Saturday, October 31, 2009

Planning for the holidays

Recently, at a hamfest of all places, i found a wonderful cookbook. (For the uninitiated, a hamfest is a gathering of - as the spouse puts it - mostly "cranky middle-aged white guys," for the buying and selling of radio gear...)

Said cookbook was published in 1914 by the Oakland Civic Club, of Oakland, Maryland. It's full of wonderful, vague old recipes. I was on a bit of a canning kick when i bought it, but have since discovered other gems - there's a recipe for "Poor Man's Spice Cake" that's almost identical to one my cousin gave me years ago. And there's this pumpkin pie recipe:

"4 eggs, 1 pt. milk, 3 c. cooked pumpkin, sugar to suit taste, 1 wine glass of rum and brandy each, a little cinnamon. This is enough for 2 pies. - Mrs. O. T. Treacy."

I took one look at this, and immediately rechristened it "Drunken Punkin" - and i'll definitely be trying it out this fall. Would have tried it by now, except i don't think i've got either the rum OR the brandy on hand...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Feeling brave?

Just listed this gorgeous Hollywood pattern from about 1946 - it's such a fabulous, flattering design! But somewhere in the last 60-odd years, it was parted from its instruction sheet and the piece for the back facing. It's a little daunting with an unprinted pattern, but i think it would be worth it, don't you?

As for the back facing, since the front isn't faced (presumably the yoke should be doubled), i think i would just lean toward lining the entire bodice - china silk, maybe? - and not even bothering to draft the back facing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun with Pattern Research

In chatting at a local history program, a friend seemed disappointed to learn that i don't have any 1920s patterns in stock right now. Turns out she's looking for something to use for uniforms for domestics, something that would be appropriate to the 1918-1922 period they want to portray at Morven Park. Never one to pass up an interesting research challenge, i said i'd look into it a bit and see what leads i could send her.

(That 1927 dressmaking book i just got is looking better all the time... and i've got another one inbound that was printed in 1922, but to judge from the plates, the content is from the teens; pictures when it arrives, i promise)

A lot of the photos online have little or no accompanying info (date, location, rights...), and so aren't the sort of thing you want to steer people to, but gave me a bit of an idea what reproduction and period patterns i could recommend. I'm pretty comfortable up through the late 19th century, but haven't done much 20th - this was fun. And who knows, maybe it'll turn into another project.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Momcat (Zelda) and the brood have returned.

The kitten who stayed behind is named Winston. The other four are still searching for names.

Most of today was devoted to a balloon launch with the spouse and the radio club, along with some students and a professor from Shepherd.

Watching some nice lots of patterns that will be wrapping up on auctions soon.

Hoping people will come out of the woodwork to do some end-of-the-weekend shopping for patterns...

...and trying to figure out just how to price a very swell but incomplete 1940s Hollywood pattern.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Art of Dressmaking

My latest find from the Berryville Old Book Shop (where they always have a fascinating assortment of books that part me from quite a lot of my disposable income) is a 1927 dressmaking guide from Butterick:

I don't know quite how they did the moiré cover, which didn't photograph particularly well, but i thought it was a charming touch.

The book has all sorts of hand-finishing details that have dropped out of more modern sewing guides in my collection - want to brush up on drawnwork, or how to apply ostrich or marabou trim? It's in here...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New (old) patterns

Finally posted some of the recent batch at fripperie - some nice 1940s stuff in this lot, go have a look (there's more to come). I decided, as an experiment, to spring for a showcase spot. I'll be very interested to see whether it proves to be worthwhile for the shop... when your highest priced items are around 15 bucks, $7 a day for a showcase spot takes some consideration. But if it really does get people looking, might be worth losing a bit on a couple of patterns. Here's hoping...

Meanwhile, here's one of the ones that went up today, a 1940 (probably, but maybe very late 1930s) Du Barry pattern:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wool sweater weather

Chilly and damp again today, so i finally dug out a bulky sweater. It came from the thrift store a year or so back, intended for a felting project, but i liked it so much it somehow ended up in my drawer instead. A good day to grab a book and a mug of something hot (cocoa, chai, eggnog, mulled wine?) and curl up under a quilt...

That, unfortunately, is not on my agenda today. Need to prep for the arrival of a couple hundred pounds of beef, which will involve some considerable time in the cellar, making room to move the freezer before filling it with lots of heavy chunks of cow. We ordered a 1/4 cow from a nearby farm, a new adventure for us, and we're scheduled to pick it up this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


So then, a shot of the odd pockets, as promised:

What's hard to make out, because my camera is very balky about shooting close-ups and details, is the way the pocket has been seamed on the bias in the striped fabric/short smock view - definitely not dowdy.

I don't know if dressing like this would make me any more enthused about housework, but gosh, it's worth a try, right?

Meanwhile, rain has delayed woodcutting operations (it's getting to be that time of year, when i start to look longingly at the woodstove...) and i think the weather has also encouraged a mighty nap vortex amongst the felines. Fitzgerald and the as-yet-to-be-properly-named tabby kitten have curled up and passed out on the shabby overstuffed chair.

Momcat and the rest of the litter took off a few days ago, presumably to complete the kittens' education in the hunting arts. For whatever reason, this little guy stayed behind, and Fitz has taken over mothering duties for him. It's all pretty overwhelmingly cute. You've been warned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time stamps

...are for some reason behaving very strangely. I shall endeavor to figure it out in the a.m., as regardless of what Blogger thought, these last two were done at nigh on 11:30 p.m.

New Goodies

Delightedly pawing through a new shipment of vintage patterns, most of which will be heading to the shop in the coming days... lots of Simplicity, a couple Advance, and a few obscure mail order patterns that will be fun to try to trace. A fair number of 1940s patterns in this lot, and for some reason, rather more sleepwear than you might expect - the vagaries of what folks bought, sewed (or didn't), and kept, i guess.

There are two that i think will have to go into the personal stash: a 1944 Simplicity housecoat pattern - nothing like the housecoats my grandmother had - this is princess seamed, with these fabulous kite-shaped pockets (pictures later, perhaps, after sleep...); and a late 40s Advance skirt pattern, which just might pair with a swell McCall's blouse pattern i've got.

Wherefore art thou fripperie?

It's Shakespeare, from The Tempest, if you're wondering. And i'd used "fripperie" on Etsy before ever hearing it from Trinculo - i'd discovered the term years ago, on a tangent to some research on medieval guilds. Since it relates to trim and decoration and used clothing, it seemed perfect for lots of the things i'm fond of, and i shamelessly appropriated it. Wouldn't you want to be a fripperer?

A short, sweet intro, and i must be off to check on my increasingly theoretical day job...