Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flashback to the 1980s (and 1990s) 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 1980s (and 1990s) 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 1980s and 1990s. 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 1980s and 1990s) 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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Will Wear You Soon…

When I go thrift shopping, I mostly just hope I’ll stumble upon something (anything) that I’ll like. Recently I went thrift shopping and found three items (for a total of $21) that will be good to wear once the weather cools down.

First is a gray pair of wide-leg Bebe pants that have the weight of wool, but is really a blend. I like the way the pants drape—although the pant length is perhaps a bit long on me…

Next, I got a pair of thinly striped blue and white Banana Republic pants. They’re fairly lightweight, so best for cool but not cold weather; they feel more spring-like to me.

Finally, I found one of those ladylike blouses I seem to be drawn towards. It’s a long-sleeve Foxcraft blouse; I like the purple color and I like the pleated detail at the collar and sleeves.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

This Shouldn’t be Too Bad…

Looking over my pile of patterns, I decided to try sewing this scallop dress from 1968. It’s a “how to sew” pattern so I thought I’d be done in no time. It only has a few pattern pieces and it’s a simple silhouette. How hard could it be? And it’s with that thinking that I jinxed myself. (I swear, looking back I felt like I was the dumb character in a horror movie that hears “something” in the basement and decides to investigate, saying the famous last words: I’ll be right back.) I assumed that I would have no problems and my confidence/cockiness got the best of me. [Sigh.]

One stupid thing I did early on was insert the zipper to the wrong sides of the back pattern pieces. I just wasn’t paying attention and sewed it completely in before I realized my mistake and then I had to take it out and put it in again (at the correct spot). So that sucked.

Another thing I did wrong was the sewing of the front facing. I tried on the dress after the facing was attached and I thought the neckline felt odd—it was too high up for my liking but I didn’t do anything to fix it. Looking at the directions later, I saw that I was supposed to sew the neckline deeper in the front (thus bringing the neckline lower down).

After these two mishaps occurred, I was on the fence about finishing this dress. I was about half way done and I wasn’t excited about it. But I figured that since I’d already cut the material and was hours into the project, I might as well finish it. However, my lack of enthusiasm for the dress made me less motivated to work on it, so it kind of sat around for a while until I finally decided I should just finish it and get it over with.

I wasn’t crazy about the fit of the dress; it was looser than I liked. I wanted my dress to fit closer to the body (like in 1 white dress) rather than looser (like in 2 dress). So I took in the sides and then that messed up the armholes, so I had to cut them a bit deeper and then that messed up the armhole facings. It was just a domino effect of disaster. The pattern didn’t share the finished size of the garment, so I probably should have measured the pieces to get a better idea of the finished size. [Pause.] But I didn’t and this screwed me over later.

When I started this project I’d wanted to put scallops at the bottom of the dress, but I nixed it in favor of a quick hem. I was so over this dress. I made so many mistakes because I wasn’t reading the directions properly or wasn’t paying attention or rushed it. It was rather torturous. I’m glad it’s over.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Estate Sale: $4 Fabric

I decided to stop by an estate sale specifically because they mentioned they had fabric and I hoped I might find some interesting pieces. There were some larger cuts of fabric and some bags of scraps, and although I did my best to dig through the piles, I still ended up rather disappointed.

Overall, the fabric there just wasn’t my style. Most of the fabric was either too garish in color (e.g. fuchsia) or a terrible color for me (e.g. bright olive) or the patterns just didn’t speak to me. I was hoping for some interesting vintage patterns, and there were a few that felt like they were from the 1970s, but they were somewhat dingy in color or the pattern was a little too unrefined.

So I ended up with two fabrics for $2 each. I picked a red lining material because lining is one of those fabrics I’m never excited to buy. It tends to be a fabric I need rather than one I want (which is why I never seem to have lining material laying around when I need it—and then have to go to the fabric store just to buy lining material). A red lining would be good for either a red garment or a contrasting pop of color.

I did pick one patterned fabric; it was the only one I was actually drawn to (which is a bit odd since I’m not into floral prints). I think the blues in the flowers are quite lovely, and the fabric looks a bit more expensive because it has a slight sheen to it. To me it looks like a fabric from the 1960s. I can totally see Betty from Mad Men at a garden party in a dress made with this fabric. (I see her with a cocktail in one hand and passively aggressively saying comments to anyone she’s miffed at—and looking fabulous while doing it).