dresses out of vintage tablecloths

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I found another gem in the box of vintage stuff from Anne's mom's house- I'm going to start calling them "Anne-me-downs"- a home made dress from the 1940's worn by an aunt long ago.
I'm sure it's made out of a tablecloth. The tablecloth selvedge is intact along the hem. And of course there is the border design and the nubby, tableclothy texture. I just love the 1940's for it's clever upcycling. I've blogged about it here before. I can only hope to channel that cleverness.

I've been gathering more than a few vintage tablecloths and have added some more to my growing stash.
Yellow cosmos- so delicate.
Oh so very 1950's roses.

Another one in cobalt blue and avocado.
More 1950's roses.
I don't think think this one is quite vintage. I bought it at an estate sale for the pretty appliqué. It looks like the kind of appliqué made for export from the Philippines. It's the girliest, pasteliest one I have. A sweet little girl and her mom came to the studio for a custom dress. The forthright little miss went straight for this one which was stacked on the shelf, only visible from the side.
Okey dokey, then. I usually use manila hard patterns, but I like to use tissue when cutting out the tablecloth dresses. Makes it easier to engineer the placement.
I also made this one a while back and have it listed in the chirp & bloom shop. More to come...

vintage feedsack love

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've been at it again- bidding for stuff on Ebay with reckless abandon. I'm accumulating a nice little collection of vintage feedsacks. It's hard to believe today, with our disposable mindset, that things like flour, sugar, salt, and chicken feed used to come in soft cotton bags with the loveliest prints. The label for the contents was a paper band around the sack, but the sack itself was fully reuseable. The most common bag size worked out to be about a yard of fabric. You can make a lot with a yard of fabric.
My mother grew up on a farm in Idaho and remembers making things like cafe curtains, pj's, aprons, and little tops and shorts sets out of feed sacks.
That's her at the very top of the photo. Her cousin, to the immediate right, is wearing the type of shorts set they could get out of a feedsack. I guess midriff exposure was OK in the early '50's! I'm still having her dig for  a photo showing an actual feedsack outfit.
The earliest bags were made starting in the 1840's and were very utilitarian-looking with the label printed on and no florals. The pretty patterns came into being starting in the 1920's when manufacturers became aware that housewives were reusing them for quilts and such. Having the prettiest printed bags gave the feed/flour/sugar manufacturer a competitive edge. Both types of bag are highly collectible today. The bags stopped being produced in the 1960's.
Very few bags survived the Great Depression era when anything that could be reused was, over and over again, until it fell apart. Most bags that you see for sale now were made after the Depression. A bag dating from that time- I'm not an expert, so I wouldn't be able to tell- would be worth considerably more.
Intact bags- bags with the side and bottom still sewn shut- are also worth more. The blue one, above, is intact. I don't know if I can bear to cut it up, even though they were made to be reused and that was my original intent when buying them. Maybe I'll use the ones that have already been cut into for some patchwork skirts for chirp & bloom.
Many old patterns are being reproduced today by quilt fabric manufacturers, but there's just something more cool to me about the originals that I can't quite put my finger on. The texture maybe? It's soft and a looser weave than today's quilting cotton. Or maybe it's just the idea of their former life on the farm. Love!

and the winner is...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I've been anticipating the the results of this year's Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest for weeks. I was reminiscing about past winners a while back. This year I was imagining entries along the lines of Tiger Peep getting his windshield smashed with a golf club made of a toothpick and other such sordid themes. But I was way off the mark. The results are in and the winner and several finalists and runners up did perfect pitch renditions of scenes from children's books and movies. And the winner is...
"Eep" by Michael Chirlin & Veronica Ettle based on the Disney Pixar movie "Up". 
The impressive construction utilizes bed springs to hold up the house and many, many popsicle sticks for the victorian-style shingles shingles.
There's Russel on the porch with his merit badge sash and Mr. Fredericksen in the window with his glasses.
"The Mad Hatter's Peeps Party" by Amy Billingham, Rob Black, & Lauren Emeritz, based on the children's classic "Alice in Wonderland, was a finalist. I love the peep-shaped topiaries in the background.
Admirable use of sculpey clay to make the food and teapots.
What parent doesn't know this book by heart? Based on Margaret Wise Brown's "Goodnight Moon", finalist Mary Lea Harris' "Goodnight Peep" doesn't miss a single detail...
right down to the red mittens drying on the rack...
and the old lady whispering "hush"- while knitting with dress pin needles.
I just read the basis of this one to my kids tonight. "Peepaline", by 17 year-old Grace Timmery (you go girl!) and based on the book "Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans, made the semifinalist list.
This one just goes to show how deep the talent pool is in this competition. "Where the Wild Peeps Are" by Margaret Cooney and Adam Matuszeski looks just like the book. And I won't even bother to say what that book is- we all know, right people?

This year's entries certainly were exceptional and set the bar that much higher for next year. These are just a small sampling. Go to the official Washington Post page and see the rest of the impressive finalists and semifinalists and even some videos. All the images here are courtesy of the Washington Post.

Happy Easter!!!!