Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Outlet bargain overhaul and charity shop patterns find

I'm an RTW faster, this year. Meaning that I ‘cannot’ purchase RTW clothes. There are a few things I'm ‘allowed’ to purchase - shoes, bags etc and, I believe,  tights and bras. As it happens,  I haven't bought anything. I thought this might hurt, as I've been a bit of a shopaholic but amazingly, it's been easy. My bank balance is probably pleased, too. On the other hand, a lot of what I bought was bought because it was on sale, a bargain etc. I wouldn't have bought many/any of the items if they had been full price! I do have too many clothes, in any case - but I’m glad to say I’m gradually culling these.

When I visit my mother,  I pass an outlet village. For some reason, the M&S outlet in this village has much better prices than my more local outlet stores (there are 2 within 5 miles plus another 15 miles away). That store, at Gretna, so in Scotland, often has excellent clearance sales.
Last year, I bought a striped dress and stretch bootcut casual pants for under £2.50 each (about $3.50). The original prices were far higher.
The pants were for me and are actually too big and as a result slightly too long, amazingly. I wore them for the first time yesterday and need to decide what best to do with them. They're very casual and I can get by with them for the moment.
I offered the dress to my middle daughter, thinking it might suit her and was her style, but she wasn't interested. I thought I might dismantle the dress to use the fabric as it is decent quality. The length of the dress was much too short for a dress and too long for a tunic - for me, that is. I can't really show you that as I didn't take a photo. Imagine slightly longer than I'm holding up!

Excess away - I'm wearing the grey pants I bought, too.

I decided the best option was to cut it to top length. I cut off 18.5cm (7.5”)and folded up the hem at 1.5cm (⅝”) along one of the stripes.
I did consider using the reverse of the fabric to make a contrast band. The reverse contrast is used at the sleeve and the neck. At the sleeve, the fabric is turned over twice to the right side so the wrong side shows. The resultant sleeve hem/band is 4cm (1.5”) and it’s stitched in place at a couple of points. I decided to go with the original turned hem.
The original had a coverstitched hem. I don't have a coverstitch machine. I overlocked the edge using grey thread  (actually I overlocked as I was cutting the excess fabric off - I was able to follow a grey stripe), then folded along a navy stripe and pressed. My trial of twin needle topstitching wasn’t successful due to tunnelling of the fabric between the needles. How do I avoid tunnelling - I haven't had it on previous garments?

In the end I went for a single needle narrow zigzag stitch using navy in the top needle and grey in the bobbin along a navy stripe on the right side. The stitch is practically invisible on both sides and I'm happy with it.
Right side of finished hem
Wrong side of finished hem

The result is a top I’m pleased with and have already worn twice. The fit isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough.
Finished top. This fits nicely with my preferred style
Today I was at the dentist in a nearby local village. I walked through the village afterwards, as I had time to spare on my parking ticket. I passed a very interesting charity shop (I think that’s a thrift shop in the US). I was attracted in by the suit on the model in the window - it looked rather designer with lots of interesting details. I didn’t pursue it when I got in as I picked up a couple of paper patterns (well - 5!) - other charity shops in my area don’t take them as they don’t want to check to see if all the pieces are present. So this was quite a find. There are 3 for me, including an American Vogue designer (Isaac Mizrahi), uncut,

and 2 for my grandchildren. Only one of the patterns has been cut and it was put back into the envelope beautifully - I can never achieve that! It’s cut at the largest size in the envelope, which is fine. Unfortunately, all of these probably came from the same person who is a little smaller than I - I’d have liked the bigger size range. One of the patterns has a lace top that I’m putting in my possibility file for my mother of the bride outfit. It's a very simple shape and should be easy to grade up in size - I hope.
Pattern is crushed but uncut.  I like the loose blouse. 

I really like the lace top. Not with this dress, though (it's a bias dress and too long for my taste) - and perhaps in cobalt blue

I can see reviews on PR only for the two children’s patterns. The women’s patterns are obviously quite old - the same pattern numbers now grace completely different patterns. The date on the back is 1998.

I think I'll make these for my two grandsons - version A. I love the contract under-fabric. One PR review is pretty poor.

The size of this pattern might do my younger grandson this year - otherwise it's too small.
My older grandson has a rather large head - he's also very tall for his age.

I haven’t looked at clothes in the charity shops. I don’t find it easy to buy RTW because I’m tall (and okay - overweight) so it’s never been something I’ve managed to get. I’m not sure if purchasing an item of clothing from a charity shop with the express intention of altering it is allowed in the RTW Fast - so I don’t look!


  1. Well, here I am tonight again....are you tired of my comments yet??
    You are one smart person shortening the 'dress' to make a top....trousers are hard to get right when you take them in...I've tried it a few times with only moderate success. I love Basler trousers but can't afford them retail but I buy new ones on ebay, need to look for some as the favourite pair I'm wearing are beginning to look worn. I don't shop much in charity shops but if I were away for the day I will saunter in to some and if the fabric is promising I would buy the garment. The last charity purchase was a Pola casual skirt suit for £7 in our 'poshest' shop.....the jacket is far too long for my 5' and the skirt is also way too long but that's easy sorted.
    Wonderful to get all those patterns - you hit the jackpot today!
    Yes, have been at Gretna M & S....we always have a comfort stop there en route to Newcastle each year.

    1. Thank you for your comments - no, I'm not tired of them! I think slightly different hem lengths can make a big difference to the looks of many things. I'm trying to make trousers - so far with zero success. I haven't found well fitting ones, even Basler (which I thought was for taller people - I have a Basler blazer style jacket which is great on me, good arm length, good body length), so I'll have to make. Another chance next term in pattern cutting class - trousers!
      Gretna is halfway on our route - so coffee in Costa or Thornton's and perhaps a little retail therapy to break the journey!
      We went to Alnwick last week - cold and windy so we didn't linger, coffee cake and some books bought in Barter Books!
      I'm just back from cold and wet golf so off to warm up and dry off (read warm bath!) and D might manage to take my photos for my colours - he's not well, poor soul.

  2. Love the refashion. This coming weekend I will be staying right next to an outlet mall and I was thinking of purchasing some things that could be used as fabric (i.e. extra large shirts or men's shirts).

    1. Thanks. It's much more useful to me. Good luck with your shopping - hope you get lots of suitable fabric. I've been wanting to have a wardrobe with more natural fabrics - I'm finding my knits are deteriorating - pilling, shrinking and generally losing the looks I bought them for.


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