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August 3

Wolff’s Flea Market Finds

On this past Sunday, Felixand I went out to Rosemont, IL to go to the Wolff’s flea market.  Felix and I have been watching the show American Pickersvia Netflix streaming over the past few months, and it never fails to please.  In addition to that, one of Felix’s friends (Maureen Stanton) from grad school recently published a book called “Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America” which Felix read and continues to rave about (and cite) months after he finished reading it.  These things coupled together resulted in Felix’s first attendance at a flea market!  :) 

I think he wanted to see what all the hype was about and participate in the art of haggling.  heh

We woke up pretty early, 5am early, threw on some clothes, ate a bit of breakfast and headed out the door.  (In retrospect, this was super early, and resulted in me taking a 2-hour nap later in the afternoon.)

I usually frequent the I-80 Flea Market which is in Tinley Park right off of I-80 and Harlem Ave.  To those who may be familiar with this area of IL… this flea is right by the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater (aka the Tweeter Center, World Music Theater, or New World Music Theater).  So going to a new flea market is like going to a new grocery store; you have to learn which aisles carry the food items you’re looking for.  I’ve found that with the I-80 market, most vendors ‘park’ in the same spot year after year, week after week. 

Upon first arrival I picked to head to the Eastern most section of the Flea since it seemed larger, and further away from the parking.  My rationale was that since it was further away from the parking, there would be fewer people over there and therefore more ‘good stuff’.  I was soo wrong!  Apparently all of the vintage-selling vendors set up shop right next to the parking area on the West side, which high-traffic.  On the East side, there were some vintage-wares but the bulk of the booths were vendors selling newer items like sun glasses or shampoo.  I doubt I’ll venture much past the Western most side next time I come out here.

I was speed-walking my way through this area and getting quite disappointed with this flea, while Felix was having a great time walking sloooow, talking with lots of vendors, and taking photos.  He was there to experience and I was there to shop.  heh  I quickly outpaced him, and hunted on the East side for about an hour.  We then regrouped and made our way together to the West side, where I quickly realized this is where all the good stuff is!!!

In retrospect, I still can’t believe how much I ended up buying (and found) with only $40 in my pocket.  At one point, Felix asked me what I was shopping for…  I told him I’m looking around for patterns, fabric, sewing notions and the like.  But really I thought this was a funny question, since fleas to me are all about what you come across, not what you’re shopping for.  Sure, I’m primarily interested in sewing stuff, but at fleas you buy what you see since the inventory changes each week. 

If you haven’t heard me mention it before, my husband Felix keeps a blog where he has made daily blog posts for 7 years running.  He is all about capturing his experiences and documenting.  If you’re interested on hearing his perspective check out his blog post to see photos and a recap of his first experience at a flea.  I’m hoping he’ll be my new flea buddy when my mom happens to be out of town or unavailable as she was this past weekend.  :)

So on to my finds… 

I’ve fallen in love with vintage pottery (just like my mom), and I also collect all things aqua-blue.  So these two pieces were great finds!  Both are American made; the small casserole dish I bought for $10 (talked down from the asking price of $15) and the smaller vase on the right I snagged for $3 (I didn’t even dare haggle with that price!)  The only item I felt like haggling on for the whole flea was this casserole dish; all of the other prices I paid were more than fair in my mind.

I also found some late 40’s sewing lesson books and bought these 4 for either a dollar or two.  Apparently there’s somewhere around 12 lessons, so I’ll probably be scouring the web this weekend looking for more. 

I really can’t believe I found so many sewing patterns here.  I’ve never even come across any at the I-80 flea market in the last two years I’ve gone to it.  I tried to only get ones that were in my size, but if you can see the detail the skirt is for a 24″ waist and the dress is for a 30″ bust.  These two will have to be graded up for sure if I want to make them, but they were too cute to pass up.  (I may be incorporating this short sleeved 40’s dress into my fall wardrobe, in a jersey.)

At some future point I’m going to have to try and date all of my patterns, but I think the top and right most pattern (in the photo below) are from the 40’s; the left one I’m not certain about (40’s or 50’s).  But the pattern on the right, is the one I’m most excited about.

Here’s a better closeup of the shirt and skirt pattern shown above on the right.  I love this style of blouse, and isn’t the skirt cute too?!  Perfect for some fun pocket embellishments that I’ve been seeing lately (The Fabled Needle’s Tulip Pockets, Casey’s Western Scalloped Pockets, and Tasha’s Gathered Pocket) to name a few.

I’m soo in love with the Simplicity 2099 pattern on the right.  I just love the bow-flounce that trails down the back of the dress.

I also found some house dresses in my size at the flea.  I find I’m quite attracted to the 40’s dresses that have tucks vs. darts.  For some reason they just add a lovely, feminine detail to these dresses.

These three patterns below are all in a 38″ bust, which is too large for me.  I’m planning on giving them to my mom, if she wants them.  But if not, you can be sure they’ll make their way into a giveaway for you all.

Keeping in mind that I’ve only spent $40 the whole day, I bought a total of 12 patterns from various vendors.  I usually pay in the realm of $10 for a pattern on etsy or ebay for something I’ve fallen in love with.  So you can be sure that I’m continually shocked with the prices at this flea!  (It must be the fact that I haven’t gone in so long and that I need to remember that I’m at the flea, paying flea prices.)

I found this lot of items with the same vendor that I bought some of the patterns from:

I haven’t taken the fabric out of the packaging at the left yet, but the linen fabric on the right is about 2.5 yards worth. The piece on the left is actually a comforter cover from the 50’s and seems to be in excellent condition, in it’s original wrapping still. It has a long metal zipper in it too. The woman asked me if I was going to use it as a comforter cover and I said no right away, that I’d take it apart to make a dress. She made some sort of face at me, and now I feel bad about taking it apart. So I may see if it will fit my bed first, before I decide to deconstruct it. The ribbons are all grosgrain ribbons so they’ll be making their way in to create some cute waist stays on the insides of my dresses, and as decoration on the outsides as well.

Last but not least I found zippers and …….more buttons!  Like I need more buttons!

I paid $3 dollars for this lot of metal zippers and either one or two dollars for the bag of buttons.  I know I shouldn’t have bought more buttons for my stash, but I couldn’t help myself.  They looked too cute!

Here they all are, in closer detail.


I initially saw the black and white buttons on the far right, and bought the bag primarily for those.  But there are tons of them, way more then I’ll every need.  So some of these puppies will make their way into my giveaway pile, too.  (Yes, there is a pile growing of lovely giveaway items for my dear readers!)

I love the pink and black large buttons near the top, perfect for a black swing jacket with some pink detailing.  And I’m falling more and more in love with all of the little sailor buttons I’m finding (lower left).  Just above those but below the pink, is a row of fun shaped black buttons that have no matches for (mostly).  I’m thinking I could combine these 5 together on a blouse to add a touch of whimsy since they’re all the same size.

Well, that’s the end of my flea market finds from this past Sunday.  I’m still shocked by how much cool stuff I found at the flea, not just my sewing finds.  I wish I could go back this coming weekend, but unfortunately I’ll be out of town.  I do hope I can manage to convince Felix to come back with me for a few more weekends before it closes down for the winter and also that my mom can wake up early enough to make the trip North to this flea market with me. 

Anyone else local been to this flea market?  Or has anyone else been flea market shopping lately?

  1. Sunni / Aug 3 2011

    I haven’t actually ever been to a flea, though I go thrifting all the time. I could be wrong, but I’ve never heard of a flea market in Utah. Don’t know why. Your patterns are just to die for and those buttons! Those black and white ones are just lovely! Oh I can’t wait to see what you make up with those! So jealous!

  2. Lauren / Aug 3 2011

    great finds! those patterns are especially lovely!
    i love visiting our local flea market… it’s only one weekend a month, but it’s a GOOD market. soo many vendors & everyone is so so cheap! i’ve been trying to stay away lately, though, because i have to move in less than a month and i shouldn’t be adding new things to the pile of stuff that gets moved (not to mention, saving money is important right now!). so i live vicariously through everyone else’s awesome finds :)

  3. Amy / Aug 3 2011

    What amazing finds. I have almost zero vintage patterns to my name, but, then again, I haven’t figured out the art of thrifting since picking up this obsessive hobby. Can’t wait to see what you make with all of these goodies!

  4. Marie / Aug 3 2011

    Wow, those finds are just brilliant! I’m so jealous ;o)

  5. Caroline / Aug 3 2011

    What absolutely briliant finds – I love those patterns!

  6. Annabelle / Aug 3 2011

    You really did walk away with some great finds. I am really excited to see you sew up Simplicity 2099. The house dress patterns are quite lovely as well.

  7. Tasha / Aug 3 2011

    We went to this one a year or two ago, I keep forgetting about it and would like to go again this year. I absolutely hate haggling thus never do it– the one time I (very modestly) tried was at this same flea market, and the woman was a completely rude to me. Ha!

    Looks like you got some great finds, can’t believe you found that many sewing patterns!

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