Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blue Dog

I’m not quite sure what it was about that woman at the first sale on Friday. It took her less than two minutes to have me gritting my teeth with irritation. I thought at first that she was a shopper because she had an adorable little long-haired dachshund on a leash following her around. But no, it was her sale, and she was dragging the poor pup hither and yon while she fussed with setting up. Then I started looking around and found ridiculous prices – on the things that even had prices. Evidently she was expecting people to make “reasonable offers” that she could reject. When I asked her what she considered reasonable for a piece of framed art, she thought that it could go for at least $300. You could feel a ripple of mirth around the single-car garage when she said that, and practically see a thought balloon over every shopper’s head:


We returned empty handed to KK’s car and I told her and Judy how annoyed I now felt. Turns out they both had gritted tee too. Grrrrr. Judy commented that everywhere she’d ever worked there was someone just like this woman that you had to get along with.

At least we could drive away. Hooray for yard sales – and retirement!

I wasn’t sure the next nearby address would be up and running yet, we were somewhat before their stated starting time. But they were ready, and turned out to be the perfect antidote to the first woman. Two sisters, probably in their early 70s. One had just moved into the house to live with the other, and they had boxes and boxes of unneeded stuff. “We grew up in this house,” one told me. Her sister ruefully added, “Can you believe I’m back in the same bedroom I started out in? At least we don’t have to share it anymore!” “Yeah,” the first sister said. “She was really mean to me!” They were a hoot. And they had sensible prices (yes, a lot of things were fifty cents or less!) I left them with $1.75 and took away a cutting mat

cutting matfiskars mat

some large padded envelopes

padded envelopesand some nice yarn (future slippers).

wool yarn

The colors remind me of a wonderful hydrangea bush we saw somewhere along the way.

hydrangeafaded hydrangea

Judy and KK both found goodies as well, and we departed with expressions of mutual goodwill and feeling much soothed.


The rest of the morning was pretty normal; friendly banter as we perused lots of stuff none of us needed or wanted, along with a few little buys. The sweetest stop had three-month-old twin boys watched over by their dad, who told us all about how they got their rather literary names (one was Sawyer, whom the dad affectionately called “Soybean”). Turns out dad is a high school English teacher. His students are lucky to have him!

I picked up some movies along the way

more movies

and some brand new jam jars – only one jar missing from the case, and only a buck for the other eleven.

jam jars

We stopped for a yummy Thai lunch, then hit a last sale on the way home. I had low expectations since the sale had been going for hours, but found my favorite item of the day there, this adorable cotton rug.

blue dog rugdog rug

It reminded me immediately of our Zoe. Not just the face

blue dog Zoe 

but because when we are downstairs watching movies in our home theatre (yes, there’s a projector, 10 foot wide screen, surround sound, it’s way cool) and you stop the film, the screen is lit up bright blue which reflects off her white coat, and we call her our Blue Dog. After I got home I realized it also reminds me of the dogs James Thurber used to draw

as well as a favorite figurine in my hodgepodge collection of Things I love.

Thurber-esque dog

The rug is small, only about 18” square, and I’m toying with the idea of trying to incorporate it into a jacket. Could work. Maybe. I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I can resist anything - except temptation!

Ahhh, sweet temptation. That siren song that lures you to your doom. Actually, I’m hoping my temptations won’t be my doom – it’s hard to imagine how the current, shall we say, obsession could spell doom. Unless it all fell on me at once and I smothered. Could happen, I suppose.

Talking about clothing to upcycle here. Found more this weekend, and last weekend. It’s just so available…and SO inexpensive. I tell you, I can’t help having a bit of a superior chuckle when I read how much other people who are refashioning pay for their raw materials. “It was only $8.99 at the thrift store!” or, “a mere £4.50 in a local charity shop!” they enthuse. (Google tells me that at today’s exchange rate that’s a little over $7.00.) I’m not sure I could cut up a $7 shirt!

I just had a look at my spreadsheet for this year, and wow, I really have brought home a lot of pieces of clothing. They range from scarves to coats, sweaters, pants, shirts, dresses…a whopping 111 pieces. Yikes, I really could smother if it all fell on me at once! And the outlay? $76.25. Less than 70 cents each on average, with $2 being the top price for any one piece. Less than $10 a month for hours of fun (both the buying and the remaking!), and the resulting unique pieces of clothing and other items.

Okay, I feel better. Yes, I succumb to temptation on a regular basis, but my gambles are small and my wins are big.

So here are my latest finds. Friday morning Judy and I headed out, our first stop being in our second favorite midcentury neighborhood (our most favorite being our own!). They were still unloading boxes and boxes of clothing. I overheard someone ask what size a pair of pants might be, and the answer was, “I’ve been every size over the years from a 10 to a 22, so they could be about anything. But they look like about a 12.” Evidently she bought lots of things at every size, and any piece was a dollar. I actually did resist most, but brought home a heavy wool blazer, more of a coat really, to embellish

blazer to embellish

a short dress of 100% linen

blue linen tunic

and a rayon border print shirt and skirt. I’ve already figured out how I’m going to combine these two pieces.

border print shirtborder print skirt

Judy found a shirt in heavy plaid rayon that’s way too big, so we’re going to play with refashioning it for her. I don’t usually get to do any smallifying, so this will be fun.

plaid rayon shirt

She had a bunch o’ shoes available as well (also a dollar a pair) and most were too small for me, but I gambled on this pair of boots.

green bootsgreen boots toes

Green boots! How could I not? Not sure they’re going to work though – a bit tight, and I don’t do hurty feet. I wore them for a while yesterday, and they may be okay for short periods. Or I may get over my yen for minty green boots and give them to Judy, whose feet are a bit smaller than mine. (Sigh.)

My other finds of the day were a dog brush for Zoe and a ream of very old stationery, which I have made into a pad by smearing hot glue on the top edges. Handy scratch paper for my desk.

old stationery

And at our last stop, a 50¢ pair of heavy linen slacks that were just what I was looking for

linen slacks

to make into a bath towel. A nice quick project!

rustic linen towel

I like the one I made before from a couple of linen pillowcases, but wanted to try another with heavier linen. The finished result is rather rustic, but I don’t mind a bit.

linen towel

Last week was similarly clothing focused. I was garaging alone, so there was no one to tell me to stop (not that my usual companions do that anyway). I only went to 4 or 5 places, and found nothing until I arrived at my final destination. Oddly enough it was just around the corner from where I found this week’s scores. Something about that neighborhood?

This lady had very high quality stuff; she told me about buying one of my items at Nordstrom “In that expensive department they had, you know the one I mean.” I agreed, but I was lying! The really expensive department at Nordstrom would not be my natural habitat. But her shopping habits paid off for me. I picked up a couple of wonderful print skirts like this one  blue floral skirt      floral skirt

that I will probably combine with this silk shirt.

silk velvet shirt

Silk lining, and the top fabric is not a print but rather cut velvet. Amazing to the hand.

cut velvet

Got a couple of pairs of silk slacks (cream and midnight blue), a Carole Little skirt

vintage Carole Little skirt

and this Sixties-vintage velveteen skirt that I’m thinking of making into a cape.

Century of Boston maxi skirt vintagevelveteen skirt detail

Also two matching silk pieces, a long skirt with an interesting waistband (complete with clip for your keys or something)

long silk skirt

and a jacket that I think will become a vest.

80s silk jacket

Just couldn’t resist the butt pockets. What WERE they thinking?!

vintage butt pockets

If that weren’t enough, I spotted a basket of textiles sitting on the ground with a little sign saying “Scarves 25¢.” I’ve been thinking about ways to combine scarves into garments so I picked up the basket and started going through the riches therein. Picked out a dozen! A few were silk

square silk scarveslong silk scarves

and the rest are tissue-thin 100% wool.

wool scarvesvintage wool scarves

Her husband saw me selecting scarves. “She used to buy a scarf just about every day,” he told me with a nostalgic smile, “and then she’d usually wear each one once and put it away.” Some husbands would say that with ire, but not this guy. I can see I should have asked him to adopt me on the spot.

So I must be off to my upcycling, my little chickadees. It might be a good idea to use up some of that stash before it DOES fall on my head!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Up Your Pendletons

Most of the time when I find a Pendleton shirt, it ends up in my husband’s closet.

Pendletons in the closet

Which is where I assumed this one was destined when I found it a couple of weeks ago at a yard sale. Paid a buck for it, which is a good price for any wool shirt, let alone a Pendleton.

Pendleton frontPendleton back

This one turned out to have had something of a hard life.

Holes on the Pendleton

But no matter. I don’t mind mending, and I wanted to participate in The Refashioners 2015, in which sewists are challenged to refashion a man’s shirt. I washed the Pendleton (I don’t dry clean, no matter what the tag says!), rolled up my sleeves, and went to work.

Warranted to be a Pendleton

The first step was to delve into my refashioning stash. I was originally going to use the turtleneck and cuffs from this heavy merino wool sweater.

Merino Too warm.

But I was afraid it would just too darned warm. (Of course the fact that I’m constructing this in August for pity’s sake might have influenced my thinking.) After a bit of a rummage, I settled on this kitten-soft cashmere sweater that my friend Judy gave me when she did a closet cleanout.

Cashmere sweaterCashmere

Then I found another Pendleton hidden in a box – a similar plaid in a smaller size.

Vintage Pendleton cutter

The differences between these older shirts and the newer ones were interesting. No ‘dry clean only’ tag on the old one – the tag gave full washing instructions - and they were more generous in the use of fabric. For instance, 3” turnbacks for the front facings instead of a strip of taffeta.

Vintage facingModern facing

Had a great time putting things together. I inserted a bias pleat in the back, cut from the back of the second shirt. I removed the front buttons and used part of a vintage sleeve to hinge the front together. Removed the original collar and cuffs and added cashmere ones. Mrs. Wilberforce helped with that part, kindly holding down the shirt while I hand-stitched the cuffs.

Mrs. Wilberforce helps me sew

She made sure to get the maximum amount of pale kitty fur on the dark wool. She’s nice that way.

Mrs. W

And voila, we now have a Pendleton pullover!

Upcycled Pendleton frontUpcycled Pendleton back

It’s very comfortable. And very warm. (Especially in August!)

Upcycled label

This is not my first Pendleton upcycle however. And I don’t think it’s the cutest. That would have to be the vintage Pendleton that I made over for Zoe.

Vintage Pendleton dog coatZoe goes plaidA Pendleton helps you roll over

This one involved quite a bit of pinning and saying, “Zoe! Stand! Wait!” She was very patient as I figured things out.

Besides the back and collar, we were able to utilize the original buttons and buttonholes.

Original buttons & buttonholes

Like mine, hers includes cashmere for the lining – what was left of a sweater that she chewed the sleeves off of. And the chest piece is decorated with a vintage button from my stash.

Vintage heart button

I realized recently that Zoe has quite a creative streak in her. I’ve always thought she was chewing up cloth napkins for the hell of it

Zoe's handiwork

but finally I see that she has been trying to do her own upcycling.

Refashion by Zoe

Guess this would have to be called a pupcycle, right?

Zoe's pupcycle

Rummaging through my stash of cloth and sweaters, I came across a couple more vintage Pendleton shirts that I’d forgotten were there. And some more sweaters from Judy.

I foresee a warm and cozy winter ahead!

Me & Zoe in our Pendletons

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