Well, every season is the season for sewing, and shopping, too, for that matter, especially for fabric. But somehow, the holiday season seems to take both activities to a new level for the year. Somehow, knowing how to sew makes one very susceptible to feeling like at least one or two of your planned gifts to family or friends be hand-sewn by YOU. I, of course, am one of these people.
Remembering some of the gifts I have made over the years came into sharp focus this week. I went into a storage box (acid-free, of course) where I have some family textile heirlooms in safe-keeping. I was in search of a Christmas item, but what caught my eye were two aprons which I made the first Christmas my husband and I were married. It was 1973. I wanted to do something special for my new mother-in-law and my husband’s aunt, and since they were both “apron-wearers” I thought they might like hand-made aprons. I designed a simple pattern, which had two pockets and rick-rack trim. Gingham was widely available, so I chose colors I knew they each liked. Most of the sewing on them was by hand, and I still remember furiously working on them to get them finished on time. I also remember the true delight that both ladies showed upon opening them. I obviously had made just the right thing!
This is the apron I made for my mother-in-law.
And this apron was for my husband’s aunt. If I made this apron for myself, I would add a “bib” to it.
I added a label with my name on it!
Twenty years earlier, in 1953, Vogue Pattern Book magazine had a multi-page feature on “Merry Christmas Gifts and Fashions.” I must say those 1950s’ home-sewers must have been very ambitious, as this is only part of what was suggested as gift projects:
1) Lots of sequin-embellished ornaments and decorations.
There were seven pages of projects like this in the December/January 1953-54 issue of Vogue Pattern Book magazine, c1953, The Conde Nast Publications, Inc.
2) Doesn’t everyone make ties, shirts, jackets, and pajamas for husbands and grown sons? “The tailoring is not hard with Vogue’s step-by-step, clear sewing directions.”
This is one of two pages of things to make for men.
3) Of course you’ll sew for your little ones (which I did a lot of when my own children were young….)
Everything from petticoats to overcoats were featured for children. Lacking from all these suggestions in this feature were dolls’ clothes, surprisingly. Maybe Vogue Patterns had not yet started making patterns for doll clothes.
4) Now we’re getting into my favorite ideas – “something special for the girl who loves pretty, unusual things…”
The two tops shown on this page would be very stylish today. And the grouping of accessories just happens to be from a pattern which I own.
Here is the pattern, which includes patterns for other accessories, as well:
The curved belt (not the one with the spikes!) attracted me to this pattern even though it is an unprinted one.
And here are more suggestions for stylish women:
I can do without the jacket with the ball fringe, but I love that wrap blouse featured in the red triangle on the right!
5) It seems appropriate that the section ended with a feature on aprons and clothes to wear at home.
“At home clothes for serious work or lazy-lounging.” I doubt too many home sewers are doing lazy lounging this time of year – or ever!
So – am I making/sewing any gifts this year? I have just one very simple thing planned (still in my head). But – along with the Christmas decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, the cookie-making, the cards, the parties and all the other wonders of the season – I am hoping to finish my current work-in-progress (a wool dress for me) and start and finish (?) a pair of wool pants – also for me. Yes, for me. Should I feel guilty about this??