A Thimbleful of Thoughts

Jul 23

As you may know, Mary Brooks Picken is my muse and I was inspired by her work in educating the women on fashion, sewing techniques, and the home arts through her work with The Woman’s Institute to write my book Vintage Notions. I have recently written a new book inspired by Mary, The Magic Pattern book, which takes Mary’s original concept of Magic Patterns – simple patterns that can be transformed into multiple styles – and brings it to the modern world. For The Magic Pattern Book, we created 6 patterns that can be transformed into 36 fashions! There is also sewing tips, a fabric dictionary and Mary’s style and sewing wisdom sprinkled throughout through her own words, as exemplified below.

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Fashion historian and professor Linda Przybyszewski was also inspired by Mary and her contemporaries in the world of Home Economics. She believes that not only did this group of women, known as the Dress Doctors, teach women how to sew but also how to have style and dress beautifully and appropriately for all occasions. This notion propelled her to write the wonderful book The Lost Art of Dress.

 

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These days it’s common to see yoga pants and flip flops on women as they go to work, do their shopping and go out to dinner. (That includes ME much of the time!) A far cry from the post WWII years when American women were known for their good taste in fashion. So what happened?  Przybyszewski believes that the Dress Doctors, through their work in Home Economics departments, were able to guide women to wear flattering and appropriate styles from their days in rompers through their golden years. When Home Economics started being cut from grade schools and college in the 60’s and 70’s we lost that guidance and fell into the routine of comfort is king – with often unflattering results.

 

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You can definitely see the change in styles of everyday dresses as exemplified in the pattern covers above. I love collecting fashion images from the old patterns. This group is all available to purchase through my image collection AB Vintage Studio.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Although I have done a lot of research into the work of the ladies known as the Dress Doctors, it was fascinating to read about their work from this point of view. At the heart of the book is the effect these women had on the style of America, but Przybyszweski also touches on how their work also affected societal norms, economics and women’s liberation. This book is perfect for those interested in fashion, history, and the changing role of women in society. It will inspire you to rethink your wardrobe and aspire to a more elegant (but still comfortable!) you. At least, it did for me!

I want to share with you this wonderful book and am having a giveaway! Not only will the winner receive a copy of The Lost Art of Dress, but they will also receive a copy of my book Vintage Notions: An Inspirational guide to needlework, cooking, sewing, fashion & fun, which is filled with wisdom from Mary Brooks Picken, my favorite Dress Doctor.

yourturn1Contest runs 7/23 – 7/28/2014. Open to US residents only. Good luck!

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Jul 18

Forget wagons or bicycles. I think a goat and cart is definitely the best way to go! To download this free image, be sure to click on the image first to see the full size image. Then right click (Mac: control+click) and save to your computer desktop or a folder of your choice. This process will ensure you get the best quality of the image. Enjoy!

 

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Jul 11

 

Happy Free Image Friday! Today I have a great image for you from a Royal Baking Powder Company recipe pamphlet. To download this free image, be sure to click on the image first to see the full size image. Then right click (Mac: control+click) and save to your computer desktop or a folder of your choice. This process will ensure you get the best quality of the image. Enjoy!

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Jul 10

I recently ran across this fascinating video of 1930′s street fashion, shot in a small town in South Dakota. I love seeing videos like this because it is like seeing the work of Mary Brooks Picken come to life. At this time in America, many women made their own clothes, enrolling in programs like The Woman’s Institute. The mail order sewing classes provided by Mary Brooks Picken for The Women’s Institute taught thousands of women to sew like professionals, creating beautiful everyday dresses.

Aren’t those ladies glamorous? It is easy to see why the styles of the 1920′s and 1930′s are always being revived for modern times. Below you will see some of my favorite 1920′s and 30′s fashions that I included in my book, Vintage Notions.

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Mary Brooks Pickens created the original Magic Patterns – fashionable patterns that didn’t require many pattern pieces and could be transformed into different styles. I was inspired by her work to create my own magic patterns for my forthcoming release, The Magic Pattern Book, which will be available in early fall. If you want to learn more about The Woman’s Institute and vintage fashion, check out  Vintage Notions, which includes sewing instruction, recipes and inspiration essays written by Mary Brooks Picken for The Woman’s Institute.

 

 


Jul 04

Happy Fourth of July everyone! I hope you are enjoying this patriotic holiday. There are so many great vintage patriotic images, it’s always hard to choose just one to share. This one, though, I think is especially fun. I hope you enjoy it! To download this free image, be sure to click on the image first to see the full size image. Then right click (Mac: control+click) and save to your computer desktop or a folder of your choice. This process will ensure you get the best quality of the image. Enjoy!

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Jun 30

Congratulations to Sharon who is the winner of the new pattern variety pack. Sharon, please keep an eye out for an email from us. Thanks to all who entered, I really appreciate it, and love reading your comments!


Jun 27

Can you believe it is almost the Fourth of July already? Here is a great image to help you get started planning for next week. To download this free image, be sure to click on the image first to see the full size image. Then right click (Mac: control+click) and save to your computer desktop or a folder of your choice. This process will ensure you get the best quality of the image. Enjoy!

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Jun 21

In February 2013 I had the honor of traveling to Detroit to work with the philanthropic organization Enchanted Makeovers as they transformed a shelter for homeless women into a place of beauty, complete with a sewing room. See my previous post that shares that journey. It was a wonderful experience and I have been working with the organization ever since as a member of the board of directors. I’m excited to announce that this summer Enchanted Makeovers is embarking on a Sacred Sewing Room Tour. Six shelters across the country will be given a beautiful, modern sewing room, including one in my hometown of Kansas City!

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Here I am with the founder of Enchanted Makevers, Terry Grahl

 Recently, the Sacred Sewing Room Tour was featured in Where Women Create Magazine. I want to share the article with you so you can learn more about the organization and the positive impact it is having on the lives of so many women. Click on either image below to open the full pdf. article. Thanks to Jo from Where Women Create for letting us share this article. To see more of this fabulous magazine, pick up a copy at your local newstand.

I can’t wait until September when it is Kansas City’s turn to host a Sacred Sewing Room transformation! I will keep you updated with the tour news as the summer continues. Read more about the organization by visiting EnchantedMakeovers.org and SacredSewingRoom.org. I hope that you will find the program as inspiring as I do. I encourage you to get involved and consider donating to this wonderful organization.

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Jun 20

Dessert is the most important part of the meal, don’t you think? To download this free image, be sure to click on the image first to see the full size image. Then right click (Mac: control+click) and save to your computer desktop or a folder of your choice. This process will ensure you get the best quality of the image. Enjoy!

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Jun 18

Last month I was in Pittsburgh with the Indygo Junction team for our biggest show, Spring Quilt Market! This is the show where we debut most of our new pattern designs for the year. For 2014 we have a whopping 24 new patterns and two new books. (It’s been a busy few months – with more to come!) This year I wanted to focus on creating patterns with a purpose – functional patterns that can be used at your own home, or can be given as gifts.

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Here is the Indygo Junction team posing in our neighbor Moda’s adorable booth. I am wearing our new Modern Silhouette Vest in Metal Grey Crossroads Denim. Betsy is wearing the Urban Tunic in Ty Pennington fabric.

Quilt Market is important because it is the pulse of the industry. When I am at the show I can talk to the store owners one-on-one about what their customers are really looking for. Over the years many of these store owners have become friends and I always look forward to catching up at each show.

Inspiration is a one of the best take a-ways from Quilt Market. I love seeing what other fabric and pattern designers are creating. I also get to see the newest tools and notions that are out. As I walk the show I make note of any new buckles, buttons, zippers or sewing tools that I can use in a new pattern. I want to push our pattern designs so that they take advantage of the newest “technology” in the sewing world!

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One opportunity I like to take advantage of at Quilt Market, is the option to teach a Schoolhouse. The day before the show officially opens is Schoolhouse day, where the shop owners can spend the day taking 30 minute classes given by designers and companies to educate them on the newest products, marketing ideas and more. This year I taught two classes. The first, Creating Dollars with Denim, focused on my Crossroads Denim line and new book Dimensional Denim. I discussed the many uses for Crossroads, event and marketing ideas for the fabric, and debuted 5 gorgeous new colors; Wisteria, Cactus Pink, Ice Blue, Mushroom and Pistachio! Xroadsnewcolors

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The other class I taught was on the upcoming book release The Magic Pattern Book. I’m very excited about this book, which will be released in August. Inspired by Mary Brooks Pickens’ Magic Patterns, I have designed 6 base garment patterns (dress, top, skirt, cardigan, coat and accessory) from which another 6 garments can be created – giving the reader patterns for 36 different projects!

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It’s been a few week since we returned from this whirlwind trip and I am still excited and inspired by the people, products and designs I saw at market. I want to share our new pattern line with you. Leave a comment on this blog post and you’ll be entered to win a variety pack of our new patterns and book! The contest will run through June 27th, 12:00 pm, US residents only please. Good luck!