Monday, June 30, 2014

Estate Sale: Papers and Sewing Stuff

A while ago, friends and I stumbled upon an estate sale and found lots of random stuff. We pooled all that we wanted together and bought everything for $10. For my stack of stuff, I paid $2. None of it I needed, but I inevitably find interesting items. I’m going to share everything but the matchbooks (that I’ll share later).

This estate sale had a box full of maps, and most of them were pretty much your average (dated) maps, but these two stood out to me. They’re completely unnecessary for me to have, but I appreciate their graphic nature. First up is the Home Oil Map for Vancouver. I actually love the cover, which has a flat one-color drawing of the city. I also like how the map is simple and well organized; I can’t imagine how much work it must have been to lay it out (before computers). I’m not sure how old this map is, but the population listed on it for Vancouver is 344,833, and looking online it looks like that was around1951.

Next up is a Washington Chevron map (1970 edition). What really drew me to it was the cover that uses an older version of the logo.

I got a couple of columnar pads. Truthfully, I don’t know what I could do with them, but I just think they’re interesting.

I found more sewing stuff. I got some buttons to cover and twill tape and two more patterns. First is an apron, likely from the 1950s (I couldn’t find a year on it). I’ve never made an apron, and it’s doubtful I’ll make this one, just because I don’t have much of a need of an apron. But I do appreciate its large pockets that would be useful when doing just about anything.

Next up is this suit pattern from 1973. I like the skirt and might make it.

Finally, I got the Singer Dressmaking Guide from 1947. It’s 50 pages of pretty much everything you need to make a garment (e.g. measurements, pattern alterations, cutting, marking, pleats, collars, hems, etc.). I like the simplicity of the drawings and the directness of the directions. Here are a few pages from the book.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thrift Shop Souvenirs

I admit, as a child (and also as I grew older), I enjoyed shopping at souvenir shops that sell an array of stuff to show that you’ve visited a place: stuffed animals, picture frames, shot glasses, key chains, mugs, t-shirts, etc. I’ve bought my share of things over the years, and those things I accumulated now sit in a box—a box of unnecessary things. [Pause.] I don’t buy these types of items any more.

So when I went to the coast with a friend, we didn’t look at any of the touristy shops. But we did happen upon a thrift shop and each found stuff to buy. I found more sewing supplies. Yes, I don’t need any more, but I got eyes and hooks, twill tape and 10 zippers for $3.35.

I think the seam binding packaging is pretty cute (feels quite patriotic). And I think the zippers are adorable. These five and a half inch long zippers look like they’re made specifically for pouches, as there are stops at both ends of the zipper. I like the metal zipper handle that is so much cuter than the average zipper.

These are the only souvenirs I got at the coast and I think they’re good ones because they’re useful (assuming I use them). It also makes any items I make with them feel a bit more special because I got them on a trip so there’s a memory attached to them. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Singed Gray Dress

Not long ago I picked up this sewing pattern and I thought I could use some lightweight gray fabric I had in my fabric stash to make this dress. It was a pretty simple dress to make; a pullover with an elastic waist and buttons down the front (and pockets).

I didn’t run into any snags while sewing this dress; it was fairly straightforward. I think it turned out fine. However, I wouldn’t ever wear this dress without some sort of belt (it looks a bit saggy and sad); it desperately needs a belt to help cinch everything in.

So I was fairly satisfied when I finished this dress. And then I took a closer look at it and saw slight burned marks on the front of the dress. At some point in time, the iron must have been too hot and scorched the fabric a toasty brown. From a distance it’s not very noticeable, but as you get closer you might think it’s a light coffee stain. Super disappointing. I’m not sure when I singed the fabric, but it kind of sucks since I’m done sewing this dress (and spent all that time and energy making something that’s already flawed). [Grrrr.]

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pleated Tote Bag

Most of my sewing projects revolve around making clothes, but I decided I wanted to make a bag. I’d never made a tote bag before but it didn’t look hard. There were tons of bag tutorials online from the very simple to the more complicated. Mostly I looked at the basic construction of the bags (which were often similar from tutorial to tutorial). Instead of picking a bag design from one of the many, I decided to just design my own.

I didn’t want to make a complicated bag, but I didn’t want to make the bare minimum simple tote bag either. So I decided to add pleats to my bag. I love pleats; they’re a simple design element that adds visual interest (to just about anything).

I used a two-tone canvas as my main fabric. I wanted a fairly neutral colored bag, and this was a heavier basic fabric I happened to have in my fabric stash. On the inside of the bag, I wanted to use a different fabric with a bit more personality, so I chose a Japanese pattern for the bottom section of the bag.

As with everything I sew, it’s not perfect. I can see the flaws, but it’s serviceable. I like my bag; it’s simple but I don’t think it’s boring.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

17 Patterns for $3

I think I’m addicted to buying sewing patterns. I went to two thrift shops (that I usually don’t frequent but happened to be in the area) and was on the lookout for clothing, but instead I found more sewing patterns. Most of the patterns at both stores were from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The first thrift shop I went to was a local one, and I like it quite a bit because it’s rather large and it’s cheaper than most other thrift shops in the area. It’s fairly relaxed and the type of thrift store where bargaining is more apt to occur. The patterns I stumbled upon weren’t marked with a price, so I picked out 14 patterns that I liked (to varying degrees) and if they wanted more than I wanted to spend then I’d just pick out my favorites to buy. However, when I asked the cashier how much the patterns were, he said “50 cents.” I asked, “For all of them?” (Since it was unclear to me if he meant the price for the patterns individually or all together). And he replied, “Uh, sure.” I decided to pay him a dollar. I almost felt bad that I got so many patterns for such a small price.

Here are the sewing patterns I got there, from oldest to newest.

First up is a dress pattern that I couldn’t find a date on, but looking at the packaging, it’s obviously from the 1970s. I liked this cute simple flowing dress that’s reminiscent of one from the 1940s.

Next up is a vest, skirt and pant pattern from 1974. I like the pocket detail of fabric that flips out.

This simple dress pattern is from 1976. It looks like a pretty easy dress to make.

The next pattern is a shirt, pants and reversible vest and back-wrap skirt from 1976. The reversible skirt could be a fun project to try to make.

This is a simple shirt-dress pattern from 1979.

The name “E.S.P. makes me laugh. And the red periods in the acronym confuses me—why are they red? Are the periods special in some way I don’t know about? These are questions the designer side of me is just wondering…

A very simple dress pattern from 1981; I like these basic dresses that would be so easy to make (as the “’Make it Tonight’ Wear it Tomorrow!” name implies).

A jumpsuit pattern from 1983. I’m not a jumpsuit person. I don’t think I’ve ever owned or worn one. And I wouldn’t make this one. But I kind of like the top half and think could see it being used in a dress…

And on a side note, at the bottom it has “Overnight Success” on it, which is not unlike its competitor McCall’s “’Make it Tonight’ Wear it Tomorrow!” When I see these lines, I envision people in the 80’s thinking, “What should I wear tomorrow? Hmm, I know! I’ll just whip out an outfit from one of these patterns.” [Pause.] I guess they still have these quickie patterns today, but they just call them better names, like the generic “easy-to-sew” (with no time constraint because really, for many of us, finishing a dress in a day just isn’t very realistic). 

Next is one of those ladylike blouses from the 1980s that I like; this one is from 1984. I like the simple blouse number 2.

This dress pattern is from 1986. I like dress number 3. I think it could be a cute summer dress. I do not like the sleeves on these dresses.

A dress and jumpsuit pattern from 1989. I think dress A is cute; it’s simple enough that it’s pretty timeless. But that jumpsuit. [Pause.] Wow. It’s just so terrible. When I look at it, all I can think is “Hammer time.”

Simple pullover top pattern from 1991. It’s not a pattern I was particularly excited about, but I figured it could be a good basic pattern to have.

This dress pattern is from 1992. I hate the sleeves. Not super excited about the elastic waist. But I like the concealed buttons that go down the front of the dress.

Next is a dress and jumpsuit pattern from 1992. Man, this is so 90’s. I think if I took off the sleeves, the dress might be cute.

Finally, another ladylike blouse pattern; this one’s from 1992. I like C blouse.

At the second thrift shop, the patterns were more expensive, ranging from 69 cents to $6.99. I picked out three 69 cent patterns for a grand total of $2.07.

First up is a dress and vest pattern from 1973. I think the dress is adorable and would totally make it.

Next is an unlined raincoat and hat pattern from 1978. I’m not sure that I would ever make this jacket, but it is interesting to me.

And finally, a jacket, blouse, skirt and pants pattern (that I couldn’t find the year on). I really like these pieces; they’re simple and elegant. I mean, even the drawings look sophisticated. My favorite piece is the jacket that’s just so classic.

I know I don’t need any more patterns, but I find them so interesting. Hopefully I won’t find any more patterns for a while. On the rationalized upside, if I’m going to be stockpiling sewing supplies, buying used patterns is much cheaper than buying fabric…

Thursday, June 5, 2014

$5 Silk Dress

Recently I did some thrift shopping; I wasn’t looking for anything in particular nor did I expect to find anything—but I did. It was at a thrift shop I nearly didn’t go to; I’d already had an unsuccessful shopping morning, so I was on the cusp of calling it a day but decided to stop by this last thrift shop for just a few minutes.

After finding nothing in the tops and sweater racks, I stumbled upon a Talbots navy silk dress. I love navy and it’s a very deep lovely midnight navy. I got kind of excited as I pulled it from the rack and hoped it would fit—and it does (mostly). The sleeves are short on me (and slightly damaged with a couple of snags) and the top portion is somewhat voluminous in the back, but I love the way it looks from the front—very simple. I love the stitching that goes down the front and I like the covered buttons in the back. To me, the dress is reminiscent of one from the 1930s; it’s loose in the body and more fitted in the skirt, it has kimono sleeves, a longer skirt and a more conservative overall look.

When I look at a dress like this, it makes me appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to make a garment. While I do try to sew, I’m not a great sewer, but I know enough to see when something is put together properly. The darts on this dress match perfectly. The top half and the skirt portion each have four darts in the front and back, and all align with precision. (I know when I’ve sewn some of my dresses, being even an eighth of an inch off can throw everything off.) [Pause.] I wish I could sew better. [Sigh.]

The upside and downside to this dress is that it’s silk. I love the way silk feels but I don’t really want the extra effort it takes to take care of it. I tend to avoid dry cleaning—sometimes to the detriment of the garment itself. Two items come to mind (that were never the same after I washed them in the washing machine): a silk dress that ended up with watermarks on it and a white linen-blend wide-leg pant that shrunk (about two inches in length). The dress I bought new (so that especially sucked) and the pants I bought from a thrift shop (so that sucked a bit less). At the time I hoped nothing bad would happen to them when washed, but I knew I was taking a risk. However, there have been other garments I washed (that had a dry clean only tag) that came out unscathed.

So I guess it comes down to how much you really care about the garment itself. How much care will you put in to cleaning and maintaining a garment? This silk dress only cost me $5. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to risk it in the washing machine, BUT I like it. It’d be a shame to ruin a dress I like. If I’m not too lazy, getting it dry cleaned and the sleeves altered would probably be the “smart” thing to do…