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!