1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

For You Apron Lovers Out There

I used to read Seventeen Magazine back in the day. It was aimed at mid-to-late teens, hence the name. Generally 15-17 year olds. I bought a stack of 1974-75 ones a few weeks back, and was looking at them the other day. Who knew that they had a bridal section occasionally? Not me. I had no idea that they would aim wedding stuff at that age group. The more you read, the more you learn.

Photo: Seventeen Magazine

I was looking through a Christmas gift section and came across this little gem. It’s an apron made from Handi-Wipes! Here are the instructions:

Take four Handi-Wipes. Make a waistband by cutting two strips the length of a cloth and two and a half inches wide. Stitch the ends together to make one long strip. Make the apron’s skirt from one cloth, stitching a 1/4 inch hem on three sides. Center it on the waistband face to face, raw edge up. Stitch together 1/4 inch from the edge. To add the pinafore, hold a cloth against you lengthwise, measuring from collarbone to waist. Cut off the excess (there may not be any — this is aimed for teenagers, remember). Fold right and left sides in at a slant; hem top and sides 1/4″ from edge; trim sides. With right sides together, stitch top to waistband. Hem raw edges of waistban ties. Make a halter strap by cutting one long strip. Hem edges. Adjust to fit around your neck and sew ends to apron top. For pockets, stitch a four by five inch rectangle (edges turned in 1/4 inch) to apron front.

This is a super inexpensive way to make an apron that is washable, if not totally durable over the years. Let’s get to the dollar store now!

PS Speaking of aprons, I listed this one in the Etsy store today — a hard to find XL apron pattern. I think I’ve only seen two XLs over the years.

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

The McCall’s Sew For Fun Series

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McCall’s 4376, ©1974

I listed this pattern the other day in the Etsy shop. I’d never seen this series before. It’s called the Sew for Fun series, and the patterns came out in 1974 and early 1975. The styles are the cute boho/cottagecore patterns so popular in the time. This one features a maxi dress with Gunne Sax vibes. It can be made in the shorter mini length as well.

Note: I had a pair of clogs exactly like the ones in the photo.

The patterns featured mainly dresses and tops, are were made in both Miss and Misses’ sizes, with different pattern numbers for each. There are at least two that are unisex: one is a top and the other is for a swimsuit/swim trunks. But the funny thing is those little extra patterns.

This particular one features a stuffed mouse, because every cottagecore girl of the seventies wanted a stuffed mouse, right? I thought at first that it was a pincushion, which obviously any sewist could use. And a young beginning sewist might be pleased to create her own personalized mouse pincushion, right? Only it’s not. It’s a stuffed animal, which seems a little odd paired with the cute dress. But it gets weirder.

McCalls 4416, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki

Some of these patterns are paired with hats or purses, which makes sense to me. Hats were big in this era, and everyone can use a sun hat. Purses are also a no-brainer. But there are also odd items like garment bags, a wind breaker (for sitting on at the beach, not the jacket), and even a tent. Each of them has a little sewing lesson with it, which is great, but the projects they include are so weird. Like the wind breaker one. If you want to teach someone to make a casing, have them make a pair of elastic waist shorts. But I don’t make those decisions.

McCalls 4429, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki

I wonder who came up with these little extras, cause they just seem so odd. I get that they were trying to make sewing fun, especially for the Miss crowd, but somehow I am not sure that they thought it all the way thru. It’s one of the more random ideas put out by the sewing pattern companies.

McCalls 4428, ©1975. Photo: Vintage Pattern Wiki
1970s fashion, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Where I’ve Been, and Other Stuff

It’s been a while, and I apologize. Life took a huge shift as our world tilted on its axis a bit. We went to Michigan for the weekend on June 2nd, and it turned into a twelve day (mis)adventure.

We originally went to inter my parents at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan. It’s a beautiful place, and though I’d never seen it before that day, I understand now why my parents chose to be interred there, rather than closer to one of their kids’ homes. It is simply gorgeous. The place where they are is next to a farm field, and you can hear trains going by regularly — two things my parents loved. My daughter found a great house for us to rent in Holly, where our whole immediate family could stay, as well as my brother’s kids. To say that the house is gorgeous is an understatement. Though I ended up not spending as much time there as I had hoped (more in a minute), it was beautiful, and they took great care to make sure that we had literally everything we needed. There was lots of room to commiserate, and plenty of room to let the little ones roam, without fear of them destroying anything. Plus, it was near the railroad tracks, which the kids loved, and right on the other side was Holly.

If you’ve never been to Holly, Michigan, it is a cute little village that is very walkable, and has antique shops, restaurants and a couple of breweries. We enjoyed one brewery the night we got there, and the girls had plans to go antiquing over the weekend. Alas, it didn’t happen, but I did get there later. The kids walked over to a restaurant for breakfast, and walked to the floral shop to pick up flowers for the grave. I’d love to go back. It’s a nice place to relax, kick back and just slow down for a while.

We had the service, which turned into a bit of a fiasco, as we had little to no idea what we were doing, and didn’t realize how little time (5-6 minutes) the minister was given to say his words before we were shuffled away for the next funeral to begin. You don’t argue with the military. We decided afterward to go out to eat, but looked up several places, all of which were closed. We even drove to one before finding out that they were closed for renovations. What the heck, Michigan? So we ended up at a nice place called Little Joe’s Tavern. I can tell you nothing from then on, because as we were sitting there talking, my husband had a stroke.

My son was sitting next to him and long story short, noticed he suddenly couldn’t talk, and wasn’t moving one side of his body. I went over to him and he became VERY agitated. I still don’t know if he was trying to get off his chair, lie down, or what he was doing, but it took three of us to keep him seated and not fall, all whilst ducking a couple of punches he threw at me. That’s not his normal, let me tell you, so it was WILD. Paramedics came, we drove to the ER and the clock was ticking.

As many of you may know, you have about an hour from start to finish to treat a stroke, before the statistics become much more dire. He had three CT scans in rapid order, diagnosing what it was (a stroke, not a bleed), where it was (a mid cerebral artery) and how big the clot was (huge – it blocked blood flow completely from the left side of his brain). In all the bad news was good news — because of where the clot was, and the size of it, it could be treated with surgery, but he had to be transferred to Saginaw for that. They started TPA (a clot buster drug) and his (very hot) nurse, Amanda M (who my son diligently looked for on social media afterward because yeah, she was hot), got him out the door and into the ambulance. The doctor called while husband was en route, explained the surgery and got consent, and he went directly to surgery when he hit the doors of the hospital. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just get your butt to surgery right now. By the time I arrived, surgery was done and he was in ICU.

Miraculously, he now could move everything, but his speech was impaired. He would open his eyes, look around curiously, and as the lights came on in his brain, he would smile. He has no memory of the early days, though he does remember being in the restaurant, right up to the time of the stroke. He was in ICU for three days, step down for two, and then he went to rehab, where everyone proclaimed him to be a miracle (he is). He went home after six days in rehab, with orders for speech therapy.

The transition home was rough. He’s a TV kind of guy, and he can’t figure out the remotes. His speech frustrates him sometimes but he keeps trying. The appointments. Oh my word, the appointments. We’ve had an appointment every day, and sometimes two. He’s going to be evaluated for physical therapy and occupational therapy, to see if he needs it now that he’s in a home environment. We’ve had to shift some things around on how we do things and I’ve had to stay on alert at all times.

All this whilst we have an extra dog, for a total of four, because we are watching his grandson’s dog until he gets into a new apartment. AND still dealing with my mom’s estate stuff. Thankfully, the dogs have finally decided to get along, and we had a yard sale yesterday, unloading most of her stuff and donating the rest. Things look like they’re calming down a bit.

While we were in Michigan, I shopped almost every day, at least whilst he was in rehab. Visiting hours didn’t start till 3, so what’s a girl to do except shop? I found some really cool stuff. I went to lunch with a cousin in Holly, and we did finally get to hit one of the antique malls there, where I got a lot of cool stuff, including a fifties swimsuit pattern in a bust 38. Of course, I had the car completely packed, and thankfully hubby couldn’t see it. My youngest went out and brought it in thru the front door so it’s hidden away upstairs so he doesn’t have another stroke when he realizes all the shopping I did. But I mean, how can you NOT buy things like a 1940s matador outfit, and flamenco dresses to match? A fifties party dress in a beautiful yellow-green? A designer satin mother of the bride suit? An amazing Gunne Sax inspired dress that is new with tags? Seriously? I’m not stupid.

So I will get back to posting again soon, as time allows.

Until then,
Lisa

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Where It All Began (Kind Of)

Simplicity 6926. Photo: FlorasNeedle.

I’ve been out of commission for a few days from an ear and sinus infection. Immunosuppression is not fun, folks. Thanks, lymphoma.

Whilst I was lying in bed feeling miserable, of course I was browsing sewing patterns when I came across this one. This is the first pattern I ever sewed. I was a sophomore in high school and decided that I wanted to learn how to sew. I took home ec in junior high, but only took the first semester, which was cooking. Second semester, instead of taking the sewing section, I switched to wood shop. Ironic, given my obsession with sewing patterns now.

I was the youngest of five kids, and though my mom could sew, she didn’t enjoy it, and by the time she got to me, she had pretty much stopped. She taught me all the needlework: knitting, crocheting (I’m VERY crochet impaired), embroidery and needlepoint, but she never taught me how to sew, and I wasn’t really interested. In my sophomore year of high school, something triggered my interest, so Mom got her old Necchi sewing machine out (a gift from my grandmother) and I set off to make this dress under Mom’s direction. I’m not sure that either of us really appreciated the process.

I made it in light blue chambray. It was, I’m quite sure, very wonky looking, but I wore it to school and was quite proud of myself. I then never sewed again until I was in my mid-30s, when I made my ex a couple of scrub tops (again, quite wonky, but bless him, he wore them all the time) and tried to make my daughter a Pikachu costume, which I dropped mid-project. It was still a couple of years before I started selling patterns, and now I’m in neck deep and loving every minute of it.

Sometimes things take time. Nursing was my passion from my earliest memories and was right up till a couple of years ago when I left to take care of my family. Sewing patterns started much later, and now I am obsessed, and learning to sew once again, albeit much easier projects. So yeah, if you are twenty, or forty, or sixty, just remember, finding your passion can take some time. The big thing is to not stop looking.

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

I Need This in My Life

Vogue 8551, circa 1973.

I listed this pattern in the shop the other day. I’ve had it before, and it always screams out to me that I need it. Badly. That one on the left is gorgeous. That ribbon trim just slays.

It’s an interesting pattern that isn’t difficult to make. The sides have shirring to help create a waistline, and the shoulders don’t have a seam — they are just part of the fabric that is draped to create a sleeve. Very clever. It’s not even described as a caftan. It’s described as a robe. It reminds me in some ways of one of my favorite movie costumes: Katherine’ Hepburn’s robe in Philadelphia Story. It was designed by Adrian, and I love it, primarily because of the sleeves and the draping. Look at the clever way the waist and the back are done.

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::sigh:: Glorious. I, like Balenciaga, have a real thing about interesting sleeves. But can you just imagine gliding into the kitchen in the morning, wearing either of these robes? Yes, of course they would fall into my oatmeal or I’d spill my beverage down the front of me, but I’d look wonderful before all that happened.

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.

1950s fashion, 1970s fashion, Celebrity, designers, Hollywood, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

70s Does 30s

Vogue 2286, from 1979.

When people mention something is 70s does 30s, or 80s does 50s, for example, do you know what they mean? Fashion has a great way of repeating itself, as seen in this iconic scene from The Devil Wears Prada, where Miranda dresses Andy down like no other:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja2fgquYTCg&w=560&h=315]

So when someone says 80s does 50s, they mean that it’s an 80s style, done in the vibe of the 50s. This is how I actually realized I loved vintage, because all of my 80s dresses were done in a 50s vibe, with a few 80s does 40s thrown in for good measure. I had a wonderful white peplum dress with red polka dots that was a particular favorite, which my ex also dumped coffee on during a five hour drive to Boca Raton for a wedding. Nothing like showing up with a huge coffee stain across you lap. But I digress.

This beautiful Bill Blass patter is a great example of 70s does 30s. The disco era is full of echoes from the 30s, with the beautifully cut bias maxi dresses, and this one is no exception. It also has a great tuxedo vibe, which is reminiscent of the Annie Hall look of the same time period. It’s a beautifully draped menswear inspired dress, and that is one hard thing to pull off. Also, because of the jacket, you can wear it in winter if you’re daring, and taking off that jacket would give you a great Grace Kelly “Rear Window” reveal vibe, seen here at :57, in her 50s does 30s top:

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but still — you’d catch everyone’s eye when that jacket comes off.

What do you think? Click here to purchase.

1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

Fabulous Friday: Happy 4th of July

McCall’s 3142

Do you have plans for the holiday weekend? We don’t, as usual, but that’s fine with me. Our neighbors will be shooting off fireworks way too late in the evening and driving our dogs crazy, but the weather is supposed to be nice so we will enjoy the outdoors during the day and hide with the dogs huddling in fear at night at all the booming around us.

So in honor of the holiday, I wanted to show you this flippy little sailor dress, which is perfect for the holiday weekend. The sleeves and skirt are flared, so it’s perfect for most shapes, and it’s quick to make too. Click here to buy.

Have a great weekend and stay safe with the explosives, please.

1970s fashion, sewing patterns

Mrs Roper Was a Prophet

I wasn’t allowed to watch Three’s Company when I was a kid. My mother said I was “too young.” Basically, she was appalled by all that jiggling, but then again, she said I was “too young” to watch Gone With the Wind until I was in high school too, so I’m not sure where the bar was for her. I’ve seen a few shows of Three’s Company over the years, and was always amused by the always-clad-in-a-caftan Mrs Roper. Looking back, I think she most likely was an ancestor of the beloved Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek, but it would take a month of blog posts to discuss Moira’s fashion (which is AMAZING!).

Mrs Roper probably wore the most comfortable wardrobe in television history. Can you imagine how comfortable it was to never have a waistline, never have to worry about weight, and to have fabric fluttering around you under the lights? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important it is to be comfortable, especially over the past few months. But you know, I got thinking about it and realized that Mrs Roper was really preparing us for a prophet.

Think about it — caftans are perfect for Netflix and chill evenings (or days). They’re perfect for quarantine when, if you are like me, some extra pounds accumulate from baking banana bread and eating a lot of carbs. They hide all the figure flaws. You can even hide the fact that you’ve not been to the gym. Alternately, many of them can be belted, to change the look up. So when I came across this pattern in my stash, I squealed. It’s not only a long caftan, but you can make it in a pullover caftan top AND elastic waistband palazzo pants! I think this is the perfect 2020 outfit. Click here to purchase in my shop.