Saturday, September 13, 2014

Monarch Migration - A Species Under Siege

I am sure most of the farmers in my area would call our acreage unkempt and overgrown. Compared to the tidy rows of corn and soybeans that dominate the landscape, our property probably is a bit out of control. But I like it that way. By keeping it a bit wild and almost entirely organic, it has become an oasis for many wild creatures venturing north or south, depending on the season. The Monarch migration being one of them.

Migrating monarchs have little to do with sewing or sewing patterns, but this marvelous creature and this amazing feat of nature is close to being extinct so I thought I would share these images for those who have never witnessed this phenomenon. 

I don't usually think to run for my camera when I see something beautiful or awe inspiring. I just pause and look and drink in the beauty of the moment. This time was different. 

Our property has many trees with areas of grass in between, the perfect resting area for monarchs because it is sheltered from the winds. We have been observing the migration since we moved here almost 25 years ago.

Even 10 years ago, the migration was so grand that the branches of the trees would be completely covered with Monarchs. When you walked out into the grove where they were resting they would alight and the sky would transform into a massive cloud of fluttering orange and black wings. This year I could probably count the butterflies that hang on the trees. 

I wish them well on their journey and hope against hope their species will survive and once again thrive. Banning DDT has saved the Bald Eagles. Is it unreasonable to ban the genetically modified crops that are killing the Monarchs? Could these delicate winged creatures be the canary in the coal mine? Could they be warning us about the dangers of GMO's?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Return to Elegance - McCall's 1954 Fashion Feature

After the austerity of 1940's War Era fashions, designers, with ready access to fabulous new materials, found delight once again in elegance. This November 1954 feature from McCall's magazine showcases creations from the top designers of the era. These names are still familiar and have endured the rigorous test of time that the fickle world of fashion imposes. A bit of eye candy for vintage enthusiasts but many of these or simimlar styles are readily available as vintage patterns allowing the seamstress to recreate with artistic license. 

McCall's 4868                Vogue 4884                        Vogue 4941                      Vogue 4513             Anne Adams 4662

A sampling of elegant selections from my CynicalGirl shop on Etsy.

Vogue 4270                  McCall's 5200                   Simplicity 4584                     Vogue 7512                   McCall's 9662

Elegant samplings from my CynicalGirl shop on Bonanza.

Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Jacques Fath, lanvin-Castillo, Jacques Heim, Maggy Rouff, Madeline de Rauch and Patou. 

Less formal but every bit as elegant are these lovely dresses for day or evening cocktail attire.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dickey Birds - Easy to Make Dickies from the Spool Cotton Company

Dickey Birds From The Spool Cotton Company 1948

Dickies were originally worn by men as a tuxedo front or false bosom. Though "Dickey" refers to either men or women's attire, the original ladies dickey was the chemisette, or a sleeveless type of blouse. The fronts were often elaborately pin-tucked or trimmed with lace and pretty buttons and bows.

Even in the 1960's and 1970's I remember having turtleneck dickies to wear under shirts or sweaters. Though they have fallen out of fashion I often think of how practical the dickey is for presenting a more formal appearance without the added layers and bulk.

In the 1940's, when supplies were scarce, the dickey would have been an easy accessory to make with small amounts of fabric. Worn under a jumper with a V or scoop neckline, the dickey could be easily removed for an evening appearance. Or switch out the turtleneck dickey for a frou-frou lace collar for another day to evening effect. Whatever way you wear them they are practical and versatile.

The educational bureau of The Spool Cotton Company (later acquired by J & P Coats) published Stitch in Time as a bi-monthly pamphlet from the 1920's through the 1950's. Each issue had helpful hints for some aspect of sewing and needlework and budget stretching ideas. This September - October, 1948 edition of Stitch in Time featured patterns for 6 dickies with neckline and trim variations. Download Stitch in Time and make some of these lovely dickies for yourself or for gifts. You don't even have to guess the size. Prints on 8.5" x 11" paper.