Monday, May 27, 2013

To Remember Soldiers, is to Respect Them and Question the Necessity of War

Newly added to my very casual vintage women's military collection,  I was thrilled to acquire this from an WAC officer who joined up in 1950s. She was sent to train at the Women's Army Corps, Ft. McClellan, Alabama.

She  held on to this sweet little cotton sweater, and now it is mine!
It's a simple cotton sweater, not part of a uniform as far as I can tell.....a memento.

PALLAS ATHENS, insignia of the Women's Army Corps.

Fort Des Moines, Iowa, was selected as the site of the first WAAC   (Womens Army Auxiliary Corps) training center in 1941.

  The Women's Army Corps School was founded at Fort McClellan on September 25, 1952.   In 1954, it became the first permanent home of the U.S. Women's Army Corps Center. Fort McClellan remained its home until the Corps was disestablished and its flag retired in 1977. 

In May 1955 at Fort McClellan, Alabama the Women's Army Corps (WAC) Museum opened and remains today. It showcases the history of women in the Army in modern times as active soldiers. 


hereWomen's Army Corps (WAC) Technician Georgiana M. Anderson Chats with Military Policeman

"At the WAC museum at Ft. McClellan....
Margaret Corbin, from the American Revolution, Dr. Mary Walker from The Civil War and Cathay Williams, Buffalo Soldier, depict the rich history and contributions of women in service to their country."
Women in service

"Over 150,000 American women served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. Members of the WAC were the first women other than nurses to serve within the ranks of the United States Army. Both the Army and the American public initially had difficulty accepting the concept of women in uniform.

However, political and military leaders, faced with fighting a two-front war and supplying men and materiel for that war while continuing to send lend-lease material to the Allies, realized that women could supply the additional resources so desperately needed in the military and industrial sectors. Given the opportunity to make a major contribution to the national war effort, women seized it. By the end of the war their contributions would be widely heralded."

1968 recruitment poster


According to the Government Publication Office this book "Chronicles thirty-three years of WAC history from V-J Day 1945 to 1978, when the Women's Army Corps was abolished by Public Law 95-584 and discontinued by Department of the Army General Order 20, with the WAC officers assimilated into the other branches of the Army (except the combat arms). "

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Goodbye Model T May 26 1927

My favorite car of all the Ford Model T. fact. It is the fun car of the oh so romantic 20s.....the time of the last American/Paris wild abandon.....of art....literature....when America reveled in all it could be. Away with bonehead jocks. Away with stupid people. Yes to the ascendency of the intelligent.......the romantic.......the talented.......the lovely........the working class......and fuck the Corporation......
ah yes. the Jazz Age...the Roaring Twenties....Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, Picasso....   Prohibition.....Women's sufferage.....Harlem....worker strikes!

As Willa Cather said...'The world broke in half in 1922"....because more Americans moved to live in cities and left the farms. We shifted from being an agrarian country to a more urban one. And, significantly, at least until the Wall Street Crash, on paper, during the 20s the nation’s total wealth more than doubled.


oh wait. Henry Ford. The creator of the asembly line. The "great" innovation that fucked the worker of all  intelligent love of work. While the assembly line did make products affordable to the average worker......and we do need to pat the old Nazi sympathizer on the back. He did say he had to pay his workers enough money to actually buy the cars they made.
How's that for a worker revolution??
Today of course, corporations have no intention of actually paying their workers a living wage so they can buy quality goods they produce.

ford model t assembly line Ford Model T Assembly Line here

Model T production began in 1908, though Ford had been producing cars since 1903.  Because of traditions of work and making products that had been the way of the world for centuries, early cars were handbuilt one at a time by a team working on one car. Breaking work tasks into tiny parts was the beginning of faster production, worker disenfranchisement, and ultimate control of production of goods from the top down.

No longer would a worker have a say in how something was made, what process he/she found best and so workers lost whatever control they had about their work conditions.
Ultimate corporate control of the work day in every form gave rise to bloody, violent, reasoned, erudite, principled workers rights and demands.

Two Women With a Model T here


The 20s was the time of the full press of capitalism in America. And workers had to fight back for their souls.
At the very least, since a worker was now a "tool" and not much of a human to the corporation, labor unions fought management for good wages, vacations, day work length and all the 'perk' workers today might take for granted, were bought with the blood of early workers in America once the assembly line became the most popular way for corporations to control workers and make the most possible profits.
Apple iPhone anyone?

****Anyway, the last day of production of the Model T (for Tressie!!) was in 1927.****

If you are interested in a charming movie that shows the fight of the worker in the early years of the 20th century...I suggest Reds with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton and so many other folks.....this is another blog post.

"Everyone from carpenters and street car conductors to waitresses and newsboys belonged to a union. In 1919, when Seattle unions gained worldwide headlines by declaring a general strike that shut down the city for five days, some 60,000 workers belonged to 110 unions affiliated with the Seattle Central Labor Council and the Washington State Federation of Labor."

1921 Ford Model T



So so long the long Model T.... so long worker dignity..............Unless you fight for it.
"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance"

and of course, Emily Lloyd in A River Runs Through It...drives a Model T (at 5:16) on the Montana railroad tracks.....which is a fine movie with Brad Pitt, and Robert Redford directed that.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Recycled Life

Continuing on reusing and reclaiming, we bought this old tent last summer and since it came with no poles, we saw.....Tote Bags and Aprons!

Last summer was long and warm and dry....just how I like 'em.

Found the tent....and laid it out to cut it to usable strips and shapes.....

The product testing will waxed cotton wash? It washed the color and most of the wax away!

A few choice stenciled pieces will find their way to tote bags, market bags, and a few aprons too.

Here's the old nail bag.....

and.....the finished bag....perfect for toting groceries, your CSA share......or a ukelele....

I really like how the old nail bag makes the perfect place to stash stuff on the outside.... and other stuff inside, secured with an unused old stock 40s military metal zipper.

that sucker is sturdy!

the tent had yellow twill ties to fasten the tent to the I reused them for the zipper pull, and to tie the nail bag closed and on the back, I made a loop to hold the nail bag ties....just for fun!

Here's where the cutting and planning and sewing happens....inside.

working on smaller ones too.....recycled leather, and vintage redline selvedge denim....

Monday, May 13, 2013

Measure Up!

Several times a week I get emails about Measurements! I think most people don't know their measures and only choose clothes by the tag size. The problem is that every manufacturer uses different measurements for each company to describe  each Number on the size tag. And some makers use numbers like 0, 1, 2 ...

Modern clothes makers have charts online...Penneys,  Sears, you can check it before you buy.
The most important rule is Know Your Measurements!!!
If you shop for Vintage clothes online you really need to know that! Vintage clothes have tags, but they mean nothing! With vintage clothes, you need to know about measurements, and how different styles were cut in that era.

Generally, the difference between the bust and waist is 8" - 10", and from the waist to the hip, it is more often 10" - 12".
Before the 50s, measurements were closer together because the style was looser.  You see alot of 36" - 30" -  40" ratio.
The 50s saw the rise of girdles and corsets under the clothes, so the waist shrunk and clothes got tighter! You see a lot of 36" - 26" - 40" ratio.
This is important stuff to know... ;-)
The 60s emphasized  slim hips, especially in Junior sizes!  The 70s brought about a more casual fit and attitude...except for those tight high waist jeans!
The 80s....big. mostly big! 

So relying on a number size is not gonna work! And....size numbers are completely different from 70 years 50 years ago, to 30 years ago......

AND...if that wasn't confusing enough.....misses sizes (made for mature women), and junior sizes (made for teenage girls) are also different!
A misses Small is more like a Junior Medium, because misses sizes have larger busts, larger waist and larger hips as a ratio. Junior sizes have smaller busts, smaller waist, slimmer hips as  a ratio.
I describe vintage clothes as a S - M, for instance....and that is why. That, and personal preference.

Now, we don't have Half-sizes like in the 30s - 70s....half-sizes were meant for the "mature" "middle-age" woman who was petite. I think of this old-fashioned size range as "Northern European peasant" other words, My People! They were short, about 5'3", and weighed more than the average woman, and had very large breasts.

The shape of the garment is important to consider also. This 70s oversize dress has a very casual fit, and can work for a few sizes depending on how tight or loose you want a dress to look on you.

But .....this strapless dress is fitted......knowing your measurements, and paying attention to the measures of the dress is more important....

The average woman size today is taller and thinner than in years past. Over the centuries, people have become taller because of better nutrition and greater access to education and government public health programs. Changes in societal tastes in women's body shapes is a long long Doctoral Dissertation...that I won't go into right now....but if we look at Fashion...we can see that Boobs...or Butts...or Cleavage...or whatever...comes in to fashion and women diet, women corset up or corset down....

Both of these pictures are from the mid-50s. Boobs, and tiny waists were in vogue! so, corsets and tight long line bras, Merry Widows, and Girdles were worn to create the look.

In modern times, we generally have a more casual attitude about body shapes....but I think what a society wants, and what we really look like are gonna be in conflict.
So, let's measure ourselves. Once you know what you measure, you can choose clothes over the internet. Now I know most BIG ONLINE shops have a very generous return policy...Because they can afford to lose money. If you buy from a tiny shop, an independent person, who has a passion for vintage clothes, returning clothes for no good reason is not fair.

Let's avoid disappointment for everyone and take a few minutes to watch some cute videos and read up on this topic.
I know a lot about this....I've been making my own clothes for decades....I've been sewing for other people for decades....I can draft a pattern for I can offer professional advice.

3 Basic Rules.
1. Add about 2"  inches to your personal body measurements, then compare to a garment you like.
Think about the style of the it meant to be loose? or tight? or is it a knit with stretch?

2. If a garment is  a bargain, or  if it is for a special occasion, you should consider having a tailor make it fit you like a glove! Vintage garments are made of quality materials, (generally) and will last a long time, so they are worth the extra expense, and a vintage garment is a rare thing....You may never see it again!

3. Ask questions if you are unsure. A professional seller will tell you if the garment won't fit you or will not be returnable for fit issues. No professional seller wants to disappoint a customer...we want you to be happy and we want you to come back! 

Ease? What is that?

Ease is the extra room added to the body measurement of a human, so when the garment is being worn,  you can move your arms, lift your legs, and breathe! then, the style of the dress or blouse, might need more room....pleats, gathers, wide sleeves......
Here is a blouse with a lot of ease...for style. Even though the bust measurement across this blouse is close to 50", it isn't for a 50" Bust! It's made for a bust about 40" and the gathers are for style.

To take the bust measure, put your tape across the chest about 1" down from the sleeve underarm sleeve, if the blouse isn't an oversize 80s style, but a normal blouse/or dress.
Notice I didn't stretch out the gathers to get an accurate bust measurement. This measures 19" at rest, and double that for 38". This blouse will work for a 36" to 42" bust at the most if you like a more snug fit. I can't make that decision for you...that's personal preference. All I can do is give you the facts, and you decide.

When I listed this blouse, here is how I described it--- size S to M -
Bust - 38" - 42"
Waist/Hip - 46" (best up to a 44")
shoulders - 16"
sleeves - 24"
cuffs, when snapped - 9"
length - 28"

The sleeves are measured from the sleeve seam, if it rests at the absolute shoulder (not an oversized, dropped sleeve style like from the 80s) all the way down the center to the end of the cuff. This measure is nearly 24".

Another important measure, especially for a fitted top, is the back shoulder measurement.
This goes across the top of the "angel wing" bones on your back. It is taken from the sleeve seam across the back to the other sleeve seam. This measures 16".

The length is made from the shoulder seam just 2" away from the neckline (generally, depends on the width of the neckline), and it goes to the hem. This blouse measures 28" long.
Since the blouse goes to the hipbones, I took the measure of the hem, at the hips so you will know it will fit there too.

 Pants----- oh boy.  high rise. low rise. medium rise. Let's stick to a basic pair of pants.
To measure the hips, lay the pants with the legs gently separated. Measure from side seam to side seam at the crotch. This pair is 36" wide, when doubled.

At the waist, when the elastic is relaxed, measures 24", and then you can pull it all the way open and measure. The relaxed elastic measure is very important, and should only be  about 1" - 2" smaller than your waist because the pants need to be snug but not tight, so they will stay up!

Here's another How To Measure Video from Sandy Mendoza of Debutante Vintage clothes! 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

So Narcissistic.

 If it is ancient, if it is obscure, weird, uncommon and hard to find.... in my long long years as a gardener, I've grown it. I feel most attached to the human race when I think of people thousands of years ago seeing, growing and loving a plant I have in my yard.
Green flowers, black flowers, stripes, dots, black leaves, variegated leaves, black tomatoes, white tomatoes, crazy beans and's what I love.

One of my favorite heirloom flowers is the Poet's narcissus.....‘Actaea’ is an heirloom beloved for its large and fragrant flowers that open at about the same time as lilacs. The first written description of this narcissus was about 300BC. The poet Virgil  wrote about a narcissus with white single petals and an orange eye.....the Narcissus poeticus. Native to Europe, where it has naturalized it is a breathtaking sight. It is very fragrant, and has medicinal uses that are very well known from ancient times.

As with all narcissus and all daffodils, it is poisonous....don't try to use it to cure any ills...but for the winter time blues......

Narcissus flowers are named for the son of the River God, Cephissus, and mother, Leiriope, a nymph, in Greek mythology.........This boy Narcissus was quite the looker.. according to legend. A prophet told Leiriope her son would live long and prosper if he avoided ever seeing himself in a reflection.
The pretty boy had many women and men (this is a Greek legend) fall in love with him as he grew up into a man, but he chose none of them for a lover.

A nymph, Echo, loved Narcissus, but she had her own curse to deal because the goddess Hera made poor Echo repeat again the last words she heard said to her....... But Narcissus did not have eyes for her!
Ameinias, another hopeful lover was also rejected by the handsome Narcissus, and Ameinias killed himself. Just before taking his life he asked for the gods to punish  Narcissus.
The gods then set Narcissus to gaze on his loveliness in a clear pond......He fell in love with himself....he was so darn pretty!
When he leaned over to touch the beautiful image of himself, he fell in and drowned......or he killed himself also....we're not too clear on that.
The gods thought the tragedy (this is a Greek legend) ought to be commemorated......and so named the lovely yellow late winter flower.......Narcissus.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Good Day Sunflowers !

If you want sunflowers, you gotta plant seeds.......
here's a few.....
Mammoth Russian, the BIG ones that get to 8' to 12'. Burpee's Evening Sun mix grows to 6' - 7'. Burgundy Moulin Rouge pollen free are short and perfect for cut flowers in the house. Italian White are simple and daisy-like. The Fun 'n Sun mix grows to 4' - 6'. The colors can be yellow, gold, cream, orange, pinkish, maroon, stripes and with dark centers or light centers.

All the flowers in this post are from my gardens in the last 2 years, except the next to last pic.

I love this moment......a day or 2 before the petals curl back to make that great big sunflower.....

The story of sunflowers (Helianthus annuus ) dates back to the American continents as a wild plant that grew freely.
American Indian tribes in North America  cultivated sunflowers in Arizona and New Mexico about 3000 BC.   The wild sunflower  plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers some time around 1500. Peter the Great of Russia adored the sunflower as an ornamental.  By the late 19th century, Russian sunflower seed came back to  the US. By 1880, seed companies were advertising the 'Mammoth Russian' sunflower seed in cataloges.

Sunflowers are used for decoration, as a farm crop for oil, or crushed for sunflower flour and butter, or eaten as um......sunflower seeds! The petals and seeds can be used to make a dye, too.

Sunflower seeds come in different sizes too! the big ones here are the Mammoth Russian, the teeny ones are the multi-color sunflowers that grow about 5' tall, and the medium size are from a Sunspot variety that grow knee-high.

Sunflowers are part of the composite family of the dandelion.....

and the Shasta started out the size of a quarter or so, and made big as your hand by Luther Burbank....

the composite flowers of dusty miller and a friendly bumble bee.......tho dusty miller is grown for its gray dusty velvet leaves.....I let it go to bloom.......

pink cosmos.......

Just as they start to open...... like the sun.......

and at the end of the season......

random pic from the interwebz.....if you own it let me know for proper credit...

a path of sunflowers above the rose garden..........

Here is the full selection of seeds I planted the last week of April 2013 in the front yard borders........ Beans, squash, gourds, cosmos...marigolds.....sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers...........
Indian corn, heirloom corn, alyssum for the bees...