Sunday, May 4, 2014

thrifted treasures.

Road trip!

This weekend we went down to visit my father-in-law, which means I got a chance to visit the wonderful local thrift stores to hunt for sewing stuff.  It proved to be an auspicious adventure, indeed!

I knew there was good sewing stuff to be had because I've found a lot small prints, scraps, and trims for dolly clothes in the past, but this was my first time since my garment sewing revival that I got to look for general notions and fabrics.  I was not disappointed!

Four thrift stores later and about $30 later, I was the happy owner of 4.5 yards of cheerful cotton madras, oodles of zippers, including some super-sturdy vintage metal ones.  Some buttons, bias tape, hem tape, and knitting needles.  And *something I hadn't even thought of finding, but happily discovered* tons of patterns.

Then... the pièce de résistance came very last. I was secretly hoping to find a sleeve board & I did.  In the very last room of the very last shop, just 5 minutes before they were to close... I came across a sleeve board. And not only a sleeve board, but also a clapper and a point presser!  Each at $3. 

I was so excited, not only to find the sleeve board, but to find the other pressing tools.  They actually also had a set of pressing hams like the ones my mother-in-law gave me.  They were made same company from a different wool plaid.  I almost bought them too, but I felt like that would be hoarding.  I thought it would be good thrifting karma to leave a little treasure for the next seamstress to come along.  

A particular cause for my excitement over these pressing tools was that I had just been reading about point pressers the night before in a great book: Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.  More on this book later - I want to write a book review post about it soon.  The short review: buy it. I did. It's totally worth it.  And now back to pressing tools.

Here is the illustration from the book where I read just the night before about a point presser.  I was thinking "gee, I've never worked with one of those, but it looks like it could really come in handy," and then I found one the next day for $3.  Very serendipitious. I've also never used a clapper and am glad to have one to experiment with now.  There are some things that I've made in the past that could have benefited from one.

Here my new hoard of zippers, notions and the cotton plaid.  I used to have a huge collection of vintage notions so I didn't always have to run out to Jo-Ann or order stuff online and wait to do a project. When I moved to Asia seven years ago, I got rid of all that I had collected over the years.  I've have slowly been reassembing a notions stash, but my focus has not been on garment making, so I haven't made an effort to replenish zippers, tapes, buttons, and such.  It is a great boon to have a stockpile and some of the vintage notions are my favorites.
Left to right: size 6 circular knitting needles, 4 heavy-duty metal garter clips, 6 navy blue vintage buttons, some vintage double satin yellow ribbon, blue and pink hem tapes, navy and pink bias tapes... all atop the 4.5 yards of plaid.  This is really high quality fabric with the pattern woven in, not printed.  It's black, white, red, turquoise, lavender, and dark purple.  I think it would make a lovely vintage-inspired shirtwaist dress that would be great for my goal of practing plaid matching.  (Also more on plaid-matching later.)  

And... the patterns.  I bought 5 patterns at the first thrift store for 50 cents each.  At the last store, where I found the pressing tools, they were having a sidewalk sale where everything you could fit into a grocery bag was priced at $4.  They had a box of patterns in the sale and  I judiciously chose a few I really wanted... but once I realized it was all you could fit for a flat price, I just put a bunch of them in the bag.  All the vest ones are for my husband, who adores vests.  I promised to make him one as part of our Halloween costumes last year, but couldn't find a new pattern for one and ordered a vintage pattern on ebay that said XL as the size but turned out to be big and tall sized (starting at a chest of 48")  I tried to scale it down, but it was a mess & he ended up wearing a vest he already owned.  But I still owe him a vest. So, I took all the vest patterns, even two size ranges of the same pattern! 
I am also really excited about that 8738 pattern.  I had my eye on it on Ebay since seeing the adorable modification made on it by Mama Says Sew on the Project Sewn blog.  I almost bought it on Ebay, but the listing was several sizes off from my proper size.  This one is much closer, so it will be a lot easier to fit. The McCall's blouse next to it also looks like it has a lot of potential to make cute updated pieces with, as well. 

I love the idea of updating the loose, unstructured 80's tops.  The peachy one has a knit skirt along with the sweatshirt. I wouldn't wear them together, but I think I would wear updated versions of both pieces separately.  The other skirt patterns are basic shapes I love. I need some patterns to add basics to my wardrobe, if I really want to wear the things that I make. I'm also excited about the Simplicity shirtwaist dress and the hilariously-illustrated Kwik Sew pattern that is really just a basic short-sleeved men's shirt, if you look at the line drawings on the back.  My husband has recently expressed interest in owning more short-sleeved button downs for summer, so I thought he would like it if I made some for him.  

When we got home from the trip, I couldn't wait to start sewing something & basics have been on my mind a lot, so I decided to use some stash fabric to make a basic gored a-line skirt.  The pattern was supposed to be three pieces, but I didn't have enough fabric to lay it out in 3 big pieces, so I cut 6 1/2 sized pieces that were easier to fit on the 2 yards of fabric I had and added seam allowance to stitch them together to make a 6 piece gored skirt that is gently gathered into the waist band and falls just below the knee.  I'm using the brown two-tone linen I've stashed for over a decade.


I thought about French seams, but decided that I wanted to do contrasting top-stitching, so I just pinked the seams and pressed them out, then top stitched with a bright orangey red.  I got this idea from tehe selvage edge of the fabric, which is red.  I actually wasn't sure which thread to use and I didn't want to wait to buy new thread, so I dug some up from my stash and tested out some browns, purples, a yellow, and a bright red.  The red won out.

So far, I am really liking how it's coming together and the fabric is a dream to sew, after so much quilting cotton for muslins. I'm really inspired and excited to be getting more materials to work with - now I just need time to make all my ideas and inspirations into reality.  

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