Yay, it's time for a sponsor feature! Denise of The Blue Gardenia has the dreamiest selection of vintage patterns. I could seriously spend hours on her site. (Oh wait, I have spent hours on her site!) Denise also has some really interesting insights into pattern history and preservation. Her patterns come lovingly packaged and you can just tell how much she treasures them. Read on for my interview with her!
How did you get into selling vintage patterns?
I was tired of city life. I loved vintage patterns and had been buying them for years. I had been selling on Ebay since 1996, and I thought, "Hmmm. Maybe a web site. Maybe that would support me in a small town." Ha! I took the plunge in 1998, left Houston, Texas, and my journalism career. Can't say I haven't looked back — I have —but I haven't turned to salt — yet.
Where does your shop name come from?
I wish I could say it was inspired by the movie. Alas . . . it came from sitting at the computer and trying to find a name that hadn't been taken yet. Later, I met someone who asked if the shop name was inspired by the movie. I bought the videotape then, and I love the movie.
You seem especially interested in preservation. Tell us about that! Also, any tips for using and storing our patterns?
I definitely want patterns to be saved and restored. They are a part of our history as women. They are about our dreams, about what we wanted to happen, but perhaps did not make happen, about a life we wanted to live, but perhaps did not.
I could go on and on.
I think patterns clearly show that certain skills used to be honored, skills that are discounted today. For instance, the cute house dresses women used to wear. Today, we wear sweats or jeans. Yoga clothes. Yikes! We are so sloppy. And I include myself in that criticism. The hat, the crisply starched white dresses, the white shoes that nurses used to wear commanded respect. The nurse's uniforms conveyed an authority that the sloppy scrubs with teddy bears that many nurses wear today do not.
I, mind you, am a lousy housekeeper. There are dust bunnies lurking everywhere in my home! And I did not ever want to be a nurse or a housekeeper or a secretary. But patterns — and perhaps the wisdom that sometimes comes with age — have nurtured a respect for those careers that were once considered the only acceptable careers for women. As I said, I could go on and on. But enough babbling.
I store patterns in archival sleeves and use comic book backing boards as well. Then I store the patterns in long comic book boxes. They work very well.
As for using vintage patterns, I recommend tracing the original. I also know seamstresses who reinforce the original by ironing on interfacing. Is that criminal? You decide.
Have you ever found anything weird or cool inside a pattern envelope?
Newspaper clippings, which I love to read. Buttons. Seam rippers. My favorite thing was an old letter written by a lonely woman to her lover. The woman's husband was stationed in South America, and the woman felt very isolated there. The letter was written while she was listening to records and drinking brandy. It's in one of my desk drawers. I read it every few months. It raises so many questions for me. I can ponder them for hours. How did the letter come to be in the pattern? Did she mail the letter? Was her lover a dressmaker? And what about her husband? Etc.
What's the most amazing pattern you've ever found?
Most amazing? Mmmmm. Vogue Paris Original 1051, which is one of the original VPOs. It's a suit by Schiaparelli. I've blogged about it here.
Many thanks to Denise for her support and for stocking such amazing patterns! Go visit and shop at The Blue Gardenia. Enjoy!