Sunday, 22 November 2009

Betsy McCall and Sewing Tips

Checking out Pantry Violets (which I do on a regular basis) I saw Jone's uploads of SEW magazine and for some reason it reminded me of "McCalls". My mother had a subscription to this imported glossy magazine - we had lived in Washington for several years in the early fifties and she must have developed a taste for it because it would have been a huge extravagance for anyone in 1950s Britain. Anyway, I just LOVED the Betsy McCall's paper dolls that were always situated at the back of mag, and usually managed to get to her before any of my older sisters (or did my mother save her for me?); in my imagination it typified the glamour and primary colours of American Life ... and it also kick-started my love of fabrics. I started by designing my own paper clothes for Betsy, then moved on to cutting paper patterns for myself. Fortunately my mother was a magpie with materials and happy for my sisters and myself to experiment with anything she had.

Talking of sisters, Susu recently gave me this delightful little Encyclopedia of Needlework, which she found in a book sale in the UK and is actually a translation from the French. There is no publication date anywhere in the book, but judging from the photographs on the cover of the ladies sewing, it must have been sometime in the fifties and is absolutely chockablock full of useful knitting and sewing techniques. Eat your heart out Martha Stewart!


  1. mmmmmm love betsy! Hey how about doing a workshop on paper dolls and paper dressing up? Can you imagine the fun the pantry violets would have swapping trimmings and paper outfits!!?? it would be bliss!
    How is your sewing going?

  2. LOVED Betsy McCall! I saved 'em ALL. I then made paper dolls that I kept well into my teens! I would dress them in clothes that I had designed (often in clothes to match my own) and keep them in my purse - with me all the time.
    Thanks sooo much for sharing those, Katie! A reminder of simpler times! ...and great fun!