Category Archives: Retro

Clowns Keeping Us In Stitches – Time Travel Thursdays

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Fabulous Forties Costume Pattern – Clown Around Vintage -Style at Momma Black Sheep on Etsy.

My mother was always a crafty woman, where my dad had a ‘workshop’ in the basement, she had a ‘sewing room’. My dad’s workshop was filled with every imaginable tool, like most men he had multiples of many things that he forgot he already had, hitting Canadian Tire or Lansing Build All was a weekend staple destination for him back in the mid-1970s.  My father, no slouch in the fix-it department, actually build us a full ‘play house’ in the backyard of our North York, Ontario home. It was big enough to have the entire neighborhood’s children all inside it and still have room for a table and chairs.

McCall 2833, 1920s Girl’s Clown Suit Costume at Fripperie on Etsy.
Vintage Advance Clown Pattern 701 – Men’s and Women’s – Size Large 18-20 at Dream Weaver 1954 on Etsy.
Simplicity 4864 Clown Costume 1960s for Children Vintage Sewing Pattern at Mrs. Depew Vintage on Etsy.

My mother was someone who could sew, so it seemed absolutely natural to me that she would have a ‘sewing room’. I though every home had one, just like a kitchen or bathroom, little did I know.  My mother was famous for putting patches inside the knees of our worn-out play jeans, for shortening the cuffs on our hand-me-down pants, and for mending our cloth toys and blankets.  She also made costumes for us, for Halloween, for our endless themed birthday parties [there were four of us kids after all], and for our dance recitals.

Vintage 1950s Delightful Children ‘s Clown Costume Sewing Pattern – Hat, Neck Ruffle, Pom Poms – Size Medium RARE at Farfalla Design Studio on Etsy.
Kid’s Vintage Clown Costume Pattern Simplicity 6363 Size 12 at Kandiieee on Etsy.
Vintage Clown Costume 1976 Simplicity Sewing Pattern 9051 Medium at Claudette’s Vintage Vault on Etsy.

In the early 1980s, my mother actually stitched up a Care Bear costume for not only my little sister, but one of her dance class-mates. The were unbelievably detailed, and my mother still has the one she made for my sister. A full head-to-toe costume, the child’s face actually peeks out of the mouth of the Care Bear in question. A pastel mint faux-fur body suit with an emblem stitched on the white belly, and a giant ‘head’ that went over the child’s head, the scale was just as the stuffed dolls we had. Can you imagine an entire dance class of 12 six year-old girls trying to dance to “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” in that huge and likely over-heated costume. You have to love it.

Vintage 1984 Butterick Pattern 6814 Care Bears Costume Size 2-6x at Gran’s Treasures on Etsy.
McCall’s 1940s Clown or Jester Pattern at Retro Recycle on Etsy.
Vintage 1965 Simplicity Sewing Pattern – Clown Costume Boy’s Girl’s Size 4-6 at Oh Vintage Threads on Etsy.

My mom also made us costumes for Purim, the Jewish holiday where dress-up is part of the fun. This year it falls on Thursday, March 8th/2012, so there is still time to get your costumes ready. Clown costumes are one option for Purim, as are the characters from the story the holiday is based on, including a princess of course. One year my mother made clown costumes for each of us kids, I must have been around 9 or 10 years old at the time, because I know she made them for myself and my twin sister, my brother, who was likely 7, and my youngest sister who was maybe 5 in her kindergarten class.

Kids Clown Costume Butterick Sewing Pattern 3169 – Size 8 at Garden In The City on Etsy.
Costume Clown Simplicity 0664 Size BB 2-12 Children’s Sewing Pattern at NANCE’S NOSTALGIA on Etsy.
1972 McCall’s Sewing Pattern 3353 – Clown Costume Children’s Size 10-12 at Full Circle Studios on Etsy.

The costumes were amazing. She made these huge ruffled neck pieces that went with them, a startling white compared to the colorful two print combo of the suit, trimmed with a lovely bright rickrack.  We also had matching hats, yarn pom poms accents and all. Too adorable for words. My mother went on to make a couple for adults, and then for many friends of the family, they became famous. My mother somehow found time for this with four young children of grade-school age, going to a school with no busing, cooking every meal we ate, and being a full-time homemaker.

Vintage UNCUT Simplicity Sewing Pattern – Size Large 40-42 Adult’s Clown Costume and Hats – Dated 1980 at In Grandma’s Attic on Etsy.
Clown Costume Pattern Size Adult Medium – McCall’s 4944 – Circa 1990 at Miss32Act on Etsy.
McCall’s Crafts Boy and Girl Clown Costume Pattern 2623 UNCUT Size 2,4 at Lingonberries And Moss on Etsy.

People would call to ask to borrow them for all sorts of events, and they were generously sized so we got a good few years use out of them. I think it was quite an ingenious strategical move on the part of my mom to make the two oldest children’s costumes, mine and my twin sister’s, out of fairly gender neutral colors and prints, they lasted my siblings a long time in the years to follow. They pulled duty on trick or treat nights, Purim carnivals, and a themed birthday party where every child in attendance wore a similar costume.

Clown Halloween Costumes Pattern for Children Adults at Regency Cottage on Etsy.
1980 McCall’s Pattern 7230 for an Adult’s Clown Costume – Size Large at Lakeview Arts on Etsy.
Sewing Pattern Simplicity, Clown – Jester – Hobo Halloween Costume: Adult Medium UNCUT at Sew Alike on Etsy.

I could go on and on, but what today’s Time Travel Thursday post is really about is those envelopes of patterns that you could buy at the fabric store, along with all your fabric and findings. It’s about the days when people made their own clothing and costumes as the norm, and not the exception.  It is about those homes that included such things as ‘sewing rooms’, where magic happened in the hands of everyday people.  When your mother or grandmother would make you a costume that had never been worn by anyone else, that looked absolutely professional and fabulous, that no one else had, that was a treasured thing.  I have just gotten my first sewing machine, a very basic Singer model, just for making a few time saving stitches now and then.  My mother still has her first Singer too, it still works and she still uses it occasionally, and I know it is likely 40 years old, maybe more.

McCall’s 9212 Vintage Sewing Pattern Child’s Boy’s Girl’s CLOWN COSTUMES Size 6-8 at KatyBugVintage on Etsy.
Butterick 5073, Vintage 1990 Baby Jumpsuit Pattern UNCUT – Newborm – M at Vintage Vice on Etsy.
Halloween Costume Pattern Clowns Simplicity 7120 Size Small at AuntPittyPats2 on Etsy.

I would love to know how to use a pattern, to know how to use fabric so that the threads run the right way for stretch or fit, to know what seam technique to use, to  be able to create professional looking garments and costumes, just like my mother did. So few of us have the time or inclination to make things by hand, but I have found just the little bit of doll making I have been doing lately to be so therapeutic. To see a finished result, something tangible, something you can hold in your hands or give to a child to cuddle, it is a totally WOW moment. It’s nice to see something through to the end, there is so much in our world that has become conceptual or intangible.  Whether you sew, knit, crochet, scrapbook, cook, or have some other hand-made hobby, you know exactly what I mean. The ability to create something is just as satisfying as it ever was.

Vintage 1961 Girls or Boys Clown, Devil, Little Prince Costume Halloween McCall’s Pattern 2459 Size 6-8 at Lakeview Arts on Etsy.
VERY RARE 1960s Vintage Pattern UNCUT McCall’s 7912 Size Medium Girl’s Boy’s Clown – Bullfighter – Devil – Bandit Costumes at GREAT SCOTT on Etsy.
McCall’s Costumes Clown Pattern 6719 at KidLee on Etsy.

Today’s post features a bounty of amazing vintage sewing patterns, almost entirely Clown Costumes all for sale on Etsy, along with hundreds of other patterns for every look you can image.  They are fun to look at, collect, even stitch up for yourself or a friend. Take the links under the images to reach the shops and listings, and have a look around.  Even if you don’t have a dedicated sewing room, crafting room, or studio, any room can become one if you use it for that purpose.  This is a celebration of an nearly lost art, fabric stores are harder and harder to find, patterns for modern styles just don’t exist the way they did in the past, it is so much easier just to go to the mall when you need new clothing. Just because something is easier, doesn’t mean it is better.  As for these clowns, maybe one will be your first sewing project from a pattern. They are very easy to make and they are great for play and holidays alike. You can even get all your fabric and finishing elements on Etsy. Give it a think, and for now, sew long.

Butterick Kid’s Clown Costume Pattern 4154 at Gothabilly 13 on Etsy.
Vintage Costume Sewing Pattern 1982 Boy’s and Girl’s Clown Costumes and Hats, Simplicity 5740 Sizes 2-4 at The Half House on Etsy.
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Coasting Into The Weekend – Time Travel Thursdays

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Retro Hallmark Colorful Clock Happy New Years Paper Coasters (12) at Boston Bag Lady

One of the most unappreciated and hardest working items in your home is sitting right there under your beverage of choice. Whether it be coffee, tea, cola, water, or some newfangled energy drink, when we go to place it down on our desk or coffee table, we usually plunk it right down on a coaster. If you don’t have any, you either have a series of lovely water mark rings all over the furniture, or you have been making do with any book, towel, or piece of mail that might be lying close at hand when you need it.

Mod Faux Tortoiseshell Coasters – Soovia Janis at Retrospective Orange
Fabulous Set of Vintage Straw Coasters – Olive Green and Turquoise – 1960s at Renaissance Couture

Since it is Time Travel day here at the Fab, I decided it was time to take a look back at some Coasters from the past. I am not referring to The Coasters by the way, you know, the band that gave us such great hits as “Charlie Brown” and “Yakety Yak” way back in the 1950s. Not one to let the opportunity pass, I will give you a little musical accompaniment to this post. Enjoy looking at these adorable and clearly fabulous vintage coasters, all available on Etsy right now. All the links are listed under the images so you can go check them out and get some great vintage goodness into your humble abode very soon. This is just a small sample of course, there are many other styles and colors listed from a variety of eras in addition to the heaps of new, upcycled, or hand-made coasters listed on Etsy.

Vintage 50s/60s Party Coasters at Nevermore Vintage
Aluminum Coaster Set 6 Pastel Colors Mid Century 1950’s Vintage by CraZy DreamZ

Coasters do their job, and that is a wonderful thing, but they can also be incredibly hip, kitschy, or decorative too. Your mother or grandmother may have been adamant that you use one on her wooden furniture, but today’s IKEA particle board and laminate home decor is much more forgiving. So why get yourself coasters, you ask? Because it’s a way of personalizing your space and adding a little extra touch of wonderful in a very cookie-cutter world. Vintage coasters, in particular, are really fun to collect, they are made with so many materials, and they will be a great topic of conversation at your next house party. Need yet another reason to love vintage coasters? Most of these sets range from $10 – $20 USD per set, a lot less then you would expect for something that is practically one of a kind these days. OK, now I can relax and set my iced glass of Coke Zero down without fear as I “coast” into Friday.

Fantastic Plastic

Citrus Coasters (1960-1970) at Wolf House Vintage
Vintage Set of Eight Coasters In Caddy at BMTvintage
Fifties Style Blue Green Coasters with Holder at OldLibrary
1970s Vintage Orange and Yellow Plastic Turtle Coasters at Tattered Lace

Paper & Felt

Vintage 1960s Hallmark Retro Mod Felt Cocktail Coasters at Let’s Love Vintage
Set of Vintage Coasters Depicting the 1932 Chevrolet Roadster at Memory Saver Vintage Treasures
Perky Pink Poodle, Ready For Drinks (6) at tinygirl vintage
Vintage Novelty Coasters/Ashtrays in Original Box at NeatoKeen
Vintage Martha and the Vandellas Paper Coaster Set at Retroclectic
Vintage 1960s Retro Card Party Coasters (Set of 11) at Shutter and Sparks
Pimpernel Coasters Set of 6 Made in England, Tennis Anyone? at Sweetie2Sweetie
Smartie Coasters Cocktail Mats – Cheeky Sayings at Tree House Club
Vintage Set of Cocktail Coasters – Liquor Bottles – New Years Eve Cocktail Party at Vintage Zen

Flora & Fauna

Vintage Coaster Set In Box From Japan (8) at kris67
Vintage Coasters Six Coasters Gold and White with Daisies by Wm. A Rogers Ltd. Made in Japan at It’s A Good Thing
Vintage 1970s Mid-Century Flower Coasters at Moderra
Vintage Orange & Gold Coasters in a Canister (6) at OrWa Designs
Vintage China Coasters from England at Quaint Collector
Vintage Glass Coaster Set – 4 Leaf Clover Design at Ric’s Relics

Vintage Danish Modern Wood Pear Coaster Set (6) with Stand at littlegoodwolf

Everything Else

Vintage Cocktail Party Coasters. 1950s French Language Humor/Gag at RubyFloy
Set of Four Ceramic French Fancy Designed Coasters with Cork Bottoms at My Oh Miles
Vintage Pewter Coasters Made in Bolivia, Rare Find at HanieBCreations
Susie Cooper Kestrel Design – Set of 4 Saucers or Coasters at Florence & Ruby Vintage

Non-Pro Tip

6 Vintage Big-Eye Love Girl Tin Litho Tea Set Plates at VintageFunland

Before I go, I wanted to add my own little Upcycle-It Tip for all you fun kitschy doll-loving one-of-a-kind [OOAK] type folks out there. When I saw that Florence & Ruby Vintage was using small demitasse saucers as coasters (a brilliant idea actually), I took it one step farther and offer up this sweet little twist.

7 Vintage OHIO ARTS Childs Tin PLATES Colorful Designs Graphics Toy Assemblage at Sweet Kate

Remember all those awesome Tea Sets we played with as kids? That little set of plates and dishes we would pile Cheerios on to play house with, and then never pretend to wash? If you can find a great set of those little Vintage goodies in your Etsy travels, you may just have found the most ninja-butt-kicking set of OOAK coasters for your funky little crash pad.  Remember to check the diameter of the plate in the item description so that you can be sure your favorite cuppa will sit in it nicely.  You can get a matching set of plates, or if you really want to shake things up, or give them a stir [your call], mix and match a pile of little tin plates for a OOAK collection of great coasters that will cost you just a few dollars to pull together.

Let’s Have A Tea Party. Instant Collection — 9 Child’s Metal Tin Plate Set at Online Vintage

For The Love Of Bundt Cake – Time Travel Thursdays

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Are you a fan of a good Bundt? Cake that is, Bundt Cake, that fancy looking tea-time cake that takes the shape of it’s ringed baking pan. According to the good old Wikipedia, the tern “Bundt” [pronounced as -bunt] seems to derive from the German word Bundkuchen, a ring-shaped cake. The adapted spelling as ‘bundt’ appears in print as early as 1901. So why, you may ask, am I going on about a cake pan? Well, it is Thursday after all, and that means a step back in time to take a look at things too good to be forgotten. The Bundt Pan is a beautiful item in and of itself, with new versions resembling Gothic Architecture, but I am still a fan of the classic style, the one my mother, and grandmother used.

Silver Bundt Pan by The Little Green Vintage Shop.

The cake pan shape itself makes any regular pound cake look so very lovely, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top really highlights the pattern of any particular pan. One of my favorite tricks from my Culinary School days makes any cake pan stick-proof, so cakes come out perfectly. Simply take a pat of room temperature real butter [or margarine if you prefer a vegan option] and coat the inside of the pan lightly, use a scrap of tin foil, clean paper bag, wax, parchment, or any kitchen paper to spread it easily. My mother saves the wrappers the sticks of butter come in for this purpose, which is totally brilliant of her. She keeps them in the fridge until she needs to grease up a pan. The next step is taking a small amount of flour, maybe a tablespoon or two, and then dumping it into the greased pan, do this over the sink to cut down on mess. Turn the pan slowly in your hands and let the flour ‘stick’ to the butter on the pan base. Make sure all edges are covered, then dump any excess flour out. Instant non-stick pan, especially useful for the vintage Bundt Pan. With all the concerns about new fangled non-stick coatings and health issues, it really is a way to go back to basics, literally.

Vintage Bundt Pan by The Rhubarb Studio.

Of course, you could go out and buy a brand spanking new Bundt Pan at any local Department Store, but why not rescue one with some lovely retro charm and vintage credentials. Not only do they make lovely cakes, but the shape is so iconic, people often hang them on walls, use them as planters, or up-cycle them into light fixtures and other amazing do-dads. The ones I have featured on this page are vintage finds from Etsy. These and others are priced so reasonably, often less than a new one, and have that rustic charm built in.

Vintage Stoneware Pfaltzgraff Bundt Pan by The Vintage Heiress.

You didn’t think I would just show a pile of cake pans without sharing my favorite recipe did you? This one is a family favorite, and despite a year of formal Culinary education, I would pick this cake over some of the most fancy schmancy pastries out there. This ones pulls me back in time to the 1970s, when my mother would whip them up regularly if we were getting unexpected guests at the cottage or if she wanted to fill out a large party buffet. This is what I refer to as “back-of-the-box” cooking. You know, those recipes most of us ignore on the packages of food we buy? Well I suspect this one was actually on the Jell-O Pudding box at one time, and I can just picture my mother in 1978, with four children under the age of five, trying to find fast and easy crowd pleasing fare. This is one of those recipes.

Yes, it is exactly that easy. It may not be vegetarian or gourmet, but it is delicious and inexpensive. It also bakes with a beautiful golden brown colour outside, but when sliced you can see a slightly green tinted moist and light cake. You can bump up the green with a little food colouring, just a few drops of green [if you are so inclined], to make the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert.

This cake has a story behind it in my family. It was a loved recipe, that somehow time forgot by the 80s, when the required Pistachio Jell-O Pudding mix seemed to vanish from the grocery shelf. When we rediscovered it in the 90s, the recipe was long lost and no longer on the package. This was before the great big “World Wide Web” and search engines, and we were sure it was lost forever. Then on a family trip to the ‘States’, we happened upon an old bookstore, and my mother and I were browsing cookbooks. My roaming hands fell upon a Jell-O recipe collection book, and I remembered that cake… and wouldn’t you know it, the recipe was in there! We (now quite guiltily) remember scribbling the recipe down on a piece of scrap paper, and hooray we had it again. Now you have it too.

Your New Collection. Vintage Bundt Pans. by Funretro.

Beyond the obviously Fab vintage Bundt Pans that can be found, there are a lot of lovely items other than cake, that are inspired by that great pan shape. Here are just a few adorable finds. Lovely artwork and miniatures, even jewelry. with the availability of the “Mini” Bundt Pan, people are using it for all sorts of things too, like some fabulous hand-made soaps. Any of these would make lovely gifts, but the gift of a home-baked cake for your family may just be the best thing this Valentine’s Day.

Persimmon Bundt Cake And Espresso- Open Edition Print by Janet Hill, http://www.etsy.com/shop/janethillstudio?ref=pr_shop_more on Etsy.

Original Painting -Red Velvet Bundt Cake at Bookclub 9×12 inch by S. Kim Graber, LaurenFaythe on Etsy.

Dollhouse Miniature Food Raspberry Bundt Cake Slice by Fairchildart.

Strawberry Bundt Cake Pendant by Christina Cainan, Mini Mia Accessories on Etsy.

Bundt Cake Pan Pendant Lamp by Spoken Stitch on Etsy.

Set of 3 Handcrafted Goatmilk Soaps Applejack & Peel Bundt Cake Soaps by Marcia, Adirondacks Soaps on Etsy.

White Truffle Raspberry Bundt Cake Candle..Made with all natural soy wax by Danielle, Pookaberrys Candle Bakery on Etsy.