Friday, December 23, 2011

Vintage Book Review: The Golden Age of Style

Happy Holidays to one and all!  And if neither Christmas, Hanukkah,  nor Kwanzaa floats your boat, rest assured that I also wish you happiness in whatever ethnic, cultural, or religious holiday comes your way next.  And if even that doesn't do it for you, then I wish you happiness in spite of your curmudgeonly self.

For us, it is Merry Christmas.  Both DDs will be here, and Grandma is in excellent health (better than the next generation down for sure).  The poodles have new sweaters, the candy canes are on the tree.  The presents are wrapped.  The Carolina blue flamingos in the front yard are wearing their Christmas wreaths.

The studio is also the guest room (more accurate to say that the lovely large basement studio has a queen sized bed in it) so it is all cleaned up and I am drooling over thinking about getting snowed in next month and doing all the projects that I thought I was going to do in 2011.

My Christmas present to you is some non-holiday related eye candy from the book The Golden Age of Style:  Art Deco Fashion Illustration.  Published in 1976, the book itself is not vintage but the subject matter is.  So my headline is deceptive, but succinct.

 Lots of lovely illustrations, most in color.
Lots of lovely information, about both the history of fashion and the history of fashion illustration.  The photo above helps put Art Deco into context by showing the Belle Epoque that preceded it.
 Heart-meltingly beautiful fashions.

In my life I wear jeans and t-shirts.  In my mind I wear Poiret.

Ho ho ho!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pink November

Once upon a time I found this little 3/4 size pink Kenmore on Craigslist.  It is a shoddy bit of engineering and/or workmanship.  The stitch quality is mediocre.  Amazingly enough for a machine made in the early 1970's, it has a a vibrating shuttle system like a Singer 127 or others of the first few decades of the 20th century.  If it is such a piece of junk, then why did I buy it?  Silly question, really.  It's PINK.  Really, really pink.

So I have been longing for a pink machine that I could respect---and sew on.  Maybe even pop into the treadle.  And after months of never seeing a pink machine, in November I hit the jackpot.

A pink Atlas straight stitch machine.  If you are looking at the picture and asking "Is that really pink?" then my photography is better than usual.  In full sunlight it looks like a pink-y beige.  In artificial light it looks like a beige-y pink.  And yes, that really is the wall color in my guest room.  It used to be my office, which is explanation/justification enough. 
bed decal

 It turns very smoothly but has minor wiring issues, so I haven't tried sewing with it yet.

This is metal, not a decal

The very next day I scored another pink machine, a Singer 15 clone in luscious, immaculate condition.  The young woman said her grandmother had sewed with it a lot, but you would never believe it.  But then the young woman's house was also immaculate, and she had a husband, a large dog, and a two year old boy.  Clearly she inherited the "immaculate" gene, unfortunately missing from my own lineage. 

Look at the gloss on the bed--you can see the reflection of the motor.

This is also a pink with beige tones, but it is more definitely pink than the Atlas.  The young woman had stripped the fabric off the case and bleached it to remove some mildew.

I believe the crown above the word "Elgin" indicates that this machine was manufactured by Toyota.  My very favorite machine for piecing is another Toyota 15 clone in apple green and white.

The decals are not extravagant, but they are lovely.

Both of those were Craigslist finds.  Then on Tuesday I wandered into a local charity shop which I am not going to name so that I can say trashy things about them.  They know nothing about sewing machines, their pricing is based on brand name and how new the machine looks (Touch N Sews look good to them, poor fools).  The clerk at the cash register is very nice, but the manager is another story.

There was a straight stitch Kenmore in there for $40 which has been there for a year and a half.  Right next to it, marked $10, was this machine.  I assume the manager has never heard of this brand, which didn't sell in huge volume in the U.S.  The last time I bought a Necchi, the checkout clerk said, "Oh, you got the Nietzche."

A Necchi Nora, about the same color as the Atlas, a salmon pink.  I've heard amazing things about the quality of the vintage Italian Necchis.  No cams, but hey, a girl has to have a mission in life, right?

I've read about this also, but don't remember anything except that it is a great feature to have.  Eventually I will investigate.  But by now it is December, and I have one or two other things going on.

How is your Christmas crafting going?  Because of the uncertainties of that dratted old Life, I can never commit to holiday crafting, but while cleaning up the studio I did find a gift object that I completed months ago.  And I have a project going on that will probably be finished in time.  If not, I've got a jump start on 2012.  Assuming, that is, that we make it to Christmas next year and the world does not end with the conclusion of the Mayan long count calendar cycle on December 21, 2012.

If the world does NOT end, but we merely experience the total collapse of civilization, I assume that most of the readers of this blog will be ready.  Ready to sew, anyway, on those treadles and hand cranks.