Scouring Estate Sales for Vintage Fabrics and Patterns


I  live on the North Shore of Long Island, N.Y, in a former summer colony turned commuter paradise, and the estate sales are out of this world. There's nothing I like better on a warm spring Saturday than driving the backroads of Centerport and Northport looking for tag sale signs that point me to my version of heaven. I have discovered that I am not the only woman in the world with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fabric. Others have come before me and I like to think that these women are smiling down on me as I look through their boxes of vintage patterns, often with factory folds still intact. I may never make them. They may not be, and often are not, my size. Is it a crime to spend a dime on this pleasure?


Pop-art poppies on linen drapes.

Watercolor florals on silk. Yum!

But my best and most unusual finds have been the fabrics. 

Sure, they may be a little musty, but it's nothing that a little cleaning can't take care of. Were the fabrics better back then? It sure seems that way!

My absolute gem finds have not been sewing store yardage from decades past. It's been the draperies! In particular, I found several full length panels of draperies that were to die for. One is a silk floral print, probably from the late 1950s. Another is a modern floral linen print from the late 1960s. These are not your big-box store draperies. These are custom-made babies that I would call couture, complete with silk lining, hand-sewing, the works.

They are the kind of draperies that can change your life.

I have yards and yards and I don't plan to use them for decorating. My creative mind takes a more fashion bend. We are talking a whole store full of handbags, dresses, and skirts. Enough fabric to supply a complete runway show. Yardage to power several sewing lounge classes. And definitely far more fabric than I could ever use. 

It's my own little brand of crazy that I keep and covet this fabric. Maybe I will use it all up in a gift-making frenzy. Maybe I will open a clothing store or sewing lounge, or start my own line. Or maybe I will just make one skirt and keep the rest on the shelf as fodder for dreams. I just like to look at it and think of all the things I could do. 

So much of sewing is about dreaming–dreaming what I will make is as much fun as making, if not more. 

If you have a stash of fabric like mine, check out the Sidewalk Sale in the Sew Daily Shop for plenty of ways to use it up!

Do you love to go to estate sales in search of vintage fabrics and patterns. Do tell!

Happy stitching!

 P.S. Don't miss our first live sewing webinar on June 19, featuring Stitch contributing editor Kevin Kosbab, demonstrating Patchwork Techniques & Design Details for the Perfect Custom Ottoman! Register today!



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About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

2 thoughts on “Scouring Estate Sales for Vintage Fabrics and Patterns

  1. I have lots of retro patterns. When my mother died, I made sure I took all of them so they would not get thrown out. Many are designer ones from Vogue circa 1960s, and still/now back in style!