Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas


Wishing you a very merry and beautiful Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fortunate Finds: the Original Fashion Plates by Tomy

EDIT, 2015: Kahoots Toyz has produced a new version of the classic Fashion Plates Designer Set! And the original plates also work with the new version. Hooray!

With Christmas right around the corner I thought it would be fun to take a walk down Vintage Toy Memory Lane:  do you remember Fashion Plates?  


Fashion Plates was first introduced by Tomy Corp. in 1978 as "the kit that helps young designers, 6 and up, create fashions.  Hundreds, thousands, even millions of fashionable combinations can be created."  More Fashion Plates was a later expansion pack of 15 extra plates that added more model, clothing, and texture design options.

This toy kept me occupied for hours with no batteries required!  Basically, you selected two or three model and outfit plates and then placed a blank piece of paper over the plates.  Next, you rubbed the "special crayon" over the plates to produce an image:


Here are some possible combinations from the base kit and the expansion plate set:
You may remember that the back of most of the plates had texture options.  After transferring the design with charcoal you placed these plates back underneath the picture and transferred one or more textures with a colored pencil.  Texture options included stripes, plaids, flowers, stars, and more:

I picked up both of these sets at Goodwill a few years ago and it was truly a fortunate find as both sets are complete and in very good condition.  As you may know, this toy is highly collectible right now and at the time of this writing the Fashion Plates base set can easily fetch $100-150 at auction.

Today there are similar fashion plate type of toys such as this one by Melissa and Doug or a Barbie-themed version by Mattel.  The Project Runway Travel Fashion Design Light Box has a similar concept but involves more actual drawing.

The set I bought had a few designs left inside from the previous owner, a Miss Kristin Meier, and they really took me back to my childhood!  If you were anything like me you spent hours creating new outfits and coloring the designs.  But having been a perfectionist from my earliest days I was often a little frustrated that I would end up with extra black smudges around my picture after rubbing it over the plates.

The picture below belongs to Kristin, Fashion Plates Designer Extraordinaire, who apparently mastered the transfer technique at a very young age -- no extra charcoal smudges plus a lovely coloring job inside of the lines:

I wonder if she went into fashion design? 

Naturally I colored my own, for old times' sake:

I still need more practice with the charcoal.  But I had a good time anyway!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Singer Memo-Matic Punch Card Knitting Machine

Couldn't help but share this blast from the past for gift ideas from the early 1980s:

From McCall's Needlework and Crafts, December 1984

Monday, December 10, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Prims Gift Slippers

Here's a little vintage inspiration for your holiday gift giving, from McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Fall-Winter 1973-74:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What Would Miss Farrell Wear? The Costumes of Annie

Do you remember Annie, the charming film that was based on the Broadway musical and starred Aileen Quinn? If you've seen the film you will no doubt remember the incomparable Miss Grace Farrell, played by the lovely Ann Reinking:

Although the film was fun and the musical numbers were grand, it was the classic, stylish Depression-era costuming for Miss Farrell that made the deepest impression upon me. I wanted to dress like her when I grew up. And dance with the Asp and Punjab too:

As  I was posting patterns to the shop over the last couple of weeks I often thought of Miss Farrell given the classic, elegant tailoring in these patterns:

Would you agree that these designs would suit Miss Farell well?  Of course she would have this darling jacket and muff made for Annie as well (click on the link to see one of the  McCall's patterns released  in the late 1970s to tie-in with the musical). 

If you haven't seen this lighthearted and delightful film it is very easy to find, and you will probably enjoy Caroll Burnett's performance as Miss Hannigan, along with those by Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters.  The clip below is from my favorite musical number, Let's Go to the Movies:

What do you think of Miss Farrell's style?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: The "New Look of the Afghan"

It's been quite cold and rainy here...this is what I have been wanting to do all day!  The bright color scheme is perfect to bring a splash of color to dreary fall/winter days.

McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Fall-Winter 1972-73

If you missed the last post for The Gentle Art of Stitching book review & giveaway click here!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book Review + Giveaway: The Gentle Art of Stitching by Jane Brocket

The Gentle Art of Stitching: 40 Projects Inspired by Everyday Beauty by Jane Brocket is one of the most elegant and tranquil books about the art of needlework that I have read in a long time. 

Ms. Brocket's goal in writing The Gentle Art of Stitching was to inspire readers to create beautiful projects in a meditative, easygoing, and non-competitive manner.  Given the hurried pace of our lives we artists and crafters are often so pressed for time and so stressed out that we become numb to the actual creative process while we work on our projects.   Sometimes we become so caught up in having a "perfect" project that we find out that we haven't really enjoyed the time we spent creating our project when we have finished.   What could have been a joyful, relaxing pastime was instead another source of stress!

In order to help us focus on "happy, gentle stitching," and perhaps find an antidote to life's stressors in the process, Ms. Brocket selected forty small and simple projects that don't involve elaborate charts, graphs, or special materials to complete.

via Jane Brocket
Most of the projects use traditional needlework techniques such as embroidery, cross-stitch, quilting, and appliqué:

Ms. Brocket also introduces a few techniques that are common in other parts of the world, such as the delightful projects that incorporate sashiko,  a type of traditional Japanese stitching meaning "little stabs":

Ms. Brocket also included two quilt designs inspired by kantha, a traditional form of handwork from rural India and Bangladesh that encompass a wide range of designs that use only the running stitch:

Of course I also particularly liked the chapter about vintage embroidery that includes instructions to make a Vintage Garden Party Quilt with vintage tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and tray covers:

The only potential challenge some readers may encounter in using this book is the very small typeface; some readers may need to magnify the text.

Ms. Brocket also included a long list of resources that focus upon modern, simple, and colorful  needlework designs and features books, magazines, and inspirational websites and blogs.  The author also includes a list of talented and inspirational artists whose work is taking needlework in new directions.  The resources for fabric, yarn, and sewing notions focus mainly upon shops and websites in the UK but may prove useful for online shopping.

via Jane Brocket

The Gentle Art of Stitching was my first introduction to author Jane Brocket, and it made me want to read more of her books (such as her newly released book, Vintage Cakes!).  I think you will also enjoy visiting her blog, Jane Brocket.


Dear readers you will certainly want a your own copy of The Gentle Art of StitchingJust enter to win below.  The winner will be announced on this post on December 8, 2012.  Best of luck!

EDIT 12/13:  As the first giveaway winner did not respond to multiple attempts to contact her I've had to chose a different winner.  Congratulations!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a copy of this book for review but as always, my opinions are my own! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Shades for Evening

The holiday season is upon us!  Time to whip up a little something for those upcoming parties and get-togethers.  Here's a little inspiration entitled Shades for Evening, from McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Fall-Winter 1966/67:

At fall parties, glow in a silvered pink suit, an iced blue long skirt ensemble, or glitter in a sparkle jet dress and twirl at the discotheque in a diaphanous black lace cage! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for stopping by to tell me your thoughts. 
I hope that you have a wonderful day full of good food, good company, and love. 

Actress Barbara Bates, via Google

P.S.  If you are interested in doing a little holiday shopping
there will be a BIG sale beginning Friday at Serendipity Vintage.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Best Pie Crust and Apple Pie Recipe Ever

I spent the afternoon making pies with my friend Louis, pie-maker extraordinaire, for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  

True confession:  I have always been horrible at making pie crust.  For years I have bought ready-made pie crusts at the grocery store.  Thanks to Louis I can finally make a decent pie crust; the recipe below is fool-proof.

So, if you have been looking for an easy homemade pie crust and / or apple pie recipe for Thanksgiving (or any other time of year) then look no further.  This recipe is courtesy The Kitchn's Best Pie Bakeoff.  It is based on Martha Stewart's apple pie recipe so it may look familiar. 

The original recipe calls for a pastry blender to cut the butter into the crust, but we used a food processor  It's much easier!  We also added a pinch of ginger to the spice mix.  Today we juiced an orange and used a bit of that in place of lemon which also makes for a delicious pie.

The filling is not super-sweet so if you like a very sweet pie adjust the sugar to your taste.  It is absolutely delicious served a-la-mode so do not adjust the sugar if you will serve it with ice cream!

Martha's Apple Pie
Makes 1 double-crust pie

Pie pastry
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water (it is essential to use ice water!)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
8-12 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used Fuji; use the slicer attachment on your food processor to save time)
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for pie top
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (a juice of about 1/2 an medium orange also works; we omitted the zest)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten

1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and use a pastry blender (or a fork, but I find it makes a difference to use the proper tool) your food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.

2. Add ice water slowly, while gently stirring with a spatula just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Be careful not to overwork the dough. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  About 5 tablespoons is all you will need.

3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.

4. Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll out pastry into two 1/8-inch-thick circles to a diameter slightly larger than that of an 11-inch plate. Press one pastry circle into the pie plate.

5. In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, lemon zest and juice, spices, and flour. Toss well. Spoon apples into pie pan. Dot with butter, and cover with remaining pastry circle. Trim edges of crust to make neat circle, with top slightly larger than bottom. Seal by gently folding top layer around the edge of the bottom shell and pinching edges with fingers and thumb to make a pretty fluted edge. Cut several steam vents across top. Brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar.

6. Bake until crust is brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

Feel free to share a link to your favorite pie recipes in the comments.  And if you try this one let me know!

And don't worry, Madison Avenue Monday will return next week (I promise!).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fortunate Finds: Disney Cinderella Apron Pattern by J.C. Penney

I stumbled over this gem of a pattern at an estate sale:

This is a giveaway promotional pattern from J.C. Penney department stores that tied in with the 1950 release of Walt Disney's Cinderella film. It's in decent condition considering it's age, even though it is foxed and wrinkled.  I'm happy to say it is unused.
I am dating it to precisely 1950 because the Advance dress pattern mentioned at the bottom of this page (Advance 5406) dates to the 1940s, and Cinderella was first released in 1950:

 The caption above reads: "Trust a Parisian to know style!  Both Jaq (at right), who's French, and Gus-Gus (left), who's strictly Disneyland, appreciate the chic of those Sorority rayon prints at a thrift 98 cents a yard.  The dress Cinderella's wearing with her dress-up apron here is Advance Pattern 5406."

Of course this giveaway pattern was intended to promote Penney's fabric department. I wish I could buy rayon prints for $.69 a yard today:

It is magical, as our Fairy Godmother tells us below!  The apron can tie and the back, front or side, and as you can see the fabric choices are limitless and it can be trimmed  in various ways.  I think I will have to sew this one for myself; it's just too cute!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Electoral Edition

Enjoy a few vintage voting images as we near Election Day here in the US!

via TresSugar

via TresSugar

Jane Russell
via Professionality

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vintage Halloween, California Style

Here in the land of sun and starlets Halloween can be considered a major holiday.  When I was a kid we would dress up, go to school, and parade our costumes from classroom-to-classroom first thing in the morning. Of course we would have a Halloween party with lots of sugary treats in the afternoon.

I found these images of children playing in the schoolyard somewhere in California, circa 1953.  The costumes are just adorable:

via Flickr

Civic parades and beauty contests have also been a traditional part of local Halloween celebrations. These attractive ladies were probably wannabe Hollywood starlets and were contestants in the 1947 Halloween Slick Chick beauty contest in Anaheim, California:

via UCLA

And in the grand tradition of holiday parades, the city of Anaheim, California has held a Halloween parade every year since 1924.  Enjoy the montage of vintage images in this short two minute video:

Have a happy and fun Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday, Halloween Edition: The Wrinkle Is Dead

This oldie-but-goodie Madison Avenue Monday returns to haunt us this year.  Every time I see this ad for Dan River fabrics I can't help but laugh.  Scary!

From McCall's Patterns Fashions, circa the mid-1960s

Monday, October 22, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Who's Home Knitting?

Me!  We'll, actually I'm crocheting.   And wishing for a pair of suede boots like those in this ad.

Who's Home Knitting? ad for American Thread via Serendipity Handmade blog.
Via Good Housekeeping Needlecraft, Summer 1972

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Halloween Goodies, 1940s Style

At this time of year I like to search through my vintage cookbooks and magazines for long-lost recipes, craft, and decorative holiday ideas. Sometimes I enjoy reproducing the recipes or crafts, and sometimes it is just interesting to look at these things through the lens of history.

I found two charming ads in my October 1941 issue of Woman's Day to share with you.  At this point World War II had begun, but the U.S. would not officially enter until December of the same year.  Rationing did not begin until Spring 1942, so sugar, meat, and fat were still readily available in the fall of 1941.

This first ad is for the A & P grocery chain, and features a macaroni recipe that uses evaporated milk but still contains two types of meat, the choice of chicken or veal and ham.   I think it would be very interesting to see how an ad for the same macaroni might change six months later.

I still haven't found a gingerbread recipe that I really like, so I just might try the one written for the Good Little Goblins in this ad:

Halloween Gingerbread

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. ginger
1 tsp. cinammon
1 1/2 tsps. baking soda
1 cup evaporated milk soured with 1 TBS. vinegar

Cream shortening and sugar; beat in eggs one at a time; add molasses.  Sift flour with spieces, baking soda, and slat.  Add to molasses mixture alternately with soured evaporated milk.  Pour into greased shallow baking pan and bake 30 minutes in a moderate oven, 350 degrees F.  Cool and top with Orange Icing.  8 servings. (The Orange Icing recipe is not included here.  Perhaps it was on the evaporated milk can?)

I found this second A & P ad for Jane Parker donuts to be just too cute. I love those individual leaf-shaped serving trays and I wish that they were mine.  If I saw those at a thrift store or estate sale I'd snap them up.   But I have to say that those ghostly little marshmallow faces with cloves for eyes and maraschino cherry mouths just adorable?

What are you planning for Halloween?  Do you have a recipe or a decorating tip to share?  Leave a comment!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Color-Blocking

If you've read this blog for a while you know that color-blocking is one of my favorite trends.  I found this fashion spread of knitwear sheaths designed by Sophie Dess in the Spring-Summer 1972 issue of McCall's Needlework & Crafts.  I think that they can definitely stand alongside some of the color-blocked looks for Fall 2012.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Laura Bennett's Handmade Chic: Book Review + Giveaway

Do you remember Laura Bennett, the fashionable, gorgeous, and witty redhead (and mother of six boys!) from Season Three of Project Runway? She was also on  Project Runway this year, Season 10, Episode Three for the Lexus Team Challenge .   

She was actually my favorite designer in Season Three and won second-runner up at the end.  Thus I was really happy to receive her fabulous book,  Handmade Chic:  Fashionable Projects That Look High-End, Not Homespun,  for review.

In my opinion, this book is truly a stand out in the craft book / sewing book genre because every design is chic, upscale, and reflects Laura's innate good taste and creative skill. It contains 35 projects and is divided into four sections, Small Luxuries, Fashionably Organized, Stylish Carryalls, and Evening Extravagances,  and the projects are arranged in skill-building order, from the easiest to the most difficult.

The majority of the projects are fairly straightforward accessories such as bracelets, wallets, electronic device (smart phones, Kindles, etc.) covers, and bags or totes:  

via Project Runway blog

Many of these projects are unisex and can be made for the man in your life as well, and the man's billfold is obviously designed for a man!  I do wish that instructions on embossing the leather projects had been included, as Laura embossed her name on some of the projects (e.g., the business card holder) and this really lent a high-end look to the finished project.

Laura uses leather, feathers, and recycled fur in this book, but if you would prefer not to use animal products you can easily use a quality vinyl or faux fur for the projects in this book.

I do think that Laura outdid herself in the amazing Evening Extravagances section; it has a wide diversity of truly exciting designs, a few of which require little-to-no sewing. Do you remember this gorgeous beaded dress from Laura's New York Fashion Week runway show at the end of Season Three? 

via TLO

Well you can learn how to incorporate that beautiful rhinestone embellishment into your own look!  The Fade-Out Dress project will show you how to create a similar waistline effect as featured on the dress above, and you can also embellish your own high heels with this stunning look:

I highly recommend Laura's truly chic little book!  Just about all of these projects would make personalized and sophisticated Christmas gifts for someone special in your life.

How would you like to win a copy of Handmade Chic Just enter to win below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

I received a copy of this book for review but as always, my opinions are my own!