Not Really Buttoned-Up

Commenter Lynne sent me the link to this dress from Posh Girl Vintage, which combines two of my favorite things: buttons and polka dots.


It's pique, too, so I guess that makes it three of my favorite things. Oh, wait — piping — that's four. If only it had pockets … 

It's a little small (maybe a modern 6?) but it's so adorable. (Click the image above to visit the Posh Girl listing.) 

Yay Wiki! Go Wiki!

Did you all know that the Vintage Pattern Wiki is up to nearly THIRTY THOUSAND patterns? Holy Moly. (We only have about 700 to go. If everyone who reads this post in the first hour that it's up goes and adds a pattern, we'd be there and past there!)

This is one of my recent favorites:


Lovely, isn't it? You can find the full wiki page here.

Many, many thanks to all those who have uploaded pattern images, tagged patterns, left extra information and generally made this a fantastic resource for lovers of vintage patterns. You are awesome. 

The Dress of My Dreams. Literally.


I love this pattern. Someone sent me the link last week (can't find the email, if it was you, please claim credit in the comments) and I've been thinking about it ever since.

In fact, I woke up the other morning having dreamt that I had bought and sewn this pattern (in a green-and-white gingham) and that it was hanging on the back of my sewing-room door. It wasn't … wish it had been! 

Do you have sewing-related dreams? I find that if I don't sew when I'm awake, after a while I will start to I sew while I'm asleep. Either I make stuff like this (and am REALLY DISAPPOINTED when I wake up), or I have dreams where I make impossible things, like soap-bubble ballgowns. Once in a dream I made a skirt of a fabric that was made of dimes, melted and beaten thin, but with Roosevelt's face still visible. (In the dream it wasn't heavy.)

The Answer to a Question No One Seems to Ask

So a question I often pose to myself in idle hours (not that I have any "idle hours" anymore; "idle forty seconds" is the most I can hope for) is: is there a garment you could wear in any era? Say, if you were a time traveler (for example, cough, a companion to a certain Time Lord, cough)?


This pattern might be a contender (especially the cowl-neck Princess Leia version). Doesn't it say "I'm going to get medieval on your ass" and "the future has stewardesses" simultaneously? If it were made from that fabric they had in the Zenna Henderson stories which could be smoothed and stretched to any length, this would be perfect. Lengthen the skirt for the past, raise it for the future, add a nice cardigan and go anywhere in space or time!   

This pattern has a very precise location in space and time: it's at CoconutPie's Etsy shop. (And Susan at Coconut Pie offers a a 10 per cent discount to anyone who mentions "dressaday" in their notes to seller.)

Today's Pattern Story, Sale, and Lame Excuses

 [Note: this is a maternity dress.]

Beulah: I am thinking motherly thoughts. Deep, motherly thoughts about my precious babe-to-be. Thoughts that require me to stare into the middle distance, and ignore the teeny tiny person undressing at my feet.

Hester: Dude! You're knocked up, you're not the Dalai Lama. Get over yourself. And pass me the saltines, will you? I think I'm gonna hurl. 

[This pattern is from Sheila, at Out of the Ashes — she's running a 15% off sale, today through Sunday. Use the coupon code SUMMER.]

And, as promised, lame excuses — sorry for the light posting lately, I am completely, utterly, irredeemably swamped with work. Not sure when it will let up, either. Wish me luck!

Back To Where You Once Belonged

Forgive me for turning my back to you like this, but Holly at Lucite Box is having a big sale this week, which includes this amazing red gingham shirtdress:


Bows *and* buttons. And pleats. AND it's a larger size! (B40/W32) If it only had pockets, it would be well-nigh perfect. 

Oh, okay, here's the front: 


There's lot of other stuff on Lucite Box right now that you just might like … if plain gingham isn't enough for you, how about this gingham and paisley combo? Or maybe this tiger-lily dress? (I think orange and tan is a very chic combination …) Or perhaps this absolutely glamtastic long gown? (Holly has such a good eye, don't you think?)

A Few Quick Links for Monday

Thanks to Anna (and Threads Magazine), I now know there is an iPod app for tracking your fabric stash. Dear developers: please make one for the Palm Pre & Android, too. 

Has anyone heard anything about I am hoping it will be like, but for clothing … but I'm not feeling their "democratize fashion" tagline when everyone in their promo picture is a skinny white model. What would be really useful is if they connected would-be designers with someone like Kathleen at Fashion Incubator for some real-world advice, but that may be wishing for the moon … 

I still haven't written up the "How To Make Five Heidis and Not Go Crazy" post, but there's a video of me wearing one that I made in my Heidi binge. (For the Liberty obsessives out there: the lipstick I'm wearing is the incredibly bright MAC Liberty Petals and Peacocks shade.) 

Did you know ModCloth is doing a literary anthology? I love it when sites do things Just Because It's Cool. Check out their submission guidelines here.

And I loved all of TrueUp's coverage of Quilt Market, and I am marking my calendar to watch for these Alexander Henry prints in the fall. Oooh!

Book Review: Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts


It's taken me forever to get around to reviewing Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts … but it's basically everything you expect from a Martha/Potter Craft book. Beautiful photographs taken someplace where the light always says "It's a summer Sunday afternoon"? Check. Meticulously detailed instructions which somehow manage not to imply that, left to your own devices, you'd stab yourself in the eye with the safety scissors and eat all the paste? Check. The firm conviction that the single most compelling thing you'd like to do today, more than anything else, is sew ribbon onto a bathmat? Check and double-check.

The clothing in the book falls under the heading "One Size Fits All," but not in a terrible way. There's a truly gorgeous and avant-garde scalloped suede skirt pattern that I drooled over, and the obligatory chiton dress, but the cutest thing is a little girl's dress made from a man's shirt. If I had a little girl handy I would make, like, five hundred of them. There wouldn't be a man's shirt left in any thrift store within a ten-mile radius.

I am definitely going to hold on to this book (they sent me a review copy, full disclosure). It's just sooo gorgeous, and, like everything else that comes from Martha Stewart OmniEverything, it is a perfect book to flip through when you want some kind of extra oomph for a project, but you're not sure exactly what. Plus, there's a CD of patterns for the appliqués and so forth, so that the next time I think "ooh, what this needs now is a felted stuffed chicken!" I will have one to hand.

This would make an excellent present, even for experienced sewists, simply because of the high production values. There's nothing like looking at pictures of gorgeous projects (even if they're as huh-inducing as sewing your own coasters) to inspire you to get going and make your own stuff.

Meet Our Advertisers #[something mumble]: Michelle Lee of Patterns from the Past

So yes, we're restarting this long-forgotten feature — more to come!

Meet Michelle Lee, of Patterns from the Past []

How long have you been in business?

I started my business around December of 1995, (yes, I was an early adopter of the World Wide Web). Before I had a website, I sold box lots of sewing patterns on listservs.

What motivated you to go into the vintage pattern business?

I have been interested in vintage fashions since I was a child.  Some of my favorite books were the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum.  They were filled with beautiful illustrations of 1910's and 20’s fashions.  I started sewing vintage clothing in college and found it was cheaper to go to tag (yard) sales and buy large boxes of sewing patterns than to just buy the patterns I liked. When I began my website, I was already a web author for other companies. I started my business to sell off my collection of extra patterns more easily.

What did you do before this?

I was a high school Biology teacher and a part time historical researcher of vintage fashion for Past Patterns.

Where are you based? 

I’m a half hour North of Boston near the border of New Hampshire.

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

I have this pattern in my private collection. 


I know I will never make the dress – but I love the illustration and the how someone would feel wearing it. I think a friend of mine gave it to me years ago.

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

I love these McCall’s dress patterns from the 1940s.  They came from an old store that closed in the 1940s – they are in excellent condition.  I acquired over 100 of them many years ago.  Only the smaller sizes are left.  I’m surprised that I still have so many on hand given how unique they are.

What do you dream about finding?

A box lot of dress patterns from the 1930s.

What do you enjoy most about working with patterns? 

I love looking at all the illustrations.  There are an amazing number of designs produced for sewing patterns. I also enjoy the range of sizes that the patterns where produced in, such as the petitable, half size, and chubbies … There were patterns designed for all shapes and sizes of people.

What do you wish someone would ask you about your site?  

"Can I give you credit for your pattern in my film/tv show or school musical?"  There are several movies and dance companies that have purchased patterns from my company, and I worked with the TV show Mad Men – but I have yet to see my company name in the credits.  I love to help find costumes for vintage productions!

It's a good day at work when … 

I can ship out my orders AND add new patterns to my site.

If I ran the internet for a day I'd … 

Find a way to put my site on top for vintage pattern searches!

The blogs I read (other than ADAD are …) 

I love reading about the projects people are working on at Sew Retro.   I’m also enjoying the research about vintage sewing patterns that Unsung Sewing Patterns is doing.

You'd laugh if you knew this about me …

That I have over 3 times the amount of patterns in my back stock than I have on my website.  Maybe I should cry rather than laugh.  The order processing and data entry never seems to end for me!