Sunday, December 19, 2010

vintage notions - book review

Note: I've removed my original brief review of this book. I have had a chance to read the book and have things to add. Read below for my updated thoughts.

And...don't forget to comment on the I Heart You Giveaway! You have until midnight tonight!

I ran across this amazing book at my local fabric shop a few afternoons ago:

I was on my way home from an appointment and ran into the store on a lark. I am so glad I did! This charming book is packed full of fun, vintage information on everything from recipes to fashion and sewing. Perfect reading on a cold, wintry day.

A bit of an oddity... although her name features prominently on the cover, Amy Brickman did not write this book. She wrote a brief forward to each section. Everything else is a reprint from various newsletters sent out by the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in the 1920s.

The book is divided into sections by season. Each month includes a sewing pattern (diagrams and instructions only), and there are recipes scattered throughout as well. The rest of the "month" is filled with inspirational articles, reader's letters, and other goodies that were featured in the newsletters.

Here's the author's website: Amy Brickman. You can download sample pieces from the book there and read more about her experience researching and writing it.

If I had one tiny quibble, it's that Ms. Brickman claims to be "rescuing Mary Brooks Picken from obscurity" (I'm paraphrasing from her introduction in the book). I personally have been a fan of MBP for many, many years and I know there are hundreds of other vintage-loving seamstresses who are longtime fans too. Perhaps a better turn of phrase would have been "introducing Mary Brooks Picken to a new generation". After all, if she only found MBP in 2008, she's rather late to the game in the vintage sewing realm.

Oh all right, if I had two quibbles my second would be that Ms. Brickman wrote none of the content and yet receives top billing as "author". I think the book cover and back jacket are misleading as to the contents therein. Nowhere does it state that the entirety of the book is a reprint of vintage materials. The back cover states "This book features inspirational essays and projects..., seasonal recipes and decorating ideas, four storage pockets, Twelve Magic Patterns".

Having quibbled, I personally love Vintage Notions. It's a fabulous insight into life for women in the 1920s and is an enjoyable read. It's beautifully and thoughtfully put together and I consider it an amazing treasure. I highly recommend it!

And...might I suggest purchasing it from your local quilt or fabric shop? Yes, you could probably pay less at Amazon or with your Barnes & Nobel discount card, but let's choose instead to support our LQS!


  1. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Great book review! I love finds like this - unexpected gems. :)

    Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog. I'm really happy to have you on board with the Hepburn Hepburn Project. Can't wait to see your lovely creations.

    Sarah :)

  2. Well, even if she was late to the game, at least she's spreading around her joy to people who might not have found these sorts of things.

    Though it does seem yuck for her to be billed like that. Kind of the same with repro patterns that claim a copyright. I'm sorry, did you draft this pattern? No? Ok.

    Thanks for the word about supporting local businesses. So true.


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