I’m really enjoying seeing all the competition entries! Don’t forget that to win a $25 gift certificate to use in Moms Patterns store (not including shipping but her shipping prices are pretty damn good!) all you have to do is post about a finished object during the month of June!
I did a quick little interview with Jen which I hope you will find interesting!
So, the predictable question first, how did you get started selling vintage patterns?
I started out selling Halloween costume patterns on ebay. One of my mother’s dearest friends from Virginia found a box of ‘old patterns’ in her aunt’s attic and asked if I might be interested in selling them. At first, I HAUGHTILY put my nose in the air and said ‘Sell THOSE old things? Well, I’m happy to TRY for you but can’t see that people would want OLD & USED patterns!’ I auctioned them off one by one on ebay and imagine my delight and surprise when there was a bidding war on each and every one! I was happy, and Mom’s friend received a hefty percentage to take her husband out for a big steak dinner! I was THRILLED to find the whole vintage audience and I began focusing even more on the vintage side of the pattern selling business 🙂
Do you have a favourite period of clothing and if so what is it about it that you like?
Ah, that’s a hard question! There’s something about almost every decade that fascinates me. Beadwork from the 20s. The elegance of the 30s. The high society charm of the 40s with the tucks and peplums on evening wear. The Good Girl vs Bad Girl of the 50s! Big bouffant skirts and exquisite gowns vs bombshell looks of halter tops with tight fitted capri pants. The whimsy & playfulness of the 60s mod fashions. The foxy disco styles and the wild bohemian looks from the 70s. And as I’m an 80s gal musically, I look fondly on the whole New Wave look from then!
Where do you score your patterns from and how many do you actually have?
I am a shopping addict and go out nearly every week to the SCORES of thrift stores I have in my town. I am also contacted by individuals who want to sell; and I also get quite a few just donated to me! Right now I must have nearly 15,000. Yikes, I know!
*cringes* I know..! Now don’t get me wrong. I DO have a sewing machine. I CAN stitch a straight line. And I HAVE made simple skirts and tops for my daughter when she was young. Anything more than that just takes more time than I have to spare.. and wouldn’t you rather I continue to supply the world with vintage sewing patterns than use my time to sew myself something? 😀 If I did sew.. the Ceil Chapman draped dress pattern, Mail Order 1251.. oooh, that was a BEAUTY!
Sold, it would be the Ceil Chapman design or the Vogue 190 Off the Shoulder Dress and Coat ensemble. Still out there waiting for a home (but sold since we did the interview), McCall’s 7436, the 40s Noir Evening Dress with the swagging. Swags, drapes and shirring are some of my favorite details.. so CHIC!
What’s the most expensive pattern you’ve sold and what made it so special?
Probably the McCall’s Givenchy, Pattern #3625. It was one from a series of designer styles and is highly coveted in the vintage sewing community. It sold for $95 within a couple weeks of being listed for sale!
How do you work out your pricing for patterns, is it based just on age, condition or on the availability of each pattern or something else entirely?
I started out pretty much charging $5-8 based on the pricing that I used to begin bids with when I sold on ebay. Now, I’m a staunch one for researching to see if what I have to offer is available elsewhere and in abundance; or do I have something really special with such details that it warrants a higher price? I routinely check out what other pattern sellers are charging, and what patterns are selling for on ebay to see what trend is in demand. That said; I still try to keep a majority of the site priced under $10, and the rarer ones I price based on Design, Size, Age & Condition, pretty much in that order. If it makes me GASP out loud when I look at it? It’s probably hitting the site at $20-$30!
Does the popularity of vintage patterns change from year to year and if so what would you think may cause that?
I hope so! It amazes and relieves me that vintage patterns continue to sell so well. I think with the fashion industry showing so many ‘inspired designs’ based on vintage designers; with so many creative people wanting something NOT off a ready to wear rack; and with it being pretty much more economical to sew your own clothing rather than buying it, it’s keeping Vintage in Business! Even watching award shows with gals strutting down the Red Carpet, you see a fantastic mix of up & coming New Designers and Vintage Couture. I love it.
In your opinion is sewing vintage becoming more or less popular?
More popular! Just when I see a lull in sales on the site and start to worry I’ll have to get a desk job.. another fine group of seamsters come across me and give me faith to carry on!
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thank you, Anna!
I know I always have few items in my basket at Moms Patterns (if you have an account the store will save your basket indefinitely which is great for browsing and remembering what you wanted!) waiting for enough to fill a flat rate envelope so make sure you have a look and start putting together your wish list after you’ve submitted your FO competition entry!