I am going over old ground here, but I luRve charity shops. LuRve, luRve, luRve.
And thanks to the recession that is currently (I am told) gripping the UK, every time a retail outlet of some description closes on my local high street, a charity shop is sure to replace it, because they’re entitled to it reduced business rates compared to “normal” shops. You can read more on that here, since you might not be in the UK and I am no Business Correspondent.
Any flies in the soothing ointment that is my love for charity shops have already been decribed in this post from December 2012 on “So, Zo… What do you know?”. With one important exception. Zo writes:
I am convinced that all those lovely volunteer late-middle-aged women have collectively received thousands of donated vintage sewing patterns, maybe had a laugh with their colleagues about how their old mum used to sew all her clothes, and then systematically binned them all like some horrendous vintage sewing pattern holocaust.
Well, guess what: us poor, dumb Notherners, with our ferrets, cheap house prices, horrendous brand-new Media City, scary accents, windy weather and flat caps, we have one up on the South for once.
Forgive my anecdotal numbers, but 3 out of 9 charity shops here in M33 have sewing patterns, and pretty much all nine of them have knitting patterns and /or knitting gear.
But there are deadly bugs in this greener grass of the North. And to show you just how deadly, I would like to introduce some evidence.
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the jury, I give you Exhibit A: McCall’s 5374.
So Nineties it hurts, but lovely darts and plenty of scope for good things:
“It’s all about me!” said Maroon Girl.
Exhibit B is Vogue 8205, a 2006 pattern:
“It’s not pigeon poo on my head! It was the price sticker, I swear!”, “Who’s the Prime Minister, Ms White Jacket?”
Now, dear readers, I’d like to point out that the McCall’s pattern had been cut and there were missing pieces, unimportant piece like sleeves and stuff (who needs those?), while the Vogue was complete and still in factory folds.
So, which one was priced at the equivalent of USD 2.25? And which one was a mere USD .75?
Why, of course. The cut and incomplete one was the more expensive one, and the perfect one was cheap.
The expensive pattern was from the expensive charity shop, the one that starts with O and ends in xfam, so I wasn’t entirely surprised.
But what made the experience more irritating is that the same charity shop currently boasts in their window a “Wedding dress made with donated garments by out volunteers”.
I couldn’t bear to take a picture of it, and I’m sure a lot of work went into putting together half of a black (yup) vest and some white net curtains. I suspect it’s the work of the teenage girls who often volunteer in there.
So, there are people in this shop who think they are handy at refashioning, they might even (I hope) know a spool from a bobbin, and yet does anyone think of looking into the pattern envelopes and pricing the patterns accordingly? No way.
I am not saying the people from the shop where I found the cheap pattern have a clue about sewing patterns, but they have a more realistic approach to pricing everything they sell, something that both Oxfam and (heaven help us) BHF here in Sale could benefit from.
On the subject of Charity Shop Fashion, someone I know loves those shop windows as much as I do, here.
The rant is meant to introduce this pattern, which set me back the princely sum of USD .30 a few months ago:
This is Simplicity 7451 from 1976, “Misses’ Jiffy wrap skirt and tops (tops sized from stretch knits only”. New, this would have set you back 60p in 1976, which is apparently GBP 2.88/ USD 4.33 in today’s money, a rather decent price for a very basic pattern with a dearth of variations.
The envelope is tatty and ripped in piaces, but all the pieces are there and whilst they have been cut that’s not a big deal for a single-size pattern.
I have no interest in making the skirt, since gathers don’t flatter me and when you’re clumsy as I am anything around your backside that’s fastened with a knot is purely asking for trouble, as I know from experience.
I do like the top though, and I often wish I had more knit top with sleeves. The RTW ones are always in a fabric that’s too thick to be flattering, or too short for my waist, or fitted for someone who doesn’t have a waist / hip ratio of .73, which is Excellent according to the BBC Health website but an utter bee-atch when you are trying to buy clothes in the UK, the land of waist-less women.
I hate to sound snarky, but having grown up in the Mediterranean the shape of clothes here -which I find reflects the shape of a lot of female bodies- is a matter of unending fascination and frustation for me.
Anyway, enough of this Op-Ed column of a post and on to some more ugly pictures. Forgive the halo, it’s probably my Spirit Guide telling me not to use this fabric again. He’s a 17th-Century Scottish Sailor called Shaun MacNoShit:
Fabric: Black knit, had it for ages, loose enough to preserve my modesty but too loose for the machine to handle, even with a ballpoint needle. The needle just misses the bobbin thread, which gave me a huge fright on Wednesday night, meaning I was cleaning the shuttle race until 11PM. Fun times! The machine is fine with other fabrics, so at least there was no damage.
I also remembered that it wasn’t the first time I had this issue with this type of fabrics, so I’ll simply stay away in the future.
For this reason, the least said about the hem the better. I could have put another strip of the blue on it but I knew by then I wasn’t going to wear this enough to justify it. Sometimes even I know when to fold, even if that’s usually two hours after the smart people who do not fancy an hour on a camp bed under tinfoil and on a drip.
Pattern: Simplicity 7451. The pattern is size “Medium 12-14 Miss”, which is “87 (34) to 92 (36)” waist measurement and calls for something with about 25% stretch, meaning it would be huge on anyone who made this according to their measurements. Massive. Ginormous. Twice sesquipedalian.
Proof? My knit has about 10% stretch, so I used 1cm seam allowances instead of 1.5cm, and added a whole 2 centimetres at the fold for both front and back. It fits me perfectly all the way to the waist and I need to take the sides beneath my waist because there was no need to add anything. So there.
I also added an inch to the length, but then I alway do that.
Notions: Black thread, bias tape for the shoulders, leftovers from the Life of Pi dress.
And the insides? The insides? Are you joking? I could barely do The Outsides without the fabric giving me a coronary. No chance.
Hours: 30 minutes to trace and alter the pattern, 4 hours of cutting and sewing, 30 minutes to repeatedly take apart and reassemble the shuttle race, another hour of assorted swearing at my choice of fabric. Six hours in total.
First worn: Yesterday for work, tucked into my only RTW denim skirt. It looks lovely.
Wear again? I think so. I actually quite like this. I’m a forgiving soul.
Make again? Yes, in a knit that’s easier to work with. I have so much trouble buying t-shirts that this thing and I could be BFFs.
Total cost: A fiver for the fabric last year and 20p for the pattern. GBP 5.20, which is about USD 7.80. Not bad for something I will wear again.
I must now log off, dear readers, and head out because it’ Saturday and that means there’s gay men who must pour me drinks and I hate to disappoint them. Toodle pip!