Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wait a moment dah-ling, I forgot my...




Another charming, yet inexplicable vintage ad from the 1960s.  This forgetful socialite was brought to you by the Montgomery Ward mail-order catalog.  Perhaps ads like this one helped drive the mail order giant into bankruptcy...but that is another story.

Anyway, the "Blend of Broadcloths" advertisement above was taped to one of my patterns by the former sewist for a Pima cotton day dress in the exact same style as Simplicity 4491(view 2):

When I turned the page over, I found this:

And then I realized...Montgomery Ward marketed specific fabrics in conjunction with specific sewing patterns!  Which is actually a brilliant marketing strategy, with the exception of the dippy poses in which their models were photographed.

I certainly wish that I could purchase one of the great terrycloth prints for the "Sew-Easy Advance Jr., Misses' Beach Shift."   I really like the "Wonder Bread" polka dot pattern, number 105.  However, after careful research I don't think that any such pattern by Advance exists! If anyone knows which Advance pattern makes this "beach shift," by all means post a comment.

Oh, and the sunglasses are sold on page 127.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fashion Trend: Capes, Capelets, and Cloaks

Few fashions are more romantic and dramatic as are capes or cloaks. Happily, the whims of Fashion has given us the opportunity to express the more mercurial side of our personalities. Capes and cloaks are so very elegant, and are very much reminiscent of the stoles and furs of the 1940s and 1950s. Capes were also very much in vogue during the mod 1960s as well.

I am in love with this exquisite Kenzo capelet, as seen on the runways:

The embroidery is amazingly beautiful. I wish I could see it in person. Or better yet, own it! (And the handbag too!). More contemporary designer capes and cloaks can be found at Apparently, celebrities are wearing them now.

Why not make your own? Here are two patterns to help you fashion your own vintage cape or capelet:

I am thinking about making a wrap cape myself sometime this fall or winter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to School

I've decided to take a class to brush up on my (rather rusty) sewing skills! I plan to make simple projects: a slightly A-line dress using some cotton fabric that I bought in Hawaii several years ago, and probably a little girl's sundress for Little Dresses for Africa (more on that wonderful program later!).

I'll use a contemporary McCall's 8108 to make a simple sleeveless dress:

...and a contemporary New Look 6195 for the girl's dress, in bright pink cotton (sorry for the low-light photo!):

I also want to try make an apron using this vintage Simplicity 5763, though I haven't selected the fabric yet (hooray! fabric shopping!). I'm thinking about finding a vintage floral border print:

I also have this old seersucker madras plaid cotton that I have no idea what to do with. I'm thinking about making a coffee coat / housecoat / breakfast coat (call it what you will) with this:

Any suggestions?

I'm wondering, however, if this list of projects may be a little too ambitious. The class is only two months long and I don't know how much time I will have for each project. I do want to get as much as I can out of the class, so I might need to make other types of garments, such as a pair of pants or a skirt. I've always found hemming challenging, especially blind hemming, and I've only set in a zipper once. Did you notice that each pattern states that it's easy or quick to sew?! As I've said in the past, it's been about 20 years since I've done all of these things, so I want to start at the beginning with the easy-peasy stuff.

I'll keep you posted on my progress....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coffee Coats, or What to Wear in the Morning

I love vintage ads, and I was really happy to find one inside one of my patterns the other day. The newspaper ad was from the Tuesday edition of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and dated March 11, 1969. The ad for Babette Coffee Coats was pinned to one of the tissue pieces in a pattern copyrighted in 1968. So I know that not only was the pattern used about the same time it was issued, I also know that the sewist lived in my neck of the woods!

So what is a coffee coat? A coffee coat is more commonly known as a "breakfast coat," or even more commonly, a "house coat." A coffee coat could also double as a "house dress" in some cases, and some could be worn on the street. Today coffee coats may be most commonly known as a cardboard or fabric sleeve that keeps your coffee warm and your hand cool, but formerly they had a long and useful history as women's apparel.

According to Modern Pattern Design, by Harriet Pepin (copyright 1942), coffee coats evolved out of the hostess gown, or an after-dinner gown that was worn for lounging comfortably inside of the house. These were often coordinated to compliment the decor in the house, and were often made in sumptuous fabrics such as velvet and silk. Here are some examples from 1948, as photographed by Nina Leen for Life magazine:

In contrast, coffee coats were worn in the morning, and were most often made from cotton, gingham, and calico. Coffee coats differ from dusters or smocks in that they were not meant to be worn over other clothes in order to keep them from being soiled. Although similar to robes, they were meant to be seen by casual visitors and thus were socially correct to wear in front of company, unlike an old flannel bathrobe.

I think that once I find the right pattern, I'll make one of these myself. Maybe wearing a cheery coffee coat is just what this night person needs to face each bright and shiny new morning!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Giveaway Winner!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I had sixteen entries for the pattern giveaway...the hatbox proved to be much too big for such small pieces of paper, so a basket was substituted:

My DH picked the actual winner. And the winner is....

Commenter number twelve: Erin, from I've Got a Smile in My Pocket! Congratulations! I hope that you enjoy the pattern.

Thank you to all who entered. This was so much fun I think that I'll do a giveaway every month!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Would Mary Wear? The Clothes of MTM and Rhoda

Thanks to Miss Dandy, I have been watching episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda on Hulu all weekend instead of doing something constructive (or crafty!). I've missed Mary and Rhoda! I was just a wee thing when the shows were on the air in the seventies. My parents watched both shows, so I know I watched it with them during the original runs. Of course, I don't remember anything from way back then, but the opening credits and theme music of both shows always sound very familiar to me and remind me of being at home.

Mary's sleek bouffant is still fashionable and is being worn today. And I just love Rhoda's artistic, bohemian look. Her style expressed exactly who she was. I spent a couple of months one summer long ago obsessively watching Rhoda reruns because her personality and style resonated with me.

I find it really cool that I have a lot of vintage patterns that can recreate the styles that Mary and Rhoda wore. For instance, take a look at the gray dress with leather trim on Mary in this shot:

I've got a pattern that could make a similar dress:

I think that a lot of the late 60s and early 70s mod mini-dress patterns, 70s pantsuits, and free-flowing 70s dresses, caftans, vests, and tunic patterns exemplify the styles that Mary and Rhoda wore:

I love some of these patterns so much, it's hard to part with them. As I'm not an expert sewist (yet), it's beyond my reach to grade some of these patterns from the original sizing. It's probably better this way. I desperately need to regain some closet space!

MTM and Rhoda photos courtesy of Flixster and IMDB.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Iraqi Bundles of Love - Part II

I nearly let busyness get the best of me, but in the end, I finally sent my IBOL out today! The deadline to post bundles is on Tuesday, September 8th (extended by one day because of the Labor Day holiday). By the way, you do NOT need to get a specially marked APO Large Flat Rate Box, the regular Large Flat Rate Box will do. Just tell the postal worker that it's going APO and they will do the rest.

Here's the contents of my bundle:

All of this is destash, and a lot of it is 15-20 years old. I didn't realize that I had three full pincushions stuck all over with straight pins; I added a tapestry and two sharps. I've had that flowered challis and the heavier plaid blend for at least 15 years. Even when new it had a wrinkled texture, but when it came out of the wash it was very wrinkled. I hope the recipient does not mind, because I avoid ironing as though it were the Plague. The knitted baby hat has been in my closet for a while, and I figured that there must be at least one Iraqi woman who could use a baby hat in the coming months.

I didn't have a long enough length of ribbon to tie the bundle with, so I used white bias tape instead.

All done:

I hope that you will consider sending a last-minute IBOL to promote peace in the world.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor Day Giveaway!

I know that I've been promising a free knitting pattern, but instead I've decided to give away a free vintage sewing pattern!

To get you started on your vintage fall wardrobe, I present Simplicity 7795, "Misses' Jumper or Top, Skirt, and Pants" from 1968!

This pattern is partially cut, complete, and is a size 14
(bust 36", waist 27", hip 38"). The tissue is a bit crinkled in places as someone wasn't particular about folding her pattern pieces, and has a few small tears on two of the pieces (nothing major).

To enter, comment on this post with your email address or blog details. This Labor Day giveaway runs until midnight Pacific Time on Monday, September 7th. I will randomly draw the winner out of a hatbox on Tuesday, September 8th. I welcome international entries!

Good luck!