The coolest dudes you ever did see?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I could not resist posting this photograph snapped by The Sartorialist on the streets of Pitti Uomo.

The brogues, feather in the hat, skinny jeans, striped socks.. aren't these guys the coolest dudes you've ever seen?

Sewing; a powerful tool in fashion

Image c/o we heart it

Learning to sew has been rewarding, and unexpectedly addictive. Last year I would read sewing blogs, admire their achievements, and mutter how I wished I could sew too.

My own sewing journey has been gradual, and looks something like this:

1. Obtain a sewing machine
2. Make a bag
3. Make toys
4. Adjust thrifted clothing
5. Buy fabric and patterns
6. Follow a simple pattern to make a tunic top
7. Obtain an overlocker
8. Progress to zips, darts, and make a vintage dress

This will continue, and I am excited about that. A trip to the op shop used to involve heading straight to clothing rails to scour second hand garments. These days you'll find me raiding the haberdashery section for patterns, thread, buttons, zips, and sifting my way through fabrics, sheets and pillowcases.

Sewing has taught me many things, not just about creativity and admiration for fabric, but also respect for clothing itself and the people that make them. I take time to see how my (op) shop bought garments have been made. I understand why handmade / homemade clothing costs more than factory line manufactured pieces.

The vintage red dress I made this week cost me $3 in materials, but probably took a total of 7 hours to complete after cutting my fabric to appropriate sizing, reading and understanding instructions, taking apart mistakes and trying again, finishing seams, and learning new techniques by watching youtube instruction videos!. Lets say I made dresses for a living. If I earned $20 an hour (speculative wage) at 7 hours work this would be $140. Wow, that appears to be a lot of money, when you can buy a new dress for $20 from a fast fashion high street retailer. (not forgetting some poor soul maybe earnt less than $1 an hour to make that $20 dress). Of course if I were a professional seamstress, this dress would not have taken me 7 hours to complete, however, many crafters making garments from home undersell themselves online to be competitive.

On the other end of the scale, Mr RF used to work with a high end designer fashion label in London many years ago, and saw garments selling for as much as £3,000 for one piece. How much would that work out per hour of work, and where is the justification in that?

Creating new garments from scratch, and readjusting old clothing to make unique pieces for our own wardrobes, essentially takes us away from buying mainstream retail fashion; therefore sewing is a powerful tool in (or against?) fashion.

Image c/o we heart it

"In my free time, I make, I sew.
The sewing bug has bitten hard, and will not let go."- me :).

Thrifting with Mum

My parents are here from overseas, spending a precious 7 weeks here with our family. Mum and I took our first op shop outing together this week, we spent an our exploring Salvos and Vinnies in Mornington East.

Our finds include:

Coloured threads 50c the lot.
Giant roll of gorgeous fabric, $5, yet to be unravelled to establish its dimensions
Two pairs of shoes $4 & $5
Singlet for me $2 and a pretty paisley top for Mum $5
Green upholstery fabric (will turn into a bag) $2.50
Coasters for another upcycle project $1.50

Lovely coloured threads

Oh how I miss op-shopping with my Mum, thankfully we have some more weeks ahead of us before she leaves.

For more flea market and op shop treasures, check out Sophie's blog.

Also shared with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday

Handmade Vintage Dress Satisfaction

Friday, January 28, 2011

I have a new red 'vintage' dress, I didn't buy it **!

Remember the 60's vintage pattern and fabric I purchased in Vinnie's half price sale? It has taken me a few weeks, but I finally completed my dress today.

Not without frustrations let me add, for it was not the easiest pattern to follow, take a look at this piece:

I stitched, I unstitched, and stitched again, then threw it to one side thinking I wouldn't succeed. I unsuccessfully completed a 'hidden' zip, and had to start all over again. But I didn't let this dress get the better of me, and I won.

Everything on this dress is recycled and has been purchased on the thrift; the fabric, the vintage pattern, the vintage buttons, the zip, even the thread. I did however, use my brand new overlocker, and trusty sewing machine to make it.

Add Image


The not quite hidden zip

My dress cost approximately $3 + my time;
Pattern - $1
Fabric - $2 (used about 3/4 of it)
Zip - 50c
Thread - approx 20c
Vintage buttons - approx 10c

It is not perfect, there are faults of which I am learning from, but how satisfying to say I have made my own dress, completely from scratch, and all of it made from second hand materials.

Worn on Self stitched Sept '11 (Day 10)

Why do you thrift?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Many years ago, when I started to buy clothing second hand, it was not for moral reasons, nor for the benefit of the environment. I thrifted to grab myself a fashionable bargain, and save a bit of cash. At the same time, I would quite happily buy a brand new item of clothing from any fast fashion high street retail shop, and moan that charity shop prices are equivalent to buying brand new!

Image c/o weheartit

This was before fast fashion unfolded to be more of an unethical practice, with many high street retailers employing under paid workers, quite often children, to sew clothing for a ridiculous low wage. Many people, such as I, are now aware of such working practices, and choose not to buy new clothes in their own effort to protest against high profiting fashion retailers. Some go one step further, such as Edinburgh's Finlay Ross, who protested in front of the Arcadia Tower in Edinburgh back in 2007 (an article found on

“It is obscene that Topshop CEO Philip Green’s bonus in 2005 was enough to double the wages of the entire Cambodian garment workforce for 8 years! Improving labour standards would clearly not break the bank. We hope our actions will expose this injustice and force the company to make a serious commitment to workers’ rights, such as a living wage and the right to organise in a trade union”.

Protesting students c/o

Lets not forget about our growing landfill problem, with an estimated 30-40kg of clothing per person ending up in landfill every year. *fact from spookmag. With plastic based (polyester) fabric taking many years to decompose; a material quite often associated with fast fashion garments.

A 2005 study by the Australia Institute found $10.5 billion is spent yearly on throwaway fashion. Read more here:

Image c/o wikimedia

Having become more environmentally aware, my mindset has changed. I still seek out fashion (and other) items second hand because I enjoy the hunt, and it is rewarding finding something special for small change. I do however, also appreciate that buying second hand really is an ethical, environmentally friendly way of buying 'new' things.

Sure, thrifted clothing will end up in landfill one day, but at least by choosing second hand clothing, the time garments end up in landfill will be be stretched for a while longer. Refashioning damaged or unwanted clothing into new items also delays the necessity to trash fashion.

Readers, a poll for you, why do you buy second hand? Is it to save money? For moral reasons? To save fashion from landfill? Another reason?

Treasures of the East

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yesterday I stepped in as a tour guide for Melbourne Op Shop Tours East Tour Route. 11 of us visited 7 op shops from Mitcham to Nunawading. We had a great time, exploring the treasures of the East.

My personal finds include:

Some delightful handpainted eggs, 50c each, and a white belt for Mum

so delicate and pretty!

And some music paper for another upcycled coaster craft project.

Some other treasures of the day which I didn't buy, but thought were cute:

A handpainted pet doggy picture - how did this little poppet end up in the op shop?

What a classic! Not the song, but the 80s roller disco outfit!!

A collection of dolls from around the world..?!

A gorgeous wooden high chair

Remember my blog post discussing the popularity of Havaianas?..

A whole bunch of childrens Havaianas sitting in Salvos Nunawading, all brand new in the box, size 29/30.. wow!

And some treats purchased by the group:

A collection of pretty scarves and a lovely pair of shoes

A retro floral dress

A vintage jigsaw castle and ruby red shoes

I shall be leading the next Melbourne Op Shop Tours Bayside Route on Sunday 5th February.

For more flea market and op shop treasures, check out Sophie's blog (she is also hosting a giveaway this week!)

Also shared with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday

Tagless Clothing

Friday, January 21, 2011

Last year I picked up a pretty little strappy top from the RSPCA op shop in Frankston. Purple, with a cute little leaf prints. I am not really too bothered about labels, but always like to check what I am buying before parting with my petty change, in this case a huge $4.

As with some clothing purchased on the thrift, the tag had been cut out, so the clothing brand remained a mystery.


I remember a comment witten by a blog reader on my top tips for op shopping blog post, in which she mentioned the removal of clothing tags might be an indication of a designer piece. I am guessing to prevent a buyer on-selling designer clothing for a profit?. An interesting thought.

I got home and tried my new top on for size, and noticed the washing instruction label reading Country Road.

Country Road is not necessarily designer, but it is an Australian high end clothing retailer, so perhaps this was the case; the label was removed to prevent someone buying it to on-sell for a profit?

Feeling quite chuffed with my purchase, because I know this brand is quite expensive, but I was not entirely happy with the top; a little too cleavage-y for my liking, which is probably why it ended up in the op-shop in the first place! Easily fixed though, by sewing a white piece of fabric leftover from a clothing refashion, right across the front.

So with a bit of refixing, it is much more wearable.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced labels being cut when thrifting clothes? Any more thoughts on this? Could they be designer pieces?

If you missed my previous blog posts, a little reminder that I am auctioning a clutch bag I made for Queensland's Premier Flood Relief Appeal.

Colour My Week - Black and White

Monday, January 17, 2011

'Colour My Week' is back! An initiative to introduce a colour (or in this case colour theme) at the start of a working week. I invite blog readers to participate, by linking your own colour related fashion items back to this blog post. Today I will be talking about black and white together.

An article on 'How to Look Great in Black and White' explains the best way to wear these colours is to pair a solid black top with a white bottom (skirt, shorts or jeans) "Tie the whole look together with understated accessories -- strappy black sandals, a satin flower belt -- for a feminine look that doesn't detract from the graphic appeal."

:: Bec and Lleyton Hewitt at the races back in 2006, image c/o ::

Spring 2009 Fashion Week saw black and white patterns trends:

:: ::

Here is something black and white from my own wardrobe, a 60's print inspired dress I purchased for $20 from Savers on one of my op shop tours last year. Personally, I feel $20 is a lot of money to spend on one item whilst thrifting, Savers does tend to be a little more expensive than the run of the mill Op Shops, but this dress is a classic, I really couldn't say no.

Some black and white goodies from the worldwideweb:

:: A gorgeous Australian wool knitted dress by lifemagic on etsy ::

:: A glamorous black veiled mini top hat with black/white ribbon and feathers
made by Topperhats on folksy. ::

:: Womens 50's Inspired B & W Heels Size 9.5 for sale on ebay ::

And something for the men:

:: Vintage 1970s Black and White Saddle Leather Oxford Shoes Men's from purvintageclothing ::

Have you made anything black and white recently? Perhaps you found a white shirt in an op shop, or you've been eyeing up a black and and white bag on etsy?  Have you worn a black and white second-hand outfit recently? If you have anything black and white to share, please feel free to link below under comments.

Boys Sleeve Pants #2

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Leftover sleeves from the sh-kirt I made last week I decided to make into another pair of shirt sleeve pants (trousers) for the little man, using an existing pair of his trousers as a template. Lightwight cotton fabric makes them ideal for PJ's in the summertime. I made them slightly longer so he can grow into them, and I can also roll up the cuffs at the bottom.

Also, a big thank you to the lovely Hed from Hed Above Water blog, that has kindly given me a blog "Life Is Good" award. How cute is this little badge!

Hed has also kindly plugged my handmade clutch bag auction for Queensland's Flood Relief Appeal. .. it is not too late to put forward your bid!

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