Monday, September 1, 2014

Flashback to the 1980’s (and 1990’s) Estate Sale: Skirts and Dresses


While I photographed many of the estate sale items on me, I didn’t for some of them because it was either to large or small for me; or because of the hanger it’d been on. Some of the hangers (for dresses and blouses) had those sponge strips on them (so they’re less likely to slip off the hanger). Well, after however many years these items had been sitting around, the sponge had rather disintegrated; it became a dust that went everywhere. It made everything feel grimy and disgusting, so I couldn’t bear to try them on until they’re washed.

I got a lot of skirts; they’re older so they tend to be longer—about mid-shin.

Purple wool polyester skirt. (Top photo) I love the deep purple of this skirt and I like the pleating. (I wished it was lined, but for 50 cents, who cares?)


Black polyester wool skirt with slit in the front. I didn’t think I would like this skirt as much as I do, but I think the fit is pretty good.

Gray wool skirt. It’s a fairly loose fitting skirt; the best part about it is the pockets.


Navy blue skirt. It’s a simple skirt and a nice color.

Gray pleated skirt. I really like the pleats in the front and I like the lightweight material it’s made of. It has pockets too (which is always a plus). It’s one of my favorite new skirts.


Olive green wool culottes. I’m not really a culottes person (or an olive green person), and this pair is large on me, but worst-case-scenario I got some quality material to use.

Red button-down wool skirt. This isn’t the cutest skirt (I’m not a fan of the waist with the belt loops). I like the color; maybe it can be altered into a short skirt.


And then here’s five skirts that didn’t fit me. Red skirt: wool nylon. Gray skirt: wool polyester. Dark gray skirt: wool polyester. Light blue skirt: wool. Black and white skirt: wool viscose.

And while not photographed, I also got two slips that still had the tags on them; truthfully I’m not sure what all I can wear them with since they’re fairly long slips (below the knee).

Next, I got some dresses.


Blue plaid polyester shirt and skirt. I was on the fence on getting this outfit… It’s not my favorite piece (but for whatever reason I thought it was kind of interesting); I have yet to try it on so I have no idea what the fit will be like.

Blue silk dress. This dress has sun damage along the shoulders. Really I bought this dress thinking I’d either make it into a skirt or tear it up for the fabric.


Red silk shirt-dress. This is a very simple dress. It does have a small hole in it (maybe the hanger poked it?), so that will need to be fixed.

Blush silk dress. The shape of the dress is fairly simple; it has a tie to bring it in at the waist. I like the covered buttons that go down the back of the dress. I am not a fan of the sleeves or the beaded shoulders. While I can appreciate the workmanship it may take to create the beaded detail, I can’t see myself wearing this as-is…ever. It’s so 80’s—like what you might see on Dynasty. I thought I could just use the fabric for something.

I think I got all my skirts and dresses for around $10. Pretty great deal.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flashback to the 1980’s (and 1990’s) Estate Sale: Jackets


So I bought more clothes than I’ll ever need at this estate sale. I just couldn’t stop myself. I sort of restrained myself on Saturday when clothing was $1 a piece, but when it became 50 cents the next day, I kind of went overboard. I thought, “When else am I ever going to get clothes this cheap?” If I can wear it as-is great, but I could also tear it up and use the material. At worst, I’ll donate the items I don’t want to a local thrift shop.

It took quite a bit of effort to try anything on. I dragged my pile of clothing to an available mirror in the store and tried them on. It doesn’t sound like much work, but the room was pretty warm and some of the clothes were a bit grimy. I basically felt gross so I wanted to try on as few items as possible. I really only tried on jackets since they were easy slip in and out of; I didn’t bother trying on the skirts and blouses because I think they would be easier to alter or tear up for material.

Here are the nine coats and jackets and I got for under $10.

Short black wool jacket. (Top photo) This is my favorite jacket. The fit is pretty good (perhaps a smidge large, but still fairly good). I love the simple collar and the short length that I think would work well with skirts.


Reversible tan and black coat with a tie; mid-shin length. (Left) It’s a lightweight coat that would be good for spring and fall. I like the simplicity of it; it’s unfortunately a bit large on me.

Tan mid-shin length coat. (Right) Although I like the collar and sleeves, I wish it came in at the waist (I could probably add a waist tie). And it’s annoying that the sleeves are a bit short of me.


Blue mid-shin length coat. (Left) The stitching detail at the collar and wrists feels rather dated, but I do like the overall shape of the jacket.

Blue jacket (part of a suit with a skirt); made of polyester, acrylic and wool. (Right) I initially thought the pocket detail was rather interesting. The jacket feels a bit big and the skirt is a bit small.


Tan jacket; made of wool and polyester. (Left) I don’t really wear a lot of browns, but I do like the coloring of this jacket; it’s a good neutral.

Camel jacket; 100% camel hair. (Right) I generally avoid this color, and the jacket is unfortunately large on me, but I love the way the material feels—it’s so soft.


Gray button down jacket; 100% wool. (Left) This is also a suit that has a matching skirt that’s too small. The jacket isn’t as fitted as I would like, but I like the style of it; it feels very 1940’s to me.

Gray jacket; made of wool, acrylic, rayon and nylon. (Right) Good neutral color. I like the cut of this jacket.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Flashback to the 1980's (and 1990's) Estate Sale: Fabrics


I went to the most amazing estate sale the other weekend that was the liquidation of a fabric store and returned Nordstrom clothes from the 1980’s and 1990’s. On Saturday I went with a friend and we were there for about three hours, and then on Sunday I went with my mom and we were there for about two hours. It really did take up a large part of my weekend because there was just so much to look at.

On one side of the store was the fabric section; bolts of fabric were $5, trimmings were $3 and zippers were two for $1. On the other side of the store was the Nordstrom clothing for $1 per item. The clothes were in excellent condition (some of them still had the tags on them). There were skirts, blouses, dresses, coats, pants, swimsuits, shorts, sweaters and belts. It was clothing from back in the day (and Nordstrom clothing), so there were many garments made from higher quality materials (like wool and silk).

I thought I bought a lot of stuff on Saturday, but on Sunday I bought even more stuff because everything was 50% off. Over the course of two days, I ended up buying 7 bolts of fabric, 8 lace trimmings and 42 clothing items. The grand total was $64.

I’ll share the fabric items I bought this post and share the clothes in other posts.

By the time my friend and I arrived on Saturday, the sale had been going on for an hour and there was already a long line to check out. People had bolts of fabric in their hands, so I’m sure many of the better fabrics (and colors) and been picked over by the time I looked at them. And while there was still a lot of fabric to choose from, much of it didn’t interest me. Some of the fabric was scratchy or I didn’t like the colors or the patterns were too frumpy.


On Saturday I bought these three bolts of fabric. I got a thick gray wool nylon polyester blend. I also got an olive green wool nylon blend; I’ve never really been into this shade of green before but I thought maybe I could use it (it’s sort of a military “neutral” green). The last fabric I got was a light blue 100% cotton fabric that had an interesting woven pattern; it’s probably rather old since it was made in the U.S.


On Sunday, I was a bit less discriminating since it was $2.50 a bolt. I got this cotton star pattern fabric (that I’d almost bought the previous day but didn’t quite like it enough for $5). I got this 100% wool green and gray plaid (I’m not really into green much, but it was so cheap and the fabric felt nice). I got this red and white bottom weight fabric and this teal lining material that I thought was okay.







Finally, I got lace. I like lace…sometimes. Lace is one of those items that can look really elegant or really trashy depending on how you use it. I’m also not excited about lace when it becomes too girly. So I’ve never bought lace trimming before because I’ve never felt the need to use it and didn’t want the pay for it by the yard (because it can be expensive). So I thought this is my chance to stock up and get it for cheap—and maybe I’ll use it…someday.

So I spent $25 for the fabric and $13.50 for the lace for a grand total of $38.50. Pretty great deal. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Altered: Red Blouse


A while ago, I dropped by an estate sale and the clothing was the only thing that caught my eye. Most of the clothing was $3 a piece, and I took out a bunch of blouses (probably from the 1980’s and 1990’s) to try on. After going through my pile of potential blouses, I only liked one enough to buy: a red button up Elle blouse. It’s polyester, but it’s nice polyester; it’s silky not scratchy fabric and drapes fairly well.

Although I love the color red, I don’t really own red articles of clothing. Pretty much anything is made in black, but red (or any other color) happens less frequently so there are fewer opportunities to buy a red garment. Also, a large reason I don’t often buy red is that I only think certain shades of red look good on me, so I avoid anything that leans towards orange.

The blouse was large on me, so I bought it with the intention of altering it. Even though I’d never made a blouse sleeveless before, I figured there’d be a simple way to do it. And after looking online I found some instructions that seemed doable (although altering it took me longer than I anticipated).



I think I did an okay job (and at least it’s wearable unlike it way it was before). If I look closely at the armholes I see problems (like I didn’t quite cut them at the exact deepness on each side or the stitching is a little messy). But from a distance it looks fine. It was my first time doing it so I can’t really expect perfection. Hopefully I’ll just do a better job next time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hot Sewing


I have heard of (although never done) hot yoga—where people do yoga in steamy temperatures. I did my own version of doing things in the heat: Hot Sewing. I don’t go to a special studio with the thermometer cranked up, no, I let Mother Nature take the reigns and just sew at home in a non-air conditioned environment. It was a balmy 85 degrees indoors, and it only got hotter when I turned on the light and had the iron on. [Pause.] It wasn’t exactly pleasant, but I wanted to finish my top.

I haven’t really sewn many tops since I tend to have the best results sewing skirts. Looking over my fabrics, I also have an excess of heavier fabrics that aren’t ideal for many top patterns. I decided on using this gray material (left over from my gray dress) and sew this bow tie top.


When I initially bought this pattern, I was put off by the size (since it seemed small). But after I measured the pattern pieces to see the width, I figured it might actually fit me because of the looseness of the top (and that I prefer less ease than is generally used in a pattern).

So I sewed this top despite the heat. I didn’t have any actual problems sewing it—it was a fairly simple pattern. And I’m pretty happy with the result.