Category Archives: fashion

Sew-Along Challenge: Deconstructing Dot

Dot, our vintage "volunteer" blouse

Dot, our vintage blouse, in her “before” state.

This sew-along challenge is just that, a sew-along. It is not a crash course in pattern making, so I’ll be glossing over the bits where I deconstruct Dot, our “volunteer” blouse, to make a new pattern from the parts. Another reason for skipping this part? I’m a self-taught hobbyist, not a seamstress. There are more efficient ways to make a pattern from an existing garment. And I don’t want to teach any bad habits! But I did want to check in and let you all know that we’re getting ready to get ready to go. With a lot of encouragement from my trusty seam ripper, Dot is coming apart. I’m at a stopping point not because I’ve hit a snag, but simply because my hands ache. I hope to complete the deconstruction tomorrow, and to get a good start on the new pattern. Check back for updates, wherein I estimate how much fabric you’ll need! It’s entirely possible—if I can stay on track with this—that you’ll have a new, vintage-styled wrap blouse by the end of next week.

Dot, deconstructed. Mostly. I *could* mathematically calculate the assorted darts, or I could use a seam ripper to take them apart and just trace the dang thing. I'm choosing option 2.

Dot, deconstructed. Mostly. I *could* mathematically calculate the assorted darts, or I could use a seam ripper to take them apart and just trace the dang thing. I’m choosing option 2.

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Sew-Along Challenge: Your Help

(No, you didn’t miss any of the posts that I promised were forthcoming. I’m just skipping around. Consider this a bonus post.)

And we shall call this blouse, Dot.
Matches the pleated wool skirt perfectly, yes?

Once upon a time, I bought a vintage blouse that is a very flattering cut but which is damaged-beyond-wear. That is to say, the seams are all intact, but the fabric itself is starting to fall apart. However the price was right (probably just a few dollars, I don’t exactly recall) and I planned to deconstruct the blouse and make myself a pattern. Planned.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I’ve once again tipped over the overflowing box of patterns that is not yet listed in Winkorama’s live inventory. I stack the patterns back up and on top of the pile now sits Butterick 5074, dating to 1949.

Hmmm, Butterick 5074. It sure does look an awful lot like the blouse I’ve been meaning to deconstruct. I could leave the vintage blouse alone, and use this pattern instead. Easier!

Naaahhh, the old blouse is already at the end of its life. It would be nice to let it be useful one last time. I’ll sell the pattern as planned…oh, but maybe I can have a one-on-one sew-along with the buyer of the pattern!

Naaahhh, that means finding the right customer for the pattern and who wants to play along. Okay, okay, what if I deconstruct my old blouse, and post the pattern online as part of an anyone-can-play sew along! Which means that the bulk of this challenge is in getting me to finally deconstruct the blouse. So I need YOU, my dear readers, to inspire (i.e., pester) me to continue with this plan.

Butterick 5074, ©1949

Since they are so similar, here are the blouse details for Butterick 5074: “This surplice blouse fits snugly into the midriff. It sweeps across the front to the shirring at the side. Cropped kimono sleeves. A ‘Quick and Easy’ blouse for suits. With complementary skirt, a perfect background outfit.”

What’s a “background outfit”? Anyone?

What I do know is that either blouse would be nice for warmer weather and also work well for layering under cardigans or jackets. While both are excellent patterns for novices, I think the Dot Blouse (as the vintage blouse shall now be known) might be even easier to sew because A. there is less gathering to fuss with and B. the true wrap style makes for a more forgiving fit. The end result isn’t as tailored, but that’s the trade for less effort. Another nice feature of the Dot Blouse is the short “tail” along the back, which lets you tuck the back side of the blouse in to a skirt or trousers. No surprising breezes!

So, for those of you who want to sew along because you’d like to add a classic staple to your wardrobe, or who want to learn to sew with a pattern more versatile than an A-line skirt (yawn), please comment below and give me some encouragement! The hardest part of this sew-along will be on my shoulders; deconstructing the blouse and drafting a new pattern. The pattern is simple, but drafting is something I rarely do and I’m sure to goof it up a time or two before I’m ready to have you guys join in. This means that we won’t start until after the first of the new year, when time is more plentiful. If you simply must sew up a blouse for a Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve party, you can buy Butterick 5074 here (while it lasts).

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Public Service Announcement: Why don’t I simply copy and post the Butterick pattern for this sew along? Just because a pattern is old, does not mean it’s out of copyright. Copyrights can be renewed, thus protecting the copyright for 95 years from the original publication date (provided the original publication date is 1923 or later), and believe me, companies like Butterick aren’t going let their patterns go into Public Domain if they can help it. You can not (legally) sell or otherwise make available copies of their patterns. Some pattern companies have more lenient rules about the sharing of their intellectual property, but Butterick isn’t one of them.

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An ASTRONOMICAL Sale!

Tomorrow, at 8:49am MDT (14:49UT), is the Autumnal Equinox. There’s a whole scientific description of this biannual astronomical event, but to the layman: equal lengths of night and day. 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark. Half and half.

Warm up your keyboards, folks, as I’ve had the crazy idea to observe this phenomenon (♪ do doo de doo doo ♫) with a 12 hour/half off sale at Tiddleywink Vintage! From 9am to 9pm (MDT) tomorrow, September 22, 2012, you’ll save 50% on EVERY SINGLE ITEM. Even clearance listings! No code necessary! In fact, I’ll be turning off all other coupon codes for the duration of the sale. Don’t be greedy. (Shipping is still full price, sorry. Remember that all listed shipping fees are estimates, and any charge in excess of $2 over my actual cost will be refunded to you with-the-quickness.)

I’ve never before offered such a deep discount on the entire shop, and who knows when I’ll do it again. If you’ve had your eye on something, jump on it during this sale! There are only 187 days left until Viva Las Vegas, you know. Time is ticking!

_________________

Postscript: I was scheduled to write yesterday about transforming some unfortunate TV trays. The project is at a (hopefully brief) standstill while I try to remember whole out running errands to buy new ink for my printer, which is an integral part of this project. Stay tuned.

Post-postscript: You’ll notice that today’s blog post is not—as originally scheduled—centered on a vintage recipe. I made a Pinterest-via-Bon Appètit recipe for dinner the other night, and I’m still eating leftovers. No point in making more food just yet.

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Advertuesday!

Advertuesday? I think that should be nominated for Worst Portmanteau, 2012. However, what we have here are (vintage) advertisements, and it is Tuesday. The only thing that any of these ads have in common is that they all appear in the May, 1948 issue of Woman’s Home Companion. And that the magazine is too big to fit on my scanner, so rather than scans these are instead hasty photos, complete with uneven lighting and occasional glare. I hope you enjoy the look back! (Click each image to make with the biggering.)

Bon Ami scouring powder, 1948. STILL hasn’t scratched yet!

A model smile on Mrs. Ralph (Nicki) Ellis, by Ipana toothpaste, 1948.

Battle “infectious dandruff” with Listerine Antiseptic, 1948

Promise of a lifetime sparkle from Oxydol, 1948. Just what is IN this stuff?

Trade box tops (and a penny) for a Quikut paring knife, from Spic and Span cleanser. 1948.

Skip the dishes! Until you get Dreft dishwashing soap, that is. 1948.

Wanda Hendrix’s winning smile is the result of Pepsodent toothpaste (ahem, “dental cream”), don’t you know? 1948.

Invitation to make “Hash Mounds” for lunch with Armour corned beef hash, 1948

If it’s lovely to wear…it’s worth Ivory Flakes care. 1948.

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In Which Things May Change

I laundered. I steamed. I took photos. I ran out of oomph.

Last week, I said I’d be posting some charming vintage aprons in the shop.

I didn’t forget. I gave up. By the time I’d steam-burned my hand for what seemed like the 427th time (and I’m pretty good with a garment steamer, seeing as I’ve been using them for something like 6 or 8 years now), I hit the proverbial wall. I’ll sell these aprons for $8-$12 a piece, and for what?

I’m tired. I’m tired of driving the miles to wait in line to push through crowds to paw through filthy, wrinkled piles to dig out the gems.

Tired of inspecting every seam every button every snap, of hauling loads to the dry cleaner, of hand-laundering what I can or have to, of re-sewing hems and re-attaching buttons, of steaming steaming steaming to get every single piece photo-ready.

Tired of fighting with cameras and lighting stands and buying photo bulbs that are NEVER bright enough, of losing half of my basement (and thank goodness I have a basement) permanently to photo studio/inventory/shipping supply storage.

Tired of color-balancing photos, of taking measurements, of researching labels*, of researching price comps, of writing descriptions.

Tired of answering umpteen questions** from potential customers, and so rarely getting a “thanks” in return.

Tired of paying for every listing, paying for every sale, paying for every credit card transaction, paying for advertising space that doesn’t return the investment.

 Tired of trying to figure out the perfect storm of tags that will actually get my listings to show up in searches in the bizarre and ever-changing world of Etsy “relevance.”

Tired of re- (and sometimes re-re-re-) listing items that don’t sell the first time around, even when they’re in perfect condition, a wearable size, and better priced than my competitors.

Tired of packing boxes and writing out Customs forms and making trips to the post office.

Tired of what a mad nest of paperwork my income taxes have become.

Tired of feeling oppressed by the sheer volume of inventory that isn’t yet photographed/listed.

All of this excess is…excessive. I am very seriously considering consigning my entire inventory at one of the local brick-and-mortar shops. Tiddleywink Vintage‘s stock (and back-stock) would easily quadruple what Jolly Goods currently has to offer in the clothing area. Or maybe Night & Day Vintage would have room. I could sell off my backdrops, my mannequins, my studio lighting. I’d get my basement back, and some free time. But…

I’d miss it. Yes, everything I’ve griped about above is true. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve never done this for fame and glory and easy money. (Ha!) I do it because I see beautiful vintage clothing that is potentially destined to become next year’s shredded Halloween costume if I don’t get it in front of the eyes of people who also appreciate its worth.

As other enthusiasts have noted, vintage clothing is getting harder to find. These items are 50-60-70 years old (or more), and they’re aging out. We can take all of the care we can muster, but we wear this clothing. Over time, fabrics deteriorate. Threads break. Buttons fall off. Zippers jam. Drinks get spilled. And yes, some items become next year’s Zombie Crawl*** costume. As time goes on, more pieces get lost to the rag bin. Can I, in good conscience, let it all go?

Time will tell. But time, and my patience, is running short.

*This part is actually right up my alley, but it’s frustrating that I spend hours researching items so that I’m confident they’re properly attributed, and then I see other sellers who so blatantly don’t bother. And we probably have equivalent revenue.

**I don’t mind as much when they’re good, valid questions. I mind very much when they’re stupid, thoughtless questions that could be answered by reading the item description. I understand that the item may not be your size/style/exactly what you’re looking for. I won’t be hurt if you don’t buy the item being discussed. But for goodness’ sake, say “thank you” when I answer your questions!

***Another seller grieved over the vintage piece sold to a customer who then gleefully exclaimed that she actually planned to shred and blood-stain it for a Zombie Crawl costume. We can’t always win.

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Cherry Picked Inspiration

Necklace with 8 Bakelite cherries on red celluloid chain and 5 green celluloid leaves. Extensive wear to plastic coating of cherry stems and cracks and wear to red jump rings attaching cherries to chain. Bakelite bow pin with 7 marbled Bakelite cherries. Wear to plastic coating on stems. Glue residue around stem hole on back of bow. Realized auction price of $575 in 2004.

Bakelite |ˈbāk(É™)ËŒlÄ«t| noun trademark - an early form of brittle plastic, made from formaldehyde and phenol. Designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in recognition of its significance as the world’s first synthetic plastic.
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: named after Leo H. Baekeland (1863–1944), the Belgian-born American chemist who invented it, + -ite.

One of the first plastics made from synthetic components, Bakelite was used in electrical insulators, radio casings, kitchenware, jewelry, and children’s toys.

And it sounds really good when it clunks together. And the colors are deep and rich and take on a warm hue as they age. Over time, many pieces of Bakelite jewelry broke or were thrown away. Those that remain are collectible, and can run into 100s of dollars. There are companies who still manufacture Bakelite-type plastic jewelry (the Retrolite line from Classic Hardware, for instance) but the manufacturing process is labor-intensive and the jewelry can still seem expensive for “just plastic.”

Red Bakelite cherries and green celluloid leaves dangle from a black celluloid chain. A red Bakelite cherry dangles from screw-back earrings. In excellent condition with some wear to the plastic coating on the stems. Ca.1940. $325 via Lavender Gardens at RubyLane

One of the more collectible lines of Bakelite jewelry is a collection that may or may not have been called Cherries Jubilee, originally produced in the 1940s. (I can’t find documentation to support the nomenclature, but I’m not a professional researcher.) If you search online for the necklace in this line, you’ll find many examples in a wide price range, from original sets to reproductions. While some are worth every penny and some bear an inflated “market value,” they’re all out of my pathetic little price range. So, it looks like it’s time once again to Get Crafty!

I’d had the vague mental plan to recreate my own version of this necklace for a Very Long Time. It wasn’t until I was looking for a bit of chain in order to carry out a clever earring storage trick I’d seen on Pinterest that I realized I could accomplish both projects with one purchase. So, while I was at it, I picked up some plastic beads, a packet of head pins, and some filagree bead caps.

Supplies
white chain, $1.99
lucite crackle beads $1.99
lucite leaf beads $1.99
4in head pins $1.49
7mm bead caps $1.49
7mm jump rings (in my stash)
toggle clasp (in my stash)
Total Cost: $9
Parts Left Over: many bits, I’ll make matching earrings at the very least.

Reproduction necklace hand sculpted by artist Melody O’Beau, $50 (available with or without ladybugs)

This was going to be more of a tutorial, but here’s the thing: if you actually give enough of a whit about making jewelry to have the proper tool for making loops on head pins, then you can already figure out how to put this together. If, however, you love it so much that you need to run out and buy round-nose micro pliers just to make this necklace, comment below and I’ll break down all of the steps for you.

Now, my version contains more metal parts than the original (head pin “stems,” bead caps, chain) and the plastic bits don’t even pretend to look like Bakelite, but I was going for the general effect, not a precise reproduction. If I wanted a “real deal” look, I’d buy the hand-made version (and matching pin while I’m at it) from Melody O’Beau because she deserves to get paid for all of the work and care she puts into hers.

And fini! My version will work just fine, for now.

More vintage necklaces from around the ’net (clicking on any of the photos with prices will take you directly to that item’s sale page):

Multiple plastic cherries with green celluloid leaves on a green celluloid link chain in a gold-tone setting. This set is in excellent condition. $200.00 via JewelDiva.com

Bakelite Cherries Necklace features red cherries with highly etched leaves and a red link chain. This necklace is in excellent condition! $850.00 via JewelDiva.com

BAKELITE red carved cherries necklace with green plastic leaves on a red coated chain. There is slight wear on the stems. $395.00 via morninggloryjewelry.com

Excellent vintage condition with everything intact. Moderate stem wear. $399 from 3438nancy on Etsy

BURGUNDY BLACK AND GREEN FRENCH BAKELITE NECKLACE WITH DANGLING CHERRY FRUITS. CARVED DETAILS ON FRUITS AND LEAVES.
EXCELLENT CONDITION AND TOP QUALITY. $163.20 via French-Bakelite.com

Big Fat Resin Cherries ‘Bakelite’ Cherry Necklace, $110.00 via antiquesartcollectibles.com

Apple juice Bakelite cherries with green leaves on double strand of celluloid links. $184 via MichellesVintageJewelry.com

Circa 1930s or 1940s. The cherries are translucent red Bakelite and the chain and leaves look like celluloid. The green stems look like they were replaced over the years. All is in very good condition. $345 via Best Jewelry Stores

 

 

 

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No Caption

Unidentified wedding, ca. 1960s

My apologies for missing the Wednesday and Thursday posts. It’s been hectic this week. I’ll keep this brief (and the crowd goes wild) because I have a massive amount of day-job work to do in the next 5 hours, but I do want to let you know that an estate sale which Erin and I almost skipped entirely turned out to pay out in, among many other things, a stack of 1950s blouses that have never been worn. I truly hope to start getting fresh clothing listings up at Tiddleywink soon! I’ve been busy listing some of the many vintage cookbooks from my collection, so if you’re hungry, do go take a look.

Another thing I picked up at the sale is a zip-top bag of old photos. The price was right, and I think they’ll be fun to slip into orders when I’m packing them up. They’d be even more fun if the photographer had marked them with any information whatsoever, but we’ll have to settle for the lone, identified photo—of a cabin—as saying “Cabin” on the back. So in this case, it’s not so handy anyway. Shown at top: the wedding of (an unidentified man) and (an unidentified woman) in the year 196X.

Enjoy your weekend!

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