Monday, April 26, 2010

Madison Avenue Monday: Gor-ray Skirts One Better

Cute skirts...odd tagline....

From Vogue Knitting Book, 1957

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Making Time to Sew

I haven't sewn much in the the past few months.  I'm sure that you've noticed that I haven't shared a sewing project in ages. I have my excuses, such as the fact that it is so much faster for me to pick up a ball of yarn and a crochet hook and plop down in front of the television to make a scarf rather than take the time to set up my sewing nook in order to sew. Excuses aside, for the past month I've been just itching to sew, yet I found that I wouldn't let myself take the time because of competing work and household demands.  So I decided to enroll again in sewing class with the same teacher I had last fall.  I have come to realize that if I don't actually schedule time to craft my good intentions get swallowed up and I only dream of all the pretty things I want to make.
Those of you who also follow me on Twitter know that finally took the machine orientation class at my local Bernina shop a few weeks ago (I know, I know, that's the first thing you are supposed to do when you get a new machine).  But "disaster" struck and I had to leave Heidi at the shop for 2 weeks because her LED screen kept fading in and out.  Ironically the problem turned out to be a minor fix. I now understand why the serious sewists have at least one back up machine.  I was so bereft that I actually went to a thrift store and looked at old mechanical machines, but I couldn't find one that I liked.

Well, Heidi is back now and life is good again. I'm still working on some older projects that I will show you when they are finished.  But the big box craft store is having a huge sale right now so I picked up this beauty  that I have had literally my eye on for two months:

Aren't these purses to die for? This will be the very first time that I've ever sewn a Vogue pattern.  When I first learned to sew years ago my instructor told us not to buy Vogue patterns because the construction was too advanced for beginners because the instructions assumed that the sewist was at an intermediate skill level or higher.  I was told to stick to Simplicity patterns.  My current teacher says that Vogue has improved and that the instructions are excellent.  We shall see. I'm going to make this one in a linen blend with her help, and I figure that it's going to be a bit of a challenge for me:

I've decided to spend less time on Vintage Thingies Thursday each month in order to make time in my life to actually craft, and also to make room during the week to post about craft projects. After all, I started this blog to talk about vintage and crafting, especially sewing, crocheting, and paper arts.  So expect VTT about twice a month, Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles about once a month, Madison Avenue Monday every week, and in between all of that there will be talk of crafting, works-in-progress, and hopefully some finished projects.  Sound good?

Dear readers, I've been wondering if you too are so busy that you actually have to schedule time to craft.  So how do you find the time for your crafty pursuits? Feel free to share a tip or two.

Images courtesy of The McCall Pattern Company.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Madison Avenue Monday: Columbia-Minerva Quick Hand-Knits

This is a partial scan of a huge ad on the back of McCall's Needlework and Crafts from Spring-Summer 1960:

"Town and Country casual fashions with great flair -- and of course you can make them yourself in no-time.  That's the joy of the easy-to-follow directions, superb, and very special yarns, by Columbia-Minerva."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Bubble Bath and Hair Bows

For this edition of Vintage Thingies Thursday, I am going to share one of the beauty books in my collection that I mentioned in a earlier post. Bubble Bath and Hair Bows by Mallen DeSantis was one of the beauty books that started my collection. It was published in 1963 and is about the daily grooming habits of a little girl named Jean Ellen. 

I have an ex-library copy as I wasn't so much concerned about the collectible nature of this book as for the content that establishes a child's wardrobe in the early1960s.  You can still find copies of this book as they are not very scarce.

I was a young teen when I found this book, and the only parts of this book that held any fascination for me then and now are in the last two chapters, Wardrobe and Clothes. The last two chapters about Jean Ellen's 1960s little girl wardrobe discuss what she wore, the different outfits she wore on various occasions, and how she took care of her clothes. 

One of my favorite pages is about how Mary Ellen took care of her gloves because my mother told me that her mother taught her to wash out her white gloves after each use.

So here are some of the pages that teach us what many (middle-class) young girls wore in the early 1960s.  Click on the photos to enlarge them so you can read the text:

I hope that you enjoyed this edition of Vintage Thingies Thursday.  Don't forget to visit Coloradolady's blog for more vintage things today!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meet the Artist: Ume Origami

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you a new blog feature and this month's giveaway!  This is the first edition of the new Meet the Artist series here at Serendipity Handmade.

I'd like to introduce you to the work of the immensely talented Christina, of Ume Origami! She and I met on My Craft Corner, where I immediately became a fan of her wonderful creations.  I interviewed Christina, and here's what she had to say about herself and her beautiful art:

Describe yourself in a haiku.

Folding, relaxing

With a few simple creases

Creativity flows

How long have you been folding origami? How did you learn?

I have been folding random things since I was in the second grade.  We started learning how to fold in conjunction with a class project on the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  Once I knew how to make a crane, I went gung-ho and folded hundreds to hang around the school on the anniversary of the atomic bombing.  Another childhood favorite of mine was making origami “fortune tellers” to determine who was going to “date” who -- I was quite the match-maker! 

When I was in college, I joined the “Origami Club” and starting folding more complicated designs and diagramming my own crease patterns.  Recently, I have been trying to stick to easier folding projects because I think origami is a beautiful and fun craft, and I want to be able to include others in the process.  I was an East Asian Studies major once upon a time and now I teach Asian Art History so I have become more interested in the history and development of paper folding.

What other crafts do you enjoy?

I am willing to try almost anything, but my favorite crafts other than origami are amigurumi (a Japanese form of crocheting to make cute little stuffed animals) and jewelry-making.  As a graduate student, money does not come easily so making my own accessories has been one way to update my wardrobe.  And I love all sorts of papercrafts, of course!  If you know any way to use up paper scraps, please let me know... My pile is ever-growing and I do not have the heart to throw them away!

How long has Ume Origami been open?  What made you decide to open an online shop?

I opened Ume Origami on September 3, 2009.  It is a relatively new venture for me and this is the first time I have ever tried to sell my work online.  I was part of a wonderful program in Japan the preceding summer called Hiroshima and Peace where I did coursework on the atomic bombings.  I met a lot of wonderful people through the program and I had the great opportunity to be in the city for the anniversary of the bombing.  Seeing all of the paper cranes around the Memorial Park was truly a sight to behold and I decided to start folding cranes in my spare time to eventually send to Hiroshima on the next anniversary.

When some friends were visiting, I tossed around the idea of opening my own origami shop online.  Everyone was very supportive, and a few weeks later I bit the bullet and registered for an Etsy account.  Thus Ume Origami was born!  I chose the name Ume for my work for sentimental reasons.  Ume means plum blossom in Japanese.  When I was living in Japan in 2005-06, my friend and I used to travel around and take beautiful floral photographs from various parts of Japan.  My favorite flower was the plum blossom and so I chose to go with Ume (pronounced oo-meh) as my online tag.  My shop features origami jewelry, and lots of items related to my new favorite thing: chiyogami paper dolls.

Where can we find you online?

The fastest way to find me is through my blog which is my “main hub” so to speak:  From there, you can find my Etsy shop ( and my work on Zibbet (  If you Twitter, you can find me at umeorigami ( and I also have a FaceBook page (  I am always looking forward to making new friends though social networking so be sure to say "hi" and tell me how you found me!
* * *
Christina has very generously offered the beautiful origami art work pictured in this post as a gift to one Serendipity Handmade reader:

Please thank her by visiting her Etsy or Zibbet shop and leaving a comment here about your favorite item -- and you'll enter the contest at the same time! One comment per person, please.  This giveaway ends on April 30th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The winner will be drawn by random number at and the winner will be announced on May 1st!  Be sure to leave your email address, website link, or profile link as part of your comment so I can easily contact you. UPDATE:  This giveaway is open worldwide.  International entries welcome!

I hope that you enjoyed this first edition of the Meet the Artist series! Madison Avenue Monday will return next week. Best of luck to you all in the giveaway!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tommorrow's Vintage Collectibles: Project Runway Barbie & Other Limited Edition Barbies

Let's talk about Barbie dolls for today's edition of Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles, beginning with my My Scene Project Runway Barbie:

Many of you may remember that Nick Verreos won the "All Dolled Up" challenge in Project Runway Season 2. Tarah (the model) and Nick's winning design were made into a My Scene Barbie doll.  I immediately bought one because it combines two of my interests, doll collecting and Project Runway, and also because I knew it would immediately become a collector's item.

I also really liked Nick's designs, and though this one isn't my favorite, it definitely works as a design for Barbie. I wish that the doll was a little more true-to-life, as I think that Mattel didn't accurately capture Tarah's skin color, but then again neither is Tarah's head that large.  (Frankly, I like the classic Barbie look better than the My Scene dolls).  Anyway, I can see kids wanting to pick this one up off of the shelf at the toy store...although it was never on the toy store shelf.

A related doll option is the Heidi Klum Barbie, although that one is not limited edition.  By the way, you might also be interested in collecting the Project Runway pattern line by Simplicity.  You may be surprised to know that I have not acquired any of them yet.  Frankly, I don't find the designs interesting or fashion forward.  Do you like them?

Back to's fairly easy to decide which Barbie dolls are going to be highly collectible in the future.  For example, a limited edition tie-in to an incredibly popular television show...

...will be very collectible. Yes, Mad Men. You may have already heard that Mattel will make 7,000-10,000 of each doll and they will be available in July 2010. (Read more about it at the New York Times.)  Raise your hand if you want the Joan doll!  Joan will sell out first, mark my words.  I want all of them, but at $75 a doll, I may pass on all of them. I think that it's cool that Mattel gave Joan and Betty that vintage 1959 Barbie look.  By the way, if you plan to buy Madmen Season 3 there will be a sketch of one of the dolls in each DVD.

Another set you might consider are the Twilight Edward and Bella dolls that you can purchase separately or together as a bundle:

These were quite popular around the holidays last year, and one of the places that you can purchase them is at Wal Mart.   Although the dolls are labeled "collector" these are not limited edition. You can be fairly certain that anything sold in the massive numbers required to be on the shelf at Wal Mart is not going to go up in value for long time. The question to ask is, how long will it take for them to become scarce?  Many, many years.

Also remember that the most highly valued dolls have never been removed from the box and played with or displayed.  In other words, they are pristine and in mint condition.

I hope that you enjoyed this edition of Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles.  Be sure to leave a comment!

 Mad Men doll image courtesy of the New York Times; Edward and Bella dolls courtesy of

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Advance SALE notice: Spring Clearance Sale Starts Saturday

Hello everyone!  Because you are my lovely blog followers you are getting advance notice about my Spring Clearance Sale in the Etsy shop  that will start on Saturday.  I'm offering discounts in every category, and those will be announced on Saturday.  As the main purpose for this sale is to clear the vintage sewing patterns out of the Etsy shop (because all patterns will now be posted to the Web shop at,  enjoy 30% off all of the vintage patterns in the shop, including these little gems:

This is my biggest discount on vintage sewing patterns ever!  Of course, it can't be combined with any other discounts. Be certain to mention that you are blog follower to receive the discount prior to Saturday.  Have fun!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Madison Avenue Monday

McCall's Needlework, 1953

Simplicity Sewing Book, 1963

Apparently people had longer attention spans in 1953 and 1963, at least, attention spans long enough to read the dense writing in these ads. The scans could be a little better, but these are the best I could do with my home scanner.

I chose these ads because Heidi is in the shop.  Apparently the machine tech is in some sort of training this week and she won't be looked at until Friday at the earliest.  Sewing sure is "pfun" when you actually have a machine. (sigh) I think I'll work on my hand sewing this week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter and Spring Holidays

This is just a little post to wish happy spring holidays to all of you! I celebrate Easter, and in the midst of preparations haven't had time to do a Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles post. Expect that post next week.

And I thought I would also let you know that Vic of Jane Austen's World contacted me and posted my review of Jane Austen's Sewing Box to her blog!  Of course, her site is all about Jane Austen. I am so flattered!  The site is a very comprehensive and well-organized collection of links to Jane Austen resources around the Web.  If you are a fan of Austen's works and/or the Regency, I encourage you to check it out!

 Victorian image from Full-Color Victorian Vignettes and Illustrations for Artists and Craftsmen published by Dover Publications.