Second hand shop finds #2

Recent finds, again from the St Vincent de Paul Society in Islington. They are literally around the corner from my work so I drop in at least once a week during my lunch break to see what’s new.

  • A lovely tablecloth with lace trim. I think it’s hand made and it’s really simple and beautiful.
  • A great JacquiE top for work. This is the second similar top I’ve found in recent weeks. I love getting quality work wear for a fraction of the price!

Photo 27-02-2016, 3 35 39 PM

In second hand heaven news, Raid My Wardrobe is on this coming weekend! Can’t wait!!


Second hand shop finds #1

Despite the title, this is in no way shape or form my first foray into second hand shopping. More like my 300th.

But this is the first post of my finds in what I hope will be a series. Since reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline, I’ve been working hard to only buy second hand, exceptional quality, or absolutely necessary.

So today’s finds, from the St Vincent de Paul Society in Islington!

File 10-02-2016, 7 54 38 PM

That cute little apron was only $4!!! It’s so damn adorable I couldn’t leave it there.

The patterns were all uncut, modern, larger size designs, 50cents each:

  • Simplicity 5403 costume poodle skirts
  • Simplicity K2497 Cynthia Rowley dresses
  • Vogue V1041 Anne Klein suit jacket and pants
  • McCall’s 4296 evening elegance tops and skirts

The red book is Sew Easy, Sewing of Knits and Fabrics by Phyllis Cooper. It’s kind of like a text book, with plenty of notes pages that are covered in a neat scribble from a very thorough student. I really love that personal touch! And it was only $2.

And finally, I also picked up Prey by Michael Crichton for $2 as well. It will be the first of his books that I read.

So $10 total! Not bad for a 15 minute fresh air break from work.

Don’t panic yet

The last week or so I have lost my sewjo (love that term, used often by the ladies of The Sewing Library), and as such there is no actually sewing to blog about 😦 I’ve told myself “Don’t panic yet!” and I guess I am not too worried, just frustrated.

A big part of my lack of motivation has been the headaches and neck and shoulder pain I have been experiencing the last few days. It’s actually not an injury or a problem just tension from my new 2-3 day per week indoor climbing routine. My body is adjusting, and I also have been slack and not done any yoga to release the muscular tension. As a result this last weekend I have slept terribly each night and woken with a headache each day. Waking with a headache is one of the worst feelings, is it not? But if I can push through this and get fitter it will all be worth it 🙂

Anyway, so as a result of all that no sewing was done this week or this weekend at all, unless you include sewing 5 buttons to a top. I don’t include it as I bought the top this weekend so the sewing did not dent my list of ‘sewing to do’ at all. I did get to enjoy a trip to Spotlight during which I bought the pattern Vogue 1102 for the dress I am planning to make, as well as some calico to make a toile.

In the spirit of list making, as I do find that clears my head, here are the projects I need to motivate myself to move forward with:

  • Mending & refashioning (the least inspiring, but will dent my list considerably)
  • Finish ipod cover project for little sis
  • Little pouches to practice zippers
  • Make ‘writer’s bag’ satchel for me
  • Make pyjamas for me
  • Make toile for pretty dress for me

My real list is much bigger but if I can focus on these things I think I can move forward a bit more practically!

Despite the setbacks, I was cheered up considerably by Raid My Wardrobe yesterday. Any ladies in Newcastle or Sydney, Australia need to check this website out. It is a great event where you will find several dozen stalls of only women’s preloved fashion at fabulous prices. Best of all is that much of it is high end, designer wear! In the past I have picked up:

  • Guess heels $40
  • Cue dress $35
  • Top Shop cherry red wool winter coat $22
  • Converse sneakers $10

And endless tops, dresses, skirts, handbags and shoes for $5-15 max (its only the designer brands that go higher.

This time around the event was absolutely crazy as the rain closed down several outdoor markets and drove everyone to RMW, but I still managed to score 2 skirts, a top, a dress/top, a necklace/bracelet set, a brooch, and the cutest, comfiest heels ever all for $30!

How cute is the necklace I bought!

The next event is in October in Newcastle and there will be a Sydney one announced soon. Exciting!

Efficient space.

Ok firstly, I am very aware that the last few posts have not included much actual sewing. It makes me sad, 😦 but I have been doing alot of buying and alot of learning. None of these things result in pictures of pretty projects that I can share but hopefully they increase the chances of more projects in the future, and successful ones at that! 🙂 I have spent this morning cleaning and arranging my new sewing area (yay!) and preparing the slow cooker. Me and boyfriend are taking an icecream break soon (brave, as it is freezing here at the moment: beautiful Aussie sunshine, ice wind), after that I am tackling a pile of mending and then I’m spending some time with my overlocker. I have used it a few times since I bought it off my friend but now need to give it the maintenance and attention it deserves. I have never played with an overlocker’s settings before but found two great articles, one on giving it a clean and one on discovering the right settings and learning to use them. Fun! It probably also needs a service but maybe I will just do it and my sewing machine at the same time in a couple of months. The overlocker does not get used much yet and I have car expenses.

Anyways, after the mending pile and the overlocker today THEN I might get some cute things made tomorrow…yay! 🙂

In the meantime, what I can share is the sewing space improvement. I haven’t been able to upgrade the actual location and so am still holed up in the dining room, however there has been a vast improvement!

This is how things were looking:

Messy! Actually it was even more cluttered with dressform and other add-ons.

And here it is now!

All tucked away

Out and ready to go!

Yay! Doesn’t it all look so much better! And I have at least a foot back in my dining room 🙂

The white cupboard is still the pantry and boyfriend has big plans to clean out the kitchen so that the food in the cupboard can live in there (where it belongs…a pantry in the dining room is so annoying). When that happens I am hoping to replace the white cuboard with something lower to store my fabrics in. At the moment the main fabric stash is in the canvas box lurking in the corner of the first pic and the excess is in the built in robe in our study.

I am so happy with the improved space. Boyfriend is very much a minimalist so given how annoyed I was with the previous set up it must have been driving him insane. We hope to move to a bigger home in about a year and we aim to have a study each (or in my case ‘study/sewing room’). Until then this set up is perfect for us 🙂

What makes this even better is that my new sewing cabinet was only $70! Big thanks to a lovely stranger on Gumtree who insisted on delivering it even though it would have fitted in my hatch just fine. These babies are usually $250 second hand and $500-600 new so I was very excited. It works great, just squeals alot when using the air lift to raise the machine. I called Horn (the manufacturer) to ask if they new how to oil it, but on describing the type of lifter they discovered its over 25 years old! It’s in such good condition I was very surprised. Anyways, they couldn’t tell me how to oil it because their expert on the old models has retired, but that’s ok. It works so I just have to warn boyfriend to block his ears when I go to lift or lower…it’s very ‘nails on a blackboard’. I was not paying $150 to repair my bargain, when I can just buy a new one if it stops working. But if anyone out there knows how to oil the older model Horn sewing cabinets (lifter mechanism attached at the back, as opposed to the sides like the new ones) I would LOVE to hear from you 🙂 Noise aside, I’d love my new toy to last as long as possible.

My new black drawers were also deliciously cheap at $35 from Officeworks. They are perfect for my tools and notions. Hoorah!

Happy sewing and thrifting! 🙂

Ticking along…

It’s now Monday and this week and weekend just gone have been project free, but productive no less.

Friday during my lunch break at work I moseyed on down to the Salvos Store to see if they had fabric. They had loads and this lot only cost me $13 😀

At least three of these remnants are stretchy knit type fabrics (I am SUCH a novice at knowing what fabrics actually are) which will be interesting. See that funky purple/pink patterned piece on the top left? I am thinking of making it into a swingy slip on skirt like this…there’s about three metres of that beauty there! Thrift shopping owns my heart 🙂

I also picked up two new skirts and a pair of pants for work, all fit perfect and the grand total for those was $18. This is one of the skirts, as worn today:

It has a ‘librarian’ quality to it, which is the look I have decided works best for me at work. Looks even cuter when I add in my glasses because the pink in my frames is the same as the pink in the skirt 🙂 The other skirt is a straight cut and I had to unpick and redo the hem on it. It’s very cute also, so I’ll try and remember to wear it tomorrow and to post a pic…bargains must be shared!

Sewing wise I took a bit of a break this week to focus on doing Sew School modules and to also take time to organise my life a little. Tonight I’m going to see if I can knock together the drawstring bag for Sew School. I am thinking the grey flower print in the above pic would make it a great beach bag…I never was one for bright colours. And there should be time tonight, dinner is already in the slow cooker! 😀

A successful dress!

Hello all!

As per my complaints yesterday, the weather is still horrible, but I decided to wear my new dress anyway…because I was so excited to have finally made something I am happy to wear!


Now its by no means an exciting dress. Just a comfy, work appropriate dress to add to my wardrobe. I love it, however, for the following reasons:

It fits! As per the first dress I made over the Easter weekend, Lisette patterns are a bit difficult to figure out fit. In my first attempt all my measurements pointed to a size 18, so I made one, and like all size 18s on me it was way too big. This time I just made a 14 as per my normal size, ignoring what the pattern told me of my measurements, and it worked perfectly! It does help that this dress has very little shape (like a pillowcase dress but with real armholes and neckline), but I am pleased nonetheless.

Total materials cost: $5. Yes that’s right, $5! I found the fabric for this in a remnant bin at a second hand store for $3, and the rest of the cost was in binding for the arm and neck holes. I love a bargain!

Its super comfy. Due to my thrifting, this fabric may well have been upholstery type fabric at a glance, but it is sooo super soft I decided to use it for a dress regardless of the chance of someone seeing me and thinking “Hey that woman is wearing my couch cushions!”. I am pleased I did. I like the look and the comfort and I never made the dress with the intention of looking smokin. To tell you the truth I was half expecting another dud project so was just happy to not waste expensive fabric. $3 experiment for the win!

It was super easy to put together. I had no dramas with this pattern at all! It helps that there were no darts or zips or buttons etc. But there was gathering to do and a belt to make with fabric that wanted to curl the other way and I nailed both of these!

I am pleased with my skill with lining up the print. The front and back of the dress are separate pieces, but I cut the fabric so perfectly, and stitched it so well, that the horizontal lines of the fabric blend smoothly from front to back, and there are no crooked lines on the hem or neck. I am so proud of myself!

I made some adjustments to make it better. The belt didn’t like sitting flat so I top-stitched it; this was not in the instructions. I also used twill tape instead of bias binding (the instructions actually called for making matched binding but I didn’t have enough fabric). Whilst I think I did it ‘wrong’ (ie not the most effective way or the way you should for twill), the effect I wanted is there: the twill works better with this fabric than packet bias would have. I would do it slightly different in future (more ‘correct’) but only for the sake of perfection, I think the result would have been the same. Regardless, I am so excited to be confident to make decisions to advance beyond what the pattern and instructions say…yay me!

I got the hem right. I waited overnight and took my time, being sure to pay attention to the horizontal lines on the fabric. Perfect hem this time…woohoo!

So there it is, my first successful garment, with many more sure to come. I am truly loving this new hobby, it really makes me happy 🙂

Pattern used:

Lisette by Simplicity #2059