Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Making Seams

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, January 5, 1914:  Tried my hand at some sewing this afternoon. Teased my mother. (She simply has to take it, when I get busy.) So passed the afternoon.

Took a header on the porch tonight, but managed to go no further than my one knee.

Source of drawings: The Dressmaker by The Butterick Publishing Company (1911)

Source of drawings: The Dressmaker by The Butterick Publishing Company (1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’d love to know what Grandma teased her mother about. In spite of the tumble–Was there ice on the porch?–, it sounds like a good day.

Did Grandma sew any seams? Here’s some hundred-year-old advice for making high-quality seams.

The Importance of Seams

When it comes to putting a garment together, many problems face the amateur seamstress, not least among these is the finishing of the joinings.

Here is something that needs almost an intuition to solve. Not only do different garments require different finishings but different parts of the same garment require different treatment.

Suppose for example you are making a princess slip-on with a flounce. Now for the body seams of the garment you will want something at once dainty and durable, something that isn’t “bunching,” and yet will be strong enough to withstand strain. For this then the French seam is best adapted. This you make by joining the pieces with a narrow seam on the right side, then turn and make another seam directly over this on the wrong side. Thus you have the raw edges covered up and have a double sewing to give strength to the seam.

The French seam is used also on lingerie waists and children’s dresses, and may be moderately wide or very narrow, according to its place in the garment and the material used. Care must be taken to trim off ravelings before turning the first seam.

In making up heavier goods such as a petticoat of sateen, you will find felled seams are the best. There are two different kinds of these. One is made by opening out an ordinary seam of three-fourths to one inch on the wrong side, turn under the edges and sew down. This is a good seam for baby’s night-gowns since it is the least bunglesome. However, it is not so strong as the single felled seam which is made as follows. Allow one-edge of an ordinary seam to extend out about one-fourth inch over the other. Turn a small hem on this and basted down over the other edge and sew firmly.

flat fell seam

The bound seam is used to finish joinings in dresses or skirts of heavy material and is made by binding the edges of an ordinary seam with seam binding which comes for this purpose.

bound seam

For baby’s flannel petticoats or woolen shirts baste open an ordinary raw seam and feather stitch on the right side. The raw edges on the inside are left unfinished so that the seam will be as flat as possible and there is no danger of chafing baby’s tender skin.

One of the essential things that many amateurs neglect in finishing a garment is a careful pressing of all seams, as the garment is put together and also when it is a finished product. Many a garment loses that “homemade” look and assumes quite a professional air when treated to a good pressing.

In the Homecraft on the Farm section of Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (February 1, 1914)

How to Make a Triangular Candy (Gift) Box

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, December 23, 1913:  Made some more today. It wasn’t so bad. You see I know more about the making from experience.Triangular box

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Practice makes perfect. The previous day Grandma  tried to make taffy, but it didn’t turn out right.

Since my Black Walnut Taffy turned out perfectly yesterday, I’ve moved on to making gift boxes for my candy. The December, 1912 issue of The School Arts Magazine had directions for making a triangular candy box.

Source: The School Arts Magazine (December, 1912)

Source: The School Arts Magazine (December, 1912)

A square piece of heavy craft paper is used to make the box. To measure a square, take one corner of the paper and fold to the opposite side.  Cut the paper to create the square.

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Unfold paper, and fold on the other diagonal. Then, fold one corner of the paper to the crease made by the previous folding. Unfold paper, and cut a slit to the new fold.

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Bring a corner to the center of the paper and then fold. Repeat with the opposite corner.

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Fold the paper into the triangular shape. Thread a craft needle with yarn. Tie a knot at the end of the double strand,  then pull the yarn through the two layers of paper to fasten them together.  Fill with candy, then sew through the top of the box to close.  Clip the yarn to remove the needle, and tie bow.

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These boxes are easy to make, and very attractive. I like them so much that I ended up making several, and used them for small gifts.

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Hundred-Year-Old Halloween Bogeyman Craft

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Tuesday, October 28, 1913:  Working away as usual.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. . . Grandma wasn’t exactly doing her usual work. She and her sister Ruth were preparing to host a Halloween party. The previous day they sent invitations to friends.

Were they making any Halloween decorations? . . . Maybe the carrot and apple head bogeyman shown in the October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal?

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

I’m a bit foggy about why the magazine caption calls the bogeyman a candle holder since I don’t seen any candles in the picture.

The magazine didn’t provide directions for making the bogeyman, and instead said that if you wanted directions for making the “novelties” shown that you should send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Entertainment Editor.

Here’s how I interpreted the picture when I made the bogeyman:

I bought some old-fashioned fat carrots (and some apples) at the farmer’s market.

I carved a jack-o-lantern face on the apple and then cut a round hole about 1-inch in diameter and 1-inch deep in the bottom of the apple.  I dipped the carved face in lemon juice so that it wouldn’t turn brown.

I peeled the carrot and cut the bottom off so that it would sit flat. I then cut away part of the top of the carrot to create narrower piece that could be inserted into the bottom of the apple.  I also cut notches on each side of the carrot for the twig arms.

I then assembled the bogeyman. The “buttons” on the front of the carrot are raisins that I attached using pins.

Easy Paper Fish Directions

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, July 24, 1913:   This afternoon seemed so long to me because it rained for a long while.DSC07994

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma—I know that the afternoon seemed long, but you must have done something. What did you do?

I want to imagine that you played with your 7-year-old brother Jimmie on this rainy afternoon. Did you ever make crafts with him?

I love some of the very simple—but fun– paper crafts that people made years ago. Often the crafts were very creative and used very basic techniques.

For example, here are easy directions for making a paper fish.

Draw a fish on a piece of paper. The body of the fish should be very long.

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Cut the fish out.  About one-third of the way back from the head cut a slit in the paper.

Put the tail through the slit. (You may need to gently fold the tail to get it through the hole). Decorate as desired.

If you like this craft, here are some previous posts with other paper crafts:

Swimming Frog

Patterns for Making Paper Birds

Paper Doll Girl and Her Swimming Ducks

Paper Horse Directions

Paper Cow Directions

Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Making Pencil Drawings

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, May 27, 1913:  It’s raining again like it did last week. Nothing much doing.

Pencil.drawings.fig.4

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Rainy days can be the perfect time to work on artwork or crafts. Did Grandma ever while away a rainy afternoon making pencil drawings?

I recently came across a hundred-year-old magazine for teachers called School Arts Magazine. The January, 1913 issue had an article about how to teach students to make pencil drawings.

Do children today still learn how to make pencil drawings in school? . . .or is that considered “so old-fashioned”?

The Possibilities of the Pencil

With the many new elements that are crowded into the topic of drawing in the public schools—it is easy to lose sight of the fact that after all the universal medium of expression is the pencil.  Rightly employed the marvelous possibilities of the pencil are astonishing.

The proper teaching of pencil-rendering is not difficult if correctly approached. The tendency of every child is to make fine, hard lines instead of the broad, rich stroke which gives character to the result. With firm, smooth lines, much of color, texture, and light and shade can be pictured in a suggestive manner.

At first, detail should be almost entirely left out. The more a child “fusses” and “finishes” his drawing the more labored and unsatisfactory the results appear to be.

See to the condition of the pencil. It should be sharpened to a blunt point well supported by the wood, and the point flattened on one side to give it a form capable of making lines of all widths and qualities.

Pencil.drawings.fig.1.b

Fig. I

Before attempting a problem in drawing in light and shade, the pupil should gain some facility in handling the pencil—by practicing strokes and lines of varying width and color. The drill shown in Fig. 1 will give skill in laying tone flat and solid in appearance.

Fig. II

Fig. II

After this is accomplished the pictorial sketch may be attempted (Fig. II).

In beginning a sketch first decide upon the point of interest. Much must be omitted and many contrasts exaggerated in order to keep the attention centered upon this point.

After deciding what the central point is to be, a light sketch, in as few lines as possible, should be made. These first lines must be accurate, and no erasing should be done. The masses of light and dark are next considered, beginning with the planes in the important part of the drawing.

Fig. III

Fig. III

Select simple, flat masses and lay the tones in with the direct stroke already mastered in the preliminary practice (see Fig. III).

The direction of the stroke can be made to express contour and texture, and should be carefully studied from that viewpoint.

The sharp, vigorous accents of black will produce the contrast which brings out the light and sparkle of the sketch and adds so much to its beauty. The contrasts should be emphasized at the center of interest, and diminished into soft grays as they recede into the less important parts toward the background. .

It is easy to over-emphasize out-of-door nature subjects, such as flowers, fruit, and vegetables. The boys especially are more interested in the common objects of everyday life.

The pencil is by far the most convenient and best medium for most of the work that is included in a well-considered course of art instruction.

Old-fashioned Mistletoe and Candy Kiss Decoration

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, December 11, 1912:  Miss Wesner was down to stay overnight, and go home tomorrow morning.

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Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Helen (Tweet) Wesner was a friend of Grandma and her sister Ruth. Was it really a good idea for Tweet to visit?  The previous day , Grandma wrote in her diary that she had pink eye.

Setting health issues aside—

What did the girls do? Maybe they were hoping for a holiday romance and made a mistletoe and candy kiss decoration to hang in a doorway. It was featured in the December, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

Mistletoe is the classic symbol of Christmas romances—and anyone who stands under the mistletoe is supposed to get kissed.

Here are the directions in the magazine:

Candy kisses for all under the mistletoe bough. Wrap the kisses separately  in paraffin and tissue paper, and then tie them in clusters with ribbon.

A hundred years ago candy kisses could refer to any small candy–though .Hershey’s kisses have been around since 1907.

Paraffin and tissue paper is an old term for waxed paper. Based on the picture, it looks like it night have been available in several colors back then.

How to Make 15-Line Drawings

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, November 24, 1912:  Didn’t even get to Sunday School this morning because it was raining, then it changed to snow. And today became the first day of the snow fall.

Source: Farm Journal (October, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What did Grandma do on rainy Sunday mornings like this one?  Did she ever doodle or draw pictures to while away the time?

Maybe Grandma saw  these directions for making fifteen line pictures in the October, 1912 issue of Farm Journal:

Draw a picture with fifteen straight lines. Just fifteen, and no more. Take any subject, landscape, animal, bird, fruit, flower, a household article, or even a human being. The object is to produce a striking picture in fifteen lines. This is lots of fun and in a short time you will be surprised what you can do.

I’ve become hooked on 15 line drawings.  Ever since I read this suggestion, my doodling has become more purposeful, and I enjoy the mental challenge of trying to make really cool 15-line drawings.

There was a follow-up article about how to do 15 line drawings as a child’ party activity in the November 1912 issue of Farm Journal.

Here’s how to have a picture party: Give each boy and girl a pencil and three sheets of paper. Tell them to draw something in fifteen straight lines; a different picture on each sheet of paper. Let them work for fifteen minutes, then collect the papers and fasten them on the wall. and have the entire party vote for the best drawing. The one whose drawing received the most votes is the prizewinning one.

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