Friday, January 28, 2011

My mom, Mrs. Sew and Sew

I'm asked pretty often how I got started sewing. It's largely in part of being around my mom, who made most of our clothes growing up. It just doesn't seem weird to me to think "Gosh, I have nothing to wear tomorrow night, and I've been dying to have a blue dress. Ok, better get a move on and make one if it's going to get done in time!" It's really empowering to think that we can creat the basic things that we use every day. I think it is very similar to how I look at food. Food and clothing are some of our basic needs, and we can impact their availability creatively. With cooking, we can be creative at least 3 times a day! Here's a pic of my mom with my sister and sister-in-law at the pumpkin patch. I miss the Midwest in the fall!

I grew up in the mid to late 70s, when there was a movement much like today to have a vegetable garden in back and sew your own clothes, paint, sculp, make crafts like macrame. We made crafts constantly. You can see in the background of the photos my mom's paintings that she painted, she is really artistic.

My parents had a huuuge garden, filled with rhubarb, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, carrots, etc. and then a strawberry patch too! We went apple picking and made pies together, picked strawberries and made jam. It really impacted how I consider food and how we procure it. I watched my mom sew all the time and saw how much time it took to create one garment: the planning, the shopping for materials, the careful cutting and piecing. She even embellished with hand embroidery and applique, you can see the overalls with a little dog on the front, how sweet! We laughed as teenagers about my brother in gingham with a bow tie, but now that I'm expecting a little one of my own, I'd do just the same I'm afraid.

Both with food and clothing, modern marketplace forces have taken us to very abstract places with how they're produced. Most of our food travels over 2000 miles to get to us, and most of our clothes are made by slave laborers in Asia or obscure Pacific Islands that are falsely labelled "Made in the USA". We buy both food and clothes for far cheaper than we ever did, scale-wise, but there is a cost involved in the soul of the means, IMO. As fans of vintage clothing, we have to remind ourselves that things were manufactured differently back then: 95% of the clothing in the world was made by union laborers in the United States, and now it's only 5%. Many ladies sewed their own clothes to save money.

I think this is why it's become so meaningful for people to take the methods of production into their own hands, it reminds us of how much work our foreparents did on a daily basis, the tradition of skilled craftsmanship, and it's also really fun! Thanks Mom!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First round of cute maternity options!

You vintage collectors may not have planned on having a little one--and then all the sudden wow!!!! You find yourself expecting and not having a single thing planned for when you get huge.  That's the situation I found myself in.  I had no secret stash of cute maternity things stashed for that "someday if it happens" moment.  I had made most of my vintage-y things myself anyway, so I never saw the need.  Thankfully my dear friend Niki of Bombshellshocked came to the rescue with a surprise Christmas gift of a bunch of fantastic 50s maternity patterns and a ton of great vintage buttons!! Gosh I love that girl! The first pieces I chose were a fabulous 50s swing coat.  I have a bolt of this luscious rayon tencel gabardine that worked beautifully, it drapes just like the old stuff.  And you can use so many great buttons on it, a good chance to roll through some of my collection.  I also made this fab wool capelet with a convertible scarf.  It fits everybody! I can't wait to make the pencil skirt with this clever modular panel in the front to pair with the jacket. So many cute ideas, thanks Niki!

Oh and she just launched an etsy store with all vintage kid's clothing under etsy seller Accomplice Vintage. Such cute stuff! We are expecting a little girl, but I'm still in love with the sailor suit. Here's her shop!

Now it's also time to think about the adorable kid's patterns too, my head is much to do!

It's tough to switch your mindset from the emphasis on the teeny wasp waist and strong 40s shoulder to...well...a rounder silhouette.  I tried to keep an open mind about maternity clothing when I found out I was pregnant and took a peek out and about on the net at the modern options.  Whoa! Not cute! Not fun! Not flattering whatsoever! Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you have thrown away your desire to look put together.  I saw this as a possible blessing in disguise--maybe I need to be making cute maternity clothes! Whether they're from a vintage pattern or not, it is all very much needed out there.  I found next to nothing in the organic, made in the USA, eco-friendly vibe either.  There is a lot of room for improvement in the marketplace, so this is a start! 

I've since learned that in the 40s the ladies would make/buy great dresses that look like a normal shirtwaist dress, with a length of fabric hidden inside a row of buttons.  You would button the dress at whatever width you happened to be at the moment.  I'm sure I've passed up countless patterns like this due to the fact that the pattern companies NEVER placed illustrations of pregnant ladies on their maternity pattern covers! I thought it was seen as the greatest desire of all womanhood to become a mother in the 30s-50s, what happened to the cover art, you have to wonder?
Oh and here's a great maternity feedsack blouse from the late 30s early 40s that my girl Sara found for a steal--how cute is this?