Last Saturday I was privileged to be invited to the Wellington sewing blogger meetup. It was a privilege firstly because calling me a sewing blogger seems like a stretch – there’s only been 9 posts (including this one) in 11 months after all. Putting my dubious credentials aside, the real reason it was a privilege was because I got to spend a delightful afternoon with six brilliant people, four of whom I’d never met before, and all of whom are lovely, friendly, and talented.
We started at Martha’s Pantry, a Wellington institution renowned for its uber saccharine girly sweetness. It’s all sparkly cupcakes and lemon tart and milkshakes served on mismatched vintage floral crockery and souvenir silver spoons, and every teapot comes with a knitted tea cosy. Despite its iconic status, I’d never been before so it was fun to get to finally try it, and I have to say, my milkshake was tasty. Especially because it was topped with hundreds and thousands (must try that at home).
The place is decorated with hats that guests can play with and there was some talk of a group photo all wearing hats, but between the arrival of tea and cake and milkshakes, and I suspect some relative shyness, it never happened properly. Both Juliet and Mel were brave enough to play though!
After stocking up on tea and shakes and all manner of pink frosted things, we (with the exception of MrsC who had shop duty) headed off to shop up a storm down Wellington’s funky shopping strip, Cuba Street.
The first two or three of us trotted right past Unearthed, a new vintage/junk shop, but something caught someone’s eye and the last of our group lingered briefly. Like a rubber band the leading edge slowed then snapped back to join us. We ogled the initial eye candy then unanimously decided to enter and explore. A quick diversion we agreed…
It was only a quick diversion to look at the knick knacks and trinkets in the rest of the shop, but someone’s pattern-dar went off and they unearthed an entire box of vintage patterns in the back corner. No wait! 2 boxes! 3? 4? It was 5 boxes of patterns that were promptly hauled out and dumped on a table in the middle of the shop.
Like a bunch of kids who’d learned to play nicely, we took turns to scour the boxes and shove our picks under our arms. No fights broke out, no hair was pulled. Once we’d all eyeballed every envelope, we all went through our armpit stash and compared, critiqued and budgeted. Unearthed is NOT a cheap place for patterns. There was much mournful putting back of pretty-but-likely-to-never-be-made-but-I-would-have-bought-for-the-eye-candy-and-the-dreams-if-they’d-been-a-third-of-the-price patterns.
But we all left with something.
The only sewing pattern to make the trip home with me is this gorgeous 1958 Simplicity sheath dress with overskirt. It’s pretty simple and is probably riffing on a theme I’ve got 10 of, but ohhhh the glorious green artwork. And the size is almost mine, which is rare! I so want to make this. But it is the most I have ever spent on a vintage pattern by at least double.
I also picked up a 1964 sewing book hilariously titled “Six Months to Ninety: A Dress Pattern Book.” I love it because it is a New Zealand printed book, targeted at high school students but also “suitable for the home seamstress”.
It has instructions for making a dress block, which is cool, but only one or two fit alterations (as the rest, apparently, won’t be needed if you draft the block from measurements. Hmm.) What I really like however is not the fit instructions but all alterations to make sleeves and darts and necklines and add yokes and change skirts and replace darts with tucks or fullness etc. And it comes with an envelope of pattern bits (although I haven’t investigated its contents yet.) Exciting!
Worryingly, I remember laughing at the title once before and am worried I own it but I can’t find it on my shelf. Oh well, if I ever do find that I have two copies I shall have to give one away!
My final purchase from Unearthed was the 1981 book “Knitting in Vogue.” It’s hilarious and shows the power of styling. It has at least 40 or 50 odd patterns from the 1930s to the 1980s, and each is shown with the original vintage picture and the made-for-the-80s version. Apparently you can make anything look bad with the right styling! I didn’t go through the book thoroughly but assumed that there’d be some gems in the 1930s to 1950s patterns. Apparently however the editors went out of their way to find vintage knitting patterns that would translate well to the 1980s and even in their vintage incarnation some of them are pretty horrid. Still I like it for the hilarity and there are a few patterns that will make up nicely I think.
Next we went to Minerva, a bookstore specialising in books and magazines relating to fashion, textiles, and crafts. I instantly fell in love with a $178 coffee table book all about Dior but didn’t buy it. The Lanvin book was only $150, a steal in comparison. Sigh. I left empty handed with the smell of fresh paper in my nose. My unfulfilled fetish for coffee-table books will remain unfulfilled a while longer.
Next stop was the always glorious Global Fabrics, home of All The Pretty Silks. I’d bought a few pieces earlier in the week on a one-off sale day (yay for 30% off!) so I was very well behaved, restraining myself to merely petting the fabric, and the occasional full on fondle. I left with a sample that I’m still eyeing up at home. Quick someone talk me into it! Or out of it!
Finally we made it to Made on Marion for the swap and rejoined MrsC . We spilled our excess patterns and fabrics onto the table, snacked on tasty biscuits provided by Juliet, and divvied up the goods. Once again everyone played nicely. There were a couple of rounds of rock paper scissors but mostly it just worked out perfectly.
I scored a heavy black wool (or possibly wool blend) self-textured with circles, but it photographed rubbish so you’ll just have to believe me. This was kindly relinquished by Nikki, who laid eyes on it at almost the same time as me, but having acquired some burn-out was feeling charitable. Thanks Nikki!
I also scored 8, yes 8, patterns. I feel so gluttonous yet satisfied all at once. Check them out.
It really was an amazing afternoon, and what a wonderful bunch of women to share it with.
Left to right, back to front:
- Me! /Joy/Joie de Vivre
- Mrs C – Sent from my iRon
- Jo – Making it Well
- Nikki – Nikki’s Stitches
- Juliet – The Crazy Gypsy Chronicles
- Kat (and sweet baby Drake) – Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Mising from the photo was Mel – The Curious Kiwi who had to leave in a hurry as her chariot arrived.
A final note – have you noticed that I posted precisely NO photos that I took of the day? That’s despite the fact that one of the reasons I took to blogging was to teach me to reach for a camera in these situations, it just didn’t really occur to me. And they still call me a blogger…
Anyway, stay tuned – there will be something exciting in my next post! I hope you think so anyway!