Saturday, July 29, 2017

Baby's Outfit, A Book For Mothers, c. 1918

This fascinating booklet was apparently published by the Vanta baby clothes company (not sure of their exact company name) in 1918, and distributed by local department stores. I haven't been able to find any definite information about the company, but it looks like they continued to make clothing into the 1930s, at least.

There's quite a bit of information in the pages not only about the kind of clothing a baby should have, but also how to care for mother and baby. They continually emphasized the importance of correct health care for both, before and after birth, and to not rely on old ways of doing things that might do more harm than good. I'll add some of those pages in the future.

For now, though, here's some information on what an expectant mother should do before the blessed event.

note: Page 30 is the second page shown above



Friday, July 28, 2017

Nut Bread Recipe From A 1930s Handmade Cookbook

Several years ago at an estate sale I was lucky enough to purchase a small loose-leaf binder filled with clippings and handwritten recipes. Because of some of the items in it, I believe it was started in the 1930s, possibly when the owner was a new bride. The pages are brown and some are stained, the recipes written with a fountain pen, some of the ink having been smudged. It's a wonderful artifact of what I like to think was a happy time in this woman's life.

Nut (and date) bread was apparently very popular in the '20s and '30s, since I've seen it in other cookbooks. It was also mentioned in articles on children's lunches, and described once in a while in some of the women's novels of that era, so here's one version.  Though I haven't tried this recipe myself, I hope her family loved it.  
 Nut Bread
1/2 cup brown sugar                                      
1 cup sour milk                                              
1 cup graham flour                                           
1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon [baking] soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup raisins or dates
1/2 cup nuts
1 egg
1 teaspoon butter or oil

Mix dry ingredients, nuts and fruit. Combine liquids. Add liquids to dry materials. Stir thoroughly. Pour in oiled pan. Let rise 15 minutes. Bake 1 hour in moderate oven (350 degrees).


Thursday, July 27, 2017

1920s Fashion Drawings and Real Life Style

There are many things I like about fashion drawings from the early 1920s: the loose, comfortable look of the dresses, the cute shoes, the fabric patterns the artist designed, the femininity of the models, and I guess, just imagining the life implied by the variety of clothing. You, too, could have fun if you wore a nifty bathing suit! Or you could have a sparkling kitchen and the best cake in town if you wore a gingham apron.

1922 Two-Piece Bathing Suit, House Dresses, and Apron - Needlecraft Magazine, July 1922
Another thing I like about these styles is the use of embroidery to add interest and individuality. Making things pretty and dainty was very much encouraged by the women's magazines.  

1920s Day Dresses, For Young and Mature Women - Needlecraft Magazine, July 1922

When I was younger, I made several Folkwear patterns: 210, the Armistice blouse (yes, including the labor-intensive drawn thread work); 220, the Garden Party Dress (twice); and just a few years ago, 261, the Paris Promenade dress. It was fun to wear those vintage styles.

Many of the vintage dresses from the teens and twenties had a long tunic-over-skirt combination which is somewhat comparable to the slim tunics, capris, and the like that are a popular style now, but are more practical for every day. It would be nice, though, to see pretty dresses worn more often.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Baseball-Themed Birthday Party

It's been many years since we've given a children's party, though there are a lot of fond memories of those days. Our kids helped plan their parties, and it was a lot of fun working with them on the details.  Because it's baseball season, here's a baseball-themed birthday party for a 16 year old boy that could be adapted to boys of any age. It's from 'Bright Ideas for Entertaining', by Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott, © 1905.  
'Bright Ideas for Entertaining', by Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott, © 1905.  
This sounds like a fun party, and the menu is clever, but that's a lot of meat at one meal!

In my reading, I've noticed how elaborate parties could be.  Even the most ordinary gathering - a bridge party or afternoon tea - would often receive the same care and planning as a bridal shower. These events were obviously a way for women to express their creativity, impress their friends, spoil their families, and just have fun away from the household/work routine - the same reasons  women still find enjoyment in party-giving for their fortunate guests. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Bungalow Home Plan, The Arden

Though we live in a modern, rather open plan home, cottages and bungalows are my favorite house styles. They seem so human-sized, and homey, perfect for an old-fashioned life. With a pleasant style, efficient design, and affordability, it's no wonder bungalows have continued to be popular with people for over 100 years. Many companies offered kit homes that you could build yourself, with Sears homes probably the most well known.

Arden home from Better Built Homes catalog, Curtis Lumber & Millwork Co., 1917

Bungalow home floor plan, 875 square feet

The house shown here is from the Better Built Homes, Volume II, catalog produced by the Curtis Lumber & Millwork Company of Clinton, Iowa. It's dated 1917, and shows homes that are similar to those found in cities across America. The town I live in has several neighborhoods that are filled with these cozy homes.  Using the dimensions given on the floor plan, this house is 875 square feet, more or less (not including the porches).
Built in two-sided sideboard and cupboard

It's nice to imagine long summer afternoons and evenings lounging on that pretty porch, maybe in a swing, reading and drinking iced tea, with flowers and vines providing fragrance and privacy. Ahh, sweet summer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

An Old Fashioned Life

For as long as I can remember, I've been most comfortable with old-fashioned things, and a slower, simpler way of living. During my childhood, my family lived in small, old houses, so I grew to love the cozy and homely (not unattractive, but the definition of being familiar, comfortable, natural, and simple) feeling of a house just big enough, with nooks and porches, shady trees and gardens.  My grandma, a housewife, looked after us while my mom worked, and taught me crochet and embroidery, things I enjoy to this day. 

These hankies are just a small part of my collection. I keep a different one in my pocket every day, and enjoy ironing a pile of the pretty, colorful squares.

I've been interested in the homemaking aspect of women's lives ever since I was a teenager. Taking care of our home, making it pretty and comfortable has been a real pleasure over the years.  It's been enlightening to read about the different ways women cared for their homes in the past - and it makes me immensely grateful to have a washer/dryer/stove/vacuum, etc.. 

Over the last 30+ years I've collected vintage and antique homemaking books, magazines, catalogs, greeting cards, all sorts of things. It seems a shame to just let them sit on the shelves, so I've decided now is a good time to share these with others who have the same interests.

The time periods I'm most interested in are from the early 1900s through the end of the 1930s, just before World War II, but most especially 1914 through 1925.
I know for the people living through those years, life seemed just as hectic, stressful, and changeable as we do now - your own times always are when you're the one experiencing them. They lamented some of the better things in the past, just as we often do. But so many aspects of that time period resonate with me, and because I'm a sentimental person, my rosy-tinted view of the way life was lived then is quite comforting in these uncertain days. And I'm well aware of the irony of writing about being old-fashioned using very modern technology. ;-)
Fashion Service Magazine July 1927 two women on the beach
Fashion Service Magazine July 1927 sleeveless knee length evening dresses

Some of my favorite vintage magazines are the issues of 'Fashion Service' and 'Inspiration', both published by the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences of Scranton, Pennsylvania. They have such a positive, can-do attitude: a  woman truly could be independent by earning money sewing for others, or could save money by making the family's clothing, cooking more efficiently ... all it took was gumption. They also had articles about children, beauty, entertaining, and just being a better person altogether, facing life with a good attitude and willingness to work at it.   
So, here's to new beginnings. It'll be fun to share these wonderful old magazines and books.