sewing

Completing the Uncompleted

I love it when people buy incomplete projects and complete them. Case in point: this quilt which someone bought, completely unfinished, with the intent of completing it for a woman long gone. She ended up turning it into a HUGE cross-country project that involved embroiders from every state, and a big quilting bee in Chicago that brought the entire project together. It is an amazing story that if you haven’t read it, DO.

I’ve connected people with patterns they were searching for over the years. One lady emailed me years ago, looking for the pattern for her 1956 prom gown, a shirred confection which had a gorgeously hand stitched skirt. She didn’t have any information about the pattern, just a photo of her in the dress. I ended up finding it for her, and she was so happy. She and her granddaughter made it to wear to the granddaughter’s prom, 45 years later. It was amazing.

So yeah, I get requests, and I love the challenge. My kids will tell you, as will most of my friends, about my researching skills. A good friend won’t even pick up his phone anymore to look for an answer because I always beat him in finding it. My eldest son told my daughter when she left for college “do not give Mom names. She will find out.” And he’s right. If I want to know, I generally find out.

So I got a request over the weekend, asking if I had the pattern for this particular tablecloth.

Her friend had the unfinished tablecloth but no pattern, and the sender wanted to also make it for herself. It’s a chicken scratch pattern. For those who aren’t aware, chicken scratch is embroidered on gingham. I love it. It’s easy and cute. There are collectors out there, and there must be a new interest in it, because my chicken scratch instructions are the best seller in my shop (consider though that most of my items are one of a kind so they can’t be best sellers, but I sell the heck outta those instructions). Sadly, I did not have this pattern.

It’s odd, because there are tons of finished projects identical to this out there. Tons. But finding the pattern was very elusive. I found it for a pillow, but not big enough for the tablecloth. I kept searching, and finally found it in Canada on eBay. It’s strange that a pattern so apparently popular is so elusive now. I had to switch up a lot of keywords to find it. I searched for transfers too, since there are chicken scratch transfers. Even searched for mail order patterns and transfers in the newspaper archive. I think I surprised myself in finding it and probably only did because of dogged determination to prove to myself that it exists. I still think it’s out there somewhere in a more vintage pattern or transfer, since the one I found was 70s/80s, but as the customer was elated to find it at all, I’m no longer searching.

I am, however, waiting for my new challenge to come along. It doesn’t happen that often anymore because of the Vintage Pattern Wiki, Facebook groups and the like, but it’s always fun when it does. The less details, the better. I like a good challenge.

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