I bet you thought I wouldn’t get this post up, didn’t you? I know, you had resigned yourself to the fact that you’d go one more week without a Sew Thrifted post. To be honest, I thought so, too. I’m sorry.

But at the last moment, just minutes before my evening class I’m pulling through for you. Like a ultra marathoner who stops to sit and catch his breath just feet before the finish line, while the crowd is urging them to just. keep. going. And then they crawl across it. That’s basically what I’m doing right now. Crawling through life. Soon, it shall be enjoyable again. In twelve days I’ll be enjoying leisure reading and playing with a healthy, like-new Beagle.

A small thing that makes life even slightly more enjoyable? Fabric napkins.

Fabric Napkins from Vintage Sheets

My friend and classmate, Emily, has set a goal for herself to be as waste-free as possible…even if that includes taking her own fabric napkins to restaurants. First, I laughed…then, I thought, “That’s genius!”. So I copied Emily and made myself some fabric napkins, and I shall bring one along next time I eat out.Four Napkins from Vintage Sheets

What makes these napkins even better? They’re made from a vintage pillow case I thrifted over a year ago. Yes, four large napkins from one pillow case. I was shocked too.Four fabric napkins from vintage sheets

Mitered corners scare me, so I used my serger’s rolled hem feature to create a nice finished edge. I only have white and black serger thread, but I found the white thread complemented the 70’s fabric beautifully.

I love these little beauties. They certainly have brightened my day. Go make some for yourself, they’ll put a smile on your face.

P.S. Thanks for all your concern and kind words over the past week. Buckley is still having a rough go, and will see a neurologist this week. Keep your fingers crossed, if you don’t mind having limited use of your hands.

Every time I go to the thrift store I look for fabric. Every single time. I’ve found fabric worth buying twice. Twice in at least 100 thrift store trips. Those odds aren’t very good in case you can’t do math like me.

But some days, you arrive at the thrift store just hours before somebody has decided to liquidate their sewing stash. Those are the days where prudent buying decisions are your nemesis. If you see yards and yards of fabric that you potentially, on a whim, if the stars align just right might use? Buy it. Don’t let it linger on the shelf, because after one stroll around the store it could be gone.

Let’s just say, it has happened. Luckily, my latest trip to the thrift store resulted in a big win of megaball jackpot proportions. Basically I can quit school now and just sew all day long.


First, the awesome teal flowy fabric. I don’t know the specific kind of fabric, but it’s drapey and flowy and pretty much the exact opposite of cotton. And there’s about three yards, maybe four, here. For $2.99.

That teal fabric has big potential, and I’ve been racking my brain, and pinning myself to death over what it may become. Here are some options:

I absolutely love that tied back tank. I know it’s, like, 30 degrees out and I can’t layer with that all that back detail going on. But I’m still obsessed. Sue me.

Next up. At least two yards of this white and red striped cotton. With the most adorable ribs running through the whole thing. Also for $2.99.

The minute I saw this fabric I thought – table cloth! Since I just learned how to sew a rolled hem on my serger, it seemed like a no brainer. I think wearing this fabric would be a little too candy-striper for me. I’m considering tea-staining this beauty for a look more like this:


Have you thrifted any fabric lately?  You’ll be happy to know that Sew Thrifted is returning on Thursday. I bet you had given up hope. Have faith in me friends. I shall not disappoint you.


Gah! I could not be more excited about what’s coming up in Meadow Rue land. Lots and lots of sewing, and an entirely handmade holiday! Well, we will see about that.

I’m teaching four fun new classes at Fabricate in Boulder starting this Saturday. So if you haven’t started Christmas shopping yet and you have some button down shirts hanging around, you should join us. I’m serious. It’s going to be on the top ten list of your best times ever.

Click on the photos to be taken to the class info page!

Class space is extremely limited at Fabricate so call 303.997.8245 to register! Full tutorials on these fun projects to come after the holidays!

You guys, this is big. My first guest post is happening today…right now, in fact! And I couldn’t be happier to feature my internet buddy Elena from Randomly Happy for the inaugural post! Take it away, Elena.

Hiya lovely Meadow Rue readers. I’m Elena over at Randomly Happy. It’s such a treat to be here with you. These Sew Thrifted posts were the very first posts I stumbled across and are what hooked my on Meadow Rue in the first place.

If your thrifting adventures are anything like mine, you might be stumbling across some lovely items of clothing that are just several sizes too big. Case in point: this lovely vintage skirt I found in my local thrift store. So hard to resist with it’s yellow polka dots and pleats. But just way too huge. And, trust me, nothing makes you look less attractive than an oversized, pleated polka dot skirt. 

But there’s hope. Skirts are ridiculously easy to take in. And so, I wanted to share two ways you could use to tailor thrifted skirts like this. One way is super quick and works when skirts are slightly too large. The second way is best if a skirt is significantly massive. Both of these work best if the skirt has an elasticised waist (i.e. no zipper), or has a seam at the back centre.

No 1: The quick way to take in a skirt1. Turn your skirt inside out and try it on. Work out where you want the skirt to sit on your waist. Mark this with a fabric pen or tailor’s chalk. Make sure you take in roughly the same amount of fabric on both sides.

2. Wander on over to your sewing machine. With both sides of the skirt together and starting at the top sew over the line you marked and gradually continue down till about half way down the skirt. Make sure you gradually taper the line, bringing it closer and closer to the original side seam. This helps stop the fabric from bulking up and giving you weird seams on your hips (not flattering – trust me – I’ve learned the hard way!).

No 2: When a skirt is huge1. Repeat step 1 above. Now, instead of tapering the line just continue straight down to the bottom of the skirt. Cut away the excess fabric and zig zag the seams to stop them from fraying.See, so easy. And quick too. You might need to hem the skirt – especially if you’re short like me – but even then this can all be wrapped up in an hour.

So, would you be willing to take the plunge and resize your next thrifty find? Or are you strictly sticking to your size?  

It’s four days before Fall Break and I swamped with work. A midterm and presentation are coming up on Thursday…and I’m writing about skinnifying a tie. You see where my priorities lie.

But really, this post was begging to be written. Who doesn’t love a skinny tie? Don Draper loves skinny ties. Men look better in them. End of story.

I asked my male model what the purpose of a tie was anyway. I mean, they’re totally decorative and they appear somewhat uncomfortable. He said he thought it was some sort of medieval napkin. I hope that’s true. The neckties at the thrift store would indicate that’s true. Stain city, friends.

Want to learn how to skinnify your man’s ties? Well listen up!

1. Turn your tie to the back it should look something like in the diagram above.
2. Snip off the point of the tie along the magenta dotted line.
3. Seam rip up the center back seam of your tie (mint dotted line) to the width of the tie that you’d like to skinnify the rest of the tie to.
4. Turn the seam ripped length of the tie inside out and sew along the bottom and up the side (second diagram). Be sure to leave an inch so that you can turn the tie back to the right side. Trim off the excess fabric.
5. Turn the tie right side out and hand sew the remaining inch of center seam.
6. Press well (If your tie is silk, be sure to use a low iron setting!).

If you’re me, you’ll need several lessons on how to tie a necktie, then you’ll just give up and let your man do it. Also! Encourage him to leave the top button of his shirt undone for a Jim-Halpert-type look.

More men’s post to come friends. I hoping I can incorporate a three-piece suit into a post. Google image searching Don Draper was a big mistake.

Take a skip across the pond to Randomly Happy, where I guest post for her “Take One Trend” series. Full tutorial on the other side!

FYI Coloradans: I’ll be teaching not one, but two, shirt-to-skirt classes at Fabricate in the coming weeks! Register now, as space is very limited.

Hey readers! Men’s content is finally here. Wahooo! All Meadow Rue Men’s posts will be housed in the Meadow Rue Men tab above, so check back often for male related things.

My good friend and classmate, Michael Leventhal, so graciously agreed to undertake this first men’s project with me. He’s an east coaster, a brilliant comic writer (check out his website!), and a serial thrifter. Michael isn’t afraid to sift through racks of used clothing, and you’d never guess his wardrobe is secondhand. He admits though, he has thrifted a few ill-fitting items in his day. Enter Meadow Rue.

Michael and I ventured to our favorite thrift store together and picked up two closet staples for any man. A crisp too-large button up and a pair of too-long no-pleat slacks. Alterations were needed stat.

This shirt was a biggin’. The shoulders were dropped too low, the sides needed taking in and the sleeves were too long. You know how men’s dress shirts billow on the sides? This one was totally doing that. I decided to resize it the “proper” way, by removing the arms, taking up the shoulders, and sewing the sleeves back on. Then, I took in the sleeves and sides.

It was a failure. Can you tell? No? Good, thanks for feeding my ego.

After I finished this alteration, I warned Michael that there was a chance he might not be able to get one arm into the shirt, as I mistakenly cut the arm hole too small, so that the armpit was a good two inches higher than the other. Michael swears the shirt is still pretty comfortable. And, despite the total shirt mess-up, the fit is far better.

See where the shoulder seams lie? One is at least 1/2″ lower than the other. Woops.

The back of the shirt had two pleats towards the shoulder seams. It’s obvious my measurements were not consistent from side to side. Yikes. This is one type of alteration I need much more practice on. Luckily, Michael doesn’t get as attached to his thrifted finds as I do. Thank goodness.

Up next: slacks. Without pleats. Please promise me you’ll never buy pleated slacks, guys. Ladies? Help them out here. Pleats are good in some places on some clothing. Never on the front of pants.

These pants only needed a quick hemming, one alteration I can complete in 20 minutes. I know this because I’ve been timing myself. Yes, I’m a total sewing geek.

It feels good to be honest with you guys about sewing mistakes, because it happens often in my world. I cannot count how many half finished items are sitting around my sewing room because I screwed something up, got frustrated and gave up. But I’m finding, more and more, that most sewing mistakes are easily fixed, ironed out, or really not that noticeable.

Other mistakes? Not so much.

I’ve been getting real close with my sewing room lately. Major time spent together. Shared happiness and frustration. A total lack of adequate lighting. It’s give and take relationship. But boy am I glad that I have a dim, little refuge to work on the projects piling up around me. All this time spent sewing, and I’m learning some pretty fun lessons. You want me to share them? Okay!

1. Did you know that a lint roller is the best way to pick up all those loose threads from seam ripping? Works like a charm! A hard lesson learned after at least fifteen minutes spent plucking threads, one by one, out of the hem of jeans.

2. The lint that builds up inside of a well-loved shirt’s pockets is gross…just gross.

3. Your state-of-the-art, amazing-in-every-way sewing machine does have its limits. It’s called four layers of denim.

4. Alterations are a ridiculously fun way to make money. And neglecting school work is a great way to cause major test anxiety. Still searching for the balance.

So I’m pumped, folks. I will attend a blogger meet up this weekend with this lovely lady at Fabricate (where I’ll be teaching classes soon)! I feel like a seven year old whose parents just told her she’s leaving for Disney World on Saturday evening. Valium might be necessary for four nights of proper sleep. Life is just a series of exciting events lately, isn’t it? Meadow Rue goes international next week, so stay tuned!

‘Member how I told you about that thrifted shirt I spotted from across the thrift store this weekend? This is it folks. A true gem. A ladies large polyester button up. It’s a lovely sheer, cream color with tiny little targets dotting the entire thing. Tiny little pinky-orange targets. It has square buttons and it’s vintage (i think). I was in puppy love.

After a quick resizing using Cotton and Curls’ method, that puppy love turned into a more mature, respectful kind of love. The kind of love that requires a real photographer and a gorgeous mountain sunset. I also added some pleats to the shoulders to bring them up a bit.

This shirt can be dressed up or down. I can’t wait to try it with a high waisted skirt. But it also looks great with jeans and a sweater over the top.

In that same thrifting trip I found a great gold bracelet that I haven’t taken off since I bought it. Thrifted jewelry is the best.

Sorry for the super short post friends, but this week has been a killer at school. It’ll all be over at 9:15 tonight after a presentation that gives me sweaty armpits just thinking about it. At least I’ll be sweating into a polyester, vintage shirt with tiny targets.

I’m a huge numbers nerd. It’s a known fact. My first two jobs after undergrad required me to stare at a spreadsheet for eight hours a day. I say that I hated it, but, in fact, I kind of loved it. The joy that comes from finding a tiny formula error in a spreadsheet of 10,000 lines has no bounds. No bounds at all, folks.

So when my Digital Marketing professor required that we “listen” (via social media and the interwebs) on a certain topic, log our data and come up with valid conclusions, I was pumped. I got even more excited when she told us we could pick our own topic. I swear, guys, you’re never going to guess my topic.

Thrifting in Numbers

Thrifting has exploded among high school and college aged kiddos. I blame this music video. Youngens everywhere are tweeting that they want to go thrifting (often instead of going to class, tisk tisk). Many more of them were happily updating their statuses with pictures of their thrifting finds. A few wanted thrifting help.

Overall, the general sentiment towards thrifting was positive (cue air fist pump). Clothing was by far the most popular thrifted items discussed. Followed by home decor. Nearly everyone was thrifting with family and friends, often they were making an entire day of the activity.

Sweaters. People want sweaters. And they want them now. They can “feel their blood freezing”. If thrift stores know what’s good for them they should be showcasing those tattered sweaters in their front windows. They should be dumpster diving for the chunky cable knit variety. Sweaters are in.

This is fun right? I used Hootsuite and Google Alerts to collect the data between 9.30.12 and 10.10.12. I logged 115 conversations.

A Year of Nothing New (YNN) Update

My Year of Nothing New has an acronym now, so you know its super official. You can throw those three letters out to your friends in a conversation. It’s cool. I figured its time to give you an update, and soon an entire post about how the last 104 days have adjusted my habits.

My current observations:

  • Walking into a store and being approached by a salesperson is now the most irritating thing in the world to me. Thrift store employees don’t do this. Why must you try to sell me the most expensive thing in the store? I’m not buying mister salesman, so you can just save that pitch for someone else.
  • “Doing without” has gotten much easier. Wanting material items is akin to food cravings. If you just ignore the craving and eat something else, you’ll be fine. Even though I really need a new pair of black leggings (Mom, this is not a request for you to buy me black leggings), I can do without them for a year.
  • This project is a bit easier than I expected is because I was so incredibly fortunate to start with. Besides undies and bras (which is going to become an issue…soon), I was stocked up on most everything I needed. A life of convenience meant that I never went long without something I wanted, so I imagine these first six months will probably be a-okay. But when all of my socks have holes and my Tom’s look like a cat had their way with them; that is when this project is going to get difficult. I’m strangely looking forward to it.

Hope you all have a grand weekend, full of thrifted sweaters and family and friends!