Goodness, who doesn't love a nice thrift store?
Now, I know there are some folks out there who are think the phrase “nice thrift store” is terribly ironic. I also am aware of ones that aren't comfortable with used goods. I respect that. For those of you who, like me, spent many years of your childhood wearing “new” school clothes each year—right on. Maybe it’s the inner frump in me but I never felt ashamed of wearing "thrifted" clothing, neither was I afraid of shopping at Savers or Thrift Town.
Don’t get me wrong, I was always grateful to leave the musty haze of mothballs, not to mention the violent allergy attacks that followed some of those visits. However, as I grew older (and more responsible with caring for my allergies) I would peruse the book section and, more often than not, spend the entire time there, flipping through a vintage Nancy Drew or, as I did once, nearly grab a leather-bound copy of “The Hitchiker’s Guide to The Galaxy” only to find that it smelled strongly of maple syrup. On a nicer note, I have also found some beautiful baby alpaca yarn, vintage coats, suits and purses, even sewing notions and more leather bound classics that don't carry such a breakfasty fragrance…the list goes on.
I have also begun to be inspired by all the clothes refashioning I see on some of my favourite blogs using thrifted clothing, this usually serves as the impetus behind my visits to thrift stores. "But what is a refashioning?", you rightly ask. Refashioning/Restyling is essentially taking one garment and-using basic to advanced sewing skills and perhaps a few other kinds o' skills-altering it so that it becomes another garment or accessory. Take, for instance, a man's dress shirt; you buy it, you use it, and then one day the collar won't obey the stays and just when you can't stand it anymore...in this case a refashion is smarter move than a bitter trip to goodwill. Or maybe it's a good move, one that somebody else may benefit from *hint hint*. In fact, one man's button down shirt can be turned into a skirt, a dress, a pillow case, even lining for a bag! And that's if you're just working with one shirt. I have a friend who has designed and now plans to sew a dress using several men's dress shirts.
What is interesting to see on blogs are all the documented clothing transformations. Someone will take an old garment that they already own or they will buy something cheap at the thrift store and complete change the way it looks. Often they will demonstrate each step they took to refashion a garment via tutorial. I love those. In a lot of ways, this seriously changes the way I look at clothing, patterns, even other non-sewing materials. Instead of focusing on what I see in front of me, I imagine what it could be. It's like learning all the ways to cook with garlic or use acrylic guesso. With the smallest change in perspective suddenly the options are nearly limitless.
What also helps is that this is so very economical. During World War II, homemaking ladies had to “make do and mend.” Of course resources were short for obvious and depressing reasons and people had always mended their clothes before the 1940's, but the idea behind this way mending is smart and a little intriguing. Just think of the wasteful consumerism today wherein no mainstream garment is made to last. An old dress that today we would throw out, they would keep and dye or add some fabric or leftover lace to change its look. With this in mind, I try to look at what I already own with a sharper eye. If a dress is starting to look a little sad, I'll turn it into a jacket or a skirt. I have even restyled men's shirts into skirts and blouses and one day hope to try contrasting two old blouses into one. I also love seeing what some sewers do to gross, oversized dresses from the 80’s and 90's. One of my favourite refashions that screams snazzy and creative is what a blogger did to an old two piece suit. She actually took the suit apart and turned it into a cool coat.
As for me...
A couple weeks ago I found this 90's silk dress from at Mission Thrift for $2:
And (so far) I have turned it into this hot little number: