Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sew Expensive... Vogue Couturier 232

My dears, this lovely pattern was expensive, naturally.

Just a few days ago, Vogue 232 sold for a shocking $360.

As we've discussed before, there are a lot of reasons that a pattern can go this high or higher, and the value of this one was a combination of two things.
Vogue Couturier patterns are always going to be more valuable than plain old Vogue, owing to their association with actual couture designers (though the designer isn't mentioned in couturier patterns from the 30's like they are in those from the 60's.)
This pattern is from the 1930's and I can count on one hand the number of Vogue Couturier from this decade I've seen for sale in the last year. The highest that I can remember went for just under $400.

Now, unusually for our Sew Expensive posts, I just happen to know the lucky winner of this auction. No, its not me. This particular collector who will remain anonymous is my Pattern Friend. My Pattern Friend and I met a long time back over a Facebook discussion of another rare pattern. We got to talking and realized that we had very similar collecting tastes. We talk patterns quite often and this one came up in conversation.
When I asked her if she cared to comment on why this pattern had such a draw to her, she simply replied "Even a sundress is stylish."

This made me giggle a little because, really, each collector's pattern taste is so unique. Sure there are the sought after, universally acknowledged "high value" patterns, and then there are others that quite honestly have a "Je ne sais quoi" to each individual. Something in it speaks to us, makes us fall a little in love, and perhaps do foolish things to acquire the object of our desire.

Here are a few other Vogue Couturier from the 1930's for your enjoyment....
Vogue 204

Vogue 225 Circa 1933.

Vogue 100. Blurry I know but had to be included anyways.
Vogue 205
Vogue 211 Circa 1933.
How about you, my dears? Do you have any Vogue Couturier patterns in your collection? Have you learned anything interesting about them that you'd like to share with the class? I have just one of these. One... and one will have to be enough. They go too high at auction for me to allow myself to fall in love. Anything more than a brief affair for me and it will all end in tears...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sew Expensive... A Sewing Machine Memorabilia Sign

As many of you know, my usual Sew Expensive posts nearly always feature sewing patterns but today, I just couldn't resist sharing a sign with you!

Thats right, a simple sign, but an oh-so-darn-lovely one...
Recently on eBay, an enamel advertising sign for Wheeler and Wilsons Sewing Machine Company sold on eBay for a stunning $394.99!
At a rather impressive 14 x 24 inches, it was no small sign in a charming shade of deep cobalt blue with white decorative script.

I was watching avidly and I have to say, I had no idea that it would go so high.

How about you? Do you have a favorite piece of sewing-related memorabilia in your collection?
Mine would definitely be the catalog in the previous blog post...either that or the antique sewing machine cabinet currently doubling as a rather ornate bar in my dining room!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Some McCall Catalog Love from 1930...

My dears, I have another catalog from my collection to share with you today.
This time it is the April, 1930 McCall Counter Catalog and boy, is it a beauty! These little gems are scarce as hen's teeth these days and finding one that hasn't been partially cut up for paper dolls (yes, that has happened, twice.) is a treat.

So without further ado...

I have one of these on the left available as a reproduction pattern here.

And I have the top right pattern available as a reproduction here.

I have the one on the right available as a reproduction pattern, too!

Friday, February 24, 2017

How to count and inventory sewing pattern pieces.

Once a vintage sewing pattern has made its way to your hands, it's a very good habit to inventory the pattern pieces straight away. Make sure that the pattern has all of its pieces and instruction sheets before putting it away. That way, you can leave accurate feedback or address any concerns with the seller as soon as possible. It's also handy when you're finally ready to sew it.

This one is missing A, B and E, (the cup and strap pieces.) I don't care, I love it anyways!

Imagine: you've pulled the pattern out of a drawer, made plans, bought fabric, and as you lay the pattern pieces out, you're missing half of them!
I've been there. The downside was that I had bought the pattern for $30 the year before, advertised as complete, and I didn't check it when it came in the mail! My return window had come and gone.

So how do you tell how many pieces your pattern should have?
Most of the time this information will be on the back of the envelope, as you can see here from my vintage McCall's 6276.

Don't actually draw on your vintage pattern envelopes in pen. It's bad, m'kay?
There is an exception to this, and it's a tricky one. Certain vintage patterns (often doll, accessory and hat patterns) will all be printed out on one or two sheets, and the companies sometimes just listed "2 pieces" as you see below.

In this case, you need to count the pieces illustrated instead.

You need to also make sure that the pattern has the instructions! Keep in mind that a few companies (I'm looking at you, vintage Vogue) had more than one instruction sheet. Make sure that if you only have one instructions sheet, that it has both the sewing instructions, AND the cutting layout diagrams.

A handy way to keep track of this all is to use a simple inventory sheet. I've put a quick one together for you below. On the back you can always make a list of the pattern pieces (i.e. A, B, C or 1, 2, 3) and then check them off as you count them.

I will print a sheet of 9 of these on one page, cut them out, and keep a completed one with each pattern I've counted.
And last but not least, if your pattern is printed, it's a good idea to make sure that the 10 pieces you have in an envelope are the actual 10 pieces that belong in it. Double check the pattern number (and even the size if you have time) printed on each pattern piece. I recently purchased a pattern online, checked the pieces, and it had 10 pieces as advertised, but one was for a completely different pattern - an honest mistake, but one that is avoidable if you have the time.

But wait, what do you do if you go to all of that trouble and pieces are missing! Assuming you don't return it to the seller (not if you got it for pennies at a thrift shop!), what are your options. You have some great ones, actually!
I'm one of the Admins for a great little Facebook group that you will love! The goal of the Vintage Pattern Pieces Lost and Found Group is to complete every missing pattern we can find! You can join the group, post your pattern with a photo/ description of what you're missing and wonderful, helpful collectors will search their archives and try to make copies of what you're missing!

Another option is to find another copy of your pattern for sale and message the seller asking if they would consider tracing a copy of your missing piece.

This pattern is missing a couple of pieces and I'm still SO happy to have it in my collection!

Whatever you do, please don't throw away incomplete patterns! Even an empty envelope or a stray instruction sheet is valuable to a collector. I still buy incomplete patterns all the time, and I know many other collectors who do the same - many of us like a challenge!

A new organization headed by a dear friend of mine is designed to be a rehabilitation and matchmaking destination for incomplete patterns. You can donate your extra pattern pieces, incomplete patterns, empty envelopes, spare instructions and old pattern tracings to the Vintage Sewing Pattern Catalog Graveyard. All pieces from all eras are welcome and each piece will be catalogued and hopefully someday united with a pattern to call home.

How about you? Do you have any tips/ pattern counting tricks that you find useful?

Happy sewing!

Other sewing pattern related articles you might find helpful:

How to properly mend sewing patterns.

How to add a sewing pattern to the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Using Evernote to catalog your sewing pattern collection.

Helpful Hints for vintage patterns sellers.

Sew Expensive... A McCall 1987 hat pattern and what makes a buyer tick!

What constitutes a sewing pattern.

Monday, February 20, 2017

How to Properly Mend Sewing Patterns

Pattern repair and preservation are topics that don't come up very often unless you're a die-hard pattern collector, or an experienced sewing pattern seller. Many people might reasonably assume that a sewing pattern or envelope with tears is worth less than one without. That makes sense. What they might not know, is that a pattern or envelope that have been repaired with any kind of tape is likely worth LESS than a torn, un-repaired one.
Here is why.

Tape adhesive can degrade and change color over the years. While it might be a temporary repair, old tape can eventually weaken the paper surrounding it, stain the pattern paper, and in some cases eat through delicate tissue leaving nothing but a shredded, inflexible plastic remnant.

I thought that I would put together a quick guide to pattern repair for anyone who is interested. If you have any suggestions gleaned from your own collecting experience, please do leave a comment to share with us!

Allow me to first say though, that this is not a lecture or condemnation to those who have taped their patterns in the past. Your pattern is your property to do with as you wish, and I would simply be happy to teach you a way to help those damaged patterns to not only survive longer, but also retain their value and integrity in the future!

Pattern sellers should pay special attention to how, and if, they choose to repair their sewing patterns. Collectors like myself are not terribly concerned with a torn piece or envelope here or there, but we are VERY concerned with patterns that have been taped in any way. It is always safer to leave a pattern un-repaired and let the buyer fix it themselves if they are so inclined.

The basics:
Do not tape any part of a pattern or envelope with scotch or any other regular tape. Things to avoid using include shipping tape, masking tape, duct tape, washi tape, staples, sewing pins and paper clips. All of these can do more eventual harm than good.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A few Goodies from 1940...

Hello my dears,
The other day I was flipping through a tall, dusty stack of McCall Needlework magazines and I was reminded just how amazing they are.

McCall Needlework, at least in the 40's was usually published quarterly. It was a bit like modern sewing magazines with some free projects here and there, knit and crochet patterns, tutorials on the trendy crafts of the time, and sewing pattern advertisements.
And of course it's the sewing pattern advertisements that caught my attention, and I got lost for entirely too long just admiring them.

So naturally, I had to scan and share them with you all. This is a handy resource to date your sewing patterns, and really just fun eye candy, too.

Who else is head over heals in love with the hooded robe on the upper left?! I'm so in love with patterns that have hoods! If you have a copy of this one and you're willing to part with it, let me know!

Happy sewing,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Found in a Bag, a Second 1920's Dress!

In a recent post I mentioned that I had a few boxes about, filled with bits, scraps, and bags of things from my late mother's house. This next dress in a bag came from this stash of goodies as well. The dress has recently found a home with a collector who is skilled and dedicated to restoring 1920's dresses. I'm glad it's going to a loving home, and I thought that you might like to see some pictures showing some of the amazing details this little beauty featured.
I present to you, Dress in a Bag 2.0.

The upper body of the dress was shattered - a sadly common weakness of dresses like these. With so much added weight from the beads, a dress like this sitting on a hanger for 60 years or so may very well start to fall apart at the weight-bearing uppers.

Remarkably, after a detailed search, it looked like maybe only 3 or 4 beads in total had gone missing.

This floral motif was amazing - the silk was painted inside the beaded outline.

Luckily, the under-slip was in almost pristine shape; even the snaps were still securely sewing in place at the side.

I think by far though, my favorite detail was the ombre effect of the dye at the petalled hem.

Happy sewing,