Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Making a Kimono Sleeve Dress from the Woman's Institute

This morning I was gently riffling through my Woman's Institute book collection and inside a copy of Dress Construction and Finishing I found the coolest little booklet!

It was meant to come along with actual fabric dress pieces sent to the student to sew, and then return for examination! Can you just image getting a dress in the mail, already cut, just waiting to be sewn together? How fun!

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Woman's Institute was a dressmaking and millinery instruction school that operated mainly by correspondence.

You can read all about their courses and book in a few different publications including Dressmaking Made Easy, Home Study Courses, and What the Woman's Institute Means to Me.

For your enjoyment, here is the lesson booklet in its entirety.

You can make a dress similar to this by using a straight-line one-piece dress pattern.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sew Expensive... Vogue Couturier 535

To continue the train of thought a bit from our last post, we have another expensive luxury pattern selling for a good deal of money.
Not long ago, Vogue 535 sold at auction for $168.49.

Though high, this is really the going average for late 40's early 50's Couturier patterns with any character. By character, I'm referring to patterns with interesting or unusual details. Note the high collar, asymmetrical button closures and dramatic sweeping lines of the tunic in the illustration above. The more details like these, the more complicated it is to sew, the higher the interest and value to collectors.

In our last post, we saw a 1930's Vogue Couturier pattern sell for $360.
Over the last few years of tracking the selling prices of these, it seems that they follow a price trend by decade.

Vogue 862 available here.

On average, 1930's Vogue Couturier patterns sell for between $200-$380.
1940's-1950's Vogue Couturier patterns sell for between $100-$200.
1960's/ 1970's Vogue Couturier patterns sell for between $40-$200. This is also interestingly the decade that Vogue chose to start advertising the couture designer responsible for the patterns, with patterns by Dior, Chanel, and Givenchy fetching the highest prices.
These averages are dependent on a few things. These are auction selling prices. Buy it now prices found from pattern sellers on Etsy and other websites might vary on the mood/ experience/ clientele of the pattern seller.
Also keep in mind the evening gown patterns will be quite a bit higher than these averages.

Vogue 2971 available here.
If you've got one of these in your collection, be sure to check and see if it has all of its instructions. These patterns often had two separate instruction sheets with the cutting layout often on another sheet entirely. If you only have one sheet, make sure that it has both cutting and sewing instructions on it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while some of these patterns can be found with "Vogue Couturier" cloth labels inside - a pattern is considered complete without it. The cloth label was not automatically included in each pattern - one had to request them at the pattern counter when purchasing and many buyers simply didn't bother with them.

How about you? Do you have any Couturier patterns in your collection? Did you get a great deal on them? Find them at a thrift shop? Pay dearly for them from another collector?

Happy sewing,

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sew Expensive... Vogue Couturier 232

My dears, this lovely pattern was expensive, naturally.

Just a few days ago, Vogue 232 sold for a shocking $360.

As we've discussed before, there are a lot of reasons that a pattern can go this high or higher, and the value of this one was a combination of two things.
Vogue Couturier patterns are always going to be more valuable than plain old Vogue, owing to their association with actual couture designers (though the designer isn't mentioned in couturier patterns from the 30's like they are in those from the 60's.)
This pattern is from the 1930's and I can count on one hand the number of Vogue Couturier from this decade I've seen for sale in the last year. The highest that I can remember went for just under $400.

Now, unusually for our Sew Expensive posts, I just happen to know the lucky winner of this auction. No, its not me. This particular collector who will remain anonymous is my Pattern Friend. My Pattern Friend and I met a long time back over a Facebook discussion of another rare pattern. We got to talking and realized that we had very similar collecting tastes. We talk patterns quite often and this one came up in conversation.
When I asked her if she cared to comment on why this pattern had such a draw to her, she simply replied "Even a sundress is stylish."

This made me giggle a little because, really, each collector's pattern taste is so unique. Sure there are the sought after, universally acknowledged "high value" patterns, and then there are others that quite honestly have a "Je ne sais quoi" to each individual. Something in it speaks to us, makes us fall a little in love, and perhaps do foolish things to acquire the object of our desire.

Here are a few other Vogue Couturier from the 1930's for your enjoyment....
Vogue 204

Vogue 225 Circa 1933.

Vogue 100. Blurry I know but had to be included anyways.
Vogue 205
Vogue 211 Circa 1933.
How about you, my dears? Do you have any Vogue Couturier patterns in your collection? Have you learned anything interesting about them that you'd like to share with the class? I have just one of these. One... and one will have to be enough. They go too high at auction for me to allow myself to fall in love. Anything more than a brief affair for me and it will all end in tears...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sew Expensive... A Sewing Machine Memorabilia Sign

As many of you know, my usual Sew Expensive posts nearly always feature sewing patterns but today, I just couldn't resist sharing a sign with you!

Thats right, a simple sign, but an oh-so-darn-lovely one...
Recently on eBay, an enamel advertising sign for Wheeler and Wilsons Sewing Machine Company sold on eBay for a stunning $394.99!
At a rather impressive 14 x 24 inches, it was no small sign in a charming shade of deep cobalt blue with white decorative script.

I was watching avidly and I have to say, I had no idea that it would go so high.

How about you? Do you have a favorite piece of sewing-related memorabilia in your collection?
Mine would definitely be the catalog in the previous blog post...either that or the antique sewing machine cabinet currently doubling as a rather ornate bar in my dining room!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Some McCall Catalog Love from 1930...

My dears, I have another catalog from my collection to share with you today.
This time it is the April, 1930 McCall Counter Catalog and boy, is it a beauty! These little gems are scarce as hen's teeth these days and finding one that hasn't been partially cut up for paper dolls (yes, that has happened, twice.) is a treat.

So without further ado...

I have one of these on the left available as a reproduction pattern here.

And I have the top right pattern available as a reproduction here.

I have the one on the right available as a reproduction pattern, too!