a Domestic Archive

When I first set about writing The Kitchen Linens Book, I called friends who were into antiques, hoping at least a few were also enamored of vintage household cloth.  My dear friend, Jan Means, was a Bingo!  Within a week or so, a box arrived with a selection of exquisite family heirlooms, and this set of DOW (days of the week) towels

To see this set in person is to experience the true definition of adorable. I immediately wished I’d discovered “Cherubs” first, so I might own the set; instead, I immediately broke a commandment and coveted my friend/neighbor’s possession. I kept the set so long, Jan was forced to delicately question if I was ever returning them, which I did with much reluctance. 

Seven or so months later, I contacted Colonial Patterns/Aunt Martha’s about my use of the company’s vintage reproduction dishtoweling as the basis for my apron-ology magazine apron design. Kindness itself, vp Chris Price not only provided the toweling but also a bundle of Aunt Martha’s transfers, among which was this one!

Correctly titled Busy Babies (not Cherubs as I’m still inclined to do), the popular design has been around a very long time, and as with all the Aunt Martha packaging graphics, the original art work for BB resides in a vault at company headquarters.  Oh, to see this cache of original packets in person!  
Before computers and graphic design programs like photoshop, art was drawn and colored by hand. And therein lies the true value of the old pattern envelopes, early primers like the Dick and Jane series, calendars and transfer packets.  Simplistic in presentation and without the manipulation of today’s graphics, the drawings are a part of our colorful domestic history.  
Tie One On…an apron, of course!


  1. I always see this pattern described as Kewpies, which, is why I bought it. I’m sure I have a set but now I can’t remember if they were copies from eBay (I hope not. I used to buy them when I was young and stupid, and knew nothing about patterns still under copyright) or an Aunt Martha original. I’ll have to check my stash and see.

  2. Funny, I too remember these, or a very simalar ‘baby’ being called a Kewpie doll….
    I love these cuties….
    Hmmm, I have a million UFO’s but your Blog postings are inspiring me to start stitching again.
    I think I will start with one of the little patterens that is in the back of your Vintage Linen Book….

  3. I love these sweet babies, too! So much so, I bought a couple of tacky kewpie pins, very badly painted on Etsy! I love them! If you’re interested you can check them out in my Flickr photostream, in the Etsy set, I think!

  4. Well HELLO! It’s so nice to “meet” you! Thank you so much for commenting on my blog. I LOVE YOUR BOOKS! They are just the funnest thing. I came home with them, made myself a cup of tea (actually a pot) and read them both cover to cover. I felt like I was back in my Grandma’s house. Ironing linens. Learning how to embroider on flour sack dish towels. I even commented to my husband “See! You just have to use two types of towels in the kitchen, one for dishes and one for hands.” I cringe when I see people drying dishes with hand towels!
    So I’ve spread the word! I so enjoyed your books.
    Thank you! God bless! Karen

Leave a Reply