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.

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

I’m Baaaaaack

Simplicity 1889. 1957.

We are back from our tour of the South. After nine days of being gone, it was good to get home. I call it a tour of the South, but really we just went to a condo on Pawley’s Island in South Carolina and parked it. With my husband’s mobility issues and COVID, we don’t go out much, but we were on the water and the weather was perfect, and that’s enough for me. We did get out to eat a couple of times in places with open seating areas, so it was nice to pretend that everything is normal for a while. But now we are home and it’s back to COVID reality again. Blah.

I did get out to my favorite antique store down there, which I always know is chock full of fun stuff, especially patterns. Got to turn it into a work trip, after all, so I went out most days at least browsing, plus picked up a great load of patterns from someone on Facebook Marketplace, so I came home with a couple hundred more patterns, including this lovely.

I thought at first this was sixties, but it’s actually 1957. You didn’t see as many cape patterns in the 50s as in the 60s and 70s. Of course there were plenty in the 20s and even thirties too, but the 50s had more capelets, and earlier in the era, so this one is interesting to me. We like to go to Scottish festivals in non-COVID times, so I’m really wanting to get a cloak a la Outlander style. Claire wears so many fantastic capes and cloaks in that show — I haven’t seen the latest season, so don’t ruin anything for me. Here’s one of my favorites:

Caitriona Balfe as Claire, in Outlander. Photo: Starz.

That yellow is just wonderful and puts her squarely in the center of the action, as Claire is always wont to be. The details in the costuming in this show are just amazing. But for the Simplicity pattern, I’d go with the pilgrim collar mid length one. I’ve always loved pilgrim collars. They just say luxury to me. I love red, of course, so red would be fine, as would a soft blue. Unless someone wants to make me a real full length hooded cloak a la Claire, which I’d of course be fine with too.

sewing, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

My New Reading List

I finished Jane Eye. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a page turner of a book that kept me from sleeping, but this one was definitely that. Given the fact that I’ve never seen any of the movies associated with it, I had zero idea of how it ended. Wow. What a book. I’ll definitely be keeping it so that I can read it again. I wish I was more of a pensive, watchful Jane Eyre type, but I’m more of a Lizzie Bennet type.

That being said yes, I also finished Pride and Prejudice, and now I am more than a little bitter that no one pushed it on me sooner. Given that I’ve always been a voracious reader, I’m not sure how I didn’t. Being married to someone 18 years older than me gives me a different view of the world, and though I grew up watching old movies, I am realizing now how many I didn’t see, and the same is true for books. Hence, why I am visiting the classics. Pride and Prejudice is the only book in my fifty some years of life that I finished, an immediately wanted to reread. It is just. that. good.

It’s also the only book I’ve ever read on a Kindle. I’ve tried before, but found that I just like having the pages in my hand. I’m a bit sorry that I don’t have an actual copy of the book, because I’d love to easily revisit some passages, but given that the Kindle I have is a first generation, I don’t know if I can do it, and if I can, haven’t figured out how. I will definitely be buying a beautifully bound copy of Pride and Prejudice, so that I can share it with the grandgirls some day.

I’ve seen the Kiera Knightley version of P&P, but not the Colin First one. It’s on my list, but I find it really hard to sit down to watch movies or series, unless I’m watching them with my husband (who probably would balk at watching a period drama like this). I love the Kiera Knightley version, but have heard that Colin Firth’s is the preferred one. I also love Rosamund Pike, and can’t imagine anyone else playing Jane, so there’s that.

We’re off on a LONG awaited vacation next week (don’t worry, it’s very low contact, but I need to get out of here for a break), and I’m taking Gone With the Wind with me. I’ve read it before when I was younger but want to revisit it whilst we are in the South. I’ll probably download another Jane Austen book on the Kindle as well. Which would you recommend?

I leave you with my favorite moment from Pride & Prejudice — the harried craziness when Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy return to the Bennet house. Notice the incredible detail of Mrs Bennet’s gown, which is lost except in closeup. The costumes here are amazing, and rightfully garnered an Oscar nomination. But this scene? It cracks me up every time.

vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Creepy

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned my dislike of Halloween, but now I have. I don’t know if it’s because of a long standing grudge that my brother’s birthday is on Halloween, and we always had to do birthday stuff before trick or treating, or if it’s because of my hatred of figuring out costumes for my kids. I call Halloween “the holiday for uncreative parents,” because yeah, I was always on the struggle bus about it. Plus, I just hate creepy things in general, so that adds to my general October angst.

Recently, I came into possession of a number of Spiegel, Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs, from the 40s to the 70s. They are really cool. Did you know that you could buy a pig through the Spiegel catalog in the 40s? You could literally buy anything. I’ve been posting these catalogs in my eBay store recently, and came across this horrifying one:

Photo: Spiegel’s catalog, 1944.

Just look at that. Apparently, women were in short supply as models during the war years, so they just used these terrifying mannequins? That’s my guess. Here’s another one.

Photo: Spiegel’s catalog, 1944.

I don’t know if it’s better or worse when they are juxtaposed with real models, but it’s got a super Stepford Wives feel to it, doesn’t it? Not all of the photos are like this — it seems that it’s only women’s clothing, but still. CREEPY.

Happy October, and if you are interested in the catalog, you can buy it here. I kinda want it out of my house.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

It’s FALL!

Vogue 1234, 1990s.

I hate summer with the fire of 1000 suns. Seriously. I have zero tolerance for any kind of heat. I’d say that it’s since my lymphoma showed up, but that’s not true. I’ve always hated summer. I grew up in Missouri, where the asphalt bubbled up under our feet because it was so hot outside. We, of course, ran around barefoot, burning our feet as we went.

We would occasionally try to go into the house, where we could take refuge in the one air conditioner we owned, which was in the living room. As soon as Mom saw us inside, she would shoo us back out, where we’d stay until dark. She doesn’t remember now how she tormented us into staying out in the heat, but we didn’t grow up any worse for the wear, so there’s that. I hated the heat then, I hate it even more now.

I love winter clothes. I love sweaters, and boots, and all the accoutrements. They are so much more creative than summer clothes. I absolutely LOVE coats — Kate Middleton’s coat game is like no other — but I rarely wear one. We actually figured out last year that it’s been at least three years since I’ve actually put a coat on. I carry one, just in case of car trouble, but I would melt if I actually wore it. I’m that warm blooded.

I do wear a light jacket, like a light fleece or something like that. I’d love to have this jacket, designed by Bill Blass (who was also from Indiana). I just love the unexpected shape, the sleeves, and the lines of it. Combine it with the skirt and you get an Edwardian/Equestrian/Lady Mary vibe that I am all about. Plus, it pairs well with boots, which are my real love.

What do you think? Do you like winter? Have a coat you love? Or are you waiting for summer, complaining bitterly whilst under three blankets, with a cup of hot cocoa?

Pattern is available in the Etsy shop, here.

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

Fabulous Friday (or, It’s Friday Somewhere)

McCalls 1954.

OK, so it’s not Friday here in the US, but as Jimmy Buffet says (or my version of it), it’s Friday somewhere. Actually probably not, but it’s been a crazy week. I’ve been driving my dear husband to cardiac rehab twice a week, because he’s not allowed to drive till late October. They play some pretty righteous 80’s tunes while I’m in there, so it’s fun to sit there and wait, listening to Prince and the club music of my day, while reading Jane Eyre. But let’s get on with the pretty.

Isn’t this little girls’ dress just lovely? I think it’s probably my all time favorite girls dress, in over twenty years of selling patterns. I’d make it without the lace, but I think it’s perfect otherwise. That little drawstring bag is the perfect addition to the look. It’s size 4, and I could see my granddaughter really loving this, since she loves to wear her Elsa and Anna outfits anywhere she goes. What do you think?

Have a great Friday, Saturday, or whatever day you’d like for it to be. Enjoy the weekend!

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1920s fashion, designers, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Look what I found!

I don’t know if you remember, but I mentioned McCall 4882 in a former post about 1920s designer patterns from McCall. Well, waddya know, I found the Model by Jenny of Paris in my stash! Truthfully, I had the pattern for some time, but thought the envelope was long gone. Look what happens when one actually tidies:

McCall 4882, 1928.

I am so excited, because this is something of a rare find, much less in factory folds AND in a bust size 34 which, for some, is a wearable size. How cool is that?

Jenny of Paris is quoted in 1929 (the year after this pattern was printed) as saying, “I not only believe but actually preach the creed that it is vitally necessary for the modern woman to be as lovely and charming as is possible for her to be, and accordingly I design.” She goes on to say that the suffrage movement took as long as it did because of the way the women dressed, including stiff collars and flat shoes, and then says that chivalry in men also had dropped because of the way women chose to clothe themselves. Miss Jenny took her fashion SERIOUSLY. She says that women in fiction were only admired if they were not dowdy (she obviously didn’t read Pride and Prejudice), and that men will never woo a woman unless she is fashionable.

Jenny said to choose your clothing carefully, regardless of your budget. She favored carefully selected black dresses, and liked velvet trim as an accessory. She strongly disliked the robe de style, first saying women didn’t take the time to choose a frock that favored them, and second, saying basically that she didn’t understand why women would dress in a style from the past when the entire future of fashion was in front of them. She was also not a fan of fads, though she would toss in a trendy item or two like a bustle, in each collection, just to keep people interested.

She mentions that she prefers natural waistlines, though she would drop them occasionally. This jacket is a case in point. Though it doesn’t officially have a dropped waist, it gives the illusion of one with the lower placement of buttons and belt. The jacket itself really has no waistline, as the silhouette is straight. Miss Jenny knew how to design something that was on trend, without compromising her ideals.

Side note, I just finished Season One of Making the Cut on Amazon Prime. I have mixed feelings about it. I find Heidi Klum to be insufferably narcissistic, and actually have to fast forward the little Heidi and Tim segments — I love Tim Gunn, but Heidi is such an attention hound I just cannot. Plus, I would much rather see the design process or even the business side of things instead of seeing Heidi dance half naked at the Moulin Rouge, or fence with Tim. The insights the designers give to how the fashion business works is really interesting, and of course the fashion is wonderful. Miss Jenny’s idea of designing on trend without losing herself and loving black reminded me of Esther on MtC. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Esther, without a doubt, was a FAR superior designer to Jonny, but I think that the judges probably chose the right winner, since she was unlikely to veer from her black color palette. Jonny, however, should’ve been booted at least a couple of episodes prior, since he couldn’t finish without help from other designers, but the judges didn’t see that. I must say too that the judges should have listened to Naomi, as she gave the best insights, and was obviously frustrated by Heidi running over her all the time. I would’ve been surprised if she had come back for season 2, but I miss her. She was a good judge. And for those who think that the judges were rough on the designers: these were not rookie designers. All of these people had their own lines coming in. They know the business is tough. I think the judges were just being truthful and direct, though I could do without the “have you changed your mind” schtick from Heidi. UGH. I really don’t like her. And I hate myself for starting Season 2, but that’s life. I just love fashion.

Now available in the Etsy shop.

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

Surprising

Simplicity 1170, 1944.

I added this beautiful pattern to the website this morning. I find it interesting, because it came out in 1944, in the height of World War 2. The war changed fashion quite a bit, because the war effort even affected fabric. Though the US didn’t strictly ration fabric as Europe did, the recommendations in the US were to try to limit textile useage for fashion by 15%. This meant that hemlines went up, and fripperies were very limited: you saw very extras like ruffles, lace, pockets, and the like.

It is amazing to look at war era fashion and see what inventiveness comes out when you are limited in what you use. Perhaps the war years were a pre-Project-Runway reality challenge, to figure out how to create style out of limited means, or by upcycling old clothes. Remember, these were people who had lived through the Depression years, having to scrape by, so they knew how to pinch a penny. But this pretty pattern just surprises me in its timing. Having lived through so much conservation mindset is part of what set people off when Dior came up with his “New Look” in the late 40s, because it required voluminous amounts of fabric, compared to what had been seen in the war years. The culture shock shocked people, and they picketed in protest about what was seen as a perceived waste of fabric.

This look coming from 1944 surprised me. Had it been 1948 or 1949, it wouldn’t surprise me, as I think women really came out of the war wanting to look feminine. But 1944? Surprising. There are not only pockets that aren’t really necessary, but there are ruffles everywhere. It’s gorgeous, but surprising in its timing during a period of minimalism. Perhaps it was seen as a protest against the guidelines. Perhaps women just wanted to feel pretty with everything they were going through. The result is gorgeous, but again, sometimes it’s just the timing that makes me wonder what is going on.