Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Sew Like a Girl

Longtime readers of this blog may remember the joy with which I discovered Jane Eayre Fryer's The Mary Frances Knitting and Crochet Book, an early 20th century kiddie lit masterpiece in which the title character has trippy (but educational) encounters with an animated pile of craft supplies, a fairy, and a petulant baby doll named Mary Marie.

Well, Mary Frances is back in da house. This week I didn't have to pull extra shifts at the forge and that left me free to concentrate on sewing doll clothes. There is, I maintain, no better companion to that than The Mary Frances Sewing Book, or Adventures Among the Thimble People.

mf-sewing

Everything that makes the knitting volume such a hoot was already present in this earlier volume, in which Mary Frances learns to cut and sew with guidance from such merry, indelible characters as Mr. Silver Thimble; Scissors Shears; Tommy the Tomato Pin Cushion; and Ma Chine, the matronly Sewing Machine. (Ma Chine–see what she did there? See?)

When the tale opens, Mary Frances is cooling her heels during summer vacation at the home of her grandmother. Her father has business in San Francisco (unspecified business, but I like to imagine it has something to do with white slavery as depicted in Thoroughly Modern Millie), and has taken dear, compliant mother along with him.

Brother Billy is away on a long camping trip with the Boy Scouts, leaving our heroine with only Grandma and bitter Aunt Maria for company.

It should be mentioned that there is another child in the house, an implausibly cheerful Irish maid-of-all-work named Katie.

Katie is barely older than Mary Frances; but while Mary Frances has nothing better to do with her time than lie on the verandah like a boneless chicken in a pinafore, Katie has to rise at dawn, scrub the floors, answer the door, cook, clean, carry parcels, and pretend to be delighted by the steady stream of expensive guilt presents that Mother and Father keep sending to their widdle princess from San Francisco.

I earnestly hope that after the Great War, Katie either married well enough to hire her own maid; or joined the American Communist Party and set fire to the ballroom with a Molotov cocktail on the night Mary Frances made her début.

The Sewing Book provides us with an Origin Story for Mary Marie, the prissy porcelain doll whose insatiable demands for warm clothing and accessories fuel so much of The Knitting and Crochet Book. She arrives from California nailed up in a crate–which Katie, of course, has to haul into the kitchen. Katie pries the crate open with her strong arms, toned from long years of work in a spinning mill, and out pops the doll. She's naked except for a frowsy little slip and a painted-on smile.

Where are her clothes? Does she have a wardrobe in the trunk that came with her? No, she does not. She has, instead, a pile of fabrics that mother's explanatory note reveals are for Mary Frances to use in learning to sew. Except there's a wrinkle.

Per Mother's note:

"I've asked Grandma to let you do exactly as you want to with these things, and I ask you not to go to her with your sewing problems: for the doctor said that Grandma must not strain her eyes with any such work. I know you understand."

Understand? What's to understand? You send your daughter a nearly-nude doll and a bunch of dry goods and–then what? Expect her to pull the proper methods for cutting, tailoring and dressmaking out of her twelve-year-old butt? Don't ask Grandma. Who the hell else is she supposed to ask? Katie? Not Katie. Katie pried the nails out of the damned crate and then had to go back to hauling ash buckets and picking weevils out of the grape arbor. And Aunt Maria is only good on days when the pharmacy won't send her any more laudanum or medicinal whiskey until she pays the bill.

This, of course, is where the fairies and the magic needles and the talking pincushion come into play. But is it truly good parenting to rely on that sort of thing happening to further your child's education?

I'll add that this sort of spotty affection has already taken a toll on Mary Frances's budding maternal instincts. It's never openly stated, but is strongly suggested, that she is as capable as her mother of shutting off affection like a water tap. Case in point: When the book opens she's already got a "daughter"–a doll named Angie. After Mary Marie rears her curly blonde head, Angie gets one more brief mention and then entirely disappears from the book. If that doesn't give you a chill, you have no heart. Where did Angie go? Was she put out on the street to fend for herself? Was she buried behind the vegetable patch in Mary Marie's crate? Did Mary Marie eat her?

Don't bother hunting through the rest of the canonical Mary Frances literature for any sort of latter day Velveteen Rabbit-style Angie redemption. That doll is just gone, baby. Gone.

Mind you, all this (and a miasma of C-list Art Nouveau illustration) tends to obscure that The Mary Frances Sewing Book is truly a thorough and well-done introduction to sewing. Though the projects are graded by difficulty, there is no dumbing down. Mary Frances begins with a sampler of common hand stitches; by the end, she's experienced at just about everything an adult dressmaker needs to know. The intended audience for this book may have been juvenile, but it was still expected to learn to do things the right way, not the easy way.*

Example. In my own project–I'm getting to it, don't scroll down yet–I considered using buttonholes,  so I spent some time working them using the step-by-step instructions dispensed to Mary Frances by Aunt Maria. I cross-referenced those with Claire B. Shaeffer in the classic, not-for-dummies Couture Sewing Techniques. The methods are identical.

Bad puns and questionable parenting aside, I ponder this book and then look at the modern equivalents–in which kids "learn" to slap ugly crap together with glue and tape because it's Kwik! and Eezee!–and I think Jane Eayre Fryer was really onto something. In addition to possibly being On Something.

Ethel, Now Half-Dressed

My own doll sewing took the lace I was knitting here and here and put it into a petticoat for poor Ethel, who until now has been nakeder than Mary Marie on the day she killed her sister.

I don't often say this about stuff I make, but this came out better than I expected. I have only the barest prior experience with sewing, but I was able to adapt the two petticoat (!) patterns in Mary Frances to fit Ethel's smaller, more womanly shape. Everything was sewn by hand using methods from the book.

petti-full

I learned a lot about working with handkerchief linen, including that it starts to fray like the dickens if somebody sneezes in the next room. I realized pretty quickly that none of the seams would last if they had raw edges, so every edge (inside and out) is finished. You know what? I'm proud of that. Even if my gathers aren't distributed as evenly as I would have liked. And even if I chickened out on putting in pin tucks.

petti-placket

Attaching the laces was a treat. (If you're curious about doing that sort of thing, I teach a class about it called Lace Edgings: Before, During and After.)

petti-page

Now she needs an underwaist and a dress. This time, I'm putting in buttonholes. If Mary Frances can do it, I can do it.

*Though it's amazing how often in sewing the right way, once fully learned, becomes the easy way.

104 comments:

MerryBrown said...

OMG. You are amazing! I wouldn't have the patience to do the lace, much less hand sew the petticoat. I did a lot of machine sewing as a child, but hand sewing left me "disinterested."
You sir have a patience of Job!

Amy Bailes said...

Very nice petticoat. Handkerchief linen is such a wonderful fabric.

I have that book - never noticed that the first doll disappears at the beginning.

You might want to think of moving the hook and eye to the inside of the waistband - it might catch on her outer clothing (if you're planning on making her any).

Roggey said...

"...I teach a class about it called Lace Edgings: Before, During and After."

My lace experience with lace is as follows: hooched up to forget I ever thought of the idea I could do lace (before), more liquor to stay squiffy to keep from going back to the original idea of lace-making (during), and hair of the dog to take the edge off foolishly entertaining the delusion of lace-making which should never have existed (after).

Heatherly said...

love! you did a wonderful job!

have you acquired a sewing bird to help hold those edges while finishing and sewing?

Sara said...

I remember those books from the library. I never read them though, but am going to go searching just to keep up with you! (I must add that I'm glad that you didn't lead book discussions with my kindergartners.)
Sara

Unknown said...

I was asked a while back why pin cushions are so often tomato-based. I'm interested to see that it was already so in Mary Frances's time.

Any ideas on when that tradition started, or why they are tomatoes, and not, say, pumpkins? Also roundish and brightly colored...

Anonymous, too said...

Good Gawd!! Does your optometrist know you do things like this!! Mine would demand I have my eyes examined (and maybe my head, too) every three months. . . .

P.S.: I think I saw Ethel wearing some sequined spandex at the last open mike night at the Ba-Ba-Loo club.

Pickyknitter said...

"she is ... capable... of shutting off affection like a water tap". Oh, this is me. To everyone I've ever met: oopsie

Lynn in Tucson said...

You've outdone yourself.

debd94 said...

Thank you for this post, which made me laugh after a very long and stressful day. Your petticoat is beautiful! It would have made my grandmother, the home ec teacher, proud (as my handsewing skills did not, LOL).

Linda said...

Wow, Franklin, what a commentary on modern pedagogical expectations. Those photos are a testament to the thrill of doing things the right way. Lovely seams, daunting lace!

Colleen said...

A friend, an 18th C tailor, for reenactors, who does a lot of research, says that it takes 1000 buttonholes tomgetbgood at them, and one should just make them. I used to worry aout my crappy looking buttonholes, until he gave a talk, and showed us slide after slide (yeah, way back before digital...) of crappy buttonholes on extant garments, worse than mine! The apprentices clearly needed to practice,moo, so they did the ones that won't show....

Susan said...

Exquisite work! Hand-sewing definitely rocks. And, you're a very funny man - I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

Martha said...

Great post! Beautiful petticoat!! Ethel looks pleased!

Betsy said...

FRANKLIN! What a great post. Made my morning.

Spinning Ginny's Knitting and Spinning Blog said...

Wow, never heard of this book, but now I'm going to have to search for it. I've crocheted lace but never knitted lace other then lace shawls and scarves. Your work is really magnificant.

Jennifer Crowley said...

That came out gorgeous. Nice job.

I love how the lace is worked into the petticoat.

The Foggy Knitter said...

Fabulous! What beautiful sewing, I shall have to get reading, Aunt Maria would be horrified by my lack of sewing ability. The talk of button holes reminds me of Molly Hughes' account of her admission to the North London Collegiate (an ahead of its time girls' school) in the 1880s, when she got in on every academic qualification, but had to go home and spend two days frantically learning to make buttonholes, that being one of the qualifications for admission!

Gail said...

Truly lovely work!

Nanners said...

Thanks for the great post. I've been trying to get my hands on The Mary Frances Sewing Book for ages but now I must buy it.

martha said...

what i would not have given to have had that book and the tools within. sigh.
beautiful work and thanks for the inspiring post.

Sally said...

GASP! So beautifully done, Franklin! I just got a copy of The MFK&C book; now I can't wait to dive in. Do you have the MF Embroidery book? I have a spare. Email me your address if you'd like to have it.

Lee Ann said...

Goodness, I love you.

LaurenS said...

Beautiful job ... almost makes me want to hand sew!

I vote Molotov cocktail for Katie :)

knit one, knit two said...

Ethel's petticoat is lovely and fabulous. Your post also made me snort bagel with schmear up my nose. Well done sir! Now I must find these books...

Lisa said...

The petticoat and laces are a work of art. Truly beautiful, even if "normal" people would look at them and ask if you're on crack. Of course, I'm the woman who's hand-sewing a corded petticoat for a Civil War-era ensemble, so I think we're on the same drug. (Hand-sewn French seams. Pure bliss.)

Undine said...

Oh, man, this post--and that gorgeous petticoat--is almost enough for me to want to learn to sew. Almost. I'd wind up like Aunt Maria if I tried.

Pass the laudanum.

kathy b said...

SOMEday I'll sew. I LOVe your humor Franklin......
I need that book!! Is it still in print?

Christine65 said...

Thanks for making me smile after a stressful internet-less morning and a longer than it should have been telephone conversation with my ISP asking the man-with-the-accent-I-couldn't-understand to repeat himself -- several times. I might have to invest in this book (assuming it's not really something that would work in a Kindle version).

kathy b said...

Hey Teacher

Check out my photography entry for yesterday's eskimi contest on my post yesterday. Please teach ,say I did good!!

Diane said...

Ethel is on her way to being a very well-dressed doll. Would a sew-on snap be a smoother fastener? Or wouldn't that be period?

Michele said...

Great post. Those books sound delightful and are clearly sound instruction as indicated by the way the petticoat turned out.

Marnie said...

The petticoat looks beautiful. I have yet to do any amount of garment construction by hand, alone, though I'm embracing a lot more handwork of late.

I have taken the Couture Dress course on Craftsy which is taught by a woman who worked in couture in france for many years. She said that couture sewing is "how your grandmother used to sew." Which surprised me. I thought couture was going to be extra special super secret industry specialness, but it's not, it's just good, solid, reliable technique and I've found, like you have, that doing things the "old" way is often more precise and ends up taking me less time than the whiz-bang "fast" method because I'm not ripping out a bunch of stuff I sewed quickly but crapily.

Anonymous said...

Now you've done it - I'm going to have to get those Mary Frances books. Maybe this time I'll actually learn to sew. . .
-- stashdragon

Cynthea said...

I read this in a study full of high school students and was laughing so hard that kids were staring suspiciously: teachers aren't supposed to be having that much fun!

Krystalline said...

Two words: cartridge pleating. Check it out, I think you're fussy/detail-oriented/insane enough to appreciate it. I gained a new respect for the process after cartridge pleating the skirts of two adult-sized Civil War re-enactment dresses.

The lace turned out beautifully!

joanie1803 said...

I always really enjoy your posts, but this one especially. That petticoat is lovely, and the lace looks perfect! You have a great take on children's literature too.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Lovely. I'm pulling out my dolls and working on some truly nice clothing for them as soon as I have time. :)I'm so inspired. If Franklin can do it and post it to the internet, i can too!

Pamela said...

Great story. I agree that now we teach the quick and easy way, not the right way. I learned to sew eons ago in 4H and had to learn how to sew in zippers and make button holes by hand. Not that I would do it today, but I have the skills. Post-apocolypse, I'll be ready.

It is kinda creepy that Angie just disappears in the story. What a bad doll to murder her sister like that. All I can think of is 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' It was creepy like this.

LisaB said...

I have been told by more than one person that my fried chicken and my apple pie are amazing. I can cook other things, my children for some strange reason are particularly enamored with my grilled cheese sandwiches. (I am dismayed by this but, I digress.) What I'm asking is this, if I promise to cook apple pie and fried chicken and whatever else you might desire, may I come live with you for a month or two?

Judith said...

You are a modern miracle. Outstanding work. I only wish I could sew HALF as well. Are you sure you're human?

Anonymous said...

I have a repro of the book and the doll, a gift from my former MIL. She knew it would appeal to me. I regret to admit that poor Mary Marie is still nekkid. --Karen

Laura said...

You are so multi-talented! It sounds like that book is what my *fabulous* sewing teacher in 7th grade studied, though, to make sure we learned how to do everything right. I moved right after I took her class, and never found a sewing teacher like her again. She made us do entire cloth books of hand stitches (including buttonholes), as well as make not only the traditional apron but also a dress, with facings that we had to clip and press and hem and all that good stuff.

That's so true, that if you learn to do it right, you never want to do it any other way! Because if you do it right, you get wonderful results. Like that AMAZING petticoat -- that is so gorgeous! i can't believe you knitted all that beautiful lace. My eyeballs ache at the *thought* of doing that!

Mary Peed said...

You're absolutely right about sewing. Most often the "right" way IS the easy way. I make wedding dresses... once in a while I can still hear my grandmother's voice say "Something funny about that bodice, fix it." She's been dead since 1997. :)

Anonymous said...

Completely delightful!

Anonymous said...

Still laughing my a** off. Thanks for the great post!

Chris Laning said...

Re: handkerchief linen fraying

Others, centuries before you, have made this same discovery about linen ;)

Have you seen this Archaeological Sewing page?

(Full disclosure: the author is a friend of mine)

ReneeRothmann said...

did you do french seams on the inside? I'm thrilled to welcome another fanatical anal-retentive perfectionist to the sewing world!! So much fun awaits you.

Anonymous said...

A rolled hem may also appeal to you with fine, thin fabrics; once started it's quite simple to sew and a less bulky a finish than french seams.

If you are hemming, especially a full, curved skirt or working with raw edges that require a finish but not the bulk of flat felled or french seams, stitch them down with herringbone stitch. The criss-crossed stitches hold all those threads nicely and also move just enough to keep the garment smooth and lovely.

Linen is also even more delicious to wear than cotton in hot, humid weather.

Elena

Anonymous said...

When are you going to start making lacy underthings for Dolores?

Shay said...

I'm not trying to break any rice bowls here, but the Mary Frances Sewing Book is available as a free download from archive.org.

There's a book by the same author with instructions on making dollhouse furniture on there, too.

Yarn Mafia said...

I regularly have 50 or so eyelets on dresses I make (14th century gowns) and I just whip stitch them. Feels great. And, if you aren't cutting any threads, you just need some stitches to keep it open. They go really fast after awhile (especially with application of wine and a reward system of chocolate).

Diane said...

The lace edge and insert are beautiful! There's a product called Fray Check that may help for any fabrics that fray a lot.

Benita said...

Wow, I've owned that book for years and have made several items out of it for my own doll, Lizzie, but I never, ever thought of Angie's plight in the overall scheme of things. You have opened my eyes to the plight of first dolls everywhere. Save the First Dolls! Angie can be our spokesperson - if we ever find her.

I adore the lace insertion you have done and the fact that you hand-knit that lace is going to be extra special. Like you, I have hand-sewed everything I have made so far, and I love doing it. It makes me slow down and enjoy the show, so to speak. And I used to do needle tatting. I think Lizzie is going to get some tatted lace. Thank you!

mamaross said...

In case you didn't know it yet, you are totally awesome. Thanks for the fabulous post and, through your careful literary dissection, for making me feel a little better that I didn't get around to providing my kids with the Mary Frances books while they were still young and impressionable.

goosefairy said...

My daughter is currently reading gothic literature for her English class and she gets so infuriated at the social mores of those times. I read this post to her and we both just cracked up. It's hilarious reading literature of past eras through the lens of today. You, in particular, did a brilliant job of it.

Also, that lace? Amazing.

Karen W. said...

Beautiful job! I have this book and love it -- got it from a neighbor who gave me a box of books her grown-up daughter no longer wanted, back in the '60s. I remember learning quite a bit about hand-sewing from it, and making the little coat. My favorite "character" was the Sewing Bird; it took a few years until I realized what that was, having never seen a "third hand" like that before. I still kind of want one of those. Thanks for the blast from the past!

Rebecca said...

You had me at 'boneless chicken in a pinafore'...

knit happens said...

I'm a boring non-giddy person. But. . . . How fascinating! I felt compelled to rush over to Amazon.com and order a copy of Couture Sewing Techniques.

Anonymous said...

Hi Franklin,
A couple books you may be interested in: "The Dolls' Dressmaker", by Venus A Dodge and "Heirloom Knitting for Dolls", by Furze Hewitt. Gorgeous sewing and knitting patterns for dolls, both available on Amazon.
Thank you for the inspiration!
Erin

Seanna Lea said...

Beautiful. I love how detailed the lace is and how clearly it belongs with the rest of the petticoat.

JoAnn said...

The edging and insertion looks even more impressive when seen to scale in the petticoat.

I second the first posting, your hook and eye need to be inside the band (please no snap which would result in an overlap on the waistband.

Now, I'm not sure of period authenticity, but I like the results better with a straight bar rather than the horseshoe type eye. So that the waistband lays absolutely flat to the body, use a few catching stitches at the very inside edge of the band to hold the flat side of the hook down snug to the fabric.

I love doll clothes.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for the book review - enjoyed it enormously. The petticoat looks terrific.

Lynne S.

Anonymous said...

I see Amazon has the Mary Frances Cookbook too.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Franklin,

Your post had it all this time - gorgeous hand-knit lace, hand-sewn doll petticoat, and the clever, punful, acerbic literary review of a children's centennial DIY book.

It could only have been topped by the review delivered as a dialogue between Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth.

Thank you so very much for sharing your many and diverse talents.

X O Irene (on Vancouver Island)

Soosan said...

Absolutely fantastic story! You are able to do anything, absolutely anything!

Stevie said...

My sister and I have the original books, or several of them. Now that you have sampled sewing and knitting you might want to check out the cook book. It has some really tasty treats, and it to is a fun read.

Jane said...

I don't have the knitting book, will have to put it on my wish list. I did use the sewing book to dress my Schoenhut. She is exactly the size to fit the patterns in the book. See my doll's garments here: http://lifeunraveledjl.blogspot.com/2011/09/doll-sewing-update.html

withmyneedles said...

Your post sent me on a Mary Frances reading odyssey, and I just wanted to share a more absurdly frightening passage from the Housekeeping book: Table Decorations for Washington's Birthday: Decorate with tiny flags and hatchets. Let the dolls sing "America." "Let" them sing America indeed.

Harpa J said...

You do beautiful work.
My mother is 74 and when she was 10 she was able to embroider the most exquisite tablecloths, with lace and the works. She was an "accomplished" but by no means exceptional child.

mtwalty said...

Crap. I hate that you and I have such similar tastes. Everytime you mention some piece of literature or project, I've got to do it as well. I just purchased the Mary Francis Sewing book. Now I see there is a gardening, house cleaning, etc. book in the series. I guess there goes my lunch money for the week. Darn you Mister.

Bourriquette said...

Did you know that Marie France may not have been a little girl? Looking for this book on A*m*z** (UK version), I found a very similar book (same cover, same aouthor) titled "Marie Francis (sic) sewing book (not sic, I have short memory)".

Denise said...

Franklin, this is so wonderful! I really appreciate that you not only DO this beautiful fine work, but you show and tell us about it. And with the most fabulous sense of humor. You are a rare and intelligent man. It is unfortunate that more girls have no desire to "sew like a girl." Too busy looking at the things in the palm of their hand.....

Anonymous said...

I remembered hand stitching tiny 1/4 inch French seams in camisoles in school. Our hooks and eyes (size 0 no less) were sewn with tiny buttonhole stitches touching each other with the knotted end at the edge. Lace insert would be attached with faggotting stitch. No way would i touch a needle in this age and time again ;) Thanks for bringing back fond memories.

KnitWit said...

That is beautiful. And you're right. Today's kids for the most part are not capable.

My kids (both boys) get "the look" when they do their own baking and cooking. Till their friends taste it...

Can't wait to see Ethel's outfit, and yes, I agree with the other poster: consider moving that hook/eye INSIDE so it doesn't catch. Normally, they are inside.

Maryanne & Duke said...

OMG, what a bad idea to read this post while enjoying some milk and cookies. I'm still scrubbing milk splatters off my monitor! Katie - snort...

torhild (in the NL) said...

where on earth do u get the patience from...???!!!

Alwen said...

Have I mentioned lately how much I love you?

No?

Dang, I love you!

Anonymous said...

Darling, I'd take your class, but I doubt you'll be coming to a town near me. I've knitted lace edgings, but clearly not as much as you.

My pioneer foremothers put lace on every pillow slip. Someday, I'm going to have a trunk full of proper linens of my own.

Linda Demaray said...

I have that book on my shelf, and the knitting and crocheting book too, but not the cookbook....I have a different doll though and now I think she may be too tall.... Love what you wrote and what you sewed for the doll, and can't wait to see the rest. :) I'm planning to knit anyway for the taller doll.

Dragonstar said...

I am SO impressed! Your sewing is excellent.

Nita Van Zandt said...

I saw this and immediately thought of you. Next lace project, please (inspired by Pierre Fouche)!
On "www.thisiscolossal.com" if this link doesn't work:

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/05/lace-portrait-by-pierre-fouche/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+colossal+%28Colossal%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Joy said...

Beautiful petticoat, Franklin. Can't wait to see how her outfit progresses.

Anonymous said...

I love Mary Frances, though as a young girl I probably would've HATED those books. Her brother gets to spend the summer camping in the woods while she's stuck sewing with her imaginary friends? WTF?!?

Becky said...

Get over to the San Francisco Airport pronto. There is a fabulous exhibit on the history of sewing, including plates from the Mary Francis books and actual sewing birds!

Anonymous said...

Nice!

1) Fraycheck is cheating. My guess would be that you wouldn't like it.

2) Handkerchief linen becomes practically no-existent when rained upon. Ask me how I know.

Loretta said...

Wowzers. You can knit LACE? You are even better than Mary Frances herself. I don't know any males you can knit. I tried to encourage my hubby to crochet on his long plane rides when he was on business trips, but no luck. I just bought this book online and someone in my Bleuette doll group posted the link to your blog. Tee hee...it looks Very Interesting Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Amuzing, witty, & fun blogging.

Incredible knitting in all scales (miniature & people).

Ethel is a lucky girl.

In regards to the beautiful linen petticoat, She told me to tell you that she agrees with the folks above about the hook & eye.

Usual operating mode for the Mary Frances time period was to use the hook & make a thread bar tack on the inside of the waist band.

Now, don't pout because we're telling you this. We just want you to continue doing things in the most excellent way possible. And based on the few pictures of your recent knitting projects, you are a perfectionist like the rest of us. Too bad those MF fairies didn't tell you where to put that darn hook.....or you cleverly took a picture of the petticoat inside out and have fooled all of us - right? ;)

Keep on with the great work. The Mary Frances wardrobe is a wonderful thing to sew.

Rachel Bonitz said...

She is simply lovely! And I wouldn't mind getting my hands on those books you are talking about either.

By the way, I found your blog by clicking a link on the Yarn Harlot's blog. Thanks to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, you just got yourself a new fan. :)

mylittleredgirl said...

So wonderful! I love vintage craft books. I think I'd like to relearn all my crafts now from vintage children's books so I can sew properly without cutting corners... I wonder if this book is the best way to do that or if Pinkie my Pinking Shears will start talking to me!

Susan in Katonah said...

I just finished knitting a Tweed Toad (see Ravelry for pattern). You are undermining my determination not to give in to the little voice that says the toad should be dressed as an Edwardian washerwoman, a la Ernest Shepherd's Mr. Toad escaping from jail.

Have you ever tried bobbin lace? It has many beautiful accoutrements. And it's kinda fun in a really time-consuming way.

MelD said...

These days, in the US/Canada/UK, everything is geared towards kids going in for academic careers. Here in olde worlde central European Switzerland, not so. The skilled labour and craft apprenticeships (3-4 years) are what more than 80% of kids do, beginning aged 15/16.
Nevertheless, and despite a lot of positive reactions, people in our environment are still often surprised to hear that our daughter is going to train as a "ladies' seamstress". The stern ladies at the college have made it clear this is no "creative", antsy-pantsy fashion training scheme, but sheer hard graft to learn Swiss-quality perfect sewing and dressmaking. We're dying to find out exactly what this will entail - will they measure her tacking and make her tack yards and yards until she can tack properly?! Will her stitches be measured by the micromillimetre?! Will they frown upon her being left-handed (probably, it's not encouraged here)... In 3 years' time, I am curious to see if she will be able to keep up with a 12 yr old girl 100 years ago...
(oh, and my 96 yr old grandma has made clothes all her life, since she had to hep clothe her younger sister when she was about 10 ;o She has never had an electric sewing machine - it's not even a treadle machine, but one to turn by hand...)

Polly G said...

just recently rediscovered hand sewing when taking a fashion design course. now practicing on a cloth doll, have replaced a zip by hand in a dress of my own and planning to make a totally hand sewn garment.....so relaxing to know that the tension will always be just right and the fabric will NEVER get caught in the teeth of the machine!

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suziwong66 said...

loved reading about your MF sewing experience; a rather sad first edition copy arrived in my mail box today - i'll be making all the garments using fine heirlooms fabrics...including handworked buttonholes LOL i'm not retreating to hook and eyes after recently doing 25 hand worked buttonhole practices to learn a basic level of 'proficiency' haha

I'm sure if you try them instead of hook and eye you'll do fine given your gorgeous lace skills :)

goldwman said...

wHERE AR EYOU AND ARE YOU OK??????

Eren Mckay said...

You have to find the right sweet. I suggest a hilly one. It's very awesome here in Sodium Pond Town. We have some freezing times, but nothing that stops holes. Many additional credit for the colored lace.

Adipex

Anonymous said...

I actually learned to sew from an original edition of this book. No, I'm not ancient. My aunt passed her copy down to my mom who in turn let me sew clothes from the patterns for my Shirley Temple doll in the early sixties. I was devastated when it was lost in a flood but delighted to find it reprinted years ago. Now I use the patterns as historical reference for clothes for my niece' s American Girl Rebecca doll - circa 1914.

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