Monthly Archives: February 2010

Vogue 9996: Update

When I left you on Thursday, I was drafting the missing pieces of Vogue 9996 by scanning the pattern layout and scaling up based on the dimensions of the pieces I had. Imperfect, but easier than drafting from scratch! Everything went well with that, and here are a few notes as I near completion of the project:

  1. I should have chosen a black lining to better match the black fabric. Even after ironing, the “nude” lining peeks out a smidge on the top and it bothers me.
  2. I made a conscious decision to leave out the elastic from the leg openings. It seemed unnecessary and potentially uncomfortable.
  3. I also decided to leave off the teensy bow from the center of the top. I think turning such a small tube would be frustrating, and I suspect that the bow would keep going sideways anyway.
  4. It’s very difficult, no, impossible, to determine proper button placement without a me-size dress form. I will ask Megan for assistance when I see her tomorrow.
  5. Modern nylon zippers don’t carry the flesh-catching danger of their metal grandparents, so I left off the flesh-protecting zipper flap.
  6. Everything was coming together surprisingly well. As I write this, all I have left to sew is the facing for one leg opening. And because there were no mistakes anywhere else in this project… I have, in fact, already sewn on this one last piece. And I attached it backwards. And already trimmed the seam. So I’m stepping away to calm down, I’m taking a few moments to write this, and I’ll be going back to calmly remove the seam and very carefully reattach the facing to the proper side of the opening.

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Task: Vogue 9996

I bought Vogue 9996 in, I believe, 2008, the day that my friend Megan and I picked through a small basket of vintage patterns at an antiques mall about halfway to Wyoming.

Last month, I finally bought the fabric and notions necessary to make it. A plaid? Why did I choose a notoriously-difficult-to-line-up plaid? Oh, well. Today, I hauled out my machine (I have a PILE of stuff that needs mending before Viva; I may as well start with the most difficult project) and opened the envelope. 18 pieces in all. 18 pieces in the envelope.

But 6 of them are from a different pattern! That means that I’m missing 6 pieces! Although I’m not planning to sew the overblouse option… those pieces, I have. No, I’m missing every single piece of the bathing suit top, and the lower back facing for the shorts.

I am doing my best to recreate the missing pieces from a scan of the instruction sheet, scaled up to life size. I’ll keep you posted as to my progress. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Drill Down to the Heart of the Matter

Dice bracelets. I originally made them just for my own use, but someone said I should sell them, and so I started adding them to my Etsy shop in early ’08. I wound up bringing a pound or two of them with me to VLV10 for my gal-pals and I to mix and match with our wardrobes. They’re fun, and handy for covering up those vinyl wristbands which can mar an otherwise cool outfit.

My bracelets are made with real, new, game-play dice. Not casino dice, which are not only expensive but also bigger, heavier, and have very sharp edges. Those edges aren’t something you pay attention to until you want to wear them for a few hours. I specifically buy dice with rounded edges because of their contact with delicate wrists. And I drill each and every single die myself with a corded drill. One. At. A. Time. It’s a tedious process, and being “off” with my pressure can break or, more commonly, chip the dice. But the most frequent issue that I run into, as shown above, is that my drill bits heat up enough to melt the acrylic content of the dice, and seize within the confines. There is no way to get a seized drill bit out, save for application of a hammer. It wastes a heckuva lot of time, not to mention the dice that are murdered for the cause.

I’ve conferred with The Guys At The Hardware Store about ways around this unique problem. I’ve tried bits made from different compounds, I’ve tried dipping the bit in cold water between each pass, I’ve tried drilling slower and faster and upside-down and sideways (no, not really). Drill: seize. Drill: seize. Drill: seize. After a few years of this, I am, as the kids say, Over It. I do not make enough money on these bracelets to outweigh the loss of materials, let alone the manual labor.

I’ll leave any existing listings in the shop until they sell, but they will not be replaced. I’m keeping my supplies on hand for special requests or for other projects that may come up, such as Chop’s occasional solicitations for “danglies” for his custom bikes. However if you’ve been thinking about getting one or two but can’t decide on colors, now would be the time to act. I’ve already started letting some listings expire, so if there’s a color combo you want but don’t see, don’t hesitate to ask. I may very well still have it available.

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“New” Glasses

I bought a pair of vintage (1950s) frames from another vendor on Etsy a few months back, and recently set about having them filled with my own Rx. I’ve done this before locally, but this time around no lab wanted to take the risk. I called perhaps a dozen places in various price ranges, and every single person I spoke with was full of hesitation and quick to remind me that I would have to pay a pattern fee on top of the cost of the lenses, since I wasn’t using any of their frames. The rep from 39DollarGlasses was, without a doubt, the most optimistic about the task at hand. Yes, I would have to sign a waiver, but this was the first person who assured me that they had confidence and would take good care of my frames. He even encouraged me to fill out detailed information about minutia such as any loose screws or anything else that the techs should be careful of. I felt so much more convinced about sending off my irreplaceable frames to a discounter after that one phone call! Still, I had my doubts. I mean, really. $39? For polycarb lenses in customer-provided frames? By mail?

My finished glasses arrived today, in a simple padded manilla envelope. Tucked into my packing slip is a clear vinyl credit card-sized envelope, which contains a lens cleaning cloth and a micro screwdriver with a keychain loop. Also inside this homely wrapper is a brand-spankin’-new black satin-covered hard case. But that’s not enough protection for 39DollarGlasses, no. Within the hard case is a microfiber drawstring pouch, and inside THAT are my glasses. Which are completely intact, exactly as I sent them. But, you know, with my Rx in the lenses. (The obnoxiously thick lenses, because even with polycarbonate plastic, my “stout” prescription pushes the boundaries of modern technology. I know, I know, I should splurge on High Index lenses, but I rely primarily on contact lenses and the expense of fancy glasses isn’t rational in my case.)

I am ecstatic. I don’t know how they do it, but they do, and with good customer service. Thanks!


TRUTH IN BLOGGING: had absolutely nothing to do with this post, aside from impressing me with actual customer service. They have no idea that I even write a blog, until I send them this link as a form of thank-you letter. Also, the American Optical ad used above is from, and links to, the mind-boggling collection of mid-century imagery at and you should go there right away if you don’t already have it bookmarked.


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I’m Not Only The President, I’m Also A Client

I became a vintage seller because I am also a vintage buyer. When I realized that my personal collection included too many “specimen pieces” which were lovely but not my size, I decided to share the booty. I can have a dress tailored, but too-small shoes are going to remain too-small shoes. And how many silver lamé handbags should one girl rightfully own?

Of course, in order to keep things going, I need to keep buying. When my inventory is running low, I may pick up a few things that aren’t to my taste, but which I feel have merit. However, most of the time, I pick up stuff that I would be happy to wear (or use) myself. Which leads me to…

I’ve been scouring eBay for vintage swimsuits. I need a “new” one, and as long as I’m looking, I’ll see if I can afford a few for the store. If you feel like it, you can do a keyword search and see how many come up. A good number are vintage-reproductions. An equally large number are represented as true vintage, but I can tell from the photos that the seller is either confused, clueless, or flat-out lying. I saw one that definitely was vintage, but the Rose Marie Reid label either wasn’t original to the suit, or was original but had fallen out and been sewn back in (badly) by an owner at some point. There are all sorts of things to look out for, and I consider myself pretty savvy. I have to be.

When I spotted a listing for a “50s-60s rockabilly VLV vintage bathing suit” “in great condition” with no accompanying photo and a low starting bid, I added it to my Watched list. After a few days, a single photo appeared. The photo was small, blurry, and cropped off the very bottom of the suit. I’ve passed over other listings for similarly vague photos, but the low opening bid and 100% feedback score must have encouraged me to dive in. I placed a low bid, and forgot about it. Completely. I mean, when I received notification that I won the auction, I honestly didn’t remember bidding on it. But hey, there you go. I paid right away, and waited. Priority Shipping meant that I wouldn’t have to wait long.

Oh, but I did. 11 days after I paid the invoice, I contacted the seller and asked about the status of the package, and for a tracking number (heads up: all Priority packages include tracking, although it isn’t as robust as UPS or FedEx). I heard nothing. I thought about writing again the next day, but decided to give it another 24 hours. Lo and behold, my package arrived today! Postmarked 11 days after I paid! And wrapped in a United States Post Office bag, because the seller’s original packaging, a brown paper grocery bag, had torn open in transit. Now I ask you: If you’re selling a 40 or 50 year old swimsuit, are you shipping it in a grocery bag? Well no, no you’re not. Because I finished opening the bag to see a swimsuit that isn’t more than 5 years old. It’s an attractive color and a flattering, vintage-INSPIRED cut, but with clear hints as to its modern creation. For one thing, it’s a spandex blend fabric with a fine hand. Swimsuits weren’t made out of fabric this drapey before the ’80s, and the matte finish puts it no older than the ’90s. The lack of pilling, the blue-on-blue faux brocade print, and the cast metal rosettes on the straps indicate that it’s likely even newer.

This seller doesn’t accept returns, but I’ve sent a message explaining my dissatisfaction and am now in Wait And See mode. The next step is to contact eBay and PayPal and file disputes with both, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. Be careful out there, kids!

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