Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan (then the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic) and was originally called Decoration Day. The holiday was first observed on May 30th, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873, and by 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. Southern states chose to honor their Civil War dead on separate days until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring all Americans in any war. Some Southern states still have a special day set aside for honoring Confederate soldiers.
Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic. -- General Logan - May 5, 1868  


Time magazine has an excellent article here about the history of Memorial Day.

 Citizens of Springfield, Vt and veterans of the Civil War gather in town to celebrate Memorial Day c. 1900 - Source
 Veterans of the Civil War march in a Memorial Day parade in Springfield, Vt c. 1900 - Source
Sadly, Memorial Day for some has turned into an excuse to go shopping for holiday deals at retail stores, car dealerships, etc. and to indulge in weekend-long cookouts. While there is nothing particularly wrong with any of those things, (I love cookouts and saving money too!) please, let's not forget what this holiday is really all about. (Find out how you can Help Restore The Traditional Day Of Observance)

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. It is a day to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. By all means enjoy your day off from work, spend time with friends and family, but as you go about your day please take a moment and say thank you to a veteran or active service member.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Day I Danced with Frankie Manning

Happy Birthday to Frankie Manning, the Ambassador of Lindy Hop! (May 26, 1914 – April 27, 2009)

Frankie and his partner Frieda Washington are credited with performing the first first aerial step in a swing dance competition. (Listen to the story here, it's long but you wont be disappointed!)

"Based at the Savoy Ballroom, to which he was drawn as a teenager by the superb swing bands and fabulous lindy hopping, Frankie soon took his talents on the road as a lead dancer and chief choreographer for Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. He appeared in several films including Radio City Revels with Ann Miller (1937) and Hellzapoppin’ with Olsen & Johnson and Martha Raye (1941), and toured the world with jazz greats Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill " Bojangles " Robinson, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Cab Calloway among others. While dancing in London in 1937, Frankie gave a command performance for King George VI. In 1941, " Musclehead " Manning was featured in a Life magazine article that highlighted his acrobatic brand of lindy."
- Source

Believe it or not, I danced with Frankie once. Granted, he was in his late 80s and I was a senior in high school, but he could still move! I attended a weekend swing dance workshop with a friend of mine. In the evening they had a huge jam session and Frankie was there as a guest of one of the instructors. I have to admit I didn't really know who he was at the time. I just knew he was an old guy with some really fancy footwork!! During the jam session - were one or two couple at a time show off their best moves - Frankie went around and pulled random people from the crowd to dance with. When he pick me he spun me around a few times and when the song ended he dipped me. Ha, my dance partner was so jealous.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Current Project - A Green Bridesmaid Dress

What  is everyone working on these days? My current sewing project, which I may have mentioned before, is a bridesmaid dress for my friend Erin's wedding. The wedding is June 8th so I really need to finish this soon! The three girls in the wedding will all be wearing different colored dresses and different colored shoes. My dress will be paired with bright pink shoes! :)

I'm using a vintage pattern for this project, Vogue Couturier Designs 919 pattern from 1952. 

I'm making the tea length version but the skirt will not be as fluffy as it looks on the pattern cover. For the most part the dress is going together rather well. The skirt is cut in four pieces - two front and two back - with a shear overlay that is gathered to fit the waist.

The bodice is proving the most difficult part. The bodice and bodice lining use the same pattern pieces with the exception of the bodice fronts. There is a separate left and right front that are pleated and overlapped at the center. This seemed easy enough at first but when it came to fitting the bodice I found I had to completely redo the pleats. After, of course, I had already carefully hand stitched them in place. ugh....
The very odd looking bodice front before pleating
In the pictures below you can see the left and right fronts along with the pattern pieces. I carefully remarked the pleats using a white fabric pencil and pinned them into place. 

Bodice left front
Bodice right front
The bodice right front overlaps the left. After I check the fit and stitch the pleats in place the bodice and bodice lining will be sewn right sides together along the top edge, flipped, and pressed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Liebster Blog Award!

I'm a little late posting this but I had a lovely surprise the other day! Kristin of Sew Classic has nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. I actually was nominated for the award last year by Elizabeth of Sew 18th Century (you can read my post here) but I am honor to be nominated for again. As I told Kristin, I often wonder how many people do read my blog. I love getting feed back from my readers, trading ideas and inspiration, etc. I try to leave comments on many of the blogs I follow and really appreciate it when others do them same. It’s wonderful to be connecting with people who enjoy many of the same things I do. I think that’s been the most rewarding part of blogging for me.

The Liebster Award was created to reward and promote excellent and interesting blogs with less than 200 followers. The criteria has changed a little bit since last year. In addition to nominating 11 other small blogs each winner gets to ask 11 questions about there sewing, favorite things, etc.

Here are my answers to Kristin’s questions
1. How old were you when you started sewing? - I’m not really sure 7 maybe? My mom is a quilter and made a lot of clothing for us kids growing up. I learned to sew from her. I learned some sewing through 4-H, Girl Scouts, etc. I always loved playing dress up as a kid and started to get interested in sewing historic clothing when I was in high school.

2. What compels you to create something? - Mood and general interest at a given time. I don’t know if that’s a good answer or not. Lol! Often times I create something because of an up coming event. Other times I’m inspired because of what I see other bloggers creating.

3. What is your favorite medium to create? (e.g. sewing, knitting, painting, writing, etc) - My favorite medium by far is fabric. There’s just something about fabric, about being able to take a piece of cloth that is flat and lifeless and turn it into something 3D and wearable. I really love draping fabric on a dress form and seeing it take shape. Plus with so many colors, textures, and designs the creative possibilities are really endless.

4. What is your best memory of sewing? - That’s hard one. For as long as I can remember there has been a sewing room at my parent’s house filled with my mom’s colorful quilting fabrics. 

5. Is there a time period or style that you create? - Mainly the 1750s to 1770s but I’m getting more into the 1930s and 1940s. I think because clothing from that period of time is so classic, easy to make, and can be worked into a person’s wardrobe today. A nice pencil skirt or shirtwaist dress looks less out of place in the office then a hoop skirt and layers of petticoats!

6. Is there a time period or style you're drawn to but never work within? - The 1870s. I love the bustle time period and have always wanted to make a dress but have yet to do so.

7. Do you have any insecurities regarding sewing/crafting/etc? - I’ve had a few unpleasant experiences with individuals in the living history world who know everything. Before I really knew what was period correct I didn’t really worry about what I was wearing. Once I became more interested in authenticity and felt the need to get things right, I was a little self conscious of wearing something I knew wasn’t totally period appropriate. There will always be people in the living history hobby that know, even if they don’t, and are more than happy to tell you what’s what. I just remind myself that I’ve done my research and double checked it and that helps me wear my creations with confidence.

8. If you make vintage inspired or period clothing, how often do you wear it? - During summer months when I was in college I basically lived in my 18th century clothes full time between my job at a living history museum and weekend reenactments. Now it’s at least one weekend a month from May to October. I rarely get the chance to wear any of my 19th century clothing. As for vintage clothing or clothing I’ve made from vintage patterns, it’s hard to say. I wear a few things here and there to work but don’t often dress in full vintage. I'm trying to make more excuses to do so. :)

9. What's your favorite thing you've made? (Not exclusive to sewing.) - I make a pretty good homemade raspberry liqueur, if I do say so myself. I also make a really good cheese and onion bread. At least I assume it’s good because it disappears quickly and I’ve never heard any complaints!

10. If you could give any piece of advice to someone that you've learned about anything, what would it be? - Have fun and learn to enjoy life. Wear what you want to and do the things that make you happy. In the end its about doing what you enjoy and having fun.

11. What's your favorite dessert to bake? – Oooh this is an easy one, anything with chocolate! Or apple pie with a chuck of sharp cheddar cheese served on the side. Yeah, that’s a New England thing.

Here is my list of blogs, in no particular order, that I would like to nominate for the Liebster Blog Award. All of these blogs are ones I really enjoy and find inspirational for many different reasons.

1. 1940s Style for You
2 .1940's Vintage Wardrobe Challenge
3. A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
4. A Vintage Ramble
5. Before the Automobile
6. Flashback Summer
7. Hey Doll Vintage Magazine
8. Young, Broke, and Fabulous
9. Disaster In A Dress
10. Buttons and bobbins
11. Retro Reporter

And here is my list of questions.
1. What is your favorite movie to watch or music to listen to when your are sewing?
2. What compels you to create something and where do you get your inspiration for projects?
3. What is your favorite medium to create with? (e.g. sewing, knitting, painting, writing, etc)
4. What is your favorite finished project or favorite kind of project to work on?
5. Is there a time period or style that you enjoy more than any other?
6. What do you find most satisfying about sewing/crafting?
7. Do you have any insecurities regarding sewing/crafting/etc?
8. If you make vintage inspired or period clothing, how often do you wear it?
9. What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
10.What is your favorite food?
11. If you could give any piece of advice to someone that you've learned about anything, what would it be? 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Blog Name Change

Hi everyone. Just quick post. I wanted to let you all know that I've decided to make a slight name change to my blog. The title of my blog going forward will be "Emily's Vintage Visions."

There are a couple reasons for making this change. First, I've been blogging for a little over a year now and in that time I've given a lot of thought to expanding my sewing and vintage collecting. There are still some details to work out but I'm in the process of opening a shop on Etsy were I hope to offer some of my vintage creations as well as original vintage treasures. Sadly, in exploring the how tos of setting up a shop on Etsy, I found the name "My Vintage Visions" was already taken. :(

Second, I've found that there are a number sites on the web using one variation or another of "my vintage vision(s)" or "my vintage this or that." A few bloggers have even linked back to me simply using the name "Vintage Visions." It was only after I started blogging as My Vintage Visions that I realized the confusion.

By changing the name of my blog, as well as the name I use for my Facebook and Pinterest pages, I'm hoping to get set up for future plans, make my online experience a little more personal. and avoid future name confusions. Thanks!

Great Hair Fridays - May 1943

For today's Great Hair Fridays post, a May 1943 issue of the Modern Beauty Shop.

This issue features some lovely styles for short hair, leg make-up, and some unusual hairpiece hats. Enjoy!

Modern Beauty Shop - May 1943 Source

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy V-E Day!

Happy Victory in Europe Day! Today marks the end of the fighting in Europe during the Second World War. V-E Day marks the Allies' formal accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. After Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945 during the Battle of Berlin, the surrender of Germany was authorized by his successor, President of Germany Karl Dönitz.

The fighting continued for another three months in the Pacific. On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri, finally bringing the war to an end.

VE Day memories 65 years on: 'Electricity in the air' - Source
8th May 1945: Crowds celebrating VE day on the streets of London. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, officially announced the end of the war with Germany in a message broadcast to the nation from the Cabinet room at Number 10, he said the ceasefire had been signed at 0241 the previous day at the American advance headquarters in Rheims.
Original Publication: Picture Post - 1991 - This Was VE Day In London - pub. 1945
Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images - Source
Smiling for the camera: VE Day is remembered for the celebrations – not grumbles about the lack of church bells  
Photo: GETTY
US MP's reading about German surrender in Stars and Stripes - Source


At Piccadilly Circus in London, an American soldier gives a hug to a motherly looking English woman celebrating Germany's unconditional surrender - Source

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Patterns! - Which One to Sew First?

Hello everyone! I have some new vintage sewing patterns to add to my stash. I'm so excited about these but I can't decide which one to make up first. I need some help. My birthday is at the end of the month and I really want to make something special to celebrate. Which pattern does everyone like best? Suggestions for color, trim, etc. would be great! I will try and take some photos tonight of the fabrics in my stash and post those too.

Cori and I are thinking about having a set of engagement photos done with us in 1940s fashions so I will most likely use which ever dress I make for the photo shoot as well. There is a family friend with a collection of classic cars. We're hoping we can twist his arm into letting us for one for the photos. Fingers crossed!

Advance 4199 - I can see made out of a fun colored print.

Vogue pattern 5403- Yeah, finally a pattern with a side drape! I've been looking for one of these for a while now.

Vogue Special Design pattern 4503- Great waist detail on this pattern. I can see this made in a solid color with some kind of trim or maybe a large rhinestone pin on the bodice.

Hollywood pattern 1413- I have a black fabric with a little red and green floral print that would work great for the dress Hollywood pattern. I really like the detail on the bodice as well as the side drape.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Great Hair Fridays - Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione

Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione, also know as La Castiglione, was an Italian aristocrat who for a short time was a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. The Countess was also a significant figure in the early history of photography and today, a perfect candidate for Great Hair Fridays.

From a fascinating article at the MET -

Fascinated by her own beauty, the countess would attempt to capture all its facets and re-create for the camera the defining moments of her life. Far from being merely a passive subject, it was she who decided the expressive content of the images and assumed the art director's role, even to the point of choosing the camera angle. She also gave precise directions on the enlargement and repainting of her images in order to transform the simple photographic documents into imaginary visions—taking up the paintbrush herself at times. Her painted photographs are among the most beautiful examples of the genre.

 There is a lot going on in this photo! Her hair, her gown with all that trim, the fan ... wow!
Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione posing as “Elvira,” circa 1861-1867

 This one almost looks modern. With her wild looking hair she would fit right in with some of today's runway models.

Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione
The Countess posed for a series of pictures in her elaborate costumes. You can view some of those pictures here.
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