Friday, December 20, 2013

1930's Crepe Paper Flower Making Pattern from Successful Farming Magazine

Easily Made Flowers for Decorations

Whether you are decorating your bonnet or creating a centerpiece for your Holiday table, these crepe paper flowers will surely impress. These patterns include directions to make quite realistic flowers including Chrysanthemums, Wistaria, Calla Lilies, Hyacinth and Roses, to name a few. Made as single stemmed flowers or strings of garland, like my favorite flower and vine Periwinkle. It's not just that I love it's playful name, the color is almost impossible to describe. Not blue, not lavender... it's Periwinkle!! Get the Pattern HERE.

This 1934 Newspaper article shows how to decorate tin cans with crepe paper flowers for an elegant table decoration.

We are all familiar with the red crepe paper poppies distributed on Veteran's Day. Their origins trace back to 1918 and are still made by disabled veterans as therapy and sold to generate funds to continue the process of rehabilitating our brave veterans. You can read more about the Memorial Day and Veteran's Day poppies at The American Legion Auxiliary website. But the story of how the poppy became the symbol of the blood of soldiers is a moving one and I post a snippit of it here in hopes you will read more and think twice before passing by that decorated veteran with the little red flowers.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John McCrae

The poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Moina Michael. She was so moved by Lt. Col. McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Fields," that she wrote a response: 

. . . the blood of heroes never dies
But lends a luster to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders' Fields.

On impulse, she bought a bouquet of poppies – all that New York City's Wanamaker's Department Store had – and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMCA where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. That was November 1918. World War I was over, but America's sons would rest forever "in Flanders' Fields." Later she would spearhead a campaign that would result in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice.

_____ from the American Legion Auxiliary Website

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1950 Laura Wheeler Designs Mail Order Pattern Catalog with Free Handbag Pattern

Laura Wheeler was a powerhouse of Mail Order needlework patterns. Perhaps as early as the 1930's, patterns for knitting, crochet, needlework and crafts were distributed through syndicated newspaper advertisements. This 1950 pattern catalog offers patterns for 25 cents for huck towels, crochet shrugs and sweaters, fascinator hats, dolls, holiday decor and more. It even includes a pattern to make a handbag. 

1950© Laura Wheeler Designs Needlework Pattern Catalog

You can view all of the patterns in this Vintage Laura Wheeler Catalog and download it for the handbag pattern. Or you can simply download the pattern for the handbag. Either way, enjoy perusing these fabulous patterns that turn ordinary household items into cheerful and beautiful fashions and decor.

1950© Laura Wheeler Handbag Pattern - Prints on 11 x 17 paper

Monday, December 16, 2013

101 Ways to Save With Your Sewing Machine

101 Ways to Save was published by the Domestic Sewing Machine Company, established in 1861, known as the American Domestic Sewing Machine when it became available in Europe. It was a popular brand and readily available, even sold by Sears. The company was active into the 1950's when it was sold under the brand White. I was able to find quite a story about the Domestic machines at Alex Askaroff from the Sewalot site is the keeper of the best resource for researching sewing machines and the curious histories behind them. Visit to learn more.

The Domestic Sewing Machine Company

This marvelous little pattern book was published around 1955. It must have been one of the last things published under the "Domestic" name. Inside there are patterns that are easy and quick to make gifts, clothes and takes us back to the origins of "upcycling". 

101 Ways to Save with Your Sewing Machine

With quick and easy patterns to elegantly transform your wardrobe, or DIY window shades, you'll find tips that save Time, Temper and Money in this 1950's booklet. Download HERE for more fun patterns that are easy to sew and wonderful gifts to make and give.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Corset and Keeping Laced UP

A few months ago I stumbled upon this curious gadget in a thrift shop. The price was right at two dollars and the object itself was such an interesting thing that I had to have it.

The Amsley Waist Former

Mrs J. A. Amsley of Peoria Illinois

From many hours on Google and researching the maze of Google Patents, which is almost as entertaining as getting sucked into the YouTube vortex, I have not found the patent Mrs J. A. Amsley applied for. I did, however, find lots of similar versions which leads me to believe that keeping one's shirt tucked in was a major problem.

Mrs J. A, Amsley's Waist Former

(I have received an update from Linda Aylward, Special Collections Assistant from the Peoria Illinois Historical Society. Mrs. J. A. Amsley was Filena (Felina, Philena, Fene) Amsley.  The first time she is listed in the Peoria City Directory is in the 1881-1882 edition.  She worked as a saleslady for Schipper & Block department store.  The 1880 Federal Census lists her along with husband James A. (Albert) Amsley on Fayette Street.  She was born in Ohio ca. 1859.  From 1910-1921 the Amsley's lived at 513 N. Monroe.  He is listed as a traveling salesman.  The Illinois death index indicates that James died November 26, 1921 and Filena died January 28, 1930.)

Mrs J. A, Amsley's Waist Former

This little hook, about an inch and three-quarters in length, has a very sharp pin attached that opens 270 degrees. From the description, it appears that this little object will keep the shirt (waist) attached to the corset front AND hold the skirt waistband and belt in place as well. As I sit here in my jeans and pullover sweater I am not quite sure that marvel or dismay is the right word to describe how I am picturing this. I am old enough to remember the pre-pantyhose days of garter belts and girdles, so the mere idea that anyone would actually choose corsets to wear (for whatever reason) baffles me.

Turn of the Century Waist Formers Patent Applications

While researching these ingenious little gadgets I realized that another "tool" every woman had in her possession was the humble button hook, useful for buttoning shoes or corsets. I have my grandmother's hooks and matching manicure set. They are not in the pristine state they once were but they are beautiful nonetheless. 

Marion Iserman's Corset Hook

My Grandmother's Button Hook and Manicure Set

If you are curious about undergarments and the unique terminology you might enjoy this page from The Ladies Treasury of Costume and Fashion called an Overview of Underwear and please visit the page of free Historical Patterns to download.