Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spooky Basket: One Person's Junk...

Besides spending time with my clan, one of my favorite things about visiting my hometown is the sheer amount of seamstress-y treasures one can find in some of the thrift stores.
It usually isn't a bountiful catch, as far as sewing related goodies goes... but this time was different.
This time I hit the mother load, and I'm oh so excited to show it off. Of course, I would be remiss if didn't include the explanation of their uses, for those that wonder why and how...

So lets get on with it, shall we? I bought the two bundle of goodies from my favorite thrift store, as I never fail to find something I absolutely treasure; like vintage and new sewing books!

The Singer Skirt Marker

As you might've guessed from the name, this tall drink of water is used to mark hems around pants or skirts precisely, when no one is around to lend you a hand or when simply grabbing a regular ruler and marking out is just not enough to even out an uneven hemline. The ones made today are made of plastic and very often break after enough use. The vintage ones (70's and down), however, had a heavy metal base and a wooden yard/meter stick with a powder puffer attached to it... they are still going strong, and are far more coveted than the "updates". As such, on ebay/etsy they average about $15.00 to $30.00, depending on how complete they are-- powder puffer and box is what is usually missing.
I found mine complete for $1.00!

The Sleeve Board

Once again, an obvious one as I'm sure many momma's had it in the laundry room. Identical use to the seam sausage (or seam roll as it is commonly known), this tool is used to iron or press tricky long things like sleeves and pant legs. Wooden or professional sleeve boards are used with both sides; one side is smaller than the other; the wider side for pants, the narrow for sleeves. Unlike the seam sausage, however, it creates a flat press or ironed crease (like the ones in the front part of dress pants), so it's not quite as handy to press the cuff of puff sleeves for example. The regular house hold ones are made of metal and fold up, so they don't have the two varying sides to them.
Mine was purchased incomplete and a little on the dirty side; it doesn't have the thermal covering pads they usually come with, but I can sew those easily. I paid just $1.00, when they average about the same as the skirt marker on ebay and etsy.

The Clapper

This device comes in two kinds, one with a point press (as you can see by my old one), and the one shown above. The one and only purpose it serves is to reduce bulk in seams, such as in the sewing of coats and jackets. The seam is steamed, and then this is quickly applied on top of the seam with a bit of pressure-- in light to medium fabrics, it helps to make the piece as flat as a piece of paper. The points on the ones with a point press are used to press out tricky pointy corners, such as those found in collars. Averaging price is once again as the items above, I purchased mine for merely 50 cents; it was a little damaged, which my dearest younger brother sanded away for me. Now it's good as new!

Tailor's board

The gem of my haul-- this is a tailor's board. Before this, I owned the so-called "new and improved" Dritz tailor board, which receives a thumbs down from me (review here). A tailor's board is used to press awkward seams-- like it says, simply fit the seam to any of its various points and curves. I primarily use a tailor's board to press princess seams, as the top curve has just the right amount of bowing for the purpose.
This also has a point, just like a point press clapper-- so it's redundant to own both for that sole use, but you'd never just buy a tailor's board for a singular and specific purpose as that. They're terribly pricey, retailing about $50 and averaging $20 to $60 on etsy and ebay... it's not easy to get your hands on one that is cheaper, so when I saw this selling for 50 cents... I almost puked rainbows of happiness.

Vintage Pincushion

This one need no explanation, as it's the proverbial symbol that equates to sewing, but the sheer uniqueness of it warrants a singular mention; the pincushion. But this ain't no regular pincushion...
Because of the antique nature of this item, it's hard to find even an average of how much it would actually sell for. Anything similar ranges from $30 to as much as $100... but I didn't even pay $10, nope. I paid 75 cents-- and it even has the thread conditioner wax still intact! It was missing a couple pegs, which I and my youngest brother fixed and replaced... can you tell which ones? Heh.

Styling Curve (Vary form)

This handy ruler is especially useful for the drafting process, such as creating even curves on special long seams, such as those in the bodices of dresses from armhole to hip.
I purchased a large one during my early Christmas binge during black Friday. But this one is longer, and was a lot cheaper too; 75 cents as opposed to whatever discounted price I got the other one for (I think $7... I can't recall).

Loop Turner & Wrist Pincushion

The wrist pincushion is once again one of those self explanatory things, but the loop turner sometimes confuses beginners. The slender shape is used to feed through strips of sewn fabric, and the hook at the end latches onto the other side. You then pull the loop at the one end to turn the strip right side out-- very handy with strips that are too small to flip on your own, such as the creation of spaghetti straps. These are cheap to purchase new, but still not as cheap as 50 and 25 cents.

Well, that concludes any necessary explanations; the rest of the goodies speak for themselves

One of three sewing books I purchased for a measly $1.00 a piece (other two are still on their way in packages I mailed to myself), I think this was the rarest of the 3. Though not that rare, it's still hard to find for less than $30.00. Definitely not one for beginners, despite what the title may entail.
It is a wealth of information for such a thin book-- it's certainly a good start when you're endeavoring into flat pattern drafting for the first time (I would say an intermediate to advanced sewist will understand how to use this book). Mine even came with the original ruler, which isn't easy at all to obtain.

Another few items I relished in digging through was the myriad of patterns they had for 25 cents a pop. I found the sewing room accessory one I've been coveting; it isn't vintage, but is out of print. I also found an actual vintage one; I got it because it just oozed vintage charm. Best of all, they're all complete, albeit in a little rough condition.

I don't think the people pricing these items knew what they were selling, or I think they might've charged more... I guess that is what makes it my favorite thrift store! Heheh-- I never leave empty handed, or in the least bit broke.


It came along with my bundle of goods sent to me from back home, and it includes another of the three books I found at the thrift store that is a for real gem for the beginner pattern drafter. This one is the real deal, here. This one is my favorite of all time

Crazy that my copy once again came fully complete. It has instructions for many basic patterns offered in a way that is easy to follow and produces a fine sloper.

What was the greatest treasure you've bought or found?


  1. Wow, I have heard of the skirt marker but I didn't know that was what it was when I saw the picture! That would be great for someone like me that does not have another sewer in the house! I had no idea what the other things were (except the pincushions and book, obviously :P )And you got all those things so cheap! What great finds! Some of my local op shops are getting stuck up and putting huge prices on things now, it is rather offputting. Luckily the ladies don't always know the value of things and will sometimes sell a designer skirt for $7 while pricing some hideous no name polyester jacket they personally thought pretty at $50!

    I have a great vintage pattern bought on eBay or Etsy, I forget which, One of my friends made me the most awesome dress and herself a blouse out of it! I will put up pictures soon!

    How nice your brother fixed things for you! I am very disappointed my brother shows no inclination to learn to make things so he can make me Steampunk things! :P Is this the big little brother that was pictured with you in the Insomniac's blog?

    1. The kind of shop I went to has a lot of little old ladies running it as well, though if they were sewers I don't think their pricing would've been so light handed lol
      They do the exact same thing with some of their clothing!

      I hope to see the dress soon! I love love love vintage patterns made in modern fabrics.

      Yes, my younger brother and I are both very creatively inclined-- he is the big little brother from Insomniac's blog! =D

  2. Wow! That's lots of fantastic thrift finds! That loop turner looks very clever.

    1. It is, I almost threw up rainbows of joy... it's a once in a life time haul. hehe

  3. That vintage pin cushion is gorgeous! Makes me think of trying to make one for myself.

    1. It makes top 5 favorites from this haul-- I haven't seen anything quite like it!

      I was on the verge of making pincushions myself... I don't know why, it's not like I'm ever short of them lol


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