Monday, October 8, 2012

I've gotten soft....

Included in a bundle of vintage patterns at a sale this past week was this needlework magazine.  At first glance I thought I would just take it out of the bundle and leave it at the sale for some needlework enthusiast, but then the date caught my eye and it went home with me.
This was Volume 1 (1975) of McCalls Needlework & Crafts.  Oh wait, THE BEST of McCall's Needlework & Crafts. They're listing quilting!  This was just prior to the bi-centennial and the resurgence of quilting.  I can't imagine the gorgeous quilt they're capturing for viewers to get excited about bringing quilting back into the mainstream of needlework.

Here we go, page 120; "An Album Quilt, Rich in Design".

No provenance or date, but I questimate the turn of the century with some older pieced blocks added.  The pink and white stripe chambray as well as some conversation prints are what I am looking at to determine its possible age.  These fabrics look about the newest in the mix. 

The caption reads: "Although the quilt blocks vary in size, they are pieced with borders where necessary to make a quilt 71 x 88."  

And on the opposite page, the directions.  Wait, before you look at them, think about the pages of directions this scrappy, diverse and unconventional pattern would take to instruct the quilter of today - pages - maybe even a booklet!   Drum Roll.  Ready, because all the patterns are on ONE PAGE:

Here, let me enlarge a section for you.  Notice the fly foot pattern at the bottom left corner. 
Goodness, we have gotten soft as needle-workers.  I don't know of many quilters today who still use templates; Martha is the only person I can think of right now (and her creations are so magnificent that arguing against using templates would be futile bordering on ridiculous).  This pattern was before the rotary cutter became a staple in the sewing room.  Templates were made of the pattern pieces and then the quilter would carefully trace the template on the wrong side of the fabric and use their pencil line as the seam line.  Preparation of templates and fabric were additional steps adding to the time required to create a block.

I learned to quilt with templates and I was more than happy to switch to a rotary cutter. 

I have gotten soft.  Yes, as a quilter and as an individual!  I'll show you why.

Remember I have a very special wedding coming up this weekend...   here I am reattaching lace to an underlining I hemmed on the wedding dress....  I'd show more, but my daughter wouldn't be too happy with me if I did just yet.

I have procrastinated like never before in getting my own dress made.  I can't figure why the delay, but maybe it might have had to do with my fluffy factor.

I found a great pattern, McCalls M6464.  I thought it was perfect; no frills yet simple and dressy.  Do you notice the alterations look like more tissue paper added than the original pattern?  Wow, fluffy is right!!  The pattern, in its defense, wasn't the problem as it was extremely easy to alter.      

Here it is with pins through the lining and hem and waiting to get steam pressed when finished. The cranberry shantung sateen was purchased from  I think it will work out great for a fall outdoor wedding at an arboretum!  I used the satin side for the bodice and the shantung side for the skirt.

My dress cost less than $30 (pattern, fabric, thread and invisible zipper) to make buying the pattern and zipper on sale. always has great deals on their fabrics.  That's definitely not fluffy though!


  1. Your dress is so pretty - and the price tag can't be beat! One of these days I'm going to get back to sewing ... I really don't like the dresses that are out there, and they're a LOT more than $30!

  2. Hey -- I have that magazine, and I love that quilt. It's funny you mentioned my name today, because I mentioned you in my post today :)

    Love, love, love your dress! The shape is flattering, and the color is scrumptious. $30?? I'm going to have to do more shopping at

  3. Yes I am from the same "before rotary cutter" era and drew up blocKs own graph paper and made templates.
    It was such fun at the time.
    Your dress looks just perfect for mother of the bride. Well done for making it yourself.