Last time I had the privilege of guest posting for Susie I ended up rambling on about the magic of antique and junk shopping and buying second hand. All true, I stand by almost every word. Today I want to talk to you about a semi-related topic; buying clothes second hand and even weirder, making your own clothes.
This was the first real success I had making a dress. Thank you Colette Patterns!
Several years ago when my marriage was still young my husband and I went to the local sears to buy our first washer and dryer. We were very excited about this mundane task because it was the most grown-up thing we’d ever done. We were using our own money that we’d saved so I could go to grad school (that didn’t really pan out) and were all hopped up on living in an actual house and working in a real job (by real I mean our first full time ministry which is about as far from real as you ca get). I happened upon a pale blue sewing machine and for some strange reason fell in love with it. We bought it, I’m still not sure why as no one in my family sews.
The pattern for this shirt was free on-line!
It’s just that after four grueling years of college I yearned to create something tangible. Make something with my hands that you didn’t eat. So when I saw that blue
Kenmore I felt some kind of whisper inside me. For several years I dabbled in making curtains, pajama pants for my siblings at Christmas, scarves for friends, that kind of thing. Then a couple years ago our friend Susie introduced me to the horrifying world of human trafficking and it’s role in the things we consume and buy including clothing (that sounded really dark didn’t it?) At the same time I was stumbling upon the youthful on-line sewing community. I had no idea so many people were making their own clothes and I had no idea that there were so many unique and chick patterns out there. Those two things along with masochistic tendencies sort of combined into a desire to make a significant part of my own wardrobe.
I love this dress but it was definitely a labor of love.
A couple of years later and I’m sewing more then ever. I am amazed at how my skills have advanced (I can now install an invisible zipper without swearing). I am addicted to making unique things. I like a slightly vintage look which costs a ton to buy but not if I’m making it myself! It’s not always easy, but I love it. I love wearing something to church and getting compliments knowing that I made it myself, that no one else is going to have this exact thing, and knowing that it’s constructed better then most things you buy off the rack (I was recently given a high end jacket as a gift and I’ve already had to repair it).
I think the fabric for this dress is so unique and cool.
I’ve also taken the plunge into buying my clothes second hand. You’d think this would be easy for me considering all I had to say about decorations and antiques and every thing, but clothing is an entirely different matter. I already make my own clothes and I’m a minister’s wife so throw in goodwill and a bun in my hair and you’ve crossed a line your not coming back from. However, I was feeling ever more convicted about slave labor and have not the skill nor time to make every thing I wear so some friends and I went to Kalamazoo and tried out all the second hand shops to see what we’d find.
Turns out there are A LOT of scary scary places to look in Kalamazoo. BUT, we also found some great places. So a few months ago I took a personal challenge not to buy any new clothes for six months (except underwear and socks). I am pleased to say that it’s going very well. I actually have nicer clothes in my wardrobe now because I am able to buy the brands that I could never afford new. I’d say about half of what I buy still has the original tags on it (who are these people that are buying brand new $100 Ann Taylor blouses and never wearing them?) And, I’m supporting a local business instead of a giant box store or company that’s using questionable labor practices.
This is a Couple hundred dollar dress I got at Double Exposure in Kzoo, along with a vintage hat.
Honestly, for the first time in years I feel almost fashionable. I am developing a style that’s very me but still cute (it took a while to get rid of the just-had-a-baby-don’t-have-time-for-hair-or-makeup-look) I’m not spending money I don’t have and am actually excited about fashion (well my fashion which is more fashion vintage instead of fashion forward). There’s something about the hunt of the second hand shop that excites me whereas the department store made me sad and frustrated with my body. When I sew a garment for myself I can make it fit my odd and short frame just the way I want. Yes, I still have many flops, but I can say there are less of those. I started dressing nicer and then, so did my husband (we’re regular madmen look-a-likes). Take some time and check out some second hand shops in your town you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Get out your sewing machine and try making something; you might find yourself addicted to the pleasure of making something yourself, something that will last and has more meaning. You might find that changing the world one stitch-at-a-time is easier then you thought.
My newest addition. I wanted the skirt to have a Scandinavian look to it and the top is from 360 in Kzoo.
I don’t shop anywhere but the Goodwill. I absolutely LOVE it! The excitement of the hunt combined with fantastic finds is unparalleled. I have many Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and United Colors of Benetton items that I would never in a million years buy from their original source. All in great shape. All for less than $5.00. My Dad gave me a sewing machine when I was about 13, and I haven’t stopped mending, altering and creating yet. Bravo to you!!