Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Western Shirt - The Iconic Symbol of American Individualism

               McCall's 2118 Men's Western Shirt                           McCall's 2119 Boy's Western Shirt

The "Western" shirt is often attributed to the cowboy; that rugged individualist who forged the path across America at a time of great discovery. That early "Western" shirt was an incarnation of what we now recognize as the "Cowboy" shirt. The embellished, yoked shirt really began as a costume for the singing cowboys of the 1940's and 50's like Gene Autry.

Gene Autry - Singing Cowboy

My father was a singing cowboy of sorts too. He was a square dance caller in Milwaukee from the 1950's until his death in 1995. He wore "Cowboy" shirts with pearl snaps and a "Bolo" or string tie. Of course my mother wore the full skirt dresses with the layered crinoline underneath. It was quite a spectacle to watch from the bleachers when their club would perform their routines .... all the twirling and swirling skirts ... a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes.

The Western shirt has never fallen out of favor. It is the mainstay in many a man's (and boy's) wardrobe. No doubt Hollywood has romanticized the whole "Western" culture with cowboy movies, and TV shows that we all grew up with like Bonanza, Branded and The Lone Ranger. John Travolta gave the Western shirt a bit of a giddyup in Urban Cowboy and fashion followed with Western wear everywhere. 

             McCall's 2367 Kid's Western Shirts                                               McCall's 2366 Men's Western Shirts 

But a personalized shirt, in your choice of fabrics and trim, is the ultimate statement of individualism. And wouldn't it make the most cherished gift for that special boy or girl in your life? Original patterns from the 1950's give you the authentic look while offering total artistic license. Do Western shirts really have to be plaid or gingham? Mix your Rockabilly with a bit of calico or China silk. Irish linen with an Ultrasuede yoke? The sky is the limit. 
These father and son or daughter shirts are classic Western styles with wonderful flourishes that would be great beginnings for adding your personal touch.

These 70's Western shirts have the basic elements of the classic 50's Cowboy shirt updated for a more homogenous look. Whatever the look you are comfortable with, the cowboy shirt has a place in everyone's wardrobe.

Find these and more at my CynicalGirl shop on Goodsmiths.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Mid - Century Japanese Kimono — Easy To Make Pattern from Woman's Day

From Woman's Day May 1956

Several years ago I met a woman who had served as a WAVE in occupied Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima. She was a seamstress in Evansdale, Iowa, and due to her failing vision was purging her pattern collection and she called me. During our visit she made a trip to the spare bedroom and emerged with kimonos. A few were those she purchased while stationed in Japan in the 1940's. The rest were those that she had made herself. They were all beautiful and her fascination with the culture was evident in more than the kimonos. Her entire 1960's ranch style house was furnished in the spare, Zen-like manner and her sense of peace and presence reflected that philosophy.

The fascination with Japanese culture dates back to the 1850's when Commodore Perry ordered Japan, under threat, to open its harbors to trade with the West. The cultural tsunami that ensued has influenced generations of artists, writers and designers to this day. 

So it is no surprise that in 1956 Woman's Day Magazine published this easy to sew Kimono pattern for the whole family. I have reproduced it HERE for you to download and recreate for your family.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

1930's French Paper Dolls

Mid-1930's French Paper Dolls from

Paper dolls have always seemed more interesting to me than dimensional dolls. There is so much more imagination that needs to be applied when playing with the flat form. And perhaps my fascination with paper dolls has been a contributing factor in my love of vintage pattern illustration. These 1935 - 1936 paper dolls were spotted in an online archive by my husband. Aren't these garments fabulous?!! They are available as a public domain free download HERE. Introduce your child or grandchild to the wonderful world of paper dolls with Les Robes De Suzy.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Make It With Towels - Cannon Towels Pattern For 1950's Playsuit

The Educational Department of Cannon Mills produced booklets with sewing patterns and decorating ideas using Cannon linens such as towels and sheets from the mid 1940's to the mid 1970's. This late 1940's booklet features clothing and accessories for women as well as toys, baby items and this fabulous playsuit pattern for a stole, shorts from a 1948 Simplicity pattern and a tutorial for making a washcloth bra top. 

Download the entire booklet for slippers, apron, drawstring bag and more made with towels HERE!

Visit my CynicalGirl shops on Goodsmiths and Etsy for more vintage and newer patterns.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Maternity Tops - 1950's Style

Being pregnant in the 50's and 60's was probably not too different from being pregnant today. Perhaps the language was a bit more subtle. I remember my parents saying she was "fragrant" rather than pregnant. And the baby bump that is so frequently mentioned today was simply "showing". 
One thing that does seem to be different is the mode of dress. It's not uncommon to see a young mom-to-be with her baby bump exposed in public. Definitely something you would not have seen half a century ago.

I remember black and white photos of my mom and her sister, both pregnant at the same time, wearing skirts and sleeveless maternity tops, white socks and saddle shoes. Seems like the saddle shoes were her favorite because they appeared in a lot of those photos from the 1950's.

This maternity top is much like the one I remember from that photo. With only three pattern pieces, this pullover top is easy to sew and an expecting mom could probably whip one up in an hour. 


This free download prints out on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper. Download HERE.

Find more of these easy to sew maternity patterns at my CynicalGirl shop on Goodsmiths.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Working Pretty - Working Versatile

I don't usually wear a dress when I clean house. It's the usual uniform ... jeans and a t-shirt. But in an era in the not so distant past, women wore dresses - not pants - every day - to scrub floors or do laundry - it was in a dress or skirt.

The February 1955 issue of Woman's Day Magazine features Woman's Day pattern 5086 - Work Togs. Skirts and tops, jumpers and aprons - to wear while cleaning your house. 

Woman's Day February 1955 - Woman's Day Pattern Number 5086

Woman's Day Pattern 5086 February 1955

Trimmed with colorful rick rack, these togs will brighten even the dullest wash day. Find this fun multi-purpose pattern for dress, jumper, skirt, top and apron at my CynicalGirl Shop on Etsy.

Find more fun apron patterns at my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy.