Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shopping Depression

I often feel depressed when I go shopping at stores selling brand-new items. It didn’t use to happen. Once upon a time I liked to shop at these stores, and I would often go to the mall, discount stores, craft stores, your all-purpose has everything stores—just about any store (except thrift shops—this was during my pre-thrift days); I enjoyed browsing and impulsively buying things I didn’t need. Now I tend to go to stores selling new items when I’m specifically looking for something. I don’t enjoy window-shopping the way I used to anymore.

The problem is I often just see a sea of crap; just poorly made items made of low-end materials all for a “low low price!” [Sigh.] Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen for this before. I’ve bought my share of cheap crap. Besides an array of cheap clothes, I’ve bought a lot of craft supplies. I like to make stuff, and I would go into a craft store and there were beads, chains, yarn, wood blocks, drawing pads, paints, pencils, containers and pretty much any craft supply you could imagine. I bought enough stuff that I feel like I became my own little crafts store.

But no more. I feel like I hardly buy anything new any more. And I’m just surprised at the 180 I did. It started off slow. A few years ago, a friend took me to a thrift shop and I’ll admit, I was skeptical. [Pause.] Okay, I was a snob. I didn’t want used items. Other people wore it? Ew, gross. But of course I found something I wanted: a cream Ann Taylor top. I think I got it for $8 and I’ve worn it with skirts and jeans; and with that one top, I think I was hooked. At first I went to thrift shops infrequently, but as time went on, I became used to thrift shops and started to prefer them not only for the price, but also for the constant influx of different items.

And now, when I go to the mall I almost feel full of resignation. It’s just not fun for me anymore. I won’t really want to go in, but I’ll want to go to that one store where I may find a good pair of shoes. And sometimes out of shear curiosity, I’ll briefly check out the clothing they’re selling at the mall, but I quickly get depressed at the monotony and low quality of it all. I just don’t see anything I want to buy. [Pause.] On the up side, it makes shopping a much quicker and cheaper experience for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Tortoise or the Hare of Sewing

Sewing tends to be a solitary experience for me, but not long ago I sewed with a friend one afternoon, and it was interesting to see how our approaches were so glaringly different. I go slowly at every step of the way. I usually try to follow a pattern’s directions and I’ll often look up how to do something that I’ve never done before or haven’t done in a while. When I make a mistake I’ll undo my sewing and do it again (which happens more often than I would like). I tend to be more cautious, so sewing consumes quite a bit of time for me.

My friend on the other hand, sews quickly. She does it her own way. She takes short cuts. She’ll finish a circle skirt in an afternoon using the selvage edge as the hem. She’ll sew a dress and only have one pocket (in the side seam) because she was too impatient to put in the second pocket. I don’t know if she bothers to finish her edges or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she thought it was unnecessary. She just wants to be done with a project. She doesn’t want to spend days or weeks on a garment, and I understand this desire to be finished.

When I first started, I sewed more quickly (or perhaps I should say with less care) because I too, just wanted to get it done. I would sew for long periods of time, determined to finish a garment over the weekend. However, I often became frustrated and would more mistakes because I was tired, and this in turn made me more irritated. [Pause.] This wasn’t so fun. And in the end, I had a lot of messy garments that I wasn’t particularly excited about.

I came to the conclusion that as much as I wanted to get a project done, I’d rather have something that I actually liked in the end, which meant I wanted things to look right. I want my garments to be somewhat well made (at least as well as I can do). So now I sew more slowly. I’ll sew a bit on a weekend here and a weekend there. I don’t give myself time constraints any more. Believe me, I’d like to sew faster (with accuracy), but I’m a tortoise and I go slow.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Absent-Minded Lesson

It’s often the mundane tasks that I’ll make a stupid mistake because I’m not giving it my full attention. It could be because I’m in a rush or feeling tired or I’m thinking of something else, so I’ll mess up unbeknownst to me (and will later kick myself over it).

Somehow grocery shopping will get the better of me; it’s the bagging of groceries that I’ll make a dumb mistake: I’ll forget a bag. This time is was some meat. A few months back it was a bag of apples. The time before that was meat (but I remembered about it in the parking lot and went back in the store and luckily it was still there—which was nice).

I suppose this time I could’ve gone back to the supermarket to see if my meat was still there, but considering the time and drive, it just didn’t seem worth it. Fifteen minutes to get there, park, go inside and find the cashier to ask about my forgotten meat and then drive back seemed like a lot of effort—especially if my meat was no longer there. It was late and I was tired, so I cut my losses. It sucks but maybe this time the lesson of forgotten groceries will finally stick. [Pause.] I’d really like not to relearn this lesson again. [Sigh.]

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fabric Estate Sale…Again

I think I just might have an estate sale shopping problem because even though I got a lot of fabric at the last estate sale I went to, I just bought more. When I saw that there was another fabric estate sale a part of me was excited and another part of me thought, “No, don’t do it! You already have way too much stuff.” I was on the fence on going, but I asked a friend if she wanted to go and she said “yes.” So I went.

I planned on being more discriminating this time because I already have so much fabric. This time it felt more relaxed; the store was smaller so there was less fabric to choose from and there seemed to be fewer people. And while there were some clothes, it wasn’t the massive selection of clothing as the previous estate sale; nothing looked interesting so I steer cleared of the clothing.

We got there about an hour after it opened, so maybe a lot of good fabric was already taken, but I still found four bolts of fabric that I wanted. Each bolt was $5 and I found neutrals (which I hadn’t found at the previous estate sale). I got a gray polyester rayon that feels pretty soft, black wool, white wool and a sheer white polyester with a crisscross pattern.

Then I got some notions that were 50 cents each. I got six 22-inch zippers; they had a lot of zippers in just about every color imaginable. I also got some sturdy eyes and hooks (which I needed). And I got buttons; they had a good amount of buttons and I tried to restrain myself. I got three sets of buttons: simple blue and navy, silver and frosted.

My grand total for everything was $27. Pretty cheap. Not as cheap as Sunday where everything was half off, but I just couldn’t go again. I’ve bought enough for a small lifetime.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Altered: Sleeveless Bias Tape Top

I picked a blouse to do my first alteration from the mountain of clothing I got at the last estate sale I went to. I chose this white blouse that I had no desire to wear as-is; it was too large on me and had a slouchy high neck that I didn’t like. Since I wasn’t attached to this blouse (in any way) and had bought it for 50 cents, I didn’t feel bad cutting it up (because usually a part of me will worry that I’ll “ruin” a garment in some way if I try to alter it).

When I looked at this blouse I saw some potential. I liked the lapped front that covered the buttons. I also thought that the polyester material it was made from wasn’t bad. I thought about different altering possibilities and decided to use black satin bias tape (that I’d made a lot of some time ago) to finish my edges.

So first I cut off the sleeves and took out the shoulder pads. Then I cut around the neckline, along the base of the high neck neckline. I cut the sides open and sewed them in and then I finished all my edges with my bias tape. It wasn’t hard (although it did take me longer than I anticipated). But I think the result is pretty good. It’s a very simple black and white top that will work well with a lot of my skirts.