Thursday, November 4, 2010

4 November 1956 “Party Pics and Home-made Christmas Gifts: Never Too Early To Start”

birthdaysnapshot I had a fine birthday yesterday. Here is a real snapshot of we gals on a vintage late 50’s instamatic camera. I believe it is the Polaroid land camera. My friend’s boyfriend (the girl on the far right in vintage hat) collects these old cameras, fixes them and even resurfaces the outside with new naugahyde and leather. The one he brought has my favorite 50’s blue where you see the green on this version below.
landcamera I had meant to take a picture of his camera, but forgot. I shall do so again to show all of you. He has quite a collection.
I am not sure where he gets the black and white instant film, but it is wonderful. He points, clicks, pulls it out and in a minute or so we have these wonderful pictures. vintagesnapshots This shot, though not on the old Polaroid, is our posed ‘bunny-hop’, let’s just say there was silliness had by all. bunnyhopI am lucky that my friends often dress very vintage for my get togethers. It makes a gal feel happy and rather ‘in the moment’. I have become so spoiled with 1950’s life that I often get a sad shock when I venture out to the ‘real world’ and wonder why everyone is dressed so ‘odd’.
Here is the lovely cake my friend made me.
birthdaycakemeYou can see it is shining in all its 1950’s glory and it is home-made to boot. When asked what type of cake I would like I suggested banana walnut with cream cheese frosting. I got it and it was wonderful and completely made from scratch.
My friend said, “For anyone else it would have been a box cake, for for you I know I couldn’t do that”. She said she had never made a banana walnut cake before and at first was intimidated, but then was glad she did it.
“I even smashed the bananas by hand,” she beamed with pride. It was so wonderful and three layers! I send you all a virtual piece to enjoy. She then confided, “I had no idea how easy it was to make cream cheese frosting, I won’t ever buy it pre-made again”. So true, so true, we always found out the joy of home-made, the ease and the better taste.
Among my various gifts, I received a darling vintage silk scarf ( a gal can never have too many), my friends went in and got two new white-wall tires for my vintage bike (I shall ride on!).
iloveparislpI also received this record album, which I played while we played cards. When the can-can came on, we all wanted to dance and toss our petticoats, I can tell you.
I also was so happy when I opened a box to find this vintage chip-n-dip.chipndip1 It is styled very much the way I like. It has the “Early American” sensibility in the pattern, but the modern flair of the teak handles in little rocket-like lozenge shapes and all done up in brass. Here is a close up of the pattern and the pretty green (much prettier in person)chipndip2 It will look lovely at Thanksgiving, as the gold will match my good china (also trimmed in gold).
Such a wonderful day and I want to thank all of you for your warm and happy birthday regards on the blog, emails, and letters. So kind of all of you and I really appreciate it so much, I am very lucky indeed.
Now, I thought I might share with you some ‘home-made’ Christmas gift ideas. I have quite a few 50’s Christmas magazines. It is not too early to begin thinking about it if you are going to make any hand made items. So, for that perfect true vintage gift, I will share with you, over the next month, some fun ideas.fabricprinting2fabricprinting1 fabricprinting3
Now with these gift ideas and the subsequent ‘instructions’ we must remember that vintage magazines for the homemaker assumed a certain level of skill. Or, I think, they gave the homemaker the benefit of the doubt that they were intelligent and able to follow written directions and take an abstraction and make it tangible. These items shown give you an array of ideas and tell you what they used to make the pattern. They DO NOT have pictorial step by steps to show how to literally do it.
What is interesting to me about this is that one assumes they are talking to adults. Now, I don’t mean that to sound patronizing or rude, but in fact, simple written directions paired with a finished product was deemed enough information for an adult to ‘figure it out’. I think today we modern people are so ‘led’ by our passive life styles that we really expect a long drawn out series of steps, with video, pictures and etc. In fact, we want an hour long show to demonstrate to us what one page of this magazine expects you to understand.
I think the step by step guides,though helpful, would seem almost babyish or elementary to the 1950’s homemaker or even home DIY’er. And, really, when you think about it, if you want to make some of these items, how hard should it be? If you want to make the blouse, for example, you can surely use a pattern for a blouse you already have, buy a pattern for a blouse to use again or use a ready made plain blouse. The instructions in using the flattened tea strainer and thimble are simple but one can figure out the placement by the photo or, better yet, make your own design.
The clothespin bag, for example, shows no pattern. Yet, we can see that it is made over a wire coat hanger. Therefore, take a wire coat hanger (or whatever hanger you prefer) lay it down on some paper and draw around it the shape you like. Remember to leave at least 1/2 an inch allowance (that is to say draw 1/2 inch bigger around than you want it to be when done) so it fits after being sewn. I think this a darling item and I want one! I love the vintage 50’s orange pink with the black old fashioned clothespin motif.  An apron in this color and pattern along the hem and maybe two clothes pins ‘crossed’ on the pocket with black ric rac on the edge would be adorable.
I have to say I LOVE the affect of the potato masher pattern on the draperies. These would make a great pattern on simple pillows to sew up for Christmas or hostess gifts, don’t you think?
Who will be trying any hand-made gifts this year? Do you like to receive such gifts?
Happy Homemaking.


  1. What a fun birthday party! I wish I had more friends who are interested in vintage fashion!

    I adore your chip n dip. I have been looking for one myself for quite a while, and just love the style of yours!

  2. Love the chip and dip bowl.

    Yes, I think instructions were not so detailed years ago, because they expected people to know how to do simple things.

    I bought an early 50's pattern for a dress (the blue polka dotted one I made) from a thrift store for $1.

    The picture on the pattern envelope showed two kinds of necklines for the dress -- a placket-type neckline, and a sweetheart neckline.

    I chose the sweetheart neckline, and guess what? There were no instructions or pattern pieces for that neckline or for a facing for it! I checked, and all the pattern pieces were in the envelope; none were missing.

    I surmised that manufacturers of patterns back then assumed that any dummy would know how to construct her own sweetheart neckline and facing!!

    I finally used the mouth of a tea cup for a template and traced my own facing for it (where there's a will there's a way) and made the sweetheart neckline and it came out fine.

    Also, the pattern pieces themselves had no printing whatsoever on them! Just etched holes from A to H.

  3. Cedar-I am lucky because there are four of us who, though not into as much as I am, like vintage fashion. I forgot to get a color picture of my friend's hat (in the b & w shot-she also made the cake). It is a lovely frothy confection of the most beautiful champagne/pink/taupe netting piled into a little hat. It is vintage, still has tag, and attaches with two little built in combs, simply adorable. My other friend is recently planning a trip to Las Vegas with hubby for vow renewal and she just got the most wonderful 1960 hand sequined sheath dress in champagne and powder blue, to die for. To accompany it she has a pair of vintage Lucite heels with matching sequined foot strap. It is more fun when you can be with others who, when approaching old clothes, handbags and hats, exclaim "I have to have that" though you have to be quick on the draw, as we all like the same thing!
    The chip and dip was picked out by the gentleman who collects and uses the old 50's instant cameras. I was very impressed with his taste and he even said, "I thought it would match your china" as you can see it where we sit in my dining room. He is the boyfriend/fiancée of the friend in the hat.
    Though none of us, except me, are exclusively vintage, we all have vintage habits and things we enjoy.
    Mary R-I loved that dress you made too and how funny, because when I saw the neckline I thought, 'Oh, I have to make that!" so now to know you simply used a tea cup, I have mentally filed that away.
    It is true, the vintage patterns are so much more 'vague' while the reproduction patterns practically hold your hand. It is a good study to do a few repro's first as then when you approach the vintage you already understand basic construction.
    I like the idea of not pandering or talking down to your customers and I think it shows, again, how really smart and advanced the homemakers of yore really were. We love to paint them as mindless Stepford wives, but I always find evidence to the contrary.

  4. I learned basic sewing in Home Ec in high school, and I've always been good at alterations and improvising. The teacup worked well, lol!

    And, you are right, 50's housewives were FAR from mindless Stepford wives. When I remember all the wonderful Girl Scout activities and things like that that moms did for us, I'm amazed. They used their leadership and organizational abilities in the home and the community, and we are worse off as a country because that type of thing has passed.

  5. My compliments to your friend who baked the cake. It's very pretty! Your party looks like lots of fun. Happy birthday to you!

  6. What a fun party! I hope you had a nice birthday too. You and your friends look darling.


  7. Sadly I can`t sew a lick, honestly a button pops off after I sew it, this has also happened to two cousins one from my mom`s and my dad`s side so it`s genetic :)

    I have to say the BEST Christmas gift was from my deary departed Grandma Irene when I was 14 she made all her grandkids patchwork quilts, mine is yellow with brightly coloured square patches in the middle, the flip side is beautiful butterflies, she made this in the living room with her older sister (my great aunt).

    I treasure this to this day and it proudly hangs on my quilt rack in my bedroom, other things she has given me and not for Christmas, is a family photoalbum dates back to 150 years, a family bible that was her mothers, a quilt by my great,great grandma who died in 1934, even a small knee afghan made by my grandfather`s sister to keep his knees warm.

    It`s the homemade gifts that I treasure, I still miss her deeply but I can touch these things and think to myself how truly talented these women were who came before me.

    But above all else that quilt was made with love
    store bought gifts are not the same, she also made a baby quilt for my oldest when he was born ten years ago, it`s in his closet now and on the inside she wrote Made with Love by you Grandma H.
    She was a great woman and didn`t even realize it what a rock she truly was.
    Mom in Canada

  8. What a lovely day you had, and what lovely gifts. Both luxury and practical ones. What did dear hubby give you?

    Home made Christmas gifts are the best, I simply love them. I’ve embroidered a tiny fridge magnet – a teeny tiny snow landscape for my parent’s Advent calendar. I’ll have to have 24 small gifts ready for them in two weeks (they’ll get it at my birthday). I’ve made an Advent calendar for them for 30 years now, and they love it. Do you have Advent calendars in the US? If you make homemade gifts, I hope you will share them with us. But perhaps after Christmas, to keep them secret. ;) I wish I had time to make homemade gifts, but I don’t. Long ago, before son, I sewed smart sweat shirts for the whole family (got some nice fabric really cheap) and I’ve sewed lingerie sets for all the gals.

  9. Donna,
    You are very lucky to have such fine friends. You girls look like you had the best time! So nice to be a girl.
    happy birthday.


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