9.16.2012

the mystery of the blue basement dress.


i seriously hope i am about to blow your minds.  i don't know that anyone but fellow sewasuarus rexi will understand the enormity of this find.  and believe me, i've tested this story on the common man.  THE COMMON MAN DOES NOT GET IT.

on our second to last day in seattle, i found myself with a free hour.  ninety percent of the time, sixty minutes to spare equals fabric shopping.  i'd already tromped through the one enticing fabric store in town (more on that later), so i decided to search out a thrift store that cindy of cation designs offered up in an email exchange.

cindy, i owe you big time.


i had spent the better part of my free hour in an overpriced antiques market on stewart.  my second stop, yesterdaze in pike place market, had disappeared, and i stumbled upon a small, semi dismal thrifty joint by accident.  i don't remember if it even had a sign out front, but it was around shop number 315.  (that's the third floor of the market, though it seems you're in the basement.)  i made a beeline for the sewing section in the back, which consisted of several small shelves that i combed through like a CSI agent.  there had to be gold here.  HAD TO BE.  i would not leave seattle without a vintage prize!

sadly, the patterns didn't compare to my stash at home.  the vintage curtains would take up valuable packing space. and god knows i'm not in need of bra hooks.

but wait...carefully folded, tied up in green yarn...a lace bundle...with a mysteriously note in cursive..."cut pattern!  do not unwrap!"

this order, of course, was not meant for me.

i marched up to the gentleman behind the counter and announced that we would indeed be tearing into this bundle.  i am a professional, i assured him.  as long as you know how to put it back together, he replied with some trepidation.  and then....


you see before you eleven finished pattern pieces.  vintage lace.  fully underlined.  just waiting to be sewn up. 


oh HAI adorable sleeves.  in the store, all i got to was the back bodice and the front skirt panel before i knew: for eight bucks, i was IN.  later on, during a quick break at work, i unfurled my purchase.  a pick me up, if you will.  


that's the inside of the front bodice.  that's hair canvas interfacing, and crazy heavy satin tape reinforcement.


OH I'M SORRY IT HAS FULLY FINISHED YOKE POCKETS JUST WAITING TO BE INSERTED.


i feel i've used my caps locks ration up for this post, but THIS NECKLINE IS KILLING ME!!!!  i squealed in delight, instantly ducking my head out from my hidey hole to see if any co-workers noticed.  they didn't.  so i squealed louder and got their attention.  sadly, as referenced in the first paragraph, the common dinosaur does not get it.

but you do, don't you?  have you ever run across this sort of thrifting score?  yes, you'll find plenty of handmade dresses already done up and needing mending love... but a puzzle, waiting patiently to be put together?  for years?  those treasures go in the bin before ever making it to the shelves!  how many hands has this dress passed through?  was it made, and then taken apart?  there are stitching holes on unpicked darts, the hem and sleeve edges are already finished, perhaps pointing to a refashion (egads, could it be a muslin?) but the bottom pocket edges are open.  yet, the armhole edges are yellowed!  help me nancy drewasaurus rex!  

whatever its history, i'm giddy with excitement.  we arrived back home in NY in the wee hours of the morning.  am i unpacking the six suitcases?  no.  did i  carefully iron all eleven pieces of my prize so that i could show you immediately?  yes.  now: anyone out there recognize that neckline from a pattern?  that would be KILLER.

(don't forget to enter my craftsy course giveaway for a prize of your own, it endeth tomorrow at noon EST!)

67 comments:

  1. HOLY COW, what a find! Good luck, SewCyclopedia Brown! And welcome back!!!!!

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  2. Awesome find! So pretty, and the part that I hate the most is already done for you! How awesome!

    It looks very similar to McCall's 8858 that Tanit-isis posted about a few days ago. No promises that is the right one though.

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    1. super similar... the skirt on this is defintely a slim fit, though, no gathers. maybe she/he frankensteined a couple patterns?

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  3. That is freaking cool. The neckline doesn't remind me of any certain pattern, but I'll keep my eyes open! Of course most of my looking is for little boy stuff these days, but it can't hurt to look for other stuff. :P

    R

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  4. The only thing that would have made that story better would be a pint of ben & jerrys while I read it. Not just fabric porn- vintage pattern lacy oh goody fabric porn! I am fanning myself a little. Who needs 50 Shades of gray?

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  5. COOOOOOOOOL. Have fun, this looks fantastic!!

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  6. Dannng, lucky find! I wish there was always someone to cut my fabric for me. Simplicity 1482 kinda has a similar neckline but it seems the rest of the dress is different. Enjoy!

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  7. WAY COOL!!!! can't wait to see you finish it!

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  8. What an amazing find! Maybe someone was taking it apart to use as a pattern for a NEW dress?

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  9. Freakin' awesome! I love finding half finished projects...I usually only find embroidery ones but a sewing one is amazing! And man, look at the finish on that collar! And completely underlined? brilliant!

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  10. First SQUEEEEALLLLLL you're back in the BEST STATE EVER!! Yippeeee for future sewing meet-ups and lunches!
    Now, about this gem....I love this find!! What a precious thing to have found! I also love that you reassured the gentleman of your professionalism! Way to own that shit!!

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    1. i was not about to take no for an answer.

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  11. I'm jealous! I love that!!! I will be waiting on pins and needles for the finished product photos :)

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  12. What an interesting find. How sad it hadn't been finished all those years, but you are just the right hands for it to fall into. Amazing neckline!

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  13. oh how i love puzzles.. solving that one is going to be a great fun, lovely oona, i can see it.. and congrats on reaching your home again :) i sure as hell would love to reach mine soon :)

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  14. Best. Thrift. EVAH!!! I love it and congrats.

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    1. Also, when I saw the background I was like "Is she back in NYC??". Is that level of observation creepy?

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    2. HA!! a resounding and happy yes!!!

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  15. That is AMAZING!!! best find ever, I can't wait to see it put back together, the neckline is divine! As for the yellowing, try soaking it briefly in luke warm water with a little baking soda, this will also remove any moth ball, old fabric smell. YAY, have fun!! x

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    1. ohhh... she/he even left a few scraps in the bundle, so i can test it first! thanks molly!

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  16. Hahaha nice! The million dollar question here: is it your size, or are you now working on an awe-tastic surprise dress for your mum?

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    1. i believe it's my size... but if not, that would ROCK.

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  17. WOW, that is cool! What a great find. The lace is fantastic. I'm jealous...

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  18. Once in a lifetimes don't happen too often.... WHAT A SCORE. Was is made to be found by you? YEP! Can't wait to see the final product. I hope it is as beautiufl as it appears.... (and that it fits!)

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  19. Nice find!!! I have never ever come across anything like this, though I have a track record as the worlds worst thrifter. I love the little photo sneak peeks and CANNOT wait to see it turned into something awesome!!

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  20. OMG! I totally appreciate this find! Absolutely amazing! Can't wait to see if all sewn up! PS- LA misses you. Come back.

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  21. Wow. You must make this dress.

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  22. Hells. Yes.
    Can't wait to see this sassy number all gussied up and finished!

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  23. That is a definate OMG! Am too, too jealous - there never seems to be any sewing stuff in the thrift shops near me. Looking forward to seeing the finished item.

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  24. Uh, AMAZING! That neckline is something else as well. Such shopping trips are the stuff of fantasy, like the time I went to the gelato place and they asked me if I wanted to do a free taste testing...
    WHERE DO I SIGN MY NAME IN BLOOD?!

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  25. Nice! It'll be fun to see what you turn this into!

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  26. Never have I ever come across such a find. I don't care what you say but there is no ration for the amount of caps or exclamation points for this post. This is a great find, I ain't no common dinosaur and I know how great of a find this is. I don't know what pattern it would be from - I'm not good about that sort of stuff.

    What is so great about your find is that you will be able to "finish" the story of this garment. Every garments has a story and who knows what the first chapters were for this one. You'll be able to give it a fairy tale ending :)

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    1. ya know, i had a paragraph about that very thing and deleted it!!!

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  27. Words fail me.

    Yes, I get it and I'm JEALOUS. And I understand how common dinosaurs don't get it. I've had that before, with smaller things.
    I wonder about the mechanics of that satin tape reinforcement... because if I read the photo correctly, it goes at the bottom edge of that curious neckline, making it even curiouser.

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    1. yes, it's only attached at the bottom edge. and the rest of the neckline is finished... maybe it was meant to be attached all the way around? maybe she/he realized the satin tape wouldn't make those sharp turns, and put it in the UFO pile?

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  28. My jaw ACTUALLY dropped reading this! What a fabulous find! Lucky you... :)

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  29. It is indeed a fabulous find. But, how I wonder about that person long ago who took such care with it (that interfacing!). What happened, lovely lady of the past? Don't you wish you knew? I think that she sewed it all up and it didn't fit. She cried and cried and cried but then she said, I WILL make it work. She took it apart, her head held high, and decided to save it for another day. Or another member of her tribe.

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    1. oh NO. it is up to me to fix her tears...

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  30. what a great score, looks like it must be 30s or 40s, no? Can't wait to see what happens to it!

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  31. Wow, what an amazing find! That looks so incredible, and I can't wait until you put it together and show it off some more!

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  32. OH WOW!!! What a find indeed! That neckline is awesome, I can't wait to see it all finished!!! You lucky gal!

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  33. How wonderful! Can't wait to see what it turns into.

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  34. OMG words fail me.... what an UNBELIEVABLE find!!

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  35. Great score! I've seen that neckline on a lot of late 50s/early 60s patterns, but I can't give you an exact name or number.

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  36. Oho. WOW. WHAT a find! (Caps lock is clearly CONTAGIOUS...)

    Rachel

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  37. What a great find, lovely color. I also found a completely cut out but not sewed up dress at an estate sale, which I wrote about here http://sunnygalstudio.blogspot.com/2011/01/vintage-treasure-where-you-least-expect.html. The dress was not my size so I let it go to a good home where it could get out and mingle :)

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    1. oh, how great to find a note from the original sewist and eevrything!

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  38. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to see this sewn up!!

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  39. DOOD THAT'S THE SAME NECKLINE AS THE PATTERN I'M FANTASIZING ABOUT!!!!! ZOMG MUST MAKE IT. I don't have any purple lace, though. /cry.

    The ten million dollar question, though---will it fit? >:D Can't wait to see!

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    1. I KNOW, RIGHT?!!!

      i held a couple pieces up to my bod, to the confusion of my gentleman behind the counter, and it seems to match....

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  40. Amazing find! Even more special that you will be finishing it! I love all of those special details that they used to use more often than it seems we do like seam binding and hand stitching, this is going to be a killer dress! The color reminds me of my prom dress!

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  41. Btw the neckline looks like Vintage McCalls 8858. Can't say for sure without seeing the skirt part though..

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  42. Leave it to you to walk into the same store I did and find something totally amazing! I'm glad my half-baked tips worked for you! That purple lace mystery is in good hands with you, though, so I will try not to hold a grudge. All that hair canvas is mind-boggling -- I somehow managed to come away with the idea that it's only for coat collars, so when I saw those pockets, I was really confused for a sec.

    And obviously ironing mystery dress pieces is the best use of time after getting back from an extended trip!

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  43. That is a million levels of amazing.
    I love finding fabric in thrift stores, they're the best places to find really interesting - and really cheap - fabric. And I swear that lace is the exact same colour (and a very similar look) to some lace I found in a local thrift store a year or so ago. My piece wasn't cut out for a fabulous dress, though, but it is a pretty big piece - 12ft x 5ft - and all for $5.

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  44. ERMEHGERD. It's AMAZING!!! The fabric, the mystery, the neckline!

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  45. Oh this is a cool mystery. I vote that it was taken apart, but obviously by gentle hands. What were they going to do with it? What are you going to do with it? But on another note, are those your cool red curtains with the crazy spiraling hands? (Or is it fabric--don't tell me it's fabric or I'll die and stalk the internet for days to find it.)

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  46. Greetings,

    That neckline is fabulous! I went looking through ETSY and found this...

    FF 1950s Keyhole Neckline Dress Pattern - Simplicity 3895 Bust 34
    Here is the link to the vendor:
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/81487810/ff-1950s-keyhole-neckline-dress-pattern

    It sold in 2011, but it could point you in the right direction? Congratulations on all of your success! Happy sewing...

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  47. Oh WOW what a find!!!! From now on, all my thrift store excursions will be great disappointments. You've set the bar too high! But seriously though, this is so awesome! Have fun putting it together and please do show us the finished product!

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  48. I was wondering, what is the name of the fabric store you went to? I live in rural Montana but visit Seattle every year. It is my one-yearly opportunity to shop fabric in person, but I don't know any good stores! I would love to know where you went so I can check it out.

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!