Mail Order Pattern 2961

This stylish pattern is for a misses’ sleeveless vest, with or without collar, with two different necklines. The pattern isn’t dated, but it looks to be from the 1950’s. I love the versions in the plaid fabric, and the nipped-in 1950’s waist. I also love view B in a dark shade with a contrasting top underneath and a cute scarf.

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If you’re interested in sewing vintage patterns, you should check out SewRena’s channel! She sews a wide variety of vintage patterns, and also has videos on styling her vintage looks. One of my favorite videos of hers is her Behind the Seams video on Simplicity pattern 8363 – a gorgeous dress and bolero jacket with decorative buttons.

Amplifying Melanated Voices

Like many bloggers over the past few weeks, I have put my blog on mute since June 2, #blackouttuesday, in order to step back, listen to black voices and educate myself more on racism and racially-motivated police brutality in America. As a white suburban southern mom who has long known that #blacklivesmatter, and who has been pretty vocal about it, it’s wonderful to see so many other white people finally waking up to the experiences of black Americans and the many changes that are needed to truly become a nation where all are treated equally and have equal access to opportunities and to the pursuit of happiness.

I’ve given a lot of thought to how to move forward with my blog. Since diving into the world of sewing again and exploring my newfound hobby of vintage pattern collecting, I’ve been so excited to share some of the beautiful patterns I bought in a gigantic mystery box, but I want to balance my excitement with some social responsibility. I want to use my platform to #amplifymelanatedvoices.

Moving forward, I will continue to post about sewing, cooking, travel, cocktails, genealogy and more, but each post will also amplify a black voice – whether it be a restaurant, a sewist, a designer, a shop, a place to visit, a writer, etc. In addition, I will be adding petitions and donation opportunities to forthcoming posts.

For those readers who are already a part of the struggle for freedom and justice for black Americans, indeed for ALL Americans who have historically been left out of the American dream, thank you for all you have done. Keep it moving and help out anywhere and in any way you can: donate funds to organizations doing important work, patronize black-owned businesses, speak up when a friend or family member or co-worker says something you know to be wrong, use your voice and your platform in situations and institutions where change is needed.

For those of you who watched a black man be murdered in front of your eyes on your cell phone or computer screen and felt that pit deep inside you of knowing how wrong it was, and felt spurred on to do something, anything to try to put the wrong things right, welcome. There is far to go, but we are all in this work together. Educate yourself on the history of the concept of race, and the history of race in America. Listen to your friends, neighbors and co-workers of color when they share their experiences with you, and amplify their voices anywhere you can.

As a start, I have donated to a project in my home city of Richmond, Virginia, that will provide funding to Ms. Impson, a city public school teacher who is writing a curriculum to use the movie “Freedom Writers” to teach tools exploring the themes of bias, racism and how to build a sense of community in the inner city. If you would like to donate to this cause, please visit https://www.donorschoose.org/project/race-and-reconciliation-using-freedom-wr/4971141/.

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#VintagePatternADay – Day Four

Today’s lovely vintage pattern is McCall’s 9364 from 1953. This pattern is for a sleek misses’ dress, jacket and dickey. The dress has a long, straight skirt, belt and front buttons.

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Suggested fabrics for the dress are linen, lightweight wool, shantung, cotton broadcloth and gabardine. For the jacket, gingham, linen or denim are suggested. The dickey/bib should be done in linen or pique.

I adore the gloves, simple flap purse and solid colored flats, as well as the pale blue shade of the dress, which works well with the blue and white plaid of the jacket.

Which view is your favorite?

#VintagePatternADay – Day Three

Today’s #vintagepatternaday is a mail order pattern for a ladies’ vest, top or jerkin with a nipped waist and button detail. It is not dated, but my best guess is late 1940’s/early 1950’s.

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I’d love to make this in view B in a bold plaid, or view A as a solid-colored vest over a cute top. Miraculously, this pattern appears to have never been used or even ever unfolded. All instructions are included. I love the model’s neck scarf and the thin sweater she’s wearing underneath.

How would you style this top?

#VintagePatternADay – Day Two

Today’s pattern is a beautiful Advance pattern (number 5113) from 1949.

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This lovely dress has a belted waist, long skirt with or without pockets and offers a collar or boatneck. The collared version also has buttoned short sleeves and front buttons. The belt can be in the same color as the dress or contrasting, likewise with the cuffs and collar. This is luckily in a 42″ bust size and 45″ hip size, so only a bit of modification will be needed to size it up to my size.

The hairstyle is very late 40’s – so pretty! The dress could be made in different fabrics for more of a house dress vs. an evening/going out dress.

What fabric would you make this dress in?

#VintagePatternADay – Day One

You guys, I did a thing!

I bought a mystery box of vintage patterns from a lovely woman on Facebook Marketplace.

Look at this treasure trove:

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This box is chock full of vintage patterns from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. They were obviously collected by someone who took great care of them, as each pattern is in a plastic sleeve or envelope and all pattern pieces seem to be included. Many are not even cut. This is, quite literally, the JACKPOT of vintage patterns, and I want to share them with all of you.

My plan is to post a #vintagepatternaday to showcase the beauty of these garments. There are so many I plan to make, and some I will end up parting with. Those I plan to sell via my Etsy shop. I will attempt to include some historical notes for each pattern.

Here’s a little tease of the types of patterns contained in this box:

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My nine year old son has already requested the devil suit for Halloween this year!

This gorgeous McCall’s pattern is from 1961 and includes two versions of clown costumes with hats and a devil costume with cape, tail and hood.

What do you think I’ll find in this box?

My Vintage Pattern Collection Pt. 2 – 1960’s

Along with my love for 1930’s and 1940’s fashion, I absolutely adore the clean lines of 1960’s fashions also. Jackie O. dresses, skirts and jackets, late 60’s minidresses and a-line swing dresses are flattering on nearly every body type and easy to sew. Here are some of my favorites:

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This gorgeous dress or dress and jacket set from 1962 features a belt, edged sleeves and neckline and a knee-length straight skirt.

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McCall’s 5810 is a dress with two skirt variations from 1961. Both have a wide belt at the waist. One features sleeves a bit longer, while one variation offers a full skirt and the other a straight skirt.

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This pattern, obviously from the later 60’s (1967, to be exact), is an a-line minidress. There is a sleeveless option and one with short sleeves.

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McCall’s 6947 is a jumper-style dress with an optional belt. The skirt is straight, with a simple bodice as well.

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This gorgeous Vogue dress pattern from 1967 is a classic mod minidress with a variety of neckline and sleeve variations.

Which one of these classic 1960’s pattern is your favorite?

My Vintage Pattern Collection, Pt. 1 – 1930’s and 1940’s

Many many years ago, when I was in middle school, my mom signed me up for one of those craft classes at our local library that introduces you to sewing and using a sewing machine. I made a bag and a pair of sweatpants – crucial in the 80’s, I know. Later, when I was in high school, I took home economics, where I made another bag and learned how to hem and how to patch holes (quite important during the grunge era when everyone was making their own patched jeans).

Fast forward many years and, as a busy wife and mom of three, I realized I didn’t even own a sewing kit to stitch my sons’ scout badges and insignia on their uniforms. I watched the Spanish tv show “The Time in Between” (El tiempo entre costuras) on Netflix, which features a seamstress in Spain, Morocco and Germany in the leadup to World War II. This began my obsession with vintage clothing from this time period. Then my mom bought me a brand new sewing machine for Christmas last year, so I decided to dive back into sewing. But before I could sew, I needed some patterns.

I wanted to work on something simple at first, so I bought a classic straight skirt pattern and some fabric. While working on the skirt, I started researching historic patterns and discovered a whole world of fashion. My favorite time periods, the 1930’s and 1940’s, are full of gorgeous dresses, skirts, suites, blouses and coats. I quickly started amassing quite the collection of vintage patterns.

One of my favorite recent purchases was from Etsy: two reproduction issues of a vintage French fashion and pattern magazine from the 1930’s. The magazine was called Eclair-Coupe Paris, and was a system of dressmaking that involved using a measuring tape, sold separately, that matched your measurements, then sizing up the included patterns according to a system that is explained in the issue. I purchased the Fall and Spring 1935 issues, and the garments are absolutely gorgeous.

I plan to work on one of the straight skirts to see how well the pattern cutting method works before attempting one of the more complicated dresses or coats.

I bought three of Simplicity’s retro reproduction patterns from this time period, which combine the lines of the original garment with the assistance of clear modern instructions. Simplicity 8248 is a 1930’s pattern for a an afternoon or day dress with ruching at the bust, decorative pocket and collar details and puff sleeves. Simplicity 8463 is a 1940’s two-piece dress with a gathered peplum at the waist, and Simplicity 8242 is a 1940’s suit or two-piece dress with a double-button top or jacket with a waist peplum.

Next, I grabbed a few 1940’s vintage patterns from eBay and Etsy:

The first pattern is Hollywood Patterns 805. Hollywood Patterns was created by publishing giant Conde Nast in 1932 to mass-market patterns featuring popular movie and radio stars of the day. Pattern 805 features Brenda Marshall, the star of the Warner Bros. picture “Captains of the Clouds,” released in 1942. It’s a simple shirtdress, with or without pockets, with a belt and decorative neckline.

The second pattern, McCall’s 7204 (ca. 1948), is a simple and pretty cap sleeve dress with or without a belt, while the third is Simplicity 1425 – a one-piece belted dress, with or without a collar. I have not been able to locate a date of publication for this pattern, but it fits in with early to mid 40’s dresses.

My sewing role model is my grandmother, who passed away a few years ago. Growing up, she always had a sewing project going, and sewing makes me remember her and her passion for clothes. Besides sewing her own outfits, she also had a job working at one of Richmond’s downtown department stores in the 1940’s and 1950’s, so she was always wearing the latest styles. My holy grail would be to find a pattern that matches the dress she’s wearing here:

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I’ve seen a lot of peplum suit and dress patterns, but none with the three edges at the waist. If anyone comes across one, please reach out and let me know!

Support your local businesses – now more than ever!

For parents scrambling to arrange childcare with schools closed, for workers who must still report to work in the midst of a pandemic, or who have seen their workplace close and don’t know whether they’ll receive a paycheck, for local small businesses struggling with decisions about keeping their doors open or losing money – these are trying times. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make every effort to shop local and patronize those small businesses who will undoubtedly be feeling financial strain over the next few weeks.

  • Are you cooped up in the house alone or with children and looking for something to read? Chop Suey Books is offering free delivery within a 10 mile radius for orders more than $20. They’re also giving an added 10% on gift card purchases as a thank you. Fountain Bookstore is also offering free local delivery on pre-paid orders in Richmond, Glen Allen, Chesterfield and Henrico.
  • Missing your favorite meals, snacks and pastries from your favorite local restaurants and bakeries? Look them up online or on Instagram or other social media. Chances are they would love to sell you a gift card to use later and can offer food delivery or takeout even if their physical location is closed. Try The Pitts BBQ in South Richmond, Nota Bene in Shockoe Botton, Blanchard’s Coffee (on sale!), Grisette in Church Hill, Big Herm’s Kitchen downtown, Stoplight Gelato Cafe in Jackson Ward or The Big Kitchen from Tazza Kitchen in Short Pump.
  • Need some calm and inner peace in this stressful time? Take some time to explore local art. Studio Two Three is selling prints of their “You are not alone” piece by Ashley Hawkins, Executive Director. Explore VMFA’s Resource Videos to discover some of the works that can be seen once the museum reopens. Attend an online art event with fiber artist and fashion designer Michael-Birch Pierce and listen to any of the Creative Mornings interviews.
  • Let’s remember those in our community who may be in need of food or emergency assistance. If you are well and have not been exposed to anyone who is now sick, consider volunteering at Feedmore to assist in feeding local families in need. If you are well and able to foster a rescue dog or cat, fill out an on-call foster form with the Richmond SPCA. CARITAS (Churches Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter) could definitely use donations of food and gas station gift card, bus gift certificates, hand sanitizer, soap and disposable face masks and canned food.

Stay safe and stay connected – digitally, of course!

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New Journey: Lazy Keto

When it came time for New Year’s resolutions last month, I made the same ones I’ve made for years – eat healthier, work out more, lose weight. Each year when I’ve made that resolution, I’ve put time, energy and money into planning meals, using apps like MyFitnessPal to log meals and workouts, discovering new workout plans and reading about the latest diet fads. And each time, the frenetic pace of my life as a full-time working mom with a husband and three busy kids eventually led to me grabbing a convenient box of crackers or handful of chips while I was on the go. Finding time to grocery shop and plan meals was always difficult.

One of the latest diet fads, the keto diet, was something that I’d heard about for a few years but made lots of excuses to myself about why I couldn’t try it, most of which boiled down to my thought that cutting carbs that drastically wasn’t healthy. But the more I researched and read about how much of the standard American diet relies on carbs – mostly “empty” carbs, not whole grains but starchy processed potatoes and wheat – and the more people I saw who had experienced significant weight loss and success with the keto diet, the more curious I got. But I was nervous about being on a diet that was so strict, and wondered how I would know if I was in ketosis. Would I have to be constantly doing blood tests?

I’d started to read online about some people following a more relaxed version of the keto diet – “lazy” keto. Instead of being meticulous about documenting macros and blood tests, this version is just a reduction in overall carbs combined with the knowledge of which foods are ok and not ok to eat. The more I read about it and saw others’ results, the more interested I was.

I decided to go full keto the week leading up to the Super Bowl. I made some lower carb choices at lunch that week, but the most challenging part was always eating at home. Cooking healthy dinners for my family of three kids, my husband and I had always entailed a protein, a veggie and rice or pasta. The prospect of making separate meals for myself was not something I was looking forward to. I needed to stock up on low carb options. I prepared a big spread of Super Bowl foods – keto-friendly dips and gluten-free chicken wings tossed in low-carb sauces.

One of my biggest shocks when I started buying low-carb, keto-friendly foods was how many carbs are contained in typical foods. A bowl of cereal has 30 to 50 carbs, depending on how much sugar it contains. I’d already tried to lessen the amount of processed grains in my diet, but I hadn’t considered sugar that much, mostly because I don’t really have a sweet tooth and have always enjoyed savory foods more. But when I started really looking at the number of carbs and the amount of sugar in most foods, I was blown away by how much of both the typical American eats. A “normal” American day of eating – breakfast cereal, a sandwich and some chips for lunch and a moderately healthy dinner of protein, veggies and pasta or rice – introduces far more carbs and sugar than our body needs to function. This excess of carbs and sugar is reflected in the obesity epidemic in America today.

The more and more I read, the more I learned about the link between gluten and sugar and inflammation, and how inflammation can cause a wide range of problems, from arthritis to endometriosis and more. I watched The Magic Pill on Netflix, and I thought about how much of modern life involves sitting or standing in front of a screen, as opposed to our ancestors’ way of life with hunting or heavy manual labor. We simply don’t need as many carbs for energy as our forefathers did.

So I stocked up on low-carb foods: berries, nuts, cheese, meats, celery, cucumbers, cream cheese, and found replacements for many of the foods I’d enjoyed before: cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, zero carb bagels and breads. I discovered snacks that would become my go-to’s: celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter, Whisps cheese crackers, blackberries and raspberries with almonds, string cheese and a couple of slices of ham. I learned how to modify restaurant orders to be low-carb: ordering a burger with lettuce wraps instead of a bun – “hold the fries!”

This is my third week on lazy keto. Around the third day after drastically cutting my carb intake, I felt a little run down. I’m guessing this was the “keto flu” that I’ve heard about. Once that passed, and every day since then, I’ve felt better than I’ve felt in a very long time. I started drinking bulletproof coffee in the morning – coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil – and I have sustained energy all morning long. I eat until I’m full, but I don’t ever get that bloated, too-full feeling that I used to get after eating a meal based on bread, pasta or rice.

I can already tell that I’m losing weight. I’ve never been big on weighing myself, but my clothes are fitting much better. Have you tried the keto diet? What are your favorite keto-friendly snacks and meals? Stay tuned for more updates and for recipes that are keto-friendly!

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