But first, just a little interview to get to know Katherine better.
Gertie: I love your "found objects" section of your website, where you post unexpected souvenirs you find inside pattern envelopes. What's your favorite thing you've ever found in a vintage pattern?
ZipZapKap: I've come across handwritten letters, scraps of fabric, receipts and even the label from a tin of beans with a handwritten note detailing when they were eaten (?!). My absolute favorite has to be an envelope of about 50 negatives. I haven't had a chance to have them developed yet but I scanned one and inverted the colors in Photoshop for a quick and dirty preview. This is the result:
Anyone want to take a stab at dating that car?
G: As a self-proclaimed pattern history nerd, do you have any special research methods? It seems like the information online and in books is fairly limited. Any secrets you can share with us?ZZK: You’re right, there isn’t much information online and what there is seems to be largely recycled from the same source: Wade Laboissonniere’s Blueprints of Fashion. They are great books - a must-buy for the pattern geek - but there is so much left unsaid. When I’m not riffling through boxes of fashions past, I work at a university and this gives me access to academic databases like ProjectMuse and JSTOR.
But my absolute favorite is the Google patent archive. Reading old patents is such a convenient way to bring yourself up to speed on a subject because by their very nature patents must be concise and carefully worded summaries of both the status quo and a new invention. Everyone assumes previous generations of seamstresses were so much more competent than we are today, but the major sewing pattern patents suggest otherwise. Pattern companies had to set up entire departments to deal with correspondence from confused seamstresses and the push behind every major innovation in pattern design was to disseminate patterns from the professional dressmakers to the average woman. You can find a guide to searching the patent archives and some sewing related patents at ZipZapKap.com.
G: Besides the infamous apron-chaps, are there any other patterns you've come across that are amazingly, awesomely bad?
ZZK: The apron-chaps remain undefeated champion, but I get a kick out of this one. Although the pattern itself is fine here, the horrendously sexist envelope art just cracks me up. Men are clearly only interested in newspapers, smoking and golf in patternland. Why would anyone be brandishing a golf club in pajamas? It just looks like a threat.
Isn't she charming, readers? Now get a load of this: ZipZapKap is also sponsoring a fantastic giveaway right here. A $15 voucher to her fabulous Etsy shop! All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment here by midnight EST this Friday, January 15th. The winner will be announced in a post shortly thereafter, so make sure you check back. (Hey, while you're at it, why not become a follower of this blog? I'm going to be hosting another fantastic giveaway when I reach 500 followers!)
Wondering what you can get for $15 at ZipZapKap? How about these lovelies!
A fabulous cowl-neck wiggle dress:
Or perhaps this amazing weekend wardrobe? (If you don't buy it, I'm going to.)
But I'm sure you want to pick for yourself. So, go! Browse ZipZapKap for some fantastic pattern finds. And be sure to comment here for your chance to win the giveaway.