Monday, April 23, 2012

April Acquisitions - Part 2: Paper

Welcome to Part II of my April estate sale finds!

In my Part I post, I shared the fabric and trims I scored at my first successful estate sale. Here, in Part II, you'll get to have a peek at some paper-based goods I picked up.

Well, to start, I found a large grab-bag full of old stitching, sewing, and mostly knitting magazines, along with some pamphlets, and a couple books. The first thing I pulled out of the bag was this old Simplicity Sewing book. It's not quite as intense as my trusty Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but it looks like a good resource...and there are some fun pictures.

1970 Simplicity Sewing Book - why are those things pinned to the dress form--scissors?
I think I'd be ok if my sewing room looked like this...colorful and organized!

After pulling out the Simplicity book, the bag was still pretty full...

Now, when you see the next items I found in the bag, you may find yourself wondering... "I thought she didn't knit..." and, you'd be right, I don't -- BUT I plan to at least start to learn by the end of the year! And once I've learned, I plan to be unstoppable, so don't worry. But, in the meantime, just drool with me over these:

Just LOOK at these! I want to wear/make/be in all of them. (do excuse the crooked photo, please)
SO CUTE - and cozy. Can I please be her??
...or her, she'd do as well.

Ok, are you done? Have you wiped the drool off your chin? Good.

Here's a kitty picture, too...for good measure. (Don't worry, I kept him from doing any actual damage).

Duke: "I'm sorry, were you trying to do something here?...No? Ok, good. I was just going to do some rolling, kneading, and scratching on these GLORIOUS crinkly pages."

You may have thought that was the tops, but up next I've saved what I think is the best for last: PATTERNS! I was able to get a good handful of 'em, which felt awesome as I can never find good old patterns (and in a reasonable size for me) at yard sales or thrift stores, and hardly ever any at antique stores. I usually end up resorting to ebay and Etsy.

1973 and 1976 Stretch & Sew patterns
Tom? Want a cardigan thingy?
simple shell - for knits
Cute collar options for the simple Stretch & Sew shell - but really..."Dog Ear Collar" ??? Weird.

super awkward, tacky styling - knee socks? - but a cute blouse pattern...I won't even discuss the shorts (1980s?) & a cute 1979 circle skirt
collared tops for her (1975) & him (1972)
THE JACKPOT! 1960s separates and dresses

You may recognize the center one (my favorite!) in this last photo, McCall's 9458 (c.1968), from a recent post over on Kestrel Finds and Makes. I'd admired it when Kerry posted about it, but didn't even recognize it (pattern amnesia!) when I actually encountered it in real life at this estate sale. Luckily, I snatched it up regardless - I mean, who wouldn't?

Yay, tops! McCall's 9456

And, that concludes my show and tell!

I'm pretty pleased with what I purchased and feel like I really lucked out, but, like I mentioned earlier, this experience kind of left me with some mixed feelings.

Like I said before, this was my first real estate sale. When I was there, I managed to stay pretty objective about assessing items and determining what I ought to buy (I only bought patterns close to my size - not the entire box - and only grabbed one of the THREE trash bags full of misc. fabric). What sparked a bit of uneasiness for me, though, was, after I'd brought everything home, going through the grab-bag of misc. magazines/papers and finding that many of the papers were hand-written notes about knitting and patterns on little note pad pages and scraps of paper.

Seeing these little notes solidified for me that the things I'd bought weren't just some random possessions but were important to the woman who'd owned them. She'd thoughtfully tucked them away to be referred to later. They are truly the artifacts of a life spent making things for herself and her family.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've always loved yard sales, thrifting, and the act of digging through people's old stuff in general, but I've come to realize (some of you will be saying "duh" here) that estate sales like this are actually a bit different.

Yes, at estate sales you can find some really great items, but you're not digging through some stuff that the owner has actively decided he/she no longer wants; you're basically unceremoniously rifling through the artifacts of a person's life, about which they no longer have a say, to see if you can find anything "good."

I keep thinking about the idea that these were a woman's saved belongings that she'd purposely held onto over the years. I think her saving them for so long is what gets me. She kept these things because she thought they were important, for whatever reason...who am I to undermine that?

Now, don't worry, eye rolling is welcome, but I'm a person who feels a strong connection to things (in case you hadn't guessed), especially small, practical, everyday things -- overly sentimental, you might call it. It's part of why I'm so fascinated with vintage stuff and old objects, clothes--anything tangible.

I myself am somewhat of a saver of stuff, but on the other hand, I can't (and don't) save everything.
Do I really need all of the fabric or knitting patterns I brought home? Nope.
Was I absolutely in love with every single thing I got? No, not every single thing 100%.
Does it make me a little sad to admit that? Sure.
I just have to tell myself, this woman didn't absolutely love and treasure every single thing she held on to. ...Right? Yes (say yes).

I guess the message I want to get out there is this: I'm very appreciative of the things I got, though I feel a little uneasy about how/why I acquired them, and I'll be passing on the things I'm not in love with to someone who will appreciate them...and so, this woman's thoughtful saving, wont be for naught...and I can sleep at night.

Thanks for bearing with me as I rambled through that -- I feel like I could go on and on in a circle all day about this, but at least I've got my thoughts out there so they'll stop eating away at me.
I've already started a project using a pattern and some fabric from this estate sale, so that makes me feel a little better. More details on that in a bit. :)


  1. What lovely finds! Yep, still jealous :-). You certainly have plenty of material with which to learn how to knit!

    I can understand your mixed feelings regarding estate sales. (I try not to think about that but, I have.). I'm sure the previous owner would be pleased though that the items she kept are now in the hands of another seamstress who will put them to good use.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. That's what I keep telling myself :)

  2. I bought my first sewing book two weeks ago and it was... the Readers Digest one!!!!
    Glad to hear that its on of the best :)
    I've read some chapters, and it is really helpful to me :)
    Darn, where I can find estate sales in Australia...... ?

    1. Yay, Readers Digest!
      As for estate sales... I use Craigslist, is there something similar for Australia? If not, maybe look in the newspaper? Sorry, I'm not much help! :)

  3. A note on the knee socks: that was the proper styling for the era ( eewwww! I know - cringe!) I was there, and I swore I'd never wear anything but knee socks. Of course, times, and my tastes, have changed - thank goodness.

    And yes, these were someone's preserved possessions. Far better they should go on in the world than to end up in a landfill because her family didn't share her passion for sewing and knitting! You honor her memory by keeping some of her things in circulation!

  4. Lol! I get how you feel about estate sales! It makes you think doesn't it. After the last one my husband and I went to I promised myself that when I died my house would be full of great stuff so that my estate sale would be awesome!

    Only kidding - sorta.

    But I do save most of my knitting patterns and magazines, mostly just in case I have a granddaughter who might want them someday when the patterns come back in style. Personally, I don't attach guilt or emotion to this little collection of mine. If someone in the family wants them- awesome. If not, I do hope they'll go to an estate sale or thrift store where someone who appreciates them will find them. In my mind, it would be like finding treasure! It would, however, break my heart if these things were just thrown out without a second glance. I'm sure this woman would be happy knowing you enjoyed going through her stuff.

  5. Those patterns are adorbs. I think the feeling you're taking about comes from the fact that you're going through all of someones possessions. You're in their private spaces, and you've never met them. It's a funny feeling being in a strangers bedroom, almost like you're an intruder. On the other hand, that stuff (a lifetimes worth) needs to go somewhere. I'm sure it would be appreciated to know it's going to someone who'll also value them.

  6. You found some great stuff :) And don't stew over it too much, just do your best to enjoy :)

  7. Maybe think of it as you picking up where she left off. Giving new life & fresh possibilities to things that she once valued. To me that seems a way of honoring her.

    And the truth is, most things in antique shops are there because pickers got to the estate sales first -- and put a layer of anonymity, as well as a higher price tag, on the stuff of someone else's life. That may be a more comfortable way of acquiring it, but in a way, it's nice that you got to see firsthand what her life and home were about.

    p.s. nice to see Dukie!

    1. Thanks, Luanne. That's a good point. I was kind of thinking about the distance we get to enjoy while shopping at antique shops vs. estate shops it's not right in your face that there was an actual individual behind the item, who bought it and used it long before you ever laid eyes on the thing. I think I just wasn't quite mentally prepared for the reality of it!
      This was kind of a learning experience for me, so I think next time I'm at an estate sale, I'll look at things a bit differently. :)

  8. Lovely finds from the estate sale, I think I need to look into going to one too. The knitting patterns and the 1960s sewing patterns are wonderful and I'm sure having those knitting patterns around will work as excellent motivation for learning to knit.

  9. To echo what others have said, we helped an elderly uncle move house last year (auntie died the year before), and he was so happy that I wanted her wool, patterns and fabric. And buttons - amazing button collection. He knew I appreciated them.

  10. Glad it's not just me with pattern amnesia :) I think that 70s collared blouse is sweet too.

  11. Funny - I would think the fact that they are going to someone who has an interest in them would "do right" by the original owner. Better you than the landfill, right? In my old knitting guild there was a very strong sense though that you should have "craft friends" who know how to divide your stash in the event of your eventual demise. The idea being that they would be better equiped than a relative who may not have shared your interest.

    Also, I have several things in my knitting/sewing stash that I loved at the time of purchase. But, over time I don't really care for as much yet I hold on to them because I don't have someone who is worthy/interested/available to take them off my hands. So, perhaps the previous owner of your goodies was in a similar boat.

  12. I wrote a post recently (Here: about my luck scoring stuff on Craiglist and Kijiji and I'm going to start hitting estate sales soon. The way I look at it - ESPECIALLY in regards to sewing stuff - is that I think the previous owners would be thrilled to see someone using the stuff they collected over the years. I bought a dress form from a woman downsizing to a smaller home and she was so happy to see my excitement over something that gave her a lot of joy over the years. When we buy artifacts from someone's life, we are not only preventing it from going in the garbage, but we are keeping some part of their spirit with us. I have made a few dresses from the fabric stash of a woman who passed away, and whenever I am working on or wearing the dresses, I feel a profound sens of connection to this mystery woman, and to the long line of women who crafted before me. I think it's a powerful connection. One to keep in mind when all those jerks are elbowing each other savagely at the estate sale.


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