My Grandmother’s Knitting

My sewing machine is in the shop for a week and wasn’t working for several days before that. I took it apart when a needle got jammed inside and somehow it didn’t get back together quite perfectly… err. I feel sort of naked without it, especially as I have a corduroy Sunday Brunch jacket all cut out and ready to sew, and a pajama pattern coming the mail, and we are moving in a month and I don’t know where to and in all likelihood we will living temporarily in a furnished rental where they may be no room for craft supplies. I am not stressed. I am not stressed. I am not stressed.

Since my own sewing is at a bit of a standstill, I thought I’d share this bit of knitting done by grandmother thirty-some years ago for my younger brother. Isn’t it darling with the little ducks? It is being worn again by my brother’s young son and suits him very nicely.

ducky sweater

Gingham Dress

Sometimes I forget what I’ve blogged and what I haven’t.

This is a dress I made from a vintage pattern I bought online. The pattern also came with pants, but I used them instead to make little shorts, and added some elastic at the cuff so they became bloomers. You know what’s cool about vintage patterns? They are generously cut for cloth diapers! I was cutting them out and thinking they were ginormous. Then I realised – oh yeah, everyone wore big bulky cloth back then, just like Miss M.

After watching Miss M try to crawl around in her dress I shorted it significantly so it’s more tunic-length… seemed more practical for this spring weather anyway as we’ve had few warm days and a top over jeans is always a nice option for days with cool mornings and warmish afternoons.

Vintage patterns are lots of fun, but the annoying thing about them is they often contain only one size.

Vintage Pattern Fun

I have a bad habit of going on eBay and ordering adorable vintage children’s patterns that I will never make. It’s funny because I’m not much of a stockpiler – living in a small space does that, but I have at least a dozen of these, probably spurred on by watching too much Mad Men.

This one made me laugh. Nowadays Gymboree has a “Husky” section. Back then they were more upfront – “suitable for chubbies.” One hopes that “Patsy”, for whom this pattern was apparently destined, never caught sight of the notation.

Crafty Friday Fail

I can’t believe I’m messing up on crafty Friday already and have no completed or in progress crafts to show you. Part of it is that I’m away from my computer so I can’t get to my photos. Also, my project last weekend was a bit of a “fail.”

I decided to make a dress from a vintage dress pattern. Maybe I watch too much Mad Men, but those mid-century fashions are so gorgeous yet simple. I’ve collected a few ’50s and ’60s patterns but this weekend was my first effort at putting one together. The dress went together very nicely, but it was far too small so I got frustrated and took it all apart.

Here’s some lessons learned on working with vintage patterns. First they are all sized – something I didn’t know when buying my first one. Many (most? all?) modern patterns tell you wear to cut if you are a size 4 or a size 8 or a size 14, but the old ones just came in one size, so it’s important to get the right one unless you want to be troubled with resizing. Most of them have measurements on the back.

Second, the sizes mean nothing to the modern person. For example, my “vintage” size is about 10 sizes bigger than what I wear at, say, the Gap.

Finally, even if you “match” the measurements, it’s a good idea to baste your seams (so you can undo them easily if necessary) or even make a muslin. I’m quite convinced women were proportioned differently back then. Or maybe they just wore giant bras and very restrictive undergarments, I don’t know. All I know is that I tried to make the dress according to my measurements, but it was still itty-bitty on me. I was grateful that I used very inexpensive fabric, which I’ll eventually recycle into something else.

And my last note is that vintage patterns assume a lot of knowledge which the modern brand-new seamstress may not know. For example you’ll be plugging along it was say “Do x, y, z” and you’ll do x, y and z and then realise the rest of the sentence was “Do x, y, z having done a, b and c.”

I will make the pattern again and will show it off when I do. But I have a few other projects I’m keen to work on too.

It was still a lot of fun – that crinkly aged paper, cut by some person long ago, the adorable drawings on the pattern envelope. As always I learned a lot. I want to grab some kids vintage patterns too – maybe a ’70s dress or set of overalls. That would be fun.