I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I had a few extra minutes before carpool the other day and I took a quick look at a local antique store. It's one of those big old houses with many different dealers each having a small booth. I spotted a box of old buttons marked 50% off and I had to take a look. This is what I found:
Here are the details:
5 old cards of buttons: I think 3 of these are mother of pearl (MOP).
6 strips of MOP buttons. The cards/strips of buttons were 50-75 cents each!!
A really old package of circular knitting needles or "pins" size 2. When I opened it up, there were 3 inside. I don't knit on size 2s very often, but I thought this was very cool. It was $2.
This neat fact sheet was also in the package.
Old metal diaper pins for 50 cents.
 My favorite thing is these brass buttons, apparently removed from a Cadet's jacket from the US Military Academy. On the back, they say Waterbury Button Co, Conn. I looked it up and that is a real company that makes all the buttons for the military, so I think these are authentic. I thought they'd be really nice on a little boy's sailor suit in navy wool for winter. They were my most expensive buy at $1 each.
I love "finds" at antique stores- don't you??

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ducky Romper Modeled

I tried the outfit on Andy this morning. 
It is wide, but if I tighten the belt, it is a good fit. The legs are meant to hit lower than a bubble, on the thigh. The length is good. I am very happy with how it looks! I just have to add the button to the belt and I am totally finished! I also bought some white shoes to go with this suit and they look great. I put them on with knee socks, but I am thinking ankle socks might be better due to the longer legs of the romper. What do you think? 

Thanks for the nice comments you left on my last post!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Andy's Smocked Easter Romper is Done!

I think this is the first time I've ever finished an Easter outfit 2 weeks early! I have been the Mom who used beauty pins to close a dress because I didn't have time to make buttonholes. I have stayed up late to finish stitching a hem. Not this year! This year, I am going to try to make Andy a casual outfit as well. Here's the romper:
 This is a close-up of the front:
 Here is the back (I still need to add a button to the belt):
I drafted a new collar to meet at the center front, which I like better. The romper is very wide. I don't know if this is because it is based on a vintage pattern and had more diaper room. I will try it on Andy tomorrow and hopefully I can take up a little fullness with the belt. I really liked the way this was constructed. For one thing, Wendy's directions have you make the buttonholes before you attach the collar, which is fabulous, because you don't have to work a buttonhole against the bulky neck binding. Also, she makes it easy to stitch the tabs at the top to the bottom front. I love the little bit of smocking and the embroidered ducks! I really like everything about this; I just have to see the fit on Andy. I will check it out tomorrow and report back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

McCall's 1956

I was very happy to get some original pages from the 1956 McCall's pattern counter book. I have the pages with the baby and children's patterns. I was surprised to find a few in the book that I own! I thought it would be fun to show you them, both as pattern and in the book.
Here's McCall's 1623 for a toddler's overalls, jacket, and cap. It has a cute transfer for an elephant and bear. My pattern is size 2.

And here is the same pattern as it appeared in the pattern book.

McCall's 1817 is a fun pattern for a girl's suspender skirt with buttoned-in petticoat. Wouldn't this be fun to make for a 1950s party? My girls have been to several 50s parties over the years and always went in a poodle skirt.

Here's the pattern page for the same pattern.
These patterns originally cost between 35 and 45 cents. I wondered how much that would be today, so I checked the inflation calculator. It would equal $2.78-$3.57 today. This is interesting. The sticker price on a McCall's pattern today is about $15 (does anyone really pay that?). On sale, they are often $1-2. So, you could say it is more or less expensive now, depending on your point of view! However, the independent pattern company patterns run from $10-$18, so those are definitely more expensive than their 1956 counterparts.

I have Andy's Easter romper nearly done- I just need to do the sleeves and elasticize the legs. I love it so far and can't wait to show it to you!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Part IV: The Verdict

I was unable to post for the past few days because our internet was down. So, I missed the "Pi Day" post that was planned for 3-14! I will do that one after I finish this series on the Vintage Suit or Dress. Today is the final garment from this lot. It is a button-on suit, so definitely for a boy.
It is the same peach color as one of the previous outfits. In the early part of the 20th century, it was common for boys to wear pink, peach, or even lavender. I shared a pink boy's suit here. Trims were much more frilly, with lace, tatting, and Swiss embroideries all common on boy's wear. Baby boys also wore dresses until they were 2 or 3 years old. In "Elegant Sewing for Baby", Martha Pullen says that pink and blue were used interchangeably for boys and girls until the 1940s. 
The previous outfits had a more "dress-like" top, but the pants were all button-on shorts, just like these. This type of pants were for boys. Girls "panties" had a different shape, fuller and often with a waistband. The white outfit with purple stitching even had a little "fly" on the pants. So, my verdict is that all 4 of these are boy's suits.
This suit is about a size 3, again wider than would seem necessary for its height. It has beautiful drawn-thread work on the front and the biggest mother-of-pearl buttons I've ever had.
 The collar and neck area is quite a complicated arrangement of buttons and snaps. This suit is in excellent condition and will be great to take vintage pictures of Andy. The peach fabric is the same broadcloth as the other outfits, but the collar is a very soft cotton with a satiny finish. I hope you enjoyed seeing these little boy's outfits!
I will be back soon with my "Pi Day" post!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Part III: Dress or Suit?

Today's little outfit is similar to the last 2. Tomorrow's is a bit different. Are you sick of these yet? I'll be glad to finish these posts and move on to something else. 
 Do you see the "Best & Co. New York" tag? This one is either white with purple stitching, or was originally lavender and faded. It has the same sleeve and hem treatments and a little bit of loose smocking.
It has cute owls on the pockets.
I think the last outfit will decide: boy or girl? I hope you enjoyed seeing the cute embroidery on these little antiques. I have been working on Andy's Easter romper and I love how it's turning out. I hope to have it ready to share soon!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Part II: Suit or Dress??

Well, I am just getting this posted in time to count for today, since we have the time change tonight. I am glad for it, because the sun will set later now! 
 Todays "Suit or Dress" is similar to yesterdays, but in a nice vintage peach color. Unfortunately, this had some brown spots on it when I got it. I treated all 4 outfits in Biz and then washed them. The spots came out in the wash, but so did the fabric! This little top is now peppered with tiny holes. I guess my best approach would be to find thread in the right color and make careful repairs? Do you have any other suggestions?
 This one has a bit of smocking on the front, but it's not English smocking, it's just slightly gathered. The collar and cuffs are the same slightly stiff linen, which ironed beautifully.
The shaped hem is also the same as the purple outfit, but this one has cross-stitched ducks on it.
The pants are exactly like the purple ones. They are not lined, as most button-on pants patterns today are made. They have flat-felled seams and interestingly, were sewn with white thread. They also need a "waist" with buttons to hold them up. This outfit is also a size 2-3. So what do you think now? So far, we are tied with 1 vote for girl, 1 for boy. Another outfit tomorrow...check back.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Part I: Dress or Suit??

I have 4 little garments to share with you. I'm hoping to post one per day for the next 4 days- IF I can get them photographed. I want your opinions on whether these are tunics and shorts or dresses and panties.
Here is a close-up of the outfit. It is a beautiful vintage purple color. The fabric is broadcloth, but the collar and cuffs are a rather stiff linen. The whole thing ironed well. I love the details on the top. It has a shaped hem, interesting sleeves gathered onto the yoke, and lovely cross-stitch on the front. There is a little hole under 2 of the 6 buttons on the front, which should be easy to repair.
The front view: notice how roomy this outfit is in width. You can tell by the top picture that it is wide compared to its length. The bottoms need the right foundation under them: a "waist" with buttons. I didn't have such a garment, so I pinned them at the sides and there was about 4" of overlap, so either the original owner was chubby, or these were meant to fit loosely. It would have fit longer, too. The tag inside says, "Best, Co. New York" so this was not a home made outfit. Imagine being able to purchase this quality at a store today!

Finally, the back view. The top closes with 6 mother of pearl buttons. The shoulders are a bit "dropped" or this is too big for Andy. He enjoyed having his picture taken and didn't want to take the outfit off afterwards. He was chasing a ball and going down a slide wearing this, so I can vouch for it being a practical outfit.
After seeing this outfit, what do you vote: boy or girl??
I'll be back tomorrow with the next outfit and we'll see if it changes your opinion!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Felt Like a Thief Today...

...when I found this amazing deal! But I must start at the beginning of the story.
Last summer, when I was on vacation at the beach, I went to a few antique stores. One had three old wicker bassinets on wheels. They were so pretty and seemed to me perfect to hold a pile of quilts, since our baby is a bit big for one now. They were priced from $125-250, so I decided to wait, but the idea stayed in the back of my mind. 

Today, I had to drop Rosie off at Religious Ed, then I ran to the grocery store for a few things. I had a few extra minutes, so I stopped at a new "junk" store near the church. I thought I might find some old patterns or books, but instead I spotted this gem.
\I asked the lady how much it was and she couldn't find a tag. The bassinet was drowning in stuffed animals and blankets. She emptied it out and found the tag. I was hoping it would be less than $50, though I thought it was worth more. 
 The tag said $75, but before I could be disappointed, she said, "this has been here awhile- how about $37?" Ummmm...OK. I felt a bit guilty getting it for that, but I think she was glad to get it out of the store (and so was I!). It is in great condition, quite large, very sturdy, and so pretty. It could use a new coat of white paint, but that will be fun to do. There is a lot of scope for decorating it, too. I also love the wooden wheels!
What do you think of my "steal"??

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nighty-Night Nighty for an Itty Bitty Boy

Andy has been sick this week. The other night, we were up from 3-6am. I rocked him in the rocking chair and he was sick a few times, so I had to change my nightgown and his PJs 3 times. Out of desperation, I finally grabbed one of Davy's t-shirts to put over his diaper, because it would be easier to change. It was comfy and loose, but too big for him. This experience, though somewhat unpleasant, gave me a great idea: I could make Andy some comfy cotton nightshirts! I ran into Joann's the other day and found this cute fire truck and fire dog cotton knit. Best of all, when I got to the cutting counter, there was a 1 yard piece, which I could have for 1/2 price. It was only $6.50 and there was enough to make 2 nightshirts!
  I used a pattern from the Kwik Sew for Toddlers book. It is the basic T-shirt lengthened and made A-line. The length they used for the size 2 was 4" too long, but otherwise the fit is great.
This nightshirt only took 20 minutes of sewing time!! I used the walking foot and stretch stitch on my machine and it stitched perfectly with no stretching or puckers. I used to be afraid of knits, but with this machine, I want to do more projects with them. Andy looks like Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch movie. So cute!!