Often at estate sales you’ll find bags of vintage hosiery; women, especially those who learned lessons of thrift from The Great Depression and wartime conservation, didn’t throw anything away. When one stocking was laddered (had runs) but its mate was perfectly fine, a lady typically kept the mate for the day when a similar situation occurred with another pair; this was very possible as stockings were usually sold with multiple pairs per package. (And it’s practical thrift advice you can still use today!)
While stockings and hose either unworn or still in their vintage boxes can be pricey, the large bags of worn stockings can be quite cheap — and they can be of great use in recycling for the creative.
I know this can seem rather “Eeeiiiww!” to some, but the re-purposing of stockings and hosiery has a long history. During WWII nylon stockings were recycled for the war effort.
And the resurgence of the re-use of hosiery was also a huge arts & crafts recycling fad in the 70’s.
So why not grab a bag full of vintage stockings and hose and put it to good use?
First I recommend going through the bag, hand washing the stockings. As you so so, evaluate them for possible pairings, stockings in your size, stockings completely unwearable, etc.
Of those which are too damaged to wear, assess them for possible craft projects and re-purposing ideas, like nylon corsages, hanging plant holders, and even rugs.
Sometimes worn vintage stockings are just tossed away by the people running estate sales — but if you are interested in recycling vintage hosiery, let your local dealers, estate sale organizers — even local thrift shop managers — know of your interest. They may just save them for you, often letting you name your price because they would toss them otherwise.
PS If you ever get to the historic Hingham Shipyard, check out my contribution to the wartime homefront exhibit!