Wow! I just stumbled upon this jaw-dropper on eBay -- act fast, the auction ends early tomorrow morning:
I KNOW! They're not just knickers -- they're knickers that BALLOON OUT at the knees! And look at the fantabulously garish fabric used to illustrate them!
In fact, this pattern may be the fashion equivalent of BIRDEMIC. What is Birdemic, you ask? A fantastically horrible movie I saw Saturday night that you MUST SEE if there's a late night screening in your area. No, it has nothing to do with patterns, fashion or sewing. But I was going to find a way to post it, so we might as well get it over now:
See? The only thing that could make it better would be if the characters (or birds!) were wearing balloon-kneed knickers like the ones above! Ah. I'll just end today's short post with one of my favorite lines in the film: "I hear a mountain lion. I'd better go."
Wow, Vogue. Thank you so much! Once again, you've released a slew of lovely patterns that will end up in my pattern collection, waiting patiently to be made. You manage to always put out three or four dresses that I absolutely fall in love with, and this time was no exception. After all these years, you still know how to make me feel special!
I especially want to single out this pattern, 1170, for praise:
What is up with that fabric? Are those chimney sweeps, or are they men with umbrellas being swept away by the wind? Anyway, I love how they look like they're being sucked into the black hole of the knot at her neck. It's not just a blouse, it's a natural disaster! I would wear that ALL the time. I mean it. I bet you knew that, didn't you? That blouse is our secret joke, isn't it?
But I'm going to be a bit of a crankypants about Vogue 1158, the Tracy Reese striped dress. See, Vogue, I have these four yards of beautiful striped rayon fabric. (I told you about this, but you were doing that "pretend listening" thing again, as if chatting with Marcy Tilton was more important than finishing your conversation with me.) And like the Ancient Mariner doomed to retell his tale, or Sisyphus fated to push that rock up the hill again and again, I am doomed to forever search for the perfect striped fabric pattern. Immediately my eyes shot to that dress.
The back is so nice. So harmonious. Look at that stripe-matching:
It's beautiful. Makes you feel like all is right with the world, doesn't it? Granted, the stripes don't match on the belt, which seems like the easy part, but hey -- who's looking there? It's the front people really pay attention to:
N-n-no! At first I thought you were doing something cool and complicated with the multi-stripe pattern, but no! You simply DID NOT MATCH the stripes, and every time I look at the dress it makes me feel funny inside. Like I might need to put on one of those McCall's crazy caps I posted about yesterday.
No, Vogue, I am NOT being hyperbolic. Those mismatched stripes get under my skin. I just don't feel right. I can't stop thinking about how -- stop laughing. Vogue, if you tell me did this just to annoy me --
I am calm. Let me just make my point. I looked through my sewing books from the '40s and '50s. I was hoping to find a tongue-lashing on the evils of unmatched stripes -- the kind of thing Nina Garcia might say if this dress showed up on Project Runway. But no, my vintage books quite simply and sensibly explained how to match stripes when laying out a pattern. And then I realized --
Vogue, I am not having the discussion about how you use "real" designers while Simplicity cashes in on Project Runway. The point is, I looked through my old sewing books and I realized that I didn't need to justify stripe matching to you. You know why? You know you should do it.
Yeah you do. "Allow extra fabric to match plaids or stripes."
No, I am not twisting your words. I am not taking them out of context. You always say --
Vogue, cut that out. Just admit you messed up! We can get past this. I just want -- I need -- an explanation! Were you sick? Did you forget to pay the utility bill again? Were you on another bender? You know I'm always good for the bail money.
Don't slam the door like that! Fine. Go out and get drunk with Simplicity. Why don't you tell him to stop making sample garments out of the Joann's Casa Collection and experiment with something like silk or chiffon for once?!
My first thought upon seeing this pattern was something like "want-this-in-my-size-where-can-I-get-it?", which is usually my first thought upon encountering any vintage pattern. My second thought --
-- well, I had no second thought. My neurons all misfired at once. When I came out of the void and stopped staring at the pattern envelope in gaping, awestruck wonder, I began to imagine the discussion at Advance HQ before the pattern envelope featuring this chic housewife and her cartoon friend hovering a foot above her kitchen chair went into production:
HEAD OF MARKETING: Great, so we're all set on 3115. Moving on to 3116...well, gorgeous job on the dress, Betty.
BETTY: Thank you. The yoke is very well-designed.
HEAD OF MARKETING: That it is. Your seaming is beautiful as always. As for the illustration...well, Pierre, I do like the hands on the hips pose. It's very jaunty.
PIERRE: She is like a French sailor, oui.
HEAD OF MARKETING: Why is she so much smaller than the other model?
PIERRE: You do this all the time in American patterns, no? One giantess and one little one?
BETTY: Why is she floating a foot above the wicker chair?
PIERRE: Ah! It is very hip, no? Like the Rolling Stones song. She is Mother's Little Helper.
HEAD OF MARKETING: I'm sorry. I don't think they're referring to -- no. I don't really know what they're singing about, but I'm quite sure it's not a floating mini-helper.
PIERRE: She is like a genie then? Like the television show with the woman in the bottle, except that she lives in the chair --
BETTY: You can't live in a wicker chair. There's no way to close it up for the night.
PIERRE: How can you really live in a bottle? It's magic. You must suspend your disbelief.
BETTY: A bottle has a top, a bottom and sides. A wicker chair has -- where does she sleep? Where do her velvet curtains and pillows go?
PIERRE: Mother's Little Helper, she is ingenious. At night she hangs --
HEAD OF MARKETING: Approved! We're moving on to 3117.
One day you're happily traversing the web, looking at eco-friendly craft projects, when you stumble upon THIS:
Sewing patterns as WRAPPING PAPER? Vintage envelopes torn asunder and fashioned into GIFT TAGS?! All to end up mixed in with bows, Scotch tape and half-eaten candies in a big black plastic trash bag come Christmas Day?
Granted, the author of the article specifies that she uses incomplete patterns that would otherwise never make it to the thrift store shelf. But my obsessive side needs to know: did they get cataloged in the Vintage Sewing Patterns Wiki first? Did no one think of sending them to Pattern Rescue? Look at the great sleeve ruffles on the blouse on the left! I need to see those!
Heart in my throat, I clicked on a link to another article, which provided EIGHT more crafty ways to use sewing patterns. Horror of horrors! It didn't advise crafters to use incomplete patterns! My mind reeled, imagining the treasures that had fallen victim to hot glue guns and pipe cleaners.
It's not that I'm against being green. Here at Pattern Junkie Headquarters I have an extremely eco-friendly approach to vintage sewing patterns, based on the classic guidelines of "Reduce, Recycle & Reuse:"
1) REDUCE the number of sewing patterns on the market by buying them by the boxload on eBay
2) RECYCLE a small percentage via actual sewing or via selling in my etsy shop (proceeds which are used to fund activity #1)
3) REUSE them by storing them and dreaming over them, occasionally mounting a snarling defense when Mr. Pattern Junkie suggests that "maybe we could get rid of this junk."
I'm a big fan of creativity and re-use, and have to admit that these projects are clever. It's better than sending them to the landfill (though you could stop by my house on the way to the landfill. I'm just saying.) There's also a good argument to be made that it's better to use these old patterns in creative ways instead of just letting them sit in a garage or attic somewhere. Isn't it better for them to see the light of day as a bookmark than sit in a box for years?
I say no. For me, vintage sewing patterns don't need to be anything than what they are. I know I'll never make all of the hundreds I own. I'm fine with that. A reader once wrote to me that she loved patterns because they allowed her to imagine different "selves" for herself, and that's true for me, too. I suppose all fashion does this, but I find it to be more visceral with patterns. I go through my collection, matching pattern and fabric. Will I evoke mod London in a dandy-style coat and dress, or 50s Paris in a "Vogue Paris Original" pattern? Even the instructions fascinate me: the changes in technique, the new things I can learn by scanning those pages.
So I'll say it loud and proud: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY SEWING PATTERNS!