Cleaning Out Your Closet

As mentioned in this month’s From My Sewing Table, August is a time when I take on the dreaded task of organizing my closet.  On the whole, I keep a very clean house, but I have had this belief since I child that if it has a door, what is behind it doesn’t matter.  This goes for my linen closet, pantry, cupboards, and most definitely clothes closets.  It has become a such a problem that I may have been known to open the door really fast, throw the stuff in, and then shut it immediately so nothing falls on me.  I have become better as I have gotten older, however, there comes a time, at least twice a year, that something must be done.  Around April I  I simply organize, but in August, I go through everything!  A daunting, but much needed process.

When I began to take the job more seriously, I remember it was after reading a 1950’s section on the seven steps to a tidy and functioning wardrobe along with tips on shopping.  While I still have a hard time with step one, these guidelines always ensure, if properly followed, that my closet will be organized and my wardrobe will be functioning by the time the weather changes.  I hope it helps you too!

A General Guide to Organizing Your Wardrobe

1.Compress Your Wardrobe

Be relentless.  If it’s out of style – makes you itch or squirm with discomfort – it turns your skin sallow – get rid of it fast!

Unless you have a cedar-lined attic or more closet space than I’ve ever seen in the biggest household, don’t hang onto things that: may someday come back into style – you think might look okay if you change your hairstyle or bought a complete new set of accessories – has sentimental value and the teardrop stain to remind you – or that’s good enough for rain or wearing around the house.

Fashion is for today.  Don’t look back.  Don’t buy something at the end of season to wear the following year.  End-of-season bargains can boomerang.

With the dross and fool’s gold cleared away, the real nuggets shine.  An uncluttered wardrobe gives you a warming knowledge of what you have and full control over selections.  Complete costume planning is possible only with an intimate awareness of all your clothes.


2.  Weeding is a money-saver.

Collect your discards, and if you don’t have favorite people such as a sister, or cousin, or niece who can wear them, do one of two things.  Sell them to a dealer in used clothing, or have them evaluated and donate them to a social organization.  Their value may be deducted as a charity contribution on your tax return.  


3.  Old shoes must go.

Old solids may fade away; old Garbo movies may make you cry – but old shoes are only good for hanging on the back of a bridal car or giving to the children for dress-up play.  Nothing spoils an outfit more than time -worn shoes and shoes which are obviously out of style.  

Old shoes should not be worn as house shoes or bedroom slippers.  They lack both the proper support and good looks.  You will feel better and look better in appropriate footwear.  

As for expense, my feeling about shoes is the same I have about other clothes.  If you feel guilty about spending lots on shoes, spend a little less on each pair but replenish frequently.  Fashion is a living, changing part of your life.


4.  The skeletal jewel box. 

It may be pleasant to dig your hands into an overstuffed jewel box while visions of pirate treasures pass through your mind.  It is an idle fantasy.  Not being able to tell the forest for the trees is the chief woe of the overstuffed jewel cask.  You won’t be able to find what you want.  The chain of one bracelet will be snarled in some earrings.  In your haste or annoyance you may break something valuable or wear the wrong jewelry.  

The reason is simple.  Why panic over making a choice among twelve pairs of gold earrings, some of which are scratch or dulled?  One or two fresh pairs is enough.  


5.  Excess accessories.

Another case of the Confusion of Profusion is too many scarves, belts, gloves, and handbags, and by “too many” I mean relics of former years which keep getting in the way of the accessories currently in use.  Admittedly, most accessories can be worn indefinitely because classic styles change very little.  If an accessory hasn’t been worn for a year, if it’s shabby, if the color is faded or doesn’t go with anything you have, if you simply can’t stand to wear it – that’s right, out it goes.  And you’d be surprised how much fresher and easier to use your remaining accessories will seem with all the deadwood cleared away.


6.  Shop in a shopping mood.

The worst mistake you can make is to force yourself to shop.  The most important part of shopping is your frame of mind.  How can you make a proper choice if you feel like the mistreated heroine of a soap opera?  One thing that makes me really bristle is the subject of dressing to go shopping.  How can you possible see what a dress will do for you if your hair is in pins under a kerchief, your face devoid of makeup, your girdle left home in the drawer?  

And….that explains why so many clothes are such a big disappointment when they are finally worn.


7.  Dress for everything.

From early morning to late at night, dress actively for whatever you are doing.  Don’t wear an aging cocktail dress to the office or a “beat-up” wood for housework.  Their original design was for something quite different and they will be uncomfortable as well as unattractive.  Study your clothing needs as carefully as you furnish your home.  If you live in a cold climate, have a collection of boots in various colors and heel heights so that you can be warm all winter and still not look like a lumberjack.  For working around the office, wear understated, simple clothes in comfortable fabrics and styles that retina their lines after a full day’s activity.


Know who you are, and what you stand for – your enthusiasm, your ambitions, your hopes, your responsibilities.


Good luck and happy organizing!


Source: Wife Dressing – The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife by Anne Fogarty

Cleaning Out Your Closet tutorial

Give Yourself a Manicure: 1940’s Style

I have been an avid home-manicurest for ages!  I love having polish on my nails as I feel more put together and, well, polished.  I like to think that I have a pretty good routine down and have learned all the tricks of the trade.  So while researching for this month’s theme, I came across an article on performing an at-home manicure from a 1940’s magazine.  I was quite surprised to learn, that even though I take great care of my hands, I was neglecting proper care of my nails.  While I have to say this process takes about 45 minutes, the quality of the manicure is greatly improved from my normal routine of 15 minutes and the polish lasts a bit longer.

The article itself featured black and white drawing that were very difficult to see, so I have created a visual of my own adventure but with the actual text from the magazine.  Enjoy!

1. Begin by laying out implements


You will need file, emery, orange stick, cotton, bowl of suds, oil, nail white, cuticle softener, nippers or scissors, buffer, polish and remover, clear sealing coat, towel, and facial tissues.  Don’t work on your lap,  a spill or seeping from remover-soaked cotton may ruin your clothes.  Besides, you cannot brace your hands properly.   (I work on an old book)

2.  First remove old polish.


Moisten a piece of cotton with remover.  Don’t make it soaking wet, just dampen it.  Hold it on the nail a few moments until the polish softens. Then rub from the base of the nail to the top.  Do it neatly, so that you don’t get old polish all over your fingers.  Never scrape off vestiges of old polish with metal file.  Instead, take them off with an orange stitck you have dipped in remover.

3.  Next, shape the nails.


If your nails are strong or need to be shortened, use a metal file.  If they are fragile or need only smoothing, use an emery board.  Hold the file slightly under the nail at an oblique angle.  This is important.  Stroke from the side over the center.  Don’t move the hand you are working on.  Move the file. Round nails to round-based ovals, not to points.

4.  Then, soften the cuticle.


Soak in warm suds.  It is a major mistake, made by most women, to neglect this step – a mistake that results in an unkempt cuticle.  (This step added to the overall smoothness of the polish and longevity too.)

Dry and apply cuticle remover.  Never use a bulky swab for these jobs.  Do this.  Moisten an orange stick and roll it lightly over cotton to pick up this semitransparent film.

5.  And push back the cuticle.


Hold the pusher, or cotton-tipped stick flat on the nail and push towards the base.  Work steadily by lightly.  Hard pressure or digging may unjust both nail and cuticle.

(I forgot to mention that it never hurts to have a skinny Caramel Frappucino while you do your nails. 😉 )

Now, scrub the nail with a brush and soapy water, rinse in clear water and dry.  Rub with the towel to dislodge any clinging particles of dead cuticle left on the nail.

6.  Now shape the cuticle.


Manicurist advise as little cutting as possible; but if the cuticle is heavy or uneven, trim it with manicure scissors or nippers.  Never cut deeply.  Nails need this delicate frame.

7.  Always buff the nails.


This is a step most women neglect, and it is a most helpful one.  It planes the nails slightly, so that they do not split so readily, and it leaves a dry smooth surface for polish.  Buff lengthwise from base to tip ins tread of crosswise as most people do.  This polishes and smooths the entire nail, not just the center.

8.  Finally apply polish.


Brace the working hand, lay the other flat, and use a medium-full brush.  Too much polish will run to the sides; to little will streak.  Learn to make three deft strokes: One, around the moon and up one side.  Two, over the center. Three, cover the other side.  With the cushion of the thumb, take off a thin line of polish at the edge of nail.

IMPORTANT:  There are apparently ways that one should paint their nails based on nail bed shape.  Look at the accompanying diagram to find your particular one and make sure to polish accordingly!  I apparently have spatulate shaped nails.

1940's manicure guide


Take some personal time to give yourself a truly luxurious and vintage manicure.  I guarantee you will feel 100 times better for it!



Source:  Good Housekeeping: Volume 115, Number 2, August 1942

On My Inspiration Board: Gingham Gowns

I absolutely adore gingham fabric.  This brightly checked cotton was always a favorite of mine during the early days of learning how to sew.   I used it to make aprons, doll clothes, and napkins.  It always spoke of cleanliness, energy, and fun!

One of the questions from the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award post  a few weeks ago, dealt with my favorite movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  One reason I love this movie so much is for the bright costumes the “brides” wore, many of their gowns being gingham.



Gingham, as a fabric for daily wear, went through waves of popularity.  Early 19th century gowns were more likely to feature a small check versus the wider pattern we are used to seeing today.  It wasn’t until the 1910’s that gingham began to appear in the average woman’s wardrobe on a consistent basis, with the height of popularity peaking in the 1950’s.

Gingham is still very popular today, although known as more of a spring/summer fabric.  I myself have a few tops in this brightly checked fabric and thoroughly enjoy wearing them in the warmer weather.


So go ahead and add gingham to your sewing stash  and your wardrobe!  You won’t be disappointed.


August Inspiration Gingham

For more examples, feel free to visit my Pinterest Board.

Introduction to Darts: Part One

Darts have to be my most favorite sewing technique hands down.  It has saved many a bodice from being a disaster with it’s ability to curve and alter the design.  Darts can be used to take in extra fullness at the waist, the shoulder, the elbow, and even over the hips.

Here are some examples:

Dart Examples

This week, I have provided a visual tutorial for the basic dart.  This is great for the tops of skirts, or bodices.

With a little practice, you will soon be darting everything in sight!

Basic Dart Tutorial

Next time, I will show you how to create body darts as well as the dart tuck or inverted dart.

Have a wonderful weekend!


One Yard: Two Different Ways

Alright, this has to be my most favorite one yard creation to date!  I saw examples of these two blouses in a cutout from a 1950’s Australian magazine and immediately ran to my sewing room to get started!  These are extremely easy to make and are great layering pieces.  Just imagine the bow at the neck blouse under a blazer….gorgeous!

All you will need for each blouse is a 36″ x 36″ square of cotton.  Cut each square and subsequent ties based on the following patterns.

1950’s Blouse with Bow at Neck           1950’s Blouse with Bow at Waist

***Adjust the size of square to accommodate various sizes.

Bow at Neck Blouse Instructions:

1. Hem all sides of triangle, except at the 8″ neckline.



2.  Stitch the two ties together creating a straight line.  Cut off excess fabric.



3.  Pin the the neckline, right sides together, making sure to match the center of the neckline with the center of the tie.



4.  Hem all raw edges of the the tie.



5.  Fold the tie over the neckline, and then whipstitch in place.



6.  T0 properly place the snaps for the blouse, wrap the blouse around the body or dress form.  Pin the desired location for the snaps and then hand stitch into place.





(See bottom of post for more pictures of this blouse)

Bow at Waist Blouse Instructions:

Read More

Beauty vs. Personality: An Easy Decision

I know, I know.  You have heard it so many times before.  “It’s isn’t what’s on the outside but the inside the matters.”  Or, “pretty is as pretty does.”  Or” looks fade, but a sweet spirit endures.”  Well, my friends, stop hearing and go ahead and start believing!

But don’t take just my word for it.  A 1920’s beauty expert explains it better:

“If being attractive were merely a matter of good looks, one might with justice feel that the cards had been stacked and a few fortunate personas had drawn all the trump.  But, the appeal of beauty is transient.  Having no roots, it quickly dies, and one turns for refreshment either to a new type or back to a personality that interests or stimulates or that has in some was grown grateful.

There are two or three women who always have, or always will, stand out in my mind as being singularly attractive.  I recall one, in particular.  I remember most distinctly the lovely line of her head in profile as it was revelared by the simple arrangement of her hair.  Nor shall I forget the whole graceful picture she made in her invariable costume of dark blue, so plainly made that it stood out among the costumes of the day.  She understood the art of making herself beautiful in a distinctly individual manner.  But suppose she had been only a beautiful picture.  You can imagine the disappointment one would have felt if, behind an exterior of so much promise, there had been only an empty head and heart.

We talk a lot about the subtle and indefinable charm of personality.  Everyone admits that it is more powerful than beauty or than intelligence.  You often see a woman of fascinating personality who is not beautiful, but did you ever see such a woman who was not at all intelligent?  I am positive that you never did, for personality is primarily a quality of the mind.  It is the result of a warm, alive, dynamic intelligence – a combination of heart and brain, of feeling and thinking.

Let no woman feel that because the gods have seen unfit to endow her with beauty, she must take her place among the unattractive.  She may have had a better opportunity than her fairer sisters to cultivate the rarer graces of mind and heart.  And no woman who is alert, intelligence, and always warmly and sincerely responsive can long be unattractive.”

I hope you join all our fellow sisters by laughing harder, helping more, and valuing each other.

What a great group we shall all be!


Cover Photo by:  Arvid Frederick Nyholm – “Woman Seated at Her Vanity”

Source: Inspiration, 1925

Beauty vs. Personality Cover

From My Sewing Table: August

Everything slows down in the warm weather.  Bees buzz slowly from one bloom to the next, dogs pant sleepily in the shade, and parents sit in folding chairs watching their children (the only ones not moving slow) dart like water spiders in and out of the sprinklers.  All can feel, especially in the north, the countdown begin for Autumn.  You, of course, don’t dare speak it out loud for fear of neighborly reproach, but all are quite aware of the summer’s fleeting nature.  In sheer defiance of the impending Fall, the mind dives head first into all the “slowness” of summer with an extra barbecue or two, late night camp fires, and numerous trips to the ice cream stand as if feared the delicious treat may not show up again until next May.

For me, August is a time to catch up on those once-a-year activities, like the inevitable closet exchange of warm for cool clothes.  I attempt to catch up on that stack of books I promised myself I would read, especially as these bright summer evenings encourage such long hours or reading.  I also take this time to explore all the new trends from beauty, to cooking, to fashion, and even sports.  Yes, August means we are that much closer to football!

My creative focus for the past several weeks has been all light fabrics and classic details.  I am especially excited about a 1940’s hat I saw in a movie and just can’t wait to recreate.  Fingers crossed it will turn out!

I also am starting a new feature to my blog which will appear twice a month, entitled “Sewing Tip Saturday.”  Sewing, in case you haven’t realized ;-), is a huge part of my blog! I love sharing the patterns I have created, along with tutorials so one can recreate their own version.  However, I have been asked by several people for clarification of what certain terms mean, or how to create a certain type of stitch or process.  Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to create quick, picture-based posts on basic sewing terms, as well as some unique and unusual sewing techniques.   I hope these will be helpful to those who are new to sewing, or  those have been sewing for a while but would like to learn something new.  Look for the first post this upcoming Saturday!

Embrace the last month of pure warmth my friends, and go ahead and stay out by that campfire just a little longer….it is totally worth it!


A few posts to watch for this month:

  • One Yard- Two Ways:  Learn how to create two different 1950’s summer blouses from one yard of fabric.
  • Give Yourself a Manicure – The 1940’s Way
  • Meet Isabelle and Grey Dove from the blog From Goats to Soaps, as we learn more about their wonderful, handmade beauty products.  If you just can’t wait, go ahead and check them out now!  Make sure to use code aimee2015 to receive 10% full-priced items. 🙂

August Sewing Table Inspiration

Cover Photo: The Red Hammock by Sir John Lavery, 1936