Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

1928 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Arno; from The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker,
edited by Robert Mankoff, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, NY, 2004, 2006.

Hope this is what you said to yourself as you glanced in the mirror before dashing off to work this morning!  Have a lovely Tuesday...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

PFDS: Pattern Folding Deficiency Syndrome

When my ex-husband and I used to take road trips together, he was always the driver and I was the one with the big map spread out in front of me, making sure we took the proper exits and turns.  I did a pretty good job of navigating, but I remember that he used to get frustrated with me because I could never manage to fold that map back up into a neat little rectangle.

Well, if I thought maps were tricky...I find myself completely helpless when it comes to refolding vintage sewing patterns!  Is it just me?  Am I the only one who suffers from PFDS (Pattern Folding Deficiency Syndrome)?

I have these lovely patterns that I bought over the summer that I planned to photograph and share with you today.  And I figured that while I'm at it, I might as well dive into the task of going through the contents of each envelope to make sure that all the pattern pieces are there and everything's complete.

But then I got stuck on the very first Simplicity pattern I opened up.  I had to unfold this long "neck guide" piece to get a look at what letter it was, and for the life of me I can't get it folded up again! 

It's an uncut piece so I believe this must have been how it was folded at the pattern factory. Who was the cruel person at Simplicity who folded it!  What kind of mad mind devised this crazy folding scheme!

It's 38" long, and simply needed to be folded with five straight-across folds to fit in the 8" envelope.  But no, that would have been waaay too easy...  So there are 9 folds on this darn piece - some forward and some back, and two are diagonal.  And I'm determined to get it folded back to its original condition, but it seems impossible!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I calmed down and managed to refold this tricky piece along with the rest of the pieces.  See what a pretty I job did!

Maybe if I learn to master the art of folding sewing patterns, I can move on to something more creative like origami:

Hippocampus by Roman Diaz

Or origami inspired fashion, like this:

photo courtesy of Stylehive blog

Okay, enough of this nonsense. :-)
Would you like to see the patterns I found this summer? 
I've been taking a little break from selling, but once I get back into the swing of things I'll be posting these for sale/auction on either Etsy or eBay.  And I promise they will be nicely folded!

This first Hollywood pattern featuring Jane Bryan, a fresh-faced Warner Bros. contract player from the late 1930's, is one of my favorites.  What a sweet eight-gored jumper skirt with suspenders! 

These two Simplicity blouse patterns (above and below) likely date from the late 1940's or early 1950's. 

If you need some assistance with determining the date of your vintage pattern, take a look at this wonderful Cemetarian website.  For each of the major pattern companies, there is a detailed history of how the cover graphics and logos changed over the years.

For example, did you know that McCall patterns didn't add the "apostrophe S" until 1951.  The pretty skirt pattern (above) came out in the first year that they made the change to McCall's.

Here's an early 1940's DuBarry pattern of a classic two-piece dress.  DuBarry suggests these fabrics: pique, gingham, chambray, seersucker, spun rayon and shantung.  Oh, I just love vintage fabric...

Has anyone ever sewn pajamas from a vintage pattern?  This looks like a fun one to try, especially in a cute polka-dot fabric. 

Okay...I just noticed the hankie...  Can you imagine what your husband would say if you climbed into bed with a hankie poking out of your pajama pocket, like in the illustration on the left.  Sexy, huh?  

I'm not much of a seamstress.  Last time I did any serious sewing was over twenty years ago, when I made a tiny gray suit for my son who was the ring bearer in his aunt's wedding. 

I've been trying to get up the courage to give sewing a whirl again - and I thought I might try out the reversible beret in the late 50's/early 60's pattern above.  I figure that if I ruin it, at least I woudn't have spent a lot of money on fabric.

These Simplicity fashions would look great on our favorite Mad Men women, don't you think?  I don't have cable, so I will have to patiently wait until Season 4 is available on Netflix to catch up.  Very frustrating! 

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I love vintage dolls.  So I was excited to find this early 60's "Bridal Gown and Trousseau" Simplicity pattern for Barbie and similar Teen Model Dolls: Babette, Mitzi, Gina, Babs, Kay, Polly Jr., Tina and Tina Marie.  (I must admit, I have never heard of any of these dolls except for Barbie - have you?) 

And here's my favorite pattern find of the summer.  A 1964 McCall's "Instant Wardrobe" for Barbie's Little Sister, Skipper. 

My very first fashion doll was a Skipper doll - a reward from my parents for giving up sucking my thumb.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but apparently I must have been sucking my thumb until I was five years old! 

photo courtesy of Fashion Doll Guide

Here's what she looked like - my 1964 straight-legged, titian-haired Skipper doll. My parents didn't have a lot of money (big family!) and I remember that the red striped swimsuit that she came in was the only piece of clothing that she had for a long while.  I dressed and undressed her in that swimsuit over and over again. 

Hmm...a poor, deprived thumb-sucking child with few toys.  No wonder I developed Pattern Folding Deficiency Syndrome! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What'll I Do?

photo courtesy of Indospectrum

It's 2:30 a.m in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I'm listening to the lovely sound of rain outside my window as I type.  I know I should be sleeping, but I've got a lot on my mind - and I figured that blogging was more productive than tossing and turning. 

A friend of mine, and fellow blogger, wrote a little post a few autumns ago on "My Definition of Fall."  He chose this word:  Pensive.  1 : musingly or dreamily thoughtful  2 : suggestive of sad thoughtfulness.

I know what he means.  There's something about the change of seasons, summer to fall, that always sends me into this dreamy, wistful, nostalgic state.  Does this happen to you too? 

The 1923 Irving Berlin song, "What'll I Do?" captures that summer-to-fall wistfulness perfectly for me.  And this video's gorgeous photographs of 1920's film stars helps satisfy my nostalgic yearnings...

A ballad of love and longing, "What'll I Do?" was a 1924 #1 hit for the Paul Whiteman Band, and there were five other top-12 renditions that same year. Twenty-four years later, the song went to #22 for Nat Cole and #23 for Frank Sinatra.  Some of you might also remember that the song was featured in the 1974 film "The Great Gatsby."  Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) and Daisy Buchanan (Mia Farrow) slow danced to this song in Gatsby's mansion.

Ah, I just noticed that the rain has stopped.  3:10 a.m.  I think I can get some sleep now.   Good Night - and Good Morning to you!  Have a wonderful third day of Fall...

video courtesy of YouTube's CharlotteSavoy.  Film stars in order of appearance: Clara Bow, Esther Ralston, Norma Shearer, Louise Brooks, Dorothy Mackaill, Anita Loos, Elsie Ferguson, Louise Brooks, Anna May Wong, Janet Gaynor, Carole Lombard, Marion Davies, Mary Pickford, June Marlowe, Louise Brooks, Lillian Gish, Blanche Sweet, Mary Miles Minter, Norma Shearer, Louise Brooks

What'll I Do?

Gone is the romance that was so divine.
'Tis broken and cannot be mended.
You must go your way,
And I must go mine.
But now that our love dreams have ended...

What'll I do
When you are far away
And I am blue
What'll I do?

What'll I do?
When I am wond'ring who
Is kissing you
What'll I do?

What'll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to?

When I'm alone
With only dreams of you
That won't come true
What'll I do?

- words and music, Irving Berlin, 1923

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Costume Jewelry Is This Girl's Best Friend

Marilyn Monroe may have needed diamonds to make her happy...

photo courtesy of Top 100 Female Celebrities

But girl-next-door types like me love costume jewelry!

I don't see too much talk about jewelry in the vintage blogs I've been reading, but I want to sing its praises!

There is an endless variety out there...

It can be casual and fun!  like this 1960's jewelry.

Or you can add a touch of glamour with 1950's rhinestones and pearls...

And best of all, it's often very reasonably priced (50 cents - $12) at estate sales.  And that suits me just fine because I'm Ms. Frugal.

As an example, this group of red clip-on and screw-back earrings came in a little bag at an estate sale for $1.50 on half-price day.

I also love costume jewelry's versatility.

Compared to many of my very fashionable blogging friends, I really don't own very many vintage clothes (that fit me).  Plus, I work in a rather conservative environment (fundraising at a college) and have gotten odd looks the few times I've been brave enough to show up at the office in a dress or jacket that was obviously vintage 40's or 50's.

But I can get away with wearing vintage jewelry.  In fact, it's brought me lots of compliments.  It's a great way to spice up ordinary office attire, like this turquoise top and black sweater combo - and give it a bit of a 60's flair.

Most of the jewelry I find is unmarked, but occasionally I stumble across a well-known name. This gorgeous blue set (below) had the Coro tag still attached to the bracelet.

I had to pass up the matching necklace - the most expensive piece of the three ($5.00) - because I didn't have enough cash with me that day.  Drat!

Don't forget to bring a magnifying glass to those Saturday sales!  I almost stepped away from these intriguing lilac and irridescent pearl earrings because they cost more than I usually like to pay (a whopping $4). But my trusty magnifier revealed that they were marked Germany on the back - a sign that they were likely made before 1949 when Germany split into East and West Germany.  I decided the little Germany mark made them well worth the $4 bucks. 

These are unmarked, but very intriguing - don't you think?

And here's a sampling of silver costume jewelry that I've collected in the past few years.  One can never have enough silver!  It goes with almost everything...

My favorite in the group - one that I wear quite often - is the chunky expandable bracelet. It's vintage, but has a contemporary look to it - and is a great accessory for dressing up a pair of jeans when going out on the town.

Most of you probably have pierced ears, and may have been hesitant to wear clip-on earrings.  I was hesitant too.  I remember playing dress-up with my mother's clip-ons as a kid - and my ears got so sore! 

Actually, that still happens to me sometimes when I wear them, and then I'll have to take them off after a few hours.  But it really depends on the earrings.  Some are so comfy I hardly know I'm wearing them.  I find that the screw-back type of earrings (see sample above, in the "reds" photo) are often more comfortable than clip-ons. But screw-backs are a little harder to find because once clip-ons were invented in the 1930's, they rapidly became the earring of choice over the next 20 years for most women. 

In case you were wondering where I keep all this jewelry that I've accumulated...
Well, as with most things in my life - I make do with what I already have.

Most of my vintage necklaces, bracelets & pins are in this old tin Louis Sherry candy box.

And I decided that this antique sewing cabinet that I've got on my dining room buffet would work perfectly to store all my earrings - grouped by color and style in little bags.  (Believe me, I'm not usually this organized .)  

Perhaps the dining room is an odd place to keep jewelry, but it works well for me because I'm usually putting on earrings as I'm racing out the door for work in the mornings - so this is very convenient!

* * * * * * * *
Oh my! - I just noticed that it's 3:30 pm!  Where did the afternoon go?  Sometimes time just speeds by when I'm happily blogging.  I guess that's a good thing.

One final note, and then I'll let you go.  While digging through my jewelry boxes today, I spotted my diamond wedding ring - which I (sadly) took off about 10 years ago, and planned to give to my daughter when she got older.

You know, I kinda liked wearing a diamond ring.  And if a man comes along someday and wants to give me another one...well, let's just say that I'd happily exchange all of my costume jewelry for one pretty little  diamond.  And yes - a small one would suit me just fine.

The song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" famously performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film, "Gentleman Prefer Blondes."  Video courtesy of YouTube's Chiswick2

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"They Kissed While the World Outside the Window Burned With Unearthly Flame"

It's funny how as soon as I publicly admitted that I was recovering from vintage burnout, and that you shouldn't expect any blog posts from me for a while - I found myself full of ideas and eager to post again!  Isn't that the way it always goes...

Anyway, this morning I was in the mood to catch up on my blog reading - but didn't get very far because I got caught up in the Baroness von Vintage's fun contest: write the best caption for a 1930's fashion illustration of imaginary social scenarios - and get $25 off on any item in her Etsy shop.  What a deal! 

I was determined to offer at least one entry in the contest so I opened up my September 1934 and April 1936 Good Housekeeping magazines and started reading some of the short stories inside for inspiration.

I didn't get very far with my reading. Most of the stories were overly dramatic and sappy - as you can see by the titles and captions below.  Of course, that over-the-top 1930's drama is precisely what makes them so charming.  It just takes a bit of getting used to, I guess.

The story illustrations, on the other hand, are delightfully charming in every way.  I've included examples from several illustrators.  My favorite, I think, is McClelland Barclay.  The last three are his. 

Well...I've babbled enough.  I'll just keep my mouth shut, and let you have a peek!  Let me know which illustrations / captions / titles you like best...


The Warming Fire
A Suburban Mother Goose Story
About a Girl who Tried her Best to be Cold
By Margaret E. Sangster
Illustrated by James and Charlotte Billmeyer
Ann asked him: "Why are you so nasty? I haven't done anything
to make you hate me."  "I don't hate you," he said at last.
"It's your background.  It keeps getting between me and you.

Not on Christmas
But It Couldn't Have Been a Sweeter Story If It Had Happened Then
by Elsie Singmaster
Illustrated by John Polgreen
"We'll start at four tomorrow," planned Jim,
resisting an implulse to kiss Hallie -- afraid he
would cry, his heart was so full.

The Doctor
With All his High Hopes Of Curing Others,
He Could Not Mend His Own Hurt Heart
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Illustrated by Pruett Carter
"It can hurt nobody now for us to be honest," said Chris.
"I have always loved you, Beverly. I suppose I always shall." 
She was very quiet.  "No," she said slowly.
"It can hurt nobody now for me to know that."

Men and Angels
A Novel Inspired by Youth's Enchanted Hour
by Fanny Heaslip Lea
Illustrated by Tom Webb
They kissed while the world outside the window burned with unearthly flame,
the earth shook with sound.  Angelica said, "I must be mad..."
"Both mad," said Jarvis.

Seventh Summer
Some People Say, Is A Testing Time For Marriage
by Phyllis Duganne
Illustrated by McClelland Barclay
Anne struggled as Gray's arms closed about her,
jerking her head to try to draw away from the insistence
of his kisses.  Finally she freed one arm and slapped him hard.

Your wife!" cried Nell, springing away from Johnny in
mock terror as Anne arrived.  "Discovered!" he agreed,
and hid his face in his hands.

The Beach
A Short Novel complete in September [1934] Cosmopolitan
by Charles G. Norris
Illustrated by McClelland Barclay
Vacation love is one thing...true love is another...here is the story
of a girl who found the difference -- in time!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Traveling in Time...to the Year 2010

Just in case it wasn't obvious already, I thought you should know:  I am Passionate, with a Capital P, about all things vintage.

courtesy of WeddingClipArt.com

Judging from the blogs I've been reading, I'm guessing that many of you feel the same way. 
Aren't we lucky?

But I'm wondering if any of you can also identify with this problem...

I find myself going through long periods of time where I become so immersed in that long ago world of the 1920's to 1960's...

...that I'm hardly conscious of what's happening in the world around me today -2010.

I'm gloriously happy being in that state for months at a time.

Completely surrounded by my old, musty & worn things, day in and out.

Spending evenings and weekends caught up in antiques: buying, selling, researching, and blogging about them...

And then suddenly... BURN OUT! 

Things that are old and worn lose their charm.  Life feels out of balance.  And I have a longing to be part of the modern world,  but I don't quite know how to pull myself out of the time warp I've been in, and move into the present.

Photo courtesy of Creepy Shack

Well, that's what happened to me about a month ago. Big time vintage burnout. You may have noticed - my blog posts were dwindling, I stopped selling on eBay, and I had to drag myself out of the door to estate sales on Saturdays.

Does this sound familiar to you at all?  Do you go through these cycles too?

Luckily, a few weeks ago my thoroughly modern sisters...

...came to my rescue and took me to...

...for a post-birthday celebration and a huge dose of modern-day commercialism.

After being surrounded by old, chipped, cracked, crazed, torn and worn for months - I was suddenly immersed in shiny, bright and new

I loved it!  It was exactly what the doctor ordered.   I felt like going on a buying spree, but I limited my purchases to a couple pairs of brand new shoes from Payless Shoe Store.  (I'm used to shopping in second-hand stores, so this was a step up. ;-)

These are my favorites.  As you can see, there's nothing vintage about them...

See how they sparkle!  I can't remember the last time that I bought something so shiny...

No way was I going back to the 20's, 30's, 40's...  Not yet.  I needed to get a good dose of the 21st century first.

The first item on the agenda:  Sign up for Facebook.   

courtesy of Ads of the World. Maximidia Seminars - ad agency, Moma - Brazil.

I swore I was never going to do this.  I spend so much of my day on the computer already!  But I'll admit that I'm enjoying it. I've accumulated 30 friends so far (whoopee!)...and I've been writing on Walls...and changing my Status...and all those exciting things that I was missing out on in my pre-Facebook days.  I feel so hip.

Next on the list (to go along with my new shoes and social life) - Start Exercising Again.

As luck would have it, the college where I work just opened up a brand new athletic and recreation complex - with a huge pool, and an aerobics and weight room.   What perfect timing!

And they have all the latest in workout technology...

Sears advertisement - Look magazine, Dec. 2, 1969

So I've been heading to the gym about 3 or 4 times a week these past few weeks, and have lost a pound or two. It's a good start... 

The pendulum swings back and forth.  I'm still enjoying my trip to 2010, and am going to hang around for a while.  But I can tell that I'm getting that vintage itch again.

Today, I had the urge to play dress-up with some pretty vintage costume jewelry.

I'm a little shy about having my picture taken.  But I always appreciate seeing photos of all of you in your blogs, so I figured that fair is fair!

And then after I took these photos, I grabbed a big pile of old magazines and catalogs, and plopped them on my bed...

...and spent the rest of the afternoon paging through magazine after magazine, lost in vintage heaven.

So, no worries - I've still got that passion in me.  And I won't desert you.  Because I've still got plenty of visions of vintage sugar-plums dancing around in my head that I want to share with you.

But I'm also determined to try to lead a more balanced life, and avoid future burnout by keeping at least one foot firmly planted in 2010.  That probably will mean less blogging for a while - but I know you'll understand. 

Thanks for your friendship...enjoy the rest of the weekend!
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