Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas apron!

Awhile ago, I mentioned that I'm making Christmas aprons for my sister, Mom, and me.  Sadly, all sewing was put aside when the house addition started and the sewing room became the depository for displaced furniture, clothing, boxes, and books.
Oh, look!  I am stirring a bowl of mime food!
I've been itching to keep sewing, so I snuck the sewing machine down to an empty corner in my room and made my apron yesterday!

The fabric deserves its own close-up:

When I saw the colorful 50s-style illustrations, it had to be mine.  It's too perfect.  The polka-dots fit with the cute housewifey feel of my main fabric - I'm really happy with the way they worked together for the finished product. 
*As a side note, I think apron-making has become so popular because of the proliferation of quilting fabric.  It's hard to go to JoAnn's and find a nice wool or silk for a dress, but cute quilt fabric is available in abundance.  Oh, small towns.  I both love and hate you at the same time. 

I ended up using the "Twirl, Girl!" pattern from the A is for Apron book (available at the Logan Library!).  It's a super easy pattern - there's only two pattern pieces that are cut out five times.  The pieces are sewn together to form one section and the five sections are sewn together, forming a swingy gored apron front.  After that, you just add the waistband and ties and you're done!  The whole project took about an hour and a half - such an easy pattern with such an adorable result!

I can't wait to wear it while making Christmas treats!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Report: Bright Young Things

You already know that I loved The Luxe books, Anna Godbersen's YA series set in Edith Wharton's turn-of-the-century New York.  Now, Ms. Godbersen turns to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's 1920s New York with Bright Young Things

Our cover girl is Astrid Donal, a young society girl with loads of flapper style and a boyfriend who's the son of booklegger-to-the-rich Darius Grey.  Along the way, Astrid meets Cordelia Grey, a gal just off the train from Ohio, who came to New York in hopes of meeting her long-lost father.  Cordelia ran away with her best friend, Letitia Haubstadt, now Letty Larkspur, who fully expects to see her new name in lights very soon.  Drama and romance ensue, along with plenty of clothing description (which I've been a sucker for ever since the Baby-Sitter's Club).

I really liked the two different worlds represented in this book: Cordelia and Astrid find themselves in the country clubs and all-night estate parties of White Cove, Long Island, while Letty moves in with three roommates and works as a cigarette girl in a downtown speakeasy.  The upper-class stuff is done well (unsurprising after The Luxe books), but I found myself really loving Letty's life as an every day New Yorker: sharing a tiny basement apartment with three other girls, eating breakfast at a local diner, working all night until her feet are sore, circling auditions in the trade papers.  It's every bit as romantic as Cordelia's new life as a wealthy bootlegger's daughter. 

While I like Letty the best, the other girls are well-written characters, too.  It looks to be a fun, exciting series and I can't wait to find out what happens next (and what was worn when it happens)!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing

This is what I was hoping to find at Books of Yesterday - it's a sewing reference from 1943.  I'm hoping that it would be useful when sewing from vintage patterns.

The book has some nice basic patterns for clothing and home decor - the decor is a little frilly (well, a lot frilly), but the clothing patterns are good.  There's a great pattern for a basic dirndl that I can't wait to use, as well as some cute, basic apron patterns.

I'm most excited for the "Flossy Touches" chapter, which contains a reference for basic embroidery stitches, as well as some cute ways to combine these stitches.
Also, it has instructions for applique and some sweet, very 40s floral applique templates, as well as monogram templates for all your handkerchiefs, pajamas, and linens.

I think the illustration style from the 40s is so cute, but the way everything has a face is a little funny to me.  A few examples:
And finally, a bit of pre-feminist imagry:

She's an angel, you see, because she made the table cloth, napkins, and the meal.

I've posted more pictures from this book on Flickr, so have a look!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cover Judging: The Blue Rose

If you ever want to get lost for a few hours (and you live in Logan), I recommend Books of Yesterday.   When you walk in, you'd think it was a normal, if a bit crowded used book store.  And you wouldn't be wrong, if you kept your wanderings to the first floor.

However, if you were to venture into the vast basement, you would find yourself surrounded: books on closely-spaced shelves, books piled on tables, books stacked underneath tables, books strewn about the floor, books hidden in a tiny old storage room.  It's a labyrinth of used and vintage books - the sheer volume is overwhelming.  You could spend an entire day there and still you wouldn't have sifted through half of the paperbacks in the basement.

Yesterday, I went in, hoping to find some vintage sewing or knitting books (which I will discuss later).  I was going to leave after I'd found a fab 1940s sewing manual, but the pull of the Basement was too strong.  Which is why, a few hours later, I found myself sitting on the floor, sorting through hundreds of Harlequin romance novels - five shelves' worth!  There was a dearth of Cover Judging material, to be sure, but I only bought one:

First Glance: I want her hair.  And her coat.  Also, I think I might need color contacts.  This edition was published in 1957, which seems about right, insofar as I'm in love with the fashion on the cover.  Compared to the other passionate embrace-style covers, The Blue Rose is decidedly cute.  It's also part of a trend I noticed: all the pre-1980s books prominently featured our girl on the cover.  Her fella is seen either in profile, as here, or in a smaller background illustration.  It's interesting, because it's the exact opposite now - often, the heroine isn't even featured on the cover, the better for her to be your stand-in.  I'm not sure where or why the tide turned, but it would be interesting to look into.  Anyway.  Score: 4 out of 5

Title: The Blue Rose could be any number of things: a boat used to run away from a domineering father who is arranging an engagement to that awful Percy Danforth; a restaurant where the lovely and quirky waitress catches the eye of a super-strict business man who just needs a little love to bring him to life; an off-off Broadway theater where our girl stars in a sparsely-attended play while a shy fellow sits in the back, holding a rose and working up the nerve to talk to her every night.  I like it when the title inspires me to make up corny plotlines.  Score: 4 out of 5

Back of the Book: 

Oh.  Another girl named Rose.  I think that brings the total up to four.  I'm trying to decide if this blurb is implying that Stephen has some dark, dangerous secret - it does say that Rose "feared" they may have made a "terrible mistake".  And yet the cover is so darn cute!  Maybe Stephen's dark secret is that he is already married, but he keeps his mad first wife locked in the attic, an unhappy reminder of the time he spent in the Caribbean.  And maybe Rose will run away and have some kind of odd relationship with an emotionless minister who wants her to go with him to India, but she'll return to Stephen and find him blinded as a result of the housefire created by his insane first wife.  And he'll be all deformed, but she'll decide to love him anyway.  And maybe that's why we only see his face in profile - because the other side is burned and craggy!  I think I just figured this all out.
But I feel like this story might exist somewhere else . . . Score: 3 out of 5

Final Score: 11 out of 15, qualifying for the Silver Deveraux, but with special awards in Adorability and Styling.