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.

Today on Meadow Rue, an awesome guest post by a blogging buddy. I will be back at blogging in a few short days. For now, enjoy Elena’s killer transformation!

Hiya guys! I’m Elena and I spend most of my days blogging over at Randomly Happy. But today there was so much sewing goodness, that I had to break it down into two parts. You’ll find half here, on the ever-lovely Allie’s blog. And the other half waits for you on Randomly Happy.

The idea was to come up with a really simple way to transform a shirt. Taking it from zero to hero. And since I’ve been a bit obsessed with statement collars and cuffs for a few months now I thought I’d give it a go. It’s nice and simple. And super quick, so do give it a go.titlebefore and afterThe How To

You will need:

  • an unloved shirt
  • fabric for collar and cuffs (20 inches x 20 inches or 50 cm by 50 cm should be enough)
  • pins
  • sewing machine

1. Put your cuff down onto your fabric, right side to right side. Draw around your cuff. FYI you should probably use tailor’s chalk for this, but I was out!

step 1

2. Add about 1/4 inch (3/4 cm) of seam allowance around the boarder of the cuff you just sketched.

step 2step 3

3. Cut the fabric and pin loosely to the cuff of your shirt. Make sure the right side is facing out. Line up the outline you traced to the edge of the cuff.

step 4

4. Going around the edge of your cuff, fold the 3/4 seam allowance in place under the fabric and pin in place.

step 5

5. Take to your nearest sewing machine, and sew a straight stitch around the edge of the cuff. Try and get as close as you can to the edge for the neatest finish.

step 6step 7  ps How great would this look with gold leather? That’s going straight to the top of my to-make list!

P4214696 P4254859

 

First of all…thanks! Thank you, all 100 of you, who filled out my automatic pin remover survey. Your feedback is invaluable and it’s clear that, well, nobody wants an automatic pin remover. I’m not sad. Actually I’m rather excited to focus on another new business venture. One that involves a 1965 Cardinal camper trailer. And music festivals. The next six months are going to be rad, folks.

1965 Cardinal camper trailer

I’ve also chosen a winner of the Tiny Pocket Tank giveaway and her name is Amanda. She’ll be receiving a Tiny Pocket Tank in the coming weeks. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see photos.

Speaking of festivals, if you follow me on Pinterest you’ve probably thought I’ve gone a bit batty. I’ve been pinning fashion that does not entail stripes and neutrals and classics. I’ve been pinning some weird stuff. I’ve fallen in love with festival fashion.

Festival fashion

What I love most about festival fashion is that it’s entirely functional. Festivals are usually hot and dirty and require lots of dancing. Flowy skirts, lots of layers, and comfortable shoes are a must. What’s even better? Thrift stores are the perfect place to find festival fashion waiting to be repurposed. It can be weird…but what better time than a music festival to bring out your hippie side?

So a vintage trailer, hopefully a few friends, and I will be making our way to some music festivals this summer. Teaching people to sew, and possibly selling some stellar music festival fashion. Mostly we’re just looking for an excuse to travel the country and checking off the music festivals we’ve been eyeing for so long. Stay tuned for an update!

P.S. I have two weeks until I’m officially done with grad school. Oh my goodness. But with the excitement comes a crazy number of to-do’s that require my full attention. I may be absent for a few weeks, but I’ll come back in May with some HUGE announcements. Thanks, friends, for being such awesome readers.

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!

Happy March folks! It’s the month of my birth! The days are getting longer and my schedule is becoming more manageable. Sewing is happening on a weekly basis. The temps are rising above 30 degrees. And life is good. Actually, life is so good, that I have two Sew Thrifted posts lined up for you! The second one shall come soon, I promise. For now, you get a good eyeful of this red beauty. Remember this oversized red blouse when I took four before pictures so that you could hold me accountable? Umm…no one held me accountable…just saying. That oversized red blouse turned into a lovely sleeveless shirt. Can you tell how smitten I am with this top?

red thrifted button up turned sleeveless before and after

This top was not supposed to be sleeveless. A rather tragic sleeve incident prompted a complete redesigning of the final product. But I’m so glad I went the sans sleeve route, because a few days later this pin popped up in my Pinterest feed.

pinspiration

 

And since I don’t trust any sources other than my peeps on Pinterest, I was one happy camper. One very important skill that I learned with this project? How to sew bias tape on correctly! It’s sad, I know, but I always thought the raw edge of the fabric was meant to be sandwiched between the folded bias tape. It turns out that it’s not meant to be sandwiched folks, not at all. It’s meant to be delicately sewn on the front and then topstitched on the back. I would go as far as to say I consider bias tape an art…that I have not yet mastered.

red thrifted button up turned sleeveless collage

My favorite way to wear my new sleeveless blouse? Under a blazer of course. No one even knows its sleeveless until I have a hot flash and start shedding layers…in February.

red sleeveless button up with blazerDon’t forget to sign up for my shirt resizing class at Fancy Tiger next weekend.  We’ll going to be drowning in bad button ups turned fitted casual tops!

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.

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?