Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Some holiday charity shop finds

I love searching charity shops for any sewing relating finds, but I have come back empty handed from my recent trips to local charity shops. However, my luck changed when I ventured further afield whilst on holiday.

My first finds were a vintage pattern for £1, nearly 5m of black out lining for £5.50 and a scarf for £1.50 which I found whilst spending a few days in the Lake District. I’m not sure of the age of the pattern, but it is certainly pre-1971 as it is priced at 4/-. Although I don’t know if I will make the dress for myself, I love looking at the old instructions and seeing how things have changed.

The scarf design looked familiar (given my slight obsession with Liberty prints) and sure enough, there was a Liberty label on it. Unfortunately the previous owner of the scarf was obviously a smoker and there were no washing instructions on the label. I decided to risk a gentle handwash in cool water with a delicates detergent and looking at the water afterwards, I’m glad I did! I removed most of the water by rolling the scarf in a towel and then line dried it which got rid of the last of any smoky smell.

My second find was one that I thought I had missed. I first spotted this quilt block encyclopaedia for £4.99 in a shop at the end of August. At the time I decided not to get it, but then spent the next few weeks regretting the decision.  Knowing that we would be visiting again in September, I decided to leave it to fate and was delighted to find the book still in the shop on my second visit. I follow various blogs by Barbara Brackman and know that this book is now out of print and not easily available from UK-based sources. The illustrations are hand drawn and it is very much a reference book rather than one with complete quilt patterns, but with some modern technology (such as Touchdraw or Quiltography for the iPad) I’ll be able to try some virtual quilt designs using the blocks.

As I said at the start of this post, I struck lucky with these finds. You definitely need perseverance when hunting for sewing items (or any specific items) in charity shops. When visiting a town, I can easily check out half a dozen charity shops (or more) and come away empty handed, but occasionally I end up being in the right place at the right time.


  1. I love charity shop sewing finds! There's a few near me that sell patterns (although one cottoned on to the popularity of sewing and put them all out on display and now they're all gone!). I really love finding vintage sewing books - there's an Oxfam book store where I work, and I looked in there every time I went into town, and never found anything. Then suddenly, I starting finding something every time I went in there! I think I've got 5 or 6 from there now - got a couple of vintage dress making books last week, and an encyclopaedia of stitches :) your book looks great, and that scarf is lovely!

    1. I love the vintage dressmaking books, but you do have to not let yourself be distracted by the fashions and look just at the techniques. I spotted the high recommended Readers Digest sewing book in a charity shop in Devon last week for only £3. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got a copy a few years ago from a charity shop for £2.99, so that bargain is waiting for someone else to find it.
      [By the way, did you know you are no-reply blogger?]

  2. I know what you mean about coming away empty-handed. I've got better at that over the years because I now focus on what I really want or need. My house would be even more full than it already is otherwise!
    The problem with vintage sewing patterns is missing pieces. Shops have put up the prices, but often they don't check that the patterns are complete before putting them on sale - most frustrating!

    1. I can sympathise with the missing pattern pieces. I bought one pattern than contained only the tissue offcuts - there were no actual pattern pieces at all! It was only 50p so I just regarded it as a charity donation.

  3. Seems like your perseverance in hunting those items really paid off! Kudos to your intuition for taking you to the right place at the right time! That quilt is lovely, and looks like it could even give those brand new items a run for their money after you washed it. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

    Norman Watkins @ Giving Works eBay


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