Mar 31 2011

thriftday! pt 1: Chalkboard Calendar

I have been pretty thrifty this week. Therefore, there will be two thrifty posts!
Lately, Dave and I have been talking about planning out the upcoming week on Monday, and writing it all down for both of us to see. We’ve had those ugly magnetized fridge whiteboards, but I hate how they look after a while (actually, I hate how they look all the while). So I decided to make a little chalkboard week calendar to hang up in our new place (right now there’s no place for it.)
I started by using an old picture frame that was missing it’s glass. I painted the backing of the frame with chalkboard paint and I spray painted the frame white.
Next I masked out thin strips where I painted the lines to separate the days. I did eight boxes: one title box and then 7 days of the week.
After I finished painting that I hand painted the days of the week in each box (making sure to do it in pencil first!)

Et voila! The finished product. I have a chalk pencil that I use to write in the schedule. It’s much nicer that way. I can sharpen it when it gets dull, and it writes nice and clear. I also don’t get my hands all chalky when I write in the board. :S


Mar 10 2011

thriftday: project restyle

Lately I’ve been following a blog called “A Beautiful Mess” and have enjoyed reading a regular post the author does called “Project Restyle” The challenge is to take something unwanted and turn it into something useable/wanted. Since this is something that I have been doing on a regular basis for the last few months, I decided to submit a photo to the Flickr group (where other people are also involved in the Project Restyle). I probably won’t blog about the whole process every time I make something out of a thrifted item (it’s quite time consuming to have to set up and take pictures of each step!) But I do plan on posting more of my projects in the future.
I found this skirt at MCC today. It’s a light shapeless rayon skirt with elastic waistband. I loved the pattern of it and knew that I could do something with it.
My Plan with the skirt was to cut it at midpoint so that I could add some more shape to the skirt. It was a long gradual a-line skirt (not that you could tell when it was on though). I measured to where I wanted the waistline to begin – 15″ down from the waist (figure 1) marked a line and cut. (figure 2)
I wanted to have some front pleats in the skirt because it needed to have a little bit of shape, but I wanted the front to sit fairly flat. I measured to have two 2″ wide pleats on the front of the dress at 6″ from the sides of the dress (figure 3). Once those were pinned, I basted them into place. After that was done, I folded the top over 1/4″ ironed it (I find that if I iron before I sew, I do a better job of sewing) and sewed, so that when I made my waistline I would have no loose threads. (figure 4)
I decided that the back of the dress would be elastic so that it would be nice and comfortable. So next I folded the top over again 1″ (enough to fit the elastic in) (figure 5 & 6). I left two openings on the sides of the waistline so I could feed the elastic through easily. (TIP: I always attach a safety pin to the end of elastic when I feed it through, so that it’s easy to pull through (figure 7)) After attaching the elastic at either end, I closed up the openings and was finished!
The skirt is really comfortable and will be fairly versatile for me. I love the 70′s colours and I think it will go well from summer into fall this year.
After I finished the dress and was cleaning up I realized that the part I cut off the top of the skirt could be used as a top with the skirt! It will be a nice summer outfit for days that warrant something flowy and light.

1 comment

Mar 3 2011

day 162: {thriftday} timeless?

Fashion has always been pretty important to me. Can you tell?

No, but really.

I feel like while I’ve been talking about being thrifty and buying second-hand in the last few weeks I’ve perhaps missed out a key element in why I feel like I’ve been successful at thrift stores. Many times, I get this comment “I never see nice stuff at thrift stores. You just luck out, I guess.” Well, maybe I’m partially lucky when I go to thrift stores, but I think a big aspect of being lucky when buying your clothes at a thrift store has to do with how you are looking.

Let me try to explain.

The above picture was taken 8 years ago. I feel like the clothing I was wearing could have fit in 1970, or 2003, or right now (well, not right now, because it’s 4 degrees outside, but you know.)
So what am I getting at, you ask? Am I just posting old pictures and trying to make a post around them because I accidentally left my camera at my husbands office this morning and can’t do a proper post? Well…partially. I did want to post a picture of what I was wearing today, because it was a pretty thrifted dress for $3 that I got the other day. But the dress got me thinking about the definition of pretty when we think of clothing. I am starting to get frustrated by how the fashion industry says certain things are good to wear this season but if you get caught dead in them next season, then forget it. You’re out of the cool club.

This dress I bought is straight out of the 80′s, but at the same time, not. It’s blue, turquoise and purple flowers, button down, collarless bodice, elbow length sleeves and a fuller above the knee skirt. The cut of the dress seems like it could fit any era though. When that dress was new, someone bought it and people probably said to the wearer, “That’s a pretty dress. You look really nice in it.” Then the fashion industry said “Blue, turquoise and purple flowered dresses aren’t cool anymore.” And the dress ended up in the thrift store. Did the dress change? Nope. So why shouldn’t it look pretty on someone again?

My point, in a very roundabout way here is that when shopping second hand, throw away your ideas about what you’ve seen at American Eagle just the other day or what you saw on Fashion Weekly on TV. Pretty things will always be pretty, and if you wear it right, no one is going to say “Are you going to a 1970′s dress up party?”

I’ve gone through so much frustration in the last few years with clothing, because some of the styles that are “in” just look awful on me. I loved the look of “thrown together” oversized tops with leggings and boots. But I mean, for real…has anyone over 110lbs ever pulled that off? Probably not. The truth is, styles that are more structured/tailored are a lot better for me (actually, for most people–but I digress…) And all these nude/pale peach/antique colours that are in all the stores now? They look good on tanned people. They do not look good on someone such as myself, who has skin tone the exact shade of most of the items of clothes. So why should I bow to what the “higher-up fashion guru’s” say I should wear?

Again…pretty things will always be pretty…it’s just that our perception of “prettiness” is easily swayed by media.

So what do you like? What looks pretty on you?

Here are a few things I look for when shopping second hand:

Colour/Pattern. This is a big thing for me. I know what shades look good on me, and since most thrift stores are arranged by colour, then that is usually my first indicator.

Cut. Is this something that will be comfortable and still be non-frumpy? Will it make my mid-section look twice as big? That’s a bad thing…in case you were wondering.

Quality. I see a TON of stuff from Superstores Joe brand in thrift stores. Don’t get me wrong, they have some cute things but I don’t want something that feels like it was tailored while the seamstress was blindfolded and will consequently fall apart the second I put it on. If the item is cute enough and isn’t too complicated then I will take the chance even if the sewing looks a little dodgy because I know my sewing skills can fix small problems. But if you are ever concerned about something being a little worn and might fall apart and you don’t know how to fix it, don’t buy it. I don’t care if it’s only $3. That’s not thrifty. That’s just silly.

So wear something pretty. Even if it’s pretty 1960′s. Or pretty 1980′s. Because dressing pretty is pretty timeless.
Heh…terrible pun.


Feb 17 2011

day 152: thriftday {present!}

I love giving gifts. But not being able to spend money on awesome gifts sucks. In the last few years, Dave and I had to make a decision about whether or not we would continue giving our nephews and nieces birthday presents. There’s 6 of them, and what with my 3 siblings + siblings-in-law, Dave’s sister and our parents birthdays, it starts to add up. I hate the idea of just handing over a card on a birthday though.
So I started making gifts when I could for my nieces and nephews. It usually ends up that when I make one thing for one of them, the rest of them want something like it. A few years ago, it was sock monkeys. I tried to make them different according to each niece or nephew. This is Redford, the rock-star sock monkey. (He also came with a sock-rat band manager who had a t-shirt that said “I’m with the band”). He was for my oldest nephew, who was 13 at the time. Redford had a star tattoo, lip and brow piercing, a star stud upper ear piercing, a Fender Strat guitar, leather wrist cuff and a sweet black tee. I made everything by hand (except for the guitar!).
I had so much fun making all the sock monkeys for all the kids, and I know that they love them. Just the other day my youngest nephew (who got his sock monkey when he was 1) very proudly took his sock monkey to preschool with him on Valentines day.
The top picture is a gift for my niece who’s birthday we are celebrating today. I had made one similar to this for my youngest niece in January (it was an owl on a stick, with a pink polka-dot background). The rest of the kids informed me that they wanted one just like it, and proceeded to request different animals.
If you are crafty, making presents is the best way to go! It’s thrifty, and I find they are always so appreciated.
And it’s also just a whole heck of a lot of fun. : )


Feb 10 2011

day 147: thriftday {coffee anyone?}

I almost died at the thrift store yesterday.
No, really.
I saw this coffee set and stopped in my tracks.
I sent Dave a picture of it, and I believe the text that I sent with it went a little like this:
I stood staring at the coffee set, waiting for Dave to respond. I did not dare move, perchance someone else saw the set and snatched it. Five minutes passed.
When Dave did not reply to my urgent message, I sent another one.
“PLEASE. I am standing here in front of it dying. And I don’t want to leave it here”
To which Dave had a little panic attack, because he had not seen my first message or the picture. Then he realized I was just talking about a coffee set.
But really…it’s not just any coffee set.
This is a Melitta Coffee set, made in Germany in the 1960′s. A set similar to mine that was complete recently sold on Ebay for $700. That is obviously the high end of what they would sell for. Later sets that are incomplete are selling the pot and sugar/creamer for about $100. From what I’ve read, they are highly collectable. And so far from what I’ve seen online–hard to find. Melitta was a coffee company started in the early 1900′s, and they patented the first drip brew coffee filter. In the mid-century they made ceramic coffee sets (like mine, and many other designs). Today Melitta just does coffee filters and beans.
What I found at the thrift store is the coffee pot, creamer, sugar dish, 4 saucers and 3 plates. I believe the full set of this design that I found has 4 mugs as well, an additional breakfast plate. I saw a set similar to mine and it also had egg cups.
I will be contacting the company that I got my replacement china dishes from last year to see if they can give me any information about the set.
I NEED to complete the set. It has now become my life’s goal.
That’s not shallow, is it?

; )

Oh…this is a thrifty post, because I got the set for $30. Um….about $500 savings. Heh.

Anyone want to come down for coffee??