Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Old letters: Sgt. Freddie Cagle to his wife, Mattie, 1949

In this post, Sgt. Fred Cagle writes from Fort Bragg, NC to his beloved wife, Mattie, in Rosebud, TX.

[FROM: Sgt. Fred Cagle 384187214, "C" Company, 758th Hvy. Tk. Bn., Fort Bragg, North Carolina, TO: Mrs. Mattie Cagle, Box 353, Rosebud, Texas / April 25, 1949]

Sgt. Fred Cagle
Co C 758 Tk Bn.
Fort Bragg NC.

My Dear Wife:

This is my second letter to day and my second day has now gone by since I heard from you. Well I don't know what's happening but to me you are messing up. When you left me you said you would write me every day, and that is what I expected but you have failed. Well you have fail in things before and that just bring back memberese. 

Some how I don't think you will ever understand me, but if I were you I would try. In the past I have done a lot of thing out of the way just to try to keep that impression on your mine. But when it look like you are failing I began to think it was all in vain. Now if I were you I wake up and stay awake. Now I don't want to have to warned you anymore, and do believed me that I will check and check good when I come. So be careful. 


Nice as I have been to you means one misstake can mean all of me far as you concern.

Now before you decide to do what you are big enough to you better think about how many chances you have to get by with it.

Sweet letters are alright but some of them will lead a weak man wrong. But I am wrong. 

Now I will close hoping you and family are well. I don't expected to do this again (that is warned you). Well the boys just called me and told me that I had a letter so you can just forget about what I have said in this letter. (smile) I also read it you were telling me about the radio well if you get any thing let me know for I want to get a combination from the PX for $97.00. I finally got off for the week end. 

I am writing by a home made light some time I see and some time I don't (smile)

The shoes that I picked out for the kids will cost me $27.25. For I will get enough for them to change every once in a while. I don't want them going barefooted for it don't look good for little girls going that way. It makes them have big feet. (smile)

I am getting three pair for Jean and three for Jane and four for Betty. You can look for them right after pay day. I ain't going to take any weak chances this pay day but I will try to when me a thosand dollars with my cards. (smile) That sound like a lot of money but I will go over and play with the white boys. If I win pretty good I will get and send you that combination. (smile) So keep your finger cross. Well baby I still love you, and I know you still love me don't you. (smile)

Now I'll say again for you to keep sweet and remember the first day that I come. (smile)

Love Freddie



Can you BELIEVE what he wrote??


Obviously we have no idea what was going on between him and his wife but HOLY CRAP, he is MEAN!!

Also, why would he have sent that letter when, halfway through it, he got Mattie's letters and was like, "nevermind what I said earlier, hahaha." Why not just throw away that first letter and write a new one, starting with, "I got your letters, yay!"

I tried to find some information on Freddie and Mattie Cagle. Ancestry.com has a record for a Freddie Mozelle Cagle born 26 Sept 1923 to William Asberry Cagle and Nettie Mae Hendricks. That would put him at about the right age for being in the military and writing this letter in 1949.

I couldn't find anything on a Mattie Cagle, or their kids. So maybe this isn't the right Freddie Cagle, because it doesn't even show that he had a spouse or children. :-(

All it said about Freddie Cagle is that he died in Texas, but nothing for when and where. 

I clicked on his father's name and if I have the right Freddie, he had a lot of siblings, of which he was the youngest.

Clara Anna (b. 1907)
Vanie Viola (b. 1910, d. 2001)
Frank D. (b. 1912, d. 1977)
Bernest William (b. 1914, d. 1967)
Leona (b. 1918, d. 1993)
Freddie Mozelle (b. 1923)

His family's records go way back, at least on Ancestry.com. Generations going back to the 1700s, all in Tennessee.

Just Googled Rosebud, TX and now I am feeling like I need to make a road trip this weekend. Just for fun. 

Christmas dress defying every attempt to be made

My Christmas dress project is never-ending. I was sooooo excited to start it. I had visions of a stunningly feminine gorgeous confection, and I'd been planning it for so long. I was going to use the bodice from McCall's 5094,the skirt from Butterick 8160, and the blouse from McCall's 4310. It was going to be SO CUTE.

I started with the bodice. I was on a roll, too. I accidentally almost matched the stripes from the plaid at the seams:

Then when I attached the bodice to the midriff band, this happened:

So I learned the hard way why some patterns are NOT suitable for stripes or plaids.

Oh, and before any of this happened, I discovered that my fabric, which I bought as a 7-yard remnant at a thrift store a few years ago, had been used as something else, probably a Christmas swag or something, and cut down from its original width to 33" wide. So it wasn't going to work for the Butterick skirt anyway.

I thought I'd just gather the fabric into a fabulous full skirt, and still make the 1950s blouse to wear with it, not to mention a big long sash to spiff it all up. So I cut off enough yardage to make the sash, and gathered the rest into a skirt, and when I was done, looked in the mirror and realized it made me look really fat.

I should have just given up after that, but I'm crazy, so I'm currently working on a third attempt at a Christmas dress, which I will hopefully have finished by tonight.

Meanwhile, I need a break. So I'm going to work on a special old letters post.

Monday, December 2, 2013

McCall's Magazine - July 1902 - Part the Second

I finished my project for the vintage sewing contest on patternreview.com and hated it, so I didn't enter it after all. I didn't even take pictures. That's all I'm going to say about that.

MOVING ON... Let's take a look at the rest of my July 1902 issue of McCall's Magazine. I have to start with this crazy article: "Toads as Domestic Helpers."

"A lady who lives near me has a toad so well trained that it jumps upon her lap and then upon a table near her in order to catch flies," writes August R. Pinney in Good Housekeeping.

I admit to being quite taken with the thought of having a troop of toads as little helpers, especially when the article went on to describe them as being "very orderly and clean. When they wish to sleep they go to their basin of sand, and when to wash, they go to their pan of water for a bath." AwwwwWWWW. Please, please click on the picture and read the whole story, it's ADORABLE.

Next up: advertisements. Check out the "Cozy Homes for a Dime," where houses cost anywhere from $300 to $2000 (that's $7835.30 to $52,235.36 in today's money).

Some of those "Useful Recipes" sound pretty good, particularly the recipe for Fig Cake. I might try that some time.

That buggy is cool. $60 in 1902 = $1567.06 today. Not a bad price, I think! I wasn't sure if this was before cars were invented, so I did a quick Google search and found the answer but didn't retain much of what I read except that cars were invented in the 1880s in Europe, and became popular in the US with the Model T around 1908. So this buggy must have been horse-drawn. The first cars looked just like horse-drawn carriages, to my untrained eye. But the best thing I learned was that the first long-distance driver was a woman! Bertha Benz, wife of Karl Benz, who is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile.

More, with comments in the captions since I'm a bit rushed today.

Hah! Inflatable bras! Also, Tutti Frutti Ice Cream sounds yummy. I might try that. I bet it's good with the fig cake.

I always love looking at old-fashioned home remedies. Also, these are boys clothes. I didn't realize that until I looked at the descriptions.

That corset with the wrap-around belt closure looks really interesting. 

"Delicious Desserts for Summer Dinners." Chocolate jelly should sound unappetizing, but reading the recipe makes me want to try it.
And that wraps up my issue of McCall's Magazine, July 1902 issue. It's missing several pages, but what surprises me is how completely they cover the bases in their pattern listings--baby clothes, girl clothes, boy clothes, teenager clothes, women's, men's, fashion, underclothes, nightclothes, aprons, bonnets, etc. Also, was it uncommon/non-existent at this time to have separate pattern books? What were the other pattern companies? Did they put out magazines of their pattern collections including household tips, celebrity news, recipes, etc. too?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Simplicity Jiffy 5959 - Update

I was so excited to get the neckline facing sewn down on my dress last night. I thought I might have a fit of rage in the process, until I realized... Get this... That the facing is supposed to be COMPLETELY TURNED UNDER. I thought it was supposed to be sort of folded over, and that was making me really upset because I couldn't get the fabric to lay flat. I finally Googled "facing for a V-neck" and found the answer.

So yeah, that went well after all, even though it took me three times longer than it should have.

Setting the zipper was a breeze thanks to my friend Jennifer's tutorial. I'm getting to be an old pro at zippers.

I got the side seams all sewn up and then had to wait until I was getting ready to go to bed to try the dress on for fit because a dog park friend came over with her dog, and it was kind of chaotic.

So imagine how I felt when I tried the dress on and saw this:


I must have stretched the neckline out somehow when I was messing with the facing. I'm so pissed off. There is no way I can fix it, except to pin the excess fabric away in a little tuck, which looks pretty stupid.

But I don't care. I've never been in a contest before, and I really want to see this through. I also love this dress, and I plan to wear it. Maybe I can make a bow and stick it over the messed up part, and hopefully no one will notice.

Tonight: armhole facings (which should be much less stressful now that I know how to do them right), hemming the dress, and then cutting out the pieces for the jacket and lining. Maybe I'll even be able to sew some of the jacket tonight. It depends on how patient Lulu can be before insisting that I take her on a walk, and how long it takes before I run out of steam. Sewing is very mentally demanding, which drains me of energy pretty quickly on week nights after work.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Simplicity Jiffy 5959: Vintage sewing contest

So I started my new project for the vintage sewing contest on patternreview.com. Simplicity Jiffy 5959 is a two piece sheath dress with a matching jacket. Four pattern pieces in all, if you don't count the facings. I almost didn't do a muslin because the pattern looks so simple, but then thought the better of it since I had decided to shorten the pattern where the lengthen/shorten line is for once, rather than just taking it up at the hem. That's because the dress has a slight waistline, and I am very short-waisted.

The muslin turned out nicely. I'm not very experienced at pattern fitting (i.e., have no experience in it whatsoever), but it seemed okay to me. Loose fitting, but the illustration on the pattern cover looks a bit loose-fitting. Didn't see any weirdness at the waist, the armholes seem okay, didn't seem to gape at the neck, and it was a good length.

I only took pics of the bodice because look at those darts! I love them, so clean and neat-looking!

The pattern calls for the jacket to be lined, but I decided to line the dress too since the fabric I'm using is so sheer. I also thought it would be easier to deal with if it was lined because the fashion fabric tends to stick to itself. Plus, it's a bit scratchy against the skin. But CUTE!

I knew I was going to run into problems because I always run into problems. I attribute it to my level of experience, no matter how simple the pattern. I am trying really hard to improve my craftsmanship, and it's very frustrating when things like this happen and I don't know why:

I meant to clip the curves and trim the seam allowance of the neck facing at lunch today, but my cat had other ideas.

Oh well, carry on!

I only have a few more days left. I'm hoping to have it done by Thursday so my parents can take pics of me in it when I'm there for Thanksgiving, but as long as I can finish it on Friday I'll be happy. I still haven't cut out the pattern pieces for the jacket. One thing at a time. My plan is this:

Tonight (Monday): I hope I can at least do the zipper and finish the neck facing and sew the side seams together this evening, and cut out the armhole facings.

Tuesday: Attach the armhole facings, hem the dress, make the tie belt, and cut out the jacket pieces from the fashion fabric.

Wednesday: Cut out jacket lining pieces and sew jacket and lining together but probably too much to hope that I'll line the jacket Wednesday night.

Thursday: Line the jacket, hem bottom edge and sleeves. I have a feeling a fit of rage will happen when trying to line the jacket, because the pattern illustration accompanying the instructions looks incomprehensible to me.

Friday: Post pattern review and pics on patternreview.com.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Edwardian shirt waist - FREE PATTERN - The McCall Bazar Pattern No. 6438 (1902)

According to the IMPORTANT CHANGE notice at the top of the page, the first pattern they started printing with markings was No. 6414, in the March, 1901 issue. In the caption below the pattern, it says the pattern is a facsimile of the March 1901 pattern--or so that's how I interpret it.

But the pattern number below the illustration of the finished waist in the bottom right corner says No. 6438. So I'm going to assume this is a pattern for No. 6438.

"The above is a fac-simile of The McCall Bazar (model) Pattern (commencing with March, 1901, issue) showing perforated tracing lines, also the necessary seam and [missing text] allowance without waste of material."

The black box containing the pattern pieces measures approx. 4.5 inches (11.3 cm) long x 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) high, in case that helps for scaling up the pattern.

Here is a good video tutorial on scaling up the pattern using the radial projection method:

If anyone comes across this blog post and uses this pattern, will you please let me know about your experience making it? I'm dying to see how it looks in real life.

I plan on making an Edwardian costume at some point but don't know when I'll get to it.

McCall's Magazine, July 1902

I was so excited to find a McCall's Magazine dated July, 1902 at one of my favorite antique malls this weekend. It's missing several pages, so the vendor didn't even charge me for it. AND, maybe the most exciting thing about it, is that it came with a FREE pattern!! For a 1902 "waist"!!! Which I'm going to share at the end of this post!!!!

But first, let's take a trip down history lane. How about these fab hats for little girls? I honestly didn't know that little girls were expected to wear hats like THIS back then. Whenever I think of old-fashioned hats for girls, I think of a little straw hat with a simple ribbon on it. Not hats loaded with frills and feathers and floral trims and lace.

Celebrity Snapshots! Miss Hilda Spong, M. Santos Dumont, and Mark Twain are featured. Mark Twain? Who ARE these people?

I Googled all of them. Miss Hilda Spong was an actress that I think started in Australia, and then made her debut in England in 1896. According to Wikipedia, she was born in 1875 and was in a shit-ton of plays, and died in 1955.

Santos Dumont, wow, I had no idea he pioneered air flight and in fact made the first airplane and did the first airplane flight BEFORE the Wright brothers! I can't believe he's been virtually erased from history and the Wright brothers get all the credit for inventing airplanes. Santos Dumont was a pacifist and hated the fact that his biggest invention was used as a tool of war.

Mark Twain was a writer and wrote some book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I have no idea. *shrug*

Now for the good stuff - fashion.

Ribbon Garniture for Summer Gowns
Sporting Costumes
Summer Shirt Waists
Gowns for the Seashore
Frocks for Misses and Children
For the Street and Boudoir
For the Street and Boudoir

More picspam of McCall's Magazine, July 1902 edition in a later post. And I've decided to share the shirtwaist pattern in its own post to make it easier to find.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Old letters: L.A. Johnson writes to Miss Lois Carter, 1918

We are WAY overdue for another old letter. I'm having a bit of weepy day today, plus I'm really stressed about money, and I'm just worrying about everything all at once and and and... So I want to treat myself and all my bot readers to a new old letter.

In this episode, L. A. Johnson writes to Miss Lois Carter, who apparently is in the hospital after having an operation. The letter is written on blank sales receipts from W. B. Lillard & Co, The Ladies' and Children's Ready-to-Wear Store, No. 105 S. Market St., Jackson, Tenn.

As usual, I'm keeping all the original spelling in the transcription and making my best guess where proper names are iffy.

[FROM: L.A. Johnson, Jackson, Tennessee, TO: Miss Lois Carter, c/o Lucy Brinkley Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee / May 9, 1918]

Dearest Babe

Hope you are getting along fine and will soon be home for we miss you so much. I saw Abe Watlington and he said to tell you that it wasn't at all neccessary for you to go to Memphis for he could have performed the operation on Stoddert St. as well.

Everything is quiet as usual had a little excitement yesterday when a live wire fell on our st and Miss Mollie was guarding it for the company.

I think Mr. Mashis is behaving nicely haven't heard of any more babies. Prof Griffin had his trial yesterday somebody said. I don't know what they did.

Don't you like my stationary they didn't have time to have my monogram so you will have to excuse it this time.

The whole force was in office so of course didn't have the nerve to ask for expensive paper.

Well have just had an old hen who told me she could get waist like my 7.50 ones in Greenfield for 1.98. That is just like the old devils. 

Some more of boys are going to leave Mon. I don't know whether Mac is in the crowd or not. 

I have three pennies left from pay day. I have bought myself broke in war saving stamps. I will be a rich lady if the war ever ends. Then I speck maby with all my money I can get Mr. Phillips especially his auto.

Well must close as Mary & Mr. Joe is flying round like tigers this morn and are liable to put me on buttons so I have to pretend I am busy guess I will have to stay in toilet. Mr M Tuckfeld & I will take time about he is in now.

Write us
[name illegible]

Omg, "haven't heard of any more babies"! My, my, my. I guess Mr. Mashis was one who got around. I like this girl's sense of humor! And boy, I would have been pissed off too if someone told me she found the same dress as me somewhere else for a quarter of the price. I wonder if the boys who are going to leave on Monday are being deployed for the war? She wants Mr. Phillips for his car. And she was huddled in the bathroom writing this letter! L. A. Johnson sounds like a vivacious young lady. I wish I could read the name at the end of the letter, but I just can't make it out. It looks like it starts with a G, but I don't know how that relates to her first initial being L.

Vintage Butterick 8160 - F@#% this

This weekend I worked on my dress for the Pattern Review vintage sewing contest, using Vintage Butterick 8160.

Early indications were that the bodice was going to be a bitch to sew and that I'd have at least one fit of rage while trying to get the fit right.

I made a muslin. The fit was so hideously bad. It was a major humbling experience for me because my figure is so generic that I actually stopped making muslins for the 50s-style sundresses I love because my proportions fit the pattern measurements so easily. I didn't think it'd be any different for this actual 1950s pattern, but thank goodness I made the muslin for it. Because it looked SHITTY and I would have killed myself if I'd cut up my fashion fabric for it.

This is the only picture I have of Muslin #1:

I convinced myself that it turned out badly because the fabric I used is too heavy and stiff. So I made another one, and I felt like the gathers came out better and looked more like the picture on the pattern. But it was the same result on the body. Ungainly. Badly proportioned. Horrible drape. Here, I'll show you.

Muslin #2:

I am actually wearing pants here, okay? A skirt, actually. I turned the waist band up to my actual waist level--I am very short-waisted--hoping it would magically improve the bodice fit.

I can't even begin to figure out how to fix the fitting issues. I even bought a dress form to try the muslin on so I would have a better chance of figuring it out, but ended up having a fit of rage and tearing the stupid thing up at the seams (the muslin, not the dress form).

I truly don't think the bodice pattern for vintage Butterick 8160 is a workable design. It looks good on paper, but in reality, it's a terrible design.

So I'll have to do something else for the Vintage Sewing challenge, and save the Christmas dress for the Holiday Sewing contest, because then I can combine a different bodice with the Butterick 8160 skirt, which really does look to-die-for.

Luckily I had a Plan B for the Vintage Sewing contest. My fallback plan is to do Simplicity Jiffy 5959 with the cute vintagey print fabric I found at High Fashion Fabrics in Houston.

It looks easy, and I'm sure it is, but I'm convinced that every new pattern I try takes at least 5 times longer to complete than it would for a more experienced seamstress. Plus, I'm going to line both the jacket and the dress, because the fabric is kind of scratchy and I believe it tends to stick to itself. So it's probably good for a fit of rage, haha.

I only have 12 days to finish the Vintage Sewing contest. Luckily, the Holiday Sewing contest started Nov. 15 and runs through the end of December, so I have plenty of time to figure out what to do for my Christmas dress.