Monday, June 28, 2010

Going back to the days of "I made it myself"

Long gone are the days when it was cheaper to make yourself something to wear. In most cases, it costs less to buy something made in China or Guatemala than to make it yourself out of American made fabrics. This is just sad.

There are notable exceptions. Kids clothes, like shorts and teeshirts, require very little fabric and can be turned out pretty quickly. But if your time it worth anything, it's usually more cost effective to go to Ross or T J Maxx (or a big department store sale) to buy a dress than to make one yourself.

The other notable exception is at the high end of clothing prices. If you're making a wedding dress, especially one with lots of hand beading or lace, you can also save money if you're really good at what you do and if you have infinite patience.

The items in this pattern (McCalls 8260) might be another thing that you can make cheaper yourself than buy in the store. (Assuming your time is not valuable.) Even this would require hitting a sale at a fabric store. You'd also need to know how to make your own bias tape.  But if you made not just one set but a number of these items, I think you could save a lot of money and have something really nice for your home or car. They would also make cool Christmas presents. And if you're like me, you really can't afford to buy the number of shoe organizers it would take to hang up all your shoes.

In addition to the closet organizers, bedside organizer and car organizer, this pattern also makes a two-sided wrapping paper holder, and an accessories holder with cool triangle pockets for your brollies. Now you can make up your own patterns for stuff like this. My daughter made a really cute bedside book holder for her dad. But this pattern could speed up your creative process.

Looking at a pattern like this makes me itchy. Itchy to make something cool that would help me organize my life better. I'm hoping someone will buy this one quickly so that I'm out of the itchy zone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You Had to Be There--The Early Seventies

This pattern has a really funny story. My mom just found it in her house along with the first pattern I ever made and the pattern for the dress I wore on the first day of first grade. This pattern is unused. Evidently, I bought this pattern for my sweetie, didn't have time to make it up, and left it behind when I got married in 1971. So now it has reappeared.

I was listing this one in my shop late last night and took a good look at the pattern art. Check out the guy on the right. If you didn't live through the early seventies, it might be hard for you to imagine any guy you know wanting to wear a see-through orange shirt with funky collar. (Or a Davy Crockett look-alike top with rawhide lacing for that matter.) People talk about the sixties, but the hippie styles  didn't really hit until the very end of them. The early 70s were much funkier, in fact.

Anatomically, something very strange is going on with the orange couple. Both shirts are see-through and yet...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I wish I had a dozen of these

I wish I had a dozen of these patterns to sell. I had two without envelopes from a huge box of patterns I bought in Scranton. Come to find out, they're one of the most in demand patterns on the Internet. Who knew?

My price for the pattern without envelope was 20.00 so I'm assuming a complete pattern would be a whole lot more. They were snapped up at 20.00, let me tell you.

It really is a lovely pattern. This is not a costume. It's a fully lined, well constructed men's suit jacket. If you're in the theater costuming business or if you just need something authentic from a mythic era, I can see why this pattern would be something you just had to have.

Sadly, the picture does not show love beads. True, the one guy has a medallion, but love beads were really an important part of this outfit.

For one of the wildest Nehru jacket experiences ever, watch Peter Sellers in "The Party" from 1968. "Birdie, birdie, num, num." Way, way, funny.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Circus Time Suit

Another pattern I can't list in my shop. It's got too many missing pieces. The dachshund transfer is also gone, but there's a few really good pictures of it in the instructions. Someone clever could probably enlarge it on a copier and...But you see, no one will ever use this one. And that's too bad. I cannot save them all so this one might just have to go that trashbin in the sky where all incomplete, tatty, ratty and smelly patterns go. But at least, I have a copy of it for all time.

So look at the robe and pajama outfit. Doesn't that look like she could just climb out of one of those little clown cars at the circus? The dachshund on his hind legs with the hat on also adds to the circus theme as do the pompons on the girl's slippers. The other set of pajamas, knee length with lace sure look fifties to me.

Hard to date this one Could be early sixties. But there's that fifties dog theme. Poodles, weenie dogs, what's the difference?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fabulous Fifties

I'm so sorry I missed them. I mean, I was there but I was wearing puffed sleeves and ankle socks. I think I had a poodle skirt. But look at the skirts in this ad. The fabric swatch on the left has a wonderful texture and gold imprinting. The swatch on the right has real glitter glued onto the fabric.

How tiny does your waist look when you're wearing a full petticoat under your skirt? I remember my mom and other grownup ladies wearing skirts like these and actually remember being envious that I couldn't wear one of them. I'm still envious.

And those rich fabrics. Satins, shantungs, polished cottons, sateens. They were so beautiful. There were disadvantages of course with all the wonderful fabrics of that era. Lots weren't washable. But White's Cleaners came to our house every week, picked up our laundry and dry cleaning and then brought them back.

And the cottons had to be ironed. My mom kept a bag of dampened clothes in the fridge until she was ready to iron them. Mom liked ironing which was a good thing. She did a lot of it. She didn't do Dad's shirts which came from the cleaners nicely starched and neatly folded with a paper band around each one. But she ironed everything else. I eventually did some of it. I started on handkerchiefs and moved up quickly to pillowcases. (Yes, we ironed all our pillowcases back then. And embroidered them too. You could only buy plain white or pastel sheets. If you wanted designs on your sheets, you had to add them yourself.) And I too liked ironing. Still do, but I pretty much iron only when I'm sewing.

I have lots of these style cards in my shop and I'll be posting more. What great mementoes of a great fashion era.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


So I had the very first Barbie. You know, the one with the black and white swimsuit whose hair I cut off so that I could put her in a wig? Don't feel bad about my loss of investment. (I just priced a brunette one for 975.00) I loved that doll to death. She wouldn't have been worth a whole lot even with hair. I was also minus ten years old when I got her. Just kidding. Truth be told, I was a little old for her and my mom asked me specifically if I really wanted a doll at my age! But my mom got into the spirit of the thing and made clothes for her, which my girls have shared out so that the grandchildren have something cool and vintage to play with.

So, Barbie. What's up with the fascination? I cannot tell you. In my case, I loved the glamorous clothes, the itsy bitsy accessories, the grownup aspect. I remember saving my allowance to buy outfits. (Again, if I only had those today. Sheesh.)

I just found a cache of doll clothes patterns and some really cool Barbie ones were among the set. Check out the 1980s Barbie outfits. Actually published in 1991, it shows that the 80s didn't die a sudden death. There's even a pattern for gloves! If the pattern weren't factory folded, I'd have to open up the tissue to see what those pieces look like.

The other pattern is not actually "Barbie" but rather 11 1/2 inch to 12 1/2 inch fashion doll. Like we don't know who they're talking about. I did have some of the ersatz Barbies back in the day and they were really pitiful. (And if I still had them they would probably be worth enough to take my sweetie on a cruise. This is becoming annoying.)

This other pattern I adore. It's a pattern for making Barbie furniture out of foamcore board. I'm crazy about the chaise lounge. And if I thought any of my granddaughters needed one, I might have kept it for myself. But it's probably not sturdy enough for a four-year-old. I even considered keeping it for myself. You hanker after some very strange things when you're a pattern seller, let me tell you.

So Barbie, I've loved you for more than fifty years. And I don't think I'll ever stop. And I hope someone will adore her enough to take these gorgeous patterns off my hands before I decide I love them too much to sell them.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rule of Fourteen

This "studio secret" style chart from 1950 tells you how to dress appropriately. You add points for every item you're wearing. Hose, one point. Feather, one point. Bracelet, one point. Gloves, one point. Veil, one point. More than fourteen--whoo boy, you are overdressed, you hussy. Less than fourteen--going for the spinster schoolteacher look, eh?

In short, you had to be just right to be well dressed in the 50s. I remember my mother had a closetful of purses. Dad could never understand that when you bought a pair of shoes, you also needed a purse to match. Even as a little tapper in the 50s, I wore gloves, petticoat, frilly socks, patent leather shoes, Sunday dress and purse to church. And I always had a hanky. On Easter Sunday a hat was de rigueur for all women including toddlers.

So I have to imagine the point system at work at Wal-Mart today. How many points for flip flops, an exposed bra strap, a bare and bulging midriff, a tramp stamp, a parole bracelet, etc. It's a lot easier to dress in the 21st century. But you know, it's a lot harder to dress well. No rules apply so you're totally on your own. And quite frankly, Wal-Mart attire proves that modern women could use a little more guidance.

This wonderful four page pamphlet printed on heavy cardstock is on sale in my shop. Check it out!