Vintage Notions – ENTER TO WIN!

Note, this contest has ended. Congratulations to Martha R. who won the book! Martha, check your email for a message from us. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Six years ago I published Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun. This was my attempt to rescue Mary Brooks Picken from obscurity and to reintroduce the clever sewing patterns, cooking basics, beautiful illustrations, and inspirational essays from the Women’s Institute’s newsletters with a fresh and modern voice.


Vintage Notions was a labor of love for me – I scoured flea markets, antique shows, and the Internet for the vintage materials from Mary and the Institute, and researched the history of the school, even traveling to Mary’s homes in New York. When all was said and done, I had amassed the largest collection of Woman’s Institute materials in the country. Then came the hard part – sorting through the wonderful materials to decide what should go in the book!

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Vintage Notions is the union of all of the things that are important to me as an artist, entrepreneur, and homemaker. I married the very best vintage material from the Institute’s newsletters to my own extensive collection of vintage textiles, needlework, illustrations and memorabilia.

Each chapter of Vintage Notions represents a month of the year and features seasonal recipes, crafts, decorating and beauty tips plus some of my own thoughts about the material. There are twelve easy-to-make, chic sewing projects. Each season has its own storage pocket, a clever place to stash away clippings, fabric swatches, and any little notion that inspires you in your creative pursuits. Take a tour of the book via the video below.

This February marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I am so excited to celebrate all year long! Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to see special pieces of my collection. If you want even more special access to Institute materials, join my Facebook Group, Amy Barickman’s Vintage Made Modern.

Would you like a copy of Vintage Notions of your own? Comment below telling me how you learned how to sew and you will be entered to win! My mother and grandmother were both incredible seamstresses and passed it down to me. Is that how you learned to sew? Or maybe it was a favorite Home EC teach? I can’t wait to hear! Note: This contest has ended

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181 Responses to “Vintage Notions – ENTER TO WIN!”

  1. To Brenda: I work at a fabric store (27 years and counting) and kids still take home economics in school. I love helping and inspiring them. My 10 year old granddaughter sews and knits, too.

  2. My mother, a wonderful Singer 401A, and 4H. I still remember going to the JC Penneys in Dover, Ohio to get the material for my first project, a tea towel ( probably cotton or linen with stripes on each selvedge side). The fabric was in the basement. I have vivid memories of the bronze colored machine the fabric was run through to count the yardage. The clerk would then push a button which made a small clip then tear across the fabric. (Wonder why these went out of use?). Penney’s also had vacuum tubes that ran to the office: for change & in store credit, remember that!?! It was fun to lift the tube caps and put your hand over the suction of air. And…. fabric was 36″ wide! This was in the ’60’s & 70’s wonderful fabric stores were in abundance.

  3. I taught myself how to sew.

  4. I learned to sew from my mother who made dresses for my sister and me. She also sent me to a seamstress for a few sewing lessons to get the basics. Then, at that time, my school offered sewing classes which I attended for every year I could take the option. Sewing, quilting, and crocheting have been an activity for most of my life.

  5. As a young girl, my mom wanted to design clothing. She never got the opportunity to pursue her dream because she grew up in a very rural area during the Depression. I still have her drawings, her tools for garment construction, and a treadle machine that she used. I began designing and sewing when I was five on that machine making doll clothes from leftover scraps of fabric. With her encouragement, I participated in 4-H, took Home-Ec classes in school, and have continued sewing for my children and grandchildren.

  6. I learned to sew in 7th grade home economics class at Chauncey Rose Junior High in Terre Haute, Indiana. I carved my name into the sewing machine caninet. The teacher was an old sour puss and she got really mad at me and asked why I did it. I had no good answer and had to submit to the punishment. Looking back on it now I realize I was simply branding that sewing machine and claiming it as my own. Oh and I made two really cool skirts thst semester. Wish I still had the skirts and the pattern!

  7. I started learning from my mother, who creates beautiful smocked works of art. I then continued my sewing education with a fabulous costume design professor at Radford University. From there I took my love of sewing and costume design to UVA and received a MFA in costume design and technology. I am now a professor sharing my love of sewing to students. It all started with my wonderful mother and I am thankful for her every single day!

  8. I learned to sew in school. I made my wedding dress and many of my children’s clothes. I do more quilting and home dec stuff now, but do make garments occasionally. I love the vintage patterns and have collected quite a few.

  9. My Aunt taught me how to sew.

  10. I retired in December and I’m enjoying sewing a variety of projects, many for which I use vintage buttons, trims, and inspiration!

  11. My mother spent many hours teaching me how to sew. I was quite young at first and she was very patient and taught me so much.

  12. Grandmothers, Mother and Aunts were all sewers. I went to 4-H for years. Home-Ec in High School and College. And also buy those old books and patterns when I can. Love the History of the Craft!

  13. My mom started to teach me to sew, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t care for sewing in home ec. either. I took a community education class in sewing after I got married and loved it! I made valances for the house to save money, and items for the baby’s room.
    I have always loved hand embroidering, taught by my grandma. I love adding accents to plain clothing. I just bring a tote bag with me with a project in it everywhere I go!

  14. My mother sewed all of our clothes so I helped her pin the patterns and cut them out. I was tall and slightly over weight and and it was hard to find modern stylish clothes in my size so we would save her tips and go to town on a Saturday and pick out materials for a new dress.

  15. My mother first taught me to sew by hand, teaching me to sew edging, lift hems, fix buttons, and then to her 50s Singer sewing machine which she brought with her from Texas to California. I never really got the hang of sewing.
    My mother passed away last year in January and now I miss the smell of the threads, the sound of the whirring of her machine. I bought a newer Singer and am learning all over again. I just recently bought a nice pair of cutting shears and in my mind I remember my mother saying, “Don’t touch my scissors!” I cried when I remembered that but I told my kids, “Don’t touch my scissors!” in honor of their grandmother. I want to learn to sew the way she did – she made all her own clothes and then my clothes for school and the classroom dances. I would like to make a nice 40s style dress for myself and be able to tell my kids and friends that I made it myself.

  16. Mom started teaching me when I was about 5. She cut a basic skirt pattern and I used a blouse to make a pattern for my fashion doll.

  17. My grandmother started helping me make doll clothes on a Singer treadle machine (using the hand crank) when I was 3 years old. The rest is history. It helped that I had a mother who sewed beautifully and home ec was still a required subject in high school.

  18. I learned the basics in Home Economics in junior high. I wasn’t too thrilled about trying to make garments in a one-hour class. I did my own thing in ninth grade, and made my spring dance dress. It was lilac taffeta underlay with a white dotted swiss overlay and a lilac taffeta waistband and back bow. I made 90 percent of my maternity clothes, and made many of the outfits my daughters wore. Most of my clothing, including fancy evening wear was made by me. I liked taking parts of different patterns and fitting them together to make my creations even more my own. Making Crissy and Velvet clothes for my daughters’ dolls was an especially fun undertaking. I am currently teaching my youngest granddaughter to sew and crochet. She seems to be a natural on the sewing part.

  19. My mom attempted to teach me how to sew when I was a pre-teen. I didn’t learn much because we argued a lot. I then took Home Economics in 9th grade and made a skirt with slit pockets – one of them I put in backwards. 🙂 After I got married, I taught myself a little more about sewing. I realized I liked it so much, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education at the University of Central Arkansas. I learned a lot there but prefer quilting and simple sewing projects over garment construction.

  20. Georgeanna Couldry February 17, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I also took HomeEc in middle school. I’ve always loved making things. I can remember making Barbie doll clothes on a toy sewing machine.

  21. I learned to sew from my mother. After her passing, my sister and I uncovered many treasures- one of which is the first booklet from the Women’s Institute. I remember her explaining that it was a mail order school, and when you completed a lesson, you sent it back. I treasure this , as I know I will your book.

  22. I love that I learned the art of sewing from my Mom. When she knew I needed more instructions she sent me to our neighbor Elaine.

  23. I always enjoyed watching my granny sew. Then in junior high I took beginning sewing. I was hooked! Then again in high school I took sewing classes. (We didn’t have a machine at home so it was my only chance to work at my addiction) I had the best instructor,Mrs Gayle Krumland. She encouraged me so. Because of her I even was able to go to senior ball. I (we) made my dress! Which made me fell like I could do anything. Years later I made my own wedding dress,and years later made my own daughters many formal gowns. One gown took me four hours to create the gown and over 63 hours to do all the beading!
    Sewing in my comfort,my clam ,my go to. My love of sewing has inspired my own daughter in law to love the ART of sewing as well.

  24. My grandmother was a wonderful quiltmaker. She and my mother made quilts and clothing for me as a child and sparked a love for the art when I was small. Now I have a 7 month old daughter and can’t wait to pass on the skills to her!

  25. My Mom taught me how to sew on a Singer Treadle sewing machine. She sewed most of my dresses until in my teens and sewed outfits for me and my twin brother when we were young. She sewed my wedding dress, her formal gown, my sister’s bridesmaid dress and my sister’s flower girl dress when I got married.

  26. I took HomeEc in 7th grade and my mom helped me. I still don’t understand patterns. However, I taught myself how to quilt just a few years ago!

  27. Just had to leave another comment. I hope you don’t mind? Reading all the great comments I realized many of us learned in 7th grade or high school! It’s something that was taught and us girls loved it! I sure hope it’s still being taught like it was for me! But, I have this feeling it’s not all the popular anymore! Sad to me! This next generation I don’t see as sewers! I hope I’m wrong! There’s nothing like making that cotton skirt with elastic waist and saying “I made this”! :).

    • Brenda,
      Here in Texas it is still taught in school. Middle school students learn the basics and then in high school can take Fashion Design where they learn garment construction. I taught Home Economics classes for six years and the kids still enjoyed making something for themselves. I hope this brightens your day.

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