Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some Recent Yard Sale Finds

I want to take a short break from my series on corset buying to share some of the awesome finds my husband and I have made at yard sales and estate sales recently.

Locally it's yard sale season again after a break due to extreme heat.  We've had a lot of luck in the last couple of weeks and mostly I just want to point and say, "Look at this cool stuff!"

First up, my husband went to an amazing estate sale of a woman who was obviously a big sewer.   He managed to buy me the most amazing sewing machine for a great price.

It's a Singer 401A, made in 1956 from the research I've done.  This photo was taken right after I got it, with no cleaning.  I was excited to discover it was in good working condition and really quite clean inside.  Over the last couple of weeks I've been working on cleaning it up and replacing the parts that need it.  I did some research on what maintenance it needed and discovered it probably just needed to be cleaned.  I wanted to avoid taking it apart because I'm afraid it'd never go back together again, and wanted to spare the expense of taking it to a professional unless I had to.

I've had a lot of luck cleaning it without taking it apart. The knobs that control the stitch type for the built in zigzag were frozen solid, but after lots of WD-40 and some industrious use of q-tips, they now move smoothly.  Everything I can reach has been cleaned and the old gunked up grease removed, new oil and grease applied.  It's very exciting.  I'd show you an "after" shot but it pretty much looks the same since I haven't really done anything to the outside.  I did have to order and replace two plastic spool pins, the rubber feet on the bottom, and got some more bobbins.  I haven't actually used it to make anything yet, but I'm so excited to try it on a corset because this is a tough little machine.  I think we've decided that the cabinet it came in needs too much refurbishing for our skills, so we'll probably end up giving it away somehow.

At the same estate sale, I also got a ton of thread, two large containers of buttons, a box of bias tape, and various other sewing odds and ends.  Plus a couple of nice old hats!  Estate sales are so great.

This past weekend there were a ton of yard sales, so my husband prodded me out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7AM and poured Red Bull down my throat until I could sort of function and we went to hit a LOT of sales.  None of them were all that amazing, but we found SOMETHING at many of them.

 I got some more sewing notions (for nearly free because the lady wanted someone who would put them to use and told me to take anything I wanted), some ugly but good quality bed sheets to use for mock-ups, several Nerf-type guns, some make-up, a curling iron, bed risers, etc.

I also got some cool steamy items.  I bought a lovely but torn brown and ivory lace skirt, a couple of nice hats, a purse with nice brass hardware I will repurpose, a clock to dismantle for gears, and some small decor items.  Also what I'm just going to call a vampire-killing stake although it's actually an antique tool of some sort.

My favorite find was a gorgeous vintage clutch purse with beaded embroidery of peacocks.  It is genuinely old and in great shape and was probably the only antique item in an otherwise boring sale.

Finally, to prove that you never know what you might find, here is a bi-plane clock made of clock parts that my husband found at a totally random sale.

So what's the weirdest thing you've ever found at a yard sale?  Best find?


  1. My grandmama had that same machine and you are correct, it is a real work-horse! She was a wiz with it too and could make just about anything, including a LOT of my clothing when I was small. :-)

  2. I have that machine, I love it! Enjoy!

  3. What a great sewing machine! I've been bitten by the old sewing machine bug lately (a White Rotary in a thrift store started mine) and a good resource I've found is www.quiltingboard.com. Nice helpful people and lots of fun machine work to read about.

    My best buy lately was another sewing machine-a Kenmore with a shuttle bobbin for $10. And it wasn't to hard to get it moving again either....

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