Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My mother used sneaky, underhanded tactics to teach us how to sew.  She started with embroidery.  "You mean you can make pretty pictures with thread?  WOW!"  (Come to think of it, she used similar tactics to each us to cook!)  Since Easter is Sunday, here's what I'm working on--

The colors are Grace's choosing, and the fabric is a pricey pale pink batiste that I found at rock bottom prices online.  While easier on the budget than some at retail, it didn't cost me much, and will be my last fabric purchase for a while since finances are really shaky right now.  I have to find a way to finance my habit!

Really, the Easter dresses are simple this year.  Because they're batiste, I hacked out a slip pattern to go underneath.  Because semi-sheer needs a slip.  I know they're impossible to buy anymore, and when you do find them, they cost.  But I'm doing a simple a-line white cotton batiste slip with adjustable straps. No lace, to avoid the "itchies", no fancy work.  Just utility.... that can go under most of their dresses. 

We're going ahead with the usual Easter plans--a big dinner, Easter baskets, and an Easter egg hunt for the kids.  It's mostly so we can spend time together as a family.  We've always been close, and hard times have a tendency to draw us together.  We've, unfortunately, had plenty of those, though not as bad as this one.  And due to preplanning, I have everything we need for it in the house.

The pattern for this came from Simplicity 2461. 

The pinafore, or "apron" as Grace would say, has been changed into a slip with a pattern hack.  I like that it comes in both 4, which Gracie needs, and 1, which Nikki is on her way into growing into.  I'm changing the sleeves to banded, because Grace complains that elastic sleeves pinch. 

The embroidery is from another pattern, that I purchased to make fancyish rompers for Alex to wear to church.  The bunnies were the girl view, and I just borrowed the embroidery pattern from it.  I kinda like the fact that it's just outline stitched with french knot details.  And yeah, it's by hand.  Supposedly, my 1965 machine will do embroidery, but I've never found the extra hoop or needle plate that will allow it.  And even then, it would require experimentation!  So it's by hand for me.  And luckily, this type of embroidery only takes a couple hours!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A new normal

It's hard.  But life goes on and we have to find a new normal.  The funeral is tomorrow.  And since Easter is next Sunday, I have to start the girls' Easter dresses.  Financially, well, I promised Mom that I wouldn't stop sewing, but it'll be hard because we only have 1/2 of the income we had before.  Momma said that if you have a gift, you need to use it.  And she thought that sewing was mine and made me promise.  So for a while, at least, it will  have to slow down.  I'll have to use more stash and less going off and buying for projects that never happen.  (Which is where the stash/hoard came from to start with!)  I also understand now why she spent so much time worrying... because that's my job now.  I have a 90 year old grandmother I'm now responsible for.  And my two older siblings are autistic, the one just younger than me has mental health issues, and I have to take care of them all... and the kids, too, if nothing changes with Jared and Joanna.  And with my own disabilities, it's a daunting task.  But we'll manage. Because it's worth having.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More vintage ugly

We're playing a waiting game with Momma right now.  I can't sew.  I can't settle to much of anything.  I've been praying nonstop for 24 hours because what we need now is a miracle because she's gone from bad to worse and the doctors don't think she'll make it through the night.  And it's not the cancer that's killing her.  So this is my distraction.  I need it right now, and I hunted out the patterns soon after the first batch.

A few years ago, Gertie had a vintage ugly contest that I don't think anyone ever won.  And it it, she cited a pattern that I couldn't help remembering--Apron Chaps.  So does anyone need a pair of eyelet, lace-edged chaps to protect your totally 70s looks?

What about a flower dress complete with petals and petal hats?  (And yes, I realize that this one is not irredeemable!)  Or is it not groovy enough for you?  (60s!)

How about a round, toddler-yoke dress or tunic from I believe the 80s?

Or a mumu to go over your long-sleeved blouses and pants?  It's not labeled as a maternity pattern, but I swear that this 70s pattern should be!

I have this pattern somewhere.  McCalls 2386.  Fifties, I think.  Does your toddler need jodhpurs? 

Or your baby girl need an appliqued smock that doubles as a dress?  (I have this one in two sizes)

Sorry I didn't rotate this one.  It's fifties Advance.... and the dress doesn't fasten in the back.  While I've had discussions with my sisters on the joys of ruffle butt panties when you're little, I don't think I'd ever make a dress on purpose to show them off...

How about dress your baby like Barbie, complete with daisy duke length circle skirt and belly shirt?  (late 80s-early90s)

I don't know what it is about this 80s knit pattern that makes me go ick.  Really, I don't.  Other than the fact that it's some of the worst casual clothes of my childhood on one envelope...

This 90s McCalls pattern reminds me of a clown suit.  And while I don't have this particular one, I have at least five similar ones in my four boxes of patterns I'm going to get rid of.

And speaking of clowns, doesn't that collar scream that it belongs on a clown suit?

And I swear that the little girl on the right of this Butterick pattern is trying not to complain about the giant collar and bow her mother stuck her with. (90s, I think)

And speaking of giant sized collars, what was it with sailor collars down to your navel that pattern companies loved in the 90s?

And one more awful sailor--the little girl in the picturefrom this seventies pattern (not the illustrated one!) is obviously complaining about the fact that they put her in something that was meant for a boy, while her brother next to her wonders why he got the shortie one.

And this little boy in this 80s Simplicity is turning bright red from the embarrassment of being forced to wear what are obviously girl overalls!

I admit it.  I have something of an obsession with this 40s pattern.  I don't have it, but I'd like to.  It cracks me up, though, that both the little boy baby and the little boy toddler have flower and vine embroidered jammies.

Does this make my butt look big?

(And I've made every single view of this pattern.  Every.  Single.  View.)

Did you know that knitting patterns came in ugly, too?  What is it about underwear patterns that they're always awkward and ugly? (20s, BTW)

And now we get into the category of 50s random animal appliques.  Bunny knee patches anyone?

Or how about elephant embroidery ones or teddy bear bows? Don't forget the Tyrolean strap on the back of the overalls.

How about a bib or three from a mail order pattern that tie completely around the body?

Or a Mail Order pattern apron that is a skirted kitty?

Lamb appliqued overall shorts with bulls eyes on the hips!

How about the aforementioned decapitated animal head pockets?

And one last decapitated head for good measure--McCalls this time instead of mail order. 

Thanks Simple Simon, for being my distraction tonight as I wait for news and pray that it's good.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ugly vintage

I love vintage patterns.  I tend not to go before the 30s, and my favorite eras are mid thirties to fifties with a splash of 70s and 80s thrown in for good measure.  I've even been known to renovate 90s patterns to get what I want.  But the Ugly Pattern Party over on Simple Simon got me thinking.  I've got some winners in my collection--and probably more in the stack of four boxes of patterns I want to get rid of.  (They were mostly donated, I swear!  The ones that weren't came with ones I wanted in large job lots.)  I tend to divide patterns into categories--salvageable, 'what were they thinking?', and "They had to be smoking something!"--which has a subsection of creepy kids patterns.  And they're spread out in all eras, too.  Let's start with  a plain ugly one!
I usually love sailor dresses and outfits, but not this one. I mean, drop waists are coming back.  Maybe it's the gathers at the waist of the pants.  Maybe it's the balloon-like quality of said pants.  Or perhaps it's the oversized collar and complete shapelessness of the entire thing.  Sure it's from 1993, but that doesn't mean it's irredeemable... usually.  Now, I don't have this one--it's just one I keep running into trawling for vintage patterns.

Next on the list is a "what were they thinking" pattern! Don't get me wrong, I have a soft spot for McCalls Enchanted Forest/Little Darlings line from the late 70s-early 80s. Some are costumey, some are still attractive, and some, well... somebody got into the crack.  Apparently, McCalls bought out an indy company, because it's fairly easy to find older versions printed on thicker paper in ziplock bags as well.   Some of the more crack patterns happened after McCalls started making them, though, this isn't one of them.  A lacy peignoir for a toddler?  Really?  Okay, so it's actually kinda pretty.  But why in hell would you make something like that for a four-year-old?  And we hear complaints now about sexualizing kids!  And yeah, I have about three copies of this one in my "I-want-to-sell-it" pile.

And while we're on the subject of Enchanted Forest/Little Darlings patterns, here's a crack pattern--

Okay, the view on the right is redeemable.  But the giant flower?!  It's McCalls, so it's early 80s, and I suppose they were trying for whimsy, but it just gives me the impression that they were obviously doing crack when they designed it!  This is one I don't have and definitely don't want!  And luckily, Gracie hasn't seen this one.  You'll see why later.

Since the last one was partially redeemable, though crack ridden, let's move backwards to 1968.  Simplicity 8669.  I've actually made this one.  Honestly, when I came across it, I thought that they'd drawn it wrong.  I mean, why would they put the dresses on backwards?  So I changed the back to the front and turned out something cute

And onto another redeemable pattern. Sure, it's ugly, but IIRC, there was a fairly big western trend in 1987.  And back then, I would've killed for that red plaid skirt.  (Hey, I was nine!)  Nowadays, though, the pants and jean jacket aren't bad, though the rest can go back to fashion obscurity where it came from.  This one just struck me as ugly in my weekly search through the new offerings on ebay.

I actually own this one in multiple sizes.  The sundress is why I kept it because the heart-shaped bib combined with a bubble romper is a "What were they thinking?" pattern in my book.  Butterick 4243 is from the 70s.  I just don't get the mob cap or the rompers!  The too-short sundress doesn't phase me, because vintage is usually too short!

Back in the early 90s, my sister had a blue jumpsuit.  She loved it, despite the difficulties she had going to the bathroom.  So I sorta get jumpsuits.... but not this one!    Simplicity 7227 is from 1975.  Honestly?  It looks like something my mechanic would wear in uglier fabrics.

As a transition into what I call creepy patterns (that Gracie has been begging me to make for her) let's look at a 1952 mail order pattern.  Now this one isn't as creepy as some, but I'm still sooo not into it.  Grace loves this, but I'd have to spent a long time doing embroidery for a sundress that I don't like.  She thinks it's cute and I'm almost in agreement... it's the following ones that she's in love with and I refuse to touch with a ten foot pole!

This is what I've labeled as creepy.  They're both mail order patterns from 1948, and there's a huge selection of these.  Most of what I've seen are copies of these and, well...

Yes.  Decapitated animal head clothing.

I've found dresses, rompers, overalls, bibs... in sizes up to 8.  Would your eight-year-old want one of these?

Or this?

I get that in post WWII years, perhaps people were looking for whimsy for their kids, but this isn't whimsy... it's creepy!  Gracie would like nothing more than for me to buy these creepy patterns and make her some for summer, but hell will freeze over first!

I have been sewing, it's just that with Mom's illness and trying to keep the family going, blogging has slipped by the wayside.  Yes, it's cancer, and she started chemo this week.  Unfortunately, she's had a bad reaction and had to be hospitalized for dehydration because she couldn't stop throwing up.  Considering all the people and their various problems that I have to take care of, sewing is keeping me sane.  I'll try and post soon about the lovely boy sewing I've been doing for Alex!