Oh, Leola.

by Erin on August 13, 2008


Advance 5159

You can't see it in this image, but if you click through to the eBay auction (where this is listed for a couple more days), the pattern envelope has "Leola" written on it in red ink.

I am consumed with curiosity about Leola. First of all, if this was her pattern, I know I would have liked her — this is one excellent pattern. I wonder why she never made the dress? (The seller says it's "factory folded", but maybe Leola was just very, very tidy?) Maybe she had a bunch of sisters (or roommates) and that's why she felt she had to write her name on her pattern?

Maybe Leola got distracted by a life of hijinks and adventure, or maybe she was planning to wear this dress on a hot date and he broke her heart, leaving her too despondent to sew, or maybe she joined the WAC and started wearing uniforms, instead.

I think (basely solely on my onomastics-are-destiny reaction to the name Leola) that she was attracted to this pattern by the green print version. (Also, that's the one I like.) According to Nametrends.net, the name Leola's last popularity surge was in the 1910s, meaning that when this dress came out it's likely that she would have been about my age.

I would love to make this in bright primary colors (big surprise) with a black midriff band and black piping between the tiers. Too bad it's not my size.

Oh, Leola, why didn't you ever make this dress? I need to know!

[Oh, and thank you, everybody, for the kind birthday wishes of yesterday! You all rock!]

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

the_lazymilliner August 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

I too am fascinated by old sewing patterns with owners’ names on them. Funny because I’m not tempted to write Mary Beth Klatt on my sewing patterns. Maybe I should so future sewers can wonder about me as you are about Leola.

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 10:16 am

Dibbs!-Sandra

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Becky Holmes August 13, 2008 at 10:22 am

At an antique store in Eagle River, Wisconsin, I bought three old silver forks beautifully engraved with the name Lucinda. Who is Lucinda, I wonder, as I eat my breakfast, and where is the rest of her silver?

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sixties sewer August 13, 2008 at 10:37 am

Leola, so romantic, so bygone….can you be a Leola in the current century? This is a perfect storm dres for me….the sleeves cut as one with the bodice, the gathers for the bust, the large midriff and the tiers…. it just doesn’t get any better. Alas, the size is so not me!

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jenny August 13, 2008 at 10:38 am

My great-grandmother was named Leola!

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Ashe Mischief August 13, 2008 at 10:46 am

A delicious dress! It’s reminds me of the gowns over at Trashy Diva. And such a lovely name Leola is… it’d be so nice to know her story…

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Jen ~ MOMSPatterns August 13, 2008 at 10:46 am

Do you know, I sold a pattern recently to a woman who just HAD to buy it because her Mother-In-Law’s name, IN HER MIL’S HANDWRITING, was written on one of my patterns!She wrote me to inquire where I bought patterns, because she was curious to see if I knew her MIL, or had travelled to their state (which I believe was Arkansas?)Interesting that the pattern had travelled all over the states to end up in my hands.. only to be back in the family’s hands!

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 10:47 am

A lovely name. Happy Birthdayand happy sewing!

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goodworks1 August 13, 2008 at 10:48 am

I have many of my grandmother’s old patterns and she sewed for her two daughters and 4 granddaughters in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Each pattern has a name (or two) written on it in her handwriting according to which person she was sewing for. I’ve never seen one with her own name, Beatrice, on it.

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Ladygrande (Texas Marie) August 13, 2008 at 11:48 am

My mother’s family also wrote the names on their patterns – I have a few patterns from my aunts with their names on them. And, my mom always wrote our names on our patterns – and filed them in shoeboxes with our names on the shoeboxes. My mom also wrote the date when she sewed the items. Sometimes, I would have as many as four items made from the same pattern in different fabrics.

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saidee August 13, 2008 at 12:14 pm

I love this, ladygrande, including names and dates on patterns. My aunt Jean gave me some patterns from her “collection” with notes about what had been made from them and even swatches of fabric over 50 years old. Also included was an apron cut out, but not sewn, which would have convinced me we were related, had I needed proof!In addition to making notes on recipes in cookbooks, I add the date, the occasion, and names of everyone there, but usually only for the first time I try something. (I am one of those cooks who believes in guests-as-guinea-pigs!)I adopted this practice after reading my grandmother’s cookbook notes.Erin, I am chagrined that I sent you a plethora of pockets without a bevy of birthday wishes! Belated, but still heartfelt: Happy Birthday! This site is a constant source of delight, inspiration, instruction, and LOL surprises: thank you!

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Theresa August 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I write notes in my cookbooks. My grandmother wrote notes in hers which were passed down to me. I know add notes to her notes. No notes on my patterns, but I think I will start.

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Leola… may not be a person, but a place. I grew up not far from Leola, PA. In fact when I read your entry my first reaction was that it referred to that little town. Maybe there are other Leolas across the country?

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Laura August 13, 2008 at 12:49 pm

My grandmother used to lend patterns to her friends, the way I do books. In her possession were patterns marked with her friends’ names (and I am sure there were patterns in their possession marked with hers). Anyway, maybe that is why she wrote her name on it?

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Cookie August 13, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Made up in white, this would be a perfect design for a garden wedding. But I’ve been seeing everything in white lately, so maybe I’m projecting. Speaking of notes, there are a bunch of interesting scribbles on a series of Jackie O. type patterns over at Lanetz Living. (Look under the “View By Subjects” drop-down menu.) I think they must have been marked by a costume designer who was doing some Kennedy themed project. They are all size 10, though, which is too bitty for me at the moment. But I DO like the Spadea 255!

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Little Hunting Creek August 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm

I especially love old patterns that include descriptions of intended fabrics, swatches, and notes on the events they were made for, like “Elfie’s first communion” or “Frieda’s K3 dance”. If only this pattern were larger! SIGH

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Cookie, thanks for the Lanetz Living tip. But I don’t understand the “pirt”!-Sandra

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Cookie August 13, 2008 at 1:48 pm

I’ve been intrigued by the Pirt as well…and have had plenty of time to study it, as it’s not selling. Everyone’s afraid of the Pirt! Is it a combination of pedal pushers and a skirt? I don’t get it, either. I don’t think the style survived for long, as the only Pirts I found on the internet were Phishing Incident Reporting and Termination team, Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Training Program, and Politician Integrity Rating Tool.

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Ha! It LOOKS like the models are either wearing a long shirt-dress, with an overskirt over it, or a skirt that matches their shirt, and an overskirt over THAT. I assumed Pirt stood for “pants/skirt”. Where are the pants? What’s the P really stand for? Questions like that keep me up at night.-Sandra

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Cookie August 13, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I think the description says “Split Overskirt” I don’t know what the upside of this bulky garment is…it looks sort of like a big apron. If you wanted that look, couldn’t you just make a skirt with contrasting fabric inset in large pleats? The fabric contrasts in the drawing look kind of breezy and fetching…but I still don’t get it.

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Hi. I am the ebayer who brought Leola to the world, though other than the large lot of patterns of hers I have, I know nothing about her. I am so excited to have my pattern featured on your site. I have about 20 other patterns of Leolas and I have to say she had lovely taste. Thanks for looking everybody.Corey Yatesoriginalbargainpatterns4u

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Gigi August 13, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Well, shoot, it’s in my size! Maybe I’ll be the lucky winner! Now you have me wondering about Leola and whether I should start writing my name on my patterns so a future sewist can wonder about me. ;-)

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 3:12 pm

I think the idea of a pirt is similar to the more modern skort. I personally loved skorts when I was younger. I could be comfortable wearing shorts but it looked like I was wearing a skirt. Made my grandma happy while allowing me to be comfortable as I am not a skirt or dress wearer. Im the jeans t-shirts person. I think the pirt is a great solution except that I HATE pedal pushers and capris. Give me a pair of full length jeans or an honest to goodness pair of shorts. Forget that in-between cut off at the knees look.Thanks all for a great look back and YES to making notes on patterns, cookbooks, etc. How else will our descendants know what we were thinking?Happy Belated birthday Erin. Enjoy 37 cause it all goes by FAST as you get older!Happy sewing allTeresa

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Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Well, Hi Corey! I’m the one that emailed you, saying it’s really useful to see the back of the pattern envelope. Yes, Leola was fabulous, and I WANT this dress, but it looks like I have a lot of competition!I can get behind skorts, because I like the look of a mini, but I don’t need to show the world my lady parts. But wearing knee length pants, with a knee length skirt over them seems like overkill.-Sandra

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Cookie August 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Debate is raging, but I think the Pirt is sort of a pencil skirt with a split overskirt layered on top. But who really knows WHAT’S going on under that crazy 60′s garment? If such is the case, I don’t understand the redundancy of that! (It looks like a beach outfit, not something you’d wear in Alaska for warmth.)

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Jessica August 13, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Cookie, you aren’t the only one who thought the dress would make a wonderful wedding dress. Just look at the swirls drawn around the green dress. They make me think of tulle.Off to go check out the pirt.

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Cookie August 13, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Hmmm…so true! Maybe the green print illustration was inspiring Leola for a second wedding…with its spots of white, a white hat and veil? The mystery deepens.

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Chicago Sarah August 13, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I think I have a platonic crush on Leola…she is me in an alternative life where it’s okay to stay home and sew all day (and hubby still doesn’t mind take-out for dinner)!

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Cookie August 13, 2008 at 6:01 pm

OMG….the Pirt IS Pants and and Overskirt. It says so on the back of the pattern where it discusses measurements.I guess the Pirt would be useful if you were run ragged hosting a New England clambake, grubbing around in the sand yet still wanting to look like an effortless hostess in a skirt.

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Robyn August 13, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Maybe it’s not Leola’s pattern. Maybe some guy likes making dresses for his lady loves. Like (and like someone else mentioned, one of my favourite things) notes written in cookbooks: “Tom didn’t like”.

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quinn August 13, 2008 at 7:41 pm

I enjoy your blog so much, and now I’ve spent an hour on ebay looking at great patterns. So many of them seem to be sz 34 bust, and I am…not. How difficult is it to enlarge a pattern?

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Chantelle August 13, 2008 at 8:13 pm

I love getting vintage patterns that show some of the original owner. I received a few mail-order patterns where the owner had sketched the design (with notes) on the back of the mail-order envelope. I love it!Every time I find a personal touch that’s been preserved over the years I wonder about who that person was. quinn, it’s not too hard to enlarge a pattern – see these instructions from Threads – but I’d recommend making up a muslin before doing your actual pattern, and be sure to check that the finished pattern has the ease you want and fits you vertically. Measurements were different back then and women were a bit shorter.

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lorrwill August 13, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Me also loves this pattern and this post and comments. I have a picture of a RTW skirt with this kind of a tier treatment that I hope to reproduce someday.I also have vintage patterns with the previous owner(s) notes to self on them. I have also put my name on the ones I used in sewing class. And yeah, I have silly notes to self on some of mine, too.I lurve the insight in to other people’s lives revealed in those little scribbles.

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Deborah August 13, 2008 at 9:03 pm

My sewing machine and serger came from an eBay auction. I met the seller, who was selling his mother’s old sewing things from a storage unit. I never asked if she was in assisted living or departed, as I felt it would be rude, but I have often wondered about Sandra and her enveloped, hand-drawn, labeled patterns; her intense organization; her collection of 400+ bobbins organized by color and LABELED with the color number; her penchant for silk ribbon embroidery. I love Sandra. If only I had met her… Leola, tell Sandra I said, “Hey.”

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Rachel August 13, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Perhaps Leola is much like me, as pointed out by my friend…too many patterns, too little time.

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Larkspur August 14, 2008 at 7:52 am

Lovely pattern! I’ve never heard of the name Leola before but I really like it (maybe because my son’s name is Leo???)

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Anonymous August 14, 2008 at 8:02 am

I have this pattern, only on mine, the solid color dress is slate blue and the print dress is peach. Which makes me wonder – did the pattern companies just randomly print their envelopes in different colorways? It would be so cool to be able to thumb through the pattern envelopes until you found one in colors you liked. Or were the different colorways on the pattern envelopes the result of war rationing? Amy

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Theresa August 14, 2008 at 8:33 am

OOH Cookie – Spadea 255 – you are SO RIGHT!

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Theresa August 14, 2008 at 8:35 am

I like Simplicity 3588 – the red with leopard…

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Anna August 14, 2008 at 10:48 am

I’m liking the name Leola more and more. Perhaps we will see some Dressaday babies in little frocks with frilly bloomers answering to Leola in the not-so-distant future. Come on 2008, we can take the 1910′s!

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Sara August 14, 2008 at 1:06 pm

I just got my first vintage patterns from eBay, and they are lovingly annotated with helpful instructions. I have done the same with mine, hopefully whoever gets the patterns after me appreciates them! :)

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evalyn August 14, 2008 at 2:32 pm

My first thought was Wedding Dress, and I’m not even dating. Anyhow, its a lovely pattern. I don’t like the cap/batwing sleeve thing, but it would be easy enough to change it to simple sleevless. White lace over satin, or tule over brocade. Plain white eyelet. Yeah, I’m thinking wedding dress.

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Cookie August 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Okay, get this: WELCOME TO MY WEDDING. New England garden; 4-ish (so no one is squinting). Me in this dress with extra tier, ie, long. Bridesmaids in dress as shown, shorter. ALL of us in white (democratic) but I carry blue and green bouquet, same flowers in hair. They get nothing. Please send presents. Oh yes, men in white linen jackets, khaki slacks, maybe pale pink (negotiable) long ties. Could have blue stripes in ties, to match flowers. Must set up weekend date now, so I can some day marry.

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Anonymous August 14, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Cookie, sounds lovely! What time of year? What kind of blue and green flowers?-Sandra

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Eirlys August 14, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Beautiful dress. Would love to see that made up.Somehow “Leola” is making me think of cooking oil. Or crayons. It’s beautiful, but should be beautiful in an oil-related way – like an expensive avocado face cream, perhaps.A kind friend in the antiquarian book business once sent me an early C20th sewing primer with my name fastidiously copper-plated in the front. That’s my very curious given name plus my (admittedly more commonplace) maiden surname. But this book had never been mine, and was signed (I’m guessing) about 50 years before I was born. Sent a chill up and down my spine. Have never knowingly met another Eirlys to this day; think if I clapped eyes on another I might disappear in a puff of tailors’ chalk… (or ellipses, more likely).Oh, I look forward to this wedding, Cookie! Hope all the DaD-ers can come and carry blue and green flowers!

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Cookie August 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Wedding should be in early Autumn, so weather is mild but not chilly, and no one gets sweat stains. Also, fall is best time to visit that most romantic of honeymoon spots…Venice, Italy.Don’t know which flowers would work best. But I saw a special on TCM (?) about costume preservation, and they showed one white dress (maybe a gauzy ball gown?) that had accents of blue flowers with medium pale greenery at the shoulders and maybe on a bustle. There might have been a few pale pink roses in there, too. It looked fresh and GORGEOUS. Made it all subtly vibrant, rather than all monochromatic. But still natural enough looking to be classic.

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lorrwill August 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Well good. Now we know what to make to be subtly coordinated – like a united force of ADAD for your nuptials. After all I picture everyone, and I mean everyone looking ABFAB to the nth degree.Oh and thanks alot for making me go the Janet’s site. I bought more patterns – then I went back and bought even more (who needs food anyway?). Like I need more patterns. I have more patterns that I can use in this lifetime.:-)I found some fabu dresses with pockets!!!! How could any devoted ADAD addict resist that?

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I love the pattern!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with huge pockets. I looove it!ps…Happy birthday!

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I love the pattern!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with huge pockets. I looove it!ps…Happy birthday!

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I love the pattern!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with huge pockets. I looove it!ps…Happy birthday!

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I love the pattern!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with huge pockets. I looove it!ps…Happy birthday!

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I love the pattern!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with huge pockets. I looove it!ps…Happy birthday!

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I love the pattern!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with huge pockets. I looove it!ps…Happy birthday!

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Greta August 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm

I like the green one, too!Inspired by you, I made a skirt with large pockets. I looove it!ps…happy birthday!

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Anonymous August 14, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I am soooo sorry about the multiple posts, I don’t know what happened with my computer!~Greta

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Theresa August 15, 2008 at 9:59 am

Oh Cookie, I want to go to your wedding! Pick someone so we can all dress up! Heck, throwa fake wedding and we’ll all come!

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berryberr August 15, 2008 at 11:26 am

Lovely blog! Will check back often!

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Cookie August 15, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Theresa: A fake wedding could be a real possibility at this point. The party could have a whole Abandoned at the Alter theme, with possible testimonials, etc. The green flower that might work as an accent would be hydrangeas…but not HUGE clumps of them.Lorrwill: I went back to Janet’s site, too, and, giving the Pirt a wide berth, bought the Spadea 255 I’ve been intrigued by. The picture’s gone now, but this is another one in that lot that I imagine a costume designer used for some Kennedy epic. Does that notation say “Lawford then wore plaid” or “Lawford thin wool plaid”? If so, what is Lawford plaid? The outfit itself is mildly icky. The yellow version reminds me of something you might wear to visit someone in the hospital in 1962.http://www.lanetzliving.net/inc/sdetail/68608

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Sickofitcindy August 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm

I’m the lucky soon-to-be owner of Leola’s dress! I will either have to regrade or redraft this considerably to fit but I think it’s worth the effort.

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Cookie August 15, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Oh, definitely! And you can make money selling the pattern to us when you’re done! CONGRATS!

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Anonymous August 15, 2008 at 2:41 pm

A fake wedding…..sounds like a lot more fun and less stressful than the real thing! No long term committment after the ceremony. WOOOOHOOO! Gotta make sure the caterers are lined up for clean up though so we DAD divas can relax!Have fun all.Teresa

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Theresa August 15, 2008 at 2:44 pm

I had blue white hydrangeas at my wedding. I wanted blue…but could not get them. We have to have some kind of ADAD Get Dressed Up Meet Up!

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millions of peaches August 16, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Leola definitely seems like it could become a hot baby name again. Witness the preschool surge of little Leos. Wouldn’t it be CUTE to have a Leo-and-Leola sibling set?No?Drat.

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jasun August 16, 2008 at 4:23 pm

A fake-jilted wedding sounds really rather an excellent idea for a party. Everybody could be as dramatic and awful and wedding-stereotype as they’ve ever wanted, and be fresh and marvelous for any real weddings following. No matter how they really felt about them. Hah!And I’m going to write my name on all my patterns, from now.

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Grace August 16, 2008 at 6:18 pm

I love this vintage pattern! I know Butterick currently has a pattern very similar to this in their dresses section, it’s vintage. I like it, and hopefully will make it!God Bless,Grace of Grace a la Mode.

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Laura August 17, 2008 at 1:00 pm

I have not read through all the comments, so apologies if someone has said something similar:My mom taught me to write my last name on my patterns when I bought them. This way, when I brought the pattern to stores to search for fabric, it would be known that I had already bought the pattern. And I have a few unused patterns in my collection, waiting for the perfect material to be found

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Eva August 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm

I have a little stash of patterns handed down to me from my grandmother in law. She is one of those who writes the name of the person she made it for and the date on her patterns.

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Vilmant Apytiksliai August 30, 2008 at 6:06 am

You would never guess… Yesterday I was looking for a shoemaker, wandering in oldtown narrow streets. And there was an establishment named “Leola” :)they make keys, unlock your locks if you forget your keyes inside and other stuff :)

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Vilmant Apytiksliai August 30, 2008 at 6:10 am

http://www.raktas.lt/ and here is their website, you cold see leole on the top :)

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