Saturday, June 30, 2007
You're driving and you see the signs: Estate Sale This Weekend. If you haven't hit that baby the first hour it opened, all you're gonna get a crack at buying is some old bedsheets and cake pans, which may have been the hottest items in the sale, anyway, in the the first hour. (There are always old bedsheets and cake pans.) You never know how picked over the sale already is before it even starts. Oftentimes, it isn't really an estate sale — you are not combing through the last earthly possessions of departed grandmother. It's a lotta dealers who've been to other estate sales and are reselling the stuff they've scooped up somewhere else.
So, knowing this, I stopped at the sale anyway, 2:30 pm, Saturday. It was at a home in a nice-but-not-over-the-top neighborhood off Walsh Tarlton. The yard was well-kept, but not fastidious and the exterior of the house was clean, not run down. Estate sales are the last event in the lifespan of a widow. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it's a widow. And more often than not, the last days of the lady's life were spent alone, with her home falling down around her in little moldy pieces.
Luckily, that was not the case with this home. As per usual, it had not been updated in a while. But it had that homey, lovely smell: inoffensive pet aromas, tinged with the perfume residue of laundry detergent. If I had a grandmother to visit, I would have wanted her to be this lady. I was there to look for the things I always look for at sales: patterns, fabric (even just scraps), and notions. Bingo. Closet of the one of the bedrooms, which likely had been the sewing room. It would have been easy to miss, unless you're a digger and hoarder. Only a little uncut yardage, and bags of scraps that had been grouped together by the ladies running the sale. Here's some of what I snagged:
bonded wool/acrylic in a kiwi green plaid (a fabric that hasn't been available in stores for a long time)
some small lengths of 36" cotton rose-print broadcloth (feels like Swiss cotton)
pieces of a pretty, deep coral plaid shift that had been cut out but never sewn, probably because the plaid was not matched
some outrageously cool 70s home dec
a rectangle of "craft" fabric with faux quilt squares of Sunbonnet Sue
a tie pattern from McCalls that I clearly remember my mother having in her pattern stash, copyright 1970
another tie pattern from McCalls that is supposed to be reversible, and convertible to wear as an ascot, copyright 1972
McCalls shoulder bag, copyright 1972
Butterick pattern for 70s casual hats
Kwik Sew pattern for a man's raglan sleeve t-shirt
Kwik Sew pattern for a man's pajamas
Kwik Sew pattern for ladies' tops made with tubular rib knit (KS patterns are from the 70s)
Simplicity pattern for a zip front, knit tennis shirt with a really, really big collar (copyright 1973)
Kwik Sew pattern for a complete set of kitchen accessories and some of the embroidery transfers still with the pattern pieces
A quick duck into the master bedroom did not yield much except for a most excellent, way early 1970s shift, made at home. It cost $1.
I whipped through the rest of the garments on the closet rod and identified several other home sewn garments because I had seen the fabric scraps from those projects in the other bedroom closet. This lady favored a simple sheath dress style with very few style lines, and none of the things she made were embellished or made to seem customized for her at all. She was active in a different era of sewing at home, not like now, with everything being completely tricked out. Anyway, I feel like I scored.