Saturday, October 22, 2011


I found these iron-on transfers at an estate sale last week and bought them purely because they feature magazines that I love.  It's getting harder and harder to find good uncut copies of The Designer and The Delineator anymore.  In fact, I also bought a few loose fashion illustrations from this same sale--cut from the pages of The Delineator of 1915.

The dress below is kind of deceptive, as when you actually make the skirt, it is quite a bit wider than that.  I made a dress from a 1919 pattern, so I found this out.  Ankle-hobbling dresses were all the rage in about 1913, but women soon learned it was really hard to get around in them.  In fact, the woman I bought the lace from that I used to embellish said 1919 dress was in her '90's at the time, in the 1980's, and described a dress she had bought in 1913 which was the height of fashion.  She couldn't lift her foot high enough to get on the streetcar!  She was mightily embarrassed to have to hike her skirt to do it.

Here I am in the 1919 dress and vintage hat and a good case of sunburn.

You can see one of my prized 1929 McCall's patterns in the background and a Singer bird card.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hankie Corsages

In my constant quest to find things that people might want to buy from me I have started selling handkerchiefs.  Some that I just acquired from my Mom that were in my Grandmother's stash had some silverfish damage but were still beautiful.  What to do?  I have made them into corsages--or fascinators if you wish.  What do you think?

I've also started making pincushions.

The tops twist off and you can stash things inside.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Drawn-Thread Hankies

A few weeks ago I bought a baggie of vintage hankies from an estate sale on 1/2 price day.  I now realize I should have bought all of them.  When I looked at the 12 hankies I had bought I was surprised by the quality and workmanship on these tiny treasures.  Here is a pic of the most amazing one that I am selling.  It is less than 10 inches square and made of tightly-woven cotton.  I took this at 600 dpi so I could look at it closer.  This is actual size.

The embroidery and drawn-thread work are so fine you cannot see the stitches with the naked eye.  Here are two screenshots I took when I blew up the above scan.

That's satin stitch, not outline stitch.  And check out the buttonhole stitch around the edge.

Here is one I'm keeping for myself and framing.  The drawn-thread work is amazing!  This is actual size.  Again, too small to see the detail.

 Here is the detail.

Can you imagine the size of the needle and the time it took to work this?

Check out the other hankies I have for sale in my Etsy store.  Today I found an unused lipstick hankie from the 1950's.  They were made in a dark red cotton so you could correct your lipstick and not mess up a nice white hankie.

I have a small collection of children's hankies packed away and will dig them out for subsequent posts.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


If I have a secret vice it is tassels.  In all colors and sizes and materials.  I just can't resist them--especially when on deep discount.

The next three pictures are of some tiebacks I got yesterday at Field's Fabrics for $2.97 each!

A little mussed because it was knocking around in a box at the store.

It's twin still sporting a taming cellophane.  Don't you just love those little monkey balls? (or monkey's fists)


I love tassels so much I have them all over the house.

On a valance.

On a chair.

On another chair.

Hanging from the chandelier.

A special category for me is beaded tassels.  Most of them are stored with my Christmas decorations as they seem to appear at that time of year.  Of course I wait until the after-holiday discounts to buy--unless they are REALLY special!

The best places to look are Big Lots and Fruit Basket Flowerland (in Grand Rapids, MI).  Sometimes Target or Meijers will have them in their decorations, too.  The best beaded ones are made by underpaid workers from India.

I think I first became fascinated with them when I read an article about Scalamandre in Victorian Homes a long time ago.  They were making reproduction curtains for an historic house with a big budget.  Pictures showed artisans making elaborate tassels and tie-backs with wooden moulds and silk thread.  Sadly, even things in their discount store were too expensive for me.  The link above to their store does not show many tassels, unfortunately, but it does link to some fabulous Vanderbilt mansions they have decorated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

(Limited) Grand Opening of The Sewing Palette

I have been waiting since April to tell you all this!  There have been a few bumps and delays along the way, but a new selling venue for sewing patterns and needlecraft books will be opening up on Monday, 22 August 2011 from the folks who run Pattern Rescue.  My patterns sales at Etsy have flatlined, and I am slowly moving patterns over here after they run their 4-month course on Etsy.  I have linked you to the buyer's page so you can all sign up and be ready for the Grand Opening.  There will be a few weeks for testing the system and working the kinks out before the advertising push begins and the Official Grand Opening after Labor Day.  The category pages will be up ASAP, so you will have to browse a bit to see everything right now.  So get in early if you want the best choice of patterns.  And spread the word!

Update 25 August 2015!  The Sewing Palette is now closed.  Due to illnesses in the owner's family, it never really got off the ground and faltered to a stop earlier this year.  Sad news for me, because now I have to move all of my patterns over here to sell them.  Look for them in the tabs at the top of the blog.  I will be slowly adding more - starting with children's patterns.

Update 2021:  Sadly, the Sewing Palette had to fold some years ago due to illness.  It was fun while it lasted!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Salesman's Samples

I thought you might like to see some neat things I picked up at an estate sale a while back.  These salesman's samples were what salesmen shopped around to the stores and clothing making establishments to show what was available every year.

First up is 100% wool felt in 33 glorious colors.  This folder is dated May of 1949.  The folder is linen-backed paper with a grommet hole for hanging up.  Click on picture to view full size.

Next is Silk Belting.  The folder is leather-pressed paper.  The belting came in widths from 5/8" up to 4-1/4", and beautiful colors!

Last up are some yummy velvets, which are, I believe, rayon.  The folder is shiny gold paper.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Forties Maternity Wear

I just added these two sweet patterns to my Etsy shop.  The first is a 1940's maternity dress or smock.  It is basically a square shape with a waist tie and some nice ruffle details and a sweetheart neckline.

Here is the matching slip.  These came from the same person, but the slip pattern was never used.  It adjusts in the back.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Pajama Game

One of the less challenging items of clothing to make is a set of pajamas.  They usually don't require much fitting as nobody sees them anyway (or shouldn't!).  The top either is a slipover with a v-neck or a placket, or buttons down the front.  The pants either have an elastic waist or elastic and buttons.  The styles haven't really changed much in 100 years for men, and women have adapted the look and comfort of men's pajama styles for their own.  Following is a selection of pajamas from the 1940's and 1950's.  Most of them are available in my Etsy store.

This guy has to get in one last smoke.  This is an example of the placket style and a very simple round neck button style.  The pants are only two pieces--no side seams.  Notice the shes instead of comfortable slippers.

These little guys have pajamas just like Dad's, but with the addition of a collar.  In pajama sewing the seams are usually flat-felled or french-seamed for comfort.  Topstitching is also used to keep the soft flannel from rolling.  Buttons, when used, are flat.

Proving that pajamas are timeless, here's a redo of the former pattern--this time the tissue is printed!

Interestingly, these pants have a side seam and are shaped at the hip.  I like the contrasting piped trim.

Here is an annoying little brother and some elegant frog closings.

These are looking just like the first pattern for men.   I like the shortalls with the drawstring waist.

I'll bet these are a little uncomfortable.  A waistband and side seams for a really fitted pant.  Looks more like a leisure outfit than pajamas.

Now these are really wide and wonderful!  Bellbottom pajamas.

A terribly unflattering robe without the belt, and extremely bulky with it!

Robes are pretty universal except that women's and men's wrap to different sides.  Looks like Ronald Reagan as a boy!  Ken doll had a pajama set with slippers just like #1.

Cute slippers.

Aren't these adorable?

From the 1990's.  Showing that things never change (except the models get hunkier!).  And evidently floors get warmer.

Here are some bedjackets for eating breakfast in bed.  They look pretty pulled together for just getting up.

Baby Dolls.  I remember them well!

And this is my mother's nightgown pattern.  I understand when my father saw version 1 for the first time as a new husband he was not amused.