Archive for March, 2008

Old Magazines

Just a few funny items today that I found in some old fragments of needlecraft magazines that belonged to my grandmother.


10 cents a yard sounds like a real bargain, even in 1920!  I wouldn’t call these remnants, since some are 5 yds long, but then I don’t have to make dresses that are ankle length.

The second picture shows some patterns from about 1923.  The dresses have very simple shapes so wouldn’t have been that difficult to sew.  I think most of the effort in this era went into the embellishment.  It reminds me of an old PBS series called The House Of Elliot.


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Mercado Dress

I decided to straighten up my bureau today and found my favorite Mexican dress, the one I bought at the Mercado in San Antonio.  I have been wanting to examine the embroidery and get ideas for the new Mexican Peasant blouses, but I thought the darn dress was lost in the laundry.  Of course, I had put it away neatly in a drawer which is the usual way I lose things.  This dress is 100% cotton and hand embroidered.


The dress is fairly long, reaching almost to the ankles.  There is embroidery on the yoke, front, and back yoke.  The picture above shows the dress on Madame Merp for a close-up of the embroidery.


Above is the embroidery at on the front lower portion of the dress.


There is even a little bit of decoration on the back yoke.


Here is a front view of the dress.  I remember when I was trying to choose which of the dresses to buy.  It was such a tough decision because the colors were so vibrant that they made your heart sing.  There were yellow, orange, purple, black, and green dresses as well as dresses that were all white.  I wanted them all.

I have never really used my computer sewing machine to its full potential so this Mexican blouse project will let me get some practice in with the various embroidery techniques and stitches.

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Mexican Embroidery Ideas

I am still designing an embroidery pattern for the yoke of the Mexican Peasant Blouse. I was discussing this with M when I remembered an old cotton summer dress I made for myself back in the 70’s during a hot east coast summer. I found the old dress and was impressed at how nice chain stitch looks when used for embroidery. The embroidery design came from a DMC booklet on Czechoslovakian Embroidery.


I am going to try a combination of machine and hand embroidery, since I have to make a lot of these blouses and it would take me years if I had to do all the embroidery by hand.


I am going to make a ‘muslin’ of the top in lime green broadcloth to test out the pattern. M wants me to cut the neckline down a little so that is what I am going to work on today.

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Torte Thursday

We haven’t had a Torte Thursday for awhile, so here is another old-timey recipe from Grandma G.  This recipe dates back to the 20’s when Grandma still lived in Wisconsin.

Blitz Kuchen

Grandma has penciled in “Good!” next to this recipe.

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cup flour

A Little Salt

1 cup milk

2 tsp. Baking Powder

2 eggs

Sift the sugar, baking powder, flour, and salt into a bowl.  Add butter to the bowl and rub into the dry ingredients.  Add the beaten eggs and milk, and if necessary, add more flour to make a rather stiff batter.

Spread the batter about one inch thick in a greased pan.  Sprinkle the top with sugar, cinnamon, and finely cut almonds.  Bake 30 mins (probably at 350 degrees).

Notice how Grandma doesn’t mention what size pan to use, how much salt to put in, or the oven temperature.  She does mention that this is an old German recipe.

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Grading a Pattern

 Years ago I picked up the book, Professional Pattern Grading….., by Jack Hanford at a book sale.  I think I paid $1 for it.  I did not know at the time that this book sells for a lot (!) more money, and I didn’t know it would be so useful.  The vintage pattern for the Mexican Peasant Blouse is in a smaller size, and I needed to enlarge it for my daughter.  I followed the instructions in the book and presto, I have the pattern in a larger size.  It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but only time and sewing will tell whether it worked or not.


I always trace off the vintage pattern because I don’t want to cut it up or ruin it.  I like this Vogue Pattern 1253 because it has the underarm gussets like the original peasant blouses, though this gusset has a more sophisticated shape than the simple square used in old time peasant clothes.

 img_2421.jpg  This poor fuzzy picture from the back of the pattern envelope will give you an idea of the shape of the garment and shows the gussets.

I have looked up currently available blouses on the internet to get ideas for the embroidery.  I am not sure whether I am going to do hand embroidery or machine embroidery. 

Time to go cut out the pattern pieces, because the daughter is coming over for a fitting this afternoon.

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Into The Future

I saved up my money and bought PatternMaster Boutique 4.  Even more incredible, I managed to load it onto the computer all by my middle-aged self without the help of the computer-savvy daughter.  Now that I have looked it over a little, I see that it will be very excellent.  It is similar to my SweaterWizard program in the way it works, and seems to have a lot of variety in the choice of design to draft.  If I could load it and get it to work, then it must be very user friendly indeed.  The more expensive program from the Swiss sewing machine company allows you to enter the measurements of 5 people, I believe, and PMB can support many files with many different sets of measurements.  This would be useful if you sewed for clients or had several sisters, like I do.  I am going to have to get the sisters over here for a measuring party one of these weekends.

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Sewing Books


I had books about sewing scattered all over the house, so I cleared off a space on the livingroom bookshelves, then rounded up all my various sewing books.  Now I have them all mostly in one place, especially the books on pattern drafting and alteration.  Now I just have to use them.

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