Do you know of a way to make new transfers from old embroidery patterns? Or do I just need to hand trace old patterns every time I want to use them? We got a bunch of old embroidery patterns at a garage sale and we would really like to figure out a way to use them that doesn't require squinting through fabric to trace a pattern if possible! Thanks!—Sarah
Unfortunately there isn't really a simple way to do it. But, with the right equipment and a bit of computer savvy you can try this: First scan your original transfer pattern. Open the file in a drawing program (I use Photoshop) and clean up (or trace over) the lines—old patterns almost never scan cleanly. Print them out on inkjet transfer paper that you can purchase at office supply stores, then iron on to your fabric. This won't give you the same results as older iron-on transfers because it doesn't wash out, but it's the closest you can get at home.
The vintage buttons are cute, but I don't know how you tell if one is vintage or where to look for them.—Appliejuice
I could probably write a whole post about this subject (maybe I will!) but basically you get a feel for what's vintage by experience. Buttons on cards are easier to identify—the graphics look old-fashioned, the manufacturers aren't in business anymore (or were swallowed up by larger companies), the prices printed on the cards are very low (LOL-anything that sold for 10 cents is definitely vintage!). Early vintage buttons are often attached to their cards with string instead of staples. After you've looked at enough buttons you'll be able to tell.
And once you start looking for them, you'll see them everywhere. I often find plastic baggies full of them at flea markets, jars and tins (like grandma used to have) in antique stores, cards of them on tables at garage sales. Ebay is a good place to look at buttons and you'll see a lot of collector buttons that sell for very high prices. Buttons made of bakelite (an early plastic with very distinct colors) are a good example of this. Look in the Vintage Sewing subcategory of Collectibles.
I'm sorry that I don't always have time to answer your email questions personally, but I often turn your queries into blog posts. So, if you've asked me a question and I haven't answered, check back here. There, I think I've finally caught up :)