Saturday, July 3, 2010

I see a pattern here...

I think sometimes I should just start a weekly post entitled "What I found at Savers" as even I am amazed at the range of items spied weekly!  If I were to do that, however, and my shop regulars got wind of it, it might affect how they look at my stuff!  Sure, I clean it up and make it look pretty and take great photos and merchandise it for them, but, how many times can someone see a price tag of $1.99 and pay me $32?  Truthfully, my markups are actually often much lower than that as I keep my prices pretty low, but, you get the idea. 
Most of the stores keep the sewing stuff all together and have a bin or two for patterns.  I usually glance at them but rarely go in detail.  Two days ago, however, I noticed a HUGE amount of added patterns and could easily see that most of them were vintage.  I therefore got to work!  At $.69 each, you can't go wrong, right?  This group above I will likely list all together to celebrate the July season premiere of Mad Men.  What great 1960's fashions!

 This one I picked up for the folks on Etsy.  I have another similar in the wings.  These are so great for those wonderful folks who create the vintage inspired aprons from vintage fabrics, they do such a great job!

I focused mainly on the dress patterns.  There were some great shirt, pant, skirt and set patterns there, but, I find that people really like the dress patterns best.  I also found a couple of coat patterns like the Vogue pattern above.   Patterns are easy to photograph and ship, but, somewhat of a pain to list if they are cut. You really need to inventory them and let your buyers know if all pieces are there along with instructions.  I must say, however, that I rarely find a saved pattern - especially from someone who clearly enjoyed sewing - where the pieces were not all neatly stored along with the instructions.

The find of the day was this trio of 1950's Pauline Trigere patterns.  Ooh la la baby!

Also collectible (but not nearly to the level of the Trigere) is this Vogue Couturier series.

Now I am going to switch gears on you here for a moment, but trust me, there is a connection.  I wanted to talk about two types of patterns today; the first, the literal sewing patterns above; the second is a pattern of behavior.  You see, I have this bad habit of seeing something, NOT buying it, then getting home and regretting leaving it there.  (This happens in part because I am trying to overcome another habit of buying everything I see then getting home to realize it's not worth the bag I carried it home in...) But, today I want to talk about the first bad habit, the day-after obsession.  You see, yesterday morning I decided to look up on the internet this book I had seen the night before.  Although, I had not actually written any details, I just had them in my head.  This bit of misguided research led me to believe I had left a $3000 copy of Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage" at the store.  I immediately dropped everything and drove a good 15 miles south of here to the store only to find that it was OF COURSE NOT a $3000 book, but, a $15 book at best.  Sure, the book is a classic regardless, but we are talking investment here.
What got me in trouble was that I had recalled reading the publisher's name of Doran along with the date of 1915.  What I did NOT recall was that on the same page it clearly indicated a later publication by The Sun Dial Press.  Often books reprinted earlier in the last century used the original plates from the first edition which can make the dates misleading to collectors.  Likely, when I first looked at the book I saw this and put it down.  The next day, however, when my obsessive brain kicked in, I simply forgot about that part.

The trick to avoiding mistakes like mine are very simple.  As with birders, who tend to see a common bird without their guide book then decide it is some rare species later with book in hand, I advise you to write down the facts right away.  Where the birder might write "Robin-sized bird with white chest, yellow pointed bill and brown streaked upper body" you should write down the details as well.  Heck, in this day and age you have all sorts of options!  Here is what I recommend whether it be for resale, a gift for a friend, or, an item for your own collection:

1. If you want to look something up later, write down the details.  This should include color, materials, size, any and all markings, dates, tags, etc. on an item along with condition.  When I am doing this right, I come home, look things up on the internet and 9 times out of ten, discover I made the right choice to leave it there. 
2. Photo! If you have a camera, even a phone camera, take a photo.
3. Research while there.  If you have a hand-held device, look it up on the spot!  ( I now see book dealers standing in the Salvation Army diligently researching every single book on the shelves.  If they can do it you can do it!) 
4. Call a friend!  If you have a friend or family member who will not roll their eyes when you call, have them do a search for you.  This may be the best method if you are someplace you cannot return to later like a flea market or yard sale.   I've even photographed items then emailed them to a friend from my phone for info.
5. Get the follow-up-facts.  Take with you the information for how to get back in touch with the seller.  Name, phone number, days/hours of business and also ask if they ship to you.  I have done this with items I regretting not buying while on vacation.  I called and a week later it was in my hands!

These things may be simple, but, doing any one or more of them can keep you from the obsession, waste of time and money that comes from walking away from an item when you have questions.   I have on many occasions come home and felt relieved to have left items because they had not been the treasures I'd hoped.   I have also been able to determine if an item is desired by a family member or not.  I have on rare occasions, gone zooming back to a location with good reason!  But, 9 times out of 10 your instinct to not purchase something will be the right one.  Whatever you do, try to avoid what I did yesterday.  My penance?  I bought the book and will read "Of Human Bondage."


  1. What a fabulous I'm wondering which "location" is 15 miles away....could be one of two!

  2. Warwick. Sheesh! Felt like 35 miles driving home. And patterns are about all I can afford at that one! :-)

  3. This post cracks me up! To begin with - I am a *serious* vintage pattern hoarder -- I mean, I have ALL of the good intentions on tweaking, sewing and selling some *fabulous* vintage inspired frocks... but there are just never enough hours in the day. And then the part about regretting leaving something behind... don't I know that feeling. But I, too, battle the urge to buy every damned thing I see, only to get it home and think, "what the hell was I thinking?"... Anywhooo -- the book does seem intriguing, nonetheless. :) (Glad to hear I'm not the only one waging that battle! ha ha!)


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