sewing, sewing patterns

A Lesson in Patience

Simplicity 4709

This is what one would call a lesson in patience. This unique pillows take a lot of work. View 1 (blue) is constructed of 165 petals, cut from 3 different shades of 2 inch wide blanket binding. View 2 (white) is also 165 petals, but is made from net or tulle — the thought of that much netting makes my blood run cold. View 3 (pink) is probably the most palatable one for my patience level, with 12 rows of 5/8″ wide lace edging.

Thankfully, the backs of these are plain, though perhaps some saint would make both sides the same. That person would not be me. What about you? Do you have the patience for this?

1970s fashion, vintage fashion

The Skinny of It All

Photo: Seventeen Magazine, 1975

I listed this Seventeen Magazine on eBay today. It’s from March, 1975, so I would’ve been thirteen (don’t judge). It’s full of interesting stuff, like an article on a young Ron Howard, and even has a Wella Balsam ad with pre-famous Farrah Fawcett in it. Good stuff.

But the thing I found interesting was the article they had about how to become a model. I’ve read the requirements from the 50s, but expected the seventies to be perhaps a bit more lenient. Alas, I was wrong. The article interviewed a recruiter who said that first, she made sure that the person was eligible, meaning that they met the height and weight requirements. What were they, you ask?

Models of the era had to be at least 5 foot 7, which is probably still fairly accurate. I think they prefer them to be at least 5 foot 9 now, but some smaller models have made it through (I’m looking at you, Kate Moss). It’s the weight that threw me for a loop: they had to be between 100 and 118 pounds.

100 and 118 pounds. On someone who is at least 5 foot 7. That makes her BMI come to between 15 and 18%, which is very underweight these days. Now, I get that people were much smaller then. I get that most models are kind of genetic unicorns who are born with a lithe, tiny body, but really? That’s what they encouraged? Add to this that this article was contained in the same issue that contained an article about anorexia and how it can be fatal.

I was really surprised. I get that sizing now is completely different than it was years back, and that bodies were generally smaller, but that would’ve been TINY even then. My sisters were tiny and they both weighed 95-100 lbs when they got married. They were 5 foot 1. My mom weighed 95 pounds when she married in 1953, and at 5 foot 6, her nickname was bones. I never really pictured models to be that thin until Kate Moss came along with her heroin chic look.

Are you surprised? And are you surprised that we still are only just starting to touch on the possibility of having normal sized people on the runway? Let’s do better, people.


I Have Questions.

McCalls 6592, ©1962

I love this little blue robe. I’d trim it in eyelet, because I just love eyelet. That being said, the shorter version is cute too, isn’t it?

My first question is about the pocket placement. It seems high, especially on the blue one. I think that the way it’s cut means that they need to be placed high, but doesn’t it look a bit wonky?

My other question is, what the heck is that girl pouring? Purple Kool-Aid? Was it a Netflix and chill day, or was she giving Sissy Kool-Aid for breakfast? Is it some weird science experiment? I need to know.


What Do You Think of This 1914 Blouse?

I came across this whilst trying to date another pattern for collar, cuffs and vests from the same time period. I find it fascinating.

May Manton 8462, 1914.

I thought at first that the “vest” is a different garment, but it’s not. It’s attached, and only gives a vest effect. A faux-vest, if you will. I like it in theory, and it’s interesting to look at, especially with the contrasting fabrics, but I think in reality it wouldn’t lay right when you sit, and would probably bunch up at the waist. What do you think?

Description in the ad: “Here is a blouse which shows distinctly new features. It is quite simple and severe enough to be made of linen or pique and is well adapted to the various tub silks and to combinations of materials. Since the washable silks launder quite as well as cotton and linen, it is easy to combine them and the combination is extremely handsome. In the illustration, striped tub silk is made with vest, collar and cuffs of pique but in the back view, white linen is combined with colored. The long plain sleeves are exceedingly fashionable but, in spite of that fact, many women prefer the shorter length and these can be cut off as shown in the back view. There is just fullness enough in the blouse to be becoming while the plain stitched vest gives a tailored finish.”

I have so many questions. First, combining linen and silk when laundering would be a nightmare, yes? Add colors and whites together and how in the world did they make this happen? What kind of laundry wizardry was involved here?


New Beginnings

Mom passed on December 6th, at home, surrounded by her family. More about that later, when I’ve had time to process it better, but this. This picture shows a good depiction at where I’m at right now.

After Mom died, we emptied her apartment into my house and garage. She was not sentimental about things, and they moved so much that she purged belongings on a regular basis, so although it was a two bedroom apartment, it wasn’t as much stuff as it could have been. That being said, it was a LOT. It completely takes over half of our garage, and spilled into our sunroom and my office. It was chaos, more than usual.

I started slowly, because trying to sort through stuff during a period of fresh grief is hard. I had my boys put all the media stuff into the office. My dad was a communications and electronics guy. There were probably a couple of hundred 8mm home movies and video tapes to go through, as well as videos that hadn’t been copied from the camcorder tape, cassettes, photos, slides, and on and on and on. I ordered two boxes from Legacybox, and am having the family stuff digitized, so everyone has a copy. There’s nowhere in Indiana to recycle VCR tapes, so I ordered a box from Green Disk and have it nearly full. You can almost walk in the office now without fear of losing a limb — note I said almost. Hubby still won’t go in there.

We switched out TVs and took Mom’s new smart TV — that ended up being something of a pain, because we couldn’t get the internet to work on it for a while, despite my tech support son’s hard work. Next day, I googled it and got resolution to the problem, but we still have the old TV and stand in the sunroom. Baby steps.

I’ve passed along some things through our local FB Buy Nothing group. If you haven’t indulged in this group, it’s a great way to get rid of stuff that someone else may need. You can also get stuff there, or even borrow. The only catch is that it absolutely must be free. I gave away Dad’s shower chair, two walkers, their microwave, and some odds and ends. It was nice to be able to bless people in their season of need. I very rarely use it to get things, but it’s great for giving stuff away.

And so, on to this picture. This is my computer “tower”. It is in what I’m calling her “my” office, but it’s actually my husband’s office that he doesn’t use. (Mine is chock full of sewing patterns.) This area was piled as high as the printer with stuff. It really only took me about half an hour to process the stuff, but meantime, I found a pattern I had misplaced that someone was interested in, as well as the forms I filled out last year, fighting with the post office over a package that arrived empty in the buyers’ mailbox (if you live in Ohio, there’s a 1940s corset floating around there in a post office). Some stuff got moved to a different pile to be filed, but for the most part, everything is taken care of.

I needed this today. After the last few months and all of the life and death crises I’ve dealt with, I needed a clean space. Yes, that’s a bobblehead Pope Francis. No, I’m not Catholic. He just makes me happy. The jar of pins behind him is a collection of pins that I started last year, harvested as I count pattern pieces. It makes me happy too — I feel connected to the original owners of my vintage patterns.

So yes, I’m going into Christmas with a clean slate, no matter how small it is, but it gives me peace and is helping to keep me sane, even while I have an undecorated Christmas tree up and nothing wrapped.

Here’s hoping that you find peace in the holiday season as well. Next, I will tell you about my plans for the new year.


Dark Days

Just when I thought I was coming off the flip side of stress, my Mom has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She came home a week ago on hospice, so I’ve been there pretty much 24/7 since. She likely only has a few days left, so please excuse my absence whilst I deal with not only the care of my mom and the emotions involved in losing her, but the administrative stuff like closing accounts and emptying her apartment. As Betty Draper said in the last episode of Mad Men (paraphrasing): things happen very quickly when someone dies. You have to be ready.

See you soon.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Today’s Flight of Ideas

Here’s a stream of consciousness from me, given the events of the past two weeks.

We have a baby! Complicated delivery and a NICU stay, but mom and baby are home and doing great. If you want to see how it went with the big sisters when he got home, check out this video. Prepare yourself, it is the cutest thing you might ever see. And yes, his face is VERY bruised. He came out upside down.

I’m recovering from my third COVID shot. Since I have lymphoma, I have to get three full shots instead of just a booster, plus I got my flu shot at the same time. Historically, vaccines have knocked me down for several days since lymphoma came to visit, but my first two COVID vaccines did nothing. I also didn’t develop antibodies, because of my cancer treatment. Now that I’m done with treatment, it could be that the reason I’ve had a fever for three days is because it’s working, or it could just be a reaction to the flu shot. Please do not use this as a reason not to be vaccinated. I don’t have a fever today, but still feel like I’ve been run over. It’ll get better.

Here’s my favorite playlist. It’s a wonderful list made by the creator of the My Octopus Teacher score which, if I haven’t mentioned it before, is absolutely phenomenal. It’s my go-to relaxation music.

Vogue S-4866, 1948.

And this pattern. I told it this week, but just realized how much the lady in the front looks like my mom when she was young. Make the hair auburn and it could be her. She is still beautiful at 88. She would’ve been 15 in 1948.

That’s all for now. More later, when I’m feeling better.

1950s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Still Waiting

Simplicity 3464. ©3464

Still no baby. Lots of contractions that my daughter ignores, but no baby yet. I’m convinced she will be in denial until he’s born on their family room floor, with the 3 year old and 18 month old sisters cheering her on. I suppose it’s just as well that he hasn’t hatched yet, as he still has no name. They can’t come to an agreement on a name, so it’ll be interesting to see what he ends up with. My daughter suggested Dawson — her husband hates it, and her 3 year old heard it as Dolphin (her current passion), so I just call him Baby Dolphin. If you have suggestions for an Irish or Scottish name, drop it in the comments. Their last name starts with an O, so that can complicate things a bit. I suggested Christian this week, but apparently my daughter knew a guy in college named Christian who was a raging alcoholic, so I’m not going to make any other suggestions.

Meantime, I came across this pattern in my stash. It’ll be listed in the shop soon, so I stole the picture from the Vintage Pattern Wiki. I think it’s wonderful. I’m not a fan of the tight maternity clothes these days, though I’m not sure my daughter even owns any maternity clothes. Being an archaeologist, she lives in leggings and sweatshirts, so I think she just guys a larger size than usual. I know she doesn’t wear the typical maternity stuff, which I am thankful for.

When I was having babies (wow, that makes me sound old), I wore smock tops. The eighties and nineties still welcomed them, and I thought they were comfortable. My shorts didn’t have the panel on them, but were super comfortable with an elastic waistband. They were so comfortable, in fact, that my ex husband would wear them when I turned my back. You wouldn’t have known they were maternity to look at them, so it wasn’t as weird as it sounds, though yeah, he was weird anyway.

But look at this suit. I’m not convinced about buttons on the back of the skirt, because it always looks so uncomfortable. Pretty, but uncomfortable. But at least it appears that the buttons stop before the derriere, so at least you’re not sitting on them. The top is what is so special though. That wider Peter Pan collar and those amazing cuffs — I die. I also like wide sleeves and generally push up long sleeves because I hate things being tight, so I think that helps this style to appeal to me. They suggest novelty braid at the collar and cuffs, but I’d do it in velvet or velveteen. The blue they show is gorgeous, but I think I’d like it in navy as well.

And those gloves complete the look so beautifully. It’s my goal that, before I die, I will own a pair of Cornelia James gloves. They are SO expensive and I might have to keep them under glass, but I covet them so much. I don’t see any that would work they way I’d wear them with this, but I’m putting this out there in case Santa wants to know what I want. I’d get a pair of dove gray with the lighter blue, or taupe to wear with the navy. But then again, I guess it doesn’t matter what I think, as my baby days are long gone, thank heavens.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

“Help”, She Cries Out Plaintively

McCall’s 8876. ©1967.

I was listing this maternity pattern in the Etsy shop yesterday, whilst I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. You see, I have a daughter who is pregnant. As in, VERY pregnant, and at that stage where she is ready to go any day (due the end of November-ish) and is miserable. As in, TOTALLY miserable.

I will preface this by saying how very, very much I love my daughter. I love her to pieces, actually. She is the middle child and only daughter, and she is a huge piece of my heart. But my Lord, does that girl make me insane at times. To be honest, she always has, and she knows it, because she didn’t sleep thru the night until she was almost four, never napped, and spent a lot of time screaming, all the way into teenagerhood and beyond. She is beautiful and brilliant, and the best mommy ever (we can’t figure it out, given her hatred of literally everyone for years. We are sure her husband is the one to credit for calming her down), but my gosh does she lose her mind when she is pregnant.

She hates the medical community so much. Never trusts them. Hates going to the doctor and generally feels that the medical community is ignorant. Remember, I have forty years of experience as a nurse, and her father was a nurse as well, so it’s not like she wasn’t surrounded by it growing up. I’m not sure why she hates the medical community so much, except for the fact that she had three sets of tubes in her ears in childhood, so literally every time she saw a doctor she had an ear infection and they were hurting her. She also hates medical insurance (which, to be fair, most Americans do, because it’s terrible here), and her insurance is terrible. When she had her second baby, her bill was hundreds of dollars more than her first one, despite the fact that she was in the hospital a day less, so this doesn’t help her argument about how useless insurance is. I know, without it she’d really be lost, but if we have insurance, we expect stuff to be paid, when in reality the scam that is American healthcare means that insurance companies exist in order to find ways not to cover you.

So yesterday, when she’d been without sleep and was exhausted, I suggested that perhaps the contractions she has been having are, in fact, early labor. She hadn’t timed them so she didn’t know, and thought maybe she’d call the doctor. I told her they’d just send her to the hospital to be checked, which she didn’t want to do, because she’d get billed hundreds of dollars unless they kept her, and she was sure they wouldn’t. So she called the doctor, and they told her “just what I knew they would tell me” – probably because it was exactly what her mother the OB nurse had already said. She of course refused to go in, so she timed her contractions instead. I asked how far apart they were. “They’re not regular.” I asked again, how far apart? “They’re not regular.” ::sigh:: “What is the longest interval you have gone between contractions?” “Eleven minutes. Three minutes. Six minutes. Two minutes.” So, I told her, she could be in early labor. Then I got eleventy thousand reasons why she’s not in labor. I offered to bring the girls home with me so she could rest. No, she’d be fine, she said.

Three hours after I got home, she texted and said she was six minutes apart, and to keep my phone nearby in case I needed to come get the girls. Dear Lord in heaven, why can’t she listen to me? Why? Because the last baby she had, she was admitted to the hospital at 11:30pm, and because she was admitted half an hour before midnight, insurance counted it as a full day and she had to go home a day earlier than she should have had to. Yes, I know this makes no sense because she hates the healthcare community, but once she’s at the hospital, she wants every minute she’s entitled to, so she is not going to go the hospital until after midnight. I’m telling you, I do not drink enough for this.

So today she is contracting but not as much. Still in denial that it’s early labor or that she will have the baby before mid-month at least, even though she was told she could go anytime last week at her appointment. Her labors are fast, but darned if she will go to the hospital until the last minute, so I’m convinced that she is destined to have the baby in the middle of the living room floor at this point, because no matter when he decides to appear, she is not going in until she is 100 percent positive that they will keep her.

I swear she has lost her mind. Meantime, she’s not sleeping and is terribly uncomfortable and is in denial that she can go into labor because she wants her husband to be off work for Thanksgiving, and he only has two weeks off after the baby is born. She is all. over. the. place.

So dear Lord, save me from the pregnant daughter and PLEASE let her go into labor soon, because I can’t deal with this level of crazy on top of caring for my mom and my husband.

Pattern available in the Etsy shop here.