Stepping Back in Time


There is something about antiques and items from yesteryear that draw me in, be it a faded table runner or quilt, old washtub, or glass medicine bottle.


Items from my mom’s sewing box.

When I was a child, my mother loved to go to antique stores. I always grumbled and groaned, as antiques were far from what I was interested in at the time (toys, candy, and animals).

But, it turns out I am my mother’s daughter. As an adult, I enjoy poking around antique stores, looking at jugs and crates, wooden furniture, and steamer trunks. I love holding items in my hands and thinking about their use 50, 100, or more, years ago. It brings history to life.

The same goes for older sewing items. Last weekend I visited my mother, and we went through her sewing box. She has thread on wooden spools stamped for sale for 15 cents, decades-old embroidery needles, and an antique tape measure of my grandmother’s. It was special to see and feel sewing items older than me, used by generations of family.    

But I also have a flair for the modern. I love the latest fabrics, in fantastic colors and exciting new prints. I’m drawn to the aesthetic of modern quilt projects, too. I’ll always feel the pull of more traditional, vintage looks, but my eye is equally drawn to the latest styles, patterns, and bold colors.

If you’re looking to be inspired by contemporary quilting, the Modern Patchwork Winter 2014 issue hits the newsstand Nov. 12. There are sections featuring kitchen and dining items, wall quilts, small projects, and more. You can pre-order the magazine here.

What about you? Are you drawn to traditional or modern quilting or sewing patterns? Or both? Do you have some neat antique sewing items with a long or storied past? What about vintage fabrics? I can’t wait to hear. 




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Sew Daily Blog
Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

3 thoughts on “Stepping Back in Time

  1. At age 71, Inspired by the birth of my first two grandchildren (girls), I have begun sewing with a passion–first time since I was a newly-wed and had to make my own clothes. I am attracted to everything vintage and retro,( books, recipes, jewelry, toys,) so it is only natural that I now have filled an entire room with vintage materials, patterns, lace, embroidery and other people’s unfinished projects–all found in thrift shops, church sales, estate sales and my late mother’s incredible stashes from her seamstress days. I love having my Mother’s thimble, and was thrilled to find in a thrift shop in the mtns. of N.C. a 25 cent pattern from many years ago with the dress already cut out and still pinned to the pattern. It was my first project and turned out so well (my daughter is wearing it) that it lit my fire. Most recently I found for $25 a hand-smocked white cotton baby’s dress that was still waiting for someone to sew up the dress. That was in July and since then, I have completed a dozen or so projects, mostly little girl clothes, of course. Designing the clothing using repurposed materials is the part I like best. Currently, I am making reversible pillowcase dresses that are just too cute–one side is modern, the other retro or a bit Victorian. I would love to market my creations when I get enough but don’t really know if there is a feasible market
    . Anyway, I so relate to what you are saying. When I touch my rare books from the 1800’s, chills practically run up my spine, and now the same thing happens when I handle old materials and patterns! I will be following you!!!

  2. I, as well, enjoy rummaging through second hand stores and antique shops to decorate my craft/sewing room. Mid-century items from the 50’s to the 70’s speak to me. You will find framed pattern envelopes from that era on my walls, a fabulous framed piece of abstract fabric from the 50’s that most likely was used for curtains, an embroidered piece that adorned our bedroom wall as children, a stellar thrift store find of a blond wood corner table and a couple of 1960’s desk lamps, amongst various ceramic pieces. It is a comfortable retreat from the energy of today that really brings out my creative juices. I also enjoy searching out vintage fabric pieces to sew into something useful that I can touch everyday, so that I may enjoy that memory of the past.

  3. Hi Abby and thanks for sharing!
    I have what I believe is the “ultimate” vintage fabric in my stash….a curtain panel with reproductions of Grandma Moses’ (Anna Mary Robertson 1860 to 1861) on it!
    As an artist and a quilter I was floored when my friend gave it to me.! WOW!
    In 1997 he rescued it from a trash bin at an old hotel where he worked.
    I have studied this pristine vintage fabric (about 30″x70″) many times and considered re-purposing it for some home decor items or a wall quilt project but, I can’t bring myself to cut it up. It’s just far too special just the way it is I think.
    Susan @ the Grand Canyon