McCardell Update

McCardell pattern

Remember this pattern? I did eventually make it up (see here). At the time I was really shaky about cutting into this pattern — it's a Claire McCardell, after all — but I eventually sucked it up and did it, and I was more-or-less happy with the results.

However, YOU don't have to worry, because EvaDress has added this pattern to their repro line, and multi-sized it, too! Click on the image to visit her site.

Also — it's Veteran's Day (or Remembrance Day, for some of you out there), and if you do anything today (especially if you have the day off), could you do something tangible for a veteran? My son and I are boxing up a ton of books and magazines to send to his teacher's nephew, who is in the hospital in Maryland, recuperating from injuries he got in Afghanistan. I'm sure you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) who is in a similar position. Or you can check out this Metafilter post about other easy ways to send books to soldiers. If you are really motivated, you could also make a small donation to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. (I try to earmark mine for their women veterans program.)

And after you've done that, you can enjoy the Veteran's Day sales with a clear conscience. Like the one Sandritocat is having (free shipping to the USA and half off international shipping, plus the 10% DressADay discount you always get in her store).

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

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
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
, 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

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!

These are a few of my favorite things …

As most of you have probably figured out, I am a person of random enthusiasms. Get stuck talking to me for a few minutes at a party or in an elevator and I will try to convince you of how great roller-skating is, or that liverwurst sandwiches with spinach and mustard on wholegrain bread are underrated, or how you should really try my new stupidly-expensive-but-actually-worth-it favorite lip balm.

So I thought today would be a great day for a random post about stuff I like (but sadly, even though I live in Chicago, I can't actually GIVE you all the stuff I like, the way Oprah would). Stuff such as Pearson Coffee Nips, which I can't actually eat more than once or twice a year anymore because they really do a number on your teeth:

I know, they are total grandma candy, and weird because I don't actually like to drink liquid coffee in any form, but, oh, the deliciousness. Mmmm.

I also really like Veronica Mars. Seriously, if you have never watched this show, block out a week or two and sit yourself down on the couch. I've been rewatching (as I walk on my treadmill, another favorite thing) and I have been bowled over (again) by what a great show this is. (Also: LoVe 4eva!)

And has everyone here read Josephine Tey? I recently grabbed one of her books off the shelf — Brat Farrar, my favorite — to keep me from getting a cold (did you guys know this works? A favorite mystery novel, taken with either a hot bath or a bowl of popcorn, will usually pull me back from the brink if I feel like I'm coming down with something), and wondered if people even read Josephine Tey any more. And they should.

I also really like — and sometimes people are shocked to hear this — Wikipedia. I've worked on reference books professionally, and I know what kinds of shenanigans can go on with them, but I find that by and large, Wikipedians do a great job giving you the gist about anything you may care to look up. And if you can't trust an article unless you know that it was written by underpaid and overstressed professional reference book editors, well, you can always skim down to the bottom of any article and look for the source links, and then go read THEM. That alone is worth the (free) price of admission! (Disclosure: I'm on an advisory board for Wikimedia Foundation, but they don't pay me anything.) If you have used Wikipedia this past year, please seriously consider donating to the Wikimedia foundation's fundraiser:
Wikipedia Affiliate Button

I could go on and on — I haven't even gotten to how fun it is to carry around a toy sonic screwdriver, or even expounded on the whole liverwurst thing — but I'm sure you all have work to do or other blogs to read. (Speaking of which, I did a top-ten list of blogs for this morning … it was kind of a stream of consciousness list and was, by necessity, inadequate. Ten?? I need a "Top 350" list to represent all the blogs I really love … Anyway, if you were on my list, you can pick up your fancy-shmancy blog badge here.)

So, happy Stuff I Like Thursday! Let me know if you end up having liverwurst for lunch.

Round and About

Vogue 7473

I absolutely fell in love with this pattern from Out of the Ashes; I think it took me almost thirty seconds to hit 'Buy Now'. Something about that round soft shoulderline just pushes all my buttons. And the little collar!

I like the 3/4-sleeve version the best. I'm tempted by the jaunty ascot, but I don't think I could pull it off without feeling like the world's biggest tool. Some people have the scarf gene; some people do not, and I am one of the have-nots, when it comes to scarves. But who knows? People can change …

Of course, maybe my feeling of expansive goodwill and boundless possibility has just a LITTLE something to do with the events of yesterday. 🙂 Do you think?

I was also tempted by this dress, but held myself back. Got to leave something for the rest of you, don't I?

At Liberty to Say

Peoples! Did you know there's a new book out about Liberty in the 1950s and 1960s?

To say that I want it would be an understatement. Luckily, I've pre-ordered it on Amazon ( also had it, but has sold out) and soon, soon, a copy will be on the way to me. (I can't believe they didn't find me and offer to send a review copy; somebody at that publisher needs a quick refresher course in online marketing, if you ask me.)

And in other fantastic Liberty news, Anna Buruma, the archivist for Liberty has kindly agreed to answer some questions for you, dear readers. I've put in the first batch below …

What do you think has been the most popular Liberty design of all

The most popular design is impossible to say, but there are some very long-lived designs.

Hera, the Peacock Feather design, first appears (not at Liberty) in the 1870s; Ianthe (the art nouveau design) was picked up by the Liberty designers in the 1960s and has been identified with Liberty ever since; I think perhaps the most typical of all the Liberty classics is Poppy & Daisy which was designed for Liberty in the 1910s and has been in the fabric range on and off ever since.

Liberty has made Tana lawn, Kingly cord, Jubilee wool/cotton, silk (does it have a name?) and jersey, that I know of … were there other fabrics, too? Flannel? Oilcloth? Some polyester in the 1970s that nobody speaks of now? Hemp, during the war?

Liberty has always experimented with different cloth bases: many different cottons from very loosely woven ones to coarse to tana lawn; different wools of which the most famous one is probably varuna wool; lots of different silks, we have three different ones at the moment; velvets, and certainly man-mades, from rayon in earlier times to nylon in the 1960s and polyester and viscose in the 70s, 80s and 90s. We don't have any man-mades at present, but never rule out any good bases.

Are there plans to put little biographies of any of the Liberty
fabric designers on the new Liberty blog?

There are no plans to put biographies of Liberty designers on our web site at the moment. Many of the earlier designers are in fact unknown as Liberty wanted to promote their own name rather than that of others.

What is the oddest thing that has ever been made from Liberty?

Lots of odd things: someone made a teapot that was sold in the shop; there was a Cacharel/Liberty sailing boat in a race in the 70s with a Liberty sail; there have been various marketing campaigns for Liberty fabric, for example one where Elvis's blue suede shoes were substituted by tana lawn ones.

Can you think of other questions you'd like to ask of Ms. Buruma? Let me know, and I'll pass them along …