Olympic-Class Fauxleros!

ebay item 8305987417

Vireya sent this link to me, from the opening of the Olympic Village … I really like the "fauxlero power!" hand gestures. Although I'm not exactly sure if these are fauxleros, or just extremely vestigial boleros. These may be the long-disputed missing link between the fauxlero and the bolero …

Check out picture #5 in the series, too, to see the Olympic-rings hairstyles in closeup.

Also: Sheila (of Out of the Ashes Collectibles) is having a vacation sale: she's on vacation until late August (but with a quick trip home to mail orders about about August 7 or 8) and she is offering 15% off all orders. So if you don't mind waiting until 8/7 or 8/8 or after that the first of September it's a good savings!

And yes, I'm still in Japan, and yes, I bought a lot of fabric in Tokyo … and if you want to know what brought me to Japan, it was giving this talk:

Yes, that first slide is blank. I should probably edit it to have my name or something on it, shouldn't I?

edited to add: Vireya found another photo, this one full-length:

Olympics 2008 fauxleros

Comic Con Dresses Are the Best Dresses

Kristen is a very, very lucky person. First of all, she was lucky enough to find this fabric on eBay:

comics fabric

Then, she was lucky enough to go to Comic Con, which I have always wanted to do … not just for the comics, but for the clothes. I mean costumes. Whatever.

And finally, she (naturally) decided that a trip to Comic Con needed a new dress, and made this one:

comics dress

Hmm, perhaps now that I think about this, it might not be luck — it's starting to look suspiciously like good planning and hard work … which is even more impressive!

You should totally go check out Kristen's blog) to see the side and back views and the awesome red shoes she chose to go with the dress, too.

Pick-a-Pocket, Any Pocket

Indian Head Fabric skirt ad

Jim sent me this old fabric ad — and can we just all agree that it's awesome? Leaving aside the weird fringe trim? And possibly the color beige?

I am thinking I really need one of these multipocket skirts — especially the "hopscotch" version. I would like to make all the pockets close with contrasting bright plastic zippers (for just a tinch more security and a bit of extra wtf? sauce).

My favorite part of these old ads are the guarantees. This one states "GUARANTEE: 'If any article made principally of an Indian Head brand cotton fails to give proper service because of the fading or running of Indian Head colors, or if the fabric shrinks more than 1%, we will make good the total cost of the article.' Make sure the name INDIAN HEAD is on the selvage or hang tag."

I can't believe, though, that Indian Head cotton comes in 39 colors and BEIGE is the one they decided to feature. Beige. You know how they say the opposite of love is indifference? The opposite of color is not colorlessness, it's beige. I mean, I AM largely beige and I hate that color.

I should apologize for the spottiness of the "A Day" part of "Dress A Day" lately — lots of travel. (I'm typing this at 6 a.m. in an airport departure lounge, actually …) I'm on my way to Tokyo and Sapporo! Expect more Japanese fabric pictures and the concomitant Japanese fabric BUYING.

Seersucker Dress, As Promised

Seersucker Duro Jr

Here's the seersucker dress (the Duro Junior pattern again) I promised to post when I got back (and I did get back, despite my flight being canceled; I got the next-to-last seat in the last row of the flight that left before my flight, and ended up arriving half an hour later than my flight was supposed to — myriad and strange are the ways of airlines).

(The antepenultimate and ultimate seats on that flight — i.e., the two seats next to me — were occupied by Masters of The Universe who were swapping stories of the first-class seats they'd lost when their flights were canceled. Oh, woe!)

Anyway, I wasn't wearing this dress on the plane, although I did actually wash it during my trip so I could wear it twice! The weather was so horribly humid, and this dress is so cool, that it was a necessity. (Also, being seersucker, it dried in about twenty minutes after I hung it up.) I wished I had eleven of these so I could change into them twice a day.

At first I was a bit worried that this was too "swimsuit coverup," but after wearing it for a while that wore off.

There's a few more changes I want to make to this pattern: I want to make the pockets wider and deeper, and sew the top of them into the waistband for extra support. I need to lengthen the front bodice another half-inch; and alter the seam across the top of the shoulder so that it curves down a bit. (I like the sleeve to follow the arm, not stick straight out.) I lopped two inches off the skirt before I hemmed it, but it would be more efficient if I altered the pattern piece instead … and maybe make the skirt a teeny bit fuller, too, if only to better accommodate the bigger pockets.

Right now I want to make it in lemon-yellow linen with brown linen banding, dark gray poplin with red, a pink-and-maroon floral fabric (better than it sounds) … the list goes on. Maybe for my next trip I really will have eleven versions!

Oh, and maybe next time I'll match the stripes. But probably not:

Seersucker Duro Jr

And quickly: Jen at MOMSPatterns has started using "fauxlero" as a key word, meaning you can search for fauxleros on her site. AND she's running a 20% off sale from right now thru Sunday night, midnight EST with coupon code 'fauxlero'. (And there's a nice history of the word fauxlero and list of fauxlero patterns on the Vintage Pattern Wiki …)

Ridiculous(ly Expensive) Shoes

Prada rickrack sandals

I saw these shoes in a shop window a month or so ago, and they looked so cute. Then I saw them on the street, on a real person, and they were even cuter. So I went into the shop (Prada, a place where I don't remember ever going into before — what would be the point?), took this surreptitious picture, and am now posting it. I would link to them but I can't find an online seller.

They caught my eye, of course, because they are RICK-RACK SANDALS, and as such, absolutely gorgeous. They're also $495, which puts them WAY out of my budget (that is, if my budget were at the Equator, this pair of shoes would be at Alpha Centauri) which is sad.

My hope is that I can outlast everyone else — in six months, these shoes will be "so last-season," whereas my love for rick-rack knows no season. There will be pairs going begging, and I will snap them up, preferably on eBay. At least, that's my fantasy.

There's also a high-heel version, but I didn't bother taking a picture of those. (I was terrified of the salesladies, frankly.)

(If you look at the reflection in the chrome edging of the table, you can see my stripey seersucker dress. I'll try and post about that dress towards the end of the week.)

A Guest Rant on "Why Are Vintage Patterns So Expensive?"

McCalls 3893

I got this great "guest rant" from a pattern seller (who will remain anonymous) and I thought it was worth posting.

[Although] I will note that no one's raised the issue of "How much did they pay people for the valuable vintage they are offering us" or "I bet they paid $5.00 for 20 patterns, how can they charge us $15.00 each for them??" (or significantly more, in some cases).

[It's] a very valid point and I don't want to ruin your comment section by addressing it … I have a good answer for how and why I price my offerings:

Yes I often buy boxes of old patterns for very little cost for the box. But I got up at 4:00AM to be first in line at the estate sale that I thought might possibly have vintage patterns. I stood in line for 2 hours and tried to be first in the door. When I got in the door I started pushing past people and heading for the garage or shed where the patterns usually are and lo and behold there are 2 boxes, rat pellets, roach carcasses and all …

I make my best deal and tote the smelly mess to my car. When I get them home I sit down and go through them to see if there are any beautiful finds that need my immediate attention. I sort by priority which goes first and which gets stored for another day. Then I start with the high priority ones and spread out and check to make sure all the pieces are there and cry when they aren't. I remove old pins (usually unless I miss one), I iron the envelope and the instructions so they are nice and readable.

Then I scan (or rather the DH scans) the envelope and sends it to me. I size it and clarify it a bit so it is readable. If I'm feeling creative I "clean" the front just for my files and cause I like 'em that way. Then it's time to write the listing. Gotta hold that pattern so I know the proper size and measurements … 'cause they're mostly different through the years.

Then I package the little beauty in a plastic bag and file it away until it goes to its new owner … by this time I've spent an average of 1-2 manhours, gasoline (at $4 a gallon) and we don't even count the time spent in line at the estate sale …

Now it's listing time … we all know that eBay doesn't do anything for free (and even website space costs) so I've got 1-2 hours time, a plastic bag, gas money, and then we add FEES. Take away everything else and the fees alone eat into the profit. If I manage to get $9.99 for a pattern and it better be a special one … I get to put $8.00 of that in my pocket. Take away a few cents for packaging and equipment (scanner, computer, iron) maintenance and we're down to $7.50 … O yeah, the 25 cents I paid for the pattern … we're at $7.25. IF THE PATTERN SELLS! Considering the 1-2 manhours involved … That's below minimum wage.

I thought this was worth posting because so many of us forget about the overhead and just plain TIME that's involved in running a small business, especially when you're doing everything yourself (or with the help of your spouse, who may or may not have another full-time job). Sure, I hear people say "I could buy that at the Salvation Army for a dollar," but I always want to ask them "Really? That exact pattern? You're sure it's there? When do they close, by the way?"

You're really paying for everything above, plus the luxury of choice — being able to select from the range of patterns in the seller's web store. And (at least for my advertisers) reassurance that all the pieces are there, and a good chance of a refund if they're not (try that with the Salvation Army …).

One last thing: if you do think vintage patterns are too expensive, you have a lot of options. You can not buy them, for one. Modern patterns are much, much cheaper (if you wait for the $1.99 pattern sales at the major fabric chains). You can set up a wait-for-it search on eBay and hope someone who doesn't know what they have will list it. And, of course, you can always draft your own.

That pattern up above? It's $75 (at The Blue Gardenia, sorry, there's not direct link to the pattern page). Unused, an in-demand bust size, a fancy pattern, and a great illustration. Is it worth $75? It is to somebody!

Disorganization is still an organization, just not an optimal one

I think maybe two years ago I said I was going to organize my sewing room "soon" and show you all pictures. Ha. I managed to carve out a few hours a couple weekends ago and made a start, anyway. Here's a look at one of my bookcases o' sewing:

Bookcase of Sewing

And yes, that is a large box labeled RICKRACK there on the lower left. The pattern pieces on the wall are held to a metal strip with magnets; the patterns in the boxes are ones I haven't filed yet.

Here's a closer-up view:

Bookcase of Sewing

And these little trays? Are all full of bias tape, sorted by color:

Bookcase of Sewing

I had this fantasy that I would sort everything out and have matching gorgeous boxes and pretty jars and so on and so forth, a sort of Martha Stewart organizational orgy, but then I realized that I liked the weirdness of all my leftover shoe boxes, file boxes, Mason jars, and candy tins. Some of the hardware boxes and cigar boxes were used by my husband's grandmother to keep HER sewing things in, which I like.

The bookcase itself is a leftover from our last apartment. (In our house, the sewing room is where furniture goes to die. "Should we toss this?" "Nah, just put it in the sewing room." I'm surprised there's not a saggy twin bed and two slightly wobbly dining room chairs in that room.)

I'm nowhere near done — there's still an entire closet that might as well be Fibber McGee's, and a couple of drawers I am hesitant to open, not to mention the fact that every time I move a box I find a couple more issues of Threads lurking behind it — but it's getting closer. Anyway, now I know where all my rickrack is. That's a start.

And speaking of Threads, I have three extra copies of the most recent issue, with my piece on fabric shopping in Tokyo in it. I was thinking — if there's interest — I'd auction off signed copies (with tape measures thrown in for good measure, ha ha) to benefit Homeless Women Veterans again. What do you all think?

Oh, and I keep meaning to tell you — Marge is having a sale at Born Too Late Vintage (the vintage Born Too Late, not the patterns Born Too Late): $10 off any item $50 or higher. It ends tomorrow, the 17th, so get clickin'!

The Heartbreak of Gaposis

Advance 8057

Melissa has a question:

I also love the shirtdresses, but being fuller-bosomed, I have basically given up on owning anything that buttons down the front. Any tips to prevent gapping and preserve modesty?

First — did you make sure that the pattern you're making is the right cup size? As La Belladonna has often reminded us, patterns are intended for a B cup. If you're not a B cup (and it sounds like you aren't), you have to do something called a Full Bust Alteration (check out the Pattern Review boards or Stitches and Seams or this link for information about this).

Since I am not far enough away from a B to justify doing an FBA, I usually just make sure that the middle button is centered right between the two bust points.

Anyone else have suggestions?

Duro Junior

Puzzle Dress

So this is my version of Simplicity 3875, henceforth known as Duro Junior.

I know I haven't been posting about the Duro lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been THINKING about the Duro. I was looking for a lighter, slimmer version to wear when it's really hot: the Original Duro can be a LOT of fabric.

This pattern didn't originally jump out at me as a good candidate, mostly because the jewel-neck version on the pattern envelope had these dumb little string ties which managed to obscure the lines of the bodice. But once I erased those (mentally) I decided to give it a shot.

Although not actually difficult, this pattern is still a massive PITA to put together. The back of the dress has no waist seam (just a lengthwise back seam), so, in order to finish the neck edge with the bias facing BEFORE the front panels are attached, you have to sew the front bodice pieces to the back bodice pieces at the shoulder WAY early in the process. Which means for the rest of the construction, you're shoving that long back piece out of the way. Arrgh.

I was able to add pockets, too, in the side seams, although lining them up when sewing that seam was a bit tricky. There's a single notch to match the front skirt to the back at the side seam, so I placed my pocket piece on the front skirt pattern where I thought it should go, then cut a corresponding notch on the pocket — that helped it match up pretty well.

The original pattern has the tie hanging down the back, but I prefer the way it looks brought around to the front.

Here's the back view:

Puzzle Dress

And here's a closeup of the front:

Puzzle Dress

I haven't hemmed the skirt, or the sleeves, BOTH of which were about three inches too long (PITA, pt. 3). I ended up cutting a 12 in the bodice and a 14 in the skirt, which was more or less the right size; if I had to do this again I'd maybe cut a 10 in the bodice (for narrower shoulders) and add some length to it, and a 16 in the skirt for a little bit more fullness. Although that would necessitate buying two copies of the pattern (PITA, pt. 4).

The fabric is Michael Miller, maybe? I bought it at City Quilter a gazillion years ago, I think … (I really should start labeling my fabric with where and when and from whom I bought it, shouldn't I?) I think it's a little too stiff for this pattern, but it was a good tradeoff between fabric I could bear to screw up and fabric I would want to wear if it actually turned out okay. I think next time I will make it in some stripey seersucker, or maybe even in this silk noil I have lying around …

Meet Our Advertisers #5: Holly at Lucite Box Vintage

Lipstick Kiss dress

Today's advertiser: Holly of Lucite Box Vintage!

How long have you been in business?

I've been on the internet since 2001. I began selling part-time on eBay. I left a job about a year later to work with vintage full-time and started my site, lucitebox.com. We just gave it a face-lift a couple of weeks ago and I'm really enjoying working on the new site. It's amazing what a new look can do for a gal!

What motivated you to go into the vintage business?

I had just quit a corporate sales management job. While sitting on my friend's porch one afternoon after a long season of temp jobs at area banks, I was bemoaning the boredom of working in the private sector. I cleared trades at the bank.

My friend (who I call The Determinator because her tenacity and determination usually gets big results) gave me a kick in the pants when she asked me,
"Holly, man…what are you doing?! What are you gonna do?"

I wasn't sure what she was getting at, so I told her that I had saved some money and was thinking of traveling for awhile before I figured out how to re-enter the work force. I said, "I think I'm going to travel to Morocco. Wanna come with me?" True to Determinator form, she said "No. I mean what are you going to do with your life now? You seem totally bored and I'm getting sick of hearing about your temp job at the bank."

I said, "Well…I suppose you're right. I might open a vintage store. I've been thinking about it for a long time, you know."

That conversation got the ball rolling for me. I started selling on eBay a few months later and just as expected, the Determinator was right there helping me brand my company and cheering me on all the way!

What did you do before this?
I was the national sales manager for a small-ish start-up company that grossed about 5 million the year I left. Then, I went into a tailspin with a series of seemingly dead-end temp jobs.

Where are you based?

More fun questions:

What's the weirdest/best/craziest/most beautiful thing you've ever

These things rank right-up there for me…
1) Howard Greer 50s Dress that's cut down to THERE!:

2) Irene Lentz 50s Evening Jacket
Irene Lentz
3) A trio of amazing 30s gowns
30s gowns

What do you have in stock that you can't believe hasn't sold?

Well, I have racks of things that I haven't offered yet. There have been a few items I've listed on eBay didn't sell and they still mystify me. Why, oh why doesn't anyone understand this wacky novelty jacket?

If you ask me, this novelty print jacket and dress duo is a winner and it will surprise me if someone doesn't want to snap this up quickly. Check out the print–don't you just love the lady in the shopping cart?!

What do you dream about finding?

I deal a lot in what I'd call wearable, everyday fashions that are usually quite affordable. My vintage dreams (and they do actually wake me with a start) are about finding an estate where the woman was my size, had good taste in clothes, and maintained her wardrobe well. You can't imagine how many times I have found the ultimate 50s sun dress with a fabulous novelty print–in my size–only to wake and find I'm in bed and there's no sun dress!

My wildest daydreamy kinds of fantasies always involve something I'm almost certain I won't find. My holy grails are vintage Adrian, Yves St. Laurent's Mondrian dress, a heavily embellished Nudie suit, and maybe a Charles James or a Fortuny just because I figure that if you're gonna dream, you might as well dream big.

What do you enjoy most about working with vintage?

It's very pleasurable to research the history of fashion. It's most exciting to share my passion for history with someone else. When something that I sell lands in the hands of a person who'll treasure it (and probably even wear it), I'm always very pleased.

You know, you start to feel like you're somehow an ambassador for these old things. I've always been attracted to that idea of merely being a host or a steward of vintage…like things are just visiting me for a little while and then I get to send it someplace else where they will be appreciated.

It's sort of like being a connecting link in a big chain. I'd like to think that the things that leave lucitebox will eventually end up somewhere else in the distant future and that the chain just goes on and on. I have some of my grandmother's home-sewn clothes. I look forward to passing them on to the right person after I'm gone. When I look at one of the pieces, I almost feel her presence in the dress…as if she's right there sitting at her Singer in the sewing room working on it.

What do you wish someone would ask you about your site?
Would you be interested in being featured in Vogue magazine next month?

It's a good day at work when …
I can easily find one of my three or four tape measures! It's as if you put them down and they quickly end up wherever the one missing sock from the dryer goes!

If I ran the internet for a day I'd …

Ask for limited amounts of flash animation on any site. I'm sorry, I just don't have time to wait for your cool graphics to load. I would also put an end to the soundtracks that accompany sites. Please. Quiet sites, people. What you may not know is that even though I'm shopping and I really do want to read your blog or read about your merchandise, I already have my iTunes loaded and your music overlapping my music is creating a mind-bending mix that rivals any really, really bad acid trip. Hello, Advil Liquid Gels!

The blogs I read (other than ADAD) are …

I am seriously addicted to design and decorating blogs. I can't ever seem to get my fix and when I miss a day or two, I get cravings fro them. It's a joy to catching up with my bookmarks. Here are a few blogs that I like:
apartment therapy
design boner
making it lovely
ikea hac

it's (k)not wood

Oh, and somewhat unrelated to interior design, but seriously entertaining–I just found a blog called Yardsalebloodbath that I LOVE! There are the people I want to party with!

Oh, and of course, I do read a lot of blogs that my vintage colleagues write. My favorite at the moment is Random Acts of Vintage.

You'd laugh if you knew this about me …
My longest running dream in life is to own a goat farm and make artisanal cheeses. But, tomorrow, I'll probably have a new one to replace that dream. At the moment, it seems that it might involve auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance!

Holly is also offering a discount for Dress a Day readers.
Please take 15% off of any item on lucitebox.com. Use the coupon code "erinisawesome" [Editor's note: I did not ask for this code!] HURRY! The sale ends on July 26th!

You should also check out Holly's blog — she's got a great feature on collections

Also, Holly is looking for a Chicago part-time sewist to help her with some piece-work at lucitebox. She sometimes purchases vintage items that have modest but fixable damage (a hem needs to be replaced, a shoulder is blown out, there's a rip at the waist, etc.) and is looking for someone who isn't just technically "good" at sewing, but someone who can troubleshoot to find the best solution for fixing something while appropriately preserving the sensibility of the era. If you're interested, drop her a line …