Friday, July 29, 2011

So let me tell you about my week.

So if you follow the facebook or twitter feeds you'll probably have some idea of what's been going out at Haus of Bomber Girl this week, but I promised to give a little more detail in a post so here it is.

Rewind, Saturday. We help future inlaws clean out attic of the house they are putting up for sale. Doesn't sound too bad except for the fact that we are in Georgia in the middle of a heat wave and the attic has no air conditioning. So we spent all day working in a 115 degree (no joke) attic. All we were really doing was getting out Mr. Fiance's things from when he was a child so that they could be sorted or tossed. Mr. Fiance worked on attic removal and I was on bring-things-downstairs duty.

It worked out pretty well for us except for the fact that we were both a little ill at the end of the day. He from mild dehydration--we kept a supply of water up there for him, but he just couldn't drink it faster than he was sweating in that heat --and I from constant temperature changes as I went up and down the stairs all day.

Mr. Fiance's father, or as I will now call him Mr. Fiance Sr. was a riot and kept our spirits up. I've gotten so lucky as far as inlaws go. I get along so well with my soon to be dad-in-law and my soon to be mum-in-law is my shopping buddy already. In any case Mr. Fiance Sr. was more than happy to explain every strange object we came across from Mr. Fiance's childhood included a strange game involving winding a plastic dog's tail and plastic ticks. I didn't get it either.

At some point during the day we discovered some old book cases that Mr. Fiance senior said we could have if we wanted them. We wanted them. Only problem? The movers could only transport them on Tuesday and the only room they would fit in happened to be the unpainted guest room. These things are heavy has heck and they screw into the wall so once they were in they would be in forever. That gave me Monday to paint since Sunday was already dedicated to more sorting.

Let me tell you how much I like to paint rooms in one word - meh. I don't dislike it, but it's a lot of work and I am not a fan of paint fumes. We tried using low VOC paint in a few of the rooms in our house, but the coverage was pretty poor and it tended to dry too quickly. On top of that there is a very limited color selection. So we decided to go back to regular old house paint for the time being. If we decide to have kids sometime soon of course we'll use the VOC free stuff again, but seeing as we're not planning on that for years I should have the whole house painted in time.

Anywho I'm not a huge fan of painting. Paint fumes aside I think mostly because I did it so often when I was working in exhibitions at a photography museum. When you have to repaint a giant gallery space every two months or so the charm really wears off. That leads to a lot of procrastination on my part. I have meant to paint the guest room ever since I moved into the house, but never really had a reason to. Well now I certainly had one. So let me tell you how Monday went.

8:30am: Drive to hardware store. Buy Paint.

Luckily I had the color picked out already so I didn't have to worry about that. I went with a lovely color called "Nutmeg" which was not the color of nutmeg, but it was still a lovely shade of chocolate brown.

9:30am: Drive home to this room which is currently full of wedding decor and junk.

I was a little embarrassed to show these pictures, but I wanted you to know what I was up against. Our house has been in a constant state of construction lately and things seem to get moved from room to room if they don't have homes yet. As evidence I moved pretty much everything that was here sans towels and put them in the dining room.

10:30am: Finish cleaning room and vacuum floors.

This blanket is my pride and joy. Seriously, I would go back into a burning building for this thing. I knit it my senior year of college while completing my thesis. I literally finished sewing in the ends of this blanket the day of my graduation. It took me six months to make this thing and it is my favorite knit blanket by far.

10:45am: Move my nemesis.

I hate this TV. It serves no purpose other than taking up space. It can't play DVDs without routing it through a VCR because it only has a cable jack connector on the back. It's not super heavy, but it's big and bulky and a pain in the butt to lift. The terrible thing is that this is the nicest TV we have in the house, but I still hate you 1990s TV.

11:45am: Try to move bed, find it too heavy. Remove mattress. Move furniture.

This is the infamous "Tornado Hiding Under" mattress. It is really bendy and not fun to move by oneself when one is a 100lb 5' tall girl. To me it weighs a ton, but at least it's only a full so it was manageable.

If you don't have these things you need to get them. Fantastic invention. I didn't have to disassemble the bed frame or anything. Sweet.

Moved IKEA dresser and weird side table that totally doesn't match the decor, but whatever. We're a young couple. We're excused.

12:00pm: Move all tarps from upstairs office that we just finished painting last week to downstairs. Jury rig them to fit over the bed so I don't have to remove it from the room. Selectively add painters tape.

3:00pm: Take small drink break for a diet coke. Let paint dry 10 minutes.

4:30pm: Finish the cutting in.

The room has a window and three door frames to paint around.. It took me a long freaking time to finish.

5:30pm: Finish applying first coat of paint.

Looks pretty good, but definitely showed the problems with the builder's painting job. There were three different types of paint on one wall. One type took way longer for the brown to dry over. Then there were the dried paint drips and blobs, the poor execution of said paint job, and the fact that the ceiling is higher in some parts of the room than others. Thanks for a quality job builder guys.

Afterwards I finally took a lunch break and ate for the first time that day. I don't remember what I had, but I'm sure it was good. I think it might have been an entire tub of coconut milk yogurt mixed with frozen cherries and flaxmeal.

7:30pm: FINALLY finish the stupid painting. Take shower. Not totally sure how I managed to get paint all up the back of one of my arms, but at least the latex paint comes off pretty easily in the shower.

Next day: Get book cases at 8am in the morning. They look sweet.

Pat self on back, vow to do no work for the next three days.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Brief History of Men's Shirts from 1900-1949

Something I've always been interested in as you know is the evolution of clothing. I'm always curious to know things like how this:
approximately 1840
Turned into this in a period of 20 years:

Now granted men's fashion has changed a bit more slowly than women's fashion in the past few centuries, but we can all agree that it has still evolved fairly quickly.

(Nancy note: This girl lived the next town over from me and went to my rival high school at the same time as me. She was even on our rival cheerleading squad. Please don't think any less of me...I promise no one else from that area talks like her.)
But all joking aside I could write a book on how men's fashion has changed in this century alone, but what I'd like to do today is talk about how a man's everyday shirt has changed since the beginning of the last century.

Ca. 1900s (1907ish)
Here's an example of a pretty typical late 1900s shirt. There is a high detachable wing collar (rounded) and two cuff options. The sleeve plackets are pointed and the yolk is straight. This is what is called a "coat shirt" because if the fact that it opens all the way down to the bottom and can be slipped on like a coat.

The type of work shirt you wore, like today, depended on what you did for a living. Business men typically wore suits and white shirts of finer material while day laborers wore more colored shirts of much sturdier fabric (color hides stains and dirt). A man had many shirt patterns and colors available. Polka dots, double stripes and single stripes were popular as well as the traditional white.

Both acceptable shirting fabrics. 

Collars came in detachable variations like the shirt pictured above and rarely softer attached collars. In the early 1900s collars were much more popular as they increased the longevity of the shirt. Shirts were still yet to be mass produced and a gentleman typically had less than a weeks worth of shirts in his possession at any given time. You will also note above that the collar is quite high. This is left over from the late Victorian era, but as we approached the end of the decade shirt collars start to shrink in height.


 late teens (source)
So this is a Negligee shirt or what I would call a semidress or casual shirt. It is not a night shirt. That's something completely different. (Nancy note: the term negligee doesn't become associated with bedroom attire until 1930s.) This shirt also has a detachable collar option and what's called a front-plait opening down the front. The placket ends a little more than midway down the shirt and the shirt is meant to be slipped over the head, though the pattern does give you the option to make it a coat shirt. The neckline is still quite high, but lower than the previous shirt. The rounded collar was still the more popular style at this time, but it would be going out of fashion shortly.

There are two versions of the shirt pictured above. The far left is the negligee version, the center collarless version is what's called an outing shirt. This shirt could also be considered a work shirt if it was made with a sturdier fabric. The type of shirt at this time was determined mostly by the fabric used. Lighter fabrics for casual wear, slightly heavier fabrics for casual wear, and sturdier still for work shirts. The pointed yolk was typically found on casual shirts like these, but on occasion it would pop up in more formal wear.

From a Guild to Making Shirts reprinted 1928 

Many colors were still popular at this time. Stripes, half stripes, and even on occasion checked fabrics were worn.

Early 1920s
This shirt features a slightly more modern look. You still have the option for a detachable collar, but the main image of this pattern shows a pointed attached collar. Even the detachable collar is slightly pointed. The shirt again gives you the option of coat shirt style opening or front-plait style opening. There are two cuff options including a detachable reversible soft cuff.

During the 1920s the silhouette of the shirt begins to change due in part to improved manufacturing techniques. Shirts become more fitted, with straight fitted sleeves. French cuffs are the norm. Pointed soft attached collars become more and more widespread thanks to the invention of the home washing machine. Rounded detachable collars are still popular among the older population, but for the trendy folks pointed collars become the normal shirt for business wear. They were secured with collar studs or pins and a tie. Detachable collars are still popular among day laborers for their ease of care and increased shirt life.


Now we're cooking with gas, as they say. This is really starting to look like today's men's shirt. This pattern only gives the option of the coat shirt opening. Plait-front shirts are pretty much obsolete. The placket still ends quite high on the shirt, but this is in accordance with the pants style of the 30s in which a high waist was preferred.

French cuffs, pointed sleeve plackets, and a longer shirt collar point are all features of this particular shirt. Also popular at this time. Collar stays!

Which were really more like tie clips, but still amazingly effective. Clip stay to tie and each side of collar and voila! Collar stays put all day long. Genus says I.


The 1940s bring with it an explosion of different styles of shirts. Shirts become more and more casual. Short sleeve shirts are very stylist for casual wear, sport wear and even work wear.

Fabric choices explode. Flannel, cottons, rayon, prints, prints, prints, and more prints all become popular for work and casual wear.

Western shirts become popular in the late 30s and into the early 40s. This is caused the increased popularity of western movies and stars like John Mack Brown, Red Berry, Harry Carry, Jr. and more. I have a secret love for these, but Mr. Fiance has promised me he will never wear one. Bummer. 

The button down business shirts stay about the same. Detachable collars disappear and the softer pointed collar firmly cements its place in men's fashion. Shirt tails become shorter and plackets extend as the waist on men's pants lowers.

And that, my lovely friends, is that. If you found this helpful drop a comment in the comment section below. Next post: 1950s-1960s.

If anyone was confused by some of the terms I used in the post here's a helpful diagram.


Additional References and Some Good Supplemental Reading Recommendations:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I got a present!

I am always always amazed by the kindness and the generosity of others. Especially when I head to the post office and find this in my box:

It was a huuuuuuuuge box of patterns from Ms. Contessa Timmerman. The box was just packed full of patterns from the 1940s all the way up to some that are less than 10 years old.

By the way Ms. Contessa I just love your handwriting:

I took them out of the box and laid them in my front entry way so I could examine them all. First of all, Contessa, you have excellent taste. And second, would any of you believe me if I said this wasn't even half of what she sent me? I was completely blown away.

This was my personal favorite pattern as bridal gowns are a subject that's currently very near and dear to my heart.

I also loved this really sweet Butterick dress which I had never seen before and this Advance gardening apron which I may or may not have already busted into and cut out the fabric pieces for....

She also sent lots of patterns from the 1960s including this sweet little sundress. Or at least what will be a sundress when I get through with it. Probably in sunny yellow floral print.

Here are a few more of the other great 50s and 60s patterns she included. I also love the 1970s shorts pattern that you can see peeking out on the far right side below.

Lots of full outfit patterns and this great pattern which included interchangeable collars.

and I now have another caftan pattern. Which is awesome.

So thank you so much, Ms. Contessa. I'm overwhelmed by your kindness and I am definitely going to be busy for the next six months making all these lovely garments. All I can say is thank you thank you thank you and I promise to take good care of these lovely patterns.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July Post

Hey, Readers! Hope you're all feeling well this morning. I am feeling pretty good myself (at least compared to yesterday.) I had some dry cereal this morning for breakfast and when that felt alright I ate 6 raspberries and a small handful of buckwheat groats. If all that stays down I may try some coconut yogurt for lunch.

Since I am feeling way better than yesterday I figured I'd go ahead and finish up my 4th of July post that was so rudely interrupted by dizzy spells and vomit. So there.

So for this belated 4th of July I have scanned some of my favorite things from the Bicentennial edition of Workbasket magazine.

I always love looking through these old magazines. This particular one has some great little patterns, tips and advertisements. Of course it is the 70s so there is a great amount of kitsch and scratchy acrylic yarn to stuff your kids/spouse into.

Workbasket actually had a rather large selection of mail order patterns. I'm sure most of you would recognize the pattern line if you saw a photo of one of their patterns. Here's what they recommended for the summer of '76. I'm digging on the Chinese top in the top left corner and the summer shirt dress in the lower right.

Need some help removing those tough stains from clothes?

Most of the knitting and crochet patterns were a little too much for me, but I thought this one could be turned into something rather charming and office worthy if you used the right color yarn. I've got some Malabrigo Chunky yarn in celeryish green hanging around my stash that might work well for this:

My favorite section of this whole magazine was definitely the part titled "Women Who Make Cents." It's a section entirely devoted to recommendations from women on how to make horribly kitschy crafts that you could potentially sell for money. Here are a few of my favorites.