Though whimsical and nostalgic, the substance of Vintage Notions is more than just cute. As the subtitle suggests, Amy Barickman’s book is a celebration of domestic aesthetics. But it is also quite practical and not without social relevance. A key element that distinguishes this book from other surveys of “vintage” novelties is its structure, which places at its center Mary Brooks Picken, the book’s heroine. Picken was a turn-of-the-century educator, seamstress, author, and homemaker who helped build a movement across America by standing for liberation, social empowerment, and independence for women.
Featuring a compilation of early twentieth-century articles, recipes, illustrations, and sewing patterns, each page is informative and uniquely beautiful. As a new guide to the home arts, it’s a brimming trove of fun and useful projects such as “How to Remodel Past Season Frocks,” or how to make “A Comfortable, Economical Apron.” Tips like “The Secrets of a Perfect Pie,” and recipes for goodies like Candied Orange Peel, Cream of Spinach Soup, and Iced Chocolate round out the book’s offerings. The chapters are conveniently organized month-by-month. For each season there’s a pocket for storing inspirational clippings, swatches, and notes. At the back is a quick reference guide for 150 stitch definitions and thirty handy stitch illustrations. The book itself is art, overflowing not only with sweet morsels of fashion, needlework, and cooking, but with beautiful textures and colors.
As it preserves the timeless art of keeping house, this book generates enthusiasm for it as well. The title “Vintage Notions” refers to laces, rickrack, trims, tufts, and ribbons of many colors; it also refers to the forgotten discipline and beauty of cultivating a handmade life. Either way, this book would be welcomed by anyone who is inclined to a vintage bent, who fancies home economics, or who finds happiness in making art out of life.
Barickman is the right author at the right time for this book. She has dedicated her career to sharing her passion for “sewing, fashion, all things fabric-related, and of course, our love of vintage.” [i]Country Living Magazine[i] named her one of America’s most creative women entrepreneurs. She is the founder of Indygo Junction as well as The Vintage Workshop. Some of her best-selling book titles are The Vintage Workshop’s Art to Wear, Indygo Junction’s Needle Felting, Button Ware, Denim Redesign, Bag Boutique, The Sew-It Book and Hankie Style.