At The Clothing Swap

This weekend I spent my Sunday at a clothing swap. My friend K. is one of the organizers, and she and a friend hold one swap in the spring and another in the fall. It’s a great idea, so I thought I’d blog about it, in case you’ve never been to one.

How does a clothing swap work?

Everyone goes through their closet and collects any clothing that is in good condition, but that isn’t being worn. Sometimes, it’s because it’s no longer the right size, sometimes not the right style, and sometimes it’s one of those regrettable purchases that happens to the best of us. At this swap, we’re welcome to bring clothing for women, men and kids, and accessories too.

Then every one brings their swap clothes to the swap, shows them to the crowd, and hopefully the clothes find a new home. What isn’t snapped up goes to charity. What doesn’t fit goes to charity. What doesn’t suit goes to charity too. Also, did I mention there are snacks? Yummy ones? Yes, It’s a potluck brunch too. Fun!

The concept is really great because it gathers people who are friends (or at least friendly acquaintances), who are approximately the same age, and who have similar tastes. That means that more clothing gets a new lease on life, and that in turn, means less clothing in landfills.

My new-to-me outfit, all from a clothing swap.
My new-to-me outfit, all from the swap.

Why is this a big deal?

American each discard 82 pounds of clothing per year. About 70 pounds of that ends up in a landfill. According to the the US EPA, 5 per cent of all landfill production is textile waste. And about 90 per cent of that could be recycled.

Donations to charities are a staple for getting rid of unwanted, but usable clothing. But thrift shops are only able to resell about 20 per cent of the clothing they receive. There is just too much of it.

According to Waste Couture, “There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.”

The rest is downcycled, sold by weight as textile scraps for various industrial purposes. However, recycling clothing uses even more energy and resources, so anything that can divert used clothing earlier on is great at reducing waste.

T-shirts I got at a clothing swap.
My oldest two kids each got a t-shirt at the swap.

What are the benefits?

These are my own personal thoughts of course. Your experience may vary.

  • You clear out your closet. Just being able to see the things you can wear, because they are easier to access, helps get the things you like back into regular rotation. It is very freeing. And it is easier to part with me-made clothing, since it’s going to a “good home”.
  • You pay attention to how much you buy. For example, I apparently, have three long-sleeved, v-neck red sweaters, which really, is two too many. Regularly reviewing your clothing purchases is very eye opening. A lot of things that are brought to the swap have never been worn. Some still have the tags on them.
  • You start to become better at knowing what you like. For a long time I liked turtlenecks, but I just don’t think I’m a “turtleneck person” anymore. But someone at the swap might be! And once, I got an amazing long Uniqlo cardigan, because the person who bought it had decided they weren’t a “long sweater person.” Everyone wins.
  • You save money. You get new clothes for free. You buy less. Enough said.
  • You gain a better appreciation of your own shape. Seeing six real-life women in the the same t-shirt is useful. People come in so many shapes in sizes, and nothing looks the same on them all, and that’s great! And it is the exact opposite of the message sent by every glossy magazine ad that you have ever seen. It’s too easy to compare yourself to the implausibly photoshopped and end up feeling somehow “less than”, instead of appreciating yourself as a unique human being, warts (or in my case, four pregnancies) and all.
  • Free fabric. As someone who sews, I also see opportunities to repair, refashion and upcycle some of the fabric. If you can sew, and your crowd buys clothing made of quality fabrics, there are some cool finds in the clothing reject pile.
  • Fun! (I did mention the snacks and friends, yes?)

So what did I get this weekend?

Glad you asked! I got a two shirts for my husband, a couple used DVDs, a t-shirt for each of my two oldest kids, and a really pretty enamel bracelet for my third. (Kid No 4 had snacks at the swap, so she wasn’t too sad to not get anything later). I got a knit shirt and a new-to-me pair of jeans, just as my favourite pair are nearing the end of their usable life, a scarf, and three sewing patterns from the 90s. Overall, a pretty good haul!

Patterns I got at a clothing swap
Patterns I got at a clothing swap. These are New Look 6343, 6576 and 6603. There could be a shirt dress in my future.

Do you have any other suggestions for diverting clothing from landfills? Leave it in the comments!

Someone Is Learning to Sew

Check this out! Can you believe that this adorable bunny was made by Kid No 1?

Ack! Too cute!

She’s learning to hand sew and she made the whole thing by herself. I may have helped just a little with the face. She’s only seven, after all.

See how tiny!

It was a homework assignment. All the kids in her class had to bring something homemade to school for a gift exchange. This was what she made.

I may have helped with the face, just a little.

There was no pattern, and it was made of scraps of polar fleece leftover from the mittens I made earlier this winter. The bunny is quite small, only about 10 cm (about 4 inches) tall, including the ears.

Kid No 1 was so happy, that she made another for herself, right afterwards. I’m so proud of her!

Top Five of 2013

Top 5 of 2013 blog series
Top 5 of 2013 blog series

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve been sewing for years (let’s not count!) but I’m pretty sure this year has been one of my most crafty ever. I think I completed 54 projects, though some were made in quadruplicate versions. That includes a couple of projects that were never blogged, and there is still some Christmas sewing to come.

Add a fall full of sick kids (and parents), the end of my maternity leave and return to work, and all the general ups and downs that a year in a family of six brings, and suddenly I see that I have been busy indeed.

I thought I’d join in the Top 5 of 2013 blog series, organized by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, so here are some of my very favourite projects of 2013.

Baby dress made by The Finished Garment using the Geranium Dress sewing pattern from Made by Rae and Floral Meadow fabric from the Storybook Lane collection.
It’s hard to up the cute factor, but a bonnet will do it every time.

1. The geranium dress and bonnet.

Red Xs and Os quilt by The Finished Garment
Love the colours (or lack thereof).

2. The Red Xs and Os quilt.

A pile of bucket hats.
A pile of bucket hats.

3. A stack of reversible bucket hats.

Kelly Skirt
Kelly Skirt by Megan Nielsen.

4. My linen Kelly skirt.

I like the length a lot. Lots of room to grow.
I like the length a lot. Lots of room to grow.

5. This simple sundress.

Honourable Mention: Starting a blog! I know that isn’t really a sewing project per se, but this blog was only started in 2013. I definitely have some things to work on, but overall, it’s been a really fun experience. I’m glad I finally got organized enough to get my sewing online.

As part of the blog series, we’re also supposed to list our top fails, but I feel like I beat myself up over my failures enough as it is. So instead, here are some areas where I have room to grow.

1. More clothes for me

When I looked at my stats (in an über geeky spreadsheet), I found that about 75 per cent of my sewing projects are for my kids. However, part of the reason I’m sewing is to get myself a decent wardrobe for my post-baby body. That means I need to do some more sewing for myself. Sewing for myself is more challenging, and, more time-consuming. If I want to keep posting regularly, I’ll have to blog more than just the finished projects I complete. So my plan is to post more works in progress. 

2. More clothes for Mr Garment

I also feel I need to sew a little more for my husband. He only got one thing this year! But, I’ve got a shirt on the way, and what look like some good patterns for some upcoming projects. I think I’ll be able to get a couple small projects for him completed before Valentine’s day.

3. More complex quilts

I made four quilting projects this year: three quilts and a table runner, and I have another quilt almost finished. I’m not sure that time allows for more, but I would like to make better, more interesting quilts. I might also make some projects with quilt blocks, like bags, since those are a little quicker.

4. Keep doing the things I like

I like sewing because it’s fun, so I have to remember to keep doing the fun things. Some of the things I liked doing this year: using indie patterns (87% of my projects used indie patterns this year), trying new fabrics, collaborating with my kids on clothing plans. I have to try hard not to get discouraged when things don’t work out quite as planned.

5. Use what I have

I now have a really good stockpile of patterns. I started the year with about 20 patterns, some years old and hopelessly out of style, and most the wrong size or style for my post-four-kids body. But now I have a really good selection. Luckily most were bought on sale, or were gifts, so I didn’t spend a crazy amount on patterns. But, I really shouldn’t have to buy more. Of course, I will probably buy more, since there are gaps in the type of patterns I have – no leggings, for example. But I need to keep things reasonable.  I also have a good stash of fabric now – or rather, a collection of fabric for specific projects, at least for myself. I need to complete those projects, before I get more fabric for myself. I don’t have as much for kids, and I find that what they need changes often, so fabric for kids’ clothing will still have to be bought.

So that’s my 2013 roundup, and my goals for 2014. What about you? Do you have any sewing goals for 2014?

Down Through The Chimney

Looks like Santa has noticed I sew. This is what was under my tree this year.

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt, Sewaholic Minoru Jacket and Hollyburn Skirt, Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress and Roller Skate Dress
Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt, Sewaholic Minoru Jacket and Hollyburn Skirt, Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress and Roller Skate Dress

I was lucky enough to get a big stack of patterns. There are some for the kids and some for me too. What should I make first?

Tripod from Santa
A tripod.

I also got a nice tripod. Nothing fancy, but hopefully it will help me get some nicer photos of the things I sew for myself. Can’t wait to try it out.

Thanks Santa (and his helpers too!).

Tied Up With String

Last week I got my latest Warp & Weft Sewing Society package. Exciting. They always come wrapped in brown paper and tied up in string. It’s such a nice touch.

Anyway, here are some “before” shots of some upcoming projects. Of course, I had two kids who refused to nap photobomb my photo session. Just one of those days…

A new package from Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Yay! A new package from Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Snow Day bundle at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
My first bundle – Snow Day! So cute in real life.
Joel Dewberry's new Bungalow collection at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
So pretty! These are from Joel Dewberry’s new Bungalow collection.
Bromley voile at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Bromley voile. This will be something for me!
Bromley voile at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Kid No 4: “Are you sure it’s not for me?”
Bromley voile at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Kid No 4: “Because this would look great on me.”
Don't Be Koi from the Koi fabric collection by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cloud9 Fabrics and Stella Solid Charcoal at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Don’t Be Koi and Stella Solid Charcoal. This is for a Kids’ Clothing Week project.
The Red Thread – Ladybug Dots at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Kid No 3: “Ladybugs! Mine!”
The Red Thread – Ladybug Dots at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Kid No 4: “No. Mine!”
The Red Thread – Ladybug Dots at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Kid No 3: “I don’t think so.”
The Red Thread – Ladybug Dots at Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.
Kid No 3: “I’m outta here!”

Kid No 3 loves ladybugs and walked around with this fabric for two days. No idea where she gets it. 😉

Tonic Living Sale and Coupon Code

When I made my very first quilt I had the toughest time finding fabric for the backing. So I scoured the web and found something perfect.

I chose the Spade in Charcoal from the Grand Bazaar collection by Patty Young for Michael Miller. I bought it at Tonic Living , a Canadian fabric shop,  and it was also the very first time I bought fabric online.

Pink Rails Quilt

So it’s a little bit sad for me that Tonic Living has decided to stop selling quilting cottons and focus on home decor. On the other hand, it means that quilting cottons are on sale (while quantities last). You can find them all here. They even have some Spade left, though not in charcoal.

Janine from Tonic Living has generously offered a discount for my readers. If you use the coupon code FINISHEDGARMENT you will get an additional 10% anything in the store (on top of clearance prices.) but hurry, the coupon code will expire at the end of Friday October 11.

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Just a little reminder that Google Reeder goes offline this weekend.

What Is Google Reader?
Google Reader is an online RSS reader. It lets you add blogs and websites to a list that you manage. Whenever those sites add new content, it shows up in Google Reader.

If you want to continue to follow my blog please try one of the following. Or you can see some other solutions in my Google Reeder replacement round up.


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