Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Charity shops getting expensive?

I don't know if anyone else feels that charity shops are getting more and more expensive but I have noticed the prices have become quite steep the last few months.  I would always want to support the work of charity shops and as well as benefiting the charity you are keeping clothes out of landfill when you use them. You also have the satisfaction of knowing you are not fuelling the cheap throw way fashion industry.  I am not preaching what anyone should buy I just know some people prefer to extend the life of their clothes.
I think the problem with the Charity shops increasing their prices is that it pushes people towards buying cheap imported clothing which may have dubious origins of manufacturing.  If people are going into a charity shop and they know they can get an item new from Primark for the same price of course most will do just that!


I think it is a real shame as they are affecting their business and probably turning people away who might have become lifelong customers, there is also the opportunity to find something a little bit different that may no longer be on sale elsewhere.  My mother in law works in such a shop and often tells me they check value of items against eBay now to make sure they get the best prices.  While I understand they need to make a profit as they have over heads same as any other store, they are not the same, they sell used items and I feel the prices should continue to reflect that fact.
The mail has an article about this here and although it is discussing an upmarket area I feel this is something that is perhaps happening everywhere. A look around the forums seems to show a trend for this topic.
I have mentioned before that some of my bargains have been bought from the charity shop sale, is this what is happening we have to wait for the charity shops to have a sale before their prices are reasonable.
When we are away on holiday in England I often browse a number of charity shops and I think the most  reasonable ones are the lesser known ones. I found a lovely wildlife rescue shop in Western Super-mare on a little side street and bought all sorts last year, my husband picked up some CD's, I got clothes, books and belts and I have to say the staff were really helpful. If that shop was in my town I would be a regular.  

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Fashion Drawing Book for Wish list and Journal Keeping

I did mention the other day how I do not get bored as there is always something to do, well one of the things I would like to try and learn is to put my designs on paper and be able to draw the fashion figures. Whenever I make something I always have an idea of where I'm going with it but I rarely put it down on paper.  Part of this may be that I often change my mind but there is also the issue of feeling that when I draw it it doesn't look right but in my head I can see it.  I know this is a skill that needs to be learned like any other and although some people are more talented at art than others I always feel that putting time in at something will get results.  I have seen this book on Amazon and added it to my wish list...
It has really good reviews, I will try the library first of course to see if I can order it but a few people have said they bought it after checking it out as it is so good.  It may be one for Santa if not, and I will just see what else the library has on offer first.  I have had a little go at getting my ideas down on paper (after the fact with one dress) just to try it out.  I copied a figure of a body from a website then drew my dress over the top, it may be basic but I have to start somewhere.  I decided I would start and do this in future and keep a a little scrapbook even if I don't make all the ideas it will serve as practice and I can add images I like and so on.    Here is a page ...
Like I said in this case it has been created after the dress is complete but I though it would serve to remind me of  projects or provide inspiration if I use it regularly. I also don't keep things forever so if I had done this in the past I could have looked back on past projects that I maybe no longer own.  I do photograph often now but I never used to.
I also sketched out some ideas on a sheet to give to someone who had seen my baby dresses, I added a few fabric samples and she has got back to me requesting dresses so that proved useful.
So I have made a bit of a start on developing one of the skills I want to learn.


  

Monday, 28 April 2014

Maxi Dress to Desigual Style

I refashioned my charity shop buy from last week yesterday, I had been looking at it and thought the only way it was going to resemble what I wanted was if I took quite a bit away with the scissors and gave it a proper shape.
Here it is when I had removed the brown beaded central panel and tie belt.
I cut quite a big section of the bottom then I decided this wasn't going to work that way so I also removed the section under the bust.
I then made a panel with double thickness of the fabric to make a fitted waist section. I had to cut the bodice up the sides also to make it fit. ( I measured myself first.)
 I pinned the section to the upper body
I then spaced the skirt fabric out evenly to make pleats which are all facing the centre, I wanted pleats and not gathers so it would have more structure.
I  replaced the belt loops in the new position and added a purple ribbon  that I bought for this purpose.
(trying photos outside for  a change. Ha!)
One more inside just to be sure
£6.50 from St Lukes Charity shop better than £119 Desigual below I think
Yes it's not the same I know, but the fabric and style is what I was aiming for, plus unless some one has the same original dress and decides to chop it up in exactly the same way as me, mine is a one off.  ( Although you are free to copy away if you want!)














Sunday, 27 April 2014

Baby dresses on Folksy

I have run up a few of the baby dresses this last few days same as the one I shared with you the other day.  I decided I would put them on Folksy just as it is more commonly known than my weebly shop but I may put them on there too another day. I bought some new cotton prints on Friday just fat quarters, to make a few of these dresses. (I also got a little carried away and bought black denim and Paul Smith shirting to line the jacket I will make with that but I will share that another day)
I have done five dresses and they are all 0-3 month age.






I thought I would just see how these go for now, but I would be happy to do boys clothing or Baptism gowns if there is a need. I have done communion gowns for a couple of girls before but obviously that usually needs people to be able to get to me for fittings etc.
I had a little go at photographing the dresses outside but it was windy and they kept blowing around (I had them on the line) 

I will have to be more inventive with my photographs I think.  Also I put them on the bench but then they were hung at a funny angle. 

 All this using the little digital camera! When you look at hints and tips for taking good photographs on the craft forums everyone has super expensive cameras! We do have a better camera so maybe I will have to get to grips with that, I also have a book on taking photos for craft selling, this one...
I have to admit that while I have read it I haven't put it to good use, there is always so much to do! While a lot of this stuff is necessary it all takes you away from the main thing that you love to do which is the sewing and creating.  Working full time does not leave as much time for learning all the stuff I would like to, marketing, photography, better blogging, design drawing, pattern making.... I could go on and on.  I will never understand people who are bored, I always have this feeling there are lots of things I want to learn and accomplish but there is never time as the day to day work and general house stuff gets in the way.   
I am going to start today I think and even if I only carve out a little time for myself I will try to learn a little about one of those areas I mentioned each day. You have to start somewhere right?



Friday, 25 April 2014

Baby dress

I was visiting my friend yesterday and her daughter has just had a baby, I had bought her some baby vests but wanted to make her something.  I have some new prints that I bought a while ago but they are only in fat quarters so I thought this would be an ideal time to put them to use.  I got some measurements offline for what size a 0-3 month baby is and drew some shapes, I want this dress to go on and off easily as I remember buying clothes for my children when they were babies and clothes that are a faff to get on and off will not get much wear.  I decided I would do little velcro pieces at the shoulder so that if she has quickly changed her outfit she doesn't want to be messing with little buttons.  I also decided to do it in two patterns, it would need a seam halfway up anyway given the size of my fabric choices but also I think it makes it a bit more interesting.


I lined the upper part of the body but not the skirt, the reason I did this was because it faced it all nicely around the top.  The fabric is cotton and on this occasion as I said I have used new fabrics.  The little recipient wasn't there last night but I hope to see her in it soon, I was told it looked as if it would fit her perfectly, I hope so. 


So this has got me thinking a possible new venture?  I would only use new fabrics on baby clothes and always cotton or cotton jersey, I probably need to do some more research on sizing for baby clothes and I would want to keep it simple.  I think due to the cost of cotton prints I would only try new baby size clothes to begin with and would have to look at where to list, as I said Folksy does not seem to be getting much traffic  for me and I only ever sold  one thing on Etsy in two years and that was because the lady knew me but chose to buy it through Etsy. So I haven't used Etsy since, I think I need to take the plunge, make quite a few items then have a look at how to market them, lots of people do very well on those sites, I have noticed their pictures are amazing however.  Maybe I need a photography course.
How are other people fairing on the big craft sites?  I have heard lots of people say you just have to keep listing regularly and keep adding new items, my worry with this is this ongoing cost especially if you are not selling anything, I don't mind the time as I enjoy the process but buying fabric is expensive. Is there something I am missing? I would love to hear anyone's thoughts on what they do to get sales moving or just make a real start.
I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Charity shop dress ideas

I bought a dress at the charity shop at the weekend, went in to drop off stuff and it was on the mannequin in the window.  There are a couple of things I don't like about it, the brown beaded detail at the waist, the length and also not sure about neckline. However I thought the fabric was  gorgeous, I think it is very similar to the prints on the Desigual dresses that I like.  The dress is a size 14 so will need a lot of taking in as I'm a size 8, I will also shorten it as I'm not into the maxi length.  I like the border at the bottom so I will perhaps shorten it from the waist and I may add cap sleeves, the beading is coming off so I will see what condition the fabric beneath that is like, this may involve a new waist panel if there are lots of stitch marks.
I have just realised you can't actually see the border on the bottom of the dress in this picture, oh well you will have to take my word for it. Here are some of the Desigual dresses I like for inspiration...
(£94 Desigual)
This has a ribbon tie at the waist I think purple would look good on the dress I bought.
(£114 Desigual)
This fabric is very similar, the shape is a bit baggy though.
I will have a look at it and may do something in-between. The prices of those dresses always make me smile because really! We can do better than that, right? 





Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Grey Tote Bag

I decided I would make a few more bags today to list on my store and on Folksy.  I looked on Folksy and renewed a couple of bags that had expired but to be honest it felt like a bit of a waste of time/money as they are hardly getting any views on there and on checking the forum lots of people are complaining about the same thing. Something has changed some internetty-complicated-thingy that is affecting everyone's views so that is a bit rubbish.  I  have sold on there before, only 11 and stretched over a couple of years so nothing wild! Better than nothing though. So I decided I would just list this new bag on my weebly website.Fab Bags



I have a bag this size that I always use for swimming I can fit my towel, suit, and all my shower stuff in there no problem.  I have only put it on for £10 so no real profit to be made on this one really as the cottons were new, lining recycled and ribbon trim also re-used.  I just want to get some interest going for now, I would also like to do more clothing for sale but this is tricky to sell online with sizing etc. I suppose I need to be more of  a risk taker rather than just making the odd thing and thinking oh that hasn't sold I won't do any more as they are just taking up cupboard space.  If anyone has any ideas for things they would like to see made that they are having trouble getting hold of let me know. I can run a few items up and see if they get any interest, I think people are perhaps short on funds at the moment so handmade originals are not top of peoples list of priorities.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bargain Garden Arbour

We have been wanting a garden seat to go in place of the children's trampoline and had thought about making one, I posted an idea from another blog where someone had used three dining chairs.  Well we had been looking and found that the price of decent second hand chairs was quite steep considering we would be taking bits of them apart, we also didn't see any suitable.  We may have been impatient but my husband had been looking on eBay and saw a nice bench and arbour that some one had started to paint and then got fed up with.  He bought it for £80, the guy even delivered it for us as they lived just in the next town.

  My husband spent the best part of the day painting it yesterday and we decided to leave off the back panel as we like the way you can see the bushes through the back. Here it is finished...
The total cost was £95 if you factor in the paint, I think it looks great and he has done a lovely job.  The people who were selling it were moving house and had decided it was one job too many to finish it up.  That was good news for us though as these are quite expensive when they are new.

This one here from Wickes that comes pre painted is £300 so I think that is a good saving.





Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cotton Blouse - mark darts as you fit

I have had this piece of fabric since last year, I really likes the design but I only bought  half of a meter. (these cotton prints are so expensive) So I was thinking what can I make?

I decided to just get on with it and make a blouse, hopefully with sleeves if there is enough.  I cut around a button up blouse I have leaving quite a large seam allowance to allow for mistakes. Then it looked like enough left for sleeves and bit of facing for neck so I cut these out as well.
I then sew the shoulder and side seams and try it on, it is usually a bit big when I do this but it doesn't matter I pin where the darts will go, in this case I did some across the top of the bust as well as down the front as it was bulging a bit there. I also noticed it was stuck out a bit on the shoulder blades so I put some horizontal ones there as well.  I straighten them all up and make sure they are evenly spaced when I lay it down flat.
Back
Front
I tried it with the sleeves sewn in and decided to shorten them a little, I did a pleat at the shoulder and also at the bottom of the sleeve then added a button. 
My overlocker has been broken for a while so the inside seams are zig zig stitched, I faced the neck line then hand stitched it invisibly on the inside, the sleeves and hem are machine stitched. (looking at my picture I need to iron the sleeve and dart seems a bit more)
I had hardly any fabric bits left so I really did just have enough for this top, I didn't do a side zip or vent but you could do this to make getting it on easier. I just pull it over my head and it is fine, no room for weight gain though.
I had these buttons in my sewing box, I'm getting through my stuff that I have collected over the years I will have to start replenishing them soon.  I always pick the buttons off things that are no longer any use, I also save all the spares you get with things.
Unfortunately the horses heads and bodies get a bit disfigured during the fitting!

So that is another item finished and no need of any patterns, it really annoys me what they charge for patterns and that people buy them as they think it is the easiest.  It is better to take something apart and look at it and have a go. You can buy  more fabric with the £7 or £8 pound you will save.  






Monday, 14 April 2014

Ethical Clothing and a Skirt and Top Revamp

I posted last week about some items I had in my sewing fabric box that would be made into a dress. These are the items...


Now it is difficult to see but the skirt is long and has a rather silly ruffle that goes a third of the way down the front and a big bow at the waist.  The top has a small hole in the side and the straps a very low ( obscenely low) at the front, if I wore it as it is you would probably see my stomach! So I had thought of making a dress but as I was unpicking the ridiculous ruffle I thought I would do skirt and top as that way I could still wear the top with jeans if I wanted to.   I chopped a good 9 inch off the top of the skirt and cut the skirt front all the way down the front once the ruffle was removed so that the seam I had to stitch didn't look odd.  I added  quarter inch elastic to make a new waistband by just folding over the top of the skirt, inserting elastic which I had stitched to correct waist size by trying first and then just sewing by zig  zag taking care not to catch on the elastic as I went. ( This is very quick)  The skirt looked better a;already without the bow and ruffle.
I fixed the hole in the top with a bit of invisible stitching, chopped of about 2 inch  off the straps, reshaped the front of the top by cutting then hand stitching on the inside so that the stitches didn't show.  (I thought it was a bit too pointy towards the shoulders before.)
Here it is with a belt and shoes ( it seems strange to take a picture without shoes!)
It is wearable now. I have to say when I first saw it I thought what can I do with that. Then it didn't take much to get rid of the fussiness of it.  Another holiday outfit for free!  (Need some sun on those legs though)

I read The Thrift book over the last two days which came in at the library from my order last week. It covers lots of things most of which I do already and I did enjoy it but I did disagree with her take on clothes buying.  She admitted throughout the book how middle class she is and how fortunate she has been but goes on to rant about people buying clothes at Primark and the implications of this.  

Ethical Clothing

I do agree that people should be paid a living wage and child labour should never be used, her argument was if you buy cheap you are supporting this and if you pay top whack you can sleep easy as you have done your bit.  That is all very well for a middle class journalist/author to say but what she didn't mention is that many of the pricey shops also use workers overseas in this way and I don't feel families on low incomes should be made to feel guilty for doing the best they can to clothe their children or themselves.  
I agree it is obscene to go in every Saturday and throw away clothes just because they are cheap to make way for new, but for a lot of people they shop there out of necessity.  
Just out of interest I think it is quite difficult to determine which shops are ethical or not, I had a look around the internet and found some conflicting suggestions as to which were the best places to shop.  One site put GAP quite high but on two others they were near the bottom, I suppose it depends on the loyalties of the site owners!  I did find a list on Ethical Consumer which puts M&S  at the top, Primark are near the bottom but I might add so are Wallis, John Lewis and River Island so it is not so much about what you pay.
I think the best way to be ethical about your clothing is to make it last, recycle, swap and make your own.  If you need to buy cheap do so when you need to, but not every week! 
I would also like to add my mother in law got me the above skirt (Which is GAP) in the St Lukes charity shop sale last year for 50p! The top also from a charity shop I bought for £2 and it's organic cotton.



Sunday, 6 April 2014

Four frugal things today

This week I have been reading 'Divergent' by Veronica Roth  and I'm sorry to say  I'm not enjoying it at all.  Sorry mainly because this is a book I bought and usually I try to get as much as I can from the library ( we do all pay for the library you know through our council tax so get using them!) but his time based on the good reviews I bought it.  It is dull I feel and yes I know it's aimed at the teen audience but so was the Hunger Games and it had  a good story and likeable characters.
So on to frugal thing number one, I ordered four books from the library online this one...
  and this one...


and these two...
                          
The Thrift Book and Fractured are not even in at the library yet but they are on order so you can still reserve them.  So that has saved me some money and using the library is recycling remember.

Frugal thing two is lunch at home we always do this but I know some people like to go out for dinner on Sundays and if it's five pound a head tell themselves its cheap. Well that is fine if that is what you like but it is not cheap, you don't usually get desert with that and there are drinks on top.  I think for a family of four that is still working out quite expensive.  We like to save meals out as a treat but even then I usually feel our cooking at home is better.  I think being a vegetarian also means me and my son don't have that much choice and I'm sat thinking well I could have done better than that.  If that sounds like you maybe you should cut down on the meals out.

Frugal thing three is a walk with the dogs, the sun made an appearance this afternoon and we had a nice walk I actually took off my jacket because I got warm, that has to be a good thing. 

Frugal thing four is after sorting through my box of fabric I found two items that I think I will turn into a dress  this week they are straight out of the box so that is why they are crinkly..

I also had a little bit of red fabric, so after yesterdays post I thought maybe three panels in the dress but looking at the colours in that skirt I think another panel would just be too much.  I have pinned where the straps need adjusting on the top and I will need to remove the big bow and ruffle from down the front of the skirt, it also has pocket but there is a join beneath so I think they will need to stay.  
So that will keep me busy for a few days. I am swimming tomorrow evening so I doubt it will be finished by then.




Making a Bra

Well the last two afternoons have seen me kept busy trying to make a bra, not a floppy one but a structured one with bones.  Now rather than...