lifestyle

Thrifting Treasures

grey-dress-feature, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

Old things are just prettier. Don’t you agree? OK, I guess not all old things, as I have seen my fair share of terrible old things too, but as a general rule, old things are just prettier. The packaging is more thoughtful, the details are a bit more unique and the fact that they have lasted this long already, and have a story of their own, makes them just a bit more special.

I used to hate thrifting, because you could never find what you were looking for. But then, about 5 years ago I realized- that’s exactly the fun of thrifting. You never know what you are going to find and it’s like a treasure hunt. Now, I love to go to the local store about once a week, if I can. My local thrift store is a community store staffed by all volunteers (most of whom are older ladies) and all of the money they make goes directly back into the community (by giving the proceeds to the Boy Scouts, Cadets and Santa’s Anonymous etc.) I love to shop there because they get a ton of stuff donated, there are always new things out on the floor, and their main concern is really in getting it out the door, so they keep the prices very low, and every once in a while, when they have too much stock, they have a half price sale. The funny thing about thrift shopping is that I get into a bit of unrealistic bubble about prices, and then I catch myself saying “$3.00 for this vintage wool skirt? I don’t know, I wish I could have gotten it for $1.50 when it was the half price sale.” Oh right. . . $3.00 is a pretty amazing deal.

The past few weeks have been pretty good, and I have found quite a few thrifting treasures, so I thought that I would share them with you.

vintage grey dress, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

This piece has a bit of damage, where it looks like the dye has faded or discoloured, and some seams that need to be resewn. Since it is a larger size, it won’t be a problem to bring in the kimono sleeves a bit, though. It feels like a acetate fabric or something of the kind, and is rather lightweight, and has the prettiest metal rhinestone buttons and buckle on the front. It is about 2 inches too short for me, but it has a really wide hem, so I am going to let the hem down to amend that problem.

black-stars- vintage dress, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

black-stars-dress, thrifting, the artyologist

This dress has a lot of damage, and is going to require quite a bit of help, but the fabric was just so pretty, and it has flipped up sleeve cuffs . . . it was calling to me! It is some kind of artificial rayon/taffeta fabric (it is drapey like a rayon, but heavy like a taffeta). There are areas of the fabric that are shredded, like it got pulled apart, so I am going to see if I can fix them by patching from the underside. So, needs a bit of work before I can wear it.

tag-closeup, wool dress, the artyologist

wool dress vintage, thrifting, the artyologist

This one is too small for me in the hips 🙁 It fits perfectly in the top though, and since there is a hole in the skirt, I am going to transform this into a shirt. I know some people feel that vintage shouldn’t be altered, but since this piece is damaged as it is, I am OK with changing it; especially as I know enough about sewing to not destroy it! By refashioning this piece into a shirt, it will have a second life, and I will finally have a winter appropriate top to wear with my favourite pleated wool skirt! I like the fact that is brown, black and grey too, so it will coordinate with a lot of things I have in my wardrobe.

thread-spools, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

pile-of-spools, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

Next are the bags of sewing notions! I found two ziploc bags full of wooden spools of thread and other assorted vintage sewing notions. I love wooden spools- it’s so sad that spools are plastic now, don’t you think? There were thirty eight spools, and I love the variety of colours, and the labels too.

thread-spools-grid, the artyologist

These are some of my favourites. Top L-R: 1. I love the carved end of this spool. 2. This colour of green is so perfect. 3. I just liked this label. Middle L-R: 1.Another pretty blue. 2. This is the label for the blue spool. I’ve never heard of “The Canadian Spool Cotton Co.” 3. This deep royal/navy blue thread is so shiny and smooth. Bottom L-R: 1.Another carved spool and this time for silk thread. 2.This is the silk thread, a grey/mauve colour, and it is so pretty and . . . well. . . silky 😉 3. And the last one: there are two unopened spools of lilac. I guess I’m not the only one who buys thread for a project, and then never gets around to using it 🙂

notions, ricrac and hem tape, the artyologist

vintage needle-book, thrifting finds, the artyologist

needlebook-zippers, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

vintage sewing pamphlet, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

The elastic thread that accompanied this paper was long past useable, but this little instruction booklet has some great illustrations, don’t you think? They all look rather 1950’s in style to me, but the logo says “known over 50 years for Quality, Style, Value” and as the company started in the 1920’s, I guess it would date this paper as the 1970’s. Maybe the illustrations weren’t current, but rather a throwback to earlier times, or maybe they just never updated their illustration style?

books, thrifted treasures, the artyologist

Two lovely vintage books. They didn’t have a price on them, so the lady gave them to me for $0.25 each! #thriftscore

vintage xmas ornaments, thrifting treasures, the artyologist

When you doubt whether your outfit is really festive enough, just add this corsage. Instant Christmas kitsch! How could I resist it? Also, these ornaments were just in a ziploc bag, and tossed into a bin. I don’t think they realized that they are glass! One was broken (fortunately it was a modern and ugly one) but all these vintage ones were intact, albeit a little scratched, but that’s OK. 🙂

bonus-ornament, the artyologist

And, one “extra special” bonus treasure that was also included in the same ziploc bag, was this Limited Edition beauty from 1986. This is literally a glass ornament, with plastic wrapped around it. Yes, that nativity picture is a piece of shrink wrap. Why was this a Limited Edition (with capital letters)? And the better question to ask ourselves is, why did someone buy it in the first place?

Have you found any great treasures lately? (I’d love to hear about them!) Do you like thrifting items if they need to be fixed or altered, or do you stick with only things that are good “as is”? And, what are your feelings on refashioning damaged vintage items?

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

My Grandma recently downsized to a new apartment, and wanted to pass on some things she doesn’t use anymore, and no longer had the space for in her new place. She asked if my sister and I would like some of her blue and white ceramics- and we both immediately said yes!

I have always loved blue and white ceramics. They are a popular style, and come from such far flung places around the world including Holland (Delft Tile) all the way to Vietnam. I love hand painted ceramics and am always drawn to crisp blue and white colours. I am always so amazed at the talent and detail that goes into them. I took a pottery course once. Suffice it to say, we will not be handing those pieces down through the generations. 🙁

I already owned this pitcher, which I purchased from Ten Thousand Villages last year, so I was very happy to add these beautiful new pieces, to create a small collection.

In my family we didn’t get much handed down in the way of clothes, like many vintage lovers I know, who have gotten dresses, hats and jewelry from past relatives. However, from both sides of my family, I have gotten dishes. Not all of them are antique, but they are each special, because they are a part of our family history. They will become heirlooms, even if they aren’t very old right now, like these pieces. Really, if you think about it, everything that is antique and old today, was at some point brand new. However, someone thought it was special enough to preserve. And so it will be with these. They will always remind us of our Grandma, and they will be preserved and passed down. And maybe someday, my distant great-great-granddaughter will be using this very same pitcher, or candy dish herself, getting ready to pass it down to the next generation too. It’s a nice thought anyways 🙂

Do you have any special collections? Do you have any pieces (of anything – not just dishes!) passed down from your family? If not, have you ever thought of starting a new collection of heirlooms yourself?

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The blue teapot is my sisters, and the white one is mine.

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

Such a neat design for the candy dish. 

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

I use this pitcher often, not as a pitcher, but as a vase! It makes a lovely vase for weedy roadside bouquets like the ones I picked here, or for pussy willow branches in the spring. It’ll probably be lovely for some evergreen boughs this winter too! And, on the right is the beautiful lattice design bowl of my sister’s.

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The little teapot is a tiny little knick-knack that my Grandma gave me years ago. It is a favour that Red Rose used to include in their teas years ago!

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The entire “collection”, (to date!)

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend

Hints To Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist

October is Slow Fashion and Fair Trade month, and although I haven’t taken part until now, I didn’t want to let the month pass without contributing my voice to the discussion going on around the internet. When I originally planned to write this post, I thought that this week’s prompt was “long worn”. Apparently I got my weeks mixed up though, as this week’s prompt is actually “handmade”. Oops. Well, I guess this post will not only be long worn, but long overdue as well. 😉 The term “long worn” refers to the clothes that are already in existence, here on our planet, and how we can make the most of them. I thought that this would be a great time to share some of the garment care tips that I have picked up over the years, that will help to increase the longevity of your clothing, as well as including a few tips from the reprinted copy of Make Do and Mend that I purchased last year while in England. (I’d been wanting to get my hands on one for ages!)

Taking care of the clothes that you already own is a great first step to creating a conscious wardrobe, and there are so many simple things you can do to increase the life of your clothing. It is really only in the last 10-20 years that our society has drifted into a more “throwaway” attitude towards what we wear. Mending, altering, maintaining and preserving your clothing is actually a rather “vintage” way of looking at your closet, which is evidenced by the ingenuity of people during the Great Depression, and the rationing years of the Second World War (which is when the pamphlet Make Do and Mend was published). So, without further ado, here are some helpful hints for caring for your clothes, and some excerpts from the book Make Do and Mend. (excerpts are indicated by “italics“)

Wearing:

  • Wearing scarves when you wear a coat keeps the collar off of your neck, to keep it clean longer. Instead of having to continually wash your coat, you can simply wash the scarf instead.
  • Wearing slips, undershirts and underarm shields can help to keep your clothes cleaner for longer. We tend to wash our clothes more than is actually necessary, and constant washing shortens the life of your clothing. By extending the period of time between washes, you can significantly increase the life of your garment. By keeping your skin away from direct contact with garments, especially delicate ones, they don’t soil so quickly. Just make sure to remove the shields before putting away your garments
  • It is best to wear clothes in turn, as a rest does them good. Shoes too are better for not being worn day after day.” This gives them a rest, and a chance to completely dry out. It is also better for your feet, as it prevents them from rubbing too much in one spot etc.
  • “Always change into old things, if you can, in the house, and give the clothes you have just taken off an airing before putting them away.” 

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist, essential tools

Storing:

  • If you are going to be storing a garment for any length of time, such as off season coats, it is nice to cover them with a garment bag, so they don’t collect dust and dirt while in storage. That way, when it comes time to wear them again, you won’t need to clean them first.
  • Hang delicate garments on padded hangers to protect the shoulders from stretching out of shape. “A hanger that is too narrow will ruin the shape of the shoulder and may even make a hole.” It is also a good practice to store clothing off of hangers, as hanging garments long-term can distort them.
  • “Do up all fastenings before hanging clothes. This helps them to keep their shape. And see that the shoulders are even on the hangers and not falling off one side.”
  • “Put away clothes in the condition in which you will want to wear them when you take them out again. Make quite sure they are absolutely clean; dirt attracts clothes’ moths.” (And who wants to wash clothes first thing when you take them out again?)

Cleaning:

  • Deal with stains and spills right away. Taking a few moments to wash out a stain as soon after it happens as possible, is much better than waiting until you do laundry only to find that the stain won’t wash out.
  • If a garment is not dirty enough to need a washing, you can deodorize by using vodka. This is a practice that is still used today in theatre costumes (according to my friend who is an actress). For a garment such as a blazer or a delicate item, which is not easily washed, simply turn the garment inside out, spritz the inside (especially the underarms) with vodka, and then leave until dry. This neutralizes any odours, and keeps your garments smelling fresh without having to constantly wash them. (I suppose you could use rum instead of vodka, but then you might smell like a pirate! 🙂 Don’t worry, the vodka leaves no scent, so you won’t smell like alcohol.)
  • Washing your clothes in a delicate, cold wash, is easier on them than hot water. Also, air drying your clothes, rather than putting them through the dryer, extends their life. This is especially true for knits (such as t-shirts, sweaters, or jeans with Lycra in them.) Dryers are extremely hard on stretch fabrics.
  • It is better to hand wash your sweaters, so they don’t stretch out of shape. Use a gentle soap, rinse, and then lay them flat to dry. By hand washing your knits, you will help to avoid the dreaded pilled sweater! Putting your sweaters through the washing machine, even on a delicate cycle, leads to pilling. Although you can fix (some) pilling, it is easier to just avoid it in the first place.

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist, tools for mending

Mending:

  • Fix places where seams or hems have come undone, or buttons are loose. It is so much easier to fix right away, than waiting until it turns into a much bigger problem. “Watch for thin places, especially in the elbows of dresses, seams of trousers, heels of socks and stockings. Reinforce a thin spot with a light patch on the inside. Choose material that is strong but rather lighter in weight than the original material. Scraps of net darned lightly inside thin heels of stockings make an excellent repair. If you have to patch or darn and have no matching material or thread, sacrifice a collar, belt or pocket if it is merely ornamental, or unravel a thread from the seam. You could unravel the pocket of a knitted garment to provide thread for a darn, and a patch made from a matching belt may save a frock from the bits and pieces bag. You can replace the belt with one of contrasting colour.”
  • “Always carry a needle and cotton and mending silk with you- this will save many a ladder in stockings or prevent the loss of buttons; your friends will thank you too. How many times have you heard someone say, “Has anyone got a needle and cotton?”
  • Take care of the pills on your knits with a sweater shaver. Nothing looks nastier, and cheaper, than a pilled sweater! It is amazing what a shaver can do for making things look fresh. One of the winter coats I got from a coworker came to me in terrible condition (it looked as though she had thrown it through the wash) and I wasn’t sure if it could be saved, but I used a sweater comb, and now the wool looks brand new!
  • Keeping your leather shoes and purses polished, and hydrated with a conditioner of some sort, will keep them from cracking and drying out. Also, they just look nicer. And, of course, if your shoes are past the point where you can do anything with them, take them to the cobbler. Those people work magic! I have had many a pair that I thought were gonners, and they have brought them back to life.

So, there are my tips and tricks for keeping your wardrobe spic-and-span! Would you like to hear more tips from the Make Do and Mend pamphlet? And do you have any garment care tips of your own? Do share!

Life Lately: In Photos

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Canola in Full Bloom

(Alberta: Canola in bright, sunshine-filled bloom)

We are a culture surrounded by and immersed in images and photos everywhere we look. Advertisements, magazines and social media: a constant influx of images. Everyone is a photographer, and each one is documenting the world they see around them, the way they see it.  I love how these little snapshots are being captured and catalogued. They are memories of a moment in time.

I have always been a person who takes photos daily. I used to carry around my little point and shoot film camera, always hoping for that special photograph I knew was waiting for me. A few years ago, I even challenged myself to a “Photo a Day” challenge: sometimes taking photos of the beautiful, sometimes of the mundane. Today, I don’t always carry my real camera with me, but I have one in my phone (as many of us do) and so I always have it ready to capture an experience, or something interesting. Do the photos I take need to be perfect and professional? Do I need to have a “purpose” for the photo? Do I have to share them on my blog or on Instagram? No. Sometimes it’s just nice to look back and think- “Oh yes, remember that time?” Or, “When did such and such happen”, and you have a picture to refresh your memory. Sometimes the photo serves no purpose, but to be there and bring a smile to your face. And really that is all they need to be. Snapshots; offering a glimpse into one little moment that was, no matter how fleeting it may have been.

So, here are some photos, taken over the last month or so. Not related to anything, or related to each other, but I like them nonetheless. Do you take “purposeless” photos too?

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist -Nature

berry picking, my Grandma’s beautiful rosebush & so many mushrooms this wet year

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Bouquet and Country Lane

a weedy clover bouquet & my favourite country lane near my house

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Domestic Arts

books read/reading (we are reading Little Dorrit aloud, as Dickens was meant to be)

baking, tea- always tea & the latest sewing refashioning project

Life Lately: In Photos, The Artyologist - Berry Picking and Hosta Leaf

berry picking bounty & after the rain