture today revolves around the kids much more than it did when I was growing up.  Back then, I had to do whatever my parents or grandparents were doing first.  Most of the time, anyway.  I've never been a very patient sort of person so this was frustrating.

I've read that when Beverly Cleary was a children's librarian a child once asked her why there weren't any books about kids like him--and that was what inspired her to start writing.  Thank goodness she wrote!  Her insight into children and the way they really think is nothing short of brilliant.  I can't think of any other author who captures this the way she did.  And for that, I want to thank her.  I can't imagine my childhood without her books.

One of my favorite memories I have with my little guy was reading the Ramona books to him a couple of years ago.  I sensed that he would understand and appreciate her as I did and I was right.  He loved her!  So much, in fact, that when we picked out a new kitten two years ago, he named her Ramona.  Which was definitely the perfect name for her, because she is certainly prone to pestering like her namesake!

Mrs. Cleary, thank you for all the books, and the good times you gave me and so many other children. Thank you for writing.  Thank you.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fabulous 40's & 50's

I wanted to share a few more recent additions to my pattern collection.  One thing that always interests me is the date a pattern was released; however, that little tidbit of information isn't always readily available.  The major pattern companies were rather inconsistent in their methods of dating or not dating the patterns. Vogue patterns didn't consistently put a copyright date until the 70s or 80s.  It's usually pretty easy to tell patterns from the 1940s and 1950s by the styles shown on the pattern envelopes.  Advance patterns, which happen to be among my favorites, did not print the date anywhere on the envelope or instructions.  Simplicity and McCall's patterns from the 50s on did include a copyright date and for that I'm grateful.  I've done a bit of research online to gather this info, and therefore should thank for their work!

Without further ado...
Advance # 6011, late 1940s
I've had quite a few Advance patterns in the last few years.  I find the envelope illustrations to have a more sophisticated look than McCall's or Simplicity.  This halter-style apron was one I had never seen before.  Judging from the original price of 35 cents and the fact that the Advance logo is printed at the top center, this one is from the 1940s, rather than the 50s, which is what I'd originally guessed.  It's definitely a postwar pattern--the full-length version requires 4 or more yards of fabric.  This one is a find: still factory folded!  As it is an unprinted pattern, I wouldn't think of attempting it.

Advance #5407, late 1940s.
One of the reasons women used to sew most of their own clothes, and most of their children's clothes, was that it was cheaper than buying off the rack.  I wish patterns were still 25 cents.  This is another Advance pattern I'd never seen so was happy to add it to my collection.

After fabric rationing ended, fashion reflected just that, and of course Dior's "New Look" was introduced in 1949, beginning the the iconic style that we all associate with the 1950s: full skirts, which I happen to love.  I think they're comfortable and flattering (all that fabric is good camouflage...).  Here's a great example of the classic 50s look:
Simplicity # 2005, 1957
And last but not least...a very lovely Vogue:
Vogue # 6469
I couldn't find much information on this particular pattern.  The Vintage Patterns wikia says it is "circa 1948" but it could be the early 50s.  Either way, the illustration is so pretty.  And this pattern has never been used! Good to know there is a long history of buying history of people buying patterns but never actually using them.  This means that I am not alone.   Of course, this pattern is sized for someone a wee bit skinnier than if you are one of those lucky people, and want to sew yourself a fabulous 50s dress, this one is for sale on my etsy shop, along with others that are not the right size for me.

On my second visit to the Planned Parenthood book sale, I found some beautiful 40s and 50s items:
1942 school book
This well-loved school book from 1942 will make an adorable journal.  It's seen a lot of wear, but I like it when old items can be made new again.
The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary, c. 1958.  Book Club edition with dustjacket.
I consider this copy of The Luckiest Girl a really lucky find!  Beverly Cleary books are hard to come by, though I'm not sure why.  This is the only old Beverly Cleary book I've ever come across at the book sale; usually I only get Cleary titles from the school library.  I think Beverly Cleary is one of the best writers ever; her insight into how kids think and feel is dead-on brilliant. I spent many hours reading her books as a child: all the Ramona Quimby books, which were (and still are!) among my absolute favorite books when I was growing up, the Henry Huggins books, and others like Fifteen, Sister of the Bride, and of course, this one. This book is not going to become a journal; I'm keeping it for myself!

There's a lot more than books at the book sale: yesterday I took the time to browse through a couple of bins of vintage ads and found a few that look just perfect on the walls of our very retro kitchen:

These three ads are all from 1940 editions of the Saturday Evening Post.  Great home decor for only 75 cents each!  Even magazine ads from way back when are pretty.  They look great with the tomato-red Formica countertops in our kitchen.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Back to the books!

If you live in or around Des Moines, you may have heard of the book sale: the Planned Parenthood book sale, which happens twice a year (April & October) and just happens to be one of the best book sales in the country.  It's one of my favorite events and where I find many of my best books for creating journals.  Since the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market starts on May 7 (I'm scheduled for opening day--always a great time!), I was waiting in line to get in the door yesterday.  Waitied in line in some very cold rain and little ice pellets....but of course it was worth it.  Thought you might like to see some of what I grabbed:

I love my Nancy Drews.  It's a treat to find some of the old blue ones without their dust jackets.  None of these are in collectible condition--perfect to make into journals.  

I haven't ever made a Charlie Brown journal before so these will be something new for me.  
This will obviously make the perfect journal for someone.  Victorian novels often have very amusing titles. 

Old typing and shorthand manuals are some of my very favorites to make into journals.  It's been quite a while since I've had an old typing book.  The typing books make perfect spiral sketchpads, while the shorthand books are just the right size for a journal to fit in your purse.  

I'll share more in the next month before opening day of the market.  If you're able to visit the market, you'll see some of the books pictured here transformed into journals.  Time to get to work! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Camelot Style

I mentioned that I've long had a penchant for sixties fashions, especially the charming first part of the decade. Think Jackie Kennedy and Holly Golightly.  When ladies still dressed like ladies, hats and gloves and all.  Please note:  I admire these styles, I don't necessarily wear them all that often....

I'm getting good use out of the ebay app on my phone; this week I bought a lot of 33 patterns from the 1960s.  There were lots of gems in this bunch!  Here are my favorites:

Speaking of Holly Golightly....McCall's # 7002, 1963: Misses' Wardrobe: coat or jacket, dress or top & skirt.
Hats & Gloves Required: Simplicity #3826, no copyright date on pattern; early 1960's
McCall's #7198, from 1964: Misses' dress.  I am going to try sewing this one soon.

This is a Muu Muu: McCall's #6361, 1962.  I think these should make a comeback!  
Classic dresses never go out of style: McCall's #7675, 1965.

There are plenty more goodies to share from this bunch, which I will save for another day.  I'm trying to find out the copyright dates on the undated patterns, so I'll share more soon.  Also, if you are interested in having some vintage patterns for your own collection, I have some good ones available on my etsy shop.  I don't have room to store every pattern that comes into my hands, so the ones that are not in my size (or a size I might conceivably ever be again...) are listed, and I'm adding a few more each day as I sort through the ever-growing stash.  Be on the lookout for some treasures!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Flapper Apron Take 2: Reversible

Not so long ago, I shared my version of the Flapper Apron from the book Sew Retro that I made.  It's the apron that I wear most often.  I like the length and it's comfortable.  I started to think about making another one...and then the idea occurred to me: I could use another print fabric instead of plain white for the lining, and then it would be reversible.  2 aprons in 1!  Without further ado:

And the flip side:

I changed the pattern up just a bit: one large pocket instead of two smaller ones, and I added about an inch in length.  Nothing drastic.  For the neck and waist ties (made oh-so-much easier thanks to a loop turner!), I used the yellow-with-little-pink dots for the neck and pink-with-big-yellow dots for the waist ties; this decision was made for me by the amount of fabric I had left after cutting out the main body of the apron.
I love both of these prints so much!  Pink and yellow is one of my favorite color combinations and both are fabrics I've had for a while; the pink-with-big-yellow dots is one I've used before, and the other fabric is one I picked up last winter when a local fabric shop had a going-out-of-business sale.  It took some sorting through my stash to realize how well they would work together!  When I reorganized my sewing room this winter, I organized my fabric in cubbies where I can see it, and that really gives me inspiration.  I like all my fabric where I can see it.

For now, this is my new favorite apron.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thrifting Karma!

Karma has been on my side this week.

First up, my very first attempt at sewing a shirt turned out as a shirt!  Not only was this my first shirt, it was my first attempt at sewing with a knit fabric.  The result:

I used this pattern, an old Simplicity from 1981.  I did the shirt length in the tunic style.  The fabric was on the clearance rack at Joann's, so this is a $6 shirt.  Which is just about what I like to pay for a shirt.  I wore the shirt the other day and it is really comfy.  Definitely a keeper.  Of course it looks like about half the shirts in my closet, but when I like something I have a tendency to stick with it.

So after my initial success working with a knit, I picked up a few more vintage "just for knits" patterns at a local antique mall a few days later.  These are from the 70's, but again, I bet they'll end up looking like most of my clothes.  My style doesn't really change.
Butterick #3089

Simplicity #6443, 1974

These patterns may be 40+ years old but they look great to me--simple and comfortable!

As luck would have it, two days after I found these patterns, I stopped in to my favorite thrift store and stumbled upon a GIANT, and I do mean GIANT bag of fabric.  Knit fabric.  Polyester.  Cotton.  Silk.  All kinds of fabric.  So much fabric that I could barely lift it into the cart.  I had to get a cart, because there was no way I could carry it.

I didn't bother to look through it at the store.  I also picked up a pink floral sheet set and what turned out to be an Ikea duvet cover in that pink & red print you see on the left.  When I got home, I had a whole bunch of fun sorting through all this:
knits and polyesters


several colors of corduroy

various wovens.

Needless to say, I've been busy washing my score.  I'd estimate I've got about 50 yards, possibly more.  The corduroys, cottons, and polyesters washed up beautifully and I've already used some for pillow cover backs.  I've never used corduroy before but didn't have any problems there.  That chambray you see in the pic above still had the slip from the cutting counter attached to it; the original purchase price was $1/yard (when in the heck was fabric ever ONE dollar a yard?).

It seems obvious to me that someone who loved to sew passed away and her family donated her stash.  I had to rescue this fabric.  I will put it to good use.  I now have enough fabric to last me the rest of my life; however, I'm sure it won't prevent me from buying more.