Saturday, February 25, 2012

Late Wednesday Night, I Fell into...

a bag of vintage buttons, and I am just coming up for air. 

I bought a huge bag of buttons because I saw some pretty colors, and I thought I could dig our a few that I would want to keep. As I began looking through them, I got a weird feeling...these weren't like the buttons I usually come across. With sorting and examining, it became obvious that this was someone's very special button collection that an unknowing child had probably donated to the thrift store after the parent died or went on to assisted living. I can't see any other reason why someone would spend so much time collecting bakelite, celluloid, dyed wood, lucite, casein, and all sorts of other early plastics and such, and then just give them away. Well, they fell in some admiring hands, and I have spent the last few days sorting, polishing, and carding them.

This is just the absolute tip of the iceberg. I haven't even begun to get anything done, but as most of these buttons appeared to be from the 40s give or take a few years, I am thrilled to have inherited the job of spiffing them up, matching them up, and sending them back out into the world to become part of lovely new garments, or even to replace missing buttons on vintage garments, perhaps. I will be listing many of these in my Etsy shop, as I already had a too big button stash.

If any of you are into vintage buttons and know of websites or books where good information can be found, I'm all ears. So far, I've read
 "Prick it with a hot pin."
 "No! Don't prick it with a hot pin!"
 "Rub them with 409."
 "Don't put chemicals on vintage buttons."
 "Dip them in hot water and smell them."
 "Whatever you do, DO NOT dip them in water. It will ruin them."

Arrrgghh! I opted to wipe these with mink oil and then polish it off. It seems to have cleaned them nicely, and I don't have to worry about those admonitions..."Don't polish them with olive oil- it will go rancid!"

This has all definitely piqued my interest. Okay, that's putting it mildly. My philosophy on life is to move swiftly from one mania to the next, and then maniacally back to the former, if I so desire. On that note, I'm off to sew some panties....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toxin Free Personal Care

I am really serious about keeping my house low chemical and low toxin, as I have written before here and here. I do this because whatever we spray and wipe around our houses ends up in us too, and it seems to make sense that limiting exposure to toxic chemicals in various combinations is a good plan for our familial health and well being. Well, if I am going to be so concerned about what gets in my body through secondary routes, then I ought to be careful about what I am applying directly, no? Here are a couple of my favorite daily hygiene products. I am not getting any kick backs, but would welcome them.

Eco-Dent tooth powders work very well. The whitening tooth powder does whiten, and they clean your mouth well with mild abrasion. There is no fluoride in the powder, and though I recognize the benefits of fluoride, I don't think it's necessary for adults (or babies) to have it in all of their oral hygiene products.

The other that I use every day is Alvera Aloe and Almonds deodorant. I searched long and hard for many years to find a natural alternative to the high powered antiperspirants that are on the market today. I didn't want to slather myself daily with a product laden with aluminum and parabens (Why? Google parabens and breast cancer. I'd rather just cross it off of my list of things to be paranoid about.) My father-in-law showed me this brand, and it actually works. So, just because I don't want to put powerful chemicals on my body every day, doesn't mean I have to stink.

I just noticed the other day as I was running through my morning routine, that neither of these products has a warning label on it. If it doesn't need a warning label, that is a good thing. I am still not planning on drinking or eating either of these, but it's good to know that if the baby gets into them, she'll likely just have really, really fresh breath.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sewing Catch Up

Here are a few projects I completed but never posted on.

For the babe:
Simplicity 6473 in 1966
Simplicity 6473 in 2011

She has another jumper coming in grey and pink plaid.
Next up, Simplicity 6583 (pants) in 1974
Simplicity 6583 in 2011

I lined these in white cotton flannel for warmth. Lucky kid.

And a few items for moi:
Lisette for Simplicity # 2246 Traveler shirt dress. This is a rare modern pattern for me.
Image courtesy of Pattern Review
I used a similar fabric. Sorry about the kitchen shots- I never got around to an outside photo of this one.
I like this pattern, and the fit is mostly good, but it is bizarrely small in the shoulders/armscyes, and I am disproportionately small through the upper chest, so it is weirdly drafted.

Moving on, I made a knit dress in early January.
Copyright 1980, it is only just as vintage as I am. 
It also has a blouse option, and I think I will sew it. Simplicity 9521 is a nice, versatile, simple pattern. 
Butterick 6517 is not so nice.
I have made it twice, and I won't wear either version. The second time I tweaked the fit with my bodice sloper and sewed it in a drapier faille, and it was still bad. I think the sizing is way off, and that tab is a major p.i.t.a. and just wants to be puckery.
I made a Meringue by Colette Patterns along with the Sew Colette group, and it came out okay, though I don't love it. I feel matronly saying so, but I almost think a scalloped mini is a little too young for me. And I needed to grade down a few sizes at the hips- it bells. 
Just before this skirt, I sewed a 60s shift dress from Simplicity 5960. 

I actually really like this dress, but I think I will like it best in summer with a pair of sandals and no hose or slip. I made cording and hand stitched it at the neckline, I piped both pockets, and I stitched the bias at the hem. Fun, fun!

I am in the process of finishing this leopard print dress that I fitted with my bodice sloper (which was awesome and easy!), and I like the fit on top a lot. The pattern is Simplicity 4491, and the fit is a lot better than the first time I made it.
It is day dressy- it fits my shape but without being so snug that I will get uncomfortable wearing it. 
I also started four pairs of skivvies and made a couple pairs of slippers. Sheesh. I have been a busy bee. 

Now that I am all up to date on what I've been sewing, I've got a few pics of the spiffy new-to-me machine I've been sewing on.
 I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and although it needed a little tuning up when I received it, it now sews a perfect stitch. It was advertised as having been serviced and being in perfect working order, and at a good price. I snapped it up, and when I pulled it out of it's purty case and started poking around, I found this.

The thread was all tangled up around the bobbin case. I emailed the seller, who is very sweet, and she immediately refunded me the cost of a having it serviced. I am so glad she was so easy to do business with. The machine got a thorough servicing, a new motor pulley, and a clean up/tune up on the motor. I DID THAT MYSELF! Well, my husband helped some (he made me say that). It was a bit sluggish before, but now she really hums along, and I see what all of the fuss is about. This thing sews a lovely, perfectly balanced stitch. The tension isn't fussy, and the small size somehow improves the ergonomics for me- I have had less sewing fatigue and shoulder soreness. Plus, this machine is just beautiful!

Sadly, my trusty Kenmore is now playing a sort of second fiddle. I am keeping it, as it is a reliable and versatile machine. I still need a zig-zag, man (that's for my husband). But, I didn't want to just shove it up on the shelf and make it all jealous of the new beauty in the house. So, I spruced up the hard case.

I spray painted it and modge podged pattern pieces and pattern cover art (copies- I love you, Vintage Pattern Wiki) over the paint. Now the Kenmore has some style too, and it is pretty to look at up on my shelf. I am also now infatuated with modge podge, and have plans to brush that goop over anything I can get my hands on....look out baby, you are next!

Now to bed. I am sooooooooooo tired. Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day! Wherever you are, I hope you feel loved! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Scalloped Apron Download- Sew Grateful Sewing Freebie!

Close to a year ago I wrote a post on an apron that I made using one of our Grandma's pretty vintage aprons as a pattern. Here is a pic of me wearing my new apron while holding the vintage apron...

Well, a few weeks ago, I was organizing my sewing space and came across the paper pattern I made from her apron, and I realized that, as the pattern pieces are smallish, I could scan them and share them with any readers who are into sewing and free stuff. This revelation coincided nicely with Debi of Fashions from the Past's announcement of Sew Grateful Week (thanks Debi! What a great idea!), and this is my humble thank you to all of you in the wonderful online sewing community who have inspired me, provided information, support, etc. over the past couple years: thanks again!

So, I did, in fact, scan my pattern pieces and turn the whole thing into a nice, tidy-ish little pdf file for your downloading pleasure. I included a sheet with instructions and the measurements I used for my apron panel and ties. If you are an experienced seamstress or seamster, you probably won't need these. If you are not, they will probably just confuse you. If you end up with a hooded parka, just know that I gave it my best shot. I hope you enjoy it! Do note that this is an ungraded pattern, but it should fit a range of sizes. If any of you do sew an apron using this pattern, I would love to see it and hear about it.

Click here or use the button in the sidebar to get your free Vintage Scalloped Apron PDF download. And thanks again! And again, and again!