October 15, 2013

1960s American Eagle

Here's an heirloom quilt that came to me for a bit of repair.  It had one small hole and quite a bit of missing quilting.  Also, the owner asked that I put a sleeve on the back for hanging.

He told me that his mother made this quilt for him in the 1960s, after he got out of the service.  She also made a quilt for each of her other three children.

The central eagle is made from black velvet, and so is very strong against the red background.  The patches are all machine-made, embroidered eagle heads on shields.  Both are stitched on with an overcast stitch.

  All the little blue stars are hand appliquéd, quite an amazing feat!

And the owner tells this sweet story:
"I do remember her quilting in her lap. Then she took in ironing and made enough to buy a quilting frame. That was like a kid getting an iPhone today."

I do love that!

October 9, 2013

Cigarette Girl Costume

My friend Julia of Basya Berkman Vintage Fashions learned through the grapevine about a woman with a stash of vintage clothing.  This is one of the amazing items that Julia acquired.

The woman said that her mother had been a performer in her early life.  It's likely that several of her vintage things, like this outfit, were costumes worn during her mother's career before her marriage.  Her mother was most likely dancing in the 1920s.  A real find!

I reattached the braid where it was loose, replaced a couple of buttons, stitched up some seams, and replaced some hook and eyes that hold the shorts to the inside of the blouse at the waist. 

The braid trim is actually metallic, i.e. not just metal-colored.  I'm guessing that there used to be one more strip on the bodice above the two that remain.

Here's the back view.  The top has a halter neck and open back.  Since the cape is sewn in at the shoulders, the only way to show the back is to give the cape the Marilyn Monroe whoosh treatment.  (The red is the lining of the front of the bodice.)

It is silk, and in amazingly good condition for its age.  It also is quite tiny, even for a dancer, supporting the statistics that we are, on average, getting bigger and bigger as the decades go by.  

Here are the photos Julia took with one of her models.  Majorette?  Cigarette girl?  Chorus line?  This works for any of those.

This outfit is listed at the Basya Berkman shop here.

October 3, 2013

Spools and Bugs

You are probably wondering about the title of this post.  Here's the spools part - a quilt made in 1965. It had quite a bit of wear in the squares along one edge, and several open seams.  (This photo was taken post-repair.)

Here's the bugs part - a fabric with chartreuse and turquoise bugs on a grey background.  The color combo is pretty much a marker for the 1950s.  Pictorial prints were popular then, but why the large bugs?  Hardly a print to appeal to the stereotypical perfect housewife of the era! And to me, they look rather dead, what with those curled up legs and all.  Huh.  Not appealing in the least.  Maybe the fabric is meant to illustrate the maxim, "The only good bug is a dead bug."  Maybe.

Anyhow.  The quilt is a nicely made rendition of the spools pattern, one of those homey, quilt-y quilts.  I like the addition of the checkerboard borders.  They give the quilt a bit of extra weight and a sparkle of extra personality.

The quilt is initialed and dated on the back:

Here's a look at some more of the fabrics - all of them with much more common print designs.

Dated quilts are always special, and I like to post about them, because they are so helpful to quilt collectors who want to learn how to puzzle out when their quilts were made.