Friday, October 28, 2011

Haunted dress story!

In honor of Halloween, I must tell you about a dress I sold some years ago.

The dress that didn't want to leave my house

When I bought this beautiful blue-grey satin dress it had a small stain at the neckline, so I took it to the cleaners. I removed the four rhinestone buttons on the sleeves so they would not be damaged in cleaning. The dress came back without stain. I bought perfectly matching thread to sew the buttons back on then hung the dress up on a rack below an open staircase. A month later, while going up the stairs, I tripped and spilled my dinner a bit. Some salsa splashed on this dress. Very frustrated, I took the dress to be cleaned again, removing the buttons again. It came back perfectly clean, I sewed on the buttons.

Then, a month later, I went to sell the dress, and there was a stain at the neckline again, and I have not a clue as to how it got there. Extremely frustrated, I removed the buttons again. I waited about 6 months to take the dress to the cleaners again (being slightly freaked out by this) and it came back perfectly clean. Then I went to sew the buttons back on and could only find 3 of the 4. I searched high and low.

Finally, after several months, the fourth button turned up in an unlikely spot. I went to sew the buttons on, and the perfectly-matched thread was nowhere to be found. I found a pretty similar grey-ish thread and stitched the buttons on, but noticed that one of the rhinestones had fallen out that was previously in place.

I photographed the dress, and by now I was a bit on edge about this series of mishaps. I was excruciatingly careful with it every step of the way. When I uploaded the photos from my camera, the computer crashed, something that positively never happens. When I restarted, the photos were gone (again, this never happens!), so I took more, with even more excruciating care.

The dress sold, and I boxed it up. By now, I was talking to it soothingly, like, "it's okay, you are going to a good home, and you'll like it there." When I got to the post office, my delivery confirmation sticker would not scan! (I'm not making any of this up!) The postal worker put on a new sticker.

The woman who bought the dress truly loved it, and I hope the dress loved her too and didn't give her too much trouble!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Women's vintage clothing: determining size

Fit is always a bit of a challenge when buying clothing—new or vintage—online. For help taking the mystery out of buying vintage clothing, I've developed some basic information.

Top tip: Check the measurements of the vintage garment you're interested in against something that fits you well and is of as similar a design as possible.

I give size estimates (always the letter size and sometimes U.S. numerical sizes) and my estimates are based on an average of a handful of catalogs and websites...I hope these are good estimates to help pinpoint the fit. I have the experience of putting on a lot of vintage garments, and so I have a first-hand idea of how an item might fit. This is the chart I look at to predict sizes:

One thing's for sure, fashion has dictated different fits through the years. For instance, a 1950s dress generally has a small waist relative to the bust and hip measurements, as compared to many other decades.

I usually estimate the size based on the most fitted dimension. In many cases it is the waist, but often it is the hip, the bust, or even the shoulder width! It sometimes helps to be friends with a person who can do alterations.

A few details about my fit estimates:

I measure the garments flat but don't just go from side to side. I try to take into account the contour, especially at the bust, which can make the measure larger than the side-to-side measurement.

With most regular-fit blouses I estimate the size based on the wearer being about 4" smaller at the bust than the blouse. This goes down a little toward smaller sizes, and up a little toward larger sizes.

With knits, I try to think how the item would look best worn. In some cases I really see stretching the knit as being "the look," in other cases I think the knit should flow more loosely.

With shoes, I lay the measuring tape flat on the insole of the shoe if at all possible. The length is toe to heel, the width is at the widest part of the ball of the foot. Remember this is the widest part on the insole, the leather or other material is wider at the center of the shoe.

With coats, I try to envision how much might be worn underneath and often give a wider range of sizes because so often coats are more free or loose in cut.

With pants and swimwear, I give every possible measure I can think of because I know these are the trickiest to fit accurately.

Always feel free to ask for further measurements, guidance regarding the size, or anything else!

(Modified from my nearly decade-old eBay About Me page.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm-Running-Out-of-Space Coat Sale!

Every so often I have too much of a good thing, and one of those times is now!

From today through October 16, take 20% off any coat in my Etsy shop and 25% off any coat in my web store.

I will refund the 20% or 25% of your purchase price paid. If you have any doubt as to whether the item would be considered a coat, please just ask me!

Some of my Etsy shop choices:

Some web store choices:

As you can see from this sampling, the choices are pretty diverse!

WWI Red Cross Uniform

The patch on this uniform's apron says it all: A.R.C. Canteen Worker. To help in the war (WWI) effort, the American Red Cross had a civilian corps called the Canteen Service (1917-19).
The Red Cross provided food and snacks as well as leisure articles, to troops primarily when they were in transit at railroad stations and ports of embarkation and debarkation. By the end of the war, 55,000 canteen workers operated 700 canteens in the United States that served nearly 40 million refreshments. Overseas, the American Red Cross operated 130 canteens in France alone that served some 15 million American and Allied soldiers.
(Information courtesy of American Red Cross Museum.)

Apparently the women who worked for the Canteen service didn't just pass out sandwiches as fast as they could be made, some were even tasked with taking rolling canteens to the frontlines (from The Medical Front WWI).

I came upon this venerable set (now being auctioned) and don't know the name of the original owner I'm sorry to say. It isn't the most fancily constructed uniform; one can almost sense the urgency to get the outfit made. By contrast, the uniform has now been lovingly preserved, even with its War-era flaws, for nearly a century. It seems to have stories to tell.

Card found at

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Slight vintage convergence

An alert Flickr contact posted this great Jon Whitcomb artwork

Perhaps thinking I'd seen the artwork when I shot this...

See my other vintage convergences here and here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All the leaves on the trees are falling... the sound of the breezes that blow

Please click on the image {sound up} to visit my October theme Moondance, then stop by for fall vintage fashions, updated daily.