Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foundation Garments: Shirts!

Whoo Hoo! I am so excited to post about the progress I am making! These are the first two shirts I made from some knit I inherited from a friend who passed away. She was an amazing lady with a big personality!
The Michael Miller knit is loud enough on it's own but the brown needed some jazzing up!

I'm pretty sure I was influenced by Cindy's Tee and I think her whole science fiction vibe since I have nicknamed the brown shirt my "Intergalactic Space Travel Stewardess Shirt" Why, I don't know. I feel like Star Trek in it which is crazy cause I never watched Star Trek growing up.
Prepare to enter warp speed!
The buttons make me very happy. I love that they are all mismatched and how this color scheme evolved as I dug through the button jar.

Fun little details!

Which looks better? On me or on manikin?
While there is room for improvement I am pleased with how both turned out. Both are very wearable and the sleeves and body are both finally long enough for me!
Happy long sleeve!
So there you have it! My first completed Foundation Garment Post! So excited to have fun clothes that fit! What is your pet peeve when trying to find shirts? The fit? The color or pattern?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vintage Patterns Tailored to YOU!

Here we are, at the end of our wonderful series on Vintage Pattern Sellers. I hope everyone has enjoyed it as much as I have. To check out all the interviews I made a Page!
Our last seller is very unique and provides instant gratification. Please meet Omega!

Who are you?
I'm Omega, and I run the store Embonpoint Vintage. I have been a history buff for a long time and my love of historical clothes stems from there. As a plus sized woman I know how hard it is to find great vintage patterns that can be made in larger sizes, so to be able to make these patterns available makes me very happy.

How did you get bit by the pattern collecting bug? 
Honestly, I'm not sure how anyone could NOT be fascinated by old patterns, they are such a glorious snapshot of a bygone era. I love that they are/were an "everyday" item, and that each pattern has it's own story to tell. 

Do you sew? Vintage, Modern, or Both?
I sew, but not nearly as much as I'd like to these days! I used to make historical costumes for a living, and of course have done modern sewing as well. 

Do you have any sewing tips for those of us who do sew with vintage patterns?
Be patient! Trust in your own ability as a seamstress. Vintage patterns really respect the autonomy and skill of the person sewing the garment - there's often no bossy step-by-step instructions and a lot of decisions are left to you. This is a great learning experience. 

Why did you start an Etsy store?
I came across an old pattern book, where the patterns could be made up to accomodate a wide range of sizes. I couldn't bear the idea of keeping this treasure to myself, so after some very tedious machinations with copyright lawyers and suchlike I was able to make the patterns available for sale in their current form. After I found one book I searched the world for more - back in the day there were dozens (if not hundreds) of these sorts of books available over the years. I am trying to bring as many of them into a wider availability as possible. 

What is your favorite part of the selling process? Least Favorite?
Favourite is when my customers send me pictures of their completed garments - I love to see how they have interepreted the pattern and how amazing they look. Seeing someone in a gorgeous garment that I helped exist, and seeing the smile on their face is the best reward I can think of. 
Least favourite is when people don't read the description or shop policies before buying and then get confused and/or disappointed with what they have received - thankfully this happens very very rarely. 

How did you come up with the idea to sell patterns as PDFs? 
I knew I wanted to make this available to as many people as possible, so being able to send them anywhere in the world via PDF seemed like a good idea. The alterations and clarifications I do to the patterns to make them sellable seemed suited to the PDF format - once I had added all the instructions etc, I realised I was basically making an ebook for every single pattern, and sending a physical copy just didn't make much sense to me. 

What are the advantages of using your patterns?
The fact that they can be made up in (almost) any size is a great advantage - I have had people use these for a whole bridal party, dance troupe or for all the kids. Because these aren't just a pattern, they're a drafting system, they are a great way to learn more about the drafting process and how patterns work. The fact that they are PDFs means there's no shipping delay. 

What time periods do your patterns cover?
At the moment I have patterns ranging from 1934 to 1969. 
1930s Dress
1940s Dress

1950s Wedding Dress

1960s Coat

What is your favorite pattern of all time? Why?
Ooh, this is a tough one, trying to pick a favourite pattern is like trying to pick a favourite child! I have always been fond of "Domina", it's just such an elegant outfit:
Ooh, I'm loving that suit as well. Thank you Omega, for all the work you do making vintage styles available to a wider range of people! Check out her store, Embonpoint Vintage to see all the delightful choices!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mod Madness with MaddieMod

We're almost done with our PatternPatter interview series and I hope you have enjoyed seeing all the different patterns and perspectives as I have. Today I wanted to do something a little different. When I first started learning about vintage patterns the word Mod came up a lot. It sounded interesting so I thought why not go to the source of Modness! She even has her very own shop dedicated to Mod! Without further ado, meet Maddie Mod!

"Hi! I’m Maddie Mod, AKA Robin Flinchum, a full time homeschooling mom. When I was about 11 years old (in the mid 1970s), I spent one summer planning my days around the TV Guide and the scheduled reruns of That Girl

Anne Marie—was there ever anyone more stylish, more perky, good, kind and right? No one I ever saw. And those clothes! 

As a child, I didn’t even notice how absurd it was that a struggling actress not only lived alone in a good size apartment in New York City, but that she also had such an amazing wardrobe. But it was the fashion that carried the show, according to Marlo Thomas in a Special Features interview When That Girl was released on DVD (I confess, I own all five seasons). Thomas, who was the executive producer of the show, realized it was completely unrealistic, but she also knew that the clothes were part of what kept her young audience watching the show. So they dressed her in the very height of Mod Era fashion as created by icons such as Mary Quant, Rudi Gernreich, and other cutting edge designers.

Mod (Young Moderns) is one of those rather fluid terms that can be stretched to accommodate a broad range of styles, from the early Beatles and Beatnik straight lines and Go Go boots, to the fringed hippie styles and bell bottoms. As someone who loves almost everything people wore from the early 60s to the mid 70s, I wouldn’t want to try to define Mod, and certainly not to define it too narrowly. But in a nutshell I think of it as the angular rebellion against the hourglass bouffant styles of the 50s. It is certainly built on the A line, on short skirts, taking the eye almost as far away from the waistline as the 1950s took it in. 

And then Mod flows and morphs into something different as the hip huggers expand at the hemline into bell bottoms and beads and fringes are everywhere. By the fifth season of That Girl (1970), you can’t find Anne Marie without some kind of fringed something, Indian beadwork jewelry, crocheted belts. It’s a dramatic transition from the mini A lines and matching coats at the beginning of the show (and she loses those adorable bangs, too).

I opened Maddie Mod Patterns as a kind of homage to all of those styles. As my pattern collection grew, I realized those were the ones I loved best, probably because some of them held good memories for me. Some of my favorites include this by Rudi Gernreich 


And I love this bedspread dress: 

This is one of my very favorites:

for the Mod Era, and these fabulous accessory patterns from the Hippie Era. 

What do I wish would go away from the Mod Era? Well, nothing, really. It’s a time in history, a set of events, people, places, looks. Every element combined creates for me a memory that is valuable exactly as it is—dreadfully shapeless dresses, awful furry hats, these things are a joy to me because they belong to and help define the era as much as the styles I love.

But it’s true that you probably won’t find many shapeless dresses or ugly hat patterns in my shop—unless they have fabulous cover art!

When I started selling patterns, I was actually focused on miniature dolls. Human size patterns were sort of an accident I stumbled upon while searching for tiny patterns for my handmade fairy dolls. I came across these patterns and they reminded me of Anne Marie, of my mother, of my older sister in blue gingham bell bottoms. I don’t know what it is about patterns exactly, but once you get hooked, you’re done for! I have boxes and boxes of them now and I love them all, not just the Mod Era but every era! Luckily, I found my home planet at Pattern Patter, our Etsy pattern sellers team, where I discovered I am not the only one with this obsession. I LOVE my team and my teamies!

As for sewing human size clothes, I’m pretty much a novice but I have a stack of patterns waiting to make as my skill level advances. So far, my only advice is to start at the beginning, the very beginning, and take it one step (or stitch) at a time. 

Oh the liberating feeling of making your own clothes! You can wear whatever you want! Any era, any style, any fabric you can get your hands on you can wear it, make it in the colors that suit you, sew it to fit your figure. How wonderful is that?!?! I love the freedom in that. And there is tons of help and support on Etsy for beginning sewers, and lots of wonderful blogs such as this one for advice and inspiration. Any kind of pattern you want is available online now. It’s a great time to sew!

OOooh! Feeling Mod anyone? I LOVE that little blue dress! That white Simplicity looks so swishy and cool too. Which is your favorite? If you dear readers are itching to sew up some of these lovely styles please check out Robin's entire stock at Maddie ModThanks for take the time to give us a peek into the Mod world, Robin! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Working With Unprinted Patterns

 Since I joined the retro sewing community I realized I was not alone in viewing Unprinted patterns with some trepidation, thinking they need some mystical skill beyond our possession to create. After completing my first dress with one I decided to share my thoughts. 
But first a look at some unprinted styles.

Interesting Shirt Details

These would make great Foundation Garments with their special details.

More Stunning Results

So when are you an accomplished enough sewer to tackle unprinted patterns? I chose these two patterns for our comparison today. Butterick 4440 is from the 40s and Butterick 6226 is from the 50s. 

Can you identify all the pieces shown on the instructions? Most dresses have the same three basic parts, bodice, skirt and sleeve. If you know the basic shapes you should be able to recognize them even if they don't have "SKIRT FRONT" printed on them. Keep your instructions close since they do have the pieces labeled. This pattern has a yoked bodice.

Unprinted patterns do usually have the piece number punched out on them as well so even if you get really lost you can find it on the diagram.

Even if the sewing construction directions confuse you read the little section at the top that talks about Pattern Perforations. Also make sure you find out what seam allowance has been given for the pattern. 

The biggest difference I found is when pieces go on the fold and marking the grainline.

Fold is marked with a triangle of small dots. Grainline is a series of large dots instead of the solid line we are used to. (Don't shoot me pattern preservationists but I did not trace my pattern and may have lightly traced a grainline through the large dots in pencil.)

Sleeve marking is still the same.

As Lynda stated in her interview, unprinted patterns are easier since they are precut to the exact size and all the notches and dots are prepunched. This allows for greater accuracy in marking not to mention less time in pattern prepping.
See the ease of marking buttonholes!
So what did I make? Are you ready to see??

I felt this went the best with the fabric I had chosen and it allowed me to use some BEautiful buttons I picked up when we visited family back East. I tried some new techniques and learned much. To read about the dress construction check out my post on WeSewRetro.

So how do you feel? Confident enough to tackle an unprinted pattern? Do you have any tips when working with them? Don't be afraid to try one next time since they are often full of those tiny details that make a dress extra special without going overboard.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vintage Patterns International!

I hope you all are enjoying all the Pattern interviews! I am enjoying getting to know my fellow pattern sellers better and am picking up some tips along the way. Today we are taking vintage patterns global, checking out how things work down under.

Who are you?
My name is Lynda Slade. I have 3 active shops on Etsy: allthepreciousthings, sewnewthings, and SydneyVintageFinds. I live in Sydney, Australia, with my husband, 2 teenage kids and 1 cat. 

How did you get bit by the pattern collecting bug? 
About  5 years ago, I discovered what we in Australia call "op shopping", cruising charity shops for vintage goodies. That’s when I discovered vintage patterns, and started collecting. Around the same time, I discovered Etsy, and my collection went from just local, to global.

Do you sew? Vintage, Modern, or Both?
I’ve always sewed, my Mum taught me as a little girl. I started with Barbie doll clothes, and moved on from there. I’ve always used “modern” patterns, until I discovered  vintage. Now, I rarely ever use modern patterns. I make most of my own clothes, some clothes for my kids (if they let me), and home furnishing items.
I’ve recently discovered vintage sewing machines, too. I picked up a Palmer Princess for $25:
Isn't that a beauty!

and a Singer 319K, which I’m still cleaning and oiling:

Do you have any sewing tips for those of us who do sew with vintage patterns?
Don’t  be afraid of unprinted patterns! There can be advantages to having all your pieces precision factory-cut – you don’t have the tedious task of cutting them out yourself, and you know that they are cut accurately. Also, the perforated symbols (holes) allow you to chalk your markings directly onto the fabric with ease – no fiddling with pins. The markings on “printed” patterns are mostly superfluous, anyway (things like seam allowances).

Any tips for telling how to find great vintage patterns to sew with?
Australia has some unique vintage pattern opportunities, if you know where to look. The “Enid Gilchrist” range of pattern drafting magazines contain whole wardrobes full of vintage outfits, with  lots of helpful sewing tips too. Australian Home Journal magazines are another great resource  - each one was sold with around 3 pre-cut, tissue patterns for women and children, making them great value!

What is your favorite pattern of all time? Why?
Wow, that’s a tough one....maybe this one:

Even at $125, it sold in no time. I just love the design of the cape, so elegant.

Why did you start an Etsy store?
After numerous “op shopping” trips, my home started filling up with fabrics, patterns, buttons, glasswear, vintage clothes - you name it. So "allthepreciousthings" was born; it was a nick name my husband coined for all the fabulous "junk" I bought home. Basically, I have to sell the patterns I know are fabulous finds, but can't use myself.  It funds my addiction for patterns to add to my own collection.

What is your favorite part of the selling process? Least Favorite?
I love mailing off a recently sold pattern to a new home – my least favourite part of the process would have to be the scanning and counting pieces.
What is your favorite item in your shop right now? 
I love the graphics on this pattern:

Which item do you just want to go away?
I like this one, but I’m fed up with looking at it:

Thank you Lynda for sharing what pattern addiction is like in Australia. Isn't that sports suit wonderful! I love the fabrics. I'm glad she brought up working with unprinted patterns. If all goes well Wednesday I'll be posting a tutorial on sewing with them and my results! 
Have a great week everyone!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pattern Patter with Adele Bee Ann

Who are you?

"My name is Susan Adele, I was named after my grandmother. The name of my shop is a tribute to my grandmothers. Adele who was an amazing cook and a typical Italian grandmother. Bee who was an amazing woman, she taught me how to sew and many other invaluable lessons. And, last but not least, Ann. She was funny and she loved me. What more do you need in grandmas than that. Although my grandmas are long gone, I am inspired by them everyday. Each day when I log onto Etsy I see their names and I am reminded of who they were and who they have helped me to be. Adele Bee Ann, I couldn't imagine a better name for my shops. 

I began selling vintage items long before the internet even existed. I love to hunt for hidden treasures, everything from clothes to couches, pottery to paintings. I've bought it and I've sold it. Before Etsy, my main selling outlet was the 26th Street Flea Market in NYC. I was there every weekend (rain, snow or shine) until the market was closed down and moved to Brooklyn. That's when I discovered Etsy. I fell in love. (On a side note, this article in the New York Times is about me and the NYC flea market, it's from 1996. That was a long time ago.

Now I have three Etsy shops. Adele Bee Ann Patterns for vintage sewing patterns, Adele Bee Ann Vintage for anything vintage and Adele Bee Ann for handmade homemade items.

How did you get bit by the pattern collecting bug? 

I discovered a box of patterns at a yard sale. It was late in the day on a Sunday and there was a box of about 100 patterns mostly from the 50s and 40s (a few scattered 30s and 20s!). I paid $20 for the entire box. I thought the patterns were so beautiful I didn't just want to add them to my vintage shop so I created a pattern shop. From there everything snowballed. Now I have almost 600 patterns in my shop and about 2000 still to be sorted and posted.

Do you sew? Vintage, Modern, or Both?

I've been sewing since I was a little girl. My grandmother use to watch me while my mom was at work, she would teach me different stitches and how to make little dolls. Today I make mostly handbags and dresses for little girls. It's funny because I make my own patterns rather than use the ones I have. I've never used a vintage pattern.

Do you have any sewing tips for those of us who do sew with vintage patterns?

Well, I'm not in a position to give tips as a vintage pattern sewer but as a vintage pattern seller I can advise to take care of your patterns! Keep all the pieces together and fold them neatly when you are done. Store them where moisture can not get to them and please do not cut up the envelopes!

Any tips for telling how to find great vintage patterns to sew with?

I can tell you but then I'd have to kill you. Just kidding. Ask. Ask at estate sales, thrift stores and consignment shops. Many times people are surprised that anyone is interested in patterns so they either toss them out or don't put them out. Ask for them.

What is your favorite pattern of all time? Why?

This is a tough question, I have so many favorites. I love patterns that speak of a specific era. A pattern that screams the decade it was from whether it be 1940s or 1980s.
1940s WWII Pattern

1980s Suit

Why did you start an Etsy store?

I originally started an Etsy store because the things I was making were piling up with no where to go. I tried to do craft fairs and I hated it! I stumbled upon Etsy and it was love at first sight. I opened my handmade, homemade shop in March 2010.

What is your favorite part of the selling process? Least Favorite?

My favorite part of the selling process is packing up a pattern to ship off to a new home. I love filling orders and I keep a mental track of where my patterns are going. I love shipping out a pattern, it allows me to put a big check in the completed box, and who doesn't like to do that! My least favorite is trying to keep up with expired listings, I have over 100 expired listings. Some of the expired patterns are real gems and the fact that they didn't sell tells me I didn't list it properly. I hate trying to figure out the right formula for selling.

What is your favorite item in your shop right now? 

The favorite item(s) in my shop right now are the 1950s doll making kits. I have a batch of old stock of doll patterns from the 1950s and I decided to make some of the dolls to show as examples for the patterns. They were so fun to make. Now I have a personal attachment to the doll patterns because I made them.
Geisha Sock Doll Pattern
Indian Sock Doll Pattern

Which item do you just want to go away?
There are a few. Mostly vest patterns, people just don't wear vests anymore. I find vests are very hard to sell.

Thanks Susan, for that lovely interview! Stop on by her shop and see if you can find something to love!  What do you think? Aren't those dolls cute!! Do you wear vests at all?