More thrift-store fun

Thrift-Store Pattern Fun

I’ve had a little bit of luck at the thrift stores in the last little bit I thought I’d share, for lack of sewing since I currently have no kids at home to keep me from spending LONG days at the office.

While home last weekend I went shopping at Value Village with my Stylish Sister-in-Law. (I have two sisters-in-law, the stylish one and the crafty one. I have hopes of getting both of them sewing, although it’s a bit tricky at this remove.)

While Stylish scoped out the summery dresses, I did my requisite scope of the fabrics, but (fortunately) found little to tempt me. There was a piece of what I think must be someone’s home attempt at shibori. Sadly, though, it was very narrow and, frankly, looked kinda like what I think shibori would look like if I tried to do it at home in my kitchen—the basic technique was definitely there (the silk was still wrinkled where the threads had been releashed), but the overall pattern was uneven and generally meh. And it was expensive (by thrift store standards, not by shibori standards), so I left it. I also walked away from a fairly comprehensive-looking Simplicity sewing book, chanting to myself: “someone else needs it more… someone else needs it more.”

I did not fare quite so well in the old-patterns section. I walked away with the above bunch, probably none of which I really need. But they are so cute…

"New" desk for sewing machines.

On returning home and setting up my featherweight, I realized that the compromise of setting my machines on the end of the cutting table, which was barely adequate for two machines, was not going to be at all functional for three. So I had a mission. I needed a desk for my machies, preferably with plenty of drawers. I generally don’t like shopping at Value Village for furniture, as most of what they have in that department is pretty depressing, but for something that just needs to be functional and inexpensive, I figured it was a good place to start. After all, it’s going to be keeping company with my alley-salvage cutting table.

Happily, I found this blue desk. It’s real wood construction, quite sturdy, and has big drawers. It’s pretty nicked and beat-up, but I think it will serve its purpose nicely. Also all those drawers have considerably relieved the pressure on the stand of drawers holding my notions. I still need something more for the patterns, though.

While I was thrift-trawling, though, I couldn’t quite resist a couple more sewing books, one by Sandra Betzina, another by Marcy Tilton, whose name I think I’ve heard before.

No Time to Sew---Sandra Betzina

I have to admit, on closer inspection I’m not super thrilled with the Betzina book. It’s basically a wardrobe/style guide with sewing suggestions. There’s probably some good techniques and suggestions buried in there, but let’s just say that my idea of a stylish wardrobe and Sandra Betzina’s idea don’t have much in common beyond both being made of fabric. Exactly the wrong kind of dated.

Easy Guide to Sewing Skirts---Marcy Tilton

I’m much more excited by the Tilton book. It’s about making skirts. I know, you never would’ve guessed. There’s lots of detail, from beginner tips on fabric to a fairly comprehensive fitting section to some more couture finishes, and a lot of discussion of which techniques are suited to which fabric types, which I like. Not all the techniques are exactly what I would use, but then I don’t know everything so maybe I should give them a try. Lots of tips on the finer points of finishing waistbands and vents and things (although not on lining a vent!)

Oh, and the Featherweight is fixed. Or rather, I am even more astonishingly clueless than I thought I was. Oona nailed it—when I replaced the needle after the break, I put the flat side to the right instead of the left. Apparently, like threading from right to left, this is a Big Deal for Feather.


Well, colour me embarrassed. Especially since I had swapped in and out several needles BEFORE the one I broke, making sure the Singer ones were the same as my regular ones. Apparently all those times, I managed to put it back in properly by pure accident, while this time, when I was actually paying attention, I got it wrong. Five or six or ten times.

ANYWAY. She’s working happily again, albeit somewhat dripping in oil from all my attention. I’ll get her figured out yet…



Filed under Sewing

19 responses to “More thrift-store fun

  1. Nice haul! I think you’ll like that skirt book. I’ve used several books in that series, and all have been great. The lined vent instructions however are found in the Guide to Sewing Linings from that series,which is seriously amazing and worth tracking down and maybe even paying full price for. And I never pay full price for anything, so that’s saying something.

  2. Woohoo on being child-free 🙂 I’m sitting here in the garden with coffee contemplating my next step: sewing, knitting, gardening, cooking, nothing? And great about figuring out your machine issue. There is no embarrassment in trying to determine what’s what with a new machine. It would be bizarre for you to know all of its deets without a little bit of learning curve.

  3. Adding to Katie’s comment – that entire series from Threads is worth owning to me and can be purchased as eBooks from Threads online. I think these are wonderful resource tools packed with sewing information and really helpful with taking your sewing to the next level.

  4. YAY. i know it’s rather, erm, disheartening when the cause is so simple (i’ve done it about 50 times, and each time i feel my IQ drops 50 points), but at least she’s working again!

  5. Nice thrift loot. That little is really pretty cool. You could repaint it then sand it a bit to rough up the edges .. then antique over that with Minwax gell stain.. its a great neat oldy look.. Its my answer to redoing furniture.. cream or white or the right shade of green lends itself well to this :O)… or you could paint it black and just rough up the edges a bit.. No antiqueing needed.. Just a few unasked for ideas!

    • Oh, that’s a good idea! I love the antique looks, but the hubby hates them (we have highly incompatible personal decorating styles), but sewing room furniture I could totally do my own thing. Hmm… 🙂

  6. I had no time to sew a while ago. Not exactly great but hey if anyone can come up with a way to make some of those things look cutting edge its probably you.

  7. Some of those patterns look great–I especially like some of the Kwick Sew swimsuits. I suppose that’s not the best design for the featherweight though.

  8. SO happy to hear that your Feather is working! I came THIS close to saying something about it, but I honestly thought you had that covered (I know I know, I’ve got the headdesk move down pat myself)

    What I’ve learned about needles: With ANY machine I’ve met so far, the round side of the needle goes with the round side of the throat plate. If there is no round side on the plate, just make sure the round side of the needle is the side you insert the thread in. I really don’t think there are any exceptions to this – it’s how the groove/hole in the needle is designed.

    Meanwhile…YAY! *big sigh of relieve* 🙂

    • That’s a good point about the throat plate! I guess part of the problem was I *thought* I did have the needle things figured out, since I’d changed it before. Ah well. Onward and upwards…

  9. Meant to say too…I think I may have more Marcy Tilton patterns than any other single designer. Check out for some wonderful inspiration!

  10. Yay, you got the Featherweight working! Whatever the reason, I’d rather have a headdesk moment than a painful repair bill.

    I have that New Look blouse pattern. Haven’t made it up yet, but I bought it because I liked the short sleeve with tie detail. I’m child-free AND more importantly, husband-free for the weekend so I should be sewing, but I partied with my craziest friends last night and got in at 5 am. I’m still not entirely sure my BAC is within the normal range yet, but I had a coffee when I got up at 8 and I’m too wired to take a nap.

    I checked out both of those books from the library years ago, when I was getting back into sewing. The sewing guides series is good, but I agree with you on the Betzina book — I thumbed through it and took it back. I do own and like her “Power Sewing” book though. Lots of good tips, even though the examples are badly dated.

  11. Ellie

    Love the blue desk!! I was lucky to have a husband build me a corner desk that actually fit three machines. We designed it together. Unforunately, I had to get it cut down to fit in a place I moved to when we split up. But it’s still a great desk & holds, very comfortable, two machines & lots of thread & sewing supplies.
    BTW, patterns at Value Village here in BC, are only $.50 each.

  12. Sooo glad to her your feathery-filly is working again (and that it was an easy fix :)!). That desk is a good find – means more space to cut/draft on your first table (yay). Re: your latest pattern haul, v. nice – I espesh like the New Look Blouse pattern in the yellow view – luv the neckline on it 🙂

  13. Hooray for the featherweight! I am envious of her, ya know. Also, it took me a minute to remember what a shibori is. I’m tempted to make one for my kimono. I have an amazing vintage one in blue with purple butterflies… sorry. I digress. I like the blue desk! Good find.

  14. LinB

    Nice haul on the patterns! I’ve made the Burda tee shirt before — it was W-A-Y lower in the front neckline than the pattern illustration indicated. If you usually wear camisoles under your blouses, no problem. I, however, was not fond of the “hello, girls!” effect.

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