Meet Our Advertisers #12: Lisa of Miss Helene’s

by Erin on November 7, 2008


Advance 9627

how long have you been in business? Since 1999, but I didn't start
selling patterns till 2000. I moved off eBay to Main Street Mall
Online's pattern mall three years ago, and I recently bought the
Vintage Fashion Library site, as well. Yeah, I'm not one to tolerate
not having anything to do!

what motivated you to go into the vintage patterns business? I was
looking for an interesting way to make some extra money on eBay. I
needed something that would be easy to hide from my rather OCD
husband, who hates clutter, so I started selling patterns, which were,
I figured, easy to hide in a closet. That was 17,000 patterns ago.
Hubby has now given up hope of having a room that is patternless.

what did you do before this? My "real" job is as a phone triage
nurse, taking phone calls from people who have medical questions.
It's pretty amusing, most days.

where are you based? Indianapolis. We live about 8 blocks from the
hospital where my husband was born, in the neighborhood he dreamed of
living in when he was a kid. Do I have a chance of moving? Never. I
did, however, grow up moving all the time, and had moved 12 times by
the age of 16. I like having roots now.

More fun questions:

what's the weirdest/best/craziest/most beautiful thing you've ever
found?
Most beautiful and best would
have to be my new favorite vintage pattern catalog (I collect). It's
a 1954 Spadea, full of Ceil Chapman, Tina Leser, Clare McCardell, Jo
Copeland
, and more. I'll sell it after I get it catalogued — MAYBE.

Coolest would have to be the faux-lero pattern, which I'm still
waiting on Janet to sew, so I can see it (hint hint), another would
be a 1932 Vogue Pattern Book, that has a handwritten note next to one
dress, saying that she's wearing that dress on election night, "to the
Democratic candidate, Roosevelt's, house, on election night." Too
cool.

Craziest would probably be a vintage obstetrical corset, from the 40s.
I can't imagine strapping in a pregnant belly, but it came with
instructions on how to adjust it every month, as the belly grew. Oye.

what do you have in stock that you can't believe hasn't sold? The
Schiaparelli and Adrian patterns I have. But oh, they'd have to be
listed, right? Of my listed ones, I'd love to see the daring person
who snaps up this one!

what do you dream about finding? Pictorial Review catalogs from
the 1920s, with my grandmother's name in them. She was the original
Miss Helene, and was an editor for Pictorial Review.

what do you enjoy most about working with vintage patterns? I just love looking at them. It reminds me of years past, when ladies dressed like ladies, but it's also such a piece of history, watching the trends in styles, sizes, etc. I just love patterns, period.

what do you wish someone would ask you about your site? Not so much a question, but I like input as to what people like to see on the site. Probably my favorite thing is when people ask me "can you find XXX pattern for me because……" It's like a treasure hunt, and I have a pretty good success rate, even if they don't know the pattern number. And I just added credit card capability to the VFL, so now people don't have to just use PayPal, they can use plastic!

it's a good day at work when …
I find a bunch of 30s patterns, or some Vogue Pattern books. Of course, no listing gets done, but I sure do enjoy looking at them.

if I ran the internet for a day I'd … get rid of spam.

the blogs I read (other than ADAD are …) The Girl Can't Help It
(hilarious!), The Vintage Traveler (such a nice read), The Vintage Goddess/Damn Good Vintage, and Zuburbia.

you'd laugh if you knew this about me … I don't sew. I passed
home ec because I could cook. My sewing skills are rather limited,
but it's on my list of things to master before I die. God knows I
have enough patterns to choose from!

Oh, and a couple of other advertiser things to let you know about:

Sheila of Out of the Ashes decided to go camping this weekend and so she's having a special "gone camping" sale until Sunday, offering 15% off. Use coupon code GLAMIS!

Penny is renovating the Antique Dollhouse of Patterns, so her site will be down until December. Look for a big sale when she comes back, and you can still email her with pattern requests!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

tea November 7, 2008 at 7:59 am

Lisa,I just want to give you my gratitude for two things: 1) your profession. I’m one of those annoying people who calls the after-hours triage nurse when something freaky happens, and without people like you, emergency rooms would be a LOT fuller. So on behalf of others who pay attention to their health and can’t always coordinate their minor emergencies with their doctors’ office hours, THANK YOU! 2) opening my eyes to The Girl Can’t Help It. Awesome.

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Chantelle November 7, 2008 at 9:00 am

I’d love to see those Schiaparelli and Adrian patterns you have :)

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Jen ~ MOMSPatterns November 7, 2008 at 10:53 am

Yay for LISA! I love you, man! Congrats again on your Vintage Fashion Library. It looks SO beautiful. :D

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What-I-Found November 7, 2008 at 11:47 am

Sending some love towards Lisa…she has been so generous with her knowledge and such a good friend. I don’t think I’d be selling patterns at all if not for her. Congrats!Tina

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Theresa November 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

I would sew that groovy mod dress- but I would put contrasting fabric behind he holes…if it were in my size.

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Jane Mary Ann Betsy Whatever November 7, 2008 at 2:38 pm

This is amazing. On Nov. 4 Michele Obama, the future first lady of the United States (from Chicago!), wore the most talked about dress in America. Along with the analysis of said dress, she’s been described in the MSM as singularly bringing back dresses into fashion. And yet nary a post or comment about it on ADAD. Nope, instead we’re treated to the same old keywords: roller skating, liberty fabric, airship hostess, (fauxlero where are you?) and, of course, advertisers.I love dresses and vintage and sewing and I’ve wasted some serious time on ADAD through the years and I’ve shopped at its advertisers’ sites. However, I find myself coming here less and less and being disappointed when I do get here. To paraphrase Tim Gunn: I say this as someone who wants you to succeed, but this just isn’t working for me.

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Birgit November 7, 2008 at 5:54 pm

To the last comment:You know, anonymous posts are not very nice (fake string of names or no), and particularly if you are critizing…

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What-I-Found November 7, 2008 at 11:57 pm

And of course you are always free to start your own blog.

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Katie H. November 8, 2008 at 7:27 am

Is it just me or does the girl in the red dress look like the actress Anne Hathaway?

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lucitebox November 8, 2008 at 10:39 am

As an advertiser on this site, I’d like to thank you, Erin, for offering affordable advertising for tiny companies like mine. Your infrequent “meet our advertisers” posts are certainly educational and fun to read. I like learning about how others built their companies, what inspires them, and how they got to where they are now. I would guess that other people who buy ads from you would agree–your blog just about the only place where companies like ours fit. You offer exposure to a very small and fairly marginalized demographic that might not find us otherwise. Now…do I wish you wrote about Michelle Obama’s dress on November 5? Heck yes! (If only to see what you compared it to, how you described it and what you thought of her style that night.) I also wish I had done it on my blog! (D’oh!) Fear not, Jane Mary Ann Betsy Whatever! :) I really don’t think you’re wasting your time on this blog and I do appreciate your Tim Gunnism. (I’m going to pretend you said it to me, okay? My blog has really been suffering for lack of focus lately.) Besides, I’m sure there will be many days in the upcoming four years that will be filled with opportunities to discuss the state of the dress. And, I’m entirely confident that Erin hasn’t lost her focus on that.

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Jean November 8, 2008 at 11:30 am

The pattern that she mentions that she is surprised hasn’t sold! Too Funny!!!!! I remember when that one came out! Or at least when they were selling in the stores!!! It was quite an uproar with the older people in our area! I lived in Seattle at the time!

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elizilla November 8, 2008 at 11:49 am

Re the pattern that hasn’t sold… That’s fun! But there are two reasons I’m not buying it.1. Not my size.2. There’s no there, there. The holes are a fun feature, but I could steal that idea without a pattern. When I buy patterns I’m looking for good fit and interesting shaping, things that are more difficult to get right without a pattern. And that dress doesn’t have anything like that. I don’t need a pattern, to cut two rectangles, sew them together with arm and neckholes, and dart as needed.But thank you Lisa for the cool store. I did go out and buy something! Even if you never sell the dress with holes, it will bring a smile to people’s faces when they shop your store, and that counts for something, right?

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Gidget Bananas November 8, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I love the featured pattern; I’ve always liked box pleats.Adrian patterns. Oh, lord, I do love me some Adrian.And that cut-out dress? How Emma Peel! (If it were also mini as well as cut out!)

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Lisa @ the Vintage Fashion Library November 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm

That’s exactly right — the holey dress is too long to look right, but I do think it’s a fascinating pattern. I like ones that make me smile, then wonder who would wear it.And Tea, thanks so much for the nice words about my profession. I really do love what I do. Triage is one of those rare jobs where you really can make a difference, and people appreciate you. It’s a great job too, because you never know what’s going to happen.And yes, the red dress girl DOES look like Anne Hathaway. I never realized that, but you’re right.

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Cookie November 10, 2008 at 1:31 pm

The reason I, for one, am not discussing Ms. Obamas dress is because Im a liberal, and also polite. I just want to pretend the whole garment never happened.The dress looked fine on the runway on the standard skinny model, and would be perfectly correct at an upscale SM club. But its too evening looking for the event Ms. Obama chose, not flattering for every figure, and putting a cardigan over it just tipped the outfit more off-kilter.http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Jv_LcY0m77E/SRHDmVJ19rI/AAAAAAAAAZk/7kIFLV9b-8M/s1600-h/nrrunway.jpg

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