Sunday, April 25, 2010

Polka Dot Crush: New Vintage Lady!

The New Vintage Lady shows off her handmade gardenias, Billie-Holiday-style

Reverse-inspired by the Selfish Seamstress and her sinister parade of nemeses, I thought I'd write an occasional sappy mash note to my favorite stitchy bloggers. First up: New Vintage Lady (aka Shelley J.)

I first e-encountered New Vintage Lady a few weeks ago via Sew Retro, but I had an instant blog crush, with a bit of jealousy mixed in. Firstly, in my biased cartoonist-girl book:

The Lady can DRAW! Which makes sense, since she's an animator by trade. (And as someone whose drawings don't move, animators totally make me green.)

You might have noticed that most vintage pattern envelope illustrations--even for plus-size or maternity patterns--have one thing in common: skinny, wasp-waisted white ladies. Not so New Vintage Lady's line of plus-sized reproduction patterns, which she recently began illustrating with gorgeous variations on her cartoon self-portrait (click any of these to enlarge):

And here's a peek at her drawing development process--unlike my digitally addicted cartoonist self, she uses actual pencils and paper:

The Lady can grade. When she had trouble finding plus-size patterns from her favorite style eras (the 1920s-1940s), she just taught herself to size them up. (Considering how many bust size 32 patterns I continue to cling to, I had better get on that.) I can't tell from her blog what size this fabulous Hollywood 1486 dress was originally--but I'll just guess that she graded it and she can correct me if I'm wrong.

Don't you just love the cut, fabric and asymmetrical button front styling? (It should probably be noted that like many vintage lovers, Ms. NVL has a serious button problem passion).

The Lady can accessorize. And I don't just mean buying vintage accessories, though she does that too-I'm talking some major home millinery. (I don't even know how to wear hats properly, never mind construct and design them.) Check out her depression picnic cloche:

The Lady can repo. When she became obsessed with vintage sewing--and disappointed in the lack of patterns in her size--she didn't just grade them for herself. When Ms. NVL obtains particularly fabulous plus-size vintage patterns from the 10s, 20s, 30s and earlier 40s (i.e. the ones generally safe from copyright protection), she reproduces them, as in the examples above. Here's a 1920s "dustbowl" dress:

The Lady can teach. Who doesn't love a tutorial? (I swear I'll have some up here SOMEDAY!). Check out The Lady's (beautifully illustrated) Style Tips on:

The latter could have saved me some grief over the years, as I am pretty much guaranteed to get major runs in any and all stockings either while putting them on or in the first 10 minutes of wear. (Although I'm so pregnant right now that filing my toenails to ensure a snag-free stocking application will have to wait until I can actually see/reach said toes!)

And it's not a tutorial, but she also did a two-part "Black Hair" series on her blog with her thoughts on the pressure for black women to straighten their hair, her disappointment with the Chris Rock documentary Good Hair, and examples (with photos) of how she does a natural vintage hair style.

So there you have it, my first official Polka Dot Blog Crush! Be sure to visit Shelley's New Vintage Lady site, blog and etsy shop for a whole lot more vintage fabulousness. (And just to be clear, I'm not in any way sponsored by her or getting any kickbacks!)


  1. What a great blog and wonderful illustrations.

  2. She's fantastic! I love those drawings and her sewing is gorgeous. Very worthy crush.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this! I think I'm in love!

  4. I'm crushing, too! Thanks so much for introducing me to Shelley and her blog. (Off to read her comments on Good Hair, as I just watched that a few days ago!)

  5. You are so right. Her drawings are phenomenal and I'm totally jealous of her mad skillz.

  6. Thanks for linking to her blog! So begins my crush on her...


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