Domestic Goddess or Domestic Goodness? McCalls 9651

Yesterday, I had the coolest package arrive. It was full of old stuff. I mean really old, 1881 and 1928 cool stuff. And then there were things from the 50s too. It appeared to be the contents of a drawer. I like to imagine it was a drawer that hadn’t been touched in decades… there were vintage doilies, magazine clippings from the Ladies Home Journal, old recipes, a few patterns (the main motivator for buying), calling cards and so forth. Ah, the joys of etsy and the internet. Buy a drawer… it can be done!

Amongst the serviettes saved from weddings (Betty and Freddy, married June 10 1956), there was a great little cookbook by the General Electric Appliance Company called “Electric Cookery” (published 1928). Recipes included Creole Egg Timbales, Elmore Gingerbread, Hard Sauce (?), corn meal souffle, macaroni and cheese (of course), candied sweet potatoes and  lemon pie.

Perhaps the greatest mystery of all was the “breakfast muffin”. This implies that someone, presumably the lady of the house had time to bake that morning or the night before. “Hi Honey, I’m home, here’s a new cook book for the appliance designed to make your life so much easier”… no pressure! Seriously, with a little one, I’m lucky to have thought about dinner before mid afternoon, its a wonder we eat sometimes! Let alone the embellishing our days with the luxury of the breakfast muffin!

I take this as a challenge…. Today, I will bake. This means venturing out at some point and buying eggs. In the rain. The pouring rain. Little Prince  is wriggling around in my arms, he wants to play…Moment of sanity…Maybe not! Someone back in time was crazy. That is the bottom line!

Or, maybe they were just CRAZY husbands. MAYBE, it was something like this…

“Hi Honey, I’m…”

“Stop. Put the cookbook down. Now lower it gently… thats it.. Now…Back away from the door… that’s it. Now put it in the bin! You’re taking me to dinner,”

Tomorrow: the take me to dinner dress.

Today: McCalls 9651, the poodle top, so very fifties… to be pondered over coffee… sans breakfast muffin!

Good Morning... a pattern with your coffee and mail?

Focus on 1959…McCalls 4998

In keeping with the late fifties flavour of recent posts, I thought a classic scoop neck sleeveless dress was worthy of a mention. McCalls 4998 is pictured here with images from Vogue Knitting book Fall 1959 in the background. I love, love knitted garments and knitting is another passion which I tend to pick up seasonally.

If I had to pick an era to live in based on fashion alone, it would be the late fifties, early sixties… I just love the style. However, I wouldn’t trade in the progress made by the women’s lib movement since then. I do like having choices! Even though I relish domesticity, motherhood and adore learning to sew and knitting through the Winter, I have also enjoyed the benefits of my education and progressing my career. Basically, I want it all. Who doesn’t?

It seems to me that there is a social expectation these days that women are confronted with a choice- stay at home or have a career. I see no reason why things can’t evolve over time. Caring for my child in his infancy does not mean I have abandoned any ambition beyond the home hearth… nor does working mean I don’t care for domesticity.

In 2012, there is no reason we can’t have balance. I think the bottom line is doing what you (and your partner) have decided you want. Make peace with your own decisions and don’t be swayed by what others suppose, expect etc… that is this mumma’s point of view anyway.

Nothing says “I’ll call you” like houndstooth… VOGUE 4051

Houndstooth, as illustrated for Spring fashions in Vogue Pattern Book, February- March 1962

I live in Australia, but where I live can get cold in the Winter. I mean very cold! Despite the fact that some cities in Canada (and I lived in Toronto for a while) can routinely get to minus 20 degrees celcius, Canberra (the Capital of Australia for those who have never heard of it)! seems to feel colder. The houses don’t seem to do as good a job at retaining heat… but by the time Summer comes around they need to do the opposite, we have some real scorchers! So, yes, I am talking minus five or so as a cold Winters night…

The one thing that I do look forward to is Winter clothing… that lovely feeling when you are all rugged up to go out and your fingers are toasty and warm in some nice gloves… And what makes the cold weather a far more tolerable prospect is the thought of a little houndstooth in a nice wool! Today’s pattern of the day is VOGUE 4051 which Vogue Pattern Book featured in a gorgeous houndstooth fabric… enjoy the eye candy!

VOGUE 4051, featured in Oct-Nov 1959 edition of Vogue Pattern Book made up in Houndstooth

Oct-Nov 1959 edition of Vogue Pattern Book

Incidentally, for vintage pattern lovers, Vogue Couturier Pattern 151, an evening gown with a lovely shelf but (featured in the 59 VPN discussed) went for $71.00 on eBay in the last week. The pattern was a size 16, appeared to be in good condition with no clear indication of whether it was cut or uncut.

Vogue Couturier 151 as illustrated in Vogue Pattern Book

Pretty and polished, VOGUE Special Design 4055

My free minutes lately (few and far between with caring for the Little Prince) have been spent cataloguing my patterns on BENTO. This includes rechecking my patterns and documenting whether they are cut or not. I happened across a pair of big red buttons at the bottom of VOGUE PARIS ORIGINAL envelope, which amazed me given I had never noticed it and that the pattern remained undamaged.

Coincidentally, I had also browsed through a 1959 Vogue Pattern Book as I was tidying up about fifteen minutes before and voila… I had spotted the EXACT buttons in an advertisement. Again, like the dressmaking book of several weeks ago, I could not resist playing around with the image…

Vintage fashion... it comes to life with a little imagination!

I love vintage fashion and pattern envelope illustrations. They evolve throughout each era, VOGUE is a wonderful example. That said, it is also a real delight to be able to view the “made up” dress or outfit to see what it might look like beyond an illustrator’s ability to render it, with all its best design details.

Today I decided to go with 1959 and there will be a bit of a 1950s focus over coming weeks… VOGUE 4055 is a suit with a long jacket, shaped collar and slim skirt. I’ve photographed it here with the photograph that appeared in Vogue Pattern Book October-November 1959. In this instance, I don’t think the pattern does the made garment justice. I am particularly enamoured not only with the neat, tailored look but the distinctive shaped collar that gives the suit a decidedly fifties feel.

Photographed with a John Frederics leopard pillbox hat.

Wishing for slow curves with Givenchy… McCalls 3625

It isn't Audrey... it IS Givenchy...

Summer 1956, if you had a dollar… a whole dollar… you could forego that family outing to the local ice-cream parlour and keep the curves on your dress seams with GIVENCHY 3625… today is a WISHLIST pattern as featured in the McCalls Pattern Book of Summer 1956. It isn’t in my collection but one day, if the moons align, I may find it and the price will be right. This dress screams sweet Audrey glamour. When it occasionally surfaces on auction sites like eBay, it sells for hundreds of dollars… thats a lot of ice-cream!

Givenchy as photographed for McCalls

Serene Fifties Flash Back… these pretties are no angry birds!

Today’s pattern of the day is Mccalls 7052, a beautiful evening gown or day dress. My pattern envelope is in poor condition and it is way, way too small for me… however it is a wonderful dress pattern to admire and from which to draw inspiration.

VOGUE Australia did a fifties revival fashion edition in September 2010, in the background is an advertisement by Louis Vuitton in the same ilk which was featured on the back cover.

Butterick 5578… town or country?

Another fav Butterick pattern… versatile enough to be worn different places… beach shack, country house or casual city living… I particularly like version B with the purchased belt. Its my plan to make this up in a retro print (see background), but I also think it would be fabulous in black with  bit of bling for night… Most of my patterns are different sizes, so shall see how my approximation in the grading process goes!

Versatile looks with this 1960s Butterick pattern

Make a B-line for the A-Line… live a little… love retro!

Yesterday I was so, so, so naughty and indulged in US VOGUE PATTERNS online sale… worth checking out if you have room in your cupboards…!

A recent peruse of the shops, my eye was caught by the new styles featured at shops such as MARCS. I loved it. Why? Firstly, houndstooth fabric is a favourite of mine. Secondly, it appeared a-line and mod dresses were making a huge comeback. It appears I am not the only one who loves a little retro. My favourite was a black and white houndstooth dress with a double Peter Pan contrast collar. Very cute. I think I could even get away wearing it without the need for heels, which these days is a consideration.

A-line dresses are so classic, they are flattering to most figures and never go out of style. Today’s dress pattern of the day is BUTTERICK 3573, from the 1960s…a semi-fitted a-line dress with a low u-neckline and contrast collar. Suggested fabrics include linens, piques, cloques, denims and poplins. I am definitely thinking about clothes for the upcoming holiday, ideally QUICK and ideally EASY, so this one will probably make the cut.

Make a b-line for the a-line

I really do need to make a to-sew list. I did find some gorgeous tan and cream houndstooth fabric over the last few weeks which is begging to become a suit or a coat, (a Vogue Couturier Simonetta)? So many ideas, so little time!


Oh, Ooooooh-leg! Prominent Designer pattern A627

Today’s pattern of the day is a Prominent Designer pattern featuring a dress by famed Oleg Cassini (A627), who is best known for dressing Jacqueline Kennedy. What makes it particularly attractive is the shelf bust, which I was very interested to learn about in terms of construction… very pretty look also enjoyed by Elizabeth Taylor. Pictured here with hydrangeas gifted from my mothers garden (I miss her garden)! If only I too were a green thumb. We can only boast the humble geranium in a pot plant holder…!

Fit for a first lady

This mummy needs a coffee. Its the end of Summer… almost the end of Summer anyway (in Australia it ends in February), though we are looking forward to our first family holiday on the horizon, in one of my favourite places… the land of the lei! What are the traditional flowers of Hawaii? Lily of the Valley?

Baby steps and big cupcakes

So today was Little Prince’s big day… the christening! I got up at 5am to make the buttercream icing in three different colours and pipe decorations… took me much longer than expected and suddenly it was time to get dressed and run out the door. Little Prince was marvellous through the ceremony. I think he knew something was going on at the church, he loved spending time with our immediate families (and a handful of our closest friends), enjoyed the chatter, the cuddles and at the end of the day marvelled at the different colours on the gift wrap, (we have found anything yellow seems to attract his attention). After a long day, he finally slumbered, and I admit those peaceful moments in my arms are amongst my favourites.

In true vintage style, I pulled out some cute teacups I found at an antique shop… made from white french milk glass, they are super retro (poppy design) and it was great to have a reason to use them. I also finally got to use an antique silver candelabra with a base wide enough in the middle to fill with water and decorate with flowers. My parents used to have an identical one which constantly burgeoned with hydrangeas in the Summer months and was used at family dinners. Unfortunately, I forgot to light the candles!

A wonderful day, but a long day! My only sorrow was not getting enough time to chat more individually with our families, many of which had travelled from interstate to share our little one’s day.

Buttercream frosting... sweeeeeeet! And a few retro touches....

In the spirit of baking, today’s pattern of the day is a mother and daughter Apron pattern by Simplicity… oh, matching aprons, very adorable!!! Late 40s, early 50s methinks (given the 35 cent price tag, more likely 40s).

Huge cute factor!