Visit SadieBess Handpicked Vintage on Etsy

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Legendary East West Musical Instruments Company

Apparently, I've been holding on to a rather exquisite piece of leather goods for many years now. During my college days I acquired a particularly badass looking leather vest that I lovingly referred to as 'Chachi' (after Scott Baio's usually sleeveless character on Happy Days). I was a good bit thinner in those days, so Chachi and I were able to spend lots of quality time together barhopping, bowling, and generally getting up to no good.

But as the years have passed, my waistline has gradually expanded, and Chachi has been relegated to the lonely purgatory of the Closet In The Spare Room. Even though I knew it was doubtful I would ever be able to zip it up again, I had a hard time thinking about parting with it. Then earlier this year I started my own vintage shop, SadieBess, and I thought Chachi might make a nice addition to my inventory, and probably bring in lots of views, especially if I labelled it 'Steampunk' ;) So I began researching the name on the label to try to place a value on it. It was only then that I realized I had been sitting on a veritable vintage holy grail.

The East West Musical Instruments Company originally opened as a music shop in the Castro district of San Francisco in 1967. Legend has it that the owner decided to make a leather jacket with an old sewing machine they had on the premises, which wound up being purchased by none other than Janis Joplin. After that, the shop made leather jackets it's main focus, and went on to create amazing designs until it's closure in the early 80s.

I was fortunate enough to speak with East West fanatic Romulus von Stezelberger, owner of South Paradiso Leather, who was kind enough to tell me that the name of this design is Eucalyptus, and that East West never made vests, that this was, in fact, a jacket that someone had removed the sleeves from at one point. Sad face!

Even without sleeves, I still think this is an incredibly wearable piece of leather. It's fitted silhouette  is extremely flattering, and the organically shaped appliques are truly beautiful. I did not feel comfortable placing a fixed value on it due to the sleeve issue, so I've decided to place it up for bid on Ebay.  Check out the auction here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale

I'm far too lazy to set up and promote two separate sales, which means that I will be offering 20% off everything in the store from now through Cyber Monday with coupon code BLOG20.

Also, I have some really fantastic sweaters and jackets just sitting around right now because the weather has been so gloomy here lately, but if I'm very lucky I may be able to take some new photos tomorrow, which will mean fresh listings over the next few days!

Friday, November 11, 2011

"I am an ever changing dance of emotion..."

I went out picking today and found the most amazing neon purple and orange aztec motif turtleneck sweater by a company called IB Diffusion. I had come across this label once before, so I went online to do a bit of research, and boy did I get a treat! They made a promotional video back in the day, and it is pants wettingly hilarious in it's earnestness. This is a must watch for anyone who enjoys shoulder pads, baby tigers, bangs that stand three inches straight up in the air, and/or gratuitous posing.

Sadly, IB Diffusion went out of business in 1993. Death by Grunge, most likely.
Vintage IB Diffusion Aztec Print Sweater

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Amazing Power of the Felting Needle

Anyone who's a connoisseur of vintage fashion has probably come up against the issue of moth damage more than once. I myself was becoming more and more frustrated each time I found a gorgeous vintage wool piece that seemed immaculate but for a tiny little hole or two. So a few weeks ago I began searching around the interwebs for a solution, and that's when I learned about the amazing restorative powers of the felting needle.

Of course, being a long time Etsy customer, I had seen lots of adorable little creatures made of felted wool, but it hadn't occurred to me that felting needles and wool roving had a much more practical use until I stumbled across a couple of references to it in different online forums. I decided to give it a try myself on a tiny (less than 1/8") hole in a vintage felted wool coat. It is a heathered gray, and I had no trouble finding the right color wool roving at my local craft store. I was also able to pick up a kit with a couple of felting needles and a foam block for less than $4.

The process itself couldn't have been easier. I just placed the foam block inside the coat underneath the location of the hole, then I put a little tuft of wool roving on top of the hole. The gray wool I bought came with two shades, and I mixed them together a bit to get a better match to my coat.

Then I just poked the barbed felting needle into the coat repeatedly until the roving became flush with the surrounding wool (Sorry for the blurry photos, it's harder than I thought to hold a camera steady with my left hand).

Towards the end of the process I sort of "groomed" the fibers of the roving with the tip of the needle so they were going in the same direction as the fibers of the coat to make the repair blend in even better.

As you can see, the repair is pretty difficult to see now. I don't think anyone could spot it unless they knew to look for it.

I am super freaking excited about this new tool. I have even been able to repair damage to a cashmere coat where a moth had chewed the nap down by poking the roving in from the wrong side of the coat, and then trimming the fibers down to the same length as the rest of the coat. The trickiest part of the whole process is finding wool roving in just the right color to match your garment. The rest is cake.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I've been very busy doing work for clients of my sewing pattern tracing and PDF creation service these last few weeks, which is wonderful news for our bank balance, but no so much for this blog. I did finally get a chance to add some new items this past week, and I have a few more in the pipeline.

My favorite new item is the 1980s sequined jacket by Modi, which has got the be the single most amazing thing I've found all year. Every scrap of fabric is covered in bright sequins and beads, and it's actually quite heavy. I would so wear this to a New Year's Eve party if I were me from ten years ago.

Vintage 1980s Modi Sequined and Beaded Jacket - $120

And to go with it, I have these killer black suede Nina stilettos which are adorned with polka dots of gold glitter. They've never been worn!

Vintage Suede Stilettos with Gold Sparkle - $38

I have to say, I am really pleased with the way the pictures came out of the shoes, but not so much of the jacket. My photography has definitely improved over the last few months, but it is still a bit hit or miss. Maybe Santa can help me out and bring me a DSLR this Christmas?