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'!