Thursday, April 24, 2014

A. Neely Hall Craft Patterns

A. Neely Hall Craft Pattens No. 115 1941 Mail Order Woodworking Pattern

1941 and the world is at war ..... again. It seems no matter where you look, all hands are on deck. The war effort at home reached deep into the day in and the day out of every person in America and abroad. Everything was being rationed from sugar to tires to silk stockings. A. Neely Hall Craft Patterns, a company offering mostly woodworking patterns that were available as mail order patterns (just like sewing patterns), contributed to the war effort with their do-it-yourself patterns to make everything from pencil holders to boats and cabins using wood and not precious metal.

This very rare pattern for spool holders in the guise of Military Men was published in 1941. You could use a scroll saw or coping saw to cut these pieces out - or an Exacto knife to reproduce in chip board. Either way you choose to replicate this quintessential World War II era memorabilia, the result will be both useful and nostalgic. Download this pattern HERE to print out on 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper.

Make them for gifts for those very special retro sewists on your gift list.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If you Don't Need It - DON'T BUY IT

1943 Government Issued Ration Book Number 3

The year was 1943 and my father was 17 years old. There was a war on. World War II. You wouldn't think that a big country like the USA with vast resources would need to ration anything. Life was a little different back then. While we were rich in resources, our ally, Great Britain was an island nation and under siege. In an effort to help we loaded merchant ships with goods and sailed them across the ocean. It was civilians doing their bit for the war effort. While we were shipping goods to our friends across the pond, German U-boats were aggressively torpedoing these merchant ships as well as ships importing goods to the US. As supplies became more scarce, the US Government issued Ration Books to every citizen. I found the ration books my grandmother saved from her entire family. It's curious to see which stamps were used and which were not. They were a poor family with 8 children, and though the stamps allowed you to purchase goods, if you didn't have the money they weren't of much use.

1944 Younkers Women's Shoe Ad for Ration Book 3

1944 Buster Brown Shoe Ad for Ration Book 3

These ads for shoes instruct you to bring your Number 3 Ration Book when you shop. I don't know which of these stamps was applied to your purchase but they are beautiful symbols of a difficult time in world history. 

The 1941 Ration Book Number 1

1942 Ration Book Number 2

1943 Ration Book 3 Stamps

1943 and 1944 Ration Book Stamps

1944 Ration Book Stamps

To read more about rationing and how citizens and businesses helped in the war effort please visit Wikipedia for an excellent overview of the program.

To learn more about how artists helped the Navy and merchant ships evade torpedoes visit Camoupedia and read about Dazzle Camouflage painted ships.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How To Sell A Sewing Machine - Ads From The 1950's

The 1950s were a tug of war between retail ready-to-wear and the make-it-yourself camps. With the suburban housewife able to afford off the peg fashions, the sewing industry had work to do. And so it did. The advertisements for sewing machines were full page, full color and fun. These advertisement pages for Necchi, Elna, Pfaff and Vigorelli show the virtues of each machine.

Italian Made Necchi Ad from Woman's Day 1954

Elna Ad from 1950's Woman's Home Companion Magazine

1955 Pfaff Sewing Machine Ad from Woman's Day Magazine

1955 Italian Made Vigorelli Sewing Machine Ad from Woman's Day Magazine

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Potholder

Cast iron pans are my favorite to fry or saute with. My pans have been handed down from from my grandmother to my mother and to me. Plain black or enameled. They conduct heat evenly and maintain the heat at a lower flame. No scorching if you are attentive. The downside of these sturdy vessels is that their handles are usually of the same material as the balance and thus get hot. 

Enter the lowly potholder. Two pieces of fabric with a couple of layers of flannel sandwiched between and tacked or quilted to place between your hands and the hot handles. Of course, as a child the potholder loom with cotton loopers was all the rage. But In my thrifting searches I have occasionally happened upon fanciful shapes that were from an earlier era. Some were crocheted with multi-colored pearl cotton, others were fabric.

McCall 1940 Potholder Pattern

This 1940 McCall pattern with instructions to make these fun potholders for fish and chairs and granny's panties must have been popular. My copy was well used and in the envelope were multiple tracings on brown paper, newspaper and tissues from other patterns. Few of the original tissues have survived but I have included the Strawberry and the Fish patterns for a free instant download for you to make for gifts or to brighten up your own kitchen. Download HERE

Find more apron and accessory patterns at my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Simplicity Fashion Preview 1963

1963. What a mix of styles. The Mid-Century full skirt was making way for the slimmer Mod styles that were soon to come. I have scanned and posted two new Simplicity Fashion Preview pattern catalogs from April and October 1963. See them here.

Simplicity Fashion Preview April 1963

Simplicity Fashion Preview October 1963

Find many of these and more 1960's fashions at my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'VE LEARNED TO SEW AND LOVE IT from Woman's Home Companion

Woman's Home Companion, a monthly ladies magazine published from 1873 to 1957, began as The Home Companion, then Ladies Home Companion and finally settled on Woman's Home Companion in 1897. Woman's Home Companion was a fitting name for a magazine that would bring not only useful homemaking tips, recipes and sewing and needlework patterns to both rural and urban women, it also brought articles about fashion, health issues, marriage and fiction. An amazingly long life for a magazine. You can find past issues for sale on the internet and they are well worth the price. They are packed with still useful information and the graphics alone are a delight to revisit.

This "Companion Picture Book" from September 1954 is an illustrated journey that Barbara Schultz embarked on. Through these pages, Barbara shares how she began and how she quickly became hooked on sewing. The Advance patterns she chose are now rare but may still be available through internet searches. Her advice for purchasing a machine is still relevant 60 years later, though I doubt she would have anticipated the complexities of today's machines. 

Advance 6820

Advance 6837 Advance 6846

Advance 6748 Advance 6836


Advance 6849 

Find more 1950's Advance and other 1950's dress patterns in my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Scarf Blouse

The Scarf Blouse
Transforming a square scarf into an easy to sew blouse is easy! The concept is not new. Women have been upcycling, repurposing and reusing to make do when budgets and availability necessitate it. This 1940's Mail Order pattern shows how to cut and sew an ordinary scarf into a day or evening blouse. Download HERE.

There are many of these patterns floating around. Cassie Stephens blog posts another way to tackle this project HERE.

Make do and have fun!