Mrs. W. W. Hileman’s Treasure Trove

by raywuwei

in 1960s,1970s,Vintage Sewing

My mother has seen my love affair with vintage patterns grow ever stronger, and she now thinks of me during her frequent trips to antique shops along the Oregon coast. These small town shops have amazing treasures that are far less picked over than what you’d find in Portland vintage shops, and at far better prices. But she out did herself this weekend by procuring me this box of vintage patterns. What did it cost? Five whole bucks. What?! Yeah… yeah.

I can’t even tell you how excited this box made me. I’ve spent the last two evenings looking through everything and I am just in awe. Pretty much everything belonged to a Mrs. W. W. Hileman of Cottage Grove, Oregon. She had a subscription to The Workbasket and many of the patterns were mail ordered. She folded all of the pattern pieces up, tucked them into the instruction sheet and then tucked that back into the envelope. It makes me feel so ashamed of my file folders of jumbled patterns!


My Mom mentioned that her mother also had a subscription to The Workbasket. She often sees me getting excited about things like ribbon and new handstitches and says, “If only your Grandma Jensen could see what you’re creating. It would make her so happy.” It does pain me terribly that I don’t have much of my Grandma Jensen’s old sewing supplies, and I had just asked my Dad’s mother about her old sewing stuff this past Friday. She told me, “I’ve been downsizing and gave all that stuff away ages ago.” I feel sad that Mrs. W. W. Hileman’s granddaughter doesn’t have this box, but some other lucky ladies hopefully have my grandmothers’ old things and are loving them just as much as I am loving these…

See a full inventory of this treasure trove on my blog. Tell me, would you feel guilty if a box like this came into your possession? Would you feel like you were steeling it from it’s rightful heir, or is it better that I rescued it from the antique shop?

This post was written by...

– who has written 8 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

I am a writer from Portland, OR and I love to sew! Naturally.

raywuwei's posts / raywuwei's website

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Semtele February 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Five dollars?! what a gem!

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MrsSewandSew February 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I can only hope some day when I am gone that someone like you will enjoy my sewing things left behind. My family is not amused by my huge stash and I am sure there will be a wonderful large garage sale when I am not around to protest. My grandmother took The Workbasket and I always loved to look at them. Thank you for sharing with us.

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raywuwei February 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Certainly! The history and past life of vintage sewing trinkets is probably my favorite part of vintage sewing :)

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Erika February 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Unfortunately, those interested in vintage sewing patterns are a precious few. So I don’t feel guilty about them but I definitely do about pictures and more personal items.

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raywuwei February 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Its so funny, since we’re all so connected online it feels like there are a ton of us… but IRL I suppose I don’t meet that many!

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Danielle February 13, 2013 at 4:19 am

What a huge thrill!! I’d be absolutely stoked if I was given something like this! Otherwise, too often they end up at the tip! Enjoy it :)

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Bessie Miller February 13, 2013 at 11:39 am

Whoa! That is quite a treasure! I think you did the right thing, rescuing them from the antique shop. ;) I think about that a lot–especially with antique family photographs and things like that. It makes me sad that they are not on some great-granddaughter’s mantel or something! ;)

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Tanya Maile February 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

I think it’s better that you rescued it and gave it a loving new home! :)

My grandma unloaded most all of her sewing stuff decades ago. :( Fortunately, I have all of her notions, which include a big button tin with buttons all dating back to the 40s and 50s. At least I got some treasures. :) My mom just gave me all of her old patterns. Not so enthused about that as they are all 70s patterns and not my style, so I will probably find them a new home. Perhaps the relative that inherited Mrs. WW Hileman’s box felt the same way?

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Vicki Lou Hileman Formosa March 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Mrs. W. W. Hileman was my Great Aunt-she was married to Walden who passed away in 1960 at the age of 59. They had one daughter, Shirley, who has also passed away. She was a spunky and outspoken little woman, whose hair stayed black until her death at 100 years. I have inserted an Obit for more info.
I wonder if any of Shirley Wick’s children or grandchildren would want a pattern? It is a blessing that these treasures came to someone who appreciates them.–

Crystal Hileman- 2002
COTTAGE GROVE – A celebration of life service and luncheon will be held Sept. 4 for Crystal Hileman of Cottage Grove, who died Aug. 20 of age-related causes. She was 100.
Crystal Hileman was born Nov. 7, 1901, in Lanesboro, Iowa, to Christie and Celia May Reed. She moved to the Mohawk area as a child. After graduating from Marcola High School, she attended Oregon Normal School.
She married W.W. Hileman in Eugene on May 19, 1923. He died Oct. 19, 1960.
Hileman was homemaker and a partner in her husband’s log truck business. She lived many years on the McKenzie River below Leaburg before moving to Junction City. She moved to Cottage Grove in 1934.
Her interests included family activities, crafts, gardening, trapshooting, hunting and fishing. She and her husband purchased and donated property for the Cottage Grove-Eugene Sportsman’s Club, and she became a life member.
Survivors include a daughter, Shirley Wicks of Creswell; two grandchildren; and two great-grand- children.
Wednesday’s service, followed by a luncheon, will be held at 11 a.m. at Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel in Cottage Grove. Burial will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Sunset Hills Memorial Gardens in Eugene.

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