Tag Archives: Op-shop

My made June-ish

17 Jul

June is usually the coldest month here, and my warmer clothes are usually just op-shop finds to see me through an average of all of 3 weeks of cold weather. So I didn’t sign up for Me-Made June.

But this June turned out sooooo cold I had to dig out some of my southern travel clothes for their extra warmth. One old favourite is this blue velvet skirt. I found the skirt, a straight wrap-around in I think a size 8, (too small for me) in an op-shop in Darwin when I was 19. I made it into this straight skirt that buttons up at the side. (Gorgeous buttons. Mmmm!) The fabric was a tad worn and frayed in places when I found the skirt, and I do secretly love that. It has Character!

It turned out to be the perfect weight for the extra-cold weather. Yes yes, I really was barefoot even though it was freezing 😛 I wore this skirt so much that, especially on days I wore a top I had also made, like this one, I was doing a Me-Made June after all.

One day I will work out how to fit the back of my bodices so they don’t have all that extra fabric in them. I already take some length out of the waist. I have trialled taking some of that excess out of the shoulders/neck, without affecting the armscye. I think it is working. More on that in a later post when I am more confident of what I am doing.

The top is my “wearable muslin” of Sense and Sensibility’s swing era dress pattern, started when I optimistically joined Casey‘s Swing era dress sew-along earlier this year. I ‘fess, I went on holiday in the middle of the sew-along and never started the actual dress The muslin worked out just fine, however, so I finished it off as a top, (practised that crazy shoulder corner seam!) and it soon became a wardrobe favourite. I suspect it is partly to do with the colour (looks lovely on me and goes with everything in my wardrobe), partly the weight of the fabric is so nice (cotton poplin), the style is comfortable (love that back pleat!) and it suits my figure. What more can a girl ask for?

(For the record I have some red, red, red cotton sateen in the cupboard to make the actual dress up.)

Another RTW skirt copy

20 Jan

I could get some piccies taken, of the clothes I have sewn over the holiday season. Finally! [inserts long boring technical explanation on why I can’t get decent pictures of clothes when it is raining all day every day]*

This one is based on a Glassons skirt, via the local op-shop, and, like the skirt in a previous post, was also a size 8, hired for $4 for the year or so it took me to recover my health. I did this version in a grey cotton-lycra poplin, one of my favourite kind of fabrics.

The original was a dark blue denim skirt which sadly I don’t have a picture of. I had thought the heavy denim would make it too hot to wear but the slide-slits worked magic. (It was bizarrely good for practising archery in – easy to move in because of the side-slits, the straight pattern meant no excess fussy fabric, and denim, so I discovered, doesn’t pick up grass seeds easily.) (And it has been too wet to try my new version out yet.)

I didn’t actually take a copy of the skirt, as it was a simple straight skirt with slanting patch pockets and orange top-stitching. I did what I have done on a number of other occasions and worked directly with the fabric
1) I measured my hip-width front and back (because my quadriceps are big so doing a separate measurement for front and back creates a much better fit), then baste them together for ease of handling.
2) Put the skirt on and pin out darts, and shape the side seams
3) baste the darts and side-seam, try on, refine fit.

This way of creating a straight skirt has worked in the past to create a gorgeous-fitting skirt. Sadly, I don’t think this fabric showcases it all that well – I think the fabric is a tad too light for the style of skirt, so it doesn’t hang as well as the original did. But that is a fabric issue, not a fitting one.

4) Make pockets – I did this working from memory, and ‘eyeballed’ it till the looked the right size, with the right angled slant. I tried the skirt with the pockets basted on to make sure the line looked good across the hip. I do think a diagonal line in that area is a flattering addition to a straight skirt.
5) constructed skirt
6) consulted with my Sewing Buddy (aka my mum) about adding an emellished edging and decided it would look good.
7) Embellish in black rayon thread with the satin-stitch diamonds.
8) Model finished product, and conclude the embellishment was the perfect finishing touch, adding a definition the skirt lacked until then.

Although I love the results of fitting the skirt entirely on me from the start, since I see a few more straight skirts in my future, I am wondering if taking a bit of time to draft up a skirt pattern following this tutorial from BurdaStyle would make as nice a skirt with less fiddling round. But, what with planning to do the swing dress sewalong, and my work jacket needing mending, pattern drafting can wait.

*A note for the curious: In case you have (like my sister in London(!)) heard reports of “fierce storms” in Darwin and thought we were in danger of drowning like the rest of Aust, let me assure you it’s okay. It is NORMAL for us to have fierce storms at this time of year. We are right in the middle of the wet season, we get weather like this every year, and everything is set up to cope with it. Worry about the rest of the country drowning, not us!
(If we get a category 3 or above cyclone bearing down on us, then worry about us. Meep)

My “Portmans Skirt” – pattern drafted from a Portmans Skirt op shop find

14 Jan
A few years ago as a result of severe illness I lost a lot of weight. Scary (honestly). Too ill to sew new clothes that weren’t falling off me, I went op-shopping. Just for the record, the best sizes to be when it comes to clothing availability and variety at op-shops, are (Australian) 12-14. Size 8, as I was is reeeelly reeelly hard to get decent stuff in, 10 is better but nowhere near as good as 12 or 14. (Friends who are larger sizes tend to have less luck at op-shops too) One of the few skirts I found was a gorgeous little Portmans number, brown with a very subtle pinstripe, cut on the bias, asymmetrical hemline. Perfect.
When I recovered somewhat and went back to a more normal weight, it got too small for me. A very sad realisation (even though I was glad to be so much healthier!) But… I had a brainwave! I copied it and enlarged the pattern to fit me now, before I sent it back to the local op-shop (I guess I sort of hired the skirt – $4 for a year, not a bad hire rate at all!)
I soon found the perfect fabric on special at Spotlight – a natural but unknown fibre (likely linen cotton mix) in a purplish brown just begging to be made into the Portmans Skirt. Here it is!

Not sure how easy it is to see but there is a diagonal seam running from the top of my thigh on the right of the picture, down to the mid-hem on the left.
It is a very simple style, two pieces front and back, both the same size and shape but the asymmetrical hemline minimises any potential odd look from it sitting differently front to back. The top piece is on the true bias, the bottom one almost on the straight grain, the different grainlines working together to create a lovely fall to the skirt. The original skirt had a faced waistband (I didn’t bother with that, simply stay-stitching the top of the skirt to stabilise it, then folding the top of the skirt down in a narrow hem. Because it sits on the hips and is bias, it has very little shaping along the top so this worked fine.)

This diamond stitch is one of the very few decorative stitches on my beloved but very utilitarian sewing machine. I embroidered along the diagonal seam to give it a subtle highlight (Normal polyester sewing cotton. I know very little about embroidery, machine or otherwise so I just pretended I knew what I was doing and gave it a go. I am pleased with the results)

A postscript to this skirt: not long after I made it, the colour started fading fast. I was pretty upset. The colour is one of the things I adore about it. One of those garments that is a great fusion of colour, style and fabric. And the colour was going! Wagh!
I was doing some dying of dark purple a few months later, and threw this skirt in as well. It didn’t change the colour much, happily, but evened out the fading, and hopefully made the original colour more colourfast as well. However when I saw some more of the same fabric on sale at Spotlight after christmas this year I didn’t grab any more, too unhappy with the fading to waste either sewing a garment that doesn’t last, or have to fiddle around redying it.

Cost: Fabric $6, cotton $2.80 zip $1, redye a portion of $14, pattern $0 = approx $14
RTW price equivalent (from Portmans website) $80
Time guestimate* Pattern drafting 1 hr, cutting and sewing 4 hrs

*It is only ever a guess because I usually sew in little bits and pieces amongst all my other daily life.

Travel wardrobe review

1 Jan

I haven’t posted for so long because I was away. Yup, it was a lovely trip, thanks!
And… my travel wardrobe was perfect – until about 2 weeks into the trip I was bored out of my mind wearing the same clothes over and over and went op-shopping. For the record, Goulburn has some great op-shops. My sister-in-law recommends one in Yass, but I didn’t manage to get there, sadly.

I was boringly strict about making sure everything matched absolutely everything else, and it worked brilliantly. Here is pretty much what I took:
Grey a-line skirt
Black trousers
Cargo trousers
A pinafore dress in a brown-purple.
4 t-shirts; green; grey; white; my favourite purple t-shirt with snoopy in the front.
2 long-sleeved t-shirts: turquoise; grey-green
1 long-sleeved top in soft blue
1 singlet: watermelon
1 pr lounging pyamas (which did wear to bed on occasion)
1 rayon sarong
1 lightweight red cardigan,
1 heavy-weight light blue cardigan
1 pr bright red velvet Mary Janes
1 pr blue-grey Mary-janes
Vibram five-fingers
A collection of hats and hosiery

I came home with all of the above except for the 2 prs of trousers – I didn’t like either enough to wear them up here in the dry season, so I just left them behind.

  • gorgeous red and black cotton dress “Made in Roumania” on the swing tag 🙂
  • dark brown with aqua floral print top courtesy of an op-shop in King’s Cross sydney. (My sister is jealous 😉
  • blue and beige top – “Katies” via the op-shop in Goulburn.

So, the conclusion is, it is very convenient and works a treat to pack well, apart from the fact it is incredibly boring.

%d bloggers like this: