Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Somebody call 911

Eeesh. The paperwork on our current patterns requests took forever, so the great packing project didn't get started until Monday. Which means the pattern packages don't go out until Tuesday, and it'll probably be Wednesday before all the emails get done. Ah well. Only newcomers will be surprised that we're behind schedule :-)

The mailman dropped by with two more packages of pattern donations while we were packing. I dropped them on the rocking chair -- the only place I could find that wasn't already covered with patterns, packing materials, or teddy bears. That was 15 hours ago, and they're still unopened.

Yes, you read that right. Two nice-sized boxes of patterns -- could be anything -- and not one of us took a peek. I was tempted, but it was far too easy to resist. (My cohorts deny even being tempted.) What's the matter with us? Have we succumbed to self-discipline? Is it permanent? Or.... have we reached pattern overload?

Nah. A few hours sleep changes everything. Now I'm just waiting for Mary to wake up so I can get over there and rip into them take a quick glance to let the donors know their pattern points estimate. (Besides, Mary might forget to log them in, and then they might get lost, and then where would we be?)

I guess we can cancel the 911 call -- it must have been fatigue. Happily, my curiosity is back to normal levels this morning and I doubt there's been any permanent damage. And how much would you like to bet (assuming I give Mary time to have a cup of coffee after the lights go on) that she'll have them open before I get there?

Gotta run. Mary just opened the curtains. Patterns to pack :-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flock, Focus, and Folkwear

I think I need to get our more...

Several of the members who volunteered as beta-testers listed "Flock" as one of the web browsers they use. Despite the piles of CSS references books around here, I had to visit Google to find out what on earth Flock was. Oh well. Maybe if I ever got out to places like Facebook and Twitter, I'd know these things :-)

Actually, I probably need to get out less and focus more. As much as I love hunting down patterns and the info needed to process donations, one pattern-related site always lead to another. And another. Before you can say "not getting much done, are you?" it's taken a half hour to look up something that should have taken two minutes. Haven't checked, but it's probably not one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

So I hope you don't mind if I pester you all from time to time for answers that I could look up myself. Tonight's question is about Folkwear Patterns. The two listed in the Trade area the other night drew an incredible number of requests. And since we just got in a whole stack of them from someone else, I want to be sure we're not shortchanging anyone on pattern points.

As I understand it, Folkwear Patterns has gone through a number of ownership changes but most or many of the original 1970s designs are still in print -- with prices in the $15 to $20 range. The envelopes and cover graphics are the same, but the paper used for the patterns is different?

Is there something particularly desirable about the older patterns? Or just certain designs that are especially desirable? How do I tell which is which? What am I missing here? Can you fill me in -- and keep me from getting sidetracked yet again?

BTW (do people still say BTW?) we do still need a few more beta-testers, especially if you use an older version of Internet Explorer or Opera. There's more information and a sign-up form on our Support page.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Whew! Short and sweet tonight.

We had a bit of a tempest today about letting folks with fewer pattern points get first shot at the latest listing of Recycle patterns. Some of members are upset and I truly feel bad about it. On the other hand, we made that call to help solve a problem, and announced it advance to total silence.

Enter the law of unintended consequences: solve one problem; create another. My worst fear about the pattern auction idea (see yesterday's post) is that we'll end up with complaints that we're selling donated patterns -- for whatever reason -- will hit people the wrong way.

We've got over 1200 members. Two people have commented. Kind of hard to extrapolate from that :-)

What you think really does matter. If you don't want to comment in a public forum, you know where to reach us by email. We have to make the final call (and deal with the unintended consequences) but it helps to have as much input as possible.

Thanks for helping us out!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pattern Rescue Blog, Take Two :-)

I've cleaned out the old posts and we're off to a fresh start! If you haven't already heard, I'm hoping some of you will jump in as guest bloggers so there will be something of interest here even on the days I can't get to it. There's certainly plenty to talk about, but some days the words don't flow....

So much new going on at Pattern Rescue, and please keep in mind that we ALWAYS value your input. Today's topic is about pattern sales -- which needs more explanation and discussion than appropriate for the newsletter.

Buried in the fine print of the site is an assurance that we'll be in touch if your box of donated patterns includes a hidden treasure (generally, a pattern worth $35 or more). And, of course, non-members can ask us to reimburse them for the postage -- and about a third of them do.

This issue has come to the top now for 2 reasons. First, we've got a couple of hidden treasures that came in recently and we need to deal with them. Second, we've seen a steady increase in the number of pattern donations coming from non-members, and the pin money fund can't even begin to cover the postage.

Hidden treasures are not that common. Many of you are clearly experienced collectors and/or pattern sellers and we expect you have a good idea what you're sending -- as when Nicole offered to send us the 1940s and 1950s patterns she didn't want from a recent estate purchase. We weren't expecting to find an uncut McCall 1399 Mexican jacket pattern (approximate retail value $50) tucked in among the shirt-dresses and suits!

Nicole had no idea what it was worth and doesn't know how to go about selling it. Sure -- we could just send it back to her (doesn't seem neighborly, but...) or put a note in the newsletter for anyone interested to get in touch with her. We're inclined to consider selling it for her because we have issue number two: postage requests.

Large estate donations are getting to be very common (outnumbering member donations so far this year) and usually have 100 or more patterns. One that came in a couple of months ago cost the sender nearly $100 to ship -- and included a stack of 1940s apron patterns among other joys. But she's still waiting because there isn't enough extra in the pin money fund.

So... we're leaning towards a small pattern auction once every month or two. Hidden treasures would be listed with a minimum price of 1/2 the appraised value. For non-member donations, we'd pull out a few patterns and post the amount we need to raise altogether to cover the postage. Bidding would be a silent auction style with a specific end date, and bids would be restricted to Pattern Rescue members.

I don't have a problem with doing this, and I think it would be fun for everyone involved. The only thing that really concerns me is keeping the message from getting muddy. With very few patterns ever being for sale, and with the sale proceeds going to the original pattern owners, I think we can keep the auctions clearly identified as exceptions.

On the other hand, I may be missing something obvious. So here's where you guys jump in. Reactions? Suggestions? Weigh in and let me know!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting patterns you want

It's always the pits when we have to send out emails telling people that they didn't get ANY of the patterns they requested.... And judging from the questions we've been getting, it's time to try to explain what happens in a slightly different way.

So here's the setting: It's 12:01 a.m. Eastern time and you're browsing through the newly posted patterns in the Recycle area. There's at least 300 to choose from, and you pick out a dozen, send in your request by 12:04 a.m., and figure you're all set. Two days letter you get an email telling you that only 2 of the patterns you wanted were available....

What happened? Well, most of the patterns you wanted were also requested by someone who had more pattern points than you. And because the system is based on pattern points -- not the time the request came in -- the person with the most points get the pattern.

Time of request does matter if two people want the same pattern AND they both have the same number of pattern points -- in that case, the person who made the request first gets the pattern. But that's rarely what happens.

Why do pattern points get priority?
Because you earn pattern points by doing things that help keep Pattern Rescue going (donating patterns, pin money, tissue pieces, etc. ) and we think the people who help the most should get priority for the patterns we send out.

The stunning little number shown here (McCall's 4070 halter sundress from the 1950s) is one of the many "new" patterns that will be added to the Trade area in the next few days. How many of you will want it? Just one? Five? A dozen?

In any event, we only have one, and there has to be a way to decide. So we collect all the requests for a single day and then whoever has the most pattern points gets the pattern. Until the end of the day, we don't know who that will be.

Pattern point balances range from zero (for new members making their first request) to over 300 (for folks like Sue, who donated this lovely vintage pattern and many more like it).

But if you don't have many pattern points, don't despair! Everyone's balance changes all the time. You get more points every time you donate something. And you redeem points every time you get a pattern from the Trade area. So that 200 point gorilla who always gets the patterns you want will eventually be 98 point weakling and you'll find larger packages in your mailbox. It really does work!

Easy for us to say :-) However, we do tweak things now and again to help more people get more patterns. The latest tweak is simply listing more patterns at one time -- which we hope will spread out the requests and result in more patterns actually going out the door.

A few tips when making your requests:
  • Always include alternates if there's anything you like. If the first 4 or 8 patterns on your list are gone, do you really want nothing?
  • The very first day a large group of new patterns posts is the busiest. If you don't have a lot of points, you may find it easier on your nerves to check on the second day and choose from what's left.
  • Plus-size patterns are VERY popular. So are patterns for toddlers, especially from the 1970s. Expect a lot of competition on these.
  • The odd 1940s or 1950s pattern that makes it into the Recycle area is going to be long gone unless you have a ton of points.
Boosting your pattern points:
  • Make your pin money donation promptly (for an extra point) and add a bit extra. A $2 donation for $2 postage made 10 days later gets you 2 points. Make it within 7 days and you get 3 points. Add an extra dollar and get 5 points. Make it $5 and get 9 points.
  • Don't get patterns from the Trade area unless you really, really love them. Letting your point balance build up for a while will help you get the Recycle patterns you want.
  • Got any incomplete patterns from the 1950s or earlier hanging around? Send them on. Each one earns a point, and you'll have the opportunity to get them back if we can complete the pattern.
Hope this helps a bit -- any questions, just let me know!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trade or not?

Added a few patterns to the Trade area last night, so today I'll be babbling on about what goes into the Trade area -- and why.

No matter what the style, condition often makes the difference between the Trade and Recycle area. Incomplete patterns are automatically disqualified as are most multi-size patterns that have been cut to one of the smaller sizes. Unless newer patterns are unused, they'll need a pretty special plus to make the Trade cut. After that, it's a combination of my opinion and my understanding of your preferences.

Lingerie patterns from any era are likely to end up in the Trade area. "Lingerie" includes slips, bras and panties, and the lacy range of nightwear. Your very basic flannel pajamas and fleece robe patterns probably won't make it.

McCall's 2496 was a lingerie no-brainer. It cover the 3 basic styles (baby dolls, pjs and nightgown) and a rather unusual use (in home sewing patterns anyway) of lace side seams which are lapped and stitched along the torso. The UPC code on the front came as a surprise because the pattern dates from 1986. Must have been one of the first examples!

I usually view camisole patterns as lingerie, so unless it's really b-o-r-i-n-g or in bad shape, it goes in the Trade area. Simplicity 5352 had one view cut out, but the rest was unused and the combination of 2 camisoles and 3 jackets in very different styles won the day.

Vogue 7254 is my idea of the classic lingerie pattern. Can't you just feel the satin? Shaped shoulder straps are always a nice option, and the short dolman sleeves give you lots of drape. Between the style and the graphics, this one just needed to be complete to qualify.

Fashion Designers, I must admit, are not my strong point. Yes -- I have heard of most of them -- but while I can evaluate a 1940s pattern in a heartbeat, the relative merit of designer patterns is much tougher. To some extent, I simply go by your response to various patterns we've listed, and sometimes a little market research helps too. The end result is that some designer patterns DO end up in the Recycle area, but there are 2 pages in the Trade area dedicated to designer patterns, too.

Butterick 6371 is by John Kloss, and the donation included 4 of these patterns in 3 sizes. Can't say the style does a whole lot for me, but I do know that John Kloss has a loyal following. So in they went....

Laura Ashley is another designer name that automatically gets tossed into the Trade pile. This didn't strike me as being one of the most compelling of her patterns, but the envelope art is usually a treat for the eye.

Erm... this is embarassing. Obviously the red squiggles on Simplicity 9712 are a designer signature, but for some reason it took me forever to read. The style didn't ring any bells, either. And then there was that "Ah Hah!" moment. Pauline Trigere. How could I not have seen that? Fortunately no one was around...

Very Vintage patterns (and reproductions thereof) are highly likely to go into the Trade area. We don't get too many modern reproductions (such as the Vintage Vogue line) but they always disappear quickly.

Simplicity 9360 (factory folded) was another no-brainer for the Trade area. The 60th anniversary special pattern is not particularly hard to find (or expensive), but the Art Deco logo and the 1930s dress style (and your little dog, too) are hard to resist. In fact, we had 4 requests for this one within a few hours...

Sixties to Eighties Most of the complete patterns donated to us come from this era, so there's always something to include in the Trade area. Condition is quite important, but a gently used complete pattern may make the grade if it's interesting enough.

Yes, yes -- tiered skirts are not too popular. But McCall's 5648 also features 5 little summer tops that are not just your usual tank tops. I'm pretty sure you could wear them with jeans, too. :-) Factory folds? Sold!

The first time I saw McCall's 8325, I looked for the Laura Ashley label. It's not an Ashley design, but the full-length floral print certainly has the same feel. I also like the way the pleats are held down by a top-stiched belt band that complements the top-stitched yoke.

Unusual Details are my favorite reasons for including a pattern in the Trade area. It's always a joy to find something a style with a unique twist or construction details that takes it beyond the ordinary. And if it's special enough, I'll cut a little slack on the condition, too.

I loved the neckline on Butterick 6962. At first glance it appears to be a standard notched lapel style, but a closer look reveals that there's no collar -- just the wing lapel. The tuck pleats are on the back too -- another detail I liked -- and it's a wrap dress to boot! All fine points, and the final decision maker was that it's still factory folded. (Too bad it's a size 10....)

Butterick 3426 is front wrap skirt pattern. Although wrap skirts are very popular, they're also quite common and you'll often find them in the Recycle area. This actually isn't one of my favorites, but the highly unusual asymmetrical closure shown on the red model -- plus the pattern's factory-folded condition -- elevated this to the Trade area.

Simplicity 6491 includes a front wrap skirt pattern, but I hardly noticed it. What did catch my eye -- and keep it -- was the figure-eight effect of the waistband and pocket on the slim skirt. I liked it well enough that this would have gone into the Trade area even if it had been used.

Decisions, Decisions.
Sometimes I just can't make up my mind -- and the decision of Trade vs. Recycle could go either way. This is where I've learned a lot from you guys. When I've put an "on-the-fence" pattern in the Recycle area that should have gone into Trade, you usually let me know by the number of requests for that pattern :-) These days, I'm more likely to include these in the Trade area from the start.

Butterick 3850, from 1986, makes a lacy nightshirt with flutter sleeves or a plain v-neck nightshirt with pull-on pants. It struck me as being right on the line between pajamas and lingerie, and very nearly went into the Recycle area. Again, the factory-folded condition won out.

Pants patterns rarely make it into the Trade area. But I liked I liked the waistband options offered by McCall's 8471, and the unusual side hem pleats shown on the brown model. A larger size would have been nice, but at least it's factory folded.

Maybe it's just something about the short sleeves, but the photo on Simplicity 9338 made me pass right over this. It wasn't until I took a closer look at the line drawings that I began to appreciate the charm of this pattern. Probably not for the beginning sewer, though :-)

Well, that's the tour for today. Let's do it again soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eh - What do I know, anyway?

Once Mary finishes the preliminary work on a vintage sewing pattern donation, I get to play. Er, that is, I go through the patterns and decide which ones go into the Recycle area and which go to Trade. Poor little me. :-)

Now you have to understand that my collecting tastes are rather limited (don't even talk to me about anything post-1960), so deciding the "fate" of modern patterns is sometimes much more challenging than it should be. Condition plays a huge role, of course. And, sometimes, so does guesswork.

Inevitably there are times when I am just so wrong. There are couple of patterns in the Trade area that have been languishing on the virtual shelf for far too long. And then there's the Recycle pattern that everyone wants.

My blooper for January is the McCall's 5747 Fashion Basics baby doll dress pattern. It was the first pattern requested on the first request processed, and I personally stopped counting when we got to a dozen requests. We actually pulled the pattern out to see what it was....

McCall's 5747 baby doll dress pattern

Now -- in my own defense -- I did hesitate about this one. (Dressy, great plunging back, you can just see the skirt swinging and it's factory folded!) But something about it reminded me faintly of a maternity dress. Those tend to unpopular no matter how stylish -- and into the Recycle pile this went. Hmmph. Next time I'll know better.

In case you're wondering, whenever a Recycle pattern brings in a huge number of requests we adjust the donor's pattern points (7 more points to your account, Elva!). And we never take away pattern points even if we decide to pull a pattern from the Trade area.

And speaking of bloopers, my apologies to Lori for getting her name wrong on the previous logo entry post. (All better now.) No defense at all on that one!

May I'll add a Senior Moments label...