Somewhere in Time, Unlimited

Antiques Roadshow ~
Dress Pattern Presentation

Presenters:  Joan Hemm & Roma Thompson

August 19, 2012

Everett Library
Everett, WA USA

Miss Joan (in burgundy) and Miss Roma (in black/white) presented their experience
with the PBS Roadshow, when the Roadshow came to film here in Seattle, WA.
Tom Hemm, who was one of the videographers,
set up video and sound
in advance of the presentation.

He wanted to aim the camera
to be able to capture the presentation
at the best angle.

The windows you see to the right,
were actually painted onto a large stage
backdrop, while the antique table
was on loan from the antique mall.

Joan had inherited two antique Victorian patterns.  The patterns were designed by Madame Demorest.
Both Joan and Roma sewed recreations of what were printed on the pattern envelopes.
It was Joan's goal to not destroy the potential value of an antique pattern
by opening the envelope, or cutting the pattern pieces.

Instead, the ladies used similar styles being produced by Truly Victorian Patterns,
a present-day historical pattern producing company.

Today, when the Demorest pattern images were passed around the audience,
we did indeed see that the two ladies had done an amazing job,
especially considering they couldn't consult the original pattern instructions!

Joan began the presentation by explaining how she came to inherit the patterns.
She talked about how she cajoled her good friend, Roma, into
an agreement to sew these Victorian style dresses.

Roma thought this was a wonderful idea since the ladies could wear
their recreations to a Victorian event in the future.
Little did she realize that when she had agreed to do this,
Roma would have to finish the garment
in time to participate in the PBS Roadshow.

Roma patiently listed to Joan
explain how the story evolved.

Turns out two years ago, she secretly didn't think
that Joan would ever be able to obtain
tickets to the PBS Antiques Roadshow,
whether they be filmed in Las Vegas,
or closer to home here in Seattle!

When Joan rang up Roma out of state
to excitedly share the news that
she had secured tickets for their entry
into the Roadshow, and Joan wanted
them to wear the Victorian dresses.

Roma dreaded what was to come -
2 solid months of creative drafting,
sewing, and fittings, to match
the antique pattern as closely she could.

The images of the patterns moved through the audience.
We sat in rapt attention listening to Joan and Roma.

These are images of Roma's Victorian dress that she sewed.
Notice all the shirring on the skirt part?
We also loved her bodice (jacket) with the piping and button detailing!

(Below) "The Faces of Joan."
The audience howled with laughter at the story of the ladies' experience
in "The Green Room" and how they ladies had to "mic-up" at the Roadshow.

There was the make-up, the chance meeting in the adjacent make-up chair
of the antique appraiser they would see to evaluate the patterns,
and the description of all the food that was available.

The ladies told of bringing the patterns forward to the appraiser
for her evaluation.  What they were told did not match
what they were prepared to hear or have confirmed.

A very good close-up of
Miss Roma's hat
and details on her
Victorian bodice.


Here is a short collection of video clips from today's presentation.
Our photographer/guest videographer attempted to capture
the essence of a 2 hr presentation and compress
it all into about 7 minutes of fun.


One of the additional items that Joan had taken for appraisal was
a complete set of costume plates done by artists employed by the WPA during the Depression.
The project was managed by a museum in Philadelphia.

It included dioramas of native American villages, historic buildings, marionettes,
plays with music written about health, color plates of flora.  These plates
were given to Joan by her high school drama instructor.
All these things were created as visual aids for school children.

The costume plates were drawn by the artists, printed, and then hand-colored.
Each set had 128 sheets depicting clothing from caveman to 1900.
The appraiser knew what they were (thank goodness!)
and valued them at $10 each, so the set is valued at $1,280!

**Special Note:  Miss Joan sent an email after the presentation as a follow-up:
"Nice to know {they are worth $1280}, and once Tom Hemm has photographed them,
theyíll be off to the museum from whence they came, donated in honor of my dear
drama teacher, Janie B. Yates-Glandorf,
who just passed away on 8/27/12 at the age of 83."

Miss Roma talked about the special box of goodies
she too, had taken to the Roadshow for evaluation.
There was a little box which held special items
that she had played with as a child.
Her mother didn't want her to break or lose anything.
To make sure that she would "get it"
later in life, Roma decided to claim the box by
carving "Roma" into the box!

The evaluation given by the on-site
appraiser delighted Roma.
She seemed to happy to not only have
her favorite childhood memento,
but a "for insurance purposes" value to go with it!

Here is a good close-up of
Miss Joan's Victorian dress.

She has embellished the edges
with bullion fringe as
an accent.

The pattern of the decorator print
matches beautifully
on both halves of the bodice front.
Well done, Miss Joan!

Miss Candice helped direct participants
who had arrived for the presentation, to their seat.

Miss Roma exits the hall
and prepares to meet her adoring fans!

(L-R) Miss Kimberly (with phone), Miss JoAnne (blond in black sweater)
Miss Roma, Lady Paisley (brunette in black sweater), Miss Karen (seated beyond)
Miss Julie (blue dress), Miss Candice (in boa), Miss Joan, and Mr. Terry.

Miss Joan, Miss Roma, and Lady Paisley.

AFTER The Roadshow ~

Miss Joan sent additional information to those who were at this presentation.
She references images she spotted on the internet.
This image, happens to be of fellow SITU historical costumer, Pamela McCrae,
who also was spotted at the Roadshow!
The image of Joan and Roma can be found here and here.

An excerpt from that follow-up email from Miss Joan:
"I will continue the search for more information, and a value for the patterns. Iím trying to find out IF there are any other Madame Demorest patterns in existenceótalk about a needle in a haystack! One of the women in my antiques study club has suggested that I write an article on the patterns and submit it to one of the antiques magazines, so I think Iíll try that. Perhaps someone who reads it could tell me more, or maybe point me in the right direction.

"I also am planning to propose teaching a ďprojectĒ class at next yearís Costume College in Los Angeles about the patterns, our re-creation of the gowns, and our Roadshow experience. Maybe Iíll uncover more resources from the students? This month I will be talking to my antique study club about the experience, and in October a woman who attended our program at the library the day after the Roadshow has asked me to speak about it at a tea, so I guess itís a good story anyway!

"I have located an archive that I believe Iíll eventually donate the patterns to. It is housed at the University of Rhode Island and is an archive begun by (yes!) a costume designer, who donated her vintage patterns to create it. The oldest in their collection is from 1866 (Iím guessing itís Butterick!), but they do not appear to have ANY Madame Demorest patterns.

"It is a non-profit, and is housed at the University, which makes me feel good. The archive is supported by subscriptions paid by people, who wish to use the patterns. The patterns are scanned and copies of them provided. So by golly, I will hopefully get a copy and get to see whatís inside those pattern envelopes!!!"

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Entered August 21, 2012
Updated November 25, 2012