Sunday, December 30, 2012

Recent Vintage Pattern And Button Additions

Happy New Year lovely readers! Guess what? I have been sewing! I know, it's crazy. I have finished 3 aprons, 2 of which were Christmas presents, and have almost finished a blouse out of some gorgeous crepe back satin. I will have some finished object posts coming soon so stay tuned.

Today, however, I thought I'd share some of my recent vintage button and pattern additions. The patterns came from thrift shops, an antique store, 3 from my step-grandma, ebay and some were a Christmas present from my aunt. The majority of buttons were also a Christmas present from my aunt with a few coming from an antique store.

These two are from ebay. The blouse isn't my size, but I think I am going to try my hand at resizing and make a muslin of it.

I have wanted the Buttons and Bows apron pattern forever and finally found a copy on ebay at a reasonable price. The PJ pattern also came from ebay.

These two absolutely gorgeous patterns were a Christmas present from my aunt. I believe she found them at an estate sale. Bonus, the pattern on the left is my size!

These two were also a gift from my aunt.

I can't get this to rotate for some reason. This was also a gift.

This pattern, as well as the two in the pic below, were a gift from my Grandma Barbara.

I bought these two at an antique store in Omaha, NE for $1.50 total.

These two are from the same antique shop and cost $1 each. I have some vintage wool for the cape, but want to make a trial run first before I cut into my prized wool.
Costumes aren't normally my thing, but these were being destroyed in a bin full of rubble at a Goodwill Warehouse so they came home with me.

These also came from the thrift store. Isn't that clown costume downright creepy?

These were $1 each at an antique store in Kansas City, MO. They were a little more than I'd usually pay, but I bought these instead of any tacky souvenir type items on my trip.  

These also came from the Kansas City antique mall.

Tons of buttons from my aunt as a Christmas gift. There are lots of multiples so I will have plenty of matching buttons to use.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When A Pinterest Pin Makes You Over Think

I love Pinterest, you probably love Pinterest, I think we all may love Pinterest. For the most part, it only serves as a digital scrapbook of all the sewing ideas we have, or the recipes we want to make, or tutorials teaching you how to make a your own space ship from some pipe cleaners, an empty 2 liter bottle, and some white vinegar. However, being the over analyzer and general over thinker that I am, I can't just let a pin be a pin. Oh no! A pin must make me ponder the deep questions of the universe, or in this case what we have come to expect of the clothing industry and why mending skills are not seen as necessary anymore.

If I haven't lost you yet, I welcome you, fellow over thinkers of the world to a pin inspired group think tank, also known as the comments section. It all started innocently enough, I was scrolling through Pinterest when a saw a pin, originally credited to a Real Simple magazine article. Real Simple suggested that their readers apply clean nail polish over the buttons of their clothing in order to stop the button threads from unraveling. Who comes up with this stuff?

This now brings me to my next point. Have we as a society come to expect, and accept, that most RTW clothing is so shoddily made that we have to apply nail polish to our clothing in order to keep it from falling apart? Go into any department store and I guarantee you will find an abundance of clothing with buttons where loose threads abound. It is not a random thing to buy a new garment and have the button fall off. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence. Why do we, as consumers, accept shoddy workmanship so easily? Do we want a bargain so badly we are willing to slap some nail polish on our newest Forever 21 outfit in order for it to stay together for a few wears?

Personally, I think it is a combination of two things. First, we as a consumer society have a desire for clothing to be a cheap and disposable resource. If you're only wearing an outfit a handful of times, who cares if it takes some nail polish to hold it together? Secondly, I think we have a generation of consumers who don't know what quality is. When less than stellar workmanship abounds, we tend to slowly accept that as the norm.  Had I not become interested in vintage and sewing, I too would have no idea how well clothing could be made.

This brings me to my last point. Why would anyone think that applying nail polish to a button would be a better solution than simply sewing the button back on? Is it laziness? Sewing a button on requires minimal effort, and a needle and thread are not expensive or hard to acquire tools. Mending is simply not a skill that many people view as important or necessary for a self sufficient lifestyle. If clothing is seen as a disposable resource, I can understand why someone wouldn't feel that sewing a button back on was worth their time or attention.

So, readers and fellow over analyzers, what is your take on this? Would you ever slather a  button with a dollop of clean nail polish or do you find that idea to be absurd?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sewing Blogs: Spread the Love 6

Where has the time gone dear readers? It has been well over a month since I have written a post, and well over a year since I have written a " Sewing Blog: Spread the Love" post.

I am still out of town, so no sewing has been going on obviously. I also flew to Palm Beach about a week and a half ago for a fabulous week at the beach. Getting there due to Hurricane Isaac was quite the nightmare, but once we landed everything was smooth sailing. On our return flight home, we were given the oddest excuses I have ever heard as to why we were 3 hours delayed and there was no bad weather. First, they said the plane had been on the tarmac too long and was too hot to board, then we had a minor mechanical issue, which turned out to bee too big of an issue to fix. So, they found us another plane, a plane that a previous passenger had gotten sick on, so we had to wait for an employee to come in to clean up the plane! When we finally boarded I was beginning to question whether or nor we'd make it back to Omaha given that the lights on board kept flickering. The joys of flying!

Now, allow us to move on to more pleasant things, like sewing blogs and other miscellany to be found on the interwebs.

  • First up is a blog that I just recently discovered, Brentwood Lane. According to the "About Me" section of their blog, it it written by three sisters who love vintage and love to sew. I can't wait to see more from them.
  • Next in line is this post from Jilly Be Joyful about those every aggravating captcha things. I removed mine and haven't had a single spam comment. 
  • Third in line is another new to me blog, Tatulinka's Tales. She has cute sewing projects as well as great vintage images, including some great Ladies Home Journal scans. 
  • Next up is another blog, written by, that has great articles about fashion history. The article about nylon stockings is a must read, as well at the article about the role seamstresses played in designing the space suit donned by Neil Armstrong. 
  • Next, you must check out the Flickr stream of the user The Pie Shops. They have thousands upon thousands of images, including tons of vintage catalogs and magazines. 
  • I made this Cinnamon Roll Cake from a blog called Cooking Up North. Oh my word is it fabulous!
  • Lastly, here is a link to my Pinterest boards. I love following others who like similar things, so leave me your link in the comments. 

Have a great day readers!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Buying Clothing With Ethics In Mind

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the clothing that I buy. For the most part, I buy most of my clothing at the thrift store, or off of clearance racks at departments stores. I pride myself on never, ever paying retail for anything, and I rarely spend more than $10 on an item. Given the two criteria above, it is exceedingly rare that I buy anything that is made in the USA. I have also noticed that clothing seems to last only a few wears and washes before it begins to lose its shape or the fabric starts to pick and pill.

When I buy something I want it to last for more than one year. Furthermore, I want to support companies that make their items in the USA and pay their employees a fair wage, with more "good points" for companies who offer benefits (like insurance) that are actually affordable on the salary the employee is paid. Given the current state of domestic manufacturing, I completely understand that this may not always be an achievable goal. I also realize even though I have a desire to support American companies, I may not always be able to afford to do so. I don't have any sort of long, drawn out plan on how I will change my buying habits, I just want to be more mindful of where things are made and attempt to buy USA made items when it is feasible. Perhaps when I am a bit older and more established, thus hopefully having more spending power, I will be able to be more consistent with buying American made items.

Sure, I am only one person, buying a few items, but I still feel that it matters to buy items that are made in the USA. Millions of people doing one small thing can make a huge difference! Here are a few companies that I have found that make items in the USA that are reasonable to moderately priced. ( Just to note, I have not bought anything from these companies, so I cannot attest to the products of services they offer.) I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and would love to find out about any other companies making things in the USA.  And lastly, I don't mean to alienate any of my readers who don't reside in the USA. I think one should strive to support their home country where ever that may be, and mine happens to be the US.)

1. A.S Tees are made in South Carolina, and according to their website, employees are offered paid vacation, retirement packages, and insurance plans. They sell T-shirts in a variety of styles, all reasonable priced under $20.

2. Okabashi sandals are also made in the USA and are very competitively priced. They seem to offer more athletic looking sandals and flip flips, which also look very supportive. Strangely, they also note their shoes are dishwasher safe. That's a first.

3. All American Clothing Company doesn't seem to offer a very stylish selection, but they do have spaghetti strap camisoles for around $10 that are still made right here at home. This company seems to offer more options for men, including a large selection of US made boots for men.

4. American Apparel had definitely had their share of controversy, but their clothing is still made in downtown LA.

5. Jack Rogers is a shoe and handbag company that makes all of their items in Florida. The shoes they offer are pricey, $100-$200 a pair, but it seems they do offer some sales occasionally on the website.

Finding companies that make all of their items in the USA is a very time consuming task. I'd love to hear about any made in the USA clothing that you love! Chime on in!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Have You Heard Of Amerimark? ( Vintage Looking Shoes!)

I had never heard of this company before today, when I spotted some interesting looking pins on Pinterest and decided to peruse the source. After spending a few moments on the site, I soon understood why I had never heard of the company before. I am approximately 50 years younger than their target audience. The key word here is target. This seems to be a company that markets clothing, shoes, and other such items to the retiree crowd. However, if you happen to be a Gen Y'er, or a Gen X'er for that matter, who likes to wear vintage inspired dress, then you may want to give this site a whirl. While I'd personally stay away from the polyester, perma-pleat  pants they offer, I have a thing for the shoes. Well, not the orthopedic shoes, but there are still lots of goodies too. Take a look here.

I'm sure whomever designs the footwear would never in a million years believe that there would be a market of 20 and 30 somethings to sell the footwear too. While some of the options looks a bit too 80s for my taste, there are tons of cute, and affordable, vintage-esque footwear options available on this site. Just for the record, I am not affiliated with this site, nor have I purchased anything from them yet, so I cannot attest to quality or customer service. If I do decide to purchase something, I will definitely write a blog post on it.

These shoes definitely have a 20's feel to them. The scalloped edges are wonderful and best of all they only cost around $12! I bet I have you're attention now! Even better, medium, wide, and extra wide widths are available, something you're certainly not going to find in authentic 20s shoes.

How about these? I think they have a 50's vibe with the moderate, sensible heel as well as being in a fun shade of pink. It also seems to come up a bit higher, showing no "toe cleavage" that screams modern shoe to me. A tad bit pricier at $30, but not outlandish either.

How darling and 40's are these? I love the hot pink color and the neutral base. If you ask me, these also shoe the perfect amount of toe to evoke thoughts of the 40s. These will set you back less than $15.

A flat shoe like this would be so cute and fun with a great pair of fitted, tapered 60s pants. Perfect for a picnic or out to dinner. The little bow is just icing on the cake.

But wait, there's more! This site sells more than just shoes that would work well with vintage.

They sell long-line bras if you truly want that vintage look under your clothing. This bra certainly isn't most peoples definition of sexy, but I can image this would do wonders under a wiggle dress.

They even sell full length slips! Try finding one of those at the mall. You'll have an easier time just buying a dress that looks like a slip.

Have you ever ordered anything from this website? Is this the company that also sells things by advertising in the coupon section of the Sunday news paper? Do you all like any of the shoe styles they offer, or would I just look goofy sporting any of those kicks? Chime on in!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do You Scrapbook Your Sewn Creations?

Despite my lack of actual sewing as of late, I have been spending copious amounts of time thinking about sewing, patterns, and fabric. I have also been thinking about scrapbooking. Let me explain, I always have grand ideas about scrapbooking, but in reality, I'm lucky if I get my pictures developed before my memory card is full. No pictures, no scrapbook.

 However, I really like the idea of having a scrapbook dedicated solely to my sewing projects. Sure, I have this blog, but I'd like something a bit more tangible. As someone who is a self described packrat, I want a book that I can keep forever and ever. Something that I can hold in my hand and thumb through the pages when I'm old and gray. I love the idea of having a sewing timeline in a book that I can look upon to see how far I've come. I truly hope to sew all of my life, so it would be amazing in 30 or 40 years to look back and see all of my creations. A life story, if you will, that is told by outfits that I have sewn could be created if I was diligent about the scrapbook. 

As for the logistics, I'd want to dedicate one page to each garment that is sewn. So, if I sew an outfit, that would actually get two pages in the book. Each page would contain one or two photos of the garment, a picture of the pattern envelope, and a name that I gave the garment for the blog post. Since I have a picture of everything I've sewn, I could truly start at the beginning of my sewing "career". However, a few of the items I made as soon as I started sewing have already bit the dust, so I'm unsure if I'd want to include them. For example, two shirts I made early on had no seam finishes, were put through the washing machine a few times, and then met the trash can. Would I really want to include them in my scrapbook?

What do you all think? Do you scrapbook in general? Do you keep a creative scrapbook of things you've sewn? Do I really need another money sucking hobby? Chime on in!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where Have All The Coat Patterns Gone?

Hello lovely and fabulous readers! Yes, I am still out of town, which means no sewing for me.

So, today I want to talk about coat patterns, or more specifically my perceived lack of coat patterns available from the pattern companies. In particular, I am going to focus on Vogue patterns, since they offer more designer patterns than the other companies do. While Vogue certainly isn't devoid of coat patterns, it offers 23 selections in the coats and capes section, I feel that their designer coat patterns could use a bit of a revamp. While Vogue does offer a few more fitted, tailored styles, many of it's offerings fall under the "easy wear" category, if you will.

For example, Vogue offers this pattern by Donna Karen. While it is not my style, I could see it looking nice on someone. However, this type of shapeless coat seems to be rather prevalent.

Arguably, many of the vintage coat patterns I drool over are out of my current skill set range, but that doesn't change the fact that I like the patterns. If Vogue offered more fitted, flattering designs, being out of my skill set wouldn't deter me from buying them. I can always grow into my patterns, skill wise. I wish Vogue would commission more tailored, designer coat patterns to help suppress my seemingly insatiable pattern appetite. Lets look at a few vintage coat patterns, shall we? If only Vogue would reproduce these amazing jewels.

Look at this fabulous Nina Ricci number from the late 60s. It has a unique collar, interesting button placement,and is just fabulous all around if you ask me. I would buy this pattern in a heartbeat if a re-print were available, as I've seen originals cost a pretty penny on Ebay.

Look at this Pierre Cardin number! This is a fabulous, chic coat. I must argue that one would feel exponentially more chic wearing this number, as opposed to the modern Donna Karen pattern. Would you sew this up and proudly parade it while out on the town?

While this pattern isn't a designer offering, it is phenomenal nonetheless. Though asymmetry is generally not something I am drawn to, I seem to make a glaring exception for coats. I love off center placed buttons. I'd love to make this up in a navy colored wool and sport some red pumps while wearing it. Oh la la!

If you think I want Vogue to bring every patterns ever made out of their vaults, don't worry. There is one little number that should be locked up and the key forever lost. If you have small children in the room I advise you send them away before perching your eyes upon this horror.

What is that?? A floor length duster coat, with what appears to be the remnants of a very fluffy dog attached to the top and bottom. Sure, it's Givenchy, but is is an absolute horror to feast your eyes upon.

So, what do you think of the current coat offerings? Would you like Vogue to release some more tailored, designer coat options? I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Do You Thrift Your Footwear?

If you've been a reader of this blog for even a short while you most likely know about my love of buying secondhand things. I love estate sales and adore thrift stores. While I love buying thrifted clothes, I never buy thrifted shoes. I did come across a couple hundred pairs of vintage shoes at an estate sale, and I purchased a few pairs, but sold them on Etsy as they weren't my size. To date, I have never bought a pair of secondhand shoes with the intention of wearing them.

Why haven't I delved into the world of secondhand footwear? The answer is quite simple. Feet. I don't like footsies if they're owned by someone other than myself. Now, I love my feet. I like that they carry me places that I want to go. Sometimes I do wish they were a bit smaller, as I wear a 9 1/2 or 10, but at the end of the day I should simply be thankful for working feet.

During my thrifting adventures, I sometimes come across cute shoes in my size. Occasionally, I'll even pick them up then proceed to carry them around the store for a while. Inevitably, my dislike of feet, and the sweat and other ickiness that can go along with them, get the best of me and I sit the shoes back down. I try to remind myself that wearing a used shoe is no more nasty than say, showering in a hotel shower, but my attempt to rationalize hasn't worked yet. The ick factor still remains.

I want to overcome the ick factor and open up my world to the plethora of $2 shoes that exist at the thrift store. Tennis shoes are something I rarely wear, so I only want to be able to thrift heels and sandals. I have read a few various sites that say shoes can be disinfected with Lysol wipes, white vinegar, or rubbing alcohol. Perhaps cleaning them well would reduce the ick factor that seems to bog my mind down. For goodness sake, I eat off of secondhand dishes! I need to get over this!

So, do you wear secondhand shoes? Do you have good luck finding shoes at the thrift store? How can I get over this and open up a whole new thrifting category?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

America's Got Talent

If you live in the United States and tune into nighttime NBC programming you've probably seen the show America's Got Talent. If you're not here in the land of reality TV, then let me give you a brief rundown of what this show is. There are three judges consisting of Howie Mandell, Howard Stern, and Sharon Osbourne. They sit behind a table that has giant buzzers with huge red "X" signs that they push when they don't like the performers. The talented, and sometimes horrifyingly awful, contestants get about 90 seconds to showcase whatever act they believe is worthy of one million dollars if they win the show. There are singers, dancers, escape artists, animal acts, and some other things that are both bizarre and wildly wonderful. You get the idea.

Watching this show has made me think of the way we, as a modern culture, define talent. All of the acts on the show must be preformed in a 90 second time frame, which limits the kind of talents that can be showcased on the program. It seems in the sense of modern culture, talent and entertainment have become synonymous. If one cannot entertain others with their skill, then is isn't seen as talent by many. Now, there are many talented performers in the world who are both entertainers and talented. This post is not meant to downplay the talents of others, but rather to look at why some talents don't seem to get their share of the limelight. There are also many people who entertain whose talent is questionable at best. (I'm looking at you Miley Cyrus.)

I would argue that sewing is a talent. Sewing is a craft that takes time, patience, and practice to master. It cannot be rushed and even the fastest seamstress cannot make something in 90 seconds or less. Sewing requires you to mix together critical thinking skills, comprehension skills, and math skills and actually create a physical, 3D object. That is a talent. You're never going to see someone on stage chugging away making a coat on a reality TV talent show. Sewing, while it can be entertaining to the seamstress, doesn't really entertain others. Sure, a runaway bobbin unwinding on the floor may entertain your cat for a few minutes, but no one would describe that as entertainment. Setting in a non-wonky sleeve is a talent. Sewing a perfect fitting pair of pants is a talent. Learning how to thread a serger is a talent. Installing a fly-front zipper is a talent. Making a finished, wearable garment is a talent! A talent should not be defined by it's ability to make one a star or to entertain others.

We, as a society, need to redefine what constitutes a talent. Time consuming, laborious tasks such as sewing and woodworking are talents, and those who master these crafts are talented. We need to respect dying arts and restore them to their rightful place as talents. We need to redraw the line between talent and entertainment and realize, once again, that someone can be very talented without also being an entertainer.

What are your thoughts dear readers? Are talents such as sewing being overshadowed by more entertaining talents? Chime in! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

* I think the mass importation of cheaply made, both in quality and price, clothing has also downplayed the role of sewing as a talent, but we'll save that for another post.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

More Visual Proof For McCalls

Hello, wonderful readers! Well, since I am still out of town there has been no sewing going on for me. However, I did buy 4 sewing patterns at an antique store in Omaha about a week ago. If you can't sew you can always buy sewing supplies. So, instead, I'd like to present to you part two of why McCalls needs to release some of their fabulous vintage designs. Eye candy for the vintage pattern lover. All pics are from the vintage pattern wiki.

Feast your eyes upon McCalls 4084, a fabulous dress complete with open back and bows. I would shorten this to the knee and prance around my house pretending to be a Manhattan socialite in this dress. Care to join me?

I would sew this up for summer in a heartbeat! I like to be pretty covered up at a pool because of how pale I am and this would be perfect. This little beach jacket is so much cuter than modern, clingy cover ups.

An evening dress with sleeves? What a novel idea! *sarcasm* The lace overlay on the short sleeved version is gorgeous and would make such a pretty wedding dress. I can just imagine a modern bride getting married in a beautiful, lush garden walking down the aisle in that dress. Reprint this pattern so we can make that happen McCalls!

I'm pretty sure this is a night gown and a bed jacket. It is so lovely and elegant. Why wear stretchy, faded PJ pants when you can go to bed in this looking like a goddess? Just not one of Mr. Sheen's goddesses.

I cannot even begin to image how complicated this would be to sew, but I can imagine how fabulous it would be to wear. The drape! The bow! How can you not love this?

I'm not sure what the technical name is for a hem that flares out like this, but I do love it indeed! While I am not usually a fan of this length of dress, I would probably give it a try with this dress. Perfect for all the cocktail parties on yachts that I attend.

This pattern is simply glorious! I am quite jealous of the person who owns this little beauty.

Lastly, we have this absolutely adorable little number. This would be so perfect to wear on the beach and pick up sea shells in. You know, cause everyone needs a sea shell outfit.

So, how are we sewing bloggers going to convince McCalls to get on the ball and start releasing vintage patterns? Does anyone volunteer to get a job there to infiltrate their ranks?

Monday, May 14, 2012

How Long Should Clothing Last?

If you were reading my blog last week, you may recall this post about caring for your clothing.I wrote that post because I feel that my laundry routine needs to change in order to better care for my clothing. You also know that I have yet to decide upon a new laundry plan to ensure the survival of all my clothing, not just survival of the fittest. So, today, I though we'd talk about the lifespan of clothing. How long should clothing last?

Obviously, the type and purpose of clothing is going to be the leading factor in determining the life of clothes. A cocktail dress, assuming it doesn't go out of style, will have a much longer life than a basic t-shirt.

I am so tired of purchasing clothing from the store, only to have it fall apart a few washes later. I expect my clothing to last more than one season. I don't want disposable clothing!

For basic items that are worn on a regular basis, such as white camisoles that I like to layer , I expect these to last a minimum of one year. Do I always get a year out of them? Sadly, no. The longest lasting one I have was purchased at Eddie Bauer on clearance, but I have not been able to track down anymore. How long should a basic camisole last?

Next up is sweaters and cardigans, which I purchase mainly at thrift stores. These items seem to have a very short life span for me, despite gently washing them and always laying flat to dry. I wish I could afford to dry clean all my sweaters and never have to wash them in water. I think that a sweater or cardigan should last at least two or three years. I only have one black cardigan, a Cable and Gauge brand purchased at Ross, that has made it to the three year mark. I think I need to start washing all sweaters and cardigans by hand with Woolite perhaps.

Jeans are the next item on the list. While jeans seem to be a popular wardrobe splurge item, I will admit that I buy jeans from two places only: the thrift store and the clearance rack at Ann Taylor Loft. I never pay more than $20 for a pair of jeans. I have two major problems with jeans. Either the color fades too quickly, or they become worn on the legs where my thighs touch when walking. Jeans normally have a life span of about 18 months with me, though I have one pair of DKNY brand that are still going strong after 4 years. Ideally, I wish jeans would last for 3 to 4 years, but I don't know how to deal with the worn between the legs dilemma.

Next is regular, everyday tops and blouses, both woven and knit. This is a huge problem area and seems to be the most impacted by the disposable fashion mantra! Have you seen how thin t-shirts now seem to be? You're lucky to get five to ten wearings out of some of these! Knit tops seem to pick and pill almost instantaneously, which is unacceptable. I am lucky to get 4 to 6 months from a basic top before the worn effect starts to take over. I think a top or blouse should last 1 to 2 years, depending on how much it is worn.

Now lets talk about jackets. While it seems that RTW jackets are still of a decent quality, they still don't top the quality you'll find in vintage. The biggest problem with jackets, both vintage and new, is weak seams in the lining. It seems that shoddy sewing causes these week seams in new jackets, and in vintage jackets, years of perspiration weaken the underarm seams of the lining. A jacket should last at least 3 to 5 years, preferably more.

Next up is a rather tricky category: dresses.  Depending on the type of dress the lifespan varies greatly. A cocktail or party dress that worn just once a year will probably stay nice until it either goes out of style, or you get pregnant or hit menopause ( whichever life stage you're in) and it no longer fits. However, things like sundresses aren't going to last as long, particularly knit sundresses which a prone to picking and pilling. I think a basic, casual dress should last at least 3 years, where a dressier church or professional dress should last 5 years and onward.

Lastly, I will talk about coats. I greatly prefer vintage coats to modern ones. For me, a coat should last at least 10 years. Unfortunately, just like modern RTW jackets, the linings are pitifully thin in most coats and the seams are weak. I'm sure you can still buy a decent coat if you're willing to shell out a few hundred bucks, but alas I am not.

So, readers, I want to hear from you! Are you as bothered as I am about the lifespan of RTW clothing? How long do you expect your clothes to last?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Desr McCalls, We Need To Chat

That's right. I have a beef with the McCalls pattern company. Actually, I suspect that many of you have the same beef with them as well. Perhaps we should all band together and picket their headquarters, or start a petition on Well, I suppose I should tell you what has me so up in arms if I expect all of you to jump on the bandwagon with me.

So, here it goes. I want McCalls to reproduce their vintage patterns like Vogue and Butterick! Are you listening McCalls? I am rather positive there is a market for this. In my opinion, McCalls had some of the best designs in the 40s and 50s with great details and awesome draping. While, as longtime readers know, I have accumulated a stockpile of patterns, I truly don't have that many 40s McCalls. I do buy up every pre-80s pattern found at estate sales that I can get my selfish little hands on, but I am limited to what I find at sales.

Furthermore, I would like to propose that in addition to simply reproducing wonderful vintage designs, that the sewing public would be allowed to vote on which designs they'd like to be able to purchase. Now, for you skeptics among us, allow me to offer you some visual evidence as to why my pleas and demands should be answered.

Just take a moment and let the sheer awesomeness of this dress sink in. The high neckline and lowered back are perfect details. Ad how I wish I could find fabric that looks like the drawing. I nominate this pattern to be the first that McCalls recreates. Source

Next up in my visual argument is McCalls 8509, a fantastic "peeling petal" dress that has quite a few requests under the wanted section on the Pattern Wiki. I am positive that sewists would buy this pattern if it were offered for sale once again. Source

Isn't this one of the most lovely dresses you've ever seen? A late 40s, floor length, sweetheart neckline gown makes my heart beat a little bit faster. I would sew this up even if I had no where else to wear it but Wal-Mart. Source

How perfect would this cute little swimsuit be for summer? As someone who is a truly whiter shade of pale, a bathing suit that provides a bit more coverage for my pasty white skin is perfect. This suit would look cute and covers, without looking as if I shopped i the Alfred Dunner section. Please re-release this McCalls. Pretty please? Source

Now, how about this number? I could see this made up in a dressier fabric for night time, or a lighter fabric for an elegant sundress. And that sweet little bow is the icing on the cake. Source

This pattern would designed by the talented Pauline Trigere. Since I am not a lawyer I don't know what legalities would be involved in reproducing a "designer" pattern, but how I wish they would remake this one. Take a closer look at the drawing of the dress in white on the envelope, as it depicts the deep V shape of the back bodice. Source

Lastly, we have pictorial evidence that McCalls had some of the most interesting draping of all the pattern companies. While this pattern would surely be out of my current skill range, I'd buy a copy just to swoon at those envelope illustrations. Wouldn't you? Source

Truthfully, I could spend all day surfing the Pattern Wiki and finding patterns I'd love to be reproduced. To be quite honest, given the current vintage craze and Mad Men phenomena, I don't understand why McCalls hasn't started a vintage repro line.

So, readers, would you buy McCalls pattern is they released some vintage designs? Do you have pattern in particular you'd like to see reproduced? Tall me all about it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are Kwik Sew Patterns Worth the Price?

Wow! Two posts in two days has not happened for quite some time on my blog. Since I still haven't decided on a new definitive laundry plan, per yesterday's post, I thought that today we'd talk about patterns. Specifically, I want to talk about Kwik Sew patterns. In general, as you can see from reading this blog, I'm a big four girl. While men might have their sports leagues with "the big ten" or "the big twelve", sewing women get " the big four". The big two is actually a more accurate representation of the pattern companies though, as Butterick, McCalls, and Vogue are all owned by the same parent company.

It seems as of late, another business merger in the pattern world has happened. Kwik Sew now seems to be owned by the corporation that owns Butterick, McCalls, and Vogue. Apparently, the switch of Kwik Sew from white card stock paper to regular tissue paper coincided with this merger. There also happens to be a rather lengthy thread about the subject on Pattern Review, which can be found here.

Personally, I have never purchases a Kwik Sew for three and a half reasons. First is simply a matter of geographic location. There simply aren't any stores in a reasonable vicinity that sell the patterns. The second reason is the price. Kwik Sews are a bit pricey when you are used to buying at one and two dollar pattern sales. Thirdly, I don't trace patterns and the thick card stock would have been a pain in the you know what if I tired to pin it to fabric. The last reason, which is a half reason if you will, is that while there were a handful of cute designs, I found most to be uninspiring and dated. Despite those reasons, the transition to the BMV family has made we wonder if I should reconsider Kwik Sew?

While there are a number of dated patterns that seem to remain in the line, Kwik Sew also seems to have some fresher styles coming out as well. Secondly, if one is a member of BMV, they are now having Kwik Sew sales where the price is around $6. Now, $6 for a pattern isn't cheap in my opinion, but it's not outrageous either. The downfall is that one must be a member of BMV, which I believe runs about $15 or $20 a year.

Looking at the website, it seems that Kwik Sew trumps the other companies when it comes to their selection of swimwear and lingerie patterns. There are also an adorable shorts patterns, and some cute dresses as well. So, readers, do yous sew with Kwik Sew? If you do sew with them, what makes you like them?  Are you a member of Club BMV? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Caring For Your Dearly Beloved Clothing

Hello my lovely readers! Before we delve into today's post, a fascinating insight into laundry, I thought I'd give you two quick updates. I am still out of town, so there will be no finished object posts yet. Also, I failed to mention in my previous posts, I did decide to get some of my locks chopped off before I went out of town. I cut of 6 inches to be exact, but I am fairly positive that at least an inch has grown back already. I do love how much lighter and cooler it is though!

Now, let's move on to the exciting stuff, shall we? Today, I want to talk about caring for your clothes. We all wash and dry our clothes. And, if you're over 35 or failed to fall prey to the current younger generations ( my generations) mindset, then you most likely iron your clothes as well. And, at least once or twice a year, we probably all take something to the dry cleaners. But there is so much more to caring for your clothes than slapping them in a washer and scorching them in the dryer. Of course there is the washing, either by hand or machine, drying with either a dryer, a clothesline, or anywhere you can find to hang them if you're like me, and then there is the ironing and starching to look crisp and clean. Caring for your clothes also can include mending and repairs, like sewing on a button or reenforcing a seam.

The amount time, patience, and work required to wash and maintain ones clothes has decreased significantly with the advent of technology. Even though laundry isn't a task that I dread, I am assured that if I had to wash my dresses with a washboard, I would most certainly dread it. Furthermore, while ironing is a domestic task that I enjoy, I'd probably wear wrinkled clothes if I had to use a heavy iron that needed to be heated on a wood stove. It can easy to forget how simple our domestic tasks have become compared to the work they once required.

In general, I have developed a bit of a laundry habit, so to speak. I usually wash most of my clothes in the washer, with cold water, and fabric softener ( and I have one of those washers you still have to "listen" for the rinse water to come in). After washing them, I usually run them through the no heat, air dry cycle on the dryer once. Then, anything I deem "good" clothes get hung on a hanger to dry. Good clothes are defined as anything I would wear in public, with the exception of undies, socks, and basic cotton camisoles, and kitchen aprons. Next in my current laundry care routine is vintage clothes. For the most part, I take anything from around 1975 or earlier to the dry cleaner, with the exception of polyester dresses.. I also take anything that is wool, lined coats and jackets ( unless they're super casual and cotton), and silk to the dry cleaners. Lastly, in my laundry routine is handmade clothing. Sometimes I put this in the wash, and line dry like the other "good" clothes, but I have a few pieces that I do hand wash.

Lately, however, I have been feeling as if my laundry routine could use a makeover. There needs to be more hand washing and more items needs to be dried while lying flat. It seems that as the quality of the fabric in RTW goes does, a subject for another post, that I need to become more conscious of how I wash my clothes if I want them to last. About two months ago I picked up some cute knit tops for summer, made in the USA to boot, and after a mere handful of washes, and never a stint in the dryer with heat, that the fabric is already looking worn and picked. Even if these were not expensive, I expect at least one meager season from my clothes!

Since this post is already a bit lengthy, and given the fact that I have not solidified my new laundry plan as of yet, I am going to divide this post into a few parts. Today, readers, I'd love to hear about your laundry routine. Also, do you have any tips for me to keep RTW from disintegrating before one season is over?How much time do you spend per week on the upkeep of your clothing? How much time is too much time? Chime on in!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Inspiration From Barbie?

Do you ever find sewing inspiration in the oddest of places? It seems, lately, that I cannot get enough of the vintage outfits that Barbie donned in her glory days. Now, outside of my childhood dolls days, I cannot say that I have ever been a huge Barbie fan, or more truthfully, a fan at all. Though I do thoroughly enjoy hoarding stockpiles of stuff that will never help me in the event of a catastrophe, Barbie just seems to have never entered my hoarding radar. Just for the record, I have no problem with Barbie, and I don't believe she is destroying the female youth with an unrealistic ideal of beauty and perfection. For the sake of this post, however, we'll keep it on a light and fun level and talk only about Barbies clothes. Deal?

I do remember playing with Barbie dolls in my youth, circa 1994. More specifically, I remember dressing Barbie in the most fashionable, read awful, 90s clothing that I could procure as 4 year old. Stirrup pants for Barbie, anyone? These are not, thankfully, the clothes that I am referring to when I say I want to recreate some of Barbies looks for myself.  I want to make life size versions of some of Barbie best, and most fashionable, ensembles she ever donned.

First up, we have an outfit which seems to be known as "Roman Holiday". According to my very amateur research, Mattel released this outfit around 1959. According to the seller of this Ebay auction, which is the source of the picture below, the Roman Holiday outfit is the holy grail of outfit for collectors.The auction is currently at a bit over $1200!

What isn't to love about this outfit? A navy skirt with a red and white striped bodice, a matching coat, a lovely white belt, white clutch, a sweet red bow for your hair,  and a fabulous pair of navy heels to top off the outfit. If you click on the link above, you'll see additional pictures of the outfit, which also features a back metal zipper for the dress. If memory serves me correctly, in the 90s, all my Barbie clothes had velcro backs, instead of nice zippers.

Next up, we have this lovely red velvet 60's evening coat. The Barbie sized version of this will only set you back a respectable $10, if no one else bids against you. Doesn't every woman dream of owning a rich, luxurious red velvet evening coat to don for the most special occasions. I genuinely enjoy overdressing for Christmas, and this coat would make quite a statement. Don't you think?

 Now, how about a lovely nightgown and matching satin robe for me, er for Barbie? This lovely set features a teal colored nightgown with a matching, adorned robe for Barbie to gallivant around the house in. This outfit would be so much prettier, and much more feminine, than the generally hideous elastic waist, flannel PJ pants which seem to have invaded.

Lastly, we have these seven absolutely amazing sheath dresses. Right click seems to be disabled, or at least not working for me, on the picture, so you'll have to follow my link. ( It goes to an Ebay auction, and I promise it's worth a click.) After seeing all those dresses neatly lined up like seven glamorous ducks in a row, I have an urge to turn the dining room upside down and whip up some sheath dresses.The addition of the bows on Barbies versions make them all the more spectacular.

In closing, do you ever find inspiration from odd sources? Ever looked to Barbie for some sewing mojo kick starter? Would you create a life size version of any of the outfits I've shown? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What Is On Your Domestic To-Do List?

Well hello my long lost readers! It seems that 2012 has been a rather blog post light year for me. I am currently out of town so there is no sewing going on, and I wasn't able to get pictures of the dress I finished before I left. So, instead I thought we'd discuss our domestic to-do lists. Shall we?

Now, before we get this party started, allow me to elaborate on exactly what I mean by a domestic to-do list. It is no secret that I love all things domestic and "homemakey". I love to cook and adore baking. I have a cookbook collection, containing roughly equal numbers of modern and vintage cookbooks. I have a fabric stash. I can fight off an invading army with nothing more than my hot glue gun and my razor sharp Ginghers. However, there are some domestic talents that are lacking in my arsenal. The domestic talents that I sill wish to learn are on my domestic to-do list. Everyone has one of those, right?

Now, lets talk about what lies on that to-do list. Do you excel at any of the domestic talents that I am currently, but not forevermore, lacking? Do you have your own domestic to-do list?

1. Knitting and Crochet
I must admit, readers,I get a bit jealous when I visit sewing blogs of ladies who can also knit and crochet. I dream of being able to knit a cute vintage inspired sweater or crochet a warm and cozy afghan.I may also be obsessed with the adorable knitted and crocheted slipper patterns that are available on Etsy.  I am determined to conquer both of these and then promptly start hoarding vintage knitting patterns.

2. Quilting
Sure I can sew clothes, but quilting is another story. Quilting takes precision and accuracy. I am not sure I even own a real ruler. Despite that, I truly do have a desire to learn to quilt. While I love the idea of hand quilting an heirloom quality quilt, my first goal is to learn to machine piece and quilt. I love the idea of snuggling up under a warm and toasty quilt that I lovingly pieced together with my own hands. Sure, it may cost more to make a quilt than to buy one, but with quality work the handmade quilt will last a significantly longer time. I want quality in a throw away world.

3. Embroidery
 I want to learn real hand embroidery, not machine embroidery. Yes, sometimes I do gaze lustfully at that $10,000 Bernina when I am sitting at the pattern table at Joanns, but I truly want to embroider by hand. About a year and a half ago I bought a box lot at an auction that included embroidery hoops in every shape and size imaginable. Apparently, and stupidly might I add, I took whatever it was I wanted from the box ( I don't even remember what it was), and then I gave the hoops to the Goodwill. What the heck was I thinking? I need those back! I want to embroider cute little flowers onto dishtowels, pretty little designs onto pillowcases, and most of all I want to embroider an "R" onto the tag area of things that I sew.

4. Tatting
Talk about a lost art! Does anyone still tat* lace anymore? How amazing would it be to sew a beautiful dress and then make your own lace to add some oomph to your dress? I have came across some hand tatted lace in very small quantities at estate sales before, but never in any useable quantities. Do any of you readers tat* lace?
* Not sure if tat is the correct word, but spell check told me "tatt" was incorrect.

5. Upholstery
Okay, maybe this one isn't necessarily something that your average mid century housewife knew how to do, but it is still something I wish to learn nonetheless. I want to be able to rescue unloved vintage furniture that just needs a new lease on life. Doesn't everyone dream of knowing how to make a perfectly tufted button on an armchair? Just think of all the possibilities that Craigslist furniture would pose if you had the knowledge to reupholster anything and everything.

So, dear readers, that is my domestic to-do list. What domestic activities do you wish to tackle? Let's talk about it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lets Talk About Hair!

Can we talk about our hair dear readers? Can we also talk about what you think I should do to my hair? My hair is quite long right now. It may actually be the longest it has ever been in my life. From root to tip, my longest layer measures in at approximately 27" now. That equates to a lot of hair that has to be washed, conditioned, and dried, every single day. I know lots of people wash their locks, every other day, but I just cannot do that. My roots end up being too greasy. Readers, do you wash your hair daily, every other day, or do you have another routine?

My hair happens to be really, really straight naturally. I do not use a straightening iron.I have taken to calling it my hippie hair; long, flowing, straight. I would have fit in perfectly in the late 60s and early 70s. My hair, however, will pretty much not take, and hold, a curl though. Especially at this length, curling it is completely out of the question. It is also so thick, that ponytails are beginning to be impossible, as I either snap the hair tie, or I can't get it tight enough to hold the weight of my hair and it falls right back out. Oh, the first world problems I am plagued with!

There are also some other problems with come with long hair. I am slowly going broke buying conditioner, even the cheap Suave professionals kind I use. I will not pay the price for true salon products when I can tell no difference in how my hair reacts. The bathtub and shower drains both drain at a snails pace, no matter how much drain cleaner I force them to drink. I routinely pull my own hair by laying on it, and have even shut it in the car door on windy days. I also have one other hair problem, though it is not related to the length. In the last two months or so, the color of my hair has started to change. It has went from being a nice shade of brown to looking very brassy, especially in sunlight. I avoid sunlight like the plague, so it hasn't been caused my more sun exposure. ( I would rather have no wrinkles later than a tan now.)

Now, despite all of my complaints, I do like having long hair. I like that the only styling that I do is drying it with the hair dryer. ( We won't talk about how many hair dryers I have broken though.) I do think that I am up for a bit of a haircut though. I desperately need a hair cut to tame my split ends, as the last time it was cut was May 2011. Did I mention that I loathe having to pay money for a haircut? I'd rather have split ends than have to cut into my estate sale and fabric money.

I have thought of donating it to Pantene's Great Lengths program which makes wigs, free of charge, for women and children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. The minimum length is 8", but I would have to cut off at least 2" to get rid of split ends, totaling 10". I am not sure I am willing to chop off that much. So, readers, I am asking you, what do you think I should do with my hair? Let it grow til it reaches my knees? Chop it all off into a bob? Dye it blue with Kool-Aid packets? Start a new trend by only cutting one side short and leaving the other super long?

I'd also love to know what you plan on doing with your hair for the summer? Going short? Letting it grow? Tell me more!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If It Were March 1962...

Hello lovely readers! I thought that I'd share some images from the March 1962 edition of Ladies Home Journal with you all.

I do have a dress finished, but I currently have a combination of a nasty cold and allergies, and don't want "Rudolph nose" pictures on the internet. Besides, I have to spend my days complaining about the "worst:" cold of my life to any poor soul who dares to come within 15 feet of me. I do not handle sickness well, or quietly. So, I will take a break from my obnoxious whining for a few minutes to show you all some fantastic vintage images.

Vintage advertisements, particularly for clothing, shoes, and accessories, can be very helpful for getting a period correct look if you like dressing vintage. Personally, no matter how correct my look was, my 60s free love hair would mess up the outfit. But my hair is another story for another time.

A cute little baby on the cover. So sweet!

Cute and sensible 60s shoes.

This outfit ( suit, coat, shoes, accessories) cost $72.85 in 1961. According to an inflation calculator, that is $554.69 in modern dollars!

I can't image having to wear a bra without lycra. Ahh, the things we take for granted as modern day women.

I NEED this stove! I am not certain, but I believe Trudy and Pete Campbell have a similar pull out style stove on this season of Mad Men. Does it look similar to anyone else?

A great coat. I believe it is Dior, but the text is hard to identify the correct picture.

What I wouldn't do for this coat. I think this one is a Galanos.

This is made of wool and surah silk. Designer is Norman Norell?

I just had to include this, because, at first glance, you would never guess this is a ....... tampon advertisement! 

That is all for today. I do have some more pics from this issue that I will post. Are magazine speads something you all like seeing? I have a few more 50s and 60s magazines, and my mother has quite a few that I could share here. Just tell me what you think!