When Roslyn asked me to contribute to her Back to Sewing Basics Series to share with her readers my tips and tricks for buying Vintage sewing related goodies, I was more than happy to oblige. If you're familiar with Cass Can Sew, you'll already know of my addictions to all things vintage! I could go on and on and on all day about gorgeous vintage fabrics, patterns and the likes!
There are quite a few different ways that you can source vintage sewing items.
- Op Shops & 2nd Hand Stores
- Garage / Yard Sales
- Church Jumble Sales
- Vintage Online Stores
- or by raiding your parents/grandparents linen closets!
My favourite way would have to be scouring my favourite Op Shops, Gargage Sales & Jumble Sales. There's nothing like walking into your local Oppy and discovering gorgeous vintage fabric remnants, a metre or two of lovely fine lace or that perfect sweet little pattern from the 1960's.
Here's a few of my favourite tips when searching Op Shops, Garage Sales & Jumble Sales for those Vintage Sewing treasures.
Try looking for smaller Op shops...
As we all know, the big oppy's/charities have become really over priced! Although you can sometimes still snap up a nice little bargain, it's often cheaper now to buy a brand new shirt from a retailer than it is to purchase from a charity. The two Op shops that I visit on a regular basis & always seem to come out with something great and at a reasonable thrifted price, are charities for animal welfare.
Small country town Oppy's are a treasure trove! These quaint little op shops will almost always have much more vintage for you to drool over! And will be far less expensive!!!
I go straight to the crafting section. Since I'm a sew-a-holic... the craft section is where I head to first up. I look through all the patterns, you never know what's hiding unless you delve into it properly! Then I search the fabrics, then I head to manchester section and keep an eye out for lovely vintage sheets, pillowcases, tea towels, tablecloths & doilies.
Get to know your local op shop volunteers. They love to chat. I've found that if I get chatting to them about sewing, they sometimes will mention that they have something that you may be after at home and that they'll bring it in the next time they are rostered on. They also sometimes have goodies waiting out the back, just waiting for you to snap up... so I often ask if they have any new items that I may like.
A few extra tips...
When searching for Vintage Patterns...
Check the Contents of Vintage Patterns. When finding vintage patterns, I learnt very quickly to check and make sure that all the pieces of the pattern are there. There's nothing worse than getting all excited about making that cute little apron dress, to find that you are missing the main piece of the pattern!
Sizing. Most vintage patterns were published in individual sizes. If you spot a pattern that you love, that you actually plan on sewing (and not just hoarding it for it's loveliness), make sure that you have the correct size. You can usually find the size towards the top of the front side of the packet.
Another word on sizing. The measurements for sizing on vintage patterns often differ to the sizing charts of today. It's best to have a little read of the measurements table that's printed on the back of the pattern packet.
Vintage Sewing books are a wealth of knowledge! Don't forget to search through the book section of your local op shop for wonderful sewing books and magazines. Many of these get right back to basics and can teach you all about drafting your own patterns. You may even learn some traditional sewing skills as well!
When searching for Vintage Fabrics...
When you come across a lovely vintage fabric, you'll often find it rolled up and secured with twine or a rubber band. Take the time to unravel the fabric to make sure that it is in one piece. A few times now I have been in a hurry and not done this, only to get home and find that the fabric would be better used for scraps!
The same scenario as above goes for searching for that perfect vintage sheet to use for your next sewing project. Have a good look at the sheet for wear and tear. Fading is often an issue when you come across a vintage sheet, so be sure to checkout the condition before purchasing.
A little word about notions...
Often times, buttons can be found at op shops, tucked away in jars under the glass cabinets at the counter. But sometimes they aren't so easy to find. I know that my local Op Shop keep a jar of buttons out the back. They'll often take the buttons from garments that aren't fit for selling. So if you can't spot the button stash, it always pays to ask the lovely volunteers.
Trims, ribbons & embellishments are more than often stored in shoe boxes or the likes within the vicinity of the fabrics section of an Op Shops. It's always worth having a good rummage through these boxes to see what treasures may be hiding there.
I hope this helps you all on your search for your own Vintage Sewing Treasures! I love ooh-ing & ahh-ing over others' fantastic finds. So please don't hesitate to stop by Cass Can Sew via Facebook or Twitter and share with me & our little crafty community, your best finds!
Thanks so much Cass! For many beginners, once you have bought your machine and a few essential tools, there is not much money left over to build a big fabric stash! Thrift shops are great to pick up vintage lovelies and garments for refashioning. Happy sewing, and don't forget to check out the rest of the Back To Sewing Basics series!