Thursday, August 29, 2013

Focus On: Sleeves

By Sherri of Sew Betty and Dot

Let's look at sleeves!

Historically, they developed because, well, people's arms got cold AND as a way to cover the body for modesty's sake. Beginning in the medieval period, sleeves began to be incredible indicators of wealth and status--and of course, they were also incredible fashion statements. In fact, the history of sleeves is so varied and fascinating that it cannot be adequately covered in this blog post, so please see links at the end of this post to several blogs/websites that are a wealth of information.

Some random sleeve factoids:
* Beginning in about the 1620s sleeves began to change: the first change, a shortening of the sleeves to reveal a woman's wrists, marked the first time women's arms were visible in the hundreds of years of European costume history. (From

* Through the 17th century, sleeves were often a separate garment/accessory--i.e., not sewn into the dress/robe/gown but rather tied to the outer garment.
* Dolman sleeves were very popular in the 1930s, even in eveningwear, but a fabric shortage during World War II meant that the style fell out of fashion. 
* The most common sleeve variation over the centuries is the puff sleeve: they've been puffed at the shoulders, multiple puffs (see Queen Victoria's dress below), called "mameluke" or "marie" sleeves. There were puffs that needed special "puffers" worn inside them to stop them from drooping. In almost every century you can see fashionable women (and sometimes men!) wearing puff sleeves. The so-called Letty Lynton dress (from a 1932 film of the same name) designed by Adrian for Joan Crawford launched a craze for puffed sleeves in the thirties, and then there is Princess Diana's wedding dress!

Pattern Patter's own team member, Deb Salisbury of Mantua Makers, has some amazing historical patterns if you'd like to try to sew sleeves from another century! See the first square on the top left below.
Top left: Regency wedding dress pattern: Mantua Maker Patterns Top right: Mourning dress (once black, now faded) worn by Queen Victoria to her first Privy Council on 20 June 1837, the day she ascended to the throne (From

Bottom left: Joan Crawford in Letty Lynton (1932), in a gown designed by Adrian. (image from Tumblr)
Bottom right: Princess Diana in her wedding dress (1981), designed by David and Elizabeth Emanual (image from Wikipedia)

Now let's look at some beautiful patterns with...sleeves!

(By the way, if you click on each photo, it will become larger so you can see all the gorgeous details.)
Children's dresses with puff sleeves (each row reads left to right):
3. Simplicity 9090: People Packages

Puff sleeves for grown-ups--from the 1930s to Mary Quant and beyond!
(Each row reads left to right):
Bottom: 1. Butterick 5232: MB Chills (this is the Mary Quant); 2. Simplicity 3040: Cherry Corners
3. Simplicity 2317:

Sleeve styles galore!
(Each row reads left to right):
Top: 1. Capelet sleeves McCall’s 6108: Pattern Playing;2. Slit sleeve: Simplicity 8586: Paneen Jerez
4. Long and full cuffed sleeve (this is Rudi Gernreich!): McCall’s N1045: Maddie Mod Patterns
Middle: 1. Cap sleeve: McCall 8469: Grandma Made with Love

2. Winged elbow-length and three-quarter sleeve: Butterick8277: Virtual Vintage
3. Batwing sleeves: Simplicity 8885: Sandritocat
Third Row:  1. Kimono: New York632: J Ferrari Designs
2. Dolman sleeves: Vogue 6549: Grey Dog Vintage
3. Off-the-shoulder cap sleeves with scallop: Butterick 7181:Em Sew Crazy
4. Jiffy dress with three sleeve variations--this is often seen in Jiffy designs: Simplicity 7124:Jeanies Shop
Bottom: 1. Long and cuffed ¾ length: Vogue 6246: Knight Cloth

2. Short, puffed, shirred sleeves: Simplicity 3282: FloradoraPresents
3. Short cuffed sleeve: Simplicity 3436: Sydcam123

Here are some great blogs/websites that show and tell about historical fashion (including the history of sleeves and some great photographs of vintage clothing showing sleeve styles:
Of course, COPA (Commercial Pattern Archive)
Wearing History
Such Eternal Delight

So: What do you have up your sleeve? Do you wear YOUR heart on your sleeve? Tell us in the comments! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Prepping Patterns: Stickers and Tape Residue

The hunt for old patterns can take us anywhere, from musty garages, old homes, thrift shops to estate sales. Not everyone loves patterns as much as we do and some don't survive the years so well. Here's part two of advice gathered from members of the team on removing those stickers and what to do with marks on the front. 

Removing Stickers & Tape
Erika from ErikawithaK says
"I usually don't remove tape. No matter what, it usually leaves residue and the best way that I know to remove the residue (goo gone or hairspray) isn't paper friendly. If the tape is totally dried out, then I can usually pick it off easily but otherwise, I leave it to avoid doing more damage. Fortunately, most of the places that I get patterns from don't use stickers. There is either nothing or black marker, which there is really nothing you can do about, except maybe black it out more to cover what I paid. "
sydcam123 from sydcam123 says
"I use a hair dryer on low heat for stickers. They usually peel right off. "
"If I touch a warm iron to most stickers they will lift easily. Masking tape lifts well too. Scotch tape will melt and if it's cellophane tape it is probably so old and brittle that it will fall right off. A hair dryer on the scotch tape works fairly well. Some patterns I get have the flaps taped down and you have to remove it to get to the pattern. Heat works the best. For the tape residue that is left behind I take a piece of paper towel and place it over the residue and touch the iron to it. The residue sticks to the paper towel and I replace the piece of paper towel and repeat until it is gone or mostly gone. "
VogueVixens from VogueVixens says
We steam stickers to remove them using a kettle, then use Glue gone to remove the remaining stickiness(Value Village stickers are the worst). At first it causes the envelope to change colour, but the colour goes away after it dries. Then gently iron envelope.between fabric or pieces of paper.
Have not removed tape except for the old dry pieces that fall off.
We leave original price stickers from the fabric stores on, as said above, they add charm. 
Mary Anne from BunnysLuck says
"My best tip re: stickers: Beg, plead, snivel, and cry to the thrift store manager to NOT put stickers on the envelopes! Or put them somewhere that doesn't impact the integrity of the envelope. I was motivated to do this because one particular thrift store in my area delights in putting the sticker precisely over the face of one of the models on the envelope, so that if you are not extra careful in removing it, the face gets blotched. The manager said he would fix it, and lo and behold, he DID! No more blotchy faces!"

Dealing with Sharpies and Markers

Janet from VintagePatternsCo1 says
Don't get many stickers but referring to an earlier comment on sharpie prices and 'coloring' over them. I 'color' in my sharpie price but stick a small white label over the colored in area. The labels are bought in a small size so I don't have to cut them. I mention the sticker in the listing. Since so many sharpie prices are on the white background of the makes the fix not so obvious. I mention the sharpie and sticker in the description.

 I discovered this simply wonderful tool at the hardware store... it's a big block of spony sponge-type thing that is used to clean soot off bricks, found in the paint section of Menards. I use it to clean off books and other paper products that are grimy and dirty. Simply magic! You can also use PlayDoh (which was originally designed to remove stains from walpaper!) but I prefer the brick cleaner. :-)
Emily from EmSewCrazy says
I erase the pencil marks and nicely scribble out the prices written in pen. The names and notes of the original pattern owner I leave alone although I will blur out names and addresses on the photos I upload. 
To remove stickers
  • Gently Iron
  • Use a Hairdryer
  • Steam Kettle
To remove/hide marks
  • Black it out
  • Cover with label
  • Erase with various utensils.
I hope this helps speed you on your pattern listing journey. Remember if they aren't listed they can't sell! If you have any great methods not listed please share in the comments below!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Prepping Patterns: Smells

The hunt for old patterns can take us anywhere, from musty garages, old homes, thrift shops to estate sales. Not everyone loves patterns as much as we do and some don't survive the years so well. Here's some advice gathered from members of the team on removing smells.

Nance from nancesnostalgia says
One thing that works for me; About a teaspoon of dried lavender herb per zip lock bag, leave closed up for a couple of weeks and test. Make sure that all the lavender is cleaned up prior to shipping as they closely resemble "mice gifts" and that could be traumatic to the customer! They are reusable too. 

Mary Beth from retromonkeys says
"I have a jar of activated charcoal for fish tank filters. I put the open jar and the stinky items in a plastic bin and seal it. I leave it for 2 weeks or so. It doesn't get rid of all of the smell but makes it tolerable."

Denise from Denisecraft says
"For patterns, I use the arm and hammer baking soda for kitty litter boxes. It works great albeit, it does make a powdery mess. Soaks up all that smell in a few days and then you just dump the white powder. I know other people use straight baking soda but I kinda like the fresh scent from this stuff. It is cheap, about 1.25 a box. A box can last a long time depending on how much you dump."

Rosie from SewBohemian says
"Silica gel works too, in those little packets or you can buy a can of it at hobby shops. Put the gel into little cheesecloth bags, tuck the bagged gel around your books, then box the books up or tub them (leave the top off) and let them sit for a couple weeks before removing. Good link here about mold and mildew and books :"
Anne-Marie from neverwares says 
"I take a 1/4 sheet of white tissue and fold it into a flat envelope shape [sort of pattern sized] add a table spoon or so of baking soda, tape closed. Shake genlty till flat and store between patterns, pages, whatever to remove musty smell. Like the charcoal etc. put everything in a box and forget about for awhile. Then let air out. Please keep in mind that not everyone can take scents that are used to mask the musty smell. Febreeze makes me sneeze violently. Also the "nice" scents can wear off and leave the mustyness still there."
Revvie1 from Revvie1 says
"I've found Damp-Rid works quicker and better than baking soda."
Cindi from CaliforniaSunset says
"For stinky smells, I use unscented cat litter (the cheap Johnny Cat stuff). It has worked for books as well as for patterns. Just use it like you would with the baking soda trick. "

"I use dryer sheets, the scented ones. I close everything up for several days, then take out the sheets and let the patterns air out (this is done out in the storage shed). When the process is finished, the patterns have a fresh laundry smell, but it's perfumey and not for everyone. I actually can't be in the same room with the whole dryer sheet thing for more than a few minutes without getting headaches but it's the best method I've found yet."
"In warmer weather I take my smelly patterns to let them sit in the sun too."
In Summary
1. Put stinky patterns in separate container.
2. Sprinkle one of the following substances around the patterns.
  • Baking Soda (favorite)
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Silica Gel 
  • Dryer sheets
  • Lavender
  • Damp Rid
  • Kitty Litter
  • Febreeze
3. Seal in container, ziplock bag, box, shed, whatever; for a long time. When you take them out they should be good to go.


4. If all else fails, use the sun. Joan from PatternsNew2U says' "On those really stinky patterns I would suggest waiting till Summer, laying them out on a patio table in the direct sunlight. My hubby is a fisheraman and he likes herring oil to put on his bait. He put the container in his back pocket. The smell would not come out no matter what I tried. I hung them on a hanger outside the sun for a day and the smell was gone. If the baking soda doesn't work try the sun.

The KEY to remember is to let your buyer know in the listing if the pattern smells at all whether it's stinky or smells like your grandmother's perfume. So get out there and get to work detoxing all those patterns! The sooner they smell good the sooner they can be enjoyed and used by everyone!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August Fashion Trends Vintage Pattern Style

By Amy Russo of Vienna’s Grace

Well my curiosity candle was lit when Ellen from KinseySue, looking for team input, posted McCall’s 2170 from 1957. 

This crazy cap pattern reminded me of a fashion trend that had developed in Japan in the early 1990s.  I wondered, was it still an active trend?  Has Tokyo street fashion influenced current styles and fashion designers?  If all things were yes, is there an overlooked market for vintage sewing patterns?  So like another very curious girl, I took the leap and fell head first down, down, down the rabbit hole.
What I found was almost as unique and as ever changing as Alice herself in Wonderland.
But before we sit down at the Mad Hatter‘s Tea party, let me assure you that although some Tokyo street fashion can appear a little disturbing to the eye of the western world, it is in no way meant to be creepy or inappropriately toddler like, it is merely a fashion statement.  Maybe it is a way of blurring the lines of eras and age, rethinking time as timeless, and clothing becoming ageless …well better to show you in a language we all understand…actual images.  The clothing in the photos are not designed for costume events, this is everyday wear for many of these gals.  The pictured styles are American as well as Japanese, and other countries.

Here are some looks that started it all; these styles are called Harajuku, Decora, Gothic Lolita, Kawaii, and Fairy Kei.  A very condensed definition of these styles follows below and then see if you can match the word with the photo.

As a little experiment, I have added these words in titles and tags, where they could apply to my already listed patterns, that before had little interest.  I am getting favorites, sold one of the patterns and have had some of the words show in my search word stats, almost every day.  Many vintage clothing sellers are using these words and it’s time for us to join the party. The customer using these search words may just be dying for the option of vintage patterns, a little DIY Gothic Lolita.  All we need to do is put the right patterns in their path, and let’s give them choices and ideas.  Here are only a few terms/styles that may apply to some patterns you are sure to have in your inventory.

Harajuku: area of Tokyo where some of these trends took root.  Style-from the wild edgy look, blending the extreme Anime to Gothic, this word could be used along with all these others, almost an umbrella term of all these styles.
Kawaii-a style of sugary sweet cuteness, pretty.  From Hello Kitty to soft feminine styles. This word could be used along with any of the feminine styles, a style but also a descriptive word for extra cute styles.
Fairy Kei-a much more extreme version of Kawaii, blending cosplay (costume-play), anime characters, mainly pastels and nearing the classic Lolita style.
Decora-It is just 100 accessories too many, using multi-print mixing, bolder colors, and very busy tutus.
Gothic Lolita-This is the most current active style trend reaching across The British Territories and through the U.S. The name pretty much explains the style.  Princess fairytale in a mini-dress and military wool coat like Red Valentino is the more mainstream look.

These looks can be as extreme as the artsy girl dressed like a Victorian Doll with a bustle to the soccer mom wearing a tweed Spencer jacket over a floral high-waisted mini-dress. This style is wide spread and it is influencing designers left and right.  I think adding a few pieces to a wardrobe is quite fun,….I like it…..anyone else ready to take that tumble down the rabbit hole?