Tag Archives: antiques

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I’ve been thinking for a while about this post.  If you’ve been following my blog for a long time or have looked through past posts and seen a Brimfield post or two (or three), you’ll know that I love antiques.  I’m not a collector of any particular thing, but I love items from the past that I can use in my everyday life.  I like a bargain and a little patina.  Wood, metal, glass, ceramic–those are the materials I like to look for, and many of them have been pressed into service for sewing.  Thanks to some special items from  family and friends as well as flea markets and roadside finds, I have some vintage sewing tools, but I also have some great storage solutions.  That is what I want to share with you today.  Maybe it will give you some ideas or maybe you have fun vintage storage solutions of your own that you’d like to share in the comments.

Let’s take a little tour of my sewing space.  I actually cleaned it up for you.  😉

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Here’s where I sew at one end of our living room.  Most of my tools and equipment have been gifts, freebies, or bargains.  The sewing table was my Mom’s and the chair belonged to my parents.  That cool old medical lamp was a side of the road find.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

It’s not very bright, but the head can be moved to direct light onto your project and you can make the lamp taller or shorter.

Here are a few more items I find useful.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

This is my fabric cabinet, found at a flea market.  Fabric is organized somewhat by color and somewhat by type.

Those are the big items, but I also have some very useful smaller organizers–wooden roast beef and cheese boxes.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Patterns go in the roast beef boxes…and tools (and other items like trim) go in the cheese boxes.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also use cheese boxes in the drawers of my sewing table for organization.  That’s actually where I keep my box of cutting tools.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Other great containers for storage include cigar boxes,

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

tins,

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

and really any old container that you like the look of and that will fit what you are trying to store.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

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Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also find old locker baskets useful, albeit somewhat pokey.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

For buttons and old, but beautiful spools of thread, I often employ glass canning jars, which look great whether they are vintage or new.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

And on my sewing table/desk, I’ve found that an old stamp holder (if it’s not too rusty) can be useful for holding thread and bobbins for your most recent projects.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

I also use this old shaving mug to hold binder clips for pattern pieces, mini clothes pins for my pattern instructions, and post-it tabs to help me keep my place in the instructions when I’m sewing.  This one features New Hampshire’s “Old Man of the Mountain” who fell off the mountain some time ago, so…I guess it’s even more special now?

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

Once you get started organizing with vintage containers, it’s not hard to follow that up with a few vintage notions.  Often people will give them to you if they are cleaning out and know you are interested.  I love having tools and notions that were loved in the past and knowing I can use and enjoy them and give them a second life.  It makes my own sewing that much more special.

Vintage Storage Solutions for Sewing

If you’re looking to add a little vintage flair to your sewing and/or your sewing organization, here are some of my sources.  I will tell you, though, that I’ve loved old things ever since I was little, so this collection of special odds and ends didn’t spring up overnight.  This is a great long-term hunt.  Patience will serve you well.

So, sources!  Number one for so many of these items has been family.  My parents and in-laws have often passed on things they weren’t using that I fell in love with.  Once I started to sew and knit, family and friends also gave me tools from family members who had passed away, which was really special.

If you are near Boston’s North Shore, my favorite flea market is Todd Farm in Rowley, MA.  It’s open every Sunday morning from approximately Easter to Thanksgiving.  I like early-morning antiquing, so I go before church sometimes.  If you are within driving distance of western Massachusetts, I highly recommend Brimfield.  The prices there are not as good (in general) as a small, local flea market like Todd Farm, but the selection is unparalleled.

For cigar boxes, you can often buy them inexpensively (or sometimes get them for free) at cigar shops.  They may not be vintage, but they often have that vintage look regardless.  And consider using any containers that you find useful and beautiful like clean jars or tubs from food or other items.

I also suggest yard sales, side-of-the-road freebies, thrift stores, and super junky bargain antique stores.

Of course all of this takes time, but I love the thrill of the hunt and the opportunity to use things with a history.  If you have any great tips for organizing or sewing with vintage items OR great sources for finding said items, tell me in the comments!

Recommendations

  • Have you seen the new “stickers” from the McCall Pattern Company for iOS?  It’s a free app with little sewing-related images that you can use on your phone (if you have an iPhone) or iPad.  They are super fun to text to your other sewing buddies.
  • So, here’s a website/blog that’s new to me, but could prove very helpful:  Shop the Garment District.  It’s about sewing and shopping for sewing goodies in New York City’s Garment District.  I heard about this site while listening to the Sew Forth Now podcast.  This is an old podcast that you can still listen to by Lori from the blog Girls in the Garden.  I’m finding some great resources through these.  Lori’s blog (which she is still posting to) is also a great source for sewing inspiration as she tries lots of different patterns and fabric.
  • Here is something I learned recently:  Everything is better with doodles.  😉

 

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City Mouse, Country Mouse: The Country

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After visiting friends and family near Detroit last month, we went and did the same on the other side of Michigan.  The area we stayed in was completely rural, and very beautiful.  I regret not photographing any of the rolling hills and corn and soybean fields, but since that would have involved stopping on the highway or sticking my camera out the window, you’ll just have to take in what I did manage to capture.  🙂  Let’s go on a tour of southwest Michigan!

In my book, summer must include some fruit-picking!  My parents took us to Lehman’s Orchard in Niles, MI to pick sour cherries and raspberries.  I’ve long wanted to make a real cherry pie from scratch, but I can never find fresh or frozen sour cherries where I live (and if I did, I’m sure they would be very pricey).  Sometimes I find them in jars and they cost way too much, so I’ve never bought them.  The cherries at this farm were a bargain and so easy to pick.  Look how beautiful they are!

Cherry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MIDid you every play Hi Ho Cherry-O?  I think these look just like the cherries in that game!

Cherry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MI

Once we picked them, we brought them to a little outbuilding and washed them.  Then they went through the cherry pitter!

Cherry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MI

We also picked raspberries.  My husband found one of the coolest sights that day on top of one of the raspberry rows:

Raspberry picking at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, MI

Baby birds!

We also visited Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles, MI.  One of the highlights was these stick houses.

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

And…since I was out in the country, I had to look into a new store that I had never seen before:  Rural King, in Niles, MI!  I don’t own any trucker hats, but I was kind of hoping to find one there that said “Rural King”.  I would definitely have worked that into my wardrobe!

Rural King in Niles, MI

This is a true farm store.  I got a lot of looks when I walked in mainly because, although I was dressed very casually, it was clear I hadn’t just come off the farm.

Rural King has many cool offerings, like

Rural King in Niles, MIwork clothes,

Rural King in Niles, MIsparkly belts (this picture does not do the sparkles justice),

Rural King in Niles, MI

and baby chicks!

Along with farm and food stuff, I also love antiques, so I peeked into many an antique store.  Luckily for my wallet and limited storage space, I didn’t buy anything beyond that dress in Detroit, but how awesome/crazy would it have been if I could have bought THIS?

Picker's Paradise in Niles, MI

Doesn’t everyone need a mirror with taxidermy squirrels on it?  “Only” $325!  Or how about THIS to hold your rings and bracelets?

Picker's Paradise in Niles, MIA raccoon arm!  Yeah, that didn’t come home with me either, but not because I wasn’t tempted!  These were both from a booth in Picker’s Paradise in Niles, MI, which was a pretty great store.  All the other booths were much more normal, I promise.

During our visit, we went to Lake Michigan several times.  I love Lake Michigan.  It’s like the ocean, only with fresh water and no scary creatures.  We visited both St. Joseph, MI and Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, MI.

When we went to St. Joseph, it was for the day.  They have beautiful Silver Beach, with bathrooms, a snack shack, and a playground.  The town also has a children’s museum, carousel, Silver Beach Pizza, the coolest splash park ever, and lots of cute shops you can visit.  It’s busy on the weekends, but really fun.

St. Joseph, MI on Lake Michigan

Sunset view of Lake Michigan from the pier in St. Joseph, MI

Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor is just over the channel from Silver Beach, but is much less built up and more naturalistic.  Like Silver Beach, it also has bathrooms, a snack shack and a playground, but is much quieter.  We had fun swimming and looking for rocks with fossils on them.

Jean Klok Park, Benton Harbor, MI

The beach at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, MI

We ate a lot of good food on this trip.  So, my burger recommendation from the west side goes to Laura’s Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI.  We’re staying rural, here, so this is out in the middle of cornfields.  It’s a beautiful drive.

Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI

The burgers here are huge!  There are many fun options (as well as things besides burgers), and seating is in the open at picnic tables spread out under the trees and sky.

Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI

Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur, MI

May I also humbly suggest that after you have finished your burger, you might want to drive a minute down the road to get your after-dinner ice cream at the Hayloft?  I think you won’t be disappointed.  🙂

And now, for you sewing fans out there, the west side fabric report.  As I mentioned in the last post, before this trip, I did my research about good fabric stores near where I was going to be staying and found this great list from Rae Hoekstra of the blog made by RAE.  By her recommendation, I visited Field’s FABRICS in Kalamazoo, MI.

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

Field’s is an excellent fabric store that I highly recommend (and now really want to visit again).  For all the lucky western Michigan people, there are several locations.  Field’s is probably as big as Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, MI, but has a very different feel.

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

It didn’t hurt that there were some serious sales on.  I came away with a stretchy fleece from Malden Mills (smooth outside, fleece inside) and a cool red/purple chambray that I want to say is Robert Kaufman (although I’m not 100% sure).  Sadly, I can’t find these on their website to link to.

Field's Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI

I may actually deserve an award for this fabric trip.  I had only 45 minutes to shop this whole, amazing store and, cutting time excluded, I totally did it!  My husband laughed when I told him I would only have that much time (after I spent two hours shopping at Haberman Fabrics, can you blame him?).  I did it, though!  I also tried to convince the lady who cut my fabric that they needed to open a Massachusetts branch, but she didn’t go for it.  That’s sad, but I’m recovering.

Lastly, although I didn’t photograph it, I went to Hancock Fabrics in Mishawaka, IN.  I hear people say they get things there and since we have Joann, but not Hancock, I thought I would check it out.  I think there was a sale on at nearly every store I hit on this trip (awesome!), and it was no different here.

Hancock Fabric in Mishawaka, IN

I got a pink and white cotton gingham (can’t find the fabric to link to, but it’s 100% cotton with a quarter inch check) and a cotton stretch sateen suiting in super-fun colors.  I can definitely envision a skirt (the suiting) and shirt (the gingham) out of these, maybe even worn together.  My mother wasn’t so sure about that combination, but if those garments ever materialize out of this fabric, I think that I can convince her.  If not, I’ll wear it anyway!  😉

So that was my trip!  We got seriously spoiled, ate so much good food, and had a wonderful time with friends and family.  Thanks to everyone who made our trip really special.  And readers, I hope you get a chance to check out some of these places if you are ever in southwest Michigan.  It’s a beautiful and friendly place to visit.

 

The Brimfield Report, May 2015

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A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

 

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any significant amount of time, you’ve probably heard me mention The Brimfield Antique Show.  For newcomers out there, The Brimfield Antique Show is the largest outdoor antique show/flea market in the U.S.  It runs from a Tuesday to a Sunday three times a year in May, July, and September.  This amazing explosion of antiques takes place in the small town of Brimfield, MA, just a bit west of Sturbridge.

Brimfield is a showground for the old, the common, the unique, and the just plain weird.  It’s a mix of antiques, raw materials for creation, junk, and true artistry in the way of upcycling and re-creation.  As a person who loves a deal and a treasure hunt, it’s irresistible.  A good chunk of any Christmas money I get goes into the “Antiques Fund” in the hopes of a trip to Brimfield.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I go for the fun of the hunt and the possibility that I might find unique treasures to use in my home or cool gifts for others.  Each show, I decide if I want to try to “see it all” (or at least walk through every field–you can never really see it all), or focus on going slowly through favorite fields.  This year, my best Brimfield buddy and I went the slow route and hit our favorites:  Quaker Acres, New England Motel, The Meadows, and a bit of Hertan’s, Brimfield Barn, Central Park, and Mahogany Ridge.  The various fields stretch back on each side of a one mile stretch of road and have, as you can see, rather unique names.  This may make it seem like we looked through a lot, but I bet we didn’t even get through half of all there was to see.

Want to look through some of our finds?  Let’s start with some of the weirder stuff:

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Need some extra teeth?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

How about a fully stocked dental cabinet?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Maybe you’re looking for an alligator (foot) change purse?  We saw about a billion alligator purses, some with heads attached that you could have used with this baby.  You may be surprised to hear that I didn’t buy it.  😉

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

We also found some super cute kitsch, like these owl scissors from Diane at ferdinandhome.

Not only did she have owls, she had something that reminded me of my wardrobe…

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Check out this sheet!  It almost matches my shirt (which I made from a sheet).

In fact, we found a lot of great fashion at Brimfield.  I took fewer pictures than usual because I got so caught up in everything, but here are a few fun finds.  My friend Jo-Alice and I think it’s time to bring great hats back.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

These look perfect for next winter.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Or maybe you need some cool gear for your motorcycle or bike rides?

Because you never know what you might see at Brimfield, the last time I went with my husband, we created our own game of Brimfield Bingo.  We came up with whatever wild and crazy things we thought we might see or that we would be surprised to see and made a checklist.  Jo-Alice and I did the same thing.  I had a hard time keeping everything in mind because I started to get mesmerized by all the treasures, but Jo-Alice was a pro.  Here’s our list:

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

We found everything but #8 and our bonus.  Pretty good!  Brimfield Bingo is still in its early stages.  Should there be a prize?  Actually finding this stuff feels like a prize in and of itself, but I’ll take suggestions.

Here’s our non-traditional bike (#5):

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I think it folds up!  I tried to convince my husband that this was the kind of “new” bike he should get when his old one died, but somehow, he didn’t go for it.  Oh, well.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

Maybe we should have put a hot air balloon basket on our list!

Speaking of baskets, check out these beauties!

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

This shop was owned by Robert Markey of Christiby’s and was filled with gorgeous baskets, wool blankets, and all the things you’d love to see in your dream cabin or hunting lodge.

Check out these gloves.  They are so beautiful.  Can you imagine how much work it would have been to add all those beads?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I always love the kitchen and home stuff at Brimfield, too. Here’s a nice selection of Catherineholm pots.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I also found this cool shaving mug (I originally thought it was some kind of tea cup) with a picture of “The Old Man of the Mountain“.  Sadly, the Old Man fell off the mountain a few years back, but now we have a picture of him!  I got this for my husband.

Unfortunately, it won’t work with his shaving supplies after all, but maybe it should hold a succulent and an air plant.  What do you think?

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

We always love to look through the printmaking blocks.  I think these were used to make saris.  Jo-Alice uses them to make impressions in clay.

So, what did I get in the end?  Not a lot of quantity, but some fun stuff, nevertheless.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I got this shirt.  I love the floral print.

A trip to Brimfield with Pattern and Branch

I also got some clip-on earrings and a necklace for me, as well as the shaving mug for my husband (which is mine now 😉  ), and a sweet bug book and two handkerchiefs for my girls.

I’d say it was a successful trip.  We walked for 10 hours (minus maybe 15 minutes when we sat down for a snack and some water), found a billion treasures, learned new things, and ate good food.  It was an education, as always, and a ton of fun.

 

Field Trip: BRIMFIELD!

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I have LOTS of pictures to share with you today.  I’m very excited.   After being sick last week, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t recover in time, but by the time Friday rolled around, I was fully healthy and ready to go on one of my favorite yearly pilgrimages (with my favorite antiquing buddy) to Brimfield, Massachusetts and the largest outdoor antique show in the US.

I need to hold myself back a little so I don’t write and write for pages on how much I love going to Brimfield, so I’ll try to keep to a few points.  (I have an entire notebook dedicated to Brimfield where I make notes on favorite fields, collect sellers’ cards, and note where to park and what to wear, etc., etc.)  Here are the basic details:  The show is three times a year (May, July, and September) from a Tuesday to a Sunday.  People come from all over the US and even other countries to find antiques, treasures, and “upcycled” goods made from odds and ends.  If you’re looking for something in that realm, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find it at Brimfield.  The Brimfield Antique Show is made up of numerous fields on either side of a one mile stretch of road.  Each field has scores of dealers.  Some fields are open every day of the show and some are only open on certain days.  You can walk all day long and, depending on your pace, still not see everything.  My record is 12 hours of walking (with breaks–let’s be realistic–walking all day allows you to eat like a Hobbit).  Friday we covered about 9 miles and walked about 10 hours.  We saw almost everything (if that’s even really possible).

Enough talking, though.  Let’s see some pictures.  One of my goals this year was to take ‘lots of pictures, so here’s your photo tour of the May 2014 Brimfield Show.

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

If you’re looking to outfit your sweet loft with large-scale coolness, look no further.

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

Along with vintage goods, we came across the work of some seriously creative and fabulous craftsmen.

 

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

Everyone needs a pink hair dryer for a rainy day, right? (Plus, check out the cool coral necklace I scored for only $10! One of the other dealers told me it was worth $150.)

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

 

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

Can you imagine the time and skill it takes to carve something like this?

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

 

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

There’s plenty to decorate the outside of your place as well as the inside.

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

 

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

Brimfield’s not all about the shopping…it’s also an education.

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

 

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

And my biggest purchase at Brimfield…….?????

The motorcycle jacket of course!  Did you think I got a motorcycle?

At Brimfield Antique Show with Pattern and Branch

My friend Jo-Alice and I took a well-earned trip to Cracker Barrel after “hiking” through the wild and rainy antique fields of western MA all day.

My total haul for the day included the coral necklace you saw, a three-strand aurora borealis crystal necklace (Also $10.  Yes!), a large and healthy rosemary plant, a test tube rack and some test tubes to use as vases, my awesome motorcycle jacket (which I am wearing as I write this), and a secret stocking stuffer for my husband.  It may have been the best Brimfield yet.  Good company, good weather even with the rain, great finds, and lots of good pictures.  All in all a great trip.

Have you ever been to Brimfield?  Do you plan to go?  Have any tips to share with others or questions to ask?  I’ll do my best to answer!