The weather is turning, and soon (one hopes!) it will be time to turn over my closet.
I’m thinking of lighter fabrics, things that flow and swing. And so, I made a Pinterest board to organize the kinds of vintage styles I want to wear. Take a look at the shapes, colors, and types of vintage garments that are inspiring me this spring:
I’ve got a new sewing pattern, along with a couple of sweet thrift store dresses that center on that distinctly 1930s bias-cut shape. I’m really feeling those slim 1930s lines lately.
It will surprise exactly no one that a good deal of my board is full of old-timey lingerie. I’ve been meaning to make a ton of tap pants for awhile. The advantages of these sweet little undershorts are spelled out very well over at Flashback Summer, but I will chime in to sing their warm-weather praises: Less chafing! Easier for biking while wearing a skirt!
1930s and 1940s Wide-Leg Trousers
I love the Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers–I’ve made them several times. For spring and summer, I have a black twill and a khaki cotton pair. Perfect for feeling like Kate Hepburn, and for a casual look that is still a little elegant.
Shirt dresses are so easy, and adorable. I plan to get a lot of use out of mine this season.
Does a seasonal change make you want to change your wardrobe? How are you feeling this spring?
After a mild winter, I’m surprised that I’m still feeling that spring stirring, but feel it I do. Snowdrops and crocuses are dotting the block, the seed catalogs are looking alluring, and it’s possible (not likely, but possible) we got the last of the snow last week. (I didn’t say that.)
With more light and a general sense of possibility, I’m feeling optimistic for my immediate domestic sphere. Like many people, “optimistic” has not been able to describe my general mood since November, at least when looking at the general state of affairs in the world. But in my smaller world, it’s spring and it’s time to clear the dust out the corners. Because if I’m going to be horrified on the regular, the smallest comforts seem necessary.
I took a poll on Facebook last spring about skills that have been traditionally been assigned as “feminine” and found that lots of us, all across the gender spectrum, feel like we missed out on some of them.
Thus, a new series here on Retrofitting Vintage: Femme Skills! A collection of tutorials on various “woman” skills that can be useful for anyone who wants to learn them.
Gender expression is sensitive territory for a lot of folks, and femininity is a strange space. It is not my intention to be proscriptive, or tell anyone how to express their gender. There are many ways to be a feminine person, and this series just breaks down skills for some of the tasks that are traditionally given to women.
Note: This is not the kind of femininity I’m talking about:
What I’m most interested in is celebrating the feminine. Too often the traits and activities which are most valued and considered the most important and “real” are those that have been ascribed masculine realm. In this great piece on “empowering femininity,” Julia Serano writes:
“Of course the reason why it is particularly easy to ridicule the idea of empowering femininity is because we (all of us, as a society) already harbor dismissive attitudes toward anything considered feminine. And the very point I was trying to make is that we should move beyond this knee-jerk tendency to dismiss and demean feminine gender expression.”
I am much more interested in the how-tos of feminine activity than I am in any “here is how to be a woman” kind of post. Be a person however you want to be, whatever your gender and how you choose to express it. If you’re interested in traditionally feminine activities, this series may be interesting to you.
I’ll be here with some how-tos and zero judgement. Upcoming posts include: How To Wear A Dress, How To Be Welcoming, and How To Talk To A Child.
What kind of feminine skills remain a mystery to you?
There are many reasons for that, none of which I’ll get into at the moment. My readership is full of lovely people of various theological persuasions, and as an essentially private person, I don’t feel a need to explicate my deepest convictions in a post that is really about my stockings.
However, there are a lot of elements of religion that are pleasing, whether they’re attached to any greater meaning or not. Community, singing together, learning something deeper about one’s values, these are nice. So occasionally I’ll make the Sunday morning meeting of the Ethical Humanist Society, or as we call it at our house, “Atheist Church.”
Please note: “Atheist Church” is a pretty inaccurate description of the Ethical Humanist Society. For one, it’s not strictly atheistic–members have a variety of opinions on the God question. You can learn more about what the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago is about here.
My home state of Michigan produces 70-75% of the tart cherries grown in the US. Tart or sour cherries are the kind used in cherry pie, and they’re just about my favorite thing. The season is short, the flavor is fantastic, and getting them fresh can be a challenge. So when Bob and I went on a family camping trip just a little ways away from one of my favorite Michigan orchards, Spicer Orchards in Hartland, we resolved to pick cherries on our way home to Chicago.
And pick cherries we did. In a marvelous bit of luck, the day was cooler than usual, with lots of nice cloud cover, so the day was comfortable and the orchard wasn’t too crowded. We picked about 13 pounds of tart cherries, and threw in six pounds of blueberries for good measure.
Arguably, after the obvious benefit of having cherries, the best thing about picking your own is watching the cherry pitting machine. It costs a little extra, but the mechanical wonder took care of my cherries in about a minute. Since I hand pit cherries with a bent paperclip, which would have taken at least an hour, I would have paid more than the twenty-five cents per pound the orchard charged. AND YOU GET TO WATCH THE MACHINE, I cannot overemphasize that. I didn’t take any video at Spicers, but this machine is quite similar.
What will be done with this bounty of fruit? So far, I’ve canned six pints of cherries in syrup, made a little more than a pint of sour cherry syrup for drinks, and made a batch of cherry and a batch of blueberry scones. The rest of the fruit is going in the freezer, where some of it will await a cool day to make jam, and the rest will be used in various baked goods.