Tuesday, April 6, 2010

6 April 1956 “Duct-Tape Dummy, Dresses and Unplugged Wednesday”

womansewing A few of you have asked for a tutorial on my duct tape dummy. I merely used this tutorial here. CLICK ON THIS LINK. (I just found this link and have no idea who the people are in the photos, but the tutorial was really helpful.) It was the basis for my dummy, but I differed in it, in that I only used two roles of duct tape. I felt that was enough for me and I have had not problem with it as of yet. I stuffed it with leftover poly-fill from crafts and also a few bags of dryer lint. You may remember that during my week of War Rations, I began to look at all my ‘garbage’ in a new light and saw the waste of throwing away cleaned and screened cotton and wool fibers. I saved it for various things, such as making fire lighting starters etc. So, having had bags of it, I used some of it to fill my dummy. Many people are afraid of the fire hazard of it, but I wonder if that was not started when the ‘fire-retardant’ chemicals were being introduced so we would be frightened, throw away our old toys, and buy new. We have actually come to learn that the chemicals used to make such things (including baby clothes) are actually harmful when breathed in, which infant clothes and stuffed toys often are! But, I digress, you may stuff it with what you like.

I, having not finished my March dress, have come to realize that I actually prefer to sew without patterns. My last two dress challenges involved me making my own way through and having to figure it out. This seems to be the best way for me, so for April’s dress, I am going to try taping out a pattern on my form, draping fabric and making my dress in this way. I think my laxness in my march dress was that I am still fussing about with the pattern and it’s instructions. But, I must learn to follow patterns, I think, but am also happy to make my own and therefore my own designs. Within the framework of what I like about vintage styles, but with my own eye to my take on it and desire to embellish.

You will find the dummy rather easy to do. Simply get a good friend, a garbage bag, two rolls of duct tape and set aside two hours to laugh and giggle at yourself in your taped up armor. I kept feeling a cross between a robot and an armored Opera singer, often wishing for a horned helmet.operasinger

Speaking of dresses, I found these two styles from 1958 very interesting.58dresses The dropped waist has a 1920’s take, but in a very polished crisp 50’s esthetic. As a larger gal, 20’s fashions can be very unforgiving, grabbing a gall at the largest part of her body, but the dress on the right is loose enough, yet looks slightly tucked in at the waist to be both comfortable and very flattering. I could see possibly designing a top such as that and a few pleated skirts with hidden fasteners, so you could interchange them. They would hold like a dress and have a varied look to your wardrobe. I might make this my study for my April dress.

 undergarments2 The undergarment on the left is very helpful for a fuller figured gal, I think. You can see that it helps the tummy and hips and the fullness does not begin until below the hip. This can really help that basic 1950 silhouette for a larger girl, so a look such as this will be more flattering:50sdress1

handstyping We have been discussing various challenges on the Forum of late. We have one of our fellow Apronites who is doing a month of WWII wartime rations for herself. I did a week of the same and was really shocked at how much one saves when there is less around to eat. We are always discussing how to use technology in the modern world and not to be USED by it. So, we have decided tomorrow, Wednesday 7 April, will be our Unplugged day. That means NO computer, no radio (only old music/radio programs but no modern live radio with commercials) no tv. Of course, cell phones may have to be used if one has no land lines, but NO texting and only using it for what is needed not talking for an hour about what you are doing while on the phone.

For me, quite honestly, except for the computer (which I only use for this blog/website and the subsequent research required for it) it will be little different from what has become my ‘normal’ day. But I have had all of 1955 and the beginning of 1956 to get used to it.

I am excited to see how others fare. And I am hoping we could make it a weekly or possibly twice a month occurrence. Then we could continue to discuss what happened and how we fared on the forum. I like this ideal of social experiment to challenge oneself and to really form new conclusions about our modern world and our roles within the system that currently exists. It might be a way to continue to grow our independent strengths and to use to bend technology to our needs and not feel so dependent upon it. We shall see how we all fare.

I love that our community is growing in ways that though we all live so far from one another, we can still be a network that challenges our minds and concepts and encourages our own personal, artistic, and homemaking growth.

50'sgirls with radio For me, as an artist, music was always such a part of my day. I would have the iPod docked and playing music all the time while painting, creating etc. Then when not doing that I would often be watching TV or surfing the net. After a few months in 1955, having to ‘listen to the radio’ by playing cd’s of old music and radio shows, I began to realize my love of old vinyl. My old record player does not have the option to stack up multi-records to continue to play (available in 1955 to some) so I would let a record play through and then find, after a few hours, I had been simply humming along to myself or really just thinking more.

I began to regain my thoughts. My inner dialogue and thought patterns were returning to me in a way I had not experienced for awhile. The music, as well, seemed to have more of a pure joy to it, when it was dished out in small increments of one side of a 33 record. And the act of holding the big black circle and that first crackle of sound as the needle hits the vinyl, was a very tangible moment of experience. Again, those actions made it more real and therefore more enjoyable to me. Yes, it is nice I can just press one button on my iPod and play days and days of music, but then it all blurs and blends into the background. The act of a cup of tea, feet up, an old magazine and the music, or sitting with your eyes closed listening to it or even the joy of it as you bop along to your housework all made it more of an event or moment. There being a very definite end to it (without my pressing a stop/pause button) somehow makes it seem more meaningful to me.

I have often thought of the Grandmother in the 1940’s House reality show. After the experiment, she was never the  same. She began to budget and make shopping lists. She would only buy food to prepare and shop in local shops and found she ate better and spent 1/4 of her old food budget. She also found writing again and would journal and write letters. She had thought that due to aging she had lost her ability to form sentences or recall more complex words, but found it was simply from lack of use. I, too, have felt that through my writing here (and in my actual pen to paper writing which I often do now as well). I found that I had let the ease of the modern world actually rob me of bits of ME. My thoughts, and patterns of speech and then subsequent actions in creative endeavors as well as conversation had been lost to the media.  I could barley utter a collection of sentences without a pop reference to the Simpsons or some ‘old show’. There is nothing wrong with that, but merely regurgitating others phrases is not as enjoyable as having one’s own thoughts.

Much of what I have come to just consider the pleasures and the rights of my day, to be unplugged, are really not things a modern person does. We often find ourselves bombarded with constant noise, music, advertising.  I have a friend whose TV is constantly on, even if they are using the computer or playing video games. The noise almost robs one of their own thoughts. The incessant ads and commercials playing out in the background. Even surfing online is an exercise in dodging advertising. Again, technology and advancement is not bad, but I think it can be harmful if one allows it to completely color their day to the point that it paints out a persons individuality.

So, any of you who have not found us on the Forum, or would like to have a go at it, tomorrow is our first UNPLUGGED day. If you do it, or even if you want to try it on a weekend day when you are not at work, do so and then let us know here how it worked. Did you hate it? Did you hear your thoughts for the first time in a long time. Were you anxious, bored, scared, mad, happy? Let us know.

Well, happy day to all, and happy homemaking.


  1. I apparently have a conflict. I'm only active in a couple of forums online but one of them is on cafemom.com. Cafemom is having a No Housework day tomorrow when all members are meant to sit around on the computer all day and ignore their homes and families.

    Sadly I'm not kidding about No Housework day but I am kidding about the conflict. I would never participate in such a thing, this whole moms on strike mentality bothers me. Why on earth would you want to sit around on the computer all day when there is so much more to do?

  2. Rhonda-How odd? Why, indeed, would you want to ignore people in favor of the computer? Do they mean to literally not cook, clean nor respond to family memebers but instead watch pop up ads and other 'important' info?
    Does that mean you are going to unplug tomorrow?

  3. It really is ridiculous, I couldn't imagine not doing any housework all day. There are days when I don't do much like if I'm taking the boy down to Boston for the day but I still do the basics in the morning and play a little catch up in the evenings. Even if I'm sick I find myself doing bits and pieces like popping dishes in the dishwasher and wiping down the kitchen counter.

    I don't know about unplugging all day, still trying to figure out where my line is for that sort of thing. My computer is open most of the time because that's how my hubby contacts me during the day, it's how I listen to music, and I keep most of my recipes and such on the computer. There's also the fact that everything will be the next day anyway so even if I ignore the blogs I read and so on I can catch up the next day anyway.

    Here's the post from the cafemom home page...

    Forget about spring cleaning! Throw down your brooms and sponges and leave the laundry for another day – National No Housework Day is on the way!

    We know that there's no way you'd rather spend No Housework Day than at a CafeMom party. So, in honor of this fantastic day, on Wednesday, April 7, we're throwing the biggest and best CafeMom bash yet.

    The CafeMom No Housework Day Party
    April 7, 2010
    10 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET

  4. How ironic that the day we randomly chose to unplug and become more connected to your house and your own mind is the day they chose to sit at the computer more and type ;) and :). Just our luck. Oh, well. If you do unplug, let me know how it felt.

  5. I think unplugging from the internet once in a while is a great idea. We have family days where we do just that for a whole day and play a board game together.

    Michelle in Canada

  6. 50sgal,

    I think that unplugging is a great thing to do. That incessant noise of the world--TV, radio, billboards, etc. does indeed rob one of their very thoughts. Good post.

  7. Lovely dresses, and your idea of having different skirts to one top is great, it makes your wardrobe much more versatile (and cost less).

    I love those elegant hands with the lovely nails on the vintage typewriter.

    Your one day technology-free challenge is what I’m already doing, I love music from the forties and fifties (I collect vintage vinyl discs), and I only listen to modern radio in the morning to hear the news. I hardly ever watch TV and love vintage movies. I have a cell phone that I hardly never use, DH calls me once a day or so, and I hardly ever text. I don’t think I am dependent on my computer either, except for my job of course since I am in the IT-business. I might turn it on when I come home, receive e-mails and then let it alone. I am not addicted to either e-mails or the internet, I often don’t reply to mails immediately, but love to keep and reread them before answering, much like you would do with a real letter. So you can kind of count me in on that one day challenge. :)

    And yes, vinyl gives a very different musical experience. I always get compliments from my guests for playing vinyl, they all get so nostalgic when hearing the sound of a vintage vinyl record. My brother and I went to a huge vinyl market at the Isle of Moen during the Easter, we are both vinyl fans, and I found some vintage records; Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, etc. I’m listening to them every day when I come home now.

    I also have friends whose TV is always on and I always ask them to turn it off. I think it is rude to have it turned on when you have guests. It is very distracting and annoying to have the noise and the flickering lights, when you try to have a conversation.

  8. How interesting that the older woman found that she was not losing communication skills due to age, but to lack of use. Since I'm of a certain age, it's encouraging to me to think that some things can be recovered by reclaiming periods of time in which you are not zoning out to constant media.

  9. P.S. Also regarding the fact that she ate better after living a 1940's lifestyle, I often wonder if the true allure of "French Women Don't Get Fat" and other books espousing the European lifestyle isn't really nostalgia for a time when we all ate better and meals were a vital part of family life. I was pleasantly surprised on a visit to Paris a few year ago (a second visit separated from the first by man years) that there still is an abundance of fresh foods and that people still shop on a daily basis. But, even though they have held out longer than we Americans have, the "speeded-up" lifestyle is encroaching on them. And, there are Micky D's and Starbuck's everywhere there!

  10. Yesterday was interesting. I really only had to uplug from the computer, I am already unplugged everywhere else. hubby and I were talking this morning at breakfast how we have NO advertising in our lives. We do not listen to modern radio. He gets his news from internet. I read magazines with 50 year old ads that I actually read on purpose for reason of study and we have no tv so no commercials there. Even our small town life has no billboards in it unless we drive to the city. Even in the city, which is Boston for us, has no where near the advertising that say NYC has. We really are advertising free. We were wondering if we were more naturally immune to it and find it easier to live a noisless tv-less life because of how we were raised. Hubby had almost no tv growing up and only a little radio. Most of his music was classical as he was listening to pieces he was interested in and having piano lessons. My stay at home mother WAS a 1950s homemaker, and would never have turned the tv on during the day. When it was on, it was because I wanted to watch something and I only liked old shows. even the music at our house was old records and music, not really any readio. Interesting.
    I will tonight and post tomorrow about my 'findings' on having my 'unplugged' day. I hope others will give it a try.

  11. 50sgall,

    I find it absolutely lovely that both you AND your husband joy in a TV-free media-free life. How blessed you are! While I have never been much of a TV person, DH LIVES at the TV each evening. It is his mental escape. I often wonder what he would do if we didn't have TV.

  12. I bet he would read, have conversations with you and get his thoughts back. That is what I assume, of course. It is funny how we just get into that habit of the tv (I did at one time) and we just give our lives and minds over to it, it is so easy and we are creatures of habit. But, it is not really hard to break it. I was surprised, when we suggested our unplugged day, it seemed a few ladies were willing and then felt that they would not even ask their husbands, I just wonder why? What would happen if you said to your hubby, "I want to try this one day, could you oblige?" I would think any loving husband, even if he thought you were cukoo, would oblige for one day. I say, ladies, don't underestimate your men, ask or see if they want to be more 'into' what you are into. There doesn't have to be this separation of likes, of course I might be reading more into it.

  13. I didn't feel the need to participate in the challenge since I don't watch much tv and can easily get off the computer. Besides, we already experienced this challenge for real when our neighborhood lost power for a few days. No tv, no phones, except for the old fashioned plug in kind, no computer or video games. My family really had a hard time with it, especially my husband because he to uses tv to relax. (Maybe this is a man thing- seems a lot of us are saying this about out hubbies.) It was a bit harder because the weather was still pretty bad and the kids couldn't go out to play as much as they had wanted to. But when they did all the kids on the street were out and playing together.

    I think it's good to do this every so often but it can be hard. So much of the information from school, invitations, work and classes are all done by email. So if I miss a day I can miss something relevant for that day. But checking in is very different from obsessively being plugged in.

    The dresses are very pretty. My mother wore that style (dropped waist) in the 80's (I remember it coming back for a bit) with the proper undergarments, despite being heavy. I think it would still look streamlined and elegant on you, especially considering your height.


  14. 50sgal,

    Yes, he probably would. And, I’m sure that he would oblige me for a day but most likely not permanently. To his credit, however, when I asked him what he would do if we didn’t have cable, he said that he would just watch the local channels.

    It seems that there are just certain personality types that gravitate towards the TV. DH had it on day and night when I met him. He would fall asleep to it, which he still does to this day. My sister has been a TV person since she was a child, while I never had much of an interest. I think that maybe it has to do with their mental makeup and the need for stimulation and entertainment. While I do watch some TV, I would usually rather just be alone with my thoughts.

  15. I wonder what those personalities did in say 1900? They must have had the same need, so I wonder what their outlet would have been? Interesting to find out,though, wouldnt' it?


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