Category Archives: buy vs. make

personal goal to make 1/4 of total clothes purchases from 9/05 to 9/06.

wardrobe refashion!

I’m so excited to follow kayte‘s lead!

I, karinajean, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 4 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings!

the rules are:

  1. No buying new! (handmade is excepted; So this allows for Etsy purchases etc!!) All clothing must be Recycled, Renovated, Preloved or Thrifted, or Handmade only for the term. Employment related and special needs clothing (ie sports, school), shoes and undies are excepted from the rules, although you are encouraged to have a go at making these.
  2. In extreme circumstances, maybe a special event, or the worlds greatest and most amazing never to be repeated sale that you simply can not pass up, you may use the Get out of Refashionista Jail Free card. You are able to use this card once during the 2 month part of your contract; ie 1 for 2 months, 2 for 4 months etc. Of course you need to fess up on the blog and display the button!
  3. You must post on the blog at least once a week to let the community know what you’ve been up to. This will not only give you brag points, but inspire and encorouge others! Of course you need to display the button on your blog and have copied the pledge in at least one post, and provide a link to your pledge under the button.
  4. You need to be honest and admit when you’ve fallen off the Refashionista Wagon! Go directly to Refashionista Jail, do not pass GO and do not collect $200! Apply for parole once there.

and the exemptions are:

  • underwears
  • bras
  • socks
  • pantyhose, stockings, and tights
  • shoes

I’m so excited to not have any excuse *not* to make really cool things. I’ve been getting by on very little in the new clothing arena for a long long time, but not buying anything for (at least) 4 months will force me to really work on my spring wardrobe. my goals are to do more repurposing of clothes and fabric, and to develop more fully my own sense of style. stay tuned! sign up, while you still can! and expect to see lots of cross posting of things I actually make!

new skirt

yesterday I buckled down and sewed a new skirt. Maybe because I was watching TV at the same time, but it took about 5 hours. I would have listened to an audiobook, but the library didn’t have the book I’m up to in the amelia peabody series. I’d hope that if I weren’t eating nuts and talking on the phone and watching tv it would go a fair bit faster.
I used McCall Pattern M3341 which is a real workhorse – it’s an a-line skirt and I’ve used it to make my purple skirt and my fancy holiday party skirt. Also on the workhorse list is McCall M3830 – it’s a good pencilish skirt that I’ve used before as well.

Here is the fabric for the skirt:

I used some of the fabric bought from the fabric shop in belleville nj. I still have about 1 yard left of this stuff, and I’ve got two more pieces of fabric left from that shopping trip. I made sure to get matching zippers for the other fabric as well while I was out on sunday, so that’s all set up. now all I have to do is get down to it!

so, 2007 to date:

bought: pair of pretty wool gloves from target ($4.48) [[which I did sort of need, b/c I’ve lost one of each glove or mitten or wristers I have in the last 2 months, and also, it’s supposed to be getting cold this week, and also, I’m not allowed to knit for myself until I finish the corn baby.]]

made: one skirt, desperately needed b/c my other skirts are getting worn.

what I did on sunday

yesterday I took about 11 1/2 hours and reupholstered my couch. to be fair, it really took about 10 hours – there was some time spent on the phone with kathleen, or eating lunch, or lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. but it was worth the pin sticks and the long toil, because here it is: my beautiful, reupholstered couch!

it took so very very long because the fabric that I bought was only 54″ wide, and my couch is, obviously, much longer than that. so I split the fabric and sewed it onto the ends of another piece to avoid a seam down the middle, and that was horrible excrutiating work, but it came out awfully nice.

the process was a bear because it involved a lot of draping and pinning and sewing and fitting and pinning and sewing and fitting. lots of back-and-forth between the couch and the sewing machine. I fitted everything together like this:


and sewed on the arms and then the fronts of the arms very last. I listened to the 3rd amelia peabody book downloaded from the library and boy howdy am I glad it’s done! I won’t make any brash assertions that I won’t do this again ever (like I did with the denim couch) but I won’t do it again for a good long time, that’s for sure.


here’s another couch mock-up. heck! it’s so hard to pick a strategery!


severe dorkitude

this weekend I have a number of engagements, but the most long-standing is my date with reupholstering my couch. I reupholstered our couch in spanish harlem – michelle and I got to work with a bunch of denim and a staple gun and my sewing machine and made our tweedy couch into a thing of sleek beauty. it was horrible. it took FOREVER (like, more than 1 evening) and was a big old pain in the keyster, but it was so beautiful when I was done.

the couch I’m using now is a hand-me-down from my stepfamily – maggie bought it new in the 90s, which explains the hunter green navajo print, and then sarah used it for a while, and then it sat on her (enclosed) front porch for a while. As I have a no-moving-the-couch policy currently (it’s WAY easier to ditch the couch when you move), I am not ready to commit to purchasing a new one for hundreds of dollars. and even though I swore up and down I would never reupholster a couch again, in the interests of re-using a couch (aka keeping it off the street) and not turning 30 with a couch covered in sheets (v. collegate), I will cover this old used couch that I have.

I was going to cover it with this fabric:


but now I’m not sure. it’s beautiful fabric, but it’s awfully busy. it won’t match my orange tweed recliner. and it stresses me out to worry about matching patterns so neatly when I sew the whole thing together. Sat. I’m going to stop by the Fabric Warehouse in bellville to see what they’ve got, and hopefully there will be lots of some cheap, light colored (non blue) decorators fabric with which I can reupholster my couch. Currently the couch is wrapped in some lavender sheets and that is pretty great. I would also like white, but as I enjoy eating chocolate on the couch it might not be the best idea. Ideally I want to get something that will match my beautiful dream fabric so I can cover old pillows in it. (I plan to reuse old smooshed bedroom pillows as the pillow bases. this is one of the reasons I categorized this post under buy vs. make.)

EDIT: after talking to a coworker who has her first degree in interior design, she suggested the busy busy fabric for the body of the couch and black for the cushions. and if that’s too busy adding additional throw pillows on the couch with black or white fabric. HMM. she is totally talking me back into it!

anyway, here is the dorkitude: tuesday night I went home and made these sketches (on graph paper liberated from a prior employer) of my couch to estimate how much fabric I needed. I’m so glad I did it because now I know what I’m in store for. but, yeah. Very Dorky.



clothes etc.

since the last buy vs. make inventory,

I’ve made a bunch of skirts:

* I redid my pink upholstry skirt so it isn’t falling apart.
* I made two pleated skirts: one short for my bday, one long for every day.
* I made a purple skirt as practice for my silk skirt which I will now wear to almost every holiday occasion I have this winter.

on the buying: I purchased 10 pairs of socks. exciting! but I will wear them all winter long: I bought

* 2 pairs of long chevrons (which I absolutely LOVE)
* 1 pair of ankle chevrons
* 3 pairs of the N40 (the only bad thing about these is that they are nylon)
* 2 pairs of the M40
* 1 pair of M43s
* 2 pairs of plain flat knit over the knee socks
* and some dorky socks: thigh high crochet net and little booties.

I also went to the outlets in maryland and bought

* a jean jacket
* a cotton jacket
* a red short sleeved sweater
* a pair of jeans
* a pair of trousers

I hadn’t bought pants in at least 4 years! So I was probably due some. and jackets, now, they are hard to make.

I’ve accumulated/purchased 6 or 7 tshirts over the summer, primarily from threadless, though a couple were from a craft fair or the 5K I ran.

Of course, on the other hand, I thought about going to target last night to get more long sleeved shirts and underpants (which I do need, badly), but the act of going to target seemed so horrifying that I just went home.

so, net buy vs. make over the last 7 months? heavier on the buy than the make, but at least I didn’t have any duplication. I’d rather buy trousers and jackets and I really didn’t have any fun graphics tees – so I think it’s a wash in all directions. and shoot! I just counted: I made 5 skirts in 7 months, and they all came out really really well. I should NOT lose track of that.

anyway: speaking of tshirts, I’m planning to get out all my old tshirts and start cutting them up for makeup removal pads. I saw these, but they are in the UK and also terrycloth (which is kind of rough). I asked my internet friends about it, and they pointed me to someone who makes them from flannel and then someone suggested using old sweatshirts, and then I thought hey! old tshirts! they are soft, kind of absorbant, and I can cut them into squares and zigzag stitch several layers together to get a small structured square for wiping my eye make up off of my face. and it reuses things that I don’t need or want, and that might otherwise be sold in africa with a net effect of undermining local textiles producers.

silk skirt: check!

got my skirt done! YAY.


Continue reading

recharge on the whole buy vs. make

I thought this was pretty interesting:

a seattle dancer wears the same little brown dress for a year and then after her project is over she commits to wearing only handmade and recycled clothing for a year.

it really reminds me of all the sewing I have to do in order to maintain my buy vs. make concept. and it helped me to make an adult decision regarding this coming weekend: some of my crafty girlfriends and I are planning to drive up to warrensburg for the worlds largest garage sale. Afterwards I wasn’t sure if I should drive home or if I should stay in albany. the idea of an 11 hour driving weekend for just 24 hours of garage saleing seems so silly, but after reading all of the little brown dress journal I think I’ll go home sat. night and on sunday will clean my room and sew a skirt. I have an office party to go on 10/7 and I’d love to have something new and nice to wear. and with all the work I’ve been doing I’ve been way off track on the goals of keeping my house clean and sewing my new clothes. hopefully I’ll be able to get with the program on sunday and get some stuff done!

in other craftastic and recycled clothing news, swap-o-rama-rama looks like an all around good time. I’m hoping to make it to the next NYC event on 10/8. I love it!

new skirt

a couple of weeks ago I attended a Mary Kay training weekend featuring our dynamic national sales director from Louisiana. I knew there would be people wearing suits there (the MK directors receive suits, and senior consultants get red jackets) so I wanted to wear something I felt comfortable and classy in. So what’s my (common) response to a dress occasion? make something within 48 hours of attending, natch!

ta da!

new skirt

I used the same pattern as my birthday skirt

here’s a close-up, so you can see how brilliant I am at pleats.

pleat close-up

(hee! seriously, patterns are MY FRIEND. they might not be as punk-rock as seeing something, going home, and whipping something up, but they help make your clothing so beautifully and the sewing goes so much faster. and with much less cussing. not NO cussing, but much less.)

the skirt took about 2 1/2 hours to make, and I worked on it Thursday night after work (I drove up to albany on Friday night and hemmed the skirt, and we were out the door on Sat. AM for the event by 8AM).

in the buy vs. make: I’ve got the new skirt, but I also stopped by target and purchased 4 new plain tees and 2 tank tops. but that’s all acceptable things to buy, I think.


this weekend was so fantastic. to start with, on friday I finished my new skirt. It took about 3 or 4 hours, and it came out pretty great, if I do say so!

you can see the pleated detail here, even though I’m very “mmmm, cake” in this photo.

digicam 020

here’s a good idea of the length and backside.

digicam 054

and I’m not sure what I’m doing here, but you can see clearly how comfortable and easy to ear this piece of apparel is (OH! I just remembered! I was showing Jenn C. warrior pose, right before I showed her TKD back stance and we mock fought. ha!):

digicam 057

what a bunch of glamour shots! they’re so funny. and that’s one more skirt I’ve made vs. buying. sweet. I have to say: I would love to be all punk rock crafter and say “oh, I don’t need a pattern” and maybe it’s true, but it is a heckuvalot easier to sew things with patterns. without a pattern it takes me easily 2x as long, because I have to constantly alter as I go along. with the pattern I just suspend my disbelief that it will fit and it all pulls together at the end.

buy vs. make

I’m adding a new category called ‘buy vs. make.’ one of my resolutions for my 30 goals list was to “sew 1/4 of clothes – start with 1/4 by purchase, move towards 1/4 of wardrobe. Keep JOURNAL to show it.” obviously, I haven’t been keeping a journal to date. But now that I have so many GALLONS of lovely upholstery fabric to turn into luscious skirts, well, I’d better get started.

To start, I think I’ll measure the percent-made in terms of NUMBER OF ITEMS made+bought. And there are things that I’m not going to include in that count, for example, SOCKS. I will keep track of buying socks but I know I will never be able to make the diversity of socks that I can (and want badly to) buy. so, categories:

sweaters *this one will be super hard, b/c I haven’t knit a sweater to date.
winter accessories

and I’d like to get better at sewing so I can add

tailored jackets

things that don’t count include underwear, socks, shoes, and coats. I’m sure I could make these things, but that’s REALLY where I draw the efficiency vs. economy vs. reality line.

Now, if I really wanted to get technical, I might look back at what clothing I’ve bought since I started my 30 goals list (which was the end of september). Judging from my credit cards and bank statements and the best of my recollection:

* In March I bought a corset style top at target, some shoes, and about 3 or 4 plain tshirts.
* I bought $130 of socks in January and February. To my credit, I’ve worn them every day since.
* In November I bought 2 pairs of stretchy velour pants for knee surgery convalescence, a green wool sweater, and a cream wool cardigan from Old Navy.
* And at some point, I must have bought 3 or 4 long sleeved plain shirts from Target.

Truth be told, that’s not really so bad. (Now you all know how infrequently I buy undergarments! horrors!) Though to balance that out I’ve got… well… nothing. I didn’t even knit anything for me! so I have some work to do on the 1/4. The last thing I sewed was the silvery dress for the wedding I attended in September. But I’ve been thinking and buying stuff to make other things! I guess my first step (after making my New! Green! Skirt!) will be to document the raw materials I have and match fabric and yarn with patterns. Won’t THAT be fun for you, gentle reader? Not as much fun as it will be for me, I have the heart and soul of a photodocumentarian!

birthday preparations

so, I’m having this party on sat. and I’ve decided to do it at my place. I got most of the big housework done earlier, and then I spent at least a week obsessing about how many people I could squeeze into my apartment, but I’m gonna do it. hey, I live in NJ. either people will come, or they won’t, but I bet that it’ll err on the side of people not coming out from NYC.

so, here’s my to do list for the next few weeks so I can get everything done and ready by sat:

* clean up living room, kitchen.
* take large things to basement storage and neaten up hall closet so I can stash microwave if necessary (aka, if I don’t get a chance to make microwave table)
* wash fabric, cut skirt pieces out
* gym after work for cardio
* to bed at a reasonable hour so I don’t get sick (am feeling illish)

* gym for knee before work
* date night with the mister?
* stop at linens and things to get a basket for long socks/etc. for my bedroom
* clean up bedroom – put clothes away, put craft things away, clear off dresser as party prep.
* if time, make yummy treats for coworkers in honor of my bday to bring in on friday. aka, also stop by the grocery store to buy baking supplies.

* sweep everything as prep for houseguests who will be sleeping on floor
* make skirt (while waiting for houseguests to arrive)
* make treats for party/etc
* gym after work for knee and if time, cardio

* grocery shopping
* attend party for friend in afternoon
* get home, straighten up, make crudites, have pre-party picnic dinner with houseguests and visiting family

it certainly sounds exciting, doesn’t it? you may have noticed reference to sewing a skirt above. Yes, against all better judgement I have decided once again to undertake a last minute sewing decision. I didn’t mean to, except I *really really* want a green skirt and I *really really* need a shorter than my knees skirt and I *really really* refuse to go shopping, so I HAVE to make one. I went to the rag shop last night and came home with 3 patterns, 4 pieces of fabric (3 of which are upholstry fabric) and various threads and notions. I hope to get a jump on the setup for the skirt so I can sew it quickly on friday night… HOPE. Dream!