How do you sum up a year? A year that changed you, that delivered you an entirely different person. You don’t. You ramble. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yesterday marked my one Year of Nothing New anniversary. It passed almost unknowingly, as I was making the long trek from my family’s cabin back to my summer residence. I was heading back from a most marvelous second annual Sew Weekend. It passed quietly because buying nothing new wasn’t my daily focus anymore, even though I was sticking to my self-defined rules of not buying a single new thing (save for food and toiletries) for twelve whole months.

makefixborrow

I reflected, I thought about what 365 days of nothing new has taught me. How to articulately put into words how changed I am. But I can’t. Why? Well, I think maybe its because I created a habit…possibly. My buying habits, even my day-to-day habits are vastly different from last year at this time. But I barely notice that anymore, because it became my norm. I have seen a giant shift in my values, but I’m still the same person.

ladies

People often ask me what is the first thing that I am going to buy. Last night at midnight, I purchased these sandals I’ve been eyeing for months. I am coveting a pair of Banana Republic sunglasses, and homegirl needs some new undies like nobody’s business.

But I have come away from 365 days of Nothing New with a new understanding of our country’s “throw-away” culture. I realized just how blind we are to the impacts of purchasing and discarding. I’m saddened to learn how employees in some foreign factories work in deadly environments. I’m horrified to know how many chemicals are getting pumped into foreign rivers and how much pollution is being released in our precious air. We are killing our planet, and ourselves, by over consuming.

But who can we blame? Consumption is an addiction akin to smoking a pack a day. It’s hard to stop buying, when it feels so good. We shop to cheer ourselves up. And it works.

I can’t say that I won’t buy anything new ever again, but I’m choosing to be a bit smarter with my shopping choices. My top five new consumption commandments are:

  • Buy Made in the US. When possible, which can be rare. Despite the high price tags, you can be sure that these items were produced with regard to people and places. US regulation ensures it. To top it off, US made goods are usually higher quality so they’ll last longer!
  • Thrift shop. Macklemore totally trendied up thrift shopping, but he’s on to something. People in thrift stores seem happier (from my experience), and thrift shopping will get your creative juices flowing. Plus, for me, it’s an even better substitute that shopping-for-new-things rush.
  • Borrow shit. For real. Especially borrow the stuff you rarely need. If you need an air mattress ask your friend if you can borrow hers. Because more than likely you won’t find a domestically made air mattress on the market, and who really needs an air mattress more than a few times per year?
  • Wait. If you identify an item that you’re coveting like a madwoman, wait. Wait a few weeks to make sure it’s something you really want. If you’re still thinking about those jeans a month later, you have permission to buy them. You’re welcome.
  • Say no. We live in a culture where people really want to pawn their stuff off on other people. Their thrifted clothes, old furniture, water bottles…junk in general. Even if something looks exciting, if it has never crossed your mind to purchasing it, don’t accept it. You’ll just end up taking it to the thrift stores weeks later. Trust me.

It's okay to say no quote

So I’m sticking with parts of this nothing new thing, but not entirely. Things I will continue to acquire secondhand:

  • Most clothing. Because I’m still passionate about repurposing.
  • Dishware. Because thrift stores have some awesome vintage dishes.
  • Furniture. *Crossing my fingers* Because upholstery is fun, and because I’m still not a grown up with grown up furniture. This may change in the coming years.
  • Vintage sheets. Because I’m addicted.

Four fabric napkins from vintage sheets

There are some things we just need to buy new. Things I will probably buy new from here on out:

  • Shoes. At the thrift store they’ve been worn. It’s usually gross. And the pickings are slim. Luckily, us Americans are blessed with some great domestically made shoe companies (like Oakstreet Bootmakers!).
  • Bras and underwear. Obvious. At least I hope. I have yet to find a Made in the US bra, so I’d love to hear suggestions!
  • Paper products. Cards, envelopes, and printer paper is next to impossible to find at the thrift store. Also, sometimes you just really need a paper towel.
  • Craft supplies. Same as above. And I can justify buying new thread, fabric and paint if I’m creating something that I’d otherwise be buying. Sustainability will still be a focus here.

I don’t feel like I’ve been released from the theoretical shackles of this project. Not at all. But I am excited to explore some new manufacturers doing things the right way. I’m excited to settle into life with a clearer vision of my values.

But what I’m most excited for? New underwear.

I’m off to the land of bearable temperatures tomorrow. I will break out the tank tops, and skirts…and deodorant. Life is going to be real good in about 24 hours because tomorrow I will be in Austin, Texas at SXSW. Wearing my new navy tank with polka dot bias tape of course…

thrifted navy shirt before and after

Now, you guys, this is without a doubt my favorite Sew Thrifted ever. I see many a hot summer day spent in this little tank top. You know why? Because this puppy fits like a charm. The secret? I used a pattern…on an oversized thrifted shirt…and it worked. Like, it worked really well! The pattern was (can you guess?) the Tiny Pocket Tank Pattern from Grainline. If you been reading my blog since this summer (and thank you to the moon and back if you have!), you know that I was a wee bit obsessed with this pattern as evidenced here.  And then my favorite sewing loved ones made a few more here. The Tiny Pocket Tank is a winner for sure. And it works on oversized shirts too!

navy thrifted shirt with polka dot bias tape

I basically laid the pattern over my carefully deconstructed thrifted shirt and cut out new pieces. I chose to leave the neckline as-is, remembering that my previous Tiny Pocket Tank was a little revealing. I also went sans pocket again. I have an aversion to pockets.

thrifted navy shirt side

Then I carefully applied some vintage polka dot bias tape I thrifted about a year ago around the armholes and to the bottom hem. It worked like a charm!

polka dot bias tape

My new obsession? Putting bias tape on everything. Obviously.

I will be back from Austin in a week with lots to tell I’m sure. Then it’s back in the sewing saddle for more Sew Thrifted and some guest blogging!

Heya friends! It’s a blizzard in these parts. A white wonderland outside, that looks beautiful from my bedroom window. Beagle thinks so too. This, my friends, is a day to get things done…inside. I’m catching up on schoolwork after an insane week of all things website related. I developed and launched a website for a music festival that’s very near and dear to my heart. It was a total labor of love. I could not be more proud.

I’ve also nixed the possibility of being web developer as a career. Not happening.

What is happening? Sewing classes of course! Back by popular demand, we’ll be resizing button up shirts to our hearts content at Fancy Tiger this month. Check out their website to see the class offerings and call 303.733.3855 to register!

fancy tiger sew thrifted class

Have you seen this? It literally puts me into a trance. I want all of that wool!

Speaking of Pendleton, I thrifted a most awesome navy Pendleton high waisted skirt at Saver’s 50% off sale yesterday. It fits like a gem, and will be featured on the blog soon!

Until then, here are some other thrifted beauties in their “before” state for your enjoyment. The cringe factor is off the charts with every one of these shirts.

four thrifted shirts before transformation

Hold me accountable, readers? I will complete these four Sew Thrifted transformations soon, I promise. One might even be featured on a giveaway! Also, a big blog overhaul (with a new moniker!) are coming down the pipeline. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. Things are about to get real crazy.

****This giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced soon!****

Oh my gosh, you guys. I have been giddy for, like, three days. Absolutely, annoyingly, anxious-happy. And it’s over a little bitty named Roxanne. I managed to use a sewing pattern all by myself and it turned out wearable, one might even say, darling? My new favorite pattern company, hands down, is Victory Patterns.

Roxanne by Victory Patterns made from thrifted fabric

I swear the pointer finger claw comes out in 90% of my photos.

I bought this e-pattern over Christmas break after perusing some online patterns with my mother. I had about four yards of some awesome teal fabric that I had thrifted about a month earlier; a georgette, according to my mom. I cut out the pattern and read the beautifully designed instructions before starting. Not usually my thing. About four hours later the mutant death virus took over my body.

Those cut-out fabric pieces laid folded, alone, waiting to be assembled for nearly a month. In fact, I almost entirely forgot that I had a shirt to sew. Then I deemed last weekend and recuperate-and-sew weekend, and I stumbled upon the makings of my shirt. I set to work with that miraculous, not-at-all-like-me patience.

It was the pleats, friends. Those pleats captured my heart. The topstitch on that yoke? I couldn’t take a break without thinking constantly, without being totally obsessed, with finishing this shirt. True story, ask my friends, refer to my tweets.

It was finished. And then this happened. Envision angels singing, okay?

Roxanne top and beagleNow this pattern. It’s really something to write home about. There was not a single missed step. It was easy to understand and conscise. And never once did it make me feel totally inadequate. Most sewing patterns do that to me. Victory patterns are amazing. And there are two versions you can make!

roxanne both versionsSource

Roxanne by victory patterns meadow rue giveawayAnd guess what?! You can have one too! The sweetest Kristiann (the mastermind behind the patterns) has agreed to let me give one pdf version of The Roxanne pattern (a $9.95 value) to one of you. Just leave a lovely, little comment. The winner of this giveaway will be chosen at random and announced Monday, February 4th here on the blog.

Godspeed, good friends, godspeed.

Since the new semester of school has started, I’ve had a surge of requests for alterations from my classmates. Interviews, spring cleaning, or maybe just a renewed mission to look good has prompted my friends to clean up their wardrobes. Of course, I’m excited about this. It means people are trying to fix their clothes instead of replacing them. And when the seat of your jeans is a little too saggy? I’ll put some more belt loops on your men’s designer jeans. Hell yes I will.

Tutorial time! Yes, it’s the most obvious fix ever, but sometimes photos help. Right? Please tell me they help.

measuring existing belt loops1. Measure the length and width of the current belt loops on your jeans. Write down those numbers, adding 5/8″ to the length and double the width plus 1/4″.

How to Sew Belt Loops onto Jeans2. Cut a rectangle of denim in the dimensions you noted above. I used a pair of old jeans I never wear anymore.
3. Serge the long end of the fabric with a dark color thread. Try not to cut off any fabric while serging.
4. Iron your belt loop so that the serged seam runs down the center. Serge the top and bottom edges.
5. Edge stitch at 1/8″ seam allowance down each long edge of the loop with a coordinating thread.

find and mark the center point between the two belt loopsNow you’re ready to sew the soon-to-be loop onto the jeans. For this project, I added two extra belt loops between the back middle and the side loops.

6. Measure the center point between the two loops and mark with chalk. Pin your belt loop to the waistband with 1/4″ folded under.

sewing belt loop onto jeans7. Sew a straight stitch that lines up with the waistband’s topstitch. Back and forward stitch several times.
8. Sew a tight zig zag stitch over that straight stitch. Back and forward stitch several times.
9. Repeat on the bottom of your loop.

Now go thread a belt through those loops and admire your handiwork.

The most epic Sew Thrifted post is coming your way after I clean myself up for some photos. It might be my proudest moment yet!

Projects. I’ve got about a million of them on the back burner. A reupholstered chair sits patiently in my garage for a new coat of laquer. A print has been designed, awaiting a screen to be burned on to. All the pieces of the Victory Roxanne pattern have been cut out of some awesome teal fabric.

This sort of blatant laziness, procrastination, and overcommitment would have sent me into a near tizzy a few years ago. I do not like unfinished projects. I don’t like the pressure of having too many things to do and no time to do them. I’m Type A…through and through. Damnit.

But I’ve noticed a gradual shift. In my life, in my actions, in the way people interact with me. Since this summer I’ve started to see myself relax a little bit. I never expected that to happen. I always thought I’d be high strung, emotional…and, let’s face it, a little crazy. But recently, I’ve taken more time to do the things I love, causing more projects to pile up. I’ve started to understand the how empowering it is to say no to doing things I simply don’t want to do. I’m in a good place…most of the time. Life is peaks and valleys.

It's okay to say no quote

I’ve started living in the moment. Not all the time. But it’s happening more often that I expected. And it’s fun! When I’m in the midst of the most enjoyable happenings, surrounded by the most awesome people, and I can think, “damn. I love what is happening right now”…that feels amazing.

wherever you are, be all there

So I’ll get around to my projects in waiting. I’ll have some transformations to show you eventually. But I’ll also try to feel less bad when I don’t post for a few days. Or when you haven’t seen a Sew Thrifted…for umm…months. Capiche?

One thing I haven’t done for nearly a month? Thrift! And savers is having a huge sale for MLK day. I shall be there with bells on. Maybe I’ll show you my haul?

savers

Hi lovely Meadow Rue readers. How are you? Happy to be back in a routine? Sad that the bustling holidays have left us all somewhat…befuddled? Me too. Meeee too.

sick Allie

I apologize for what I’m certain was my longest absence from blogging since starting this endeavor. This little thing I’ve named the mutant, death virus attacked by body last Sunday. By Monday I was immobile and it wasn’t until Friday that I started to feel normal again. It left me with a lingering, hacky cough as its souvenir. Really a thoughtful bug. I’m warning you folks, it’s going around. And it’s mighty contagious. You might consider wearing a mask. Just think about it.

But I’m recovered and way past due for a Year of Nothing New update. Agreed? So far, six months of Nothing New has been a real party. And I mean that seriously. I’ve saved money in the retail arena and I have several new pieces of clothing that I absolutely love! One question I’ve been asked over and over is if I’m going to go on a shopping spree on July 1st, 2013. The answer is no.

makefixborrow

First, this project has literally transformed the way I think about what I buy. I’ve become that opinionated hippie who is annoyed and saddened with the capitalist culture we live in. That’s not to say I don’t indulge often in consumer tendencies (I have to eat after all), but I’m so much more concerned with who I’m giving my money to now. It was a pleasant realization to understand the power I have in choosing where my dollars go. Please choose wisely, people. Make sure your monetary transactions reflect your values. It feels so much more honest to live that way, I’ve found.

vintage thrifted loafer shoes

Second, recently, having too much “stuff” is driving me absolutely batty. I’ve started to politely refuse useless gifts and free swag (a girl does NOT need 15 metal water bottles). I plan on doing a major purge of most of what I own in the coming months, simply because my soul is craving it.

gift

Finally, what’s probably the hardest for me, is the guilt of not being the perfect “nothing new” blogger. My Christmas gifting performance was dismal, mainly because I had too little time to make special, handmade items for each person I care so much about. I know in my heart that the my family and friends aren’t concerned with how much money or time I spent crafting the perfect gift for them. But I feel like I continually fail in this arena, and buying gifts is just so much easier. I’m not sure where to find a sense of mental balance for myself here. I’m still looking for confidence when it comes to involving others in this Year of Nothing New.

Like everything else in life, I’m still working on figuring out this whole endeavor. What it means for the blog, for this year, and how it fits into my life as a whole. What’s most exciting, is that my values are becoming startling clear. Especially after a dark period of my life where I never really knew what I wanted or who I was. That isn’t to say it’s easy, but it sure as hell is a lot of fun. Join me?

You know you’ve eaten too much sugar and had too little physical activity when a 4pm coffee break isn’t just necessary, but is the only thing that will keep you from sleeping right through till tomorrow morning. Life is hard when you sleep eleven hours per night have to choose between pie and cookies for your hourly snack. The result? An extra five pounds in five days. Lovely. Enter the thrifted flannel Wiksten Tova Top! A little extra fabric around the midsection never hurt no one.

Wiksten Tova Top from Thrifted Flannel

One of the most wonderful things about being home for the holidays is the time available to sew. In Boulder I feel bad if I haven’t left the house all morning. I feel guilty if a Beagle hasn’t had his daily romp through the field. Not here folks, nosiree. In Montana, we get up late, sew all day, and nap often. Also, our thrift stores are packed with goodies. There’s a reason they call this state the Last Best Place…for thrifted awesomeness. So two days ago I bought the digital version of the Wiksten Tova Top pattern and set to work with some thrifted flannel my mom picked up.Wiksten Tova Top Flannel Shirt

Now, I’m going to be honest and I hope I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Here it is: This pattern was not at all easy to follow. My mom, who has sewn garments for, like, 30 years even said so! The instructions aren’t written well and the photos are pretty bad. So if you’re anything less than an advanced intermediate seamstress, I would beware. Unless you have a very competent mother who fixes your mistakes.

Wiksten Tova Top Flannel Shirt

Still, I’m pretty smitten with my new top. And it had to be worn with my newly thrifted snow boots. Have you seen this trend explode in the last few months?! Me too! I spotted the cutest girl in the Denver airport wearing a pair. I was overjoyed to find a little boy’s pair sitting on the racks of our local Salvation Army for me. What’s even better? They’re functional! I’ve been wearing one very old pair of Uggs (with zero traction) to walk Beagle in the snow. These will work much better.Thrifted Snow BootsAre you back to the grind now? Recovered from the holidays? I’m so excited to be back at this blogging thing for realz! Lot’s more to come!

I was on a super tight budget this year for Christmas presents and had a time period of about 36 hours to get everything made for my loved ones. Remember…nothing new for a whole year? Yep, that includes gifts for others. And because I continually plan so poorly, I didn’t leave enough time to make something totally unique and handcrafted for each member of my family. I did whip up something pretty stellar though…on Christmas Eve. Aspen tree candle holders…squeal!!!

Aspen Candles

Do you have access to an aspen tree that’s fallen down? How about a drill press and a chop saw? And maybe a drill bit that is the exact same size as a tea light? Then you’re set (and I’m impressed you are so well equipped)! If you’re missing any of these items, it can’t hurt to ask your friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Especially on Christmas Eve at 3pm, they’ll love that.

Aspen Candle Holders

These aspen trunks were cut into varying sizes last spring and have been sitting around my craft room since then. I brought them home at Thanksgiving with the hopes of making these candleholders, but alas my dad didn’t have the right size bit. Magically, when I came home three days ago, the bit had materialized and my dad was willing to show his very accident-prone daughter how to use a drill press. Bless his soul.

Fourteen sections later and I was done! I couldn’t contain my excitement so my whole family found out what they were getting on Christmas Eve. Sorry fam.

And on Christmas morning, despite a balmy 2 degrees, I still got these candles lit outside in the snow. And I just love how woodsy they look and how cheap they were to make. Can you say…basically…free?
aspen candles

How were your holidays? Did you scramble to get things together in the eleventh hour?

Sew Thrifted is coming back at you…stay tuned!