Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vintage Patterns

Have you ever wondered what there is about quilting and handwork that draws you in? Do you think it could be something in our DNA?
My mother was very intelligent and loved to learn, but she was more of a bookworm than a seamstress. My grandmother on the other hand, loved to create with her hands. Maybe the gene skipped a generation, because anything with a needle, thread or fabric calls to me. My grandmother died when I was very young, so I never had the opportunity to have her teach me her skills, or to be around when she sewed.

When my mother passed away I found this box amidst a collection of family photos and letters.
She had saved patterns that her mother had used to make clothing and toys for the grandchildren.

These are patterns she sent away for in the 1950's. Notice she didn't use her given name on the address bar, but instead referred to herself as the wife of my grandfather Oscar. A decade later, the woman's lib of the 1960's worked hard to discontinue those practices.

I love that the postage was 1 1/2 cents to mail a letter from New York to California.

I remember playing with many of the stuffed toys my grandmother made. My grandfather lived into his 90's and I visited his house often until I married and moved away. He kept a little leather chest in his living room filled with the toys my grandmother had sewn, and we could play with them if we were very careful. I remember the musty smell of the chest, and felt close to my grandmother during those moments, even though she was gone.

The paper on the patterns is still in good shape, and my grandmother's handwriting and notes are very visible.

The all time favorite toy in the chest was the sock monkey.
I have the original pattern she worked from.
My grandmother made at least two sock monkeys. One she gave to my older brother to have for his very own. He loved his sock monkey so much that he decided that when he grew up he was going to become a monkey. No one could convince him other wise.
Isn't it amazing that today these toys are just as popular as they were in days gone by?


Ruth B said...

What a wonderful find. I got a bit teary just reading the story and I thank you so much for sharing it. Too bad you didn't get to know your grandmother...what a treasure it would have been to learn from her. I still have my handmade toys from my childhood. My aunt made me a pony (whose yarn tail I braided an unbraided a thousand times) a teddy bear that I slept on like a pillow and the smell of the foam stuffing is still the same as when I was young, and a raggedy ann doll with black hair and a cape (ala little red riding hood). Now my grandkids play with them knowing they have to be careful with them because they are old like grandma. Handmade is always best and definitely lasts the longest because it has the love in it.

Ruth B said...

afterthought -
how do you pay 1 1/2 cents for a stamp?

amy smart said...

These patterns are so wonderful in their vintage-ness, but much more so because they were touched and used by your grandmother. What a treasure.

Unknown said...

Terrific find! You hit a nerve with me and got me to thinking about how I got to be crafty. I was young and always liked to keep my hands busy. My mom used to sew a little but really never was crafty at all. Then I thought about my grandmother (Dad's mom), she was always knitting, crocheting, or sewing. So I think that in my case, it also skipped a generation. Funny how things work out. But my mom is reaping the benefits of my work. I just love all your finds. Very cool! Tells a lot of history (in a box)!

Abby and Stephanie said...

What lovely treasures. My mother made my sister a sock monkey many moons ago. It was her beloved toy.

Material Mary said...

I love old vintage stuff. It calls my name. I even love further the vintage stuff from people that I knew and loved.

Eileen said...

These are so wonderful.. I love them all. You did a fun job of describing the details.. love that story about the alias name!
Doesn't it make you want to make something from these patterns?

Cathie in UT said...


I wish I had been more discerning when my grfather passed to check out those kinds of things!

I do have a quilt that my grma made for the beds they rented to men passing through. I will have to blog on that one day soon!

Cathie in UT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Micki said...

What a wonderful find! I know you will treasure it all! I really enjoyed seeing it all!

Sherri said...

Treasures...really! And thank you so much for sharing with us! I still am in awe over the lovely antique stitchery you showed us at your home...

Dawn said...

What a wonderful story!! Now when I create "things" I think more about my ancestors and often wonder if they enjoyed making things as much as I do...or did they make things out of necessity...hummmm!!