Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Present to You...a free pattern!

Hello lovely readers. My Google blog reader is full of great "best of" and "top 2012" posts from all of my favorite bloggers. Those are much fun but I thought that I would do something different instead. I have a present for you.

A free pattern just for A Few Threads Loose readers!

This great little pattern originally came from a 1949 sewing pattern catalog. And now it's digital, and it's yours for the sewing!
Click Here to be taken to the free download. It's an easy two page pattern with a simple diagram and sewing instructions.

The original description is great. It reads:
"Love to look neat as a pin? Like to comb your hair after you put on your dress? The make this smock-modern aid to good grooming! You run it up ever so quickly from this pattern and instructions, in that wonderful new plastic fabric. Use it when you comb your hair, when you put on make-up, or to protect you while you shampoo or give yourself a home - permanent. And not to make a pun, it's a wonderful shower present, you know!"

I just love that friendly, woman to woman tone that articles from the 1940's use. It's so informal, so...blogger-like!

And what should you use for fabric, you might ask? We've come a long way from the first plastic fabrics. Check out this great Amy Butler laminate cotton from!

Or this lovely cotton laminate from Anna Maria Horner:

Or this eye-catching cotton laminate by Heather Bailey... my personal favorite.

I hope you all have a lovely New Years Eve. There are no parties for me, just my sweetie, a bottle of Champagne, and some Champagne Belgian truffles and that's just the way I like it!

P.S. Speaking of bubbly, I'm celebrating the New Year over at Mrs. Depew Vintage with a coupon code for 10% off. Just use "Champagne" in the 'apply coupon code' part at checkout. It expires Jan. 2nd!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Patterns from the Past Giveaway Winner

I hope you've all had as lovely a holiday season as I have so far. I had a great, lazy and relaxing Christmas at home with my husband and Vinnie the Cat. I also got exactly what I wanted for Christmas, a beautiful Bergans of Norway coat that I have been visiting regularly and dreaming about. Do any of you make regular visits to the mall to remind that special something that you haven't forgotten about it?

I hope that those of you who celebrate the holidays got some wonderful presents and time with your family. The thing I'm looking forward to the most about moving back to the U.S. (Let the 7 month count down begin!) is being able to spend more holidays with my family. I love my husband and would follow him anywhere, and living in Norway has been an amazing experience, but Christmas is always hard. Missing family is the #1 ingredient a girl needs to be homesick.

But back to happy things, it's time for one lucky reader to treat themselves to $50 worth of patterns from Patterns from the Past!
To enter the giveaway you all commented on which patterns you liked most. I loved reading the comments and seeing which patterns you all liked. Some of your favorites are below:

Vogue 6830

Simplicity 8452

Butterick 4175
You all have very good taste! And now for the winner, as chosen by a random number generator:

And the winner of the $50 gift certificate is Cherise from Finland! Cherise also coincidentally writes a beautiful blog in English about vintage clothing called Vintage Follies.
Congratulations, Cherise, you can expect an email from me shortly!

I would also like to thank Michelle of Patterns from the Past for offering such a generous giveaway prize to A Few Threads Loose readers.
You are the best group of people I've ever encountered and I love to find ways to thank you all for reading.

As a token of my affection, here is a picture of a kitten.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Helpful Hints for Vintage Pattern Sellers

First let me start by thanking you all for your lovely comments on my last post. They meant the world to me and from now on I'll try and incorporate a bit more of myself into my posts.
This post isn't exactly personal, but I've been wanting to post about it for a while. This is important to me, and you I think you might have already gathered, I make patterns personal!

As you know, I buy a lot of vintage patterns online. I sell quite a few as well and while I don't necessarily consider myself an expert, I would at least say that I have a good deal of experience in the matter.
Today I would like to talk a bit about mailing patterns.
There are some great things that sellers do to make the arrival of a much anticipated pattern that much more special, and there are some classic pitfalls that inexperienced sellers fall into. We will address both.
But first, let's dwell on the positive. There are a few sellers who I will consistently shop with because they have wonderful patterns, but also because I know that when the pattern arrives, it will be well cared for and exactly as described.
There are two in particular who stand out and deserve to be recognized for their amazing customer service.

Firstly, Miss Betty of Miss Betty's Attic. She has an incredible selection of patterns from every era, and she seems to have an inexhaustible source of really unique patterns. Every pattern I have bought has been wonderful, very reasonably priced, carefully packaged, and quick to arrive.

Secondly, Barbara of Floradora Presents. Barbara's prices are fair and a bit to the higher side of things but completely worth it.
Image From Floradora Presents on Etsy.

As you can see from her standout shop images, she takes particular care with how her patterns are presented, and this also shows in her packaging. Every piece is always meticulously ironed and crisply folded and the patterns are carefully packaged.
I bought a lingerie pattern from her recently and the tiny pattern pieces that went with the bra were carefully wrapped in a tiny length of tissue paper to keep them from escaping!

Now, for the pitfalls of pattern selling and shipping I would never name names unless I had had a truly horrible experience with a seller, which I have not.
I'm just going to outline a few do's and dont's from someone who often gets 2-3 patterns in the mail each day.

  • Iron the pattern pieces if they are crumpled beyond recognition. You'll need to pull them out anyways if you're going to make sure all of the pieces are there, so take a few extra seconds to iron them if they're a mess.
  • Put the pattern in some sort of plastic baggie. Resealable ones are really nice but they cost more. The simplest and least expensive way to protect them is with a bit of kitchen plastic wrap (don't use the new sticky cling wrap!). I don't personally recommend this method as it makes it difficult for the buyer to unwrap the pattern. Instead, use tissue paper or even a scrap of fabric.
  • If you like, throw in a little extra something for a good customer. Some of the goodies I have found with my patterns are a cute card of buttons, a bit of ribbon or bias tape, an old postcard and more. --Make sure it's lightweight though, you don't want to pay more for shipping.
I recently purchased some panties from Ohhh Lulu and I was delighted with the entire package even before I opened it!
  • DON'T use tape on a damaged envelope or pattern piece. They lose their value if they have been taped all to hell. (for more on proper pattern repair, see this article.)
  • Don't sell a pattern without counting the pieces first. Make sure you've checked the pattern for completeness!
  • Don't tape the hell out of the mailing package either. Just use a strong envelope (manilla is great) and a strip of packaging tape on the seal. Packages that have tons of tape on them are very hard to open and there's a good chance that your customer will damage the pattern attempting to get it out with a bowie knife, can opener, meat cleaver etc. Be sure to write DO NOT BEND on the envelope. Mail carriers don't know not to bend sewing patterns unless you tell them!
  • Don't get hair in your packing tape. Pay attention to the tape that you're using, is it clean? Has it caught renegade hairs trying to make a break for it? It's pretty gross to open a package that has the hairs of a stranger randomly stuck to it. This might sound silly but you would be amazed at how often I have packages arrive in the mail with a few fuzzy DNA samples attached. I also take special care to make sure that cat hair hasn't somehow found its way onto my packaging supplies by keeping everything in a lidded plastic bin.
  • Don't forget to promote your shop! Include your business card if you have one. Tuck it inside the plastic sleeve the pattern is stored in - it's less likely to get thrown out that way.
One great thing you can do to stand out to a customer (you want them to remember you and come back again!) is to make your packaging memorable somehow.

For instance, I just sent an order to a special customer recently and made sure that my packaging was as unique and original as the beautiful contents.

You can also make your mailing envelopes more memorable as well. You never know who is handling the mail before it's delivered and if you packaging is pretty, they may be tempted to remember you and look your shop up later.

These are just the tip of the iceberg but I don't want to rant in too much detail about something so particular. I'll be posting again soon about care and keeping of your vintage pattern collection, and how to use vintage patterns safely without damaging them.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and a great weekend as well.
Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway sponsored by Patterns from the Past! A winner will be chosen on December 27th.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Posting the Personal

Normally I don't share my personal problems with you, dear readers (mine are small compared to many). I try to keep much of my internet life private and I'm not sure if its because I'm hoping for a bit of anonymity, or if I'm afraid of clogging the blog with things that you might not be interested in. However, I am starting to come round to the idea that if you care enough to follow my blog, perhaps you care about the things going on in my life too.
I started to think about this in the last several months when I came to the realization that I care quite a bit for the wonderful news or troubles that other bloggers share. For instance, this year I was over the mood delighted that Gretchen Hirsch, whose blog I have followed for a few years now, published her first book with resounding success. I am proud of Gertie's amazing accomplishments as I would be of a sister or dear friend, even though we have never met!

And I was so happy for Casey of Elegant Musings when she announced the wonderful news that she was expecting. Having a child is a life changing blessing that I will most likely never get to experience, and though I'm ok with that, I'm still genuinely thrilled when others do.

These emotional responses that I have had to near strangers' lives has made me rethink my reserve when I write to you. I think from now on I might share a bit more of myself with you as I rant and rave about patterns, sewing, vintage and whatnot.

On that note I'm going to start by thanking you all from the bottom of my heart for reading my blog. Through A Few Threads Loose I have encountered the most amazing people, and made friends where I never thought to find them! To those of you who email me with patterns you think I might like, thank you. It makes my day to know that you went out of your way to share with me. To those of you who email me from time to time just to say hi, it means more than you know and I love each and every email.

Mrs. Depew Vintage keeps me so busy these days that I hardly have time to breathe, let alone reply quickly to your comments and emails but please know that you, dear readers, are always on my mind. You are all an important and enriching part of my life and I'm very grateful for you.



Monday, December 17, 2012

Giveaway Sponsored by Patterns from the Past!

Hello readers! Today I have a really special treat for you! Not too long ago I bought a few patterns from Patterns from the Past that were really special. Michelle, the knowledgeable proprietress has an amazing collection of 1920's and later patterns available. It is in fact, the best selection I've ever seen in all of my pattern shopping years.

I mentioned to Michelle that I would love to blog about her patterns and then in the massive shuffle that is family visiting, food poisoning and various other disasters, blog features got put on the back burner to simmer. Michelle recently contacted me though with a great idea. A Giveaway!
She is very generously offering one lucky reader a $50 gift certificate to Patterns from the Past!

Patterns from the Past has just under 5,000 patterns available from early turn of the century to modern times. Michelle has an excellent reputation amongst sewing enthusiasts. She has been selling patterns online for 18 years and in that time has sold patterns that have been used in productions like Mad Men, American Horror Story,  and the New York Ballet.

A great deal of her love for vintage fashion stems from her love of the old Oz books by L. Frank Baum. We have this in common, both of us were completely enchanted by the combination of Art Nouveau and ragtime illustrated fashions. These books and the wonderful art in them are still among my most treasured possessions today and it's wonderful to have something so unique in common with a fellow vintage pattern enthusiast!

Michelle has taken her love of vintage fashions and created a wonderful website, full to bursting with vintage and new patterns for every kind of fashion lover.
You'll definitely have a hard time choosing just one thing, I know I did.

Here are a few of my absolute favorites:
I'm completely in love with...

McCall 5903

McCall 5935

Butterick 8558

McCall 6357

Vogue 5261

McCall's 4219

Simplicity 3927

Ohhh la la!
If I wasn't saving up to buy a house at our next assignment, I would completely blow at least a month's income on these sweet little patterns!

So, how can you enter to win the $50 gift certificate?
 1.To enter the giveaway pop on over to Patterns from the Past and pick out your favorite pattern (it will be hard to choose!) then leave me a comment here with which one you like most.

You can also do each of the following to get an extra entry, just leave me a comment for each thing you do!
2. Like Patterns from the Past on Facebook.
3. Share about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Mention the giveaway on your blog.
4. Become a follower of A Few Threads Loose, if you're not already.

Be sure to post your entries in the next 10 days. A winner will be randomly selected on December 27th.

To read more about Michelle, check out this great interview on Sew Retro and good luck to everyone who enters!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Everything you'll ever need to know about sewing a placket.

Hello dear readers. I recently got an email from a customer asking if I could help explain how to sew a placket. This is a question I've gotten numerous times working with vintage and vintage-inspired patterns. The placket was a commonly used closure in tap pants, trousers, dresses and blouses in the 1940's. They started to fade out of the spotlight with the advent of the zipper.

 I find that many new sewers are stumped by vintage patterns that automatically assume that one knows how to sew a placket.
I can even remember my first placket in a pair of 1940's tap pants... I had no clue what to do and frantically searched online for instruction. I didn't find any online, but what did help me a great deal was my well-worn 1927 copy of The Art of Dressmaking by Butterick.
I can't recommend this little book enough! Copies regularly come up for sale for quite cheap so if you see one, snap it up, you won't regret it!

The Art of Dressmaking can explain a placket much better than I can, I'm afraid. My sewing machine is buried under a pile of sewing patterns and I promised myself that I would deal with organizing the patterns before I allowed myself to sew. It's hard to explain a placket without sewing one and taking pictures in the process but between the book, and throwing together some illustrations in Photoshop, I think I have it covered for you!
So without further ado, here is the best instruction I have ever found on how to sew a placket:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Bachelor Girl's Studio... and perhaps some lingerie.

In this day and age I'm so used to popping on down to Ikea to pick up bits and pieces of furniture and organizing boxes (perfect for patterns) that it's hard to think about what it would be like without the modern affordable furniture store. Today I looked at this sweet little article by "Daré - the Record's Own Style Expert" and just thought you might all be as intrigued as I was.
Here's how a single lady made her own furniture in 1931:

The original photo, which is much larger, can be found on Flickr here.

The original photo, which is much larger, can be found on Flickr here.

What am I up to, you might ask, since I'm not spending today writing in depth and rousing blog posts? I'm working on sorting and photographing the dozen incredibly gorgeous old new stock 1930's - 1950's bras that just arrived from France...
Want a peek?

Ooh la la!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Found! A New Simplicity S-Series Pattern.

Hello lovely readers. Many of you are already aware of my on-going hunt for patterns from the 1930's S-Series of patterns by Simplicity. You can read more about the saga here. These patterns rarely surface so imagine my surprise when I discovered one on Ebay, and my delight when it was one I had never seen before!

I immediately made a sickeningly-high max bid and got it for a reasonable price.

This is my new pattern, Simplicity S620. It's a Misses' and Women's Bra and Bloomer and it's lovely! I've never really been a big fan of the bloomer from this era. For some reason, the bloomer kept cropping up in some form or another until the 1960's and it's always seemed a bit frumpy and matronly. But the fabrics used in the illustrations, the optional yoke, gives the whole look charm and some potential.

How about you? Could you see yourself in bloomers?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Perfect Christmas Party Dress

It's now that time of year. The time of year when I start thinking about Christmas (I like to get an early start) and what I'll sew to wear at the annual Christmas party. I have a tradition of always either wearing something vintage or something that I've sewn.

I like this tradition. I'm always dressed a bit more uniquely than the other ladies (who also look quite lovely themselves) and it presents the challenge of balance.

As a vintage lover and seamstress, the balance between unique and flat out DIFFERENT is always a fun line for me to walk. As much as I love vintage, I never try to replicate an era completely. I always look for that subtle blend of vintage and timeless, mixing eras, accessories and hairstyles.

Take last Christmas, for example. I wore an amazing 1950's lace dress with a pink petticoat underneath, but paired it with a modern red belt and current hairstyle:

This year I think my sewing plans will lean more towards the cocktail dress, both vintage AND handmade.
I give you, dear readers, my Christmas party cocktail dress:

I just recently finished digitizing, translating and generally improving the vintage original so that the average English-speaking seamstress could enjoy it too. I put the finishing touches on the graphics for this gem and thought... I have to wear this!
How convenient that it was Christmas inspired over 50 years ago, just so that I could rock vintage at the next party?

French Cocktail Dress Digital Pattern for Instant Download.

The pattern calls for velvet, but let's face it, the sky is the limit! What fabric do you think I should choose?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sew Expensive... Butterick 3402

For today's Sew Expensive I present to you the lovely Butterick 3402, which recently sold for a meager $126.56.

This amazing little gem has a beautiful asymmetrical panel hem option (swoon) with fur cuffs and collar. It is, in a word, show-stopping.

Is it just me or does the price seem a bit low? Perhaps I've been blogging about too many high-priced evening gowns lately. Even with sewing patterns, I suppose everything is relative.

Also, on a silly side note, Butterick is apparently not in the dictionary that this post editor uses. It kept auto-correcting it to Buttermilk. Buttermilk 3402... such an expensive, tasty beverage...

On another note, the very clever and talented Debi of My Happy Sewing Place has written a blog post detailing most of her favorite places to buy vintage patterns online. Many of my favorites are on this list and if you haven't seen it yet, it's well worth a read.

How about you? Do you have a favorite place to look for vintage patterns?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The French Riviera, pretty things, and the Giveaway winner.

A very interesting antique shop that was composed entirely of chandeliers.
The sting of shell-fish poisoning (Damn you, moules marinières!) has finally worn off and I can now look at pictures of our trip to France and not think of being sick. I thought I would share a few pretties with you before announcing the winner of the Apron Pattern Giveaway.

The first day that I was able to leave the hotel without wanting to fall down was also the last day that I had to explore the antiques Nice (pronounced Neeeeece) had to offer. We had to stop often on our way there so that I could rest, but when we did there was delicious coffee, tea, and croissants to fortify me.

The walk was lovely and we explored the old city on our way to what had been described as a great antiques market being held that very day. We arrived at said market and found an unwavering throng of tourists with the same goal. Apparently no one had bothered to tell them that this was the off-season and that they weren't welcome to crash my adventure. I hate crowds. My husband hates crowds even more and promptly proceeded to stalk behind me like the murderous looking giant that he was rapidly devolving into. I shared his feelings and barreled my way along to the other end, only stopping to notice that everything was incredibly, painfully overpriced... and also very pretty.

This rack of 1920's through 1950's silk (yes, silk) slips caught my attention and I proceeded to bemoan two facts. 1. They were each very expensive (at least $100 each) and 2. I would not fit into any of them, even being 3 pounds lighter post food-poisoning.

But oh, the sewing inspiration to be had from these beauties! The lovely harpy asking so much for them graciously allowed me to take pictures as she perched nearby to caw prices at unsuspecting tourists.

I soon found another sewing gem a few yards away. Despite a great amount of persuading, I could neither convince my husband of its beauty and appeal, nor myself of the likelihood of getting it on a plane. But who doesn't dream of a 350 Euro positively ancient papier maché dress form?

Thoroughly demoralized by the crowd, the prices, and my stomach, Mike gently led me away from the horde and consoled me with a pat on the head, coffee, a macaroon, and a bag of very expensive, heavenly loose-leaf tea that smelled like a bake sale in a garden.

Coffee is of great consolation to me in trying moments.

And now, after looking at the pretty picture of a cafe, I'll be you're ready to learn the winner of the giveaway, aren't you?

The lucky winner, who will receive a copy of my new apron pattern reproduction, was chosen at random and is...... drumroll....... Jamie of Raspberry Lemonade!

Depew 1027 Aprons.
Jamie, you can email me at and I'll send you your pattern. A big thanks to everyone else who participated. I always love reading your comments! Stay tuned for more this week including more Sew Expensive posts!

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Pattern Release and a Giveaway!

 Not too long ago (though it feels like forever) I wrote a post about sewing this apron from a 1930's Pictorial pattern. So many of you left comments asking me to make it into a digital reproduction that I simply couldn't refuse!

So after a very long time, and a lot of work, I have created my masterpiece. I have really come a long way in what I have learned to do with digital design. Each new pattern or booklet for Mrs. Depew Vintage just get's prettier and prettier and this one is no exception.

Depew # 1027 has all of the bells and whistles including a map to the pattern pieces and just about the prettiest instructions I have ever made.

 And to celebrate (this really took a lot of work and I'm so excited to be finished!) I'll be giving away one copy to one lucky winner!

To enter to win, comment which is your favorite pattern from my Craftsy shop.
For an added entry, you can do any of the following.  Just leave me  comment to let me know which you've done:

1. Become a follower of A Few Threads Loose on Twitter, Google, or Bloglovin'.

2. Like A Few Threads Loose on Facebook.

3. Like Mrs. Depew Vintage on Facebook.

4. Mention this giveaway on your blog or share it on Facebook.

This is a quick giveaway so I'll announce the winner this Tuesday the 6th.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sew Expensive... McCall 7405.

 Happy Halloween to everyone! I have been back from a trip to France for a week now and badly neglected the blog. Shell fish poisoning and a ton of overdue work kept me rather distracted when I got back, I'm sad to say.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a few pictures up from wandering through a French antiques market but for today, I have a Sew Expensive post for you!

A while back, this McCall 7405 sold for $108.86.
The pattern has a copyright from 1933 and features the ever difficult-to-find ruffle sleeve. This is actually, believe it or not, a rather reasonable selling price for a pattern like this. I have seen similar sell for as much as $300!

My favorite part is the back opening slit to reveal just a hint of what's underneath.

If I were to make this dress for today, it would be very easy to omit the ruffled sleeve for a rather updated look.

How about you? Would you wear a dress like this to a formal engagement?
For those of us on a budget, there's always Depew 1120:

I hope everyone has a lovely evening. If you'll excuse me, there are strange children begging for food at more door and I must go pelt them with candy.