Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sew Expensive... A 1935 Evening Gown McCall 8476

Hello my dears. This is going to surprise you. Yet another beautiful 1930s evening gown pattern has sold on eBay for more than $12. I'll bet you never saw that coming...

I'm a bit behind on getting this pattern posted but a little while back, McCall 8476 sold at auction for a delightfully shocking $810.99.

The listing photos don't show the copyright date but I estimate this one to be circa 1935.
And after a quick internet search, maybe the highest bidders knew something about this one that the rest of us didn't?

Image from Pinterest.

...that's right, kids, this one was designed after a Patou gown.

Now let's talk about that seam gathering at the front hips. I remember shopping for pants with my mom when I was a teenager. Something that really stuck in my head was her advice that one never wanted to draw attention to one's crotch area if it can be helped. She explained how some pants would crinkle oddly in the front area and as she'd point it out, her face would form a grimace, a crinkling around her lips as she pinched them in disapproval at a pair of pants. The expression was rather similar to the unwanted fabric puckering, now that I think of it...

And on my dear Mama's advice, I could never walk out of my house in a dress with such unfortunately positioned gathers. I have to say, Patou, darling, I'll have to pass on this one...

Now, if you'd like to see a dress that Patou absolutely nailed just a few years earlier by drawing attention to the d├Ęcolletage rather than the hips, look no further than McCall 5840, circa 1929.
How about you? Which of these gowns is more your style?

Happy sewing,

Friday, September 8, 2017

Nerds Helping Houston Hurricane Relief Benefit

Hello, my dears.
I've been AWOL for a while now while we've been packing up and moving across the country. We've arrived in Georgia just in time to find ourselves in the likely path of Irma (what fun!). Many of my friends, colleagues and loved ones were affected when Harvey hit Houston and I, along with my fellow Admins over at the Vintage Pattern Nerd Facebook Group decided to organize a benefit day.

To help with relief for both Harvey and future Irma victims, I'm pledging that 100% of all profits on Saturday, September 9th sales will be donated to Hurricane Harvey & Irma Relief. This includes all, and Facebook sales.

Here are the details if you'd like to join in:

Here at the Vintage Pattern Nerd Group, we have built a wonderful community of helpful, knowledgeable and brilliant pattern nerds.
We would like to invite you to use those talents and this wonderful network of friends to help those in need after the devastating flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
That’s why the admins at Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds are organizing a Houston Benefit Pattern Sales Day next week. On our sister groups, The Vintage Pattern Nerd Boutique and the Nerd Budget Boutique we are inviting pattern sellers and buyers to participate in one special day of pattern sales. 
Sellers who choose to participate can donate a portion or all of their proceeds from one day of sales to the charity of their choice to help benefit the victims of this awful storm.
Sellers can link to their online shops that will pledge donations, or they can designate some or all items in their Facebook sales groups by adding the tag Nerds Helping Houston or the attached badge to their listings.
We admins will lead by example where we can with those of us who own pattern shops pledging donations as well.
The special day will be Saturday, September 9th.
We encourage you to share over your social media networks, with your friends, fellow collectors, and fellow pattern sellers to help with a wonderful day of giving grow across our online community.
How you can help:
-Pledge on your shop page, social media, or Facebook pattern listings that you will participate in the benefit day, and detail what portion of your proceeds you will donate. Please feel free to copy and share the Nerds Helping Houston Badge.
-Copy and share this post with your friends.
-Pledge to try and buy patterns on Saturday the 9th from your favorite participating sellers.
-Make a donation directly to a charity of your choosing.
Where to pledge: On your Facebook page, or in the pledge post in Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds Group or Budget Nerd Boutique.
The day after the sale: we will add a special follow up post where participants can post about participation the day before and share copies, screen shots etc. of their donations. Don't worry about bragging. By saying you participated, showing that you donated, you don’t have to be bragging, you are simply setting an example and encouraging or reminding others who care that there is something, big or small, that they can do to help those in need.
A helpful guide to choosing a legitimate donation site:…/looking-to-help-those-affected-by-harv…

Friday, June 30, 2017

A 1920s Couture Gown Pattern - A New Pattern Release!

Hello my dears. I'm happy to post today about a research/ reproduction project I've been working on for months!
My collection (hoard) of vintage magazines and quarterlies always makes me happy, but recently they also told me that a pattern in my collection was very special!

The quarterlies often had a few pages of couture designs mingled in with their every day patterns and a 1927 McCall Quarterly was kind enough to inform me that my McCall 5050 was a design by House of Worth!

After much digging, I also found the same pattern advertised a few times in two other magazines from the period, some of which included references to embroidery patterns that could be used to make the dress more unique!

I already had plans to release a reproduction of the pattern, but I decided to hold off until I could really do something special.

I was finally able to hunt down rough images of what all three referenced embroidery designs looked like, and once I had them, I drafted those, too!

And now it's complete! Pattern #3086 is now available in print or download and includes three full-sized embroidery motifs to make it exactly as pictured in the magazines!

1920s Worth Couture Dress #3086.

Most of the reference material has the pattern illustrated for day wear but the sleeveless version in printed silk was advertised as a "Gown of Grace and Gaiety from Paris".
You can find the pattern here.

House of Worth has a strange, special place in my heart. My late mother was obsessed with Worth and the history behind the famed Couture house that launched Parisian Couture as we know it today. Her greatest goal in life was to one day add a Worth gown to her antique clothing collection. A big dream indeed, considering that they are often only found in museums these days. She passed away before ever making her dream a reality. It felt strange, sad, and bitter-sweet to know that I had a pattern of one of their designs and that I couldn't share it with her.
As I'm a pattern collector, and not a really a dress collector, this was essentially my version of her dream and I'm so happy to have realized it a bit for both of us.

For an extraordinary photo collection of House of Worth designs, check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art online catalog.
But beware, bring something to soak up your drool and clear your schedule, because you're going to be there a while...

Happy sewing,

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Making Your First Dress - A Lesson from 1927

I just keep finding things inside of my Woman's Institute lesson books! This time I was looking through Dressmaking - Perfection in Details and this flyer was tucked in the back.
It was most likely included in the mail order coursework as part of the Dressmaking Program.

It mentions a few commercial patterns that one could purchase to make these looks including Ladies' Home Journal 5146, Butterick 1390, Butterick 1561, Pictorial Review 4006, and Ladies' Home Journal 5503.


Oh, and in other news, look what I just finished!

#3069 Slip Pattern

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Next Level Nerd - McCall Sewing Pattern Dating and Collecting Resources

Collecting sewing patterns can be a really fun (and expensive) past-time. One of the most fun aspects of this can be hunting down more information about a particular pattern. This can be done a few ways but the best way to find out more about a pattern is to find publications from the pattern company and see if they feature your pattern.

I found this McCall 1738 doll pattern in a 1929 McCall Quarterly. A few days later, I found the French Boudoir doll the pattern was made for at an estate sale! Pattern Nerd heaven!

In addition to printing monthly Style News flyers handed out free at dry goods and department stores, some companies also printed quarterlies that were available for purchase, as well as counter catalogs to have on display in stores.

Some companies also had their own monthly magazines in which patterns were advertised along with novel installments, home decor and homemaking articles, and news. Other companies partnered with magazines already in publication to advertise their pattern in the fashion section.

This post will focus on the types of pattern advertising used by McCall Patterns.

Counter catalogs could be found in stores at the pattern counter, much like they are today. They were often 100-600 pages of fashion eye candy. These are extremely rare and highly sought after as many were simply thrown out every few months.

McCall Catalogue of Complete Designs July, 1930.

The sister catalog to this was the McCall Complete Catalog of Designs, also to be found at the pattern counter, but featuring needlework and accessories. These for some reason are easier to find and are worth 1/10th of what regular counter catalogs go for.

McCall Quarterly Winter, 1925.

McCall Quarterly was an average of 60-100 pages in length and had the distinction of advertising patterns that were based on couture designers - these names often didn't make it printed in the catalogs or on the pattern itself, likely to save on licensing fees. These were published from approximately 1920 to 1931.
You can find reproductions of some of these for download here.

McCall Fashion Book Mid-Winter 1932-33

In 1932, McCall Quarterly was renamed McCall Fashion Book and was published quarterly and sometimes bi-monthly as such until the late 1930s.

McCall Style News was created monthly by McCall and a template was sent out to department stores that carried the patterns to be printed at their own expense and given gratis to customers. These will often have the store name printed at the bottom. I have seen these as early as 1924 and as late as the 1970s.

McCall's November 1928.

McCall's November 1928.

 McCall's Magazine started out in 1873 and was Originally Called The Queen. In 1897 it became McCall's Magazine - The Queen of Fashion and was later shortened to just McCall's.
Published monthly, it is a little utilized pattern dating resource, but a really great one! These often included fashion pages illustrated in mostly color, about 4-14 pages worth! In the 1920s McCall Magazines, couture designer names are often mentioned with the designs - this is my favorite way to find out if a pattern was created by a couture designer or not. I even found out from a 1928 magazine that one of the patterns in my collection was a House of Worth design!

Page from 1925 Autumn McCall Needlework

McCall Needlework was published starting in the early 1920s and was often bi-monthly. While McCall Quarterly focused on clothing and accessories, vintage McCall Needlework focused on patterns for embroidery, pillows, aprons, hats, gloves, toys, curtains, smocking, needlepoint, and cross stitch to name a few.

Other pattern research resources you might find useful:

How about you? What is your favorite method for researching and dating sewing patterns?

PS. New in pattern happenings this week: The Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds Facebook Group has opened its own Facebook Pattern Selling Group. Vintage Pattern Nerd Boutique is a great place to buy or sell rare patterns without fees and commissions so stop by and check it out!

Happy sewing,

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...