Tag Archives: vintage

What I Didn’t Buy – Ties + Denim = Disaster Skirt

When shopping at the Goodwill Outlet bins, I never know what I’m going to find.  For each found treasure, there are probably one thousand pieces of drek.  I’ve gotten really good at filtering out the Forever 21 and the Kathy Lee junk, but sometimes a garment will surface that makes me stop and think.  This is such a piece.

I posted this photo on Instagram, and got some really interesting comments.  One person asked if it mattered when the ties were so ugly.  Another pointed out that it could be the work of a student, as some schools’ textiles programs assign a tie reworking project.

My objection to this skirt has nothing to do with the ugliness of the ties, though there are some ugly ties there.  I’m not concerned with the haphazard construction.  And at this point in time, I can’t see that there would be much of a market for these late 1970s and early 80s ties.  What really bothered me was that I’m very certain that 7/8 of each of the sixteen ties and 3/4 of the denim from the skirt ended up in the trash, all for a skirt that was probably never worn.

A lot has been written lately about how much textile waste each person living in developed countries generates in a year.  I’ve read everything from sixty to seventy-five pounds of waste per person.  At that rate we will soon be buried in fiber.

There is no way that the Goodwill in my area can sell in their retail stores all the stuff that is donated.  Much of it never even reaches the store, as items thought to be unsalable go straight into the bins.  Items that have been on the sales floor for over a period of time are culled and put into the bins.  Even after spending hours in a bin that is sorted through by dozens of eager shoppers, there is a lot of textile items that are left unsold. At that point the leftovers are baled and sold to a rag house.

There is a great article in The New Republic about how these raggers work.  Basically, cloth items are sorted into three groups:  the really good stuff and vintage which is sorted and sold to vintage and other resale shops, the okay stuff which is sent to developing countries, and the stuff that is so bad that all they can to is sell it to be made into rags, felt, and other reprocessed cloth.

The article mentions that there are people in these rag houses who are trained to spot vintage clothing.  I’ve read elsewhere that some of these companies actually let vintage shop owners come in and sort through.  I do hope that all the great things that I see, but can’t justify buying, end up in a nice vintage store somewhere.

There is never a shortage of neckties in thrift stores, and my Goodwill is no exception.  I imagine that ninety percent of the ones that go through that place end up at the rag house.  But at least those ties will be recycled into rags or whatever for industrial use, and will not land in a landfill somewhere like the unused portion of the skirt ties most likely did.

But what about the project itself?  Is there any hope for the dated and seemingly ugly tie?  What can be made with all the millions of out of style neckties?

Actually, I think there is some hope for a similar project.  In this case, not only was the choice of ties unfortunate, but the execution of the project was poor.  Instead of overlapping and stitching the ties, they could be placed edge to edge and zig-zagged.  They could even be left unstitched, to make a dancing skirt with a lot of movement.  But most importantly, some actual pretty ties could be used, like those from Liberty of London.  But then, how does one come up with sixteen Liberty neckties?

As I spotted this skirt, another shopper also spotted it.  In one of the great cross-overs from digital to real life, this shopper was Jessamyn, who is a reader of this blog and who recognized me.  We ended up in a conversation that included the question of what can be done with unwanted neckties.  She mentioned that she had made crazy quilts using some of the wonderful silk ones she had found.  And that is a good point, for though it seems like the thrifts are full of the tacky ones from 1982, there are also plenty of fabulous Italian silks.

I recently mentioned that I always buy the Liberty ties because they make great bias binding and can be used for small projects.  Reader Nancy was so kind as to send to me two lovely Liberty ties she had found.  It’s just too bad that not all the old neckties were made of such wonderful fabric.

One last thought: I can’t help wondering if the ties that I consider to be ugly and pretty much worthless will someday become desirable.  It has happened before with neckties from the 1940s.  

Interior look at how the ties were attached to the skirt.

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1950s Golf Course Novelty Contour Belt

Ever so often I get something on my mind and off I go in search of it.  Lately I’ve been sharing (showing off) my collection of novelty print skirts on Instagram, and I started thinking about belts to go along with them.  Belts can be difficult to find, partly because they are not always easy to place a date on and search terms are often vague.

There is one type of belt from the 1950s that is generally easy to identify.  Designed to wear over the full gathered skirts of the era, these 1950s belts are often quite wide and are contoured to fit the waist.  My favorites are themed and are decorated with symbols of the theme.  I recently located the golf course themed one I’m sharing (showing off) today.  It was an etsy find, from seller South Side Market.

Though golf themed, this was a fashion item rather than a belt for active sports.  It was designed to fit tightly around the waist and would have been too constricting for actual play.

These belts were made in lots of themes.  Years ago I found one that has an airline theme.  South Side Market had a really super one that was magazine themed, but unfortunately for me it had already sold.  And probably the best one I know of is for sell at Poppy’s Vintage Clothing.  It has the names of French designers with dress forms.

These must have been a popular item at Saks Fifth Avenue, because I’ve seen quite a few of this type belt stamped with the store’s logo.  Two makers were Criterion and Calderon.

This selection of wide belts was pictured in the spring-summer 1956 Montgomery Ward catalog.  Though not decorated, these belts would have looked great with a simple blouse and a gathered skirt made from a fun printed cotton fabric.

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

It’s time for another edition of shopping adventures in which I show some interesting things I spotted, but that I did not buy.  The photo above was taken at the Liberty Antiques Festival last month.  This seller had tubs and tubs of textiles and old clothes and yes, I did manage to find a few wonderful things.

One thing I passed on was a pair of men’s wool swimming trunks with this label.  It was such a great example of a woven label, but I really can’t start buying things just for the label, can I?

I loved this official souvenir of the Ice Capades.  I would have loved it more at the original price!

One vendor at Liberty had stacks and stacks of super woolen fabrics.  I managed to limit myself to just one fantastic piece, which I’m sure you’ll see somewhere down the road when I get around to sewing it.

I spotted this in a local antique mall, and it was labeled as an Edwardian jacket.  I would have loved to be able to examine it, as to me it looked like it was made from old embroidered table linens.  I could be wrong, but all the square mitered corners just gave it that appearance.

I’m crazy about unusual display pieces and mannequins, and so this vintage little girl fits into that category.

This fantastic twig furniture set is for the cabin in the woods that I do not have.

I’m guessing that this Revlon make-up display is from the late 1950s or early 60s.  The sales person had to get the products from the back of the case, and that sure did help eliminate the shoplifting problem.

I tried to find a reason to buy the velvet and sequined beret.  It was from Hattie Carnegie.

The scarf I found at a local shop was indeed Hermes, and was priced quite attractively.  This proves I have strong willpower.  You also get a nice look at my vintage Converse All Stars.

I loved this shop sign, but what would someone do with something this large?

Finally, my favorite find of the month, a WWI poster encouraging the many women workers to ride their bicycles to work instead of taking a motor vehicle.  It’s interesting how this one does not reference the woman’s patriotic duty, but instead focuses on the benefits of cycling.

 

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Selling Vintage

For several years before I retired, I had a plan.  I was going to sell vintage clothing online to make a few extra bucks and to productively spend my time.  And for a while, around two years, that’s exactly what I did.  The problem was that I really did not enjoy selling.  What I wanted to do was collect and write about fashion and textile history.

So I gave up the etsy store and began spending my time researching and writing, care taking and mending.  And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

A while back I mentioned that one of the things I love about Instagram is that almost everything posted there is for sale. The problem is that I post photos of my vintage collection and finds there, and it’s quite often that someone asks if the item is for sale.  I somehow feel like I should not be teasing people showing off some of the great things I’ve found over the past twenty-five or so years of collecting.

Even here on The Vintage Traveler, I get emails all the time asking if an item I posted about is for sale.  As you have probably guessed, my answer is almost always “No,” but there are times that I have agreed to sell an item to a reader.  I have one rule that determines whether or not the item changes hands – the prospective buyer has to want the item more than I do.

I know what it is like to really want something for my collection.  I’ve written plenty of those almost begging emails myself, so I pretty much know how to judge item desire in others.

If you see something here or on Instagram that you feel you can’t live without, it never hurts to ask.  But you have to convince me that you need it more than I do, and that you will take good care of it.  And be prepared to hear, “No.”

See that cute little cat skirt?  I pulled it out of the Goodwill bins and posted a photo on Instagram.  The skirt was felt with the kittens sort of embossed onto it, and contrary to what my photo might lead you to believe, was in pretty rough shape.  The kittens were fading and peeling, and there were holes in the felt.  The skirt was for a little girl.  Still, I put it in my shopping cart to make a decision about it later.

Finally, I decided that I really had no need for it so I put it back in a bin.  Very quickly, one of the three shoppers that had been stalking me, hoping I’d discard it swooped in to get it.  That was good because I hated the thought of those kittens in a bale of rags.

By the time I got home and checked my messages, two people had already asked about the skirt.  I felt really bad about having to tell them that I didn’t even buy it!  I think my days of leaving something this great in the Goodwill are over, especially if it has a kitten on it.

I’m in the process of going through my vintage sewing patterns and books, and I’ve decided that I really do need to sell some.  So starting in November I’ll reopen the old Fuzzylizzie Vintage etsy shop for a few months to offer them.  There will probably be some fabric as well.  I’ll be sure to announce the opening when it happens.

And seriously, if you sell vintage, you need to be on Instagram.  Just don’t make it entirely about what you are selling.

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler

I recently did a bit of shopping in northern South Carolina, in the Greenville area.   There are several very nice antique malls in the area, and there was quite a bit that I saw and liked but did not buy.

First up is a salesman’s case from Ferris Woolen Company.  Dated 1939 – 1940, I really liked the graphics.  I already have one from the early 1920s, which I’ve written about in the past.

Isn’t this old croquet box the best?

Had this been a Scottie, I’d probably have had to buy it.  Still, this little child’s wheelbarrow was pretty special.

This calendar is from 1958.  Now I’ve decided that I must have a hat that holds golf tees.

In hindsight, I probably should have bought this zipper display and zippers.  I love metal Talons, and pick them up to use.  These were odd colors so I passed on them.

For Zest and Fun, Drink B-1.  It’s full of vitamins, you know.

Who doesn’t need a Likker Lugger?

This great little sailor man pin shows us how to wear a striped tee.  I love the details, including the diagonal pocket.

I’ve been thinking more and more about getting an old sewing stand.  I’m telling myself it will eliminate some clutter.

This is a sorry photo of a really fantastic hat.  It was really lovely, and it had a great label to boot.

In my part of the world, Pappagallos were THE shoe of the mid 1960s.  Even the lining is cute.

This late 1910s dress had some damage, but the fabric was really terrific.  Those dots are not printed, they are woven.  It was simply a fantastic textile.

The snowsuit of doom, but how about those mittens?

I loved this advertising poster so much. I mean, really, really loved it.

So, did I mess up by leaving these great things unbought?

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Shopping with The Vintage Traveler

I realized that it has been a while since I did a vintage shopping post.   I’m not completely sure why, but I’m not taking as many photos as I used to while shopping.  It may have something to do with Instagram.

More and more I find myself posting shopping photos to Instagram.  It’s almost like shopping with a lot of virtual friends, as the feedback is almost immediate.  I know I talk quite a bit about the pleasures of Instagram, but it really is fun.  Even Suzy Menkes says so.  If you use a smartphone, I really do think you should at least try it out.

But back to the shopping finds,  taken over the course of the past month or so.

The first photo is a vintage California Perfumes poster.  This was the company that became Avon.   Things like this are commonly seen as reproductions, but this one was an original, and quite expensive.

I’ve got a bit of non-buyer’s remorse about this apron.  It was terribly stained, missing a tie, and over-priced.  Still, what a marvelous mid century fashion print!

I am such a map lover.  Just throw a map on something and I’m all over it.  Still, I managed to resist this bed tray, or lap desk, or what have you.

I loved these tobacco cards from 1936 that featured the tennis stars, both men and women, of the day.  You can see how this was a transitional time in tennis wear, with some women wearing skirts below the knee, some wearing shorter skirts, one is wearing a skirt open over shorts, and two are wearing just shorts.  Get a better look here.

I’m a sucker for an old zipper display.

This is the label from a pack of 1920s tissue paper.   By comparison, it sure makes the graphics on packaging today look a bit uninspired.

This is a water sprinkler for ironing, an object that appears to be more decorative than functional.  There is a handle on the back, but it was the unhappy but fashionable ironer that caught my eye.

It’s finds like this that makes one (almost) want to go back to selling.  Three mint in the box French corsets, reasonably priced.

A lovely linen parasol.

Another good for re-sale find, this late 1920s lace dress was in good condition and was a larger size.

Proof that there are real bargains to be found, these Tammis Keefe unicorn placemats were $5 for the set.

And finally, one dealer had a whole stack of antique Kate Greenaway calendars.  This one is from 1884.

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Peter Max Psychedelic Scarf

In the late 1960s and early 70s Peter Max was everywhere.  Or at least his products with his name in bold print were.  Max opened  a design studio in New York in the early 1960s, but it was his finely honed style of the late Sixties that combines op art, comic strips, astrology and Eastern mysticism that seemed so perfect for the Woodstock Generation.   In 1969 he was on the cover of Life, with the title of the article being, “Peter Max: Portrait of the Artist as a Very Rich Man.”

There were dozens of Peter Max labeled products – everything from blow-up vinyl pillows to kitchen wares to clothing.  Many of the designs were manufactured by clothing firms such as Wrangler, for which Max designed jeans, shorts, and shirts.  Others were advertising items like the decorated vinyl umbrellas that were made for Rightguard deodorant.  About ten years ago my friend Corky who owned a vintage store in Asheville went to the estate sale of an optometrist.   She found stacks of Peter Max scarves that were made for an eyeglass company.

In 1970 Max designed a line of junior dresses, tee shirts and neckties for the guys which Seventeen magazine featured on the cover and in an editorial.  These were only made for a year or two and are very rare (and valuable) today.   I guess the very rich artist decided he had enough money to last him for a while, because soon afterward he closed his design studio and semi-dropped-out.

The Peter Max scarves are a bit easier to find, but after spotting this one at Design Archives in Greensboro, I realized that I’d not seen one for sale (except online) in years.   So yes, I had to add it to my collection especially since the only Max examples I have are two of his Neo-Max swimsuits that he designed in the 1980s.

The only Peter Max items I remember having as a kid were several of the inflatable pillows.  After a while they started leaking, and eventually they were thrown out.

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