Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reproducing a Vintage Apron - Part 1

When I was a little girl there was, as with most kids I suppose, a limited number of toys amongst the vast supply I received over the years, with which all the anticipations and excitement leading up to Christmas or my birthday was more than worthy of. Two particular gifts that still stand out in my mind as being splendidly delightful and of which I made most important use of was a red typewriter and a pink and white sewing machine.
The first was a semi-toy typewriter I received one year for Christmas. I'm not sure if it was a lucky guess on my parents part or if they really knew how much I would enjoy my very own typewriter, perhaps it was the fact that I was always using my mom's Smith-Corona that gave it away. My parents weren't aware of it at the time, they were simply just trying to keep me from using theirs, but that little red typewriter would transform and shape my world and the way through which I related to it. That was the beginning of my nonprofessional writing career. It was an amazing toy.
Now it didn't have any synchronized movement like the modern Wii game or even dare compete with the edgy and some might argue too realistic (that's-not-what-we-want-to-teach-our-kids) latest version of the electronic Monopoly game with real cash card and all. No, it wasn't wired to the Internet, nor did it use electricity, heck it didn't even need batteries. But that was the cutest darn little typewriter I had ever seen. It was red with the type of keys you actually had to bang. The keys would get stuck in the strike position and I would have to pull them down manually, my fingers often lodging in between keys when they would slip off. And get this, you still had to use a return bar back in those days. Go ask your parents if you don't know what that is, then you can ask them to explain what a rotary dial was and better yet, how you used to turn all thirteen TV channels using a pair of pliers. Like Charles Dickens so eloquently opened in A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Ah yes, but it was my time.
Occasionally my transcripts would consist of fictional stories, more often than not however I would report on things I observed and learned from the world around me. I always did and still do prefer non-fiction over fiction. Can you tell that by the fact that I'm writing a blog, a perfect format for me to espouse about whatever inspires me that particular day. None-the-less, like all "famous" authors I went through different periods. At one time I was rewriting the part of the Encyclopedia Britannica that covered various titles of information on horses. Obviously I was unaware of the word "plagiarism" back then. No fear however, that particular piece did not end up getting published. I then went through one of my most memorable phases, the poetry phase. I would write,type, rework and then type up again up all these great little poems, no Beowulf mind you, more like poemets (yes I made that word up), and them create a crude pocket sized book out of them. I eventually wore my precious little typewriter out. Now, looking back thirty years or so, I see where it helped inspire and shape my life. I've never stopped writing. In fact I have been writing ever since.
I wrote letters to my son for the first few years of his life and tucked them away in a place where they still remain today, for him to read when he is older. I've written romance stories, children's poems and tales, as well as anthologies of appreciation. However, what I've with out a doubt written the most of is simply the passing of time in this reality and our coordinated dance between fellow humans, nature and our own self imposed beliefs. What I've learned - get out of your own way if you want to enjoy life. Which brings me to my blog today. At least now, for good or bad, after more than three decades someone is reading these humble lines of words I chose to string together in an attempt to put a put a smile on an anonymous face.
The second toy was a white and pink sewing machine, the first of several I would eventually own. This one was way cool however, because it didn't sew with a needle and thread, oh no, this one sewed with glue. You inserted a little bottle of glue similar to today's Superglue, and then as you sewed a tiny rivet of it would come out drying instantly. So instead of your child piercing themselves with a needle, they could instead glue their fingers together requiring medical separation.How cool was that. With it I received the supplies to my first ever sewing project, a yard of cotton fabric that had a printed image of a curled up napping cat on it. When you sewed it together the front of the pillow had the front of the cat and the back, well, was the back of the cat. It was a simple cutting, sewing and stuffing project. I remember my mom taking the time to show me how to do each step correctly and I'm sure I was just impatient to get on with it. I was so darn proud of my little cat pillow.
From there I moved on to a real sewing machine with needle and thread, from various ones my mom owned until I got into high school and enrolled in Home Economics. Yes, I was one of those geeks in Home Economics and loved it. It was my hangout. There may be an L on my forehead for this one but that's okay, I've got big shoulders. When I wasn't in class I was in the Home EC room sewing. Besides making my own clothes I also volunteered to help sew costumes for the spring musical. Years later I went on to sew my own wedding gown, draperies as well as other interior accessories for our home and the quilt I laid my infant boy to sleep with every night in his crib. Sewing has served me well.
And here we are (I just realized that opening statement sounds like something a college guy dressed in lederhosens would say just before telling you to watch your step as you get off the ride at Disney World), after years of sewing and writing for no one but myself, I've decided to take it to the streets in the form of a blog. This blog is something my son will be able to look back on someday when I'm dead and gone, read and say, "Yep, mom was as crazy as I remember her to be."
So, on to the vintage apron project, enough reminiscing. As stated in the previous post, I came across this vintage apron pattern which probably dates back to the 1940's. In particular I love the fitted style, after all, why wear loose and baggy when I get on that darn treadmill practically everyday for an hour. As for me, this is the style in my head that evokes images back when women wanted to look good for their husband. They did. I do. And my husband likes it as well. That's my reasoning and I'm sticking to it.
First thing was to read the old pattern directions and try to figure out what the heck they were talking about. Okay, scratch their directions and I'll make up my own. I warned you, I'm a Gemini, therefore there is that part of me that wants things done correctly and exactly right (or that could just be my German heritage) and then the part of me that says - "eh, who needs directions." And off I go cutting, chopping and doing it my own way. So, that's kind of what I did here but not so severe. I read the directions and then decided to use it as a loose guide.
The fabric I chose was a yellow and blue toile that I actually already had on hand so no need to purchase any additional and an accent pattern of blue with yellow polka dots. See how that works, yellow fabric with blue pattern accented by blue fabric with yellow pattern. Pretty smart - yeah okay, your not impressed. Then I washed them to preshrink the fabric. While I really wanted to dive into the project, prewashed fabric is always recommended if you don't want your item to shrink the first time you launder it, especially important if you are going to wear it.
So once I had it washed and dried I then ironed the fabric. I know, another step where you all are screaming "just sew already". But like most things in life, it is also so with sewing (please pardon the pun,) an ounce of preparation goes a long way at holding off hours of a headache. By ironing your fabric first before cutting out the pieces one should be able to avoid the unwelcoming surprise of having widened, or worse yet decreased the fabric from the original pattern shape. This should give you a true exact replica of the pattern piece you cut out. That is as long has you haven't finished off half the bottle of wine yet at this point. In that case, all bets are off and be warned it might fit your dog when all is said and done.
Once all the tedious prep work was done I set about to pin the pattern to the fabric. Not sure what was going on with the vintage instructions, if I had followed their plans I would have been chopping and piecing things together with the toile image going in different direction. So instead, I opted to just figure out my own layout. Those who know me well are not surprised by this in the least. Layout done, pattern cut. Okay, that was enough work for one day, I need a 64 calorie MGD now.
See you tomorrow for Part 2.

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Oh I'm so happy you checked out my blog. I absolutely love hearing from each and every one of you - it truely makes my day! Jamie