1950s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

My Superpower

McCall’s 5185, ©1959

I have a superpower that few can lay claim to. Maybe nobody. This pattern is a prime example. Isn’t it great? I sold it today, and therein lies my power.

For some whacky reason, I will sometimes come across a pattern in my stash. It’s been there a while, or maybe not. Maybe I listed it a looooong time ago (see last post) or maybe I just listed it but it’s one that should’ve sold overnight, as some are wont to do. Either way, it’s in my files and it shouldn’t be. Or maybe I look at it with a new eye and say to myself “wow, that is so cute.” Once in a while I even have the thought of inactivating the listing because I’ve just had it too long. But that little thought? That’s it.

That little thought means that that particular pattern is going to sell within 24 hours, guaranteed. I’m virtually 100% on this. It’s always by happenstance. I just come across it and wonder why I have it, or think to myself that it’s cute and I may as well package it up because it is going.

I’m not sure what causes this particular phenomena. I don’t do this every day. Most days I’m just madly crashing through my files looking for whichever particular beauties are going out the door. Maybe I’m cursing a bit under my breath because yet again, they have gotten out of order. Maybe I’m annoyed because they are in the back of a bottom drawer, and I’m not ready for the gymnastics required to reach that particular pattern, but trust me when I say that I don’t stare longingly at my filed patterns. But once in a while, a spark happens, the angels sing and one just jumps out at me, then BOOM. It sells.

I think the quickest this has happened has been half an hour after I came across it. It averages less than twelve hours from thought to sale, and it can’t be forced. I can’t pray to the patron saint of sewing (who is, if you must know, Saint Tabitha) because believe me, there are days where I’d try. Some days I can’t even run a massive sale to get one out the door (like today – 25% off because yeah, it’s my birthday). I sell all day, every day, but I can’t make it happen. It’s just my little Magic Kingdom and it happens when the stars align and the angels sing.

So that’s my superpower. What’s yours?

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing


McCall’s 4365

People email or call me from time to time, asking if I buy patterns. I do, sometimes. I’m always interested in what people have, and what the story behind them is. It’s very easy to hoard patterns, so I have to be cautious. At one point, I had 40,000+ patterns, but that was when I had a huge workspace. These days, not so much. That being said, I still have patterns in every corner of my office, mostly because I love them so much.

Last week, a lady emailed me saying that her mother had recently passed away, leaving several hundred patterns. The daughter plans to send some to the Vintage Sewing Center and Museum, but postage is very expensive, so she wanted to pass some along locally. We set a time and I went to look. What a sweet lady she is. She had all of the patterns laid out in boxes for me to look at in her garage. She even had a water bottle for me, in case I was thirsty.

The best part of getting patterns from people is hearing the stories associated with them. She said that her mother was a prolific sewist who made all of her clothes. She said that looking through the patterns was a blast from the past, because so many of them were associated with memories from her childhood. She had even found the pattern for her wedding dress in the mix, but she had thankfully pulled it out to keep it for herself. The patterns are a beautiful mix of kids’, women’s, mens and a few other assorted things like toys or home decor. She suggested that I take them home to look at them.

While I was browsing, she asked “is this you?”. I looked, and she was holding up a newspaper article about my shop, printed in the Indianapolis Star probably fifteen years ago. I told her yes, it was me — my name is different now — and we got talking. Turned out that we had lived in the same neighborhood in Indianapolis, gone to the same church, and she worked at the library we frequented for years. She left about ten years before we got there, but the parallels were crazy. Turned out that her mom had tucked the newspaper article into the boxes of patterns. “I think she wanted you to have them,” she said. I believe her.

So that’s how I ended up coming home with several hundred new-to-me patterns that I will treasure. And this is why I do what I do. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve connected to patterns from their past: their wedding dress pattern, kids patterns that their mom used for them and now they want to make it for their own kids, even one lady’s 1956 prom dress pattern, so she could make it for her granddaughter. I love what I do. I love the stories of where patterns came from, and where they are going, and I love the human connection. They are small pieces of fashion history that are so personal. I treasure them all.

Thank you, Melva. I will be custodian of your treasures until they find the next person who loves them.