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Dec 3, 2013

Things I Don't Get, Vol 12 -- The $2,025 Vintage Sundress Pattern



Yes, you read that correctly: two thousand and twenty-five dollars.  For a sundress pattern on eBay.  Yesterday.

And that doesn't even include shipping!

Here's the original listing

Friends, I have always tried to live by the adage, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," but honestly, don't you think $2,025 is a bit steep for a vintage sundress pattern?  (It's not even a Paris Original!)

How did I learn about this?  Well, I just happened to be perusing the pattern auctions on eBay, my favorite way to fritter away the hours.  The sundress auction, already sky-high, was just about to end and when it did, Michael insisted I check out what it finally went for.  So I did.

Now I too bought a sundress pattern on eBay yesterday.  Only mine was $5.99 (five dollars and ninety-nine cents).   And I think mine is prettier!



Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that mail order patterns are generally less valuable than patterns by the big commercial pattern companies.  Never heard of mail order?  These were patterns that, presumably, one ordered through the mail.  The name on the pattern was often Marian Martin or Anne Adams, as well as other, more obscure names.  The artwork was usually black and white and the general presentation a bit cut-rate.







There are a zillion vintage mail order patterns for sale currently on Etsy, including sundresses galore, and let me assure you that not a single one is selling for more than $1,000.  Make that $100.  And usually much, much, much less.



So why did one particular pattern go for $2,025?  That, my friends, is my question for you.

Here's a second look:



Naturally, to drive an auction into the stratosphere, all you need are two people who are willing to bid it up.  I get that.

Why do you think this pattern went for so much?  Again, check out the the original listing (you'll have to scroll down the page on eBay a bit).  Is the pattern envelope filled with gold shavings?  Is the pattern signed by Betsy Ross?  Does it come with dinner for two at La Bernardin?

Would you ever spend $2,025 on something that didn't come with power steering?

What's the most you've ever bid for a vintage pattern (again, we don't judge here at MPB)?

Jump in!

62 comments:

  1. Bidding malfunction? $20.25 sounds about right

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  2. Are those people insane? There are thousands of similar patterns.

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  3. I have no idea why the current bid has more than two digits before the decimal point.

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  4. Whoa, I doubt that the original Diane VF wrap dress pattern had gone for that much!

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  5. On the rare occasion when I see something like on e-Bay, my first guess is always, somehow, drug-money laundering.

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    Replies
    1. At that price, I'd expect dry cleaning! ;)

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    2. considering the fees of Ebay and Paypal, you would lose a good portion of your ill gotten gains money laundering

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    3. There is always a big loss on money laundering. And you don't want to be making transactions as unusual as this one. The only way this makes sense is if the pattern was drafted by the widow of a Nigerian politician.

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    4. I agree. I've thought this would be a good way to hide cash ever since I saw someone bid $300 for a used sewing book I bought on Abebooks.com for $5.

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  6. I have absolutely no idea what could be so special about this pattern! I keep looking and looking.. but no clue. And still, even for, say, a vogue special design this would be a lot. I am truly curious to find out, I hope someone has the answer!

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  7. Looks like the winning bidder was bidding against themselves, so maybe it's an error rather than some exciting pattern geekery. Disappointing!

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    Replies
    1. Abi, it looks like what they were doing was trying to outbid the higher bidder, and they kept going up incrementally till they got over it, winning the auction. (That's why it looks like they were bidding against themselves.) I've seen that before, but never at that level.

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    2. Oh, wow (thanks for explaining - I'm obviously not that well versed on the workings of eBay). Hopefully they'll come out of the woodwork and tell us all the secret! I'm so intrigued.

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    3. I was confused by that too. Thanks Peter for explaining. What an insane amount to pay for a pattern...

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  8. Wow. I don't know all the ebay scams out there but what if the bidder a***y was trying to enter $25 and accidentally bid $2500 and then the t***i bidder is somehow associated with the seller and is trying to feel out how high the bad bid is. It looks like all the a***y bidding is automatic and started when the pattern was only $25.

    The only unusual thing about the pattern is it's sized more to modern proportions than most vintage offerings.

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  9. SeamsterEast@aol.comDecember 3, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    "No matter how good looking the egg, if it smells bad, it is." That one stinks. Just two bidders over $12.50. A guess is both bidders are same person, in a pump and dump. That pattern now has a "provenance" and will likely be sold to some gullible third party.

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  10. I always assume these things are some scam I haven't heard of yet, because I can never understand some of the crazy prices I see on Ebay. Though I did recently read an article about how Ebay is baffling to economists because buyers don't exhibit rational behavior. Whatever the case, if anyone really did want that pattern, it looks incredibly similar to the Colette Parfait.

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  11. Mail order patterns are my favorite! I think they tend to be more novelty orientated. Nice pointy cuffs, asymmetrical craziness, button overload, and pockets that could hold a turkey. Love it!

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  12. Dunno why it went $2K, but bidder a***y is quite the busy bidder! He/she has bid on 633 items in the last month. I wonder if t***i meant to enter 20.00 and a***y then bid it up.

    I don't see Alexander McQueens autograph on it anywhere. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Now, she has bid on 798 items in the past 30 days.

      Maybe she takes holiday shopping *very* seriously.

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  13. Accusing the seller of shilling is not very nice. That is a serious allegation in ebay land. This seller has been on ebay for a long time and it's not his/her fault that 2 of the 4 bidders really, really wanted the pattern and/or don't like to lose. Although I haven't sold on ebay for a long time I can tell you when I did I got quite a few surprises. Patterns that I thought were nice didn't get bids. Patterns that seemed run of the mill would sometimes go for $75 - $100. People do get irrational when they are bidding and it's easy to get caught up in the last minute bidding frenzy. As a bidder my highest bid for a pattern was $595 several years ago. The pattern ended up selling for almost $1500.

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  14. Unless it was a mistake I'd do a happy dance if I was the seller! Sheesh! But it does look like someone didn't add their period in the bid but then other person looks super serious no matter which way you slice it!
    I don't bid on patterns so I don't have a super high number and I rarely buy over $10.
    But I do enjoy watching auctions on things I want but know I won't bid just to see how high they go :)

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  15. It's entirely possible that the winning bidder is a completist and this was the final piece for their collection that they'd been searching for for years. That would definitely spur someone to win at any cost! (I know, 'cuz I've been there LOL)

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    1. Interesting theory! I have seen many people of antiques and collectibles tv shows doing just that.

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    2. But in order for that to be the reason there has to be two completists who need the same pattern and are willing to spend that kind of money.
      Possible but hard to imagine.

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  16. Well hooray for oncilicat, a great seller from whom I've purchased many reasonably priced patterns, but that does seem totally insane to me. There must be some kind of mistake, right? It's a nice sundress, but it ain't all that.

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  17. That is crazy! Especially considering the original price was $6.99. $2000 for a sewing machine I could understand. For a pattern? No, not so much.

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  18. That is one lucky seller making a nice profit there. For that kind of final bid, maybe they will throw the shipping in for free.

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  19. Daaaaayum, I wanna earn $2K for a sewing pattern please! How the hell!?

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  20. Wowers. I don't get it either but then I am not a gazillionarie...

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  21. Im guessing it was a mistake . I once sold a very collectible tutu paten on eBay that went as high as$600ish but then the highest bidder emailed to say they made a mistake. I don't recall what it went for in the end but it was a lot less.

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  22. Money laundering?

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  23. Being an Ebay seller for many years I can almost bet they will never get paid for that. Keep an eye on it and see if it winds up getting relisted.

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  24. seems like a bidding folie a deux ... or 2 people who have to win no matter how irrational. I really like vintage mail order patterns & have more of them than I do the named brands.

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  25. If a***y was a legitimate bidder, it looks like they put in a proxy bid of $2000.00. The reason their bid keeps increasing is simply because someone else kept putting in bids and was immediately outbid. When they hit $2000.00, a***y increased their proxy and won. So there wasn't a mistake in terms of decimal points, that bid was meant to be $2025.00.

    The "why" is another matter entirely! A scam of some sort, maybe, but maybe the winning bidder just has deep pockets (some people do!) and really wanted that pattern for some reason. The truly odd part is that someone else wanted it almost as badly - that's what makes it smell a little odd....

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  26. Surely nobody actually bought that pattern... right? It's not even a pretty sundress.

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  27. It MUST be a mistake..or a bipartisan moment of ebay bidding madness! It reminds me of dummy bidding at real estate auctions except these two bidders were for real. Unbelievable.
    The most I have ever paid for a vintage pattern was $4 at a weekend street stall .

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  28. Yikes! Now I feel like a complete cheapskate – I hate to spend more than $20 on a pattern unless it is obscenely gorgeous and complicated (something I could never hope to replicate on my own). What is really strange is how basic the design is – its seems to me that quite a few contemporary patterns could easily replicate the style lines and be purchased on sale for a couple of dollars. The sketch is cute, but not $2,000 cute!

    It has to be a mistake, right?!

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  29. More fool the bidders who kept pushing the price up. What is it they say? "A fool and his money are soon parted."

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  30. Very interesting event. Obviously something amiss, and some wonderfully colorful ideas of why or how it could happen. Looking at the statistics of each bidder and the timing of the bids it looks to me like a rare concurrence of events - one making a mistake when entering their highest automatic bid, and then the other experienced some sort of digital/electronic malfunction which resulted in overbidding until the auction was won. However, as SewingDiva PDX noted, the winning bidder has participated in an unusually high number of auctions in a relatively short time, especially for someone who is not a professional seller on Ebay. Curious. But the regular intervals between the bids above the automatic bid still suggest some sort of error in mechanics or software. Will we ever know the answer? Is anyone tempted to email the seller and ask what was the outcome? PS: As marlogal said, shilling is a serious accusation on ebay, not to be tossed about lightly. In any case, no one in their right mind would try to shill those amounts on that kind of object. Where is Sherlock when we need him?

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  31. Sounds like an Ebay fluke. I've purchased patterns from that vendor and they're on the up and up. By the way, there is a line of mail order patterns that are highly collectible because they were copied from actual retail designer garments, and that's Spadea. I just made jacket from their 1962 Chanel pattern and it's the real deal. Their patterns by Ceil Chapman (favorite designer of Marilyn Monroe) have gone for more than $400 on eBay.

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  32. fascinating. Agree your sundress is much prettier. Would definitely not pay a great deal for this pattern.

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  33. Wow, I would never expect a sewing pattern to sell for that amount. The most I have paid is around £12 and that included shipping to the UK.

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  34. That's bananas!!! I wonder if it was some crazy manufacturer (with no experience) who thought they would use this pattern to create a line of *highly original* sundresses *just like all the other sundresses out there* and make a billion buxx. silly.

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  35. If you really wanted to make a dress like that, it would be easy to modify Decades of Style's Rosie the Riveter overalls! And much cheaper!

    http://www.decadesofstyle.com/vintage-patterns-1930s/3008-1930s-sweetheart-overalls

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  36. Wow! For $2k+ I'd take some drafting classes, buy some awesome fabric, make the dress myself and probably have some leftover funds!

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  37. It looks a lot like a Colette Parfait ...

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  38. I hope somebody didn't leave their bidding on autopilot! That would be scary. I might do it, if and only if, my mother or grandmother designed the pattern and I wanted an original. Otherwise, no way.

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  39. I've bought many patterns from oncillacat and can swear that she is not a rip-off artist. It's not her fault if people went nuts bidding. I can promise you she didn't have an opening bid that was anywhere near that range.

    Also, don't assume that mail-order patterns are always less valuable. Some of them are very nice designs and since they're often quite rare, they can be very desirable. They also came in a wider range of sizes, especially plus sizes, and I've certainly had no worse luck with their drafting or sizing than I have with Simplicity (I'm looking at you, Simplicity 4727, 1943, and the seven inches I had to take out of your bodice). They're not "off-brands".

    No, I wouldn't pay that for . . . almost anything. Even if I had the money, but whatever. To each his or her own.

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  40. Yes, I've seen patterns on E-Bay go for this kind of money, and I don't get it either. I can understand a higher price if it's by an iconic designer, but even then the prices get excessive and copies are available at places like the vintage pattern library.

    I think often it's the artwork rather than the actual dress pattern.

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  41. I think it's one of two things happening: Either someone forgot to put in a decimal point in their maximum bid, in which case he or she is FREAKING out right now and the sale will probably not go through -- or else, as another reader has commented, it's probably Money Laundering for Terrorists!!

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  42. I think the great answer will come if you see positive feedback for this pattern. I can't see why this pattern is so expensive.

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  43. It might be a mistake, as others have suggested. However, as someone who has attended auctions IRL as well as online, people get weirdly caught up in the competition of bidding and I've seen prices bid up to far more than they're worth.

    I was taught long ago not to get caught up in those kinds of p***ing matches. I decide what my maximum is for an item, and I stick to it (I love the proxy bid on E-Bay). If I'm outbid--Oh well.

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  44. I don't shop on Ebay anymore because to be honest I can get new clothes less expensive than some of the used ones. Years ago, when I did hang out at Ebay I got loads of fabric really cheap, and everything else in between. When sewing became trendy again, the price of sewing machines on Ebay went up. There were some people who got a great deal, and then there are others who just like the power to outbid because they can. I don't get that, but I do know someone like that.
    There could be so many reasons for this pattern to be so pricey, and they have already been given

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  45. Some kind of hoarder or shopping addict who is embezzling money from their employer to buy antiques on eBay...

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  46. That's insane! If it wasn't some sort of glitch, I have no idea why anyone would do that.
    It isn't even a complicated pattern. I'm only halfway through my first year of fashion classes and I could draft that thing with my eyes shut. This makes no sense.

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  47. I have no theory. I'm just flummoxed. I would not pay that amount for a pattern - any pattern - in Czech Crowns, even if I had that kind of spending money - let alone US Dollars!
    It IS a nice dress, in a completely generic 50s way - but that same completely generic 50s way is exactly what makes it even more of a headscratcher.

    The comparison of the two patterns reminds me a lot of a Rate the Dress dress-off of the sundresses by the same designer The Dreamstress did a while back. One had a full skirt, other was slim and pocketed. They came out with very, very close ratings. :-)

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  48. I believe their was either an error in listing the auction price or the seller has really over valued the pattern. But you never know. I saw a pattern sell for over $750.00 once and another that was only an envelope sell for $191.00. You never know. I'd never buy a pattern for that amount of cash. Also I don' believe mail order patterns-depending on the maker, designer or style of dress need be any less valuable than a pattern sold by one of the big commercial pattern companies-and some mail order patterns do indeed have big designer names attached to them-not necessarily obscure designers--and can and do (even some apron patterns) sell over 100+...it all depends.

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  49. I wont guess at what went on with this bid but I am a vintage collector and I have spend $$$$ on the odd pattern. I was also part of a bidding war over a pattern book, I won. I don't have deep pockets but I do save a lot so when that one thing I'm missing pops up I might do just about anything to get it.

    However I also put limits on time spent on ebay for that reason.Not everyone wants to admit to how much they spend. I spent a lot very little but most people spent a little a lot.

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  50. I do agree with Clio, for 2K take a pattern class, or pay a pattern maker, make it in 3 sizes and sell it to Bloomingdales, or make a paper pattern and give it to your friends. This must be a serous collector!

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