Saturday, March 31, 2012

Out Thrifting

I finally let myself go thrifting over the last couple of days...and hence I've had no time to blog!  But I made some really finds that I will share with you soon.

See you back here on Madison Avenue Monday!  (P.S.  So happy that the new season of Mad Men has begun.  Are you?)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Draw On the Boyes

This is my absolute favorite ad featuring hot pants to date....  Though I don't think  that cowboys really have anything to do with knitting needles.

Hot Pants, Draw on the Boyes, Madison Avenue Monday, Serendipity Handmade
From McCall's Needlework and Crafts, 1972-1973

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Couple of Finished Sewing Projects + One In the Works

I just finished another apron as a birthday present for a friend.  I used the mid-century modern inspired "Clean Plates" in the Appliance line by Lizzy Dish for Andover Fabrics:

I used the reversible apron pattern in Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter.  I made one of these a couple of years ago and I remembered how figure-flattering the design is and how nice it is to have an apron that is reversible. 

And finally(!)...last week I finally finished McCall's M5764, the capelet:

McCall's M5764 - Capelet - Serendiptiy Handmade

Just in time for Spring, right?!  Ha ha ha.  Perhaps it will rain again this weekend and I can pretend the seasons haven't changed.

I am really disappointed that I couldn't finish it in time to wear it this past winter season. I only get tiny amount of time from my instructor each week during sewing class as there are so many students, so if I'm stuck on a step I generally have to wait until the next week to get more help. 

One of the reasons it took so long is that I decided to make a lining for this garment.  The fabric is a bit formal to be left unfinished, and because I didn't serge the edges the inside looked a mess:

Before lining

Ambiance Bemberg lining

I thought it looked terrible (the fabric really frays easily), so the lining was necessary.  My instructor had to guide me every step of the way because the pattern doesn't call for a lining.   I used Ambiance Bemberg rayon lining in Blackberry because I hate acetate.  It's hard to see in a photo but it really picks up the lavender flecks in the tweed.

Can you believe that the lining cost more than the actual tweed?!  If you recall I bought this cotton tweed from FIDM's Scholarship Store and it was only $2 a yard -- the lining was $9.99 a yard before the coupon discount at the big-box fabric store!  I think it will be worth it though.

In other news, last week I had the opportunity to visit a local fabric manufacturer, Prima-tex, with my sewing class.  I wish I could have taken more photos!  They are a major fabric manufacturer and will make fabric for just about anyone.  I've never been inside a fabric plant before so it was quite educational.

Making burnout fabric

For example, Prima-tex does the screenprinting for David & Goliath tees and also make fabric for such major lines as Juicy Couture, but they often produce small runs of fabric for independent designers and small boutiques (at a FRACTION of the price it would take to produce a similar run on Spoonflower).

Have you even wondered why screenprinted products are so expensive?  I now know why.  It takes a lot of time and physical effort by actual people (not just computers) to set up the screenprinting process on a machine in order to produce a quality tee, including time to make the stencils that are used in the printing process. 

Click here if you want to see the David & Goliath design I saw being printed.  Each color on the tee gets a separate stencil.  If you have four colors in a design, that's four separate stencils for four separate applications of fabric paint.  It takes some time. I then watched some workers meticulously test the placement of the stencils to be sure that the fabric paint would print within the lines of the design and then test that the paint dried on the fabric correctly. 

Happily, we were given some free remnants at the end of our tour.  I love this Navajo-inspired print in this bright colorway even though it's a polyester knit I have about 1 yard of it so it's not much to work with: 

This lightweight turquoise, green, and lavender cotton gauze was screaming "do something retro with me!" and it turned out that I have almost 7 yards, so I decided to make this 1970s-era muu-muu from Pauloa Patterns 901A because I love the flowing angel-back on this dress.  Can you believe that the dress calls for 5 1/4 yards of fabric? 

I chose this easy pattern because I feel like I need more actual sewing time outside of class, and I'm not quite ready to face a sewing challenge on my own yet.  Maybe I'm just too much of a perfectionist.

Dear readers, any thoughts on what to make with the Navajo-print knit fabric?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Hate to Housekeep Part Three: Chores You Don't Have to Do

This is one of my favorite chapters in all of Peg Bracken's little book, as she explains that there are many household chores that you really don't have to do, or chores that you don't have to do as often as the "experts" say you must. As she says, eventually these things will take care of themselves in one way or another.

So here's a few handy tips direct from Peg about what not to do in housekeeping:
  • Don't wax your floors. Water splatters make dull spots on wax and they show up more.
  • Don't iron pajamas, tea towels, or pillowcases. Just fold them neatly.  (Note from Collette:  who does this anyway?!?!)
  • Don't scrub dirty cuffs and collars. Wet them, then dip them in your powdered detergent so they resemble a little child's sandy feet at the seashore, then throw them into the washer.
  • Don't darn socks. Rub the sock heels with paraffin or soap after every three or four washings to preserve the heels. Otherwise, the lumps may give them blisters, and you'll spend on Band-aids what you saved on socks!
  • Don't clean darkened aluminum pans you've cooked eggs in. You can do it, by putting a quart of water in the pan and adding two teaspoons of cream of tartar, then boiling it for a while. But it will swiftly darken the next time you cook an egg. Just keep a pan for egg cooking purposed discreetly in the cupboard.
  • Don't polish furniture. Just give it a good coat of carnauba wax once a year and dust it occasionally thereafter, rubbing harder once in a while if there's a fingerprint. Next year, at the same time, wash off the old wax with soap and warm water and put fresh wax on.

Is there a household chore that you simply cannot stand? Peg has some advice for you:

"If there's a household job you particularly and truly loathe, don't believe the sunshine sisters who tell you you'll learn to love it if you do it their way.

I've read articles, for instance, on how to make ironing fun. You save it all up for the afternoon, they say, and you put on a Fresh House Dress. Then you open a window to catch the cool breeze, and you tune in the radio to your favorite program, and you sit on a stool behind your ironing board, and then you iron, pausing once in a while to crow with delight as you see the freshly ironed duds pile up.

But this is a lot of clam juice. You are still ironing; and if ironing makes you come all over introspective, you'd just better send your washing to the laundry. You can charge it off to Mental Health."

Until next time....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shabby Apple Mad Hatter Dress Giveaway Winner!

We have a lucky winner of a dress from Shabby Apple's Mad Hatter collection!

Congratulations to Allison G., commenter #94!

And thanks so much to Shabby Apple for providing such a fabulous prize for Serendipity Handmade readers!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Fashion Frost for Hand Knit Elegance

Love the orange sweater dress...but the belt on the other dress? Not so much.

From Vogue Knitting, 1965

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Quickie post:  in sewing class today a collector shared a few pieces from his Pucci collection. Sorry for the low-quality shots (I took them with my phone) and the classroom background, but I just had to share these with you. Years are unknown, but more than likely date from the late 1960s to sometime in the 1970s.

I would love to have the sandals or the rain boots (so cute!).  I particularly love how fresh and modern the cowl neck dress looks with its muted palette of gray, gray-blue, brown, yellow, and chartreuse against the black,white, and yellow geometric  pattern at the hem.

Did you know that Pucci designed sewing patterns for Spadea, McCalls, and Vogue?  Check them out at the vintage pattern wiki.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Madison Avenue Monday: Reynolds Yarns

These handmade ribbon yarn knitted / crocheted outfits are so stunning and never cease to amaze me....

From Vogue Knitting, Spring-Summer 1965

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Hate to Housekeep: a Few Housekeeping ABCs

If you like housekeeping, this post is NOT for you.

To continue our series for those who have better things to do than clean house,  I'd like to share a few of the ABCs of mid-20th century housekeeping according to our dear Peg Bracken.  This excerpt is from the "Bride's Own ABCs" chapter in The I Hate to Housekeep Book.   My particular favorite is Instant Housekeeping, which I plan to try sometime.  Unfortunately, my husband reads this blog so I'll have to wait a while until he's forgotten this post.

A is for Alphabet

"The alphabet is a handy thing to have around the house.  For instance, you can organize your canned goods with it, Applesauce to Zucchini.  Also whatever is in the medicine cabinet, Aspirin to Zinc ointment.  Also your herbs and spices, Allspice to Thyme."

E is for Equipment

"Once you've acquired the basic biggish things for cleaning, washing, and cooking, proceed as porcupines are said to make love:  quite carefully.  Borrow the gadget first, if you can.  Swap something for a week, in return for your sister-in-law's deep-fat fryer, to find out if you'd really use it if you had one.

Think of the attachments attachable to any self-respecting modern vacuum cleaner!  At least six...all of which you are privileged to use before you drag out the wax applicator and the floor polisher.

But Great-Grandma moved gently behind her broom for a while, then laid the dust with the polish-soaked dustcloth she fished out of her Mason jar, and had time to sit down to read Love or Lechery:  The Story of a Good Girl's Temptation, and a rattling good story it was, too."

I is for Instant Housekeeping

"This is for those occasions when you're going to be out of the house all day, but you don't want the house to look like it when your husband gets home.

Therefore, the minute he leaves in the morning, you steam into your Instant Housekeeping, which is usually housekeeping backward.
For instance, your own crash-plan might be:

1.  Set the table for dinner
2.  Build a modest pitcher of Martinis and set in the refrigerator
3.  Lay a fire
4.  Throw out the dead flowers
5.  Shut all the closet doors and cupboard drawers
6.  Do the breakfast dishes
7.  Make the bed

Then you can sweep, dust, and all that sort of thing, if there's still time.  But remember, when life is rich and full, and the chips are you know where, do last things first."

P is for Plastic Bags

"You will thank yourself for buying only bread that comes in reusable plastic bags and keeping all the bags.  You can use these bags in 500 different ways.  For instance:

1. Put one on each foot to protect good shoes if you must cook when you're dressed up
2. Use them in your dresser drawers as
  • lingerie cases
  • glove cases
  • hosiery cases
  • handkerchief cases
3. Freeze dampened clothes in them, when you get tired of ironing before you've finished
4. Use them as shoe covers when you travel
5. Put wet bathing suits and caps in them
6. Pack food in them for picnics
7. Slide them over ice-cream cartons to catch drips
8. Put cookies or leftover muffins in them to freeze 489 other purposes there isn't room to list here."

Z is for Zipper

"You aren't so apt to have trouble with them if you make sure they're zippered shut when you throw the clothes into the washer."

I hope that all of you reluctant housekeepers enjoyed this set of tips.  Until next time....