Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vintage Car spotting- Spotlight on 1956 Ford Fairlane

Hey to my Hep-Cats out there!

We have been seeing this vintage beauty touring around town the past couple weeks.  My son was able to get a few pictures while it was parked.    Lovin' the pink & black color-scheme they chose! 

I believe that the extended bumper is probably a custom feature...I haven't seen any others like it.

There are a lot of people either squarely in the Ford lovers club,  or out of it. There seems to be little 'middle ground'  Most likely you have heard the acronyms:

FORD  - Fix Or Repair Daily


FORD -  First On Race Day

The Fairlane for me has some personal interest.  Here is an amusing (mostly-after-the-fact) family story:

When my parents were dating and then later married  (August of 1967),   my Mom drove a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air that was a hand me down from one of her older brothers.  My Dad drove a more current model Ford Fairlane  (I don't know the exact year, but believe it was an early '60's model)

My Dad in his practical wisdom, decided that they didn't really need (and probably couldn't afford) two cars,  and his Fairlane being the newer one,  they should keep that and sell the Bel Air.     So off they drove, into the sunset, in the Fairlane on their Honeymoon.     The Fairlane proceeded to break down - not once, not twice, but three times on their trip up to Niagara Falls, using most of their honeymoon money on repairs to boot.  My Mom was about ready to kill my Dad, but they ended up making it up there and home in one piece. 
So thanks to the Fairlane, folks, there was almost murder, divorce, and me not being born. 
       (In 1970, they went out and bought a brand new VW Beetle - the same car I learned to drive on 15 years later.  Love those Beetles! - but that is a different story for a different time)  and  I am happy to add, that my Mom and Dad are still going strong after 47 years of marriage.  

In all fairness to the FORD brand, we currently own a Ford Van (an E350),  as was its predecessor (an E150) The van is the handicapped equipped vehicle that we use when we need to bring my sweetie somewhere or take family road trips and we have had very little trouble with them,  To paraphrase the guy I bought it from (he's the fleet manager at a local livery service that specializes in handicapped vehicles, and they exclusively use the Fords for their larger transport vehicles)  "The Ford engines [that are used in the vans/trucks] will run forever as long as you maintain them"  and yes folks, I do believe they will.

Getting a little side-tracked here, my apologies. Back to our lovely Fairlane:  The first model year it was produced was 1955.  In doing a little research on the early ones, this was a year of many 'firsts' for Ford.   The Fairlane featured the first factory controlled air conditioner for Ford,  the first panoramic windshields that had been seen on a few other makers like Buick & Cadillac the previous year,  and the first time seat belts were offered as a dealer option on Fords in general. In fact,  one of the advertising campaigns launched by Ford in 1956 promoted it's "Lifeguard Design" (see below for ad)  which included not only the seatbelts, but a recessed steering wheel so the driver wouldn't sustain as bad of injuries if in an accident, improved padding, door latches, and other improved safety features.

[side note here for some people who may either be too young, or possibly not aware of the early history of cars,  but the earlier automobiles were not the bastions of safety that we see today:  seat belts didn't become standards til the late 50's (Nash offered them as an option in '49, as did Ford 
(mentioned above) in '55)     Rearview mirrors, although pre-dating seat-belts, were not introduced by manufacturer's until 1914.     (I found this little gem in the Wikipedia article about them: 

The rear-view mirror's earliest known use and mention is by Dorothy Levittin her 1906 book 

The Woman and the Car which noted that women should "carry a little hand-mirror in a 

convenient place when driving" so they may "hold the mirror aloft from time to time in 

order to see behind while driving in traffic", )

and lets not even get into how kids were transported around up into the 1970's....]

But back to our Fairlane.   A couple of really well written articles/blog postings that I found if you are interested on some more about them:  by J.P Cavanaugh

and  by Daniel Vaughan (9/2013) :

"The name Fairlane came from Henry Ford's Fair Lane mansion location in Dearborn, Michigan. The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 as Ford's full-size model and was available in six different body styles. The vehicle could be assembled as a 2 door club sedan, a 4 door town sedan, 
a Victoria 2 door hardtop, a Sunliner convertible, a Crown Victoria, 
or a Crown Victoria with a plastic top.   
..... In 1956 a four door Victoria hard-top was added to the line up. " 
(excerpt from Daniel Vaughan)

Telling Model Years Apart: 

One question that crops up when you see a vintage car around town,  which model year is it?   People usually can figure out a decade - but for the rest, well   "God is in the Details" they say....

Sometimes it will be near impossible to figure out an exact year without either asking the owner or getting a look at the registration, you may have to settle for a span of a couple years.
If you can get a good look at some of the specific details on the vehicle (chrome detailing, tail fins, headlights, tail lights, etc.), and then its research, research research.

With the Fairlane, we lucked out.   Ford actually changed up the side Chrome detailing each year:

1955, First year the Fairlane came out,  notice the nice neat triangular pivotal line of the side chrome

1956 - They added a little 'flair' with the side chrome, creating a broken visual line

1957 - The Side Chrome got nice and straight, then took an upward lunge toward the rear of the car.   

1958 - They created a triangular inset with the side chrome, allowing for a tertiary color

Other details to pay attention to on vintage cars in general  - are the lights round or square?  (Square ones were usually later '60's)   one or double?   Size of the tail fins?  Tail fins at all?  Many manufacturers started with a modest tail fin that grew in size over the course of the decade.
The more details you can collect, the more you can pin the model year down. 

Anyway,  one final look at the lovely pink & black Fairlane!

Do you have a favorite vintage car?  Funny car story?
Would love to hear about it!  Comment below....

Thanks so much for tuning in today!
xo Yvonne

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tag Sale treasures: Limoges plates & Sew Seventies sewing basket

Hi Friends!

My son Peter and I did some thrifting/tag-sale-ing last week.  It occurred to me that tag-sale season is almost over.   I always find myself kind of sad this time of year (not just because of the tag sales).  People on FB have been posting little pictures about looking forward to "hoodies, pumpkins, football games" etc. for the fall season.  Of course there are aspects of the fall I really do enjoy,  but I will miss warm weather, tag sales, ice cream.    (I sometimes think that despite my blonde hair and ghostly white skin that is a dead give-away for my northern european heritage (read: should be accustomed to cold climates)  that maybe I was secretly adopted from someplace nearer to the mediterranean.  My body is so unsuited to the cold it is ridiculous. I always carry a sweater around with me just in case)
 There is sort of a care-free attitude to the summer. Stay out late to work in the garden, watch the lightning bugs, walk through the surf...  Fall is much more business like. 

Anyway, enough lamenting. Back to our outing.   We hit up one of our local places called
  "Cape Cod Pickers"   Located in East Falmouth, they always have an interesting assortment of stuff.  They handle estate sales and household cleanouts, so most of their items are furniture, household goods, bric-brac, etc.    
The store isn't particularly organized, items are mostly just casually placed about, and there are bins of stuff to rummage through,  but sometimes stores like that can be fun and you can find some good stuff that way.   Also, although most of the items are priced,  they are open to bargaining.

[i.e.  "Good day, kind sir. I am most interested in those five green, ceramic, elephant umbrella holders you have there.  They are marked $5 each.  Would you take $20 for all five?"
"How about $22?"
"I will give you $23 if we can throw in this candle shaped like Teddy Pendergrass"
"Done." ]

So yeah,  although no Teddy Pendergrass-shaped candles this trip,   I found this awesome sewing box: 
 Although the box itself was a little worse for wear  (handle was broken and the top of the inside look like someone had re-glued the lining)  it was full of vintage notion goodies!  I got this along with a few music tapes for my son for $8.

This is actually a plastic box, not wooden.  I love the fact though, that it mimics the style of furniture that was popular during the 1970's.  Large, heavy wooden geometric tables were the thing!  My parents actually have a living room set that features a really (bang your toe) heavy coffee table and two hexagonal end tables).   This sewing box looks like it would fit right at home sitting on the floor next to them.
Here are a few pictures of these once popular hexagon end tables from around the web in case you were not aware of 1970's decor:


Before we move on to the neat stuff that was inside the sew seventies sewing box,  I actually found a few photos of ways people had re-purposed some of the hex-tables of years past that I thought was very clever.     I found them on a couple different sites,  so I am not sure where the idea originated,  but they are awfully nifty:

So yes, my little box is a throw-back from the large wooden days of furniture 
and banged toes gone by.  
(It also makes a pretty good ottoman!)

 Here's the inside loot. 
Lots of spools of thread

bag of bobbins,  a pin cushion

That odd-shaped blue thing I believe is a more modern version
of a darning egg. (for those of you who don't know what a darning egg is -
before the advent of modern nylons and socks sold inexpensively,
people used to repair holes and runs in their stockings and socks.
A darning egg was a egg shaped item (usually wood) that one
would put in the foot of the sock/stocking to make it easier to fix.)
Nowadays, a decent pair of tights is still worth repairing.

Here are the next items that I found at a tag sale. They are a set of beautiful floral plates. 
I paid $1 a piece for them (there are four). 

 I originally anticipated that I could use them as decoration of sorts when I get around to re-doing my kitchen.  I had initially thought them to be circa 1940's or 50's.  When I got home,  I inspected a little closer and found these marks: 

The red one says "Elite Works - Limoges France" (all block lettering)  with a little picture of what looks like a saint and some fleur-de-lis.  The green wording says "Elite  - L - France" 

I found that these plates are actually pieces of Limoges porcelain.  I'm guessing they are salad plates. While they are not deep enough to be soup bowls, they do have a little bit of depth to them.   
With a little research on the net for the makers marks,  it appears that these were actually circa 1920-1932!    The ones I got are all in beautiful condition,  save one which has a little crack under the glaze on the face. The porcelain is hand painted. The flowers look so dainty!

Got the dating info from this website here:     Limoges Maker's marks 

From checking out similar items on Etsy, Ebay and independent websites,  these plates would sell for about $10 - $15 each.  However, I think that I will stick to my original plan of using them for decoration in the kitchen.  
All in all, not a bad day.

Of course, had to round it off with a trip to our favorite Frozen Yogurt place in Mashpee Commons: Sweet Waves!    Peter is enjoying his strawberry with little gummy bears.

Til next time!
Yvonne  xo xo

Have you ever found a treasure while thrifting?  Would love to hear about it!
Share in the comments below.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cosplay for PAX East - Elizabeth from Bioshock

Hey Everybody,    I hope this finds everyone in good spirits!   We are wrapping up the weekend, one of the few left of summer.  The past couple of nights have been a little chilly - an early harbinger of fall?   It makes me kind of sad that summer is nearing an end.

This post is a bit of a throw back.  My daughter had wanted to cosplay Elizabeth from Bioshock for PAX East this year (this past March) We worked really hard on perfecting her look, but I was dismayed as she didn't get any pictures of herself at the event, and it was so busy getting everyone ready that I forgot to take any when it was completed.     She did say that many people stopped her and took pictures of her in cosplay while she was there which is always a sign that it came out well.

Since then,  we took some photos at home. She took some by herself on time delay with her Ipad, and some my son took with his Blackberry phone. (See below for several of them.)

The way we usually go about creating a cosplay look - first we find some inspirational photos on the web.   The character of Elizabeth has a couple of different costumes - this one that Autumn chose with the long skirt, corset and short jacket, and a simpler one that appears in a different part of the game that looks more like a school uniform. (not pictured here, but it is a simpler skirt, white blouse and ascot type tie/scarf)   

more "inspiration"
Example of an "inspiration photo"
For the next step, I try to find patterns that have similar shapes to the clothing pieces needed.  In this case, I used McCall's M6845 (bolero jacket)  and McCall's M5681  (50's style full skirt) Both the patterns were rated as easy. 
Autumn was pretty specific about the fabric she wanted - a dark blue velveteen/velour type, not heavy weight (it had to 'swirl' easily).   We bought about 5 or 6 yards at Joann's fabric.   ( A couple of side notes here:     I purchased the fabric for this project as well as another couple cosplays I was helping to make for  friends, and used a bunch of coupons.  If you are not signed up for Joann's coupons,  do it before you go shopping!  Also, sign up for email coupons and texts if you can.  I got about $300 worth of fabric and notions for $80 that night.
Another thing to keep in mind, and I think this is true for most sewing projects.   Whatever your regular size is when you buy ready-made clothes - Disregard them!   Take your measurements (usually bust, hip and waist) and go by the chart on the back of the pattern. In my years of making different clothes & costumes,  the size the pattern says you are has never corresponded to the size you normally buy your jeans or tops in. )

 This look was not as hard to achieve as I initially thought it would be.  Autumn bought the wig,  corset & hooped petticoat online.     The corset we added thin strips of dark blue bias tape to the create the stripes and outline.

I modded the jacket from the initial pattern shape which had a really loose sleeve that morphed into the sides/back of the jacket.                     
You can see here,  I measured where the arm would fit, then sewed a seam in and clipped the excess fabric off.        I also added a collar onto the back of the neck area, and edged the whole thing with double fold bias tape. (these steps not shown in pictures)

 The skirt pattern was actually one that was supposed to be a poodle skirt,- a 50's style full skirt with the decorations  (I left the poodle off!)   I made this skirt the shorter length of the two shown on the pattern, as we wanted the petticoat to be able to peek out from underneath it.  Also, I added some extra width to each of the cut pieces (this pattern was basically 4 large triangles with the tops scalloped off. These were sewn together on the sides with a zipper in the back and waistband on top)  By adding a few inches on either side of each of the pieces,  I got a little more flare, and a better fit over the petticoat.

So here is my beautiful Autumn modeling the completed Elizabeth Cosplay:

I think some of these are her recreating poses from the game

good view of the back of the jacket, and the bias tape striping on the corset

Pretty Petticoat

I also made an Victorian inspired bird necklace ('choker style' shown below) as part of the original costume.  You can see it in the inspiration picture on the right above.   The choker it was a bit scratchy on her neck and she ended up finding a little gold cage necklace to go with it instead. (there is a part in the game where you as Elizabeth's character have to choose between a bird or a cage, so her choice of necklace stayed true to the character which is very important to Autumn when doing cosplays)
To make this, I started with about 1/2 yard of 2" wide dark blue ribbon. Then the same amount (1/2 yard), but slightly less wide lace ribbon (go maybe 1 1/2" wide, this is so you can see the blue as a background when the lace ribbon is laid on top of the dark blue).  Both could be found in the ribbon section at Joann's).  The lace ribbon was sewn to the dark blue ribbon.  The bird charm was in the jewelry/craft section also at Joann's fabrics.   I made a cardboard circle, glued some of the excess skirt fabric as backing, and then glued a string of faux seed pearls around it, and affixed the whole thing to the center of the ribbon.  I put a small piece of velcro as the closure (measuring her neck exactly first so that the excess ribbon could be trimmed)

The whole cosplay turned out really nicely.  There are a couple of other Cons coming up she can wear it to as well.

I will post some other pictures of the other cosplays we did for PAX and Anime Boston this year.

Do you enjoy cosplaying?    Do you sew or create your own?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!
xo Yvonne

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Toy - Vintage Kenmore Rotary Sewing Machine!

Hi Friends!

One thing to love about the tag sale season - sometimes when the sales are over, people still have awesome stuff that they want or need to get rid of.

This amazing machine was left on the side of the road with a 'free' sign on it.   I tell you it made my weekend!    This is a Kenmore-Franklin Rotary Electric sewing machine, boys & girls, Model E6354, circa 1948.  (There is a little plate on the inside of the cabinet with 'another' model number printed on it (think more of a newest type designator as Sears made these machines from the late 30's to mid 50's)  that allowed me to find the year, thanks to this Sears Sewing Machine Archive page. )

Check out the 40's Industrialness of it....   It's angular lines and lack of decoration are quite a departure from the previous generations of machines.   As with many war-era items and slightly thereafter, there was a stark practicality to them.   

For comparison, here is my 1930 Singer model 66 "Red Eye" machine.  This one, like many that came before it, was pretty. Even if you didn't sew much, this thing would look lovely sitting in a corner.

In the twenties and early thirties, even the most pedestrian of household objects were ornately detailed.   (note the radiator below from the 20's. Utilitarian?  not in the least)  Going into the late thirties we start to see cleaner lines, less frills, and  more technological influence.
1920's radiator
closer details of my Singer sewing machine
Sewing machine close-up: Even the end plate is fancy!

So the 1948 Kenmore-Franklin Rotary machine seemed to be in excellent condition.  I decided to plug it in and see what happened.   But where was the foot pedal?  It didn't seem to be a hand crank machine, and despite much searching, I couldn't figure it out.  I was beginning to think that maybe it had a separate plug in foot pedal that had gotten lost over the years.   But wait....  There was this fold out lever on the bottom of the machine.  It seemed to have a tensiony spring to it.  So I plugged the machine in, and pushed the lever to the right - Voila!  we have lift-off!   The lever is actually supposed to be operated by your knee, so when you are sitting, you just lean your knee over to the right to make it go.  The needle went up and down pretty smoothly.  After a few minutes, there was a faint electrical smell so I decided to unplug it before the seventy year old wiring went up in flames.    

See that long metal thing in the center of the picture?  That's a lever.

Alas,  I am well aware that most vintage sewing machines aren't very valuable.  I found an interesting article here that talks about that.    I have a very beautiful treadle machine that I bought it at an antique mart about 20 years ago for $40 and today it's probably only worth $42.    However, it is quite a beautiful piece and it makes me happy.  I  currently have it in storage, but I will get it out soon and put some photos up here for everyone to see.    Also, Vintage Machines are a bit of a 'white elephant' item.  Most of the older machines are an actual piece of furniture that you actually have to find a place for in your house, and they are very heavy at that.  Unless they are into sewing, few people want to make room for them. 

Here is a link to  Sears sewing machine history if you should have interest in the lineage of Sears machines.  I currently sew on a Kenmore from the 1970's that was my Mom's.   I have had two new machines over the past several years, but both broke in a matter of a year or two so I keep coming back to my faithful Kenmore.  A few tension problems aside,  it is a wonderful machine.

Here are some other pictures of the 1948 machine's bits and pieces:

I have laid out here a modern size bobbin (3/4" diameter)
 alongside the ones that go with this machine (1" diameter). I do not know if that was the
standard size for all machines back then, or if each manufacturer would have there own sized ones. Luckily this
machine had several extra bobbins!

This is the bobbin winder, found beneath the wheel. On most Modern machines they are on top.

It came with a whole box of attachment goodies and spare bobbins

So, do you have any vintage machines? what kind? Have you ever tried sewing on them?
Comment below! I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,
xo Yvonne