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!

the Fabulous Giveaway’s Exquisite Stitchery

Embroidery is the easiest of embellishments because it is the most forgiving of the needle arts. Unlike knitting and crocheting and machine sewing, embroidery can be delved into with little to no instruction and supply-wise, we’re talking a needle and colored floss.

My embroidery skills are alongside my sewing skills – slow and steady, but refinement of my stitches is still something I aspire to. The embroidery on the prize packaging is of an altogether different ilk, so exquisitely executed by Amanda Thomopson, I had to show it off.

A self-taught seamstress and stitchery artisan, Amanda produced the six prize packages, each adorned with an adorable Aunt Martha transfer.

But you must enter in order to be eligible to win one of the Fabulous not-a-contest Giveaways! So, get goin’!

Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Vintage Transfer a Priceless Gift

I love antique malls, especially when I’m on my own and can roam and root about at a dawdle. In the Denver neighborhood where my sons live, there’s the most divine mall. Cavernous and dimly lit, the old wooden plank flooring creaks as you mosey in and out of one vendor’s display after another. Heaven. Two years ago, I was in one such booth, where I noticed a cardboard box tucked into a corner, almost invisible beneath a pile of stuff. What possessed me, I’ll never know, but I set down my purse, cleared the box of its burden, and began removing the contents. And there, at the very bottom (music swells here), was this…

…an original Butterick transfer pattern from 1945. I about wept with excitement and joy, because I knew what I had unearthed from the box was very, very special. Raggedy and lacking a price tag, the staffer on duty asked what I thought the pattern was worth, and I, who loathe bargaining, shrugged and said two dollars. From the look that crossed his face, I realized two cents was the response he’d expected. Ha! on him…for this pattern turns out to be history and priceless.  Not even the McCall pattern company, which purchased Butterick, has a copy! 

Through the largess of Butterick/McCall, “…permission to publish is granted for the use of archival imagery (Butterick transfer pattern 191, Feb. 1945) to EllynAnne Geisel.” And so it is that my wonderful publisher, has packaged this transfer within The Kitchen Linens Book as a gift to you. 

Sixty-three years since the original printing, The Kitchen Linens Book’s reproduction transfer has also been printed in the U.S.A.  
Looking at the torn envelope-almost too fragile to handle at this point-it’s a miracle the transfer sheets aren’t damaged in the slightest. But a greater marvel is the adorable designs were never used, and so could be reprinted in their entirety. Lucky for us. Enjoy! Have fun! Stitch away! 
Tie One On…an apron, of course!