Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prims Sunburst Slippers Pattern

I have uncovered yet another pattern that originated from the Home Economics Department of the Educational Bureau of William Prym, Inc, a button and notions manufacturer (now part of Pryms and Dritz) that introduced metal blanks suitable for covering with fabric for home sewers. And just in time to make as gifts to give this Holiday. These simple to sew felt slippers feature, as all the Prims patterns did, a Cover-Your-Own-Button as the centerpiece of the Sunburst toe decoration. 

Prims Sunburst Slippers

Even with a regular sew-on button, these sweet slippers will be sure to please whomever they are made for. This free downloadable printed pattern prints on an 8.5" x 14" (legal) size sheet of paper and features three sizes. 

I have earlier posts with more fun Prims Patterns. 

Prims 1960s Jumpsuit Pattern

Prims Yumm-Yum Lounger and Cap for a Little Girl

Prims Precious Pets Lingerie Case

Prims Clothespin Caddy

Prims Camelot Casual

Prims Whale of a Kari-All and Toy

Prims Convertible Tote Bag

Prims Masquerade 4-in-1 Hat

Prims Cutaway Bolero

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pretty Pleats - Kent State University

I adore the art of sculpted clothing, particularly tucked, smocked, plaited and, well.... pleated. So imagine how excited I was to learn about this exhibition at Kent State University's Stager and Blum Galleries through June 29th of 2014. Curated by Sara Hume, the exhibition covers the art of the fold spanning over 200 years of fashion. But instead of organizing the collection by date, it is arranged by technique so that a contemporary smocked garment may be studied alongside another, decades or even centuries older.

Pretty Pleats - Kent State University 28 June 2013 - 29 June 2014

Included are garments by Mariano Fortuny, Mme. Grès, Issey Miyake, and Christian Dior exhibited with folk costumes as well as 18th- and 19th-century gowns.

To learn more about the exhibition "Pretty Pleats" visit the Gallery Home Page.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1950's Aunt Jemima Face Apron Pattern

In 1955, ads for a series of mail order "Face" or "Girl" aprons appeared in Newspapers across the US. This "Mammy" or Aunt Jemima face apron was available through Laura Wheeler and Alice Brooks pattern companies. For twenty-five cents you could have this pattern delivered directly to your door.

1950's Aunt Jemima Apron Pattern

What strikes me as curious is that the same face apron was also issued but with a fair skinned "Girl" represented in the newspaper ad. 1955 was the year Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to vacate her seat in the front of the bus in Montgomery Alabama, which was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Odd that these images, which are such blatant stereotypes, would be so available.

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University

But the "Jim Crow Mammy" image had been in use since the 1800's as a commercial identity for selling a vast array of household goods from baking soda to coffee to dishes and linens. It was in the late 1940's when Quaker Oats enlisted their third Aunt Jemima, an image that would become a American Icon. The more recent figure of Aunt Jemima is a much altered figure from the earlier version and certainly less racist.

We may consider the images of the "Dutch Girl" less racist but still represents a stereotype image.  So how about downloading this simple "Santa Face" Apron Pattern to celebrate the holidays.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Keeping Your Scissors Sharp

Several years ago I inherited a box of buttons and bits that belonged to my grandmother. Orphaned at a young age in the early 1900's when her parents succumbed to the Great Flu Pandemic, she and her sister grew up in Saint Rose's Orphanage on the East side of Milwaukee. There she learned to sew. And she was an avid sewer and a doll doctor in the 30's, 40's and 50's. I remember her magnificent and intricate doll clothes on the porcelain dolls in the curio cabinets with the glass doors. Not to be played with. 

She was my greatest inspiration. And though she never taught me to sew or crochet, I remember that whenever I saw her she had a project in her hands. Her industriousness was her gift to me. The OCD I could do without but perhaps the two go hand in hand.

In this wicker box, with a leather cover, all cracked and aged, along with some of the tiniest glass and brass buttons I had ever seen, was a little oval stainless steel (or nickel silver) scissors sharpener. This little object intrigued me. A little over two inches long, thin and lightweight, I experimented with an old pair of scissors and was pleasantly surprised at how well it seemed to work ... for cutting paper. But surely it should work for fabric cutting as well. After all, it must have been her handiest method for sharpening her own scissors. And she cut a lot of fabric sewing clothes for her 8 children. 

My Grandmother's Kenberry Scissors Sharpener

I started doing a little research. These little sharpeners were produced and either sold or given as promotional objects by a vast array of companies like this from the Sealtest Milk Company. I found this one on an Etsy shop.

Promotional Scissors Sharpener c1950's

They also came in a variety of shapes, like these cardboard and hammered metal sharpeners with a stainless steel honing rod.

Or this plastic paddle shaped sharpener with a ceramic honing rod.

The ease of use of these small hand held sharpeners must have been part of their charm. I remember the traveling sharpener man who made the rounds to our neighborhood about once a month. He would sharpen my mother's knives and scissors. Before such services, the self sharpeners were an asset not to be parted with.

I purchased this Gingher sharpening stone 30 years ago. As you can see it has not been used a great deal. I found it difficult to control the angle and it's awkward managing of the pitch and pressure seemed like a sure way to ruin the edge of my precious cutting shears. 

Imagine my surprise to find these little portable sharpeners available again. These little Fiskars sharpeners have a ceramic honing rod and work the exact same way as the little sharpener in my grandmother's button box.

However you manage to do it, keeping a sharp edge on your shears is a must for ease of cutting the cleanest edges of all of your fine fabrics.

There are all sorts of u-tube videos suggesting sandpaper and tin foil as quick methods. Try them first with your paper shears. Just to be on the safe side.