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Conversational Threads

Were you sewing in 1968???

GailAnn | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

In the late ’60’s, on the cusp of the miniskirt, I remember making, wearing, and LOVING what we called then, “the shift dress”.  Straight or A-line, zip up the back, “french darts” into the front side seams, not so short that I had to listen to a lecture prior to leaving the house.  It looked pretty good on almost everyone, certainly all my friends in high-school looked great!   Their mamas and grands wore them as well.

I’d like to have a few casual dresses for the Summer of 2009.

I’m having a bit of difficulty finding the appropriate fabric.  Most of mine were of an inexpensive 100% cotton, but a heavier weight than today’s quilting cotton.  Oh, yes, the fabric required pre-shrinking, but it wore well, without too many wrinkles.

I think we called it “PermaPress Cotton”, and I had one or two dresses in “Hopsacking”.  Anybody have any idea what these fabrics might be called today, or where they may be found????


Edited 1/14/2009 3:01 pm ET by GailAnn


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    PermaPress was used for cotton/poly blends. The poly is what made it permanent press.

  2. woodruff | | #2

    A designer named Lily Pulitzer sort of made her name with shifts like these. She's still in business and those dresses are still part of her line:http://www.lillypulitzer.com/Women/Dresses/icat/womensdressesAnd yes, I was sewing then. I don't remember looking for a particular type or name of fabric. I simply chose by feel, looking for a good cotton with a tighter weave and more weight, as you note, than quilting cotton. One of my wealthier friends was proud of her floral shifts made from French Boussac cottons.I also recall underlining a lot, because that was a technique used in many, many Vogue patterns at the time, which gave the fabric more heft (and less show-through with the dresses).

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #3

      LOL!!!!! My first dress for 4-H was from that pattern! AND I still have it.....I loved that dress. Mine was also 'permanent press' and was a particularly lovely paisley in gold, orange, purple, and green. I had my school pix taken in it...so there is evidence that I actually wore it. LOL.

      I know it was a cotton/poly blend, and have seen some similar fabrics at JoAnn, although it is usually in the spring and summer. I'd start looking...that fabric type is coming back.  I searched for some late last spring and most of it was already gone.  I made a tote bag for a dear friend who is a teacher and used the directions that were in Threads to do it...FUN!!!

      Thanks for the giggle.


      1. User avater
        Thimblefingers | | #4

        I believe the PermaPress Cotton was a cotton treated (with formaldahyde) to resist wrinkles, if my memory serves me correctly on the history of fabrics.  I believe the cotton/poly blend came a little later. 

        I was sewing in 1968 - made my first dress - I was 10 years old.  It was a front button a-line shift out a navy permapress cotton with big yellow daisies that had bright pink centres.  I also made a little purse and one of those little triangle hats we wore that tied under the hair at the back of the head.  The hat was trimmed with yellow bias binding.  Unfortunately, I don't have ay pictures of it. 

        To this day, I have a "thing" for navy fabric with yellow daisies!   

        1. Sancin | | #5

          In 1968 I was sewing maternity clothes. As a 30 year old woman I was considered old to be having a baby. Most of the maternity clothes around were for young women and just too cutsie for me. I had sewn a lot up until that time and always sewed Vogue on the Featherweight that my grandmother had given me. We moved to a new city and I had quit my job as a university teacher and my husband had taken a pay cut in his job. Money was VERY tight. I tried to find some simple patterns from the other pattern companies but there were the cutsies again. Vogue only had 3-4 maternity dresses. I bought one pattern, a fairly dressy one as we were still going out. Going out in those days meant dressing up. The pattern did have a jumper pattern with it so I had a lot of jumpers, through the seasons!! Looking through the pattern books these days and watching pregnant mothers that look like grandmothers in the stores, I almost wish I could have another baby - not.FYI I wore shifts in the early 60's when living on the west coast. I wore mini's from the mid 60's to mid in Montreal and people were shocked when I moved back to the west coast as they were just coming in. It was the Mary Quant period and white stockings were in. As a nurse I refused to wear white stocking out in public!!

          Edited 1/14/2009 8:19 pm ET by Sancin

          1. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #6

            1968 was my junior year in school and my second year of sewing and cooking classes at Three Rivers High School in Three Rivers, Michigan.  giggle.  The first semester was sewing and the second semester was cooking.

            My teacher was Mrs. Langworthy and I loved her.  Our first project (sophomore-1967-68 year) was an apron made of 100% cotton that was torn into the three pieces needed to make the simple apron.  One piece with the body of the apron the second narrower piece was the sewn on top of the wider piece for pockets, two seams, three pockets.  The third piece was cut in half and used to put on the end corners for the tie. 

            My junior year (1968-1969) we made an A-line skirt with a zipper in the side seam and a waistband.  Mine was navy blue.  That was the semester we learned about using patterns. 

            I don't remember where, how or what was involved, but my mom got me a Sears, Singer sewing machine.  I can't remember if she had it or what.  She didn't sew.  But I took off sewing for me and Cynthia (my sister/friend) for all of the special events at school.  By our senior year, I was making look-a-like dresses, maxi pants, midi pants and other major pieces for our dress-up days and school dances.  With the help of one of my fellow school mates, I made my gown for the Miss Three Rivers contest.  I won second runner up.  Those were the days.  It was lavender, I believe.

            Edited 1/14/2009 10:18 pm ET by rodezzy2

            Edited 1/14/2009 10:19 pm ET by rodezzy2

            Edited 1/14/2009 10:19 pm ET by rodezzy2

          2. GailAnn | | #12

            Meanwhile, just a few miles away in Dowagiac, Michigan, I was doing just the exact same thing!

            Well, not that Miss Dowagiac part, although I do still remember the girl who won. 

            Both beautiful and sweet, she deserved it.

            High praise and many thanks to Michigan's fine HomeEc teachers of the 1960's!  Without their help and attention I wouldn't have the life I have now.

            In fact, after I learned to read, every other important thing, necessary to enjoying a  real life, I learned in Home Ec. 

            Yes, I hold those fine teachers in very High Esteem!


            Edited 1/15/2009 10:31 am ET by GailAnn

            Edited 1/15/2009 10:32 am ET by GailAnn

          3. Ocrafty1 | | #13

            Jr. and High School home ec was a waste of my time.  I had been sewing since I was 9 and our project was to make a poncho with wool.  You cut 2 pieces, sewed them together, then sewed 1" from the outside edge and fringed it.  Wow!!!  I had mine done before the first week was done, while almost everyone else in the class was struggling to pull a thread to find the straight of grain. (there was another girl who was in 4-H too) I made 2 jumpers during that semester.  The foods part was just as bad.  They were making cookies, while I was already making yeast rolls. Besides, I was the oldest of 5 (at that time...eventually of 7) and since Mom worked, my sister and I cooked dinner every night...and we made MEALS.  I hated those classes.  I wasn't smug or anything, but these girls were so far behind me, that it was embarrasing.  I never took home ec unless it was required....it was an easy A though.


          4. sewingkmulkey | | #59

            Oooh Deb I felt the same about Home Ec in Jr. H.S. as I, too, had been sewing since I was 9.  Our sewing project was a bit more advanced (a fitted dress with set-in sleeves) but the shocking part was all the notions I had to buy that I had never used before nor since.  My Mawmaw taught me to sew and she had been through the depression making women's suits out of discarded men's suits so she knew what was really necessary and what was not!  And, all the unnecessary steps we were required to go through was absolutely ridiculous.  It's no wonder many girls failed to get the "sewing bug" that I already had. 

            I did take a tailoring class in 12th grade that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It was taught by a dressmaker turned teacher and she knew how to handle varying skill levels which made all the difference.

            Back on direct subject manner -  I well remember shift dresses, sewed many of them, and used various types of fabric but, as I recall, all of them had enough "body" to support that style.



          5. Mlknorr | | #89

            You told my story. I walked into my first grade 8 class in 1965 wearing a suit I made over the summer. We were told we were going to make aprons. I asked, "What will we do tomorrow?" My teacher and I never did recover. On to the shift dresses, I made two or three every summer out of a heavy cotton, I think some of it was called poplin. I prided myself on making each dress for under $5.00 and everyone thought we went to the city to buy my clothes. I bought some of the fabric out of the catalog (Eatons or Simpsons). Such a great trip down memory lane. I have found a couple of similar patterns in the Burda magazine which includes patterns in the centre of the magazine. I love the choices.

          6. starzoe | | #90

            Just back from the fabric store and a look at the new Spring pattern books - shifts are all over the place, exactly like the '60s, some even down to the French darts.

          7. GailAnn | | #91

            Yes, yes, I saw the one with the French darts!  I'm so excited and eager to get started.  It is supposed to be in the 70's here tomorrow, then snow over the week-end.  Definitely time to Sew Spring!!!!   Gail

          8. Ceeayche | | #105

            My story too!  Quite tragic actually.  Mom's theory was that my skills at 12 were better than the Home Ec teacher.  But I still have my sewing tools (most of them) from that class.  She did teach us the importance of taking good care of our tools.  I still use the T-square.  And I still have the left handed shears-- I later switched back to right handed (that's what public schools do for you).

          9. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #30

            What a co-incidence..You are from Michigan too.  You guys made the same projects?

            Edited 1/15/2009 7:33 pm ET by rodezzy2

          10. GailAnn | | #40

            Did the apron ties go into a channel at the top of the apron skirt, so it could be gathered and adjusted for every girl?  I think my project #2 was a skirt that wrapped to the front and closed with 2 buttons on the waiste.  Gail

          11. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #56


          12. GailAnn | | #57

            Then I'd say the statewide Home Ec cirrulum was fairly standard.  Gail

          13. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #60

            I guess. 

        2. GailAnn | | #11

          Weren't we all just the CUTEST!!!

          I think you might be right about that formaldahyde thing.  I was pretty sure it was some sort of surface treatment.


    2. GailAnn | | #10

      Underling is an excellent suggestion, thank you.  Gail

    3. sewist | | #86


      I still underline light weight fabrics to this day.  You are right about the term -wrinkle free==cotton/poly blends today.   Yes I have been sewing nearly 70 years.   

    4. sewnutt1 | | #142

      Oh yes!  I remember the Lily dress she first introduced.  I still have an article from Life Magazine about her work.   Could not afford to buy a Lily then but made many a shift dress during the 60's!   I have had a Lily Pulitzer garment in my wardrobe since then and they have been favorites.   I do, for some reason, think a manufacturer has purchased the rights to the name and expanded the line in recent years.  They still feature the beautiful designs and colors and the full linings.

      In the late 60's, I was studying Home Economics Education at Eastern Michigan University.  Around 1968 took a wonderful course called Experimental Clothing under Dr. Betty Bornemeier.   She was so knowledgable and taught us all so very much!  My garment was of deep teal blue wool with a full silk lining.  I used a Vogue pattern and was able to make my muslin out of a brown textured cotton blend, thus having two garments to wear for Student Teaching.              Dr. Bornemeier did a lot of instructing but we shared a lot of information in sessions to examine fabric, construction, and fit.   What a taskmaster and outstanding instructor!                                                                                              

      I also did a lot of sewing when home with my family.  I could make a mini-skirt from less than a yard of wool and would manipulate patterns on fabric to make it fit with minimal yardage.  I remember buying fabric very often for $1.00 a yard or less!    I bought a used portable machine for $32.00 that would do buttonholes and had a zipperfoot---I was in heaven!                   Also, this was about the time polyester doubleknits appeared (remember the Leisure Suit?!) and clothing design softened and construction changed.  Poly blends made sewing trickier but life much easier.

      1. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #143

        What a wonderful experience for you to have had that class. Expands the mind and tweaks the imagination.You just HAD to remind us of leisure suits, didn't you? Their only redeeming quality was that their popularity was short lived. I remember buying 1-yard remnants of double knit fabric for 50¢ to make pants. Being long-legged, this presented the challenge of not being able to get enough length. I solved this by making faux cuffs. There was enough fabric because these lengths were always 60" wide, and I bought solid color fabric. Fortunately cuffs were in vogue then. I did make a couple mini skirts, too.

        1. Cityoflostsouls | | #144

          I remember when knits first arrived on the scene there were classes everywhere teaching people how to sew knits.  The trick then was how to set up your sewing machine for knit sewing.  Now the stitches are all in front of you!  Just pick one.

        2. Palady | | #147

          >> ... 1-yard remnants ... for 50¢  ... <<

          The posts on buying fabric for $1.00 & $0.50 took me back to the early 1960's.  My daughter & son's wardrobes were sewn from a penny/yd fabric from the Rose's Variety stores. 

          To be sure those prices are likely gone forever.  But for yard or second hand sales that is.


          1. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #148

            Indeed! My remnants came from a now defunct store called TG&Y. I bought Buster Brown seconds/irregular shirts and short pants for my son there. Usually you could determine what the irregularity was, but once I bought him a striped tee-shirt and could not for the life of me see what was wrong with it. Until I had his picture made in it and saw the defect when we got the pictures back. One sleeve was not cut on-grain and the stripes ran almost diagonally on that one sleeve.

          2. GailAnn | | #149

            My sister worked in the fabric department of T.G.&Y.  Often very nice fabrics.  She was faithful to alert me to the best deals. Gail

          3. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #150

            Small world. I really liked that store and was sorry to see it close here.

          4. Palady | | #154

            >> ... defect ... got the pictures back. One sleeve was not cut on-grain and the stripes ran almost diagonally on that one sleeve. <<

            The adage - a camera doesn't lie - applies here to be sure!  My mother worked in the fashion industry many years.  From experience she knew the shortcuts taken to make the most of productivity.

            When the line went awry, or to make the most of the fabric on the cutter tables, any part of one size would be used in another size.  Sometimes by as much as 2 sizes!Collars.  Sleeves.  Cuffs.  Front or back waists.  Wasit to skirts.  Vice versa.   And indeed, cross grain in place of length grain.  With some manipulation, the more attuned operator was able to carry off compeleting the garments.

            There are drapes in my living room that were bought as seconds.  They hung for years before anyone else in my family but me recognized the pattern in each of the 2 panels went in different directions.  




          5. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #155

            Re: any part of one size would be used in another size. Sometimes by as much as 2 sizes.... And we wonder why we need to try on every RTW garment before we buy it! Skilled sewers can make-do, as most of us know from our own sewing experiences. Thank you so much for sharing that piece of insider information.

          6. Palady | | #159

            >> ... Thank you ... piece of insider information. <<

            Your very welcome. 

            Mother was a task master with me in many instances.  Admittedly some of her direction has proven has held me in good stead.  This sizing on RTW in particular.  I have chosen to try another of the same size fashion, when a section fits uncomfortably.  Sleeve snug on one, while fits on another of the same style.



          7. Cityoflostsouls | | #160

            I was my daughters First year 4-H teacher and I really thought she might learn to "dislike" me but instead she likes to sew and handstitched clothes for herself in college.  Every stitch the girls did was done at my house-nothing was taken home.  Any mistakes were taken out.  They removed the first stitches and the second  time I did it for them so they wouldn't learn to hate sewing but would still have a perfect project at the end of the summer.  There were no dropouts and the girls all stayed with 4-H sewing.  We have few sewing projects at our fair and when I do see a great project with time and thought put into it and the project has a lower score and ribbon it is so often the poor machine stitching.  The machines not the girls.  I feel bad about it.  Thats why my girls worked at my house.  At Fair Time I had them there every day completing their projects.  It was a wonderful time.  My daughter went on to take a lot of firsts at the Fair.


          8. GailAnn | | #161

            You can be proud, not only of the skills you taught, but of the gift of time, you gave.  Time is the most valuable gift any of us can share.  Gail

  3. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #7

    Gail, I was pregnant most of 1968, and I did sew back then. Prior to and early in the pregnancy I wore shifts, both A-line and straight. I had a couple made of searsucker. One of a closely woven permanent press 100% cotton print that I'd call a medium weight, but I don't know any other particulars about it. These were all about mid knee length. Later, they were shorter and often made of double knit.

    1. MarieCurie | | #9

      Funny, I was conceived in 1968, so all these maternity discussions are all about me!

  4. joyfulneedles | | #8

    Boy did bringing up 1968 take me down memory lane.  I was living in Shelton, Washington, on the southern tip of Puget Sound.  I had bought my second sewing machine.  It was the grey plastic body and the bobbins that filled through the needle.  I thought that was going to be such a great asset.  Those were very small bobbins that screwed together and if you over-filled the little screw part broke off, that bobbin was history. 

    I was sewing the sheath dresses with the fitting darts front and back as well as the buts darts.  I made several but the one I remember was a light-weight red plaid.  It was the one I learned why you needed interfacing in the neck.  I still have that machine in the basement. 

    The year 1968 also reminded me of my ex-husband but I'll leave that part out.

    As an interesting side-bar, I was watching the old WHAT'S MY LINE on the game channel a couple of weeks ago and the girls, Dorothy and Arlene were wearing chemise dresses.  One was the "shift" style and the other one had the skirt gathered at the bottom and stitched to a smaller lining, it was a very full skirt and neither one of those dresses showed any figure.  Bennett Cerf was so upset and made a comment over several shows.  Oh, how times have changed.   



  5. starzoe | | #14

    To refresh my memory of what I wore in 1968, I searched Google and found this:
    http://www.fiftiesweb.com/fashion/sixties-fashion-w1.htmOh, now I remember! I was 35 years old and had just replaced my Singer portable with a new Bernina which was probably a highlight of my life just then what with working, two sons in elementary school and running a resort 300 miles away from May to October. Can't remember anything I made from that era except a moss green cut corduroy suit with a miniskirt. I better remember the shoes I owned!

    1. GailAnn | | #15

      Whoa!!!!!!!!!! I enjoyed that! 

      Even got a little teary eyed at the Prom Dresses.

      Those were the days, my friend!

      I had a good time.  Gail

    2. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #16

      I was only 7, and watched my Mom make me Barbie doll clothes from as close as I dared! She got so fed up, she gave me scraps, scissors and needle and thread to play with. For Christmas in '69, I got my first treadle sewing machine, which I still have. Cathy

      1. Ceeayche | | #101

        Your story very similar to mine!  Mom didn't "give" me my first machine at nine (single mother on teacher's salary), but she sat me down at hers  the summer I turned 9 and I spent all summer learning to sew.  AND, my first shift was late that summer-- my first experience with darts a zipper and underlining.  I still remember it:  huge green and white gingham.  Mom made me take the zipper out three times before I got it right, had me underline it because she said the gingham alone was not modest-- funny thing is I distinctly remember her making me wear a white cotton slip from Sears underneath.  I was so proud of that dress!

    3. joyfulneedles | | #27

      Thanks for the visual reminders,  I think I stayed closer the the early sixties for the whole decade.  I had lots of the dressed with the fitted bodice and the full skirts.  I made quite a few of them when I was sewing for others.  I made just enough money to pay for my own sewing supplies.  I was also sewing men's cotton plaid long sleeved shirts.  I can still remember the one I made the buttonholes on the wrong side of the cuffs. 

      1. MaryinColorado | | #42

        Buttonholes on the wrong side of the cuffs!  I did that too, but not after having to match the plaid!  I bet you didn't do that twice either!

    4. User avater
      rodezzy2 | | #31

      Great site, that was a fun flashback.  I loved our clothes back then.  Remember Twiggy and Cher.  Awesome.

      Edited 1/15/2009 7:28 pm ET by rodezzy2

  6. cycler1729 | | #17

    Great topic!  I was engaged in 1968 and his sister loaned me her sewing machine to learn to sew before I got married.  The wedding never happened but I did learn to sew.  My first "real" dresses that I sewed were chemise, long sleeved mock turtleneck dresses.

    I sewed the same pattern in a very lightweight black wool, grey wool double knit and emerald green velvet.  All minis. 

    But my piece-de-resistance (and my own design) was a burgandy tapestry double breasted coat that had a hidden zipper around the bottom at mini length - and there was a piece that zipped on to create an ankle length coat. 

    All of my favorite clothes that I remember are from back then - I wish that I still had them.

    I still love the look of a chemise (the ones that come in at the knees) and I've been searching for the old patterns for a couple of years.



    1. GailAnn | | #18

      From about 1967 until 1972, I LOVED every single item in my wardrobe. 

      I had very little money to spend on clothes.

      I had to make every penny and every piece of clothing count.

      I sewed most of my own clothes.

      Put a great deal of thought and planning into each outfit.

      Even if I was doing house or yard work.

      On my night to make dinner for the family, yes, I wore the ever functional apron.

      I bought a maxi-coat in 1970 and wore it for 10 Winters straight!

      Sancin mentioned "dressing up" and "going out".  We did that, too. 

      What fun! 

      Now, I have 5 times the number of clothing items in my wardrobe, ususally can't find the outfit I want at any given time................I never feel as well dressed as I did 'back in the day'............AND..............this week-end a ready to wear top, I'd only worn twice.............. developed 2 holes, right in the front, for no reason.  That didn't happen in 1968.



      Edited 1/15/2009 1:37 pm ET by GailAnn

      1. cycler1729 | | #19

        Are we twins separated at birth?  LOL

        That's exactly how I felt!  (And still feel!)

        I remember every piece that I owned and when and where I wore them.  Clothes were a way of expression and joy back then.  My grandmother bought me my first mini skirt and even though she was very tailored and refined she believed if you had the figure it was ok to show it (although she did draw the line when I sewed a no-back top in 1970 - from the front it looked like an ordinary top but it was held on by 2 strings at the neck and 2 under the bust which tied in back.  I wasn't allowed to walk out of the house!)

        No one "dresses" these days.  I've seen some videos of online "fancy" weddings and people don't even dress for those! 

        Today ripped jeans and torn t-shirts are formal wear.


        1. Palady | | #20

          Might the fabric from 1968 have been Indian Cotton?  To my memory, it came in solids & prints for a very reasonable price.

          I was indeed sewing in the year, making clothes for my children, casual shirts for my husband , and the style dress descibed for myself.  Still have the patterns.

          Rose's 5 & 10 sold fabric off the bolt for a %0.01/ yard.  I could make my daughter's & my dresses for pennies.   

          Dan River plaids were avaialble back then as well.  Husband had quite a wardobe of casual shirts.  He saw a plaid I had for myself and asked for a shirt.  It's wearing forever.  It's hanging in a closet to this day because after husband outgrew it,son wore it and I do now as a second layer over a T. 


          1. GailAnn | | #22

            Yes, Yes, I remember both Dan River Plaid and I think what you remember as Indian Cotton, I remember being called Indian Head Cotton.  There were other comparable fabrics as well. 

            All excellent quality, straight on the grain, but very budget friendly!  Gail

        2. GailAnn | | #21

          Well, Cycler1729, you didn't fill in your Profile, so it's a little difficult to tell if we may be twins separtated at birth!!!! 

          I'm a 1951 vintage trophy wife.

          Forget "dressing up", I miss dressing!!!!!

          It's my own fault, I guess.

          Got a job.

          Got married.

          Got baby.

          Got sick and elderly parents.

          Quit job.

          Got busy.

          Got old.

          Got fat.

          Got high blood pressure.

          Tried to get thin.


          Lost just enough weight to make the clothes I have way too baggie!

          Not near enough to require a new wardrobe.

          Not enough to stop taking blood pressure medicine, either.

          Started thinking about my pretty old clothes.

          Many of which I still have.

          None of which will I ever fit into again.

          Started thinking the clothes in my closet are ugly.

          Decided to replace them one by one, piece by piece.

          Started thinking about Spring.

          Wanting pretty clothes again......................................Gail

          1. cycler1729 | | #23

            Well, not so alike except for taste in clothes!  I've had very few changes in my life. 

            Never married, no children.

            I've lived in a 10 block area my whole life in NYC.

            I'm not as thin as I was 40 years ago but my weight hasn't increased that much because I ride a bike 6 days a week (even in this weather).

             I've got one outfit that I live in (multiples of the exact same pieces in black and gray) depending on the time of year.

            I work out of my apartment so I don't "need" clothes but I sometimes wish that I did.





          2. GailAnn | | #24

            Was in NYC most recently in 2003, only in Manhattan for a part of one day and never made  it to Manhatten Fabrics, Mood, or anywhere like that.  Next time.

            Daughter, nurse, 31, is dating a gentleman from New Jersey.  Last week of February he is taking her "home to meet Mama".  I told daughter that if my "Superpower" was invisibility, I'd be going with her.  Apprehensive, because his sister is one year older than I am. They are Italian.  We are Scandinavian.  Maybe I'm stuck in the '60s.

            I know, I know, she is old enough to know her own mind, so I should just mind my own.  Gail

          3. cycler1729 | | #28

            I forgot to mention that back then I was really influenced by the what was worn in the movies and on TV.  When I saw Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park I began to dress like her.  Audrey Hepburn in Two for the Road - oh my! (if you've never seen it it's a wonderful movie but it's a must if only for the clothes) and Barbara Parkins in Valley of the Dolls - the hair!  the clothes!

            But I really, really wanted to be Mrs. Peel (anyone remember The Avengers?)  I sewed I don't know how many jumpsuits and bodysuits and matching berets!  I still think that that was a great look!

          4. GailAnn | | #39

            Mary Hopkins got it right, "Those were the days, my friend, I wished they'd never end, we sang and danced forever and a day..........."  Gail

          5. cycler1729 | | #43

            So true!  I've got the original sheet music for that song! 

            Someone mentioned bonded fabric - I sewed a pair of culottes out of a bonded wool - they stuck straight out!

          6. User avater
            purduemom | | #50

            Purple bonded knit bell-bottoms with a long vest and a daisy printed long sleeve cotton blouse...one of my 7th grade home-ec projects.  Boy, was I styling!!!  Thanks for the memory!  Wish I still had that outfit just for grins and giggles.


          7. JeanM | | #54

            No head band?  I can hear the tamborines playing in the background.  Teeheehee.

          8. Teaf5 | | #58

            My 7th grade final project was a tent dress mini with raglan cap sleeves--in a vibrant yellow, orange, red psychedelic print cotton--not a good choice for a skinny redhead with freckles, but I loved it!

            As a very shy girl, I was worried about modeling it in the class fashion show, but a week beforehand, I broke my arm and couldn't get my cast through that tiny sleeve, which had been reinforced with binding and hemmed with a separate facing.  I got to sit next to the teacher and take notes instead of stumbling my way down the catwalk, a much more enjoyable kind of participation.  I don't recall ever wearing that dress, though I got a good grade on its construction.

            Thanks for the trip down memory lane; it's fun reading others' adventures in sewing!

          9. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #61

            Wow, you sure you didn't subconciously break that arm....giggle...he he.

          10. Teaf5 | | #67

            Hee hee--I'm pretty sure I didn't subconsciously break my arm to avoid modeling my dress in the home ec show; I broke it on Mothers' Day while trying to high jump over a backyard swing, "inspired" at that moment by our P.E. class rather than by the home ec class. 

            Poor Mother had to spend her special day in the emergency room and then had to spend another whole day at our regular doctor's office when the incorrectly fashioned cast had to be replaced a few days later.  While I was relieved not to have to model my mini-dress, I was dismayed that I had to miss the whole track & field section of my P.E. class that year.

            Fortunately, I had finished the dress--it was far easier than most projects I had already done on my own--and didn't break my right arm, so I was able to get a good grade and act as a coordinator for the fashion show, a position I enjoyed very much!

          11. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #69

            Giggle, you made out all right in the end. 

          12. Ceeayche | | #102

            Oh my gosh, purdue mom!  My royal purple "bonded" knit pantsuit I mom made me circa 1970, the first year we were allowed to wear PANTS to school (hard to believe I attended public school in LA).  It was my absolute favorite-- till I finally started growing vertically and sprouted breasts at 11.  It had a tunic top with long sleeves, a mock turtleneck and bell bottomed pants that zipped up the back.  For the school pictures my mom piled curls at the back of my head and gave me four (count em, there are four) wispy "spit" curls around my face.   By the way, we were initially allowed to wear pants on Friday's as an "experiment".

          13. MaryinColorado | | #41

            More importantly, she knows her own heart!  Really all that matters is that your daughter has someone special to share her life with and that they love each other.  Be happy for her and supportive of her ability to make her own decisions.  I think most MOM's can drop a guilt and a worry a day and have plenty left over to spare.  Mary

          14. Ocrafty1 | | #26

            Thanks for the huge giggle!   I was only 13 in '68, but I was sewing a lot!  With so many kids in our family, we couldn't afford to buy a lot and one of my sisters is only 15 mos. younger than me and we shared clothes all through HS.  Clothing from the early '70's didn't change that much...I still used patterns from '68-9.  Formals did change...and some of the tops...halters became big, although I had to sneek wearing them.  I have been large busted since my 2nd bra and my parents refused to let me wear halters....then they came out with halter bras....which I ditched as soon as I got away from the house....what was the purpose of wearing a halter and a bra!!!!   Oh, those were the days!!!!! 

            Isn't it funny that all of that is back in style!!! My daughters are in their early '30's and wear all of it.  They keep insisting that since I'm back down to my HS weight, that I should wear them too.  Somehow I just don't feel comfortable wearing hip hugging short shorts at 53!  There is something that is just wrong about that!!!  The halter tops are the funniest.  Gravity has definitely taken over in that dept.  I even tried those little gel pads that are supposed to give a little more shape .....all they did was leave dents in the girls....I guess that's why they say if you've worn it once, you shouldn't wear it again....LOL!


          15. JanF | | #71

            Ooh - you put what I think so well!
            I'm not sure how to place the 1951 Trophy wife?
            Were u a child bride because u certainly come across as being very young for ur age if u were possibly 17 in 1951!
            If so - I think u deserve to ditch what doesn't fit in the wardrobe and hang the expense - enjoy ur new shape with a new selection.
            I say this as 1 who keeps putting things back in the area of my wardrobe filled with a)favourite and b) for when I'm thinner clothes
            somehow I don't think I'm ever going to wear any of it.
            An imminent house move is really making me think "Is this the time to ditch these"?
            I also find that "slowly replacing" is in fact not good for me as I never get to the end of the replacing part!
            I can see why women cut up old favourites and make quilts -but I never get the time for this and lots of my favourite clothes are too delicate/fancy/unsuitable fabric for a quilt.
            Possibly a good start for a friendly Gatherings challenge
            How to recycle/preserve that favourite piece of clothing?
            Off to buy a badly needed new bra to give a bit better shape to those things I am actually wearing!

          16. GailAnn | | #72

            Just to be clear, I was BORN in 1951, Married in 1970.  Perhaps a child by today's standards, but way back then, quite old enough. 

            NO!  Our first child was born in 1977.

            Clothing replacement is an ongoing task.  It Never is finished.

            I believe in the "SACRED CLOSET", although my 'sacred closet' is a cedar chest in the attic.   A whole closet is better.  Special things, perfect things, favorite things, go into the SACRED CLOSET and NEVER come out!  Let the next generation deal with it.  If they love you now, the next generation will enjoy the opportunity to see and touch what was once special to you.  If you are not on such good terms now, the next generation calls dumpster folks who charge $350. to haul it off.

            A really good bra is worth the $$$$$.


            Edited 1/29/2009 10:18 am ET by GailAnn

            Edited 1/29/2009 10:19 am ET by GailAnn

          17. JanF | | #73

            You are right - a new bra does work wonders - especially if it actually is the correct size - my shape improved immensly once I got a correct measurement!
            I'm afraid my "Sacred closet" is in danger of stopping me having workable, everyday one!
            Aplogies - I assumed that a trophy wife of 1951 meant married in that year!! In fact I'm a year older than you so I know where ur coming from!

            Edited 1/29/2009 12:08 pm ET by JanF

          18. JeanM | | #74

            I read "trophy wife of 1951" as others did.  I believe you have to become a wife before you can qualify for trophy wife.  LOL.  Becoming a trophy wife in the year of your birth is against the law----in all 50 states! 

            This has been an interesting thread.

          19. JanF | | #75

            I must confess - all this talk of kettle cloth etc. has me reeling a little. It's obvious that in US you had certain fabrics and styles peculiar to yourselves, as you no doubt do nowadays, considering the vast array of fabrics that you can now buy.
            I would be really interested in seeing some pics. of the styles you are all talking about and if possible some sort of explanation of the fabric names. Ages ago I did send a suggestion to the then editor, as to the chance of having the odd article in the mag about the styles/fabrics of yesteryear - but as the suggestion didn't even warrant a reply, I assumed she thought it was a a bit of a "bummer" idea.
            If anyone was brave enough to load up some pics that illustrated what you have all be reminiscing about, I for one would be very pleased and interested. Hopsack, per say, for me conjures up a very coarse fabric and I'm sure not at all one to rave over for clothing! Although I can vaguely remember that over here you could buy a polyester fabric that had a hopsack appearance in relation to the surface texture, not the actual weave - if that makes sense to anyone!

          20. Lilith1951 | | #76

            I have a maternity dress (no-style tent thing) that I made in 1971 for myself that was green kettle cloth and I'm sure I have a hideous photo of it somewhere.  I'll see if I can find it, though I doubt you'd see the detail of the weave.  I also remember making a simple, long sleeved, fitted dress the winter before that in a mauve pink kettle cloth.  The fabric was easy to work with and very popular for home sewers at the time, though I don't remember seeing it much in RTW.  What were we thinkin'?

            I remember hopsacking was very popular here for men's/teen's pants in the mid/late 60's.  I went shopping with my boyfriend one fall and he bought pincords and hopsacking in very dark colors.  I'm sure it was a poly/cotton mix as I don't think it wrinkled much.  All cotton hopsacking would have probably wrinkled a lot through the day, much like linen does.  It had a kind of surface texture much like the old flour sacks, though, as I said, I'm sure it was a poly mix for wearability.

          21. Ralphetta | | #77

            Was kettle cloth like the fabric they use in the ads I often see in the back of magazines, 2 for $14 (or so)? The pastel pull up elasticized waisted pants?

          22. Lilith1951 | | #78

            Not sure about that, Ralphetta, as I can't remember the specifics of those.  It is not a knit, though, so if those are knit, then no.  I did find my picture.  Let me see what I can do to upload it.

          23. Lilith1951 | | #79

            Okay, here's a picture of hubby and me in 1971 and I'm wearing my awful green tent made of kettle cloth.   I could have cropped him out, but he's too cute, I think.

            I tried a second image that was a close up of the fabric, but it wasn't really better. Once I got it attached I couldn't figure out how to "unattach" it, so I left it in rather than start over.


          24. GailAnn | | #80

            Awe, you were BOTH so cute!

            To the lady who posted that all cotton kettle cloth would wrinkle.  Well, yes, probably, but all of our mothers and grandmothers (as well as those of us teen-age girls, who were responsible for our own clothing and sheet laundry) had "ironing calluses" on the palms of their hands, just below the first and second fingers of the right hand.

            Yes, that's right, we ironed SHEETS!  At our house we startched and ironed the pillow cases.

            My best friend, Ruth's family ironed bath-towels.  Shocking, I know!  Her maternal grandmother claimed they stayed clean longer that way.  Gail

          25. starzoe | | #81

            Of course, everyone ironed in those days. This will come as a huge surprise to the new generation!

          26. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #82

            It always felt so good to lay one's head on a pillow covered with a starched and ironed pillow case. Helped repel dirt and body oils, too, thus preserving their hand embroidered beauty. Can you tell we also ironed bedding at our house?

          27. GailAnn | | #83

            Maybe, then, Ruth's grandmother was right about the bathtowels?????  Gail

          28. Josefly | | #84

            I still like to sleep on ironed pillow cases, and if I'm having houseguests I want to pamper, I iron the pillow cases and sometimes the top sheet. The bottom fitted sheet pulls itself tight so it doesn't need ironing.

          29. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #85

            Oh, Josefly, I do the same thing.  It's just such a nice touch, and usually, if I iron for my guests, I will iron the pillow cases for my bed, too.  By the same token, I love the feel of men's shirts that have been to the laundry and heavily starched.  Since I made a pact with my DH that if he wouldn't ask me to iron his shirts, I wouldn't ask him to work on my car, all of his shirts he wants ironed get sent to the laundry. 


          30. GailAnn | | #87

            When I was working, myself, I sent my husband's shirts out to the laundry. 

            But now that I'm home, I iron them myself.  It's only 6, sometimes 7 shirts a week.  I can spray startch and iron a shirt in 6 minutes or less.   I do iron some of my clothes.   I never spend more than a hour a week, at the ironing board. 

            To me, it's time well spent.  Gail

          31. Gloriasews | | #93

            GailAnn - please, how do you iron a shirt in 6 minutes or less?  I've been ironing for 58 years (not steadily, of course, haha), & it still takes me 10-12 minutes to iron a man's shirt. 


          32. GailAnn | | #94

            Spray startch as needed.  Iron shoulders.  Iron Collar.  Iron each sleeve.  Beginning at front, Iron all the way arround to the other front.  No complaints.  I do have a nice steam iron.  Gail

            Edited 2/6/2009 10:02 am ET by GailAnn

          33. cafms | | #95

            I could iron one that fast too.  DH worked for IBM for 30 years and that meant a white shirt and suit everyday.  I would iron one just before I went to bed so it would be fresh.  Since he's retired I don't iron as much.  He sure looked nice in those days.

          34. Gloriasews | | #97

            Thanks so much for reminding me of doing shirts this way.  I did exactly as you said in the 60s when my hubby wore white shirts every day & he liked them starched so that they stood up after ironing.  At the time, I got a Heloise Hints (she used to have a newspaper column in the 60s & 70s) book & that's exactly the way she said to iron - & sure enough, it worked perfectly.  I had forgotten all about it (but still have the Heloise book somewhere :)).  I'll go back to doing them that way again, although now I don't starch much, except quilting fabrics :), but I do have a bunch of shirts to iron tomorrow.


          35. GailAnn | | #98

            Those ladies under 30, may want to throw "e-tomatoes" at me.  

            I have always found ironing to be a rewarding task.  My first choice, on nights when I can't sleep.  A mindless, but productive task, while thinking through a complex or daunting situation in my life.  Excellent (I hope not disrespctful) time for prayer.  Warm, steamy, and comforting when I am suffering from a cold.......

            Plus it is just plain pleasant to see the stack of wrinkled shirts on my right, and clean startched and ironed shirts hanging proudly on my left.  Gail

          36. Lilith1951 | | #99

            I always liked ironing, too, when I was young.  In the 60's I helped my mom keep up with ironing my dad's uniform shirts, pants and hankies.  We did not iron bed linens, though, even then.  We hung them on the line and the way they came in was the way they went on the bed.  I do like them ironed, though, if someone else does it, tee hee.  I could probably be happy just doing pillowcases.

            I agree that it can be relaxing and mindless.  I don't like ironing one outfit for myself to wear to work, but a pile of cloth napkins (we don't use paper anymore) or new fabric just washed does make me happy.  I appreciated perma press back when it was new, but I was raising a large family at the time and it was okay by me to get a break.  Certainly didn't want to iron stuff my kids wore to school!

          37. User avater
            ceeshell | | #100

            There are so many things going through my head as I read these posts. I was doing my student teaching in ’69 I remember making “sack” dresses. And jumpsuits. I am very short so I could make a mini dress out of a yard of cloth. Bell bottoms. And I made tops out of a bandana. And I had an itsy, bitsy, tennie weenie, red with white polka dots bikini. Waist length hair that I would roll on frozen juice cans or iron. cotton that had to be ironed, polyester that you could not iron.
            I had a storebought dress of polyester. It looked a bit crumpled from being squished in my closet. I put it on and my mother took the steam kettle to refresh it. As I turned, the dress grazed the kettle, there was an awful burnt plastic smell and a huge hole where the fabric had melted. Expensive fabric was $.79 for cotton and about #1.49 in wool. Twiggy, villager, and LadyBug dresses. I had ####villager dress that I loved the fabric so much that I made the skirt of it into a tote bag when it had been worn to death. The ship and shore white blouses with the peter pan collar. My junior year in high school 1962, the photographer made all of us put our gold circle pins on the left side. Everyone was too embarrassed to tell him that right side was for virgins and the left side was to indicate that you had “done it”sometimes I miss the simplicity of those days.

          38. GailAnn | | #109

            Simplicity, yes, still complex in it's own way.

            I'm surprised no one has mentioned the beautiful Russian model, Varushka.

            It was good to be a girl back then, and Oh, so, much easier to be a young lady.  Gail

          39. Gloriasews | | #106

            I agree.  You're absolutely right on all points, Gail.


          40. miatamomma | | #108

            I think you are so right about ironing.  I have never minded it.  When the children were young, I could iron close by to them and keep an eye on them.  DH wore 5-6 dress shirts every week and we were too poor to send them to a laundry.  You get such wonderful feedback when you see all those freshly ironed clothes.


          41. asmartdressmaker | | #170

            I'm new to this site - just starting to read the posts, and this 1968 category has certainly brought back many memories!  I made my wedding dress from start to finish, on a Saturday in 1968 - for our wedding in Nov (still married to the same great guy!)  Cost me all of $35.00 for the fabric, lining, zipper and self cover buttons!  For those who enjoyed ironing - I join your numbers!  Now, I find my iron is one of my most important pieces of equipment for sewing to give beautiful results.  Despite the new non-press fabrics, I still touch up the cotton blouses & shirts, but the pressing of pillow cases is long past. 

            I am looking forward to learning and sharing - it's a great site! 

          42. Josefly | | #88

            Sounds like a mutually satisfying arrangement about the car maintenance and ironing. I feel I get the good side of the bargain, though; as much as I hate ironing, I hate dealing with car maintenance/repair stuff more. And I always ironed my husband's shirts, because otherwise he would've worn them un-ironed, he just didn't care! Still, I could never do as good a job as the laundry on shirts. These days, it's rare to iron for him - DH is retired and wears knitted shirts and jeans most all the time. But ironing does something nice for cotton besides just taking out the wrinkles - it does make it feel good. I don't starch the bedding, though, just iron it damp.

          43. Ceeayche | | #104

            Josefly, now I really wish I'd seen this before the inauguration.  I had 9 house guests, (yes I'm still reeling).  While I did give them all fresh sheets, I didn't think to iron the pillow cases.  Dang I remember those summers doing the laundry.  Ironing took several days.  After pulling the clothes from the line, sprinkled the clothing (almost all of it was cotton) with water (we weren't using anything remotely wash/wear then).  Balled them up for a day or two so they'd be damp through. And the starch came in flakes as I recall, and had to be mixed.  You ironed with a spritzer of water and you dipped your hands in the starch mixture and spinkled it over the cloth.  I also remember using a thin piece of muslin as a pressing cloth--some times we damped it to make steam when we passed the hot iron over it.  I don't remember if grandmommy's iron had steam.  We used to do this in my grandmother's kitchen, no air conditioning.  Seemed like all the women in the house congregated on what we called "wash days".  Something for everybody to do -- from 5 on up!  Used to sweat and learn the family background.... er gossip!  That's when I learned to work silently cause you learned the best stuff if they forgot you were there!

          44. Josefly | | #107

            Your post made me think again of how many stories I heard as a child when I was quiet and just listening to the adults reminisce. Sometimes I wonder if my kids and their kids have the same kinds of old family stories to remember. Seems to me families just don't sit around and talk as much these days - I don't think we did so much when my kids were young.When we ironed back in the good ol' days, before steam irons, we dried the clothes on the line, then dipped them into the starch mixture, let them dry again, then sprinkled them as you describe, balling them up to absorb the moisture well (we would sometimes put them in the refrigerator to keep them from "souring" before we could get to iron them), then ironed. What a time-consuming process it all was. Some things you just couldn't rush. :>) How did we ever have any spare time in those days? And I know I've said before that I saw my own grandmother build a fire in the yard under a giant iron washing pot, to wash clothes. Just imagine how much time it took simply to eat and be clothed! I would never have survived, I sometimes think.Nine guests! More than a houseful for me. I certainly wouldn't iron pillow cases for that many - they would be sleeping on sleeping bags. I bet it was fun, though.

          45. GailAnn | | #110

            We had a freezer and often after preparing the clothes for ironing (dampening, startching, or sprinkling), back in the day, we just put them in the freezer until we were ready to iron.  We ironed the shirts 'cold', and did they ever take a sharp crease!  Blue Jeans too, as I recall.  Gail

          46. Josefly | | #111

            I do love ironed shirts, other clothes, bed and table linens. But I can't rhapsodize with so many of you about ironing itself. Ugh. To me it's hot, tedious, and my shoulders start hurting just thinking about it. I put it off until I just HAVE to do it. LOL.

          47. Ceeayche | | #112

            I have to admit, though I did enjoy hanging with Mommie, Grandmommy and the assorted Aunts and cousins who'd stop by, I do remember the awful heat in that kitchen-- cause they'd have something on the stove simmering plus the ironing.

            I'd forgotten about the refridgerator trick!

            Bottomline for me is that most of my work clothes are dry cleaned (even the cotton blouses).  My ironing board is in the sewing studio and that's where probably 90% of my ironing takes place--it does make the difference between something looking homemade and looking fabulous!  But I don't have an ironing day any longer (what a luxury of time).  It's sort of more like ironing triage now!

          48. Josefly | | #113

            Well, I think ironing for sewing projects is a different thing - I like that process, shaping curves and flattening seams. It's ironing the cotton clothes we wear so much of in the summer - I tend to let that pile up until I force myself to get it over with.

            Edited 2/10/2009 7:12 pm ET by Josefly

          49. autumn | | #119

            I was not only sewing in 1968, I was sewing in 1944. Won Grand Champion on my very first dress at the county fair when I was 10, and have been sewing ever since. Sometimes I go for several months without doing anything, but then I get the bug again and sew for several weeks.

          50. Palady | | #121

            Any chance you have a photo of you in your dress?  The pattern? Perhaps the ribbon you won?

            As grew into my adult years, i come to find out my mother kept the pattern for the first dress I made.  My very talented sewist daughter delighted in seeing it.


          51. autumn | | #122

            Strange that there was never a photo taken of me in my championship dress. I do have the ribbons (one purple and one blue). I think the dress is still around here somewhere. I could still wear it when I was in college because I never gained much weight after I was 12. It was just a cotton print, but I have no idea what became of the pattern. It had cap sleeves (set-in sleeves came the next year in 4-H.) and a gathered skirt, and I think the neck was square.

          52. Teaf5 | | #124

            Wow, isn't amazing how we can remember a dress we made decades ago?  (But perhaps not where we parked the car or left the keys....)  How powerful the "sewing memory" must be!

          53. autumn | | #125

            I guess we remember important things, like winning the Grand Champion when you are only 10 yrs. old, but the UNimortant things, like where we parked the car -- well, we have an orange tape on our antenna to help us.

          54. Kathelaine | | #126

            I'm enjoying reading through this thread. Right now I'm in the process of making a purse for my niece out of gold hopsacking. When I started teaching in 1970 I purchased a lot of burlap and hopsacking to cover bulletin boards, and I still have some of the scraps. I don't know what the fabric content is, but I hope it wears well enough to be worth the effort.My mom still has a mangle--that we called the ironer--stored away someplace. I ironed a lot of sheets, pillowcases, handkerchiefs and tablecloths on it. My mom could iron shirts and blouses, but I was never that proficient.I remember kettle cloth and pique. There was also sailcloth. In 1968 I made a green and white-flowered pantsuit out of sailcloth. It also had a skirt to wear with the jacket. I also had a turquoise and white bonded fabric that might have been rayon that I used for a suit. The jacket had big lapels, and the skirt had a center front pleat. I think I made my first polyester double knit dress that year. I had a yellow jumper out of cotton that was a heavy linen-like weave. It had better drape than the tighter weaves. I wore it with a yellow and green-flowered blouse out of cotton that had thick and thin stripes woven in. I also had a blouse with tiny yellow flowers out of a polyester called marshmallow fabric. I had a bright green bonded wool coat dress that itched so much I had to wear a blouse under it. It amazes me now how many outfits I had that needed dry cleaning and how that wasn't really a big deal.I made that apron in home ec with the three pockets, and I still have it in the back of my towel drawer in the kitchen. My home ec teacher got upset with me because I didn't follow her directions for sewing projects.I still have all my patterns that I've sewn through the years and a lot of scraps of fabric.

          55. GailAnn | | #127

            WoW, I'd love to have a walk through your 'sacred closet'.

            My daughter has a beautiful cotton dress, black with an in-woven border print, quite flattering.  Only rarely does she wear it, and I know she loves the dress, and is proud of it.  Mama of a 31 year old ought to know better than to ask, but......................."It has to be ironed, Mom. I send it to the cleaners, but that is so expensive."

            Well, iron it yourself or send it out to be 'done up', but don't waste a very nice dress, because of the upkeep. 

            P.S.  She is not a lazy lady, and usually very concientious about subjects other than clothing care.  Gail

          56. Palady | | #128

            >> ...  I still have all my patterns that I've sewn through the years and a lot of scraps of fabric.  <<

            MO, you have treasures!  The patterns from years past can be sought after depending on where you live and which you have,

            Vogue recently had a call-out for vintage patterns.  Advance patterns are being sought by postings on various message boards. 

            A recent quilting show on PBS featured a sewist who had a catalog of fabric swatches beginning in the late part of the 19th century!  It was absolutely amazing!  A museum was negotiating with her for acquisition.

            Enjoy all you have and hope at some point it will be appreciated by another as it is by you.


          57. autumn | | #118

            Before I started first grade, age 5 and under, I had a kiddie sized ironing board and a real kiddie sized electric iron that actually got hot. I'd set up beside my mother's ironing board and she'd give me the handkerchiefs to iron. My dad had to wear dress shirts every day so my mother did a LOT of ironing. I've never minded it. In fact, laundry and ironing are my least objectionable household chores.

          58. Palady | | #120

            Your ironing board & iron, if you still have them, would be treasures.  MO, hardly possible to be sold in this day & age.

            Thanks for the flash back.  My ironing board was made by me father.  Though what I used as an iron is a long gone memory.

            My mother was a woman before her time. She worked.  During my off days from school mother assigned me to getting my father's handkerchiefs ironed using full sized tools.  She made certain I understood the precautions by standing at hand on Saturdays.   The learning has also stood me in good stead.  


          59. autumn | | #123

            The ironing board is still around somewhere, probably at my daughter's house, since she has two girls. I don't know what happened to the iron, but I remember that the cord was all frayed so it wasn't safe any more.

          60. Cityoflostsouls | | #130

            I remember one day ironing 17 of my husbands white dress shirts.  I finally had learned to do them well. Practice makes perfect but I'm glad I don't have to do them now!  I had gotten them down to 5 minutes each and they looked great.  Now it's a rare day when I pick up an iron except for sewing.  Some things have improved!

          61. MaryinColorado | | #138

            I still have my little iron!  It has that black fabric elecric cord and it still works!  It's on a cornice above the window in my studio so a few people have asked about it.   I've often wondered if anyone else remembers the joy of it!  So glad to read about your fond memory of ironing handkerchiefs too.  Mother had a lady make me alot of doll clothes through the years.  She bought me a little laundry basket and I would wash them in a plastic tub, rinse them, and iron them too.  Mary

          62. autumn | | #141

            Yes, I washed and ironed a lot of doll clothes, too. My husband's grandmother had a tiny REAL sewing machine that you hand-cranked. He remembers seeing her make curtains for their mountain cabin near Estes Park.

          63. MaryinColorado | | #151

            my grand daughter has a tiny hand crank machine, but it really takes alot of patience and co ordination to use it!  Kudos to your hubbys' G'ma for having such patience!  wow

          64. Gloriasews | | #92

            Speaking of ironing in the 'old days' :), my mother had a 'mangle', which was a padded roller and, with a knee pedal, it brought the rounded hot iron down on the fabric & the roller would automatically roll.  This was used for sheets, curtains, pillow cases, tea towels, tablecloths - mainly flat pieces, but you could also do men's shirts on it.  Gad, I'd forgotten all about it!  I knew people in the 50s & 60s who also ironed socks & briefs, pajamas, boxer shorts - you name it, we ironed it - but not terry towels.  We starched a lot of stuff, too, then dampened it with a little sprinkler thing that fit into pop bottles, rolled up the garments, put them in the laundry basket to dampen thoroughly, then ironed them one piece at a time.  Of course, we didn't have steam irons then.  Thanks for the memory, GailAnn.


          65. JanF | | #116

            OOOH - there's posh!! We had a mangle at home when I was about 8-10 - it was what we used to squeeze the washing with - between rollers and then could hang them out to dry - we missed out if there was one for ironing!!

          66. Gloriasews | | #117

            Yup, there was one for ironing.  I think it was made by Inglis, but I'm not sure.  I don't know if you can still buy them now, but they were great for ironing men's starched dress shirts, sheets, pillow cases, tablecloths, tea towels, even handkerchiefs - it was a breeze for flat pieces.


          67. Ceeayche | | #103

            You were both adorable... and you will find your dress is back in style this summer!  Even that shade of green looks fresh and funky!

    2. starzoe | | #25

      Don't give up on the shift dress. Just this morning at the hairdresser's I was reading a fashion mag (Elle, Sept. 08) and there was a page with several "shifts", could have come from 1968 with no change at all.

      1. GailAnn | | #37

        I kind'a noticed that myself on my one post-Christmas shopping excursion into Dillard's.  Didn't buy anything, but many dresses seemed familiar.  Gail

    3. GailAnn | | #38

      Very proud of you for maintaining lifelong fitness.  As for me it's been, on again, off again, on again. 

      Walked 2 miles a day, 6 days a week for 15 years.  Then never farther than the mailbox, for the next 9 years!! 

      Now, just around the block, requires a change of shoes, a cell phone, a concrete plan of attack, and a post-walk shower.

      Seems as if you could exchange your grey/blacks for Summer shifts and be the NYC vangard!  Gail

  7. Teaf5 | | #29

    Remember "kettle cloth"? The slubbed, linen-look cotton with perhaps a bit of polyester mixed in? Perhaps that was another word for "hopsacking."Today, I find similar cottons in the "value fabrics" or "shirtings" at Joann's. The "value fabrics" are usually three or four dollars per yard and are often 54" wide, though woven. The shirtings surprise me, because in addition to the expected stripes and plaids, there are interesting prints and geometrics. The "linen looks" are usually made from cotton but act more like permapress, too.The quality varies widely, but I keep finding myself drawn to the weight and texture of these three categories for summer tops and skirts. Now that I think about it, the "linen looks" are the closest to the fabrics I used in 1968.

    1. JeanM | | #32

      A few years ago I purchased kettle cloth which is similar to weaver's cloth in weight and properties and is cotton or cotton/blend.   Hopsacking was more "coarse" which is probably not the correct word to describe it.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #33

        Hopsacking is a suitweight fabric, woven with two threads in a basket weave, two threads over, two threads under. It is usually made from cotton, linen or wool. It got it's name from the sacks used to gather hops in, which it resembled. I am sorry that my sources do not define either Kettle cloth or Weaver's cloth. Could someone please enlighten me. Cathy

        1. JeanM | | #34

          Thank you, Cathy.  Your description of hopsacking is much better than my "coarse".  LOL.  It must have a different name now (which was one of the original questions on this thread), because I haven't seen fabric called hopsacking in a long time.

          I remember making a green dress and a plum jumper out of it.   If I'm not mistaken it was bonded fabric.

          Someone will probably come up with a good description of kettle cloth or weaver's cloth.  They are inexpensive fabrics good for medium-light weight casual pants or jacket.


          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #35

            Glad I could help. I love looking for the names of fabrics and identifying them. Kinda my thing. Hopsacking was one of the first samples in my original fabric file! That and muslin! I have not seen it in years either. The sample I had was cotton. My teacher had provided it, and it was from an old summer suit she had once made. Cathy

          2. KharminJ | | #48

            Hi Cathy!

            Just wanted to let y'all know that your JoAnn's may have cotton "hopsacking" (the real thing) hiding in the Utility Fabrics section (near the outdoor canvases, ironing board cover, silver cloth and burlap); at least that's where we have it at the Bloomingdale store. I believe we only have white and cream/off-white/unbleached at the moment, don't know if any other colors still available.~~~I had a bonded double knit dress coat in grade school - in what I recall now was a most hideously out-of-proportion rose print. I must've looked like a sofa! But it was what there was in the low-cost Chubbies department! (Yikes!)My Mom and Grandma were still doing most of the sewing for me in 1968, but I was learning! My sister still has Mom's Featherweight, and I still use Grandma's treadle machine.Time-travel is such a 'trip'!


          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #49

            Ok, I found Weavers Cloth! It is sold as needlepunch cloth, a firm woven even weave, medium to heavyweight chintz fabric with a slightly uneven slubbed texture similar to muslin.
            Would Kettle cloth be what I know as a Pique cloth? A heavier weight fabric with a woven texture that sort of reminds you of a tea towel, only much finer, and makes great jackets, and shorts. It used to be stylish on Peter Pan collars and cuffs. Cathy

          4. Ocrafty1 | | #52

            I remember Kettle cloth as a medium/heavy weight cotton fabric. Niced for skirts, lightweight jackets, but too heavy for blouses. It had a little bit of texture, but barely.  I loved cotton pique. Would like to find it to make something for the youngest granddaughter. She's only 5 and would love it.  The older one is now 9 and won't wear anything that 'Hannah Montana' wouldn't.  No fun!...and too old for her. (in my opinion...but Grammy's doesn't count..LOL)


          5. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #53

            My curiosity is up, so I will keep looking! Thanks for the help and descriptions. Gives me something to hunt for. Cathy

          6. jane4878 | | #55

            Farmhousefabrics.com has cotton pique and sometimes Fabric.com has it.  I've purchased from both and had no problems.  Farmhouse Fabrics has wonderful stuff, mostly for children's clothing.  I agree with the Hannah Montana comment--I have an almost 9 y.o. and I only let her wear HM stuff with full coverage.  There is HM, Lizzy Maguire, So Raven patterns out there she might like and you could make them less skanky, shall we say...


          7. Josefly | | #63

            I always thought Kettle Cloth and Weaver's Cloth were the same thing. Another term I think was used for it was "Homespun." The description your source gave, though, of "medium to heavy-weight chintz" is throwing me off. The Kettle Cloth was a light-to-medium weight, had a matte finish, had small flat slubs something like a lightweight linen, and I think was probably a cotton blend - we were beginning to snub cotton for fabrics that held their color and didn't require ironing. (Little did we know what we were giving up! The prices were higher for blended fibers, but when people began to come to their senses about the advantages of all-cotton, the pricing disparity reversed, of course.)

          8. GailAnn | | #65

            Some, I remember, though I don't know which ones, were softer and didn't wear as well turning whitish, with the least abrasion.  Gail

          9. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #66

            Thank you Josefly. Chintz in fabric terminology means any even weave fabric, and also refers to the Chintz floral print, and the shiny fabric finish. Sorry for the confusion. I think I know what you mean by Kettle Cloth now. I have seen it before, but did not know what it was called. There are so many different kinds of fabrics, and a lot had been grouped in my file under the general heading of Chintz. It is nice to be able to put a further name on them. Cathy

          10. Ocrafty1 | | #45

            Oooh!  You made me remember bonded knits!  I don't know how many outfits my sister and I had out of that stuff.  It was all the rage back then. My favorite was a fitted shirt dress out of a large black and white houndstooth. Just picture that in a bonded knit.... I was 13, and that dress made me feel soooo grown up! Isn't it funny to think that we actually LIKED wearing that stuff.

            The one thing I dreamed of having and never could afford was a navy blue, wool, maxi coat.  It was gorgeous and now that I think about it, I just may see if I can find the stuff and make one for myself.  I'd be right in style!!!!


        2. GailAnn | | #153

          My sister and I were shopping in JoAnn's just this past Wednesday.  In thier "Home Decor" fabrics there had many beautiful pieces, much like "Kettle Cloth", "Indian Head", and "Hopsacking".  Labled "100% Cotton" BUT also labled "Dry Clean Only".

          We talked about the reasons for that......shrinkage?  limiting exposure to liability?  fading?  color running?  Anyway at 40% off.  We decided to buy one piece each.  Wash it and dry it and see what happens............So far so good.  A little shrinkage, not more than 10%  Gail

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #156

            Home Dec fabrics are often designed for use in high wear, decorative use items that will not be washed often. They may have stain retardant treatment on them. These wash off if they are washed in the washing machine quicker than if they are dry cleaned. Same kind of deal with water-repellent finishes, fabric softeners will remove the finish. Dry cleaning will not. You can wash them yourself as long as you remember not to use fabric softener! Some of the glazed finishes will also wash out of the cotton fabrics if they are washed.
            It has been my experience with many textiles, that the manufacturer finds it easier to put a dry clean only tag on a fabric rather than a complicated tag. Too many instructions confuses and discourages a customer, and they will not buy. If I am not sure, I would do as you did, buy a piece, usually a minimum cut, cut a piece off, and do a sample wash to see. Cathy

          2. GailAnn | | #157

            I don't really think I want those finishes in clothing, I might be wearing on a daily basis, anyway.  So nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Gail

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #167

            I would not worry too much about those types of finishes. They are usually marked as such anyway, and promoted that way heavily! Most Home Dec fabrics are there because the prints and weaves are deemed to be suitable for home decoration. I find that the weaves and prints are often very suitable for clothing! They are often more suitable for clothing than the clothing cloth. I love using the brocades and fancy wovens for jackets and vests. A cloth is a cloth, and you us it as you see fit. Cathy

          4. Cityoflostsouls | | #158

            I'm just trying to get in here with a question and the answer would have to come from someone who was sewing at least as far back as 1968 or earlier.  I borrowed a dress pattern for a baby girl from my best friend and of course I returned it but she's not a  packrat like me so she didn't keep it.  Under the arms  were either regular pleats or a pleated gusset I'm not sure which.  This was the most beautiful white baby dress I have ever seen.  Do any of you remember a pattern like this?  The fullness under the sleeves made it special.  Like a Christening gown.

          5. GailAnn | | #162

            No, I'm sorry, I don't remember that particular pattern.

            One thing to remember is that older patterns for baby clothes as well as older baby clothes were fuller in the diaper area.  They assumed the use of cloth diapers and thus allowed for the "fluffy butt".  Newer baby patterns and baby clothes, assume the use of disposable diapers, and a more flat bottom look.

            My 'green minded' niece, a proud cloth diapering Mom, finds clothes that fit her 4 month old son every where else, are a bit too skimpy for the "fluffy butt".  Gail 

          6. Cityoflostsouls | | #163

            I never thought of the sizing for little rears but it makes sense.  I just remember how precious that little dress was.  I must have made it in batiste and the last small piece I bought at Denver Fabrics a number of years ago was $16.00 a yard.  Times certainly change.  For a talented sewer I suppose that pattern could be styled.


          7. GailAnn | | #168

            Aforementioned niece recieved a wonderful gift at her baby shower.

            A box of handmade (yes, on the fingers) beautiful baby clothes, lovingly passed on to each baby in her husband's family for over 65 years.

            Originally made by a step-mother for her pregnant step-daughter.  Each piece more beautiful and finely sewn than the last, many lined in the softest woolen (?) cotton (?) (not synthetic) fleece.  The layette had been made as an appology for having treated her step-daughter less kindly than her daughter, during her own child rearing years.

            And the lessons continue on......................Gail

          8. Lilith1951 | | #169

            My jaw dropped and my throat closed with emotion when I read this.  When someone realizes that they made a mistake of this sort, it takes a lot of love and faith to do something tangible to make it "right."  What an amazing gift--first for the original recipient and then for each generation that receives it again.  Love passed on in the form of handstitched baby garments--whatever could be more perfect?

            You have just caused me to make a decision.  When I retire (hopefully, in about 4 years), among my plans will be one to make a baby layette to be passed on.  I won't wait to HAVE the grandchildren; I will get working on it as a "hope chest" sort of thing.  It will include everyday basics, but also a few fancy "heirloom" type garments.  Oh boy, I can't wait! 

            Currently, I do make baby garments for local charity recipients.  Mostly it is receiving blankets, quilts, bibs and simple things.  But what fun it would be to work on a set of special things for the future babies of my own family!  Oh boy, oh boy!

          9. Cityoflostsouls | | #171

            I just found a book 1983 by Margaret Boyles and it has a wonderful heirloom baby dress, slip and bonnet in it (plus other stuff).  I'll print off the pages and mail them to you if you will send me your address.  My email is [email protected]  I think this would keep you busy for awhile.  The book is Designs for Babies.

          10. GailAnn | | #177

            "Ladies love babies, like Bankers love Gold."

            A Grandmother's Hope Chest, perfect. 


          11. Ceeayche | | #172

            Bless step parents who love us anyway! My stepfather gave me an incredible gift, he taught me how to make a relationship with my father.  And for the past 27 years I've enjoyed a loving relationship with both of them.  This selfless act has had a priceless impact on my life.

          12. Ralphetta | | #164

            I don't believe I have the exact pattern you mention, but I may have a similar one in my stash. I have a Vogue infant pattern with several pleats on either side of the front and back. It was beautiful, but never used. I remember my friend looking at it and then asking me,"Who's going to iron this thing for you?" I will see if I can find it and try to scan it.

          13. Cityoflostsouls | | #165

            Thanks!  I'd love to have it.  You're kind to offer to scan it for me.  Sue

          14. Ralphetta | | #166

            It may be tomorrow before I can check. I will email you when I find it.

          15. junctioncats | | #173

            [Raising hand]. I was sewing then, but more importantly, so was my mother. I remember those patterns, although probably not that particular one. And I remember my mother making me a dress that had pleats under each arm, giving the dress extra fullness. If you want to find a pattern like that, I would suggest Etsy.com. There are at least two sellers on that site who are loaded with vintage patterns, maybe you'll be able to find it again? To find them, I just searched for sewing patterns on the main page.

          16. Cityoflostsouls | | #174

            Thank you so much.  I'll try that site.

          17. Cityoflostsouls | | #175

            I have an appointment this morning so don't have time to spend on etsy but thank you so much.  I've already found my boys pajama pattern that I used over and over for my sons.  I may still have it stashed away.  This is a trip down memory lane when sewing for me was very important.  I'm anxious to see what else I can find along with that little dress!  It was a great time to sew-I didn't have all these stops and starts like I have now.  Theres no one else to run the errands I have to do it all.  Then the mornings were for cooking and housework and the afternoons were for uninterrupted sewing.  I loved it.  Thank you.

          18. junctioncats | | #176

            Oh, you are quite welcome. I found them when I was searching for a circa-1968 halter dress pattern that I'd misplaced during one of the many moves we made. I missed the pattern, because it was simple and fit like a dream. I found it on Etsy, and was so tickled, I can't even begin to tell you! Have fun on that site. They have darn near anything hand-made (or related to handmade) that you can think of!

    2. Sancin | | #46

      Kettle cloth is still around, but called something else that I can't recall. Actually every year, it seems, manufacturers put a name on what they make that may not relate to what one previously knew. I loved kettle cloth and still make summer clothes out of fabric of the same nature. I like the weight for pants and look for 100% cotton. In our local shop it tends not to be a bargain fabric.It is good for travel as it doesn't need any ironing. Hopsacking also has new names. After all, there are only so many weaves out there!

      1. SewistKitty | | #47

        In 1968 I was just starting college. I had learned to sew clothing in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. We started with the 1 yard torn apron pieces which we sewed back together. We moved onto A-line skirts. Later I made a lined A-lined shift dress and lined jacket in 9th grade. In college I continued to sew clothing in my limited spare time and also hemmed my friends' skirts as we were now wearing mini-skirts. When I was a junior in college I was given a Singer "Touch and Sew" which was the bane of my existence. With it I made clothing in my Tailoring class and my wedding dress as a senior.
        Reading the previous posts brought that time period back to me.

    3. Josefly | | #62

      I remember kettle cloth well, and hopsacking. Do you remember "Villager" dresses - little shirtwaist dresses, often with a round collar, gathered skirt but not very full, and usually with a self-fabric or a braided cord belt dyed to match the dress? They were made with kettle cloth. That dress was amazingly popular in the South - and the company must've used the exact same pattern for several years, changing only the fabrics/trims used, maybe adding some vertical tucks to the bodice, short sleeves in spring/summer, long for fall/winter. One year they made the same dress in pinwale corduroy. Same basic style, though.

      1. GailAnn | | #64

        Loved them!  Also Ship and Shore blouses.  Come to think of it......I liked the fact that if you chose Villager or Ship and Shore, etc. you could just count on consistant quality.  Gail

      2. Teaf5 | | #68

        The Villager dresses sound like those we were handed down from a wealthy, only child who lived nearby; their color coordination, bias binding, and embellishments always fascinated me.  They wore well, surviving the original owner plus at least three of us and the younger cousins who got them next.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

        1. GailAnn | | #70

          I want one.

  8. sewslow67 | | #36

    Hi GailAnn,

    This doesn't exactly answer your question, but I hope that sharing this idea might be helpful when using many of todays fabrics.  I made a couple of these "shifts" using cotton that are similar in weight as quilting cottons, but I underlined them.  I pre-shrunk all the fabric used and found that the finished garments look better than any of the similar shifts I made in the '60's.  They do not wrinkle and launder beautifully as well.  And ...they look expensive and not at all like "house dresses". 

    Oh, one other result:  You don't have to wear a slip with them when they are underlined (neither full or half slip), which makes them much more comfortable when worn during hot weather.

    Good luck with your venture and let us all know what you've done for 2009.  "Inquiring minds want to know".  ;-)

  9. gailete | | #44

    You just described my dress from home ec. Mine was a green background with red and yellow flowers, short puffy sleeves. I still have small square of that fabric.

    I do remember also at one point at least 30 or more girls in our junior high had a store bought dress made in that style in a purple/blue/green fabric with a matching purse. I never could understand why all these girls would be wearing the exact same dress as just about everybody else had. I've never seen that phenomenon again. It must have driven the teachers wild seeing several girls in every class wearing the SAME dress every day.


  10. sewelegant | | #51

    Your post made me think of broadcloth and Kettle Cloth.  I know I saw the kettle cloth in JoAnn's last summer, but could not see it on their web site.  In the 70's it seemed like the kettle was all over the place and I had all kinds of things made from it because it just draped well and was opaque.  It wasn't hopsacking but had a heavier texture than broadcloth.  It was great for summer pants and lightwt. jackets as well as dresses or skirts.

    If you go to the web site of a very large fabric store like Vogue Fabrics in Chicago  http://www.voguefabricsstore.com/ you may be able to find what you are looking for (if you don't get sidelined just LOOKING!)

  11. vwren99 | | #96

    1968 (in junior high)was when I started seriously sewing clothes.  I wasn't that great at it, but I wore everything I made at least once, lol.  Part of my problem was not choosing the appropriate fabric for the styles.  My mom would have me pick out duck cloth or Kettlecloth for almost everything because it was cheapest, but usually the styles I picked needed something different to look right. But, here are some actual swatches from some of those sewing projects for a trip down memory lane:

    I've forgotten exactly what the orange plaid and solid were for, but I think  that the solid orange is Kettlecloth.  I remembered it being a little heavier fabric, but I also distinctly remember the chambray look with the white threads woven in, and I specifically remember buying Kettlecloth to go with the plaid. Orange was pretty popular back then, so I may have my scraps confused!

    The brown floral was for a dress for a (casual) school dance.  My mom made that one, and bought me a hip belt to accessorize, made out of plastic fake tortoise shell chain links. Brown was my favorite color that year.

    The psychedelic print was from something my older sis made that year.  I thought it was beautiful, and I was so envious!

  12. platexas | | #114

    In the 60's and 70's Mom made all my clothes and oodles of cotton shifts. Most of thicker type cotton; some blends; almost all underlined. "Kettle cloth" was a favorite (not underlined) for summer because it was so cool. I've looked/searched and found Kettle Cloth is no longer made; "weaver's cloth" is the closest... but way too far away.I think some cottons at upscale online fabric stores would be nice. Haven't bought any; a little too upscale for me at over $25/yard. Wish I could find something for around $10.

    1. GailAnn | | #115

      I have thought of trying, as a kettle cloth replacement, some of those fabrics, offered in most quilting departments, including JoAnns, labled "Homespun".

      I suspect they may not be spun in anyone's home.

      On the bolt, they seem similar in hand and weight to my memories of kettle cloth.  Gail

      1. Cityoflostsouls | | #129

        I used Indian Head Fabric in the 60"s.  It's a forerunner of Kettle Cloth-I spent a lot of time looking it up-and it was wonderful.  My oldest daughter loved everything I made her-my second daughter in the 70"s would have none of it.  Anyway I recently found that I still had a small piece of Indian Head.  Maybe I'll machine embroider on it for a sentimental wall hanging!  You couldn't make a sewing mistake with Indian Head.  It took you where you needed to go!  I found the information on it on the internet of course!  The girl who guided me to it told me to look it up (and weep).

        1. GailAnn | | #131

          I think I remember Indian Head being "the thing" for matching bedspreads and curtains as well as clothing.  Gail

        2. Josefly | | #132

          I remember fondly Indian Head cotton! I had a wonderful full-circle skirt made of pink Indian Head, sewn for me by my mother. Lasted me a very long time, as the style changed from mid-calf to just-below-the-knee while I was growing taller and thinner. I loved it. I had it about the time poodle skirts were so popular.

          1. Cityoflostsouls | | #133

            I have a trunk upstairs and I decided I could save just what would fit in of my childrens clothes-I think my daughters poodle skirt is in that trunk!

          2. Josefly | | #134

            Cool. Did you make the poodle skirt?

          3. Cityoflostsouls | | #135

            Yes I did-on my Necchi sewing machine.  I wanted a sewing machine and my husband said he would buy me one after I made some things (I saw the Necchi at the fair and then it was top of the line!).  I bought a treadle from my cousin for $5.00 and prepared to sew.  I made very difficult things for a newbie-swim shorts with matching shirt (flatfelled seams) for my little son, pants for him, dresses for my little girl and I laid them all out on the bed for him to see.  In the middle of it all I was expecting and couldn't "treadle"  Up it went to the attic, had my next little boy and down the treadle came again to finish up.  What was my husband to do?  He bought me the Necchi and then I learned to sew.  The Necchi's were actually two in one and I had a hard time learning to tell the difference.  Later I made a lot of neat things for me and the children.  Jackets, suits, dresses and sometime in there I made the poodle skirt. I hated making pants-usually put them together wrong and I could do the right slash pocket but could not reverse myself to do the left!  I still have that problem!  I taught 4-H sewing with the girls on my Necchi and my daughter took it years later and when it finally needed repair she thru it out.  I was privately desolated over that.  She said she saved me from myself but that didn't help.  Necchi is still in business but not big like it used to be.  My best friend and I had a silent struggle over whether her Singer or my Necchi was best.  I'll always think mine was best.  I sincerely believe that if a young person wants to sew then it's better for them to buy the best they can and their interest in sewing will be given a big boost and probably stay with them for years.

          4. Josefly | | #136

            Nice to hear your sewing history. You sewed many miles on that Necchi, didn't you? It's hard to give up a sewing machine that's served so well. I learned to sew on a Singer, and still have the one my in-laws gave me as a wedding gift in 1966. But I think one of the schools where I took home ec had Necchi's. I've heard some of the newer machines don't stitch the nice straight seams that our old machines did. Don't know though, since I haven't tried the new machines.

          5. Cityoflostsouls | | #137

            The reason I did not buy the top Bernina was financial altho mine does practically the same things.  I do however have the older bobbin setup and I have been told that's better for quilting and it must be the quality of the straight stitch that they're talking about.  Testing any new machine on different fabrics for the quality of the straight stitch is really where you can tell the quality of any machine.  After all most everything else can be called "bells and whistles"  I'm not a quilter so I can't vouch for what people say about the bobbin-it's certainly not as easy to handle as the bobbin setup on the new machines, but for $3000. difference in price I just put up with it as I did for years.  When I bought my first Bernina it was what sold me as they were still mechanical then and the 830 is still considered a great machine.  I paid a collectible price to get one back about four years ago.  Way more than what I paid for it new and it was 30 years old!  I gave my daughter an 811 (not portable) and she loves it.

          6. MaryinColorado | | #140

            My father bought me the top of the line Necchi in 1968 for my Sweet Sixteenth birthday! It was stolen about 10 years ago.   It broke my lil heart but life goes on... What an incredible machine!  It had so many stitches for those days.  I remember my parents fearing I would burn up the motor with all my starts and stops while teaching myself to sew.  The casing even melted a bit on a cross country trip in an old VW Van, I took it in to a shop and it was fine, if a bit scarred. 

            I made long cotton dresses for our towns Centennial celebration, A line dresses with double darts or princess seams for my mother who never wore pants back then, a blue cotton velvet dress with pin tucks and puffy banded sleeves for a dance, a beautiful A-line emerald green rayon/silk velvet dress with those bell sleeves and tabs under the bust that I adorned with my grandmothers faux pearl rope earrings for Homecoming.  I made my first doll out of a pair of black tights for extra credit in Home Ec.  I started a lifelong love of sewing in 1968. 

            Thanks for this thread and all the wonderful stories!  Mary

          7. MaryinColorado | | #139

            That's a true treasure chest!  Mary

          8. ljb2115 | | #178

            I made a dress to take on the senior trip to Washington DC in 1958 (gasp!).  It was a Simplicity pattern with a sailor collar and a detachable tie.  If I remember, it was Indianhead,  light grey, white collar and a pink tie with black soutache trim on the collar.  I had a terrible time attaching the soutache as no sewing machines had feet to hold trim; in addition I was babysitting with my 4H leaders children on a Sunday afternoon as I was trying to sew.  She (the leader) had an electric sewing machine and I had Mom's treadle. I probably purchased the fabric at Penney's, as that was the bottom line for a farm girl to purchase fabric.  Somewhere I have a picture taken of me by the Washington Monument.  I celebrated my 50th class reunion last year.  I have a few of my 4H garments left, but most were the product of my mother and sisters ideas of fashion.  I made a lot of the shifts in the early 60's and always had an Audrey Hepburn little black dress.  Enough reminising, maybe I will go to JoAnn's and look for shift patterns (in my altered size) for this summer.

            As an aside:  It seems I remember Indianhead wrinkled like crazy - but we ironed everything.

          9. Josefly | | #179

            That dress sounds beautiful. Yes, Indianhead was very wrinkly - much like linen - and looked beautiful immediately after being ironed - for about 5 minutes, in our Florida heat and humidity. But I loved wearing it - its weight made it feel special to me.

          10. miatamomma | | #180

            I well remember Indianhead fabric.  Was there also a fabric called Trigger about that time or later?  It seems like a made a trench of Trigger for my daughter.  Think it was about the same weight as Indianhead but maybe a little softer.


          11. KharminJ | | #181

            I remember Trigger - it's between muslin and denim in weight, and usually a little softer than "fresh" denim. There is actually(!) some on the shelf at JA this season, too! It's probably near the denim section. Some more fabric-search good news, too ~ I found some 100% rayon, among the Silkie Prints, at my store last week (actually a customer did - brought them to the cutting counter). Maybe they're actually hearing us, too? One can only hope!Kharmin

          12. miatamomma | | #182

            Thanks for confirming that there is really was a fabric called Trigger.  Will have to check it out as I had no idea it was still being made.  On a note about fabric stores--I was in Hancock's a few days ago.  I didn't have time to really look at the fabrics but I was pleased that they had remodeled the store.  I think that is a good sign in these times.  Also there were at least 6 clerks available for cutting fabrics.  Jo Ann usually has one or two.   If only we had a fabric store with wools, silks, etc.  Never satisfied I guess.


          13. Josefly | | #183

            Yes, I remember Trigger, too. Lots of rtw sportswear was made of it - it's a quite smooth, tightly woven and stable, durable fabric. Yes, it would be a good fabric for a trench coat - it may've even been water-resistant. I'm thinking it was a poly-cotton blend?Well, I just googled "Trigger fabric" and it's described as a poly-cotton poplin. It's still widely available, and is often used in tablecloths, I see.

          14. miatamomma | | #184

            If I remember correctly (it has been 30 years) the trench coat for my DD was a classic trench coat with the little belts on the sleeves, double flap in the back over the shoulders,etc.  She had it lined green checks and carried it all over Europe one summer when she was studying in France.  I am definitely going to check out Jo-Ann's to see if I can find some.  As I think more about that coat I think she even had a matching hat.  So many memories and so long ago.


          15. Josefly | | #185

            Isn't it fun to remember our past creations? That trench coat sounds like a cheerful, fun-to-wear coat. I saw a trench coat pictured recently in a sunflower yellow, and thought that would be fun, too. So I guess they're popular again, and being shown in all kinds of patterns and colors. I remember reading that Doris Day was loved by her costume designers because she knew how to show off the details, like the pretty lining to a coat. The green checked lining to your daughter's coat would be one to show off. Speaking of past creations, I was thinking yesterday of some of the wonderful dresses my mother made for me when I was a child and teenager. We were not well-off financially at all, but my mom took pride in how far she could stretch a dollar, having come of age in the Great Depression herself, and we kids always had wonderful clothes, and didn't lack for anything else that we needed, either. She always made sure we had pretty Easter clothes, for example, even if she didn't have anything new at all. She was a genius, imo, at putting fabrics together and knowing how a plaid or print would look made up into a pattern.

          16. sewingkmulkey | | #186

            I, too, remember trigger cloth as I made many, many jumpers with cute appliques for my daughters when they were toddlers through kindergarten.  That was in the late 70's.


          17. ljb2115 | | #187

            This is an addendum to the Indianhead fabric discussion.....On the Vintage Fashion Library (http://www.vintagefashionlibrary.com) I found the Simplicity 2331, bust 34, Sailor Middy Style dress I made for my senior trip to Washington, DC in 1958.  I love to peruse the vintage pattern websites.  My husband asked if I would like to send for it - answer:  NO.  I could not fit into it - but thanks.  I am still looking for my wedding dress pattern from 1962, but have never seen it. (Fashioned like the Jackie Kennedy wedding dress.) It was a McCall's with a tulip shaped skirt, accented with a fishtail train.  I still have that pattern, but not the pattern jacket.  I purchased the fabric (white brocade) at Penney's in downtown Sandusky, OH - On the last week of July we decided to get married Sept.1 as DH was attending engineering school and  had a three-week quarter break at that time.  Sounded good to me - my mother was a bit rushed, but with my neighbor making the dress, sister-in-law baking and decorating the cake - all went well.  As "they say" - the rest is history.  A few years back, I had a scale model made of the dress, as it (the dress) was getting "age spots" on it.  I could see no one would be interested in wearing it.  I appreciate the scale model - I can look at it every day whereas the dress was always stuck in a bag at the end of the closet. 

            Didn't mean to ramble so, but love to correspond with like-minded friends.

          18. GinghamGrrl | | #188

            What a great site, thanks for the link. I have my mother's wedding dress tucked away for that oh so special occasion, when and if it ever comes. Hers is a 1970 gown from Meir & Frank (now Macy's). It is a little big for me - she says it's a big 12 - but I look forward to altering it. I don't plan on changing the basic style of the gown, I just want to take it in through the middle, and maybe add some turquoise crushed velvet piping with tiny pink and blue satin roses. The gown is white, but it has yellowed with age. This can only add to its appeal. I plan on having it cleaned, but I also don't want a gown that is such a bright, stark white. I want a cream colored satin. I don't want to smell like mothballs either. The gown is made from a polyester/nylon acetate - I think. Could I dye it? Would that work?

          19. ljb2115 | | #189

            Try a small piece before committing the entire gown. My gown had turned ivory and no amount of cleaning would whiten it.  I had had it cleaned twice, mainly after I wore it in some style shows.  I never felt that I could afford the whole cleaning and preserving process, as I wanted to wear it in the shows. 

            Keep me posted on your progress.


          20. Josefly | | #190

            I spent a few minutes looking through the patterns at the site you mentioned. Thanks for the reference. Sure brings back memories.What a great idea, having a scale model of your wedding dress. Those were the days, huh? Imagine planning a wedding in less than two months, these days! My own wedding was put together in about 4 months, in 1965, on weekends when I could get home from college. I know my mother was more stressed than I was - I was blithely confident that it would all be just fine and would work out somehow - an attitude which just freaked my mom out more.Thanks for the story.

          21. GailAnn | | #192

            That's just so sweet!  Gail

          22. ljb2115 | | #193

            Thanks to all for your lovely comments.




          23. User avater
            purduemom | | #194

            I have spent many an hour perusing that vintage pattern site. Makes me wish my mom had kept all of her patterns - I am actually surprised she didn't! I simply LOVE the idea of having a scale model done of your wedding gown. What a fantastic idea! Will have to keep that one in mind when my daughter gets around to marrying. It might be kind of fun to re-create the prom dresses she made in smaller scale and give them to her as a gift. What scale was used for your dress and how do you have it displayed?

          24. ljb2115 | | #195

            Hi.....Glad to hear from you. My dress was made by a friend who lives in Carmel.  She has a business making to-scale bride and other "fancy" dresses, complete with accessories, etc.  I do not have her information right in front of me, but if you can contact me later, I will have it for you.

            Are you entering the MIYWW this year?  I wanted to, but other life problems got in the way.  Have some fantastic rose-red double wool crepe for a coat, but wool keeps.  Congratulations on your 2nd place in the national contest.  I don't take Sew News right now, so don't know who won. 

            Keep in touch.


          25. ljb2115 | | #196

            I didn't answer all your questions.  I don't really know what the scale is.  Peggy has formulated all her patterns to a scale, but I am not sure of the ratio.   I am looking for some type of a dome to fit over the dress and form.  The whole assembly is about 12" tall.  Probably Pier One or that type of store will have domes. 

            Keep in touch.


          26. jjgg | | #200

            when I got married, I made all the jr brides maids copies of their dresses for their American Girl Dolls. (I made their real dresses too)_

          27. sewingkmulkey | | #201

            Such a thoughtful, fun gift!


          28. MaryinColorado | | #202

            That is so cool!  What an incredible, thoughtful, gift of love and appreciation.  I'm sure they treasure those to this day!

          29. jjgg | | #203

            Thanks Mary. They were fun to do. How I did this (this was before I learned pattern drafting etc) I bought a basic pattern for the American Girl doll, so I had the correct proportions. I then just sort of re-shaped the sleeves, bodice etc to match their dresses. It did go over very well with the kids.Judy

          30. MaryinColorado | | #204

            It is  the best idea I've heard of for the Jr. bridesmaids or flower girls gift!  Mary

          31. User avater
            purduemom | | #205

            Love the idea. I have enjoyed sewing many a matching outfit for AG dolls.

          32. User avater
            sewold | | #197

            I was going through some old magazines and came across a LHJ from the 60's (I think). It had an ad for Indianhead on the back cover - in color, yet! I put it back in the box for sale (I'm emptying the attic because we have moved). Now I want to go back and look it up. I have some old mags from early 1900's. Also some "Fur Designer" magazines someone would probably like to see. Designs are such fun to look at. Even see some 60's designs that seem to be coming back. I have a granddaughter that loves those styles. She made a dress from one of my old patterns. And I gave her some of my dresses from that era. She'll wear them, too. She's a great fan of Audrey Hepburn. Always have said she doesn't want to be like Audrey Hepburn - she wants to BE Audrey Hepburn. My that's a long ramble from Indianhead, isn't it?

          33. ljb2115 | | #198

            Please don't discard the old magazines, as I did in a fit of cleaning and organizing!!!  I have loads of old patterns, which I may sell, just to relieve the congestion in my house.  I have a hard time visualizing  new patterns  becoming "vintage", as to me, they are mundane and relatively unattractive.  I have paid good money for old classic magazines - so re-think before you toss.

          34. User avater
            sewold | | #199

            I'm bleeding when I'm tossing! Actually I won't toss but they will all go in an auction, when I finally get things cleared up. Maybe they will go to a new home where someone else can enjoy them. I'm moving from 10 rooms to 6 so I can't keep everything I want! Have to leave room for the fabric stash, you know. I can certainly agree about the old patterns, though. Don't know why I even kept some of them. Guess it was because they were such favorites. Usually use a pattern many times before giving up on it. That has carried me through some of the style swings that really don't suit me. Besides, a shirtwaist is always good. And how much different is one gathered/gored skirt than another?Keep sewing!!

        3. User avater
          sewold | | #145

          I remember (fondly) Indian head also. In fact, I still have a partial bolt of pink. I think it came from an auction at a variety store. I'm sure it's over 40 years old. I've been using it lately for inner pillows when I'm making a pillow cover. It's still a fine fabric.

          On another subject, I have worn out two machines. My first was a local brand, bought with severance pay just before my first son was born. With two boys, I made a lot of shirts, shorts and pajamas usually using flatfell seams because they would last longer and look more tailored. When my daughter came along (1961), I made a lot of dresses for her. She began sewing in 4-H. After all the "project" sewing, with a lot of sticky requirements, I was afraid she would never sew again! But she does and much more accomplished than I am. I bought a sewing machine for $5 at an auction for her oldest daughter to use when she went to college. I didn't expect her to sew much but knew how handy they are for mending, etc. She has found sewing to be enjoyable, though. Her youngest daughter is also interested in sewing. It's really encouraging to see the craft being carried on. Speaking of wearing out machines, a lot of my sewing was making stuffed animals out of fur fabric. I think that was hard on the machines.Just as a matter of interest, how many sewing machines do you have? I currently have two, plus the serger. Some are just better for some things than others.Happy sewing!

          1. Cityoflostsouls | | #146

            This sounds like we were tracking the same life!  My first machine was the treadle (briefly) then my great Necchi, then my 830 Bernina ( I had to sell it) a lovely Viking, a tiny Singer ( not enough machine) and then I started rebuying and outfitting my sewing room for retirement.  The Bernina and the Viking I had bought also with severance pay, the Singer was sold to me at a special price because I had taken care of the shop owners father and he was grateful.  The 830 Bernina and the Viking were sold out of necessity.  I have a Bernina Artista 165 Sewing and Embroidery machine, I rebought my Bernina 830 when I found one in perfect condition and I have an Imagine Serger and separate Coverlock machine both from Babylock because of the threading.  At the same time I bought a printer and computer and sewing furniture.  As you can imagine I was not able to do this on Cash and Carry.  I think it was frustration over the machines I had to sell.  I'm a long time widow raising an 8 year old son with six adult children.   I'm sure after the 3rd or so child our lives were different!  Now I need to use them and get on with retirement!  I think my small piece of Indian Head will embroider beautifully and its white.  Wonderful to hear from you!

          2. Cityoflostsouls | | #152

            When I was writing these posts I don't know why I didn't mention what hangs on my sewing room wall-its later than 1968-more like 1977.  It's a childs dress size 8 that I made for my granddaughter (my little sons mother) and I was quite proud of it.  Long red velvet with long sleeves and a off- white eyelet apron to go over it.  Things don't always work out the way you'd like and she was such a beautiful little girl-all peaches and cream.  I have a plastic bin for each of my children and this will go in Coreys bin one day.  I love having this dress on my wall. 

  13. GinghamGrrl | | #191

    I would guess that fabric would be something like a double knit cotton pique. I know what you mean, those dresses were made with something different. It was like a cotton/poly blend, covered with an almost invisible mesh-like webbing, and a flannel-y type lining. The lining was similar to pajama material. They were very thick, typically had hidden zippers in the back, and usually printed with day-glow flowers. Is that what you mean? My mom had one back in the 70s. She wore it while she was pregnant. It was an A-Line tunic, but I know they made dresses too.

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