How I learned to love the 1970s aka Recent Sewing Finds

I'm a massive fan of charity shops and have a number of different shops I visit regularly. Often I leave empty handed because there is nothing worth buying. Sometimes I leave empty handed because I have resisted the temptation to buy more china. However I always keep going back, because I know that persistence pays off.

These days, the main things I am looking for are patterns, fabric or other sewing paraphernalia. Biscuit tin full of buttons? Yes please! Quite often you have to look extra hard for such things. Patterns tend to be in a box on the floor, perhaps under bookshelves, but usually out of the way. Fabric might be hanging with the duvet covers and bed linen. In the last week I have made some brilliant finds.

First of all, some fabric from the Cancer Research Charity Shop. It caught my eye immediately, and you can see why:

Somehow it looks even more vibrant in photographs than in real life! It is most definitely and unashamedly 70s. I would never usually choose to sew with man-made fabrics, and I don't like pinks and light purples. But I absolutely love this fabric. And I have 2.7 metres of it, all for £1.50. It made me think of something worn by the fabulous Vintage Vixen, who is a devotee of the 1970s, and charity shops. Incidentally,  I would thoroughly recommend perusing her blog to see her incredible outfits and finds.


I think they didn't know what to make of this fabric in the charity shop, having labelled it rather vaguely as 'a sheet of material' and stuck it on a hanger with the pastel 1980s duvets. Now what shall I make with it? Any ideas? I can visualise it as a maxi dress, but I wouldn't get much wear out of one. I am thinking perhaps a 1940s style dress, but I am going to need to have a think about the best pattern which will showcase, but not be overcome by, that vibrant pattern.

My next fabric find cost a whole £3.99 from the usually too-expensive 'Vintage' charity shop, and shamefully exposes my fabric snobbery. Here it is:

Do you like it? Please ignore the wrinkles. My first thought was 'a bit 1980s duvet-like' (you can see I have a fixation with 80s duvets). Do you know what changed my mind? The name on the selvage - Liberty of London. The pattern name is Tambourine.

Yes, once I saw that name, I had to buy it. I began to think about what I could make - perhaps a really full skirt with a wide waistband which uses the stripes horizontally, and then the skirt with them vertically. It is upholstery weight fabric so would only lend itself to specific clothing uses. Then again, I might save it until I've done that upholstery class I've been thinking about, and cover a chair with it.

But that's not all. I googled the fabric name, only to find that a piece of the same fabric is in the collection of the V&A. Wow. I'm pretty stunned. It was also designed in 1976. Shows what I know about design, eh? So, if I do make something, it will be museum worthy.

And finally, the patterns. I got 4 for 99p, except I ended up with 5 as someone before me had been through the bagged up patterns and switched them around. I came away with a couple of decent looking blouse patterns from the later 60s and early 70s:

And one hideous blouse pattern:

My freebie was this pattern which has been copied from the original - the instructions photocopied;

And the pattern meticulously reproduced in tissue paper. It was in a brown envelope, so didn't look like a proper pattern

And then this mid 70s pattern. I didn't even see it until I looked through the patterns properly when I got out of the shop. It's a Vogue Couturier pattern by Fabiani. I absolutely love it.

I really want to make this sleeveless version:

It has a pretend button front. Isn't it just gorgeous? I can picture it in some lovely crepe, for colder weather.

I think I feel a little giddy with all these finds. And I might just go back to that Barnardos again tomorrow..... just in case I missed anything else good.

K x


  1. OMG I am so jealous . I love both fabrics completely but the 2nd is a bargain for such an expensive label . I really need to start looking in charity shops asap :-))

  2. I'm stunned by your haul! Those fabrics are both absolutely wonderful (especially the first one) and the patterns are brilliant.
    You're right about having to look carefully, fabric and shawls are often mixed up with the bedlinen and patterns are all over the place. Peerservence pays off.
    I'd love to see that fabric made into a maxi but a sleeveless trapeze dress or high waisted midi skirt would both show it off beautifully. xxx
    PS Thanks for the kind words, you are a star.

  3. I NEVER find anything like that in my local charity shops, I'm so envious. I love that final pattern, please make that sleeveless version! x

  4. I like your blog and am a new follower !
    Take a look of my sewn items.


  5. Wow! What great finds! That floral fabric is really gorgeous. I love the idea of a 1940s dress. :) I have been embracing some 70s fashions, too, specifically the bohemian look. I am steadfastedly ignoring the velour/leisure suit/polyester nightmares I wore while I was young. *shudder*

  6. Love your charity shop finds - I agree sometimes looking in all wrong places for fabric can end up being the right place. I especially like the 1970s floral in purple. Looking forward to seeing more of your sewing.

  7. Just wondered if you've seen this guest post by Florence
    Your Beignet covered buttons are featured!!! x

  8. Thanks for all your comments - It's lovely to know that you are as excited by my finds as I am! Honestly though, you do have to look at a lot of old rubbish to find the gems.
    Jane, thanks for the link to the crafterhours blog - I hadn't seen that before!

  9. Those are seriously good finds. I find alot of fabric too in charity shops, and they usually just chuck them in, as you mentioned, with curtains.

    I have a 70's pattern book which I think you might like. I'll send you a pic of it, and let me know if you want it.

  10. Thanks Dibs, sounds intriguing. Maybe this time next year I'll be 'Me Made 1970s' style!

  11. Eeep, I'm drooling here! Those fabrics are amazing, even before I knew that one was Liberty! I was finding it hard to imagine that first fabric as anything other than a maxi but I think Vix has given some good ideas there, trapeze dress, lovely! Ohhhh, I'm so jealous, I feel the need to rush out and rummage but at's 9.30pm! xxx


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