Tag Archives: sewing

Thrifting and sewing

All my life, I’ve been a thrift-shopper and a dressmaker.

But I’ve been on a sewing hiatus for quite a while now. Years, actually.

I think it was because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to wear, and since sewing is such a time-consuming activity, I didn’t want to waste my efforts on clothing that in the end I might not even wear.

And I had a similar problem with thrifted clothing. It seems I was buying things, only to re-donate them a few months later because I didn’t want to wear them. Finally I made the decision to stop shopping at thrift stores. I was wasting time and money, and regretting almost all my purchases.

But I think I’m ready to start sewing and thrifting again. Nowadays, I’m feeling more sure of myself when I go shopping. More and more, I’m finding things while shopping online or in a department store, and immediately I know that I could easily find something similar at the charity shops, or make it myself.

I’m actually feeling really excited and relieved about the opportunity to get some new things without spending an arm and a leg!

Oh, and did I mention that I decluttered my formerly-massive collection of sewing patterns? I’m down to about 20 patterns. I remember when I had at least 200. Things are really coming into focus.

Sea of Polyester

Since I began exploring personal style a few years ago, I think I’ve improved my shopping skills. Or at least I’ve learned to shop in a way that works well for me and my own style.

Here’s my shopping “philosophy”, in a nutshell:

First, decide what you want to buy. Be very specific.

Then shop for it.

This means that I don’t spend a lot of time browsing stores without a plan. I rarely thrift-shop or sift through clearance racks. If I know that a sale is upcoming, I might wait for it to make my purchase. But I usually already know what I’m going to buy.

Of course, there are exceptions. Usually, the exceptions apply to accessories like jewelry or scarves. With decorative items like those, it sometimes pays to go on a recreational shopping trip and just see what delightful designs you might stumble across.

But for most things, I like to have a plan. I like to know what I’m going to wear: to work, to exercise, to funerals, to weddings, etc.

Next month I have an event that I’m not prepared for. I need a casual dress, one that I can wear from morning to late evening and be photographed in. It’s going to be a long hot day, and some of the activities will be outdoors. I need something that won’t make me look completely wilted by the end of the day. Oh, and the dress can’t be sleeveless. I don’t do sundresses. And it must be affordable, since this isn’t a planned purchase that I’ve saved up for.

So I’m thinking, maybe a wrap dress in a cotton or rayon knit, or a simple fitted a-line dress or skirt in cotton or linen.

I went to the local mall, and it seemed like EVERY affordable dress was made of polyester. And overpriced, at that. I did find a couple of (expensive) cotton dresses, but the construction was so shoddy, I’d be embarrassed to wear them. I mean seriously embarrassed.

So I came home and got online (which is my preferred way to shop). I’d heard good things about Modcloth.com, so I checked out that site. When I saw the hundreds of beautiful dress designs, I got excited. And then I started to check the fabric content.

You guessed it: Polyester.

I have to say, I’m really, really puzzled at the number of summer dresses made of 100% polyester. For me, wearing polyester in summer is like wearing Saran Wrap. No thank you.

On the bright side: I’ve been meaning to get back into sewing, and this might just be the thing that inspires me to break out the sewing machine.