Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dress Envy

     I heart this dress.  Love the color, love the pintuck ruffles, love the red shoes with it.  It appeals to the vintage lover in me, and I like that it looks somewhat demure librarian, yet somewhat naughty secretary.  All it needs is a cute little red handbag and a pair of bookish glasses to complete the look.
    Don't ask me where I would wear this ensemble.  Walking the kids to school?  Out picking up groceries at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods?  At home as I unload the dishwasher or change baby's diaper?  Perhaps out on one of my thrift store jaunts?  No, sadly, it would be a special occasion dress, i.e. hubby and I hired a babysitter so we can actually have a (gasp!) date night.  And I'd have to ditch the glasses so as not to look too Jane Hathaway. 
    But I do heart that dress.  I may have to thrift a dress and embellish with pintuck ruffles to achieve the look.  I think I've just been inspired to do my first up-cycle project.  Thrift shops, here I come!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guilty pleasure: thrifting

     I have a confession to make.  I have a thrifting problem.  I believe my dear hubby has suspected as much, but has wisely kept silent.  Indeed, he's been my enabler, helping me find and going with me to estate and yard sales, though he seems to have drawn the line at going to thrift shops. 
     I think my hubby supports my habit because it's environmentally friendly (keeps stuff out of the land-fills), and he likes the retro stuff that I find.  Plus, it keeps me out of retail stores, which is a much more expensive habit.
     If you like vintage stuff enough to want to own it, then thrift shops, estate sales and yard sales are part of your life.  Here are some thrifting tips and tricks (none of this is new, but I thought I'd pass it along):

 Estate and Yard Sales:
  • Craigslist is a good resource for finding estate and yard sales.  I like to use keywords (such as vintage, mid-century, pyrex to narrow down the list).  I like it even better if pictures are included in the listing.
  • You have to be careful about "estate sales."  True estate sales are the liquidation of the contents of an entire house and garage.  I've gone to a few so-called estate sales which are really yard sales where the seller has purchased items from estate sales, and is now re-selling them for a profit.  Usually, the prices at this type are higher than at true estate sales.
  • If you're looking for vintage pyrex and kitchenware, the best time to show up is right at the beginning of the sale.  These items sell quickly.
  • The same can be said of vintage sewing and knitting paraphernalia.
  • If you like something but are not sure you want it, pick it up anyway.  You can always put it down at the final tally.  But if you don't pick it up and then go back for it, chances are it won't be there.
  • Generally, the more you pick up, the better the deal.  If you have a price in mind for what you've selected, don't be afraid to ask the seller if they'll take that amount for your lot.  Especially if it's towards the end of the day.
  • Always bring small bills.  It's a faux-pas to bargain down a price, then whip out a big bill for which the seller will have to make change.
 Thrift Shops
  • Consult yelp.com to find which are the better thrift shops in your area.  It helps to read the reviews about a particular shop, as yelpers usually point out the strengths and weaknesses of a location they are reviewing, and which shops to avoid at all costs.
  • Be prepared to look at a lot of junk before finding your treasure.  On some days, you may walk away empty-handed.  The fun is in the search.
  • Know your limit- you aren't really thrifting if you're paying more than you wanted to for an item.  In either case, pat yourself on the back for keeping it out of the land-fill.
  • Find out what the sale days are for that particular shop.  Some shops have a discount on a certain department depending on the day of the week, or may have a certain day of the month when everything is 1/2 off.
  • If you're buying clothes and are going to try on at the store, wear something like a t-shirt and leggings so you can try-on over your clothes, or a t-shirt and a loose skirt so you can try-on under your clothes.  Donated clothes are not always pre-washed!
  • Familiarize yourself with labels.  I've seen Target merchandise priced upwards of $7.99, but labels sold at Anthropologie tagged at $3.99 (and yes, I jumped at the Anthropologie merch).
  • If you find an independently-run thrift shop that you like, donate your cast-offs regularly.  It never hurts to build a rapport with the owner or manager.  And by keeping them in business, you get to keep indulging in your guilty pleasure.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A treat for Martina

     Martina has been wanting to learn how to sew.  This, coupled with my fondness for vintage pieces, led to this purchase from a yard sale:



     It's a Singer 257, and it is heavy- I think I pulled a muscle putting it in the car!  The operating manual and accessories which usually come with a machine (screw driver, feet, extra needles, cleaning tool, etc) were not available.  The machine only came with the carrying case and foot peddle, so I was able to talk them down from $50 to $35 .  I gave it a good cleaning inside and out, oiled it and played around with the tension.  She's ready to go. 
     The machine matches Martina's room (which, I must admit,  did have somewhat of an influence when I made the decision to buy it).  Now to find space for it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sewing mishap, lesson learned

     I usually remove the pins as I sew before the needle sews over the pin.  Then I heard in my quilting class that it isn't necessary, as the pin almost always gives way to the needle.  Almost always.


     Lesson learned.  Remove the pins.  Luckily, I just bought a pack of needles a couple of weeks ago because the needles hasn't been changed since I've had the machine.
     With new needle in place, I can continue on with a tote bag with these fabrics:


     It's destined to be a gift for one of Martina's friends.  We'll fill with either art supplies, or some fun little tchotchkes from a Japanese store.