Vintage Fabric Collecting Adventures

I have been going a little wacko with my fabric collecting the past few months. I don’t spend anything on new stuff really, and actually I spend very little on fabric at all, but somehow I have amassed tons of it!

Here’s one story: The artistic director of the theater where I occasionally work as a costumer e-mailed me to say the lighting director’s father had gone into a nursing home and they had to get rid of his deceased mother’s fabric collection. Could I stop by that day to look it over and take what I wanted before they donated it all? The director had also let the other costume designers know about it, but most of them live far from our little town. Lucky for me I was ten minutes away. I was going to be be the first person on the scene. I didn’t have any important plans (besides having a dinner party in exactly two hours with people my husband had invited and who I hadn’t met yet. ) Actually, I still had to go to the grocery store because I hadn’t even bought the groceries for the dinner yet, but hey, I could spare a few minutes to look through approximately forty draw string tied Hefty bags of fabric couldn’t I ? OF COURSE I COULD!!

As I read this e mail to my 10 year old over our usual chicken burritos at La Terraza she said. “Mommy, you have that look in your eyes again.” She thinks I have a problem. She’s probably right. I dropped the girls off at home after we finished our burritos and then headed to the theater. When I was let into the room with the fabric my jaw almost dropped. I was shown piles of bags and boxes of vintage patterns and asked to try to not make much noise because there was a matinee going on through the partition wall. Then the door closed and I was alone with a mountain of fabric and exactly forty minutes to go through it all because I had to get back for my dinner party and still go to the store. My hands were shaking as I tried to neatly go through the piles and tie up the bags neatly afterwards as I piled up linens, striped cotton knits and funky sixties and seventies prints. It was like a dream!

But what am I going to do with all of this fabric now???

On Fridays I go to estate sales and this is where I buy most of my vintage fabrics and craft supplies. I have a post about my estate sale shopping adventures here. Sometimes it’s just a wee bit morbid going to estate sales. Lily gets kind of creeped out going through old people’s things so I don’t bring her anymore. Gigi loves it, but I worry she is going to end up an eccentric like me if I keep bringing her.

 I also find other cool things besides fabric. Like this past week I bought several rolls of sixties wall paper for two dollars. I can’t wait to make something with it! However, most of the time I don’t really find much, maybe a small bag of zippers and bias binding, or some wooden embroidery hoops. 

This past Friday I was in a house and there was a bag of embroidery stuff for sale. There was a beautiful embroidery project still in it’s hoop that was almost finished, except for one letter that hadn’t been embroidered. It said, “Families Are Forever.” I thought about the old woman lovingly made it  and now her unfinished project was lying there at her estate sale. I picked it up to buy it so I could finish the embroidery for her, but there was a big stain on it. So I didn’t. But I really felt for her.

I figured it’s about time I share some of my vintage fabric goodness with the world at large and so I’m starting to sell little things to make and put in my Etsy shop which isn’t up and running yet, and I have two craft fairs coming up. Just taking the pictures themselves and writing all of the details is so time consuming, almost more than making everything!

Here are a  few things I made this week with some of my vintage fabrics. And lots more in the making!

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  1. amy mayen says

    Oh my gosh! My hands were vicariously shaking too as I read about your forty bags of fabric!! Cute sewing too! I’ve not had much luck at shows, but I’ve only done 2. I’m betting you will have an amazing display:)

    How neat, I’m opening my etsy shop too. I’ve had it for a year & never opened it. I’m selling off ugly patterns that I couldn’t bear to toss. I’m so freaked out about pricing, because I really just want to get rid of them. I can’t wait to see your shop:)

    Your fabric banner will look cute at your craft show! Be sure to wear a vintage blouse to advertise. Good luck in all your endeavors!

  2. Bethany says

    These are adorable! Justine, you lucked out on this! The hoarder in me wants it all! Hahahaha! I love the little dresses so much, and that bunting – adorable!

  3. Another Sewing Scientist says

    I’ve gotten most of my best fabric at charity shops and estate sales. I know exactly what you mean about feeling a bit creepy when estate sale shopping: Because I work 9-5, I don’t usually get a chance to visit an estate sale until the end of the day, so usually it’s quiet and respectful. However, once I arrived at door opening time, and I was shocked to see how pushy-shovey everybody was! I wanted to tell them to have a little decorum since this woman had just died!