Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Tips for collecting vintage patterns Part 2 (10 of 10)

Collecting or want to collect vintage patterns? Here's the second part of my 10 tips for collecting vintage patterns. You'll find the first part here.

5. Do your homework.
Before you start collecting, it's worth having a good look around (particularly online) to familiarise yourself with the following:-
- language used by online sellers.
- how to identify or confirm the age of the patterns being sold.
- is the pattern genuine vintage or reproduction?
- how much you should pay for the pattern?
When starting your collection, make a couple of small purchases so you understanding what your buying. However if you buy what you like, you won't be disappointed.
6. Decide on outlets you like to buy from and check them regularly.
There's a wide range of online pattern sellers and growing. These range from Ebay, Etsy and a number of specialist sellers websites. The biggest challenge in just trolling through them all to find what you like. You can spend hours - I know I have. You may find there are sellers you prefer, book mark these to make them easier to find again.
You can be lucky and find them in garage sales, estate sales and local markets. The hunt is part of the fun!
Do you have a favourite place you buy from?

7. Check your (sewing) patterns. 
After purchasing, check your pattern for condition and completeness. You'll find patterns have pieces that are all cut, partially cut, pinned, taped, sized and pieces complete or incomplete. It's not unusual to find that the envelopes are often torn or damaged in someway.

8. Iron and refold
There's are different schools of thoughts on this. However sometimes the pieces can be so crumpled, they are difficult to use without ironing them flat. As vintage paper pattens are delicate, I will try to avoid ironing if possible but I will definitely remove any pins. Tape may come off easily but I'll leave it if it will damage the paper.  If I do have to iron, I'll use a dry iron and be as quick as possible.
Do you iron yours?
9. Store carefully
I think vintage patterns are precious items. I like the fact that they continue to get used and get passed on from sewer to sewer over time. They have a history. So store them carefully, in their own plastic envelope, in a dry area and preferable flat to minimise any further damage.

10. Enjoy....
Last but not least, enjoy your collection. Use them, sell them, swap them or loan them out - the great thing is they continue to get used and valued.


Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Tips to collecting vintage patterns Part 1 (5 tips of 10)

When I started collecting vintage patterns, I had no idea what I was doing - none! I just discovered a world I didn't know existed, liked it and went from there. Here's what I've learned so far......

1. Collect what you like or what you like to wear. 
This is simple, individual and it's much more fun to you collect what you like. For me, I soon learned I leaned heavily towards the glamour of evening wear, so I tend to collect cocktail dresses, gowns and wedding dresses. Not something you use or sew everyday but so lovely to look at.
For you, it could be lingerie, aprons, children's costumes, day dresses, separates, coats, jackets - you get the idea - the possibilities are endless.

2. Select a period that you like (if you have one)
This could be anywhere from the 1920s to 1980s. The older the pattern, the more difficult it can be to find and perhaps more expensive. Older pattern are sometimes in poorer condition, so be prepared.
1940s lingerie pattern 
1960s cocktail dress pattern
For me, it's mostly the fifties and early sixties but I do stray into other periods if I like the pattern or I happen upon a bargain.

1960s cocktail dress pattern
3. Decide on the size range you wish to collect
Are the patterns for you? If so, you need to understand your measurements and how they relate to vintage patterns. Vintage sizing is vastly different from today's commercial pattern sizing so you'll have to double check the measurements before a purchase.

4. Do you want the pattern new and unused? 
Does this matter to you? Many vintage patterns are already cut (some more carefully than others). They are often still very useable for sewing especially if they have been carefully folded and stored. Other patterns can be found as "factory folded" - these patterns have not been opened or pieces unfolded. Factory folded patterns often command a premium. 

5. How much do you want to spend?
This is a big one. It's very easy to get carried away and blow a budget. Trust me, I've done it. It's worthwhile deciding what your budget is and ultimately what you're prepared to pay for each pattern. More about pricing in a future post.  When purchasing, I generally have a ceiling price in mind. Sometime I will go crazy if I love the pattern but I usually try and keep it in perspective.
As a rule of thumb - be prepared to pay higher prices for older, factory folded patterns especially if they are designer patterns, beachwear (go figure) or evening wear.

I'd love to hear what you look for when buying patterns? Do you have particular type of patterns you collect?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Golden Globes gowns

I've had a blogging vacation - sidetracked by other things. While the sewing projects have slowed lately, I did want to catch up on the Golden Globes (yes I know it was a few days ago..). I did think many of the gowns were underwhelming and strangely familiar but there were 3 that caught my attention.

Firstly, the wonderful Helen Mirram in a navy Badgley Mischka gown with a jewel encrusted belt and plunging neckline. This women knows how to dress - age appropriate (something uncomfortable about that phrase) and elegant. I though she looked stunning.

Next, the incomparable Angelina Jolie. Equally stunning in a Atelier Versace gown that's very different from what she's usually worn on the red carpet. The ivory coloured satin structured gown and the folded flash of red complement by the red lipstick created a very dramatic look. A little icy and distant perhaps but dramatic nonetheless.

Lastly one I'm undecided on but I think I liked it for it's originality - the  Monique Lhuillier formal strapless ball gown with the contemporary digital splash print worn by Sarah Michelle Geller and reportedly selected by her daughter.

What do you think of these? Did you have a favourite on the night?

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