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Vintage Simplicity Pattern 6079

I don’t know what it is about vintage patterns- I just can’t get enough of them.  My sewing room is full of children’s sewing patterns from the 60’s and 70’s…love them.  Up until now I have only collected girls patterns, but recently acquired a handful of women’s patterns in my size from the same era at the thrift store and I am smitten.  I am taking a new approach to sewing and trying new things.  I want to spend more time sewing for myself and trying out styles I wouldn’t normally wear.  Up until recently I ONLY sewed for the girls, with the occasional bag or home item for myself.  Now that the girls are growing up and have more opinions about what they wear I am not having as much fun sewing for them as I used to!  It is pretty frustrating to choose a fabric/pattern and spend time sewing a garment that sits in the closet unworn.  I can’t do that to myself anymore!  Solution: become a selfish sewer.

Although I find much of the sewing of vintage patterns to be overly laborious with all of the zippers, darts, facings etc…I have to admit that the finished garment is pretty great and worth all of the work.  Case in point- Simplicity 6079.

IMG_20140504_155547I never knew what half sized patterns meant- and probably better off that I didn’t know that they were for women about 6 inches shorter than me or I would have never tried this pattern!  It really worked out in the end and I am happy with the results (not the pictures of myself, but the dress!)  Maybe the pictures would be more flattering if they weren’t take from the angle looking up- but that is what you get when you have a small child as your photographer!

I bought this fabric on sale at Hobby Lobby, it is just an inexpensive quilting cotton but I loved the price and the print and thought it would be great to wear on our vacation this summer to the Dominican Republic- nice and bright for summer. I chose to use View 3- the one shown in blue floral on the cover, sleeveless dress with a deep v slit neck and slightly flared skirt.  IMG_20140504_163310

Since the print is so bold it is hard to see the great lines of this dress- but in addition to the center seams there are bust darts, side darts and back darts…lots of darts.  This along with neck and front facings and a 22 inch zipper- wow.  I chose to leave out the armhole facings…I was ready to be done by the time I got to those.  I simply folded over the edge around the armhole and folded it under again to sew it up.  No facing required and so much faster.  All in all this dress took me about 2 or 3 hours to sew up, including cutting the pattern and fabric.  Well worth the time since it fits perfectly and will work well into fall when paired with a cardigan and leggings.  Aka my uniform!

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Queen City Market- Vintage button barrettes

I have a thing for barrettes.  Almost every childhood picture of me has me wearing at least one- and now I love making them as well (although I don’t wear them anymore!)  Something about an adult wearing a barrette seems so juvenile to me.  No offense to any barrette wearers out there, I think it just brings me back to my childhood.  I had always pictured my girls wearing the same goody-style barrettes I did as a kid, with the one little side swept barrette or the middle part with the two barrettes.  Remember that style?

Well- anyone that has ever met Isabel can see that she has far too much hair and curls for any old barrette to handle!  Eleanor has more of a hair texture like mine and is known to love her barrettes and hair accessories.  She particularly loves to take them in and out of her hair- styling it over and over again.   I am hoping to snag a couple of these for her- even if she only wears them once or twice before she loses them!

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I have made variations of them for each of the queen city markets- and I love the style I am making this year the most!  I have raided my (very special) vintage button stash and chosen a number of sweet buttons to adorn these clips, they are so simple and classic.  A very cute alternative to the blingy huge flower/bow hair accessories people plop on their girls heads these days.  I will be selling them in pairs, some matching and some coordinating.

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RetroBuffalo…my new etsy shop! Fun Vintage treasures!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I Love, Love, Love to thrift shop.  A bit obsessed I would say.  I am a bit embarrassed when I walk into my local Amvets and the cashier recognizes me or my girls.  Luckily my girls love it too, and get a big thrill out of checking out old toys, or helping me hunt out treasures.  I stop in at least once a week, usually on the hunt for vintage sewing supplies- sewing patterns, fabric and such.  Most of the time I walk out with a bag of unrelated items; clothes for the girls, random toys or books or all of the above.

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I am a sucker for retro children’s illustrations in hardcover books from the past, dainty aprons from the 1950’s, old board games, retro barware.  The list goes on and on.  This passion for sewing and vintage sewing supplies has developed into a love of Vintage domesticity as a whole.  As discussed in this post, the history of a woman’s sewing box or supplies has great meaning to me, and this can be applied to any “old-fashioned” domestic item.  Simpler times, before our culture was so disposable, and things were treasured, protected, mended and appreciated.  The items I have been collecting can fit into this category of “domesticity”.  Everyday items in a woman’s life, that for some reason seem more “beautiful” than what is made today.

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I am so excited to announce my new etsy shop- RetroBuffalo.  I have just started adding items (at the time of this post I have less than 10 up so far!), but please check it out and stop back within the next few weeks as the collection grows.  I will be adding a few special half aprons, vintage sewing patterns, more games and children’s items and more.

Check it out!  www.retrobuffalo.etsy.com

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I was born in 1976, and so was this pattern.

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I get a kick out of thinking this vintage pattern is as old as I am.  I guess this  makes me pretty old.  Yikes.  Quite simply-Simplicity 7407, my favorite vintage pattern ever!

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So easy to sew, so fast I completed it all within an hour or so this afternoon.  I confess I have sewn this a few times already, the pattern for size 4 even worked for Eleanor last summer.  This time I left out the elastic on the “bloomers” to make them into simple shorts instead and she loves them.  I think they will get worn all summer with or without the wrap top.  The fabric is by Richloom, a cotton print I bought ages ago on clearance.  I don’t normally like dressing little girls in black but the simple bold dot pattern looks so modern to me.  This style crossover top is ridiculously cute and I am going to be so sad when my girls have both outgrown this type of top.  How do they get so big so fast, I am not ready for the bedazzled, sequined, graphic tee and skinny jeans styles.  Girls fashion seems to go from baby to teenager way too fast…ever try shopping for a 6 or 7 year old?  I almost cried when Isabel grew out of 5T, anything above that is a whole new world.  There are classics though, like Lands End, that still appeal to me- but try getting a size 7 at Marshalls that doesn’t have “bling”.  Ridiculous.  Let them be little for longer Ok?

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Playing hide and seek, trying to climb the tree?  Hard to get the girls to stay still for photos, but I can’t get mad she looks so darn cute.  I just love this little monkey, she is so sweet.

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Have you ever sewn a wrap top like this?  For a few years I tried to adapt/draw up my own for Isabel and had different varies of success… but this pattern is spot on.  Smashed Peas and Carrots has a great tutorial and pattern for a baby size crossover pinafore like this as well, I would totally recommend it if you have a little baby girl.  I also found an easy tutorial of how to draft your own pattern using a dress you already have.   Wish I had thought of this years ago when i was trying to draw my own!  My sewing has sure come a long way, with alot of trial and error.  I guess that is how you learn right?  I have never used either link, but thought they might be helpful if you wanted to give it a shot.  Another option is to search for this pattern online, I was able to find a few on etsy.  Lucky me I think I scored mine for pocket change from the thrift shop last summer- even cheaper than the 1.00 price from 1976 listed on the envelope.  All together, since this fabric was on clearance last year as well, this entire outfit probably came in under $5.00…pretty amazing.

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The Simplicity pattern I used is put together a bit differently than the tutorials I listed above, the front and crossover straps are one piece, not separate as in her tutorial.  Very simple, just cut two fabrics (contrasting or the same as I used here) on the fold, sew them right sides together, turn them inside out and topstitch.  Add your button holes and buttons and you are done.  Easy peasy.  Much easier than trying to get her to stand still, or wear shoes to match the outfit- I know, I ask too much.

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Sewing, Friendship and History

Sewing means more to me than the actual garment that is produced.   Clearly, it is less expensive, faster and easier to walk into a store and purchase a t-shirt or skirt than it is to purchase the fabric, prewash it, choose  a pattern, trace it, cut it out, pin it, sew it, finish the seams etc. etc.  The history and legacy of sewing is what gets me.  Spending time finding the perfect fabric and pattern for my little girls, combining special buttons and notions to make a one of a kind dress made with my own hands rather than mass produced in a factory and sold at the mall.  This means something to me.  My favorite thing to do is to comb thrift shops and antique markets for vintage sewing materials.  Bakelite buttons, silver thimbles, wooden spools of thread, delicate and decorative scissors.

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I have amassed quite the collection of these throughout the past few years.  The connection to women in the past through their sewing seems so personal to me.  Going through an old sewing box provides a great picture of it’s owner…the amateur sewer with mending needles, utilitarian buttons, and plain scissors to the sewing pro with fancy scrolled scissors, mother of pearl buttons, thimbles and trims.

scissors, buttons, needle guide and calendar 1948 from Montreal
scissors, buttons, needle guide and calendar 1948 from Montreal

I like to imagine who owned the materials, and what they used them for.  Sewing had a different meaning back then, it was certainly more mainstream and popular than it is today.  The decorative packaging and labels give it such an elegance that is missing today.

I like to think I am carrying on a small piece of history when I use these materials, especially when I share this with my girls.  Luckily they love it as much as I do, nothing holds their interest quite as long as rummaging through a pile of old fancy buttons!

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Unfortunately, I am the only one in my family that sews/knits or crochets.  This interest is not something that was passed on.  I did not grow up watching or learning from my Mom or Nana (grandma).  No handmade clothes for me as a kid!  All of my vintage sewing notions have been purchased, not passed down or inherited.  Growing up my sister and I spent a great deal at Nana’s house.  My mother was diagnosed with MS when I was 5, and for much of my life my Nana lived next door.  My mother being the second oldest of 7 children, many of my aunts and uncles were still living at home when I was a child and the house was always full of family (albeit pretty dysfunctional at best!!).  Anyways, my Nana has to be the most eccentric person I know.  Quite the character for sure.  Growing up I never saw her go anywhere, or have any friends come over.  I did however always hear about “Jackie”…her best friend.  Jackie passed away at some point when I was a child, and although that was quite a while ago her name is still mentioned by Nana.  Many of her belongings are now stashed away at my Nana’s house, along with a great deal of junk/antiques/old toys/crap.  With Nana now in her 80’s, she has been clearing out some of this stuff and while most of it is unusable, there is the occasional gem.

This is where sewing comes in…there is a connection to this post I swear!   When Nana told me she had some fabric and sewing stuff of Jackie’s for me I was a bit apprehensive.  The state of the fabric I will not get into- yikes.  But the sewing box is what I had been looking for.

DSCN3879 The closest thing to an inherited sewing history in my own family, it was a link to my Nana’s best friend.  The only woman she ever spoke of, a bond that must have been so strong it still held on 30 years after she passed.  Thinking of my Nana holding on to this sewing box, with its random buttons, scissors and old rusty pins makes me smile. DSCN3876 Will someone cherish mine after I am gone, or will it be relegated to the thrift shop like so many I have combed over in the past?  For now, I will enjoy going through this with the girls and hope that they find an interest in it as well so that this history lives on.  That crazy crochet doll face, however, is welcome to stay in the past!