Sewing patterns are little time capsules that reveal so much more than the fashions of the day. The offer many glimpses into the daily lives of the owners. It’s not uncommon to find altered pattern pieces cut from the daily newspaper or patterns stored in rice bags from the grocery store. Notes of alterations, fabric choices, even personal letters can be discovered. Often these glimpses are personal, but sometimes they speak much more broadly.
When finding vintage sewing patterns, it’s not uncommon have the name of the original purchaser written on the envelop. These were placed on hold for customers. Of my pre-80s patterns, more often than not the owner’s name is written in the Mrs. + Husband’s first name + Married last name.
This pattern stood out to me in particular for another reason…..
Yes, it’s a junior’s pattern AND a maternity pattern. Just look how young this woman looks? It’s like Gidget is going to give up her surfboard for the ironing board. It’s slightly terrifying. But it’s pretty accurate of the time periods. the average age of marriage since record keeping of such things started in America in the 19th century was 20-22. until the 1990s then suddenly… the age rose to 27 on average.
Rebecca Traister’s “All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation” addresses this shift and the history of the women who have had adult single lives. The book was a pretty great jumping off point of what I hope to be a much more chronicled population, single women. The book was illuminating and actually quite funny at times. “Abolitionist women only wanted to free slaves so they could hook up with the black men, yeah seems legit. Or the Tinder mantra, “Dick is abundant and of low value.” Other times it was laughing to keep from crying.
On one hand the book is incredibly validating in how much this marginalized (hello cat lady) population has shaped history and charged the forefront of so much positive change; on the other hand it chronicles the maligning of a significant section of society, which is particularly difficult to stomach when it comes from other women.
I remember my mom receiving letters addressed for her using my father’s name into the 1990s. I can’t imagine this complete disregard for the individual today. There has been an insurgence in home sewing and sewing patterns. I’ve heard people speak of this as going back to traditional values or being “real” women, whatever that means. I can’t imagine future generations finding current sewing patterns with our husbands names written across them. You don’t have to be around modern sewists for long before you realize modern sewing is all about individual expression of self.
I knew I had to make the Rushcutter dress by the indie pattern maker, In The Folds, from Australia. It’s a PDF pattern, which is always great for us that live in no man’s land without sewing shops or reliable postal services.
I love this quick and easy dress…with pockets! For my shape I definitely had to do the belted version. This version also had a button neck, but I swapped it out for an invisible zipper. I also made a rolled hem rather than the wide one used in the pattern. This was a mistake. I love the graphic stripes, but the fabric was bought in Romania, which brings to question it’s quality and type. Of course it said cotton, but it’s definitely a heavy synthetic that shreds. Not super fun material to sew with, but I totally love the visual results.
I will defnitely be making more of these dresses with summer in mind.
This summer I’m tackling the Haptic Lab DIY Paris map quilt. I chose Anchor Pearl Cotton in colors, which exact names I can’t recall. Numbers 23 (pink), 167 (turquoise blue) and 399 (steel gray).
The goal is for this to be complete by the time school starts back up in August. I’m also supposed to lose the 70 lbs I gained having baby boy. Hahaha sigh.
Bucharest doesn’t really have a sewing scene. Patterns are hard to come by (Thank God for PDF patterns!) and fabrics range from sequined polyester to sequined spandex. I usually bring one big suitcase back from my annual visit stateside filled with notions, fabrics and other necessities. Planning your sewing for a year ahead is frustrating and inevitably a massive failure. But it seems that sewing arts might be making an inroad.
This past weekend at a heritage building known as “The Ark”, which was originally the commodities stock exchange built in 1898, hosted a sewing/styling expo called #Creativo. It offered free classes in sewing, paper pattern alterations, draping and styling. A variety of companies hosted the event. Atelierele ILBAH hosted the sewing class my friend and I took out of curiosity. Being that I already sew, I assumed I would get frustrated as it was just a little intro to get people a taste of sewing to tease them into signing up for courses. But I really wanted to be part of the first sewing event of its kind in Bucharest. Also we don’t speak Romanian so we figured it might be challenging and language barriers always make for great comedy.
Once the organizers found they had two English speakers on their hands they made sure we had a translator at the ready. Romania is pretty old school as far as education goes. The instructor didn’t pin, measure, or press. The instructor is the authority and her word is law. I bit my tongue, cringed, and went with it. Until I wanted to top stitch a hem and was promptly removed from my machine. The instructor took over and that was that. I could not be trusted with making an envelope pillow.
Sewing is seen to be a skill to learn to start a business. As this being a promotion for their certification course it was certainly not the jovial vibe of sewing events in the states. But I’m thrilled to see that this craft is edging its way into the city.
The event also had sellers. I was especially excited to see Fabrix Studio there as they stock cotton, even some beautiful locally produced cotton for traditional embroidered shirts. The women working the booth were super friendly and excited about growing their business that’s unique to this area.
The well-known Prym notions was also on hand and had very personal service. The woman running the booth promised to get me a copy of the massive catalog as they are in English. Hopefully that all works out as I’m eager to get my fasteners for summer overalls and dungarees for Gus.
Neoprene, satin, splatter paint and ruffles? Why not? Romanians are definitely not shy about their style! Here’s hoping home sewing takes off here. I’m ready for knits and jersey to ride the wave in!
We have pillow cases!!! I also got to sport my new Anya skirt in public. Yay for sewing!!!
I once used this blog to talk about sewing, Paris, body image and, apparently, cherries. I’ll stillblog on those things (probably less about cherries), but a lot has changed since my last post years back. Too much has changed to follow that order.
SO life surprise… I became a new person. No more trips to Paris on a whim, suffering the morning of wrong-headed nights, buying things….I became a person called “Mom”.
No I didn’t get married, in fact, I’m a single parent not a part of a co-parent team. Which is different and does have some small up sides. No arguing over sleep training here!
So during those inescapable napping times, not having someone to let you run to the shop once the baby is down, I do get some sewing done. Less going out dresses or reproduction Hitchockesque vintage suits and a lot more practical baby stuff. And I’m okay with all of this most of the time.