Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Striped apron pattern from 1941 uses techniques found in Threads!

One of the beautiful aprons inherited by Betty Patton.

The Threads June/July issue (#161) featured an article about great techniques for sewing stripes, and the garment shown on the cover is a blue striped dress. One of our dedicated readers, Betty Patton from Portland, Oregon, wrote to tell us that the cover really got her attention because it reminded her so much of her grandmother’s aprons and the pattern Grandma used to make them. The pattern is from 1941, and all ten pattern pieces, as well as the instructions, were still in the pattern envelope.

When Betty’s mother died two years ago, Betty inherited many boxes containing two generations of sewing projects, fabrics, and all of the other assorted items we sewers accumulate. She found about a dozen of these aprons in all different colors. They had been made by her grandmother, and most of them were still brand new. There were even more that were only partially finished. She was kind enough to pass the aprons on to her many cousins so that they, too, could share in memories of their grandmother.

Now she has to decide what to do with the unfinished quilt tops, the tatting, the patterns for fagotted collars and cuffs from 1935, and her grandmother’s high school graduation dress from 1910!

Have you ever acquired sewing treasures from someone special? What did you do with them?


Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in


  1. user-2031649 | | #1

    I offered my Grandmoher's stash to the fashion archives of many colleges and univesities around the US. In 1996, I inherited 28 moving boxes of my Grandmother’s clothing, unfinished sewing projects (sadly no patterns, apparently she didn’t use them), vintage yardage, notions, still in-the-box stockings, hats, gloves, handbags, hair pins, darning, pounds of vintage buttons and an unworn, still in its tissue and store bag, complete with instructions, a custom ordered Spirella corset from 1936. Living in San Francisco and it’s dearth of vintage shops combined with the advent of eBay, I was able to sell-off most of it, with the exception of the corset, sewing notions and buttons. While I was researching the corset regarding any value and just to better educate myself, I learned of the many college and university Fashion Archives out there. And lo, Grandma’s work-of-the-devil-what-could she-have-possibly-been thinking-when-she-bought-it corset now has a new home and is available for study by fashion and costume students at the Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas. And her 1921 wedding coat? Because she traveled to Buffalo, bought the coat there, its tag says so and I have a photo of her in it taken at Front Park in Buffalo, NY – now resides with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. As for all those pounds of vintage buttons – taken by yet another archive for authentic repairs. But I kept her crocodile clutch. Nobody’s getting’ that.

  2. User avater
    sewembroiderygirl | | #2

    My grandmother sewed some but she liked to crochet more. She did encourage me in my sewing and one day gave me her mother's special thimble and case. I never met my great-grandmother but we shared a love of sewing. The thimble case is an acorn and is made of vegetable nut like the thimble. I've never seen one any better preserved nor have I seen any really compare to the workmanship except for one in the Smithsonian Institution. I now have a pretty good collection of thimbles but the one I value most is that one. Not because of the value of the set which is over a century old but because of the connection to a very special lady that I would love to have met. I would have loved to have her Singer treadle machine but unfortunately my grandmother gave it to my mother who gave it to charity while I was in college. I was crushed.

  3. copywriterMT | | #3

    I have so many memories of my Mother and Sisters and sewing, but, sadly, the physical remnants are long gone. I remember a deliciously silky navy blue lining in a tweed coat she made for me when I was five. I remember borrowing the neighbor's Featherweight machine to do buttonholes when I was in high school, and came up with 'changeable collars and cuffs' for menswear shirts. I remember my Sisters' pedal pushers and crop tops in the 60's... they must've worn out the pattern they made it so many times. Today I watch for vintage patterns and notions at yard sales and online, and have a small, useful collection of working machines (the slant 301 Singer is a current favorite for its smooth, even stitches). I will enjoy reading all the posts on this subject I'm sure.

  4. lincolngirl | | #4

    I inherited 4 items from my grandmother: an early electric Singer machine (black with gold embellishment (which sits in the crawl space of my house); a sterling silver thimble ( a keepsake since it is far too big for my hands); an ivory crochet hook (another keepsake since I don't crochet); and a box of English hand needles from about the 1930s and 40s (which I use). There's a large selection of sizes so I've never had to buy a needle in all the years I've been sewing. Every time I look at these items I'm reminded of Nan.

  5. LouKSews | | #5

    My mom hated anything old so I didn't inherit anything vintage from her, but I did purchase a large collection of vintage yo-yo's and a large collection of cathedral window blocks along with the "makings" of many more at an estate sale about 15 years ago. Knowing how much time and effort went into each of these, I took a square of off-white linen, used a wing needle to stitch an openwork border pattern around the outside, then attached 3 rows of the yo-yo's to make a table-topper. The cathedral window blocks are still waiting for me to finish, but someday I will, and I'll think about the creator of the already completed blocks as I do.

  6. momyperson | | #6

    I have my great Grandmothers Tatting shuttles. I was fortunate to learn from one of her daughters ( a great aunt ) how to tatt. I have made trim on my childrens clothing by making a chain of piquots and a double row for the crown of a bonnet. i have given lessons and still have a love for the art. It is dying very quickly. A friend that has since passed taught me how to use 2 shuttles or a ball of thread and a shuttle for a more dificult kpattern,. She used to make table sized doillies. I have never had that much patience.

  7. SuperiorLiz | | #7

    Elizabeth Higgins was born, lived her entire life, and died in Shropshire, England. Despite her parents not being wealthy she and her siblings all attended school and were literate. In the early 1800's, at the age of 12, she stitched a "Sampler" at school. So she was born around 1800. Her daughter was Harriet, her grandaughter was Mary, Mary had a daughter; Mollie, and I am Mollies only daughter. Now I have a daughter, and a grand daughter. So Elizabetth born @ 1800, Harriet born @ 1840, Mary born @ 1880, Mollie born @ 1920, Me born 1945, Mhari born 1975, and 'Baby Megan' born January 2011. Seven generations of us.
    The sampler is framed and hangs on my sitting room wall on a wall that gets no sunshine.
    Considering how many house moves, the bombing of Mary's home in London back in 1941, travelling to Canada, and all the rest, I do believe it is good for at least another two hundred years of passing down from mother to daughter. Amazingly only Elizabeth had sisters,; since then no generation has produced more than a single girl.

  8. User avater
    dewdrops | | #8

    My grandmother gave me a silver thimble that belonged to her that I will always treasure. She made most of her clothes and she saved scraps from her dresses that I have. I love to put small pieces in birthday cards for my brothers, who get a kick out of seeing the old prints again. My last big score was getting bags and bags of bridal gown scraps from a woman who had a bridal gown business for years. I am having a blast painting, dyeing, and embellishing with dupioni silk and alecon lace. I am in embellishment heaven!!

  9. LucyJane | | #9

    My mother was born in 1904 in Dayton, Ohio. She attended Catholic schools and every week they had sewing class. I inherrited a bag of her sewing, mending samples such as:
    how to make a sleeve cuff, all kinds of darning techniques,
    different hems finishes etc. And believe it or not she was
    12 years old. I had them matted and framed in a long narrow
    picture and it is hanging in my sewing room. I can't imagine a twelve year old doing such finery today.

    I also have my grandmother's silver quilting thimble which does not have a bottom. She was a very tall and big boned woman and eventhough I am "big" it is too big for me. I can
    wear it around my neck on a chain. Enjoy your treasures!

  10. LucyJane | | #10

    I also inherrited from her a Schrafts chocolate box jammed with hand knitted trims. Some are crocheted and all neatly rolled into a coil. My Aunt Pat told me that Grandma would sit by the radio and knit or crochet. Grandma died very suddenly in 1940 so it is as she left it.

    I also aquired a sterling silver 2" ruller on a fancy loop that hangs from a chain. Lovely. Also my grandmother's quilts that are in rough shape but can't bare to throw them

  11. charlotte44s | | #11

    When my mother passed away I inherited quite a few items, the one I most treasure is items from her button box which she treasured. She sewed for all 11 of us on a small income and always reused buttons and zippers.

  12. lapark | | #12

    in 1968 my mother had gallbladder surgery and at the same time i had hip surgery. during our recovery times mom took up crocheting. i inherited that first afghan, that has been well used/loved and mended several times over the years. from that time on she made well over 100 afghans. i not only have the afghan but also have her favorite crochet hook that had a wooden (ergonomical) handle. when i hold it i feel our hands as one.

  13. Ceeayche | | #13

    My mother passed away leaving me with hundreds of shoes, an exhaustive wardrobe, boxes and boxes of fabric from all over the world, projects she never finished, a passion for sewing, and a large sample book she made as a young woman for a sewing class.

    I love this book because it was dozens of samples pasted onto scrap book pages with all of her notes and comments. In addition to timeless tips it provides in step by step instructions, It is like she is there talking to me because in addition to reading her words, it is in her handwriting and includes little doodles. Precious!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

More From Threads

Discussion Forum

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All


Shop the Store

View All
View More