Monday, June 13, 2011

Vintage Fabric: from estate sales to familiar closets

I am crazy about estate sales lately. For the past few Saturdays I've dragged my poor husband around with me until he was ready to pass out. And I haven't told him yet...but with summer within reach, this is only the beginning.

There's just something about looking through the details of 50+ years of someone else's life. Everything they used. Everything they collected. Everything they wore. Some things are still in packages, waiting to be used...I feel a sense of respect and am also reminded what we really take with us when we die.

I found this great scarf the other day. I couldn't pass up the fabric. I may wear it as a scarf or incorporate it into a shirt refashion.

It's my hope to stumble upon some lovely vintage fabric that I can actually make something from or vintage clothing cool enough to refashion. So far I've only found scraps of material, but there are many estate sales to go.

I did find this oval mirror that I will update this summer with a little can of spray paint like I did with our last mirror find. And at half off, it was only $2.50.

This is the one we found at a thrift store a couple years ago and loved how the update turned out.
Anywho, back to fabric.

Anyone know what constitutes "vintage fabric"? I wasn't sure, so I looked it up. And although opinions vary, here's what I learned from good old wikipedia:
Vintage clothing: new or second hand garments originating from a previous era
Retro (retrospective) or vintage style: clothing imitating style of a previous era
Antique clothing: clothing produced before the 1920s
Vintage clothing: clothing from the 1920s to 1980s
Modern or contemporary fashion: clothing produced more recently

OK, so speaking about vintage fabric, instead of waiting to find estate sales, have you ever checked your mom's or grandma's closets?

I had a fun day with my mom the other day. And I looked in her closet. With her permission of course.

She was cleaning out old fabric and gave some to me.
There's something about fabric. It seems to spark memories the same way music does.

We talked about Easter outfits she spent hours sewing; flannel p.j.s from 1975 she intended to sew but never did - pieces cut, patterns still pinned on; laughed about pants my sister tried to sew, only to find one leg was smaller than the other; reminisced about Halloween costumes and flower girl dresses. Clothes that were made and those that were not.

Fun memories all intertwined with pieces of colored woven thread.

And now they are mine. Whatever I make with them has to be special.

It makes me wish I had peeked in my grandma's cupboards to see if she had any fabric tucked away that had a story to tell. I'm guessing she did.


  1. I made one of my favorite purses from an old skirt I found at the Goodwill! Estate sales are super fun, but you can also find some good "stuff" at second hand shops like Goodwill and the Salvation Army..if you have those shops in your area.
    Happy hunting!

  2. I've never been to an estate sale, but I did once inherit a TON of fabric from the storage unit of an elderly woman who passed, and there were some real gems in there. Most of them I still haven't used, although I have SO many plans for them.

    I agree with you that fabric has a certain memory. I have a quilt that was made by my great-grandmother and each block of pattern makes me think about life during her time. You can't put a price on that kind of thing...

    Great post!

    Stephanie from Deviantly Domesticated

  3. i love the fabric you got from your mom. and all the fun memories that come with it. i can't wait to see what you make with it.

  4. Looks like we both have been rummaging through our mother's closets! You for fabric, me for recipes! My mom sewed a lot and looking through her scraps of fabric, I can remember every piece of clothing she made for me simply by looking at's a trip, isn't it?


I'd love to hear what you have to say! Thanks so much for your comments! ♥


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