Tag Archives: thrift store finds

Follow-up

More Star Wars

You guys rock my world . Your comments on the Star Wars dress have left me in mushy (geeky) heaven all week, even as I’ve had almost no time or read, write, or comment myself this week. Which unfortunately is probably going to be pretty representative of the next few months of my life. Aiee. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. (Incidentally, I wore the dress to work on Monday. Not. One. Single. Comment. Which says something about my workplace…)

After finishing a big exciting project like the Star Wars dress, there’s always a bit of a “what next” feeling. Obviously it’s not possible to top it, at least immediately. So I backed off, and made Tyo another Young Image tank-top.

Except I decided to experiment with some fold-over elastic instead of a self-fabric binding, and, um, the results were not pretty. I gave it to her for a pyjama shirt.

She wore it to school the next day.

Tyo’s new racerback tank (aka boybeater)

Which is an awesome ego-boost, even as I cringe inwardly that people might actually see it. They know I sew at her school. Someone might notice. Anyway, to redeem myself in my own eyes, at least, I immediately made another, with “proper” binding. The photo is the “proper” one. I couldn’t find the crappy one to photograph—which might mean she’s wearing it again. The fabric is a black rib-knit I found at the thrift store; it’s soft and drapes well but has zero recovery, which works okay for a shirt like this—I won’t say well, but okay. Also when I was putting on the bindings (with clear elastic this time) I didn’t always stretch them quite enough, so when I finished one side of the back armscye was stretched out *way* more than the other. And with clear elastic in the binding, there’s no chance of it shrinking down in the wash. So I trimmed that side to match the other, sacrificing grain-straightness in the process. So probably it will twist weirdly when worn. At least the bottom is still on grain.

That’s a funny thing I’ve noticed, sewing for my kids. They have definite standards for what they will and won’t wear (sewing for Syo, in particular, is very hit-or-miss) but when I do get a hit, they a) won’t take it off until I peel it off with a spatula, and b) don’t give a rat’s ass about the stitching, finish, quality, or even attractiveness. Syo’s favourite homemade pieces are some self-drafted bits I couldn’t even bring myself to blog about, including one she made herself that looks like something a caveman would make, if cavemen had access to lycra and sergers. (And, thinking of the amazing Neolithic art out there, I’m probably being offensive to cavemen.)

Syo’s faves: caveman sewing

And they’re both grubby, having been retrieved from the laundry for this photo. Like I said, peeled off with a spatula. Although the print of the one on the left has these weird grey smudges in it that always looks grubby. The one on the right she made pretty much all by herself. There are some bits pieced in over the butt on the one side. Symmetry is optional.

Thrift store “scores”

Anyway, just to round out this post (since there’s not much to show when it comes to simple tank tops I’ve made before) here’s the week’s thrift store gleanings. Some off-white silky stuff that will be good for a lining*, some random odds and ends from a baggie, and one early-80s athletic pattern of questionable redeeming value. What do you think about those generic woven labels? I love the custom labels people make (even though I forget to use mine most of the time, and mine at least don’t hold up to the wash at all well), but these generic ones strike me as a little, hmm, tacky. “Made for baby with love” and “Made with love by Mommy.” I might have to put them in stuff for my husband. That would be kind of awesome, actually.

It’s our anniversary today, by the way. 13 years.  I believe the plan is to “celebrate” with steak and Return of the Jedi. I was hoping for a motorcycle ride, too, but Osiris slept funny last night and now his neck is killing him, which doesn’t work so well with things like shoulder-checking while leaning forward holding on to handlebars. Maybe a walk instead. The weather is too fab to spend the entire day inside working. 🙂

*There was also off-white poly satin and off-white poly chiffon, which I resisted. Methinks someone was planning to make their wedding dress, then bailed.

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Enabled

The Mass

While Home this past weekend, my crafty sister-in-law took me down to the Value Village thrift store there, which is much bigger than the one by my house. And apparently has fewer vintage pattern aficionados haunting it, because there is a huge pattern section, and it was well-stocked with vintage. Of course, the patterns are more expensive, 99¢ rather than 49¢ for the individual patterns. And they do indulge in the obnoxious practice of bagging some of them (usually the best of the vintage, although there’s a fair bit of vintage in the individual patterns, as well).

Despite these disadvantages, I had very little restraint. Something about being home and not having the option of coming back next week.

For those who are actually interested in the nitty gritty, please flip through the gallery. For those who are merely shaking your heads in dismay at my wholesale descent into pattern-hoarding, well, my husband shares your pain. At least I didn’t buy fabric.

Now if only I can snatch a few minutes to actually sew one of these days…

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The Dregs

The dregs.

As I arrived for my weekly thrift-store scour, I saw the thing that most delights and alarms a thrifter: competition. A woman was standing over the pattern section (which was bulging), rifling through the patterns, basket beside her.

And peeps, her basket was full. Of patterns.

I checked out the rest of my usual spots—fabric, books, shoes—and wandered back. She was still there, still going through patterns. I hunted vainly through the bedsheets, but she was still there.

Finally, I gave up and went over and wriggled my way in beside her. She was mostly going through the ones already in her basket. I tried hard not to look at her basket, not wanting the pain of knowing what treasures I had just missed out on.

As I was sorting through the remaining patterns, another lady came and edged her way in beside us. This is a first ever, folks. I wasn’t even sure that anyone else *ever* bought the Value Village patterns—I had gotten practically complacent, frankly.

Anyway, despite getting the picked-over remains, I came home with a fairly massive haul. Not a lot of absolute gems, but some fun, quirky ones that I couldn’t pass up. And some more really cute kids’ clothes. The majority of the women’s patterns were in a size 6-8, however, which tempers my enthusiasm a little as that’s a fair bit of grading up. On the other hand, there was a man’s suit pattern (complete with the name of a designer I’ve never heard of), in a size 40 chest, which is my husband’s size—assuming we lived in some alternate universe where he would even remotely consider wearing a 70s-wide-lapel-bell-bottom suit.

I have definitely crossed a perilous threshold, my friends. I am now officially a pattern collector—someone who buys patterns merely to *have* them, even knowing she will likely never make such a pattern (boys suits, eg.) It just has to be the right vintage, the right style.

Well, at least they’re all cheap. And they take up less space than fabric. Now if only I can stay on the right side of the line leading to “pattern hoarder.”

I’m pretty sure she walked away with a basket full of forties and fifties patterns. In factory folds. With a 34″ bust. And probably this one, too.

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Attack of the Vogues

Latest pattern binge

Value Village (Your Thrift Department Store!)’s pattern section was absolutely stuffed this week (double the size it was last week) and what it was stuffed with was Vogue patterns.

Unfortunately, it was stuffed with 80s Professional Woman Power Dressing Office And Evening Chic Vogue patterns. Even for $0.49/apiece, I couldn’t justify more than a couple. And, some more kids’ patterns. It’s an addiction, I tell you, because I know that my kids won’t wear most of these.

Because I’ve been trying to clean up my basement (rather than sewing) in the evenings this week, and thus have nothing to write about, I’m going to witter on about the patterns a bit more. They’re not really deserving of it, but I fee like it.

 (Not to mention Tyo’s stomach bug hi-jacked me and I was up every hour last night and let’s just say that was the single most disgusting night of my life so far, including childbirth and the one involving dead dogs and formaldehyde. AND the Centipede Incident. So today I’m just drinking electrolytes and trying not to wish I were dead and wondering if I dare inflict ibuprofen on my stomach.)

Mccall’s 6159

I’m developing a soft-spot for these McCall’s “Carefree” patterns almost as big as my 70s Simplicity weakness. Although I think in this case it’s mostly for the charming illustration. I like versions A and B, though I never actually wear vests so it’s probably not a really smart purchase.

McCall’s6521

Speaking of McCall’s Carefree. This one is a Young Junior/Teen pattern, size 7-8, which is for someone with a 29″ bust and 32″ hips. Another pattern smack in between Tyo’s size and mine. What is it about those 70s athletic shorts with the contrast binding that absolutely undoes me?

70s athletic shorts

Oh, yeah. This probably explains it. The photo is from about 1983, but the clothes were probably pure 70s hand-me-downs. Obviously my love for short shorts, kneehigh socks, and the colour red was established early.

Vogue 7214

I don’t know that I like any of the individual elements in this pattern especially, but something about the whole look just evokes early 20s to me—skirt length, boxy jacket, cloche hat. 80s style is so hideously distinctive, it’s often easy to overlook how much it drew on past eras…

Vogue 7605

Yuck on the jacket and the pleated skirt (although note the boxy 20s silhouette again), but I really love the tucked cami. Of ocurse, it’s basically some lightly-shaped rectangles, but y’know. Fifty cents. Vogue.

Vogue 7829

This is probably the crowning glory of the “score”—great full-skirted, princess seamed coat. Wait, where have we seen that before?

Yeah, yeah, bite me.

On the upside, the Burda Magazine issue I won on Alexandra Mason’s blog a few weeks back finally arrived! It’s the October 2010 issue, which has at least two patterns that jabbed me in the eye saying “make me make me makeme” when they showed up on Burdastyle.

This cool swing-jacket type thing

and this fitted-bodice, gathered skirted dress.

Oh, and Tasia just released the new Sewaholic Pattern, Cambie, a gorgeous, sweetheart-neckline, fitted-bodice, full-skirted dress.

Which brings the tally of patterns in this style I want to make up to, like, five. Or is it seven? And you can read up here on my difficulties with pulling off this style in the first place…

Usually I’m pretty good about sewing up cake rather than frosting, but right now the frosting part of my brain seems to be jonesing hard. Ah, well, I guess that’s what Fantasy Sewing is for…

I’m trying to read blogs  but even that is almost too much work, never mind commenting. Argh.

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Kachow!

My package from ElleC, won courtesy of her first giveaway, arrived today! Woot, woot!

Score!

Three gorgeous vintage patterns, in more-or-less my size.

And, because she is awesome and doesn’t hate me nearly as much as she claims, she threw in a mess of new & vintage zippers just for fun. Just when I was thinking I needed to hit the fabric store and pick up zippers. My hero! 🙂

Also, see that pattern on the left? Simplicity 3965? Not only is it Simplicity (so I might actually know my alterations already), it’s the very same pattern the Sewaholic has made up into so many awesome versions!

Of course, from what I can tell she started with a junior petite version. I should be so lucky…

I love that the Butterick pattern comes with the opera-coat pattern, as well.

In other news, after my big score of vintage patterns the other week, I’ve been stalking the pattern section even more religiously than usual. Sadly, that lode of vintage awesome seems to have played out… I’ve picked up a few patterns since, but they’re all of the slightly-dated-but-still-potentially-usable variety.

Thrift store patterns

Including a couple of Burdas. My ongoing weakness for jacket & coat patterns is in evidence (OK, the sleeves of that Butterick jacket on the right are crazy, but I’ve been wanting a basic raglan-sleeve coat pattern for a while…). Also my weakness for romantic sundressy things. And the cape pattern? Well, I’m bound to want to sew a cape at some point, right?

McCall's 7532

Of (perhaps) slightly more interest is this 1981 pants pattern. Holy High Waists, Batman. No, I haven’t completely lost my marbles (well, maybe)—it’s a Palmer & Pletsch pattern complete with loads of fitting tips & instructions. The view on the left, I gather, is meant to represent the gingham muslin they recommend you make. Will I use it? No promises. But it was the right size and too interesting to pass up. Those ladies definitely make high-waisted look good… just not convinced that I could do the same.

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ZOMG Score!

Or, possibly, just a serious failure of judgment.

This is a first. Apparently this past weekend’s taunting envelope was actually a harbinger of things to come, rather than a cruel jest of the universe. Good things. I forgot the kids have no dance classes this week, so since we were already in the car we just had to stop by our friendly neighbourhood thrift store.

&*(&#&$&#!!!

Holy vintage patterns, Batman!

The only question is whether this means I need to go back every day this week and stalk the pattern shelf…

Yes, you saw it. There on the right, there.

Simplicity 2681. The very same pattern that taunted me with its empty envelope condition on the weekend.

Simplicity 2681 from 1958

I feel the need to emphasize, this is *not* the same pattern envelope with pattern magically restored. It is a size 14 (34″ bust), not a size 12 like the envelope-only teaser was. Not to mention the envelope’s considerably more beat-up. I’m going to suggest a new scenario: Mme X, circa 1958 (the year the pattern came out according to Vintage Pattern Wiki), picked up a pattern in her old size, 12. However, due to a slight weight gain, the pattern didn’t fit. In a desperate attempt to alter the pattern, she managed only to butcher it completely (you know we’ve all done it 😉 ) and finally, in defeat, goes out and buys the same pattern in a larger size.

I’m not sure why she held onto the original envelope, but, well, I’d be happy to hear your theories. 🙂

I like this

My fave is this Butterick sundress, though. Aside from the age old blousy-top issue. I really need to come up with a simple, fitted midriff-band-thingy I can add to patterns like these to make them wearable for me.

Simplicity 3400, from 1950

I’m also really loving the neat detail on this 1950 Simplicity blouse.

Lapse in judgment, you’re saying? What on earth are you talking about, you’re saying?

Well, look what else I got:

Oops...

I will point out, my youngest child will be nine in a few months. The largest of these patterns is a size 6 (and she’s tiny but she’s not that tiny. And, they’re so not her style). In my defense I do have littler nieces and my peers are finally moving into their reproductive phase (I’ve only been waiting for them to catch up for a decade or so), so there are likely to be plenty of other opportunities to sew for small people…

Hmm, yeah, sounds kind of hollow to me, too. But they’re soooo cute!

And, well, Strawberry Shortcake. I couldn’t resist. Be happy I didn’t bring home any of the Cabbage Patch doll clothing patterns. I know my mom still has my Cabbage Patch Kid in the basement somewhere…

Of course, then there’s the one, seriously unforgiveable splurge that I would have to agonize over if it had cost more than 49 cents.:

McCall's 4778

Now, that’s a dress that makes me want to forgive the 80s (even though it came out in 1990). It’s got a lot of features I like—princess seaming, sweetheart neckline, dropped-waist with the full skirt. It wouldn’t even be so unforgiveable a purchase, except, if you look, it’s a size-freakin-8. And I’m pretty sure it’s not drafted with typical 80s ease ;). My only hope is that Tyo will want something like it for her gr. 8 grad or something.

Yeah, not so likely.

Oh, and there were books.

Books!!

I could’ve bought at least three or four more, but I was trying to be restrained. And maybe find things that aren’t just a rehash of information I have elsewhere. And if you buy four you get the fifth one free.

So what do you think? Do I need to go back tomorrow?

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Am I cool enough for R2D2?

A Fabric Confession.

As Stashoholic Confessionals go, this is not a super big one. But it’s been preying on my mind since I bought the fabric a couple of weeks ago—so bear with me. And the patterns. They were not bought at the same time, but I might as well get it all of my chest in one post, right?

First and best, is the Star Wars sheet.

Star Wars Bedsheet of Intense Awesomeness

I don’t feel a huge amount of guilt for this one, frankly. I have been looking for awesome 80s bedsheet material for ages, even before Cation Designs came out with her amazing superhero dresses. And most of what presents itself is either a) all worn out, or b) a modern re-issue in insanely gross poly UGH that I wouldn’t want to make any kid sleep on, never mind actually wear. But finally, after long and patient stalking, I hit upon this most precious of beasts: an original, largely unworn, Star Wars (copyright 1977) fitted single bedsheet. I had to have it.

(C) 1977

The only problem is what to do with it. Let Syo sleep on it as is? Make it into a shirt for my husband? Or be selfish (not to mention completely rip of Cation) and create a Star Wars dress for myself?

However, because I was going to have to wait in line to buy the sheet, it pushed me over the edge on another possibility, two metres of textured, seafoam, probably-polyester coating.

Aqua Coating of Questionable Wisdom

I couldn’t resist. I tried, I really did. I walked away and walked back several times.

See, half of me loves this fabric. It’s the same delicate aqua/blue/seafoam colour range that I quite enjoy (see blog theme).

Texture closeup---Aqua coating

And I love the texture, because while prints don’t usually suck me in, texture does.

But I’m also utterly convinced that made up, it is going to look like a 1970s granny suit.

And I’m not sure quite what there is to be done about it. Because I think done right, it could be great—sweet and formal and old-fashioned without looking like something my grandmother would’ve worn to my parents’ wedding. But I’m not quite sure what that is.

Boxy 60s swing jacket?

Fitted classic jacket?

Add black (or red?) accents to cut the sweetness?

Simplicity 5291

Okay, now I’m picturing it with Simplicity 5291, with black piping, the sleeved jacket and maybe the flippy skirt to match if there’s enough fabric…

… all keeping in mind that I’m on a coat restriction until I finish Osiris’s frock coat, which is cut (except for the lining) and languishing on my ironing board pending a bit more interfacing.

Perplexing burn test

Incidentally, a burn test on the green fabric proved (as usual, at least for me) confusing: The fire sustained itself, but barely; it melted into a hard, black bead and left a yellowish-brown ash. The smell was like wood or paper burning—almost pleasant. I’m guessing maybe a poly-rayon blend, because I’m quite sure it’s not any of the other plant-based fibres, but really I don’t know.

And then there were patterns.

Nothing obscenely amazing, but the pattern-collection creep continues:

Simplicity 3751

Simplicity 3751—a cute, loose blouse pattern. AKA not anything like what I usually wear. And yet—cute. And different enough from most of my other patterns that I thought I could justify it. Also, look at the cool new price! I’m happy to report they appear to have abandoned their bagged-pattern tactic, too.

New Look 6789

New Look 6789—A cute sundress/wardrobe pattern. I am kinda obsessed with summery dresses right now, I fear.

Butterick 5165

Butterick 5165—I know! A housecoat pattern. It’s almost… unjustifiable. In my defense, though, it’s a cute 70s pattern (you know my weakness for those) and it’s not actually a straight rectangle, unlike every housecoat pattern I’ve seen from the last thirty years. And, well, I can fantasize that I might somehow, mysteriously, look good in a housecoat like this. (I don’t. Waist-tie, blousing, etc. are all big Tanit-Isis no-nos.)

Simplicity 8510

Simplicity 8510—Yes, it’s 80s men’s, but it’s a simple tee/pullover with some interesting options in the details, which is always key with men’s patterns. And I figure if I go down a size or two, (which I should be able to as this is an S/M), it would reduce the excessive 80s ease.

Whew! There, I feel a weigh lifted. I have confessed my fabric- and pattern-buying sins.

Now if only I could start sewing faster than buying…

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Those who can’t sew…

Buy.

Well, that’s part of the problem, anyway. I’d rather be sewing, but shopping is a quick fix.

So, in order from least guilty to most guilty:

Sewaholic Patterns:

Minoru Jacket & Renfrew top

Tasia is a sweetie at the best of times, and while I resisted all through the pre-sales of both these patterns, the deluge of awesome internet versions and her birthday sale totally put me over the edge. Plus, even though the shop was down when I tried to use it (overloaded by others drawn in by the sale), she replied to my plaintive email (delivered in obnoxious triplicate—OOPS! 😦 ) the very next day and was super-quick to put together an email invoice at the sale rate. And I had my patterns in only four days—hooray for in-Canada shipping! And supporting an independent small business, yadda yadda. So I am refusing to allow myself to feel guilty for this one.

Thrift store books

Circumstances conspired to have me at Value Village not one, not two, but three times this week, and different things appeared every time. I doubt you’re terribly interested in the shoes Tyo picked out for her Gr. 6 grad this spring, or the Pampered Chef stoneware, but two sewing books did throw themselves at me (I resisted another beginner-level one as I already have several of those and the only one you really need is Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing anyway 😉 )

Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy

Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina. I’ve heard good things about this one. And aside from a no-illustrations 70s paperback, I didn’t have any other books on different fabric types and how to work with them. So yeah, it was coming home. Although so much of what I sew with is bargain-store mystery (and even if it’s not, I’m abysmal at remembering what it is I’ve actually bought) I’m not sure how useful it’ll be. But it’s one of those resources you ought to have, right?

The page on denim.

I like the layout and illustrations—the front is a big alphabetical section on different fabric types and how to work with them, including laundering, needles, thread, sewing-machine feet, and seam-finishes. And it’s got the coil-binding so it lies flat open, which seems to be considered a bonus. I can’t say I’ve felt the need to have one of my reference books open on the table while sewing yet, but if I did, it would be great.

The techniques section

The back has quick overviews of the seam-finishes and other techniques referred to in the front. It’s a great idea and the drawings are lovely, although I’m not sure I’d be able to figure all the techniques out if I were a complete beginner.

Then there was this one:

Sewing Tops & T-Shirts by Marcy Tilton

The Easy Guide to Sewing Tops & T-Shirts, by Marcy Tilton (which I did a bang-up job photographing :P). I bought this more because I really like the other couple of books I have in this series than because I was sucked in by the cover or even content. But I do like how these books are set up—to help you take a basic pattern and adjust it and construct it just that bit above and beyond the basic standard instructions.

Cheater Full-Bust Adjustment

It has some interesting tips, including favouring stitching seams with a regular straight stitch (I’m guessing Marcy wears her knits looser than I often do) and the “cheater knit FBA” that I’ve read about online but never seen endorsed in an actual sewing book.

Thrift store fabric

Oops?

I should’ve resisted, because the price, while low, was not great for the length available, which is less than half a metre. But It’s absolutely perfect to make a bunnyhug for Tyo. Except, of course, there wasn’t enough fleece, so I had to go back and hunt down an oversize men’s sweatshirt in black to fill in the other pieces. But I already have the pattern traced out (Jalie 2795), so assuming I get it sewn up with sufficient speed, I won’t feel too guilty for stash-building.

Expensive Book

Closet Monsters

And this would be the maximum-guilt item, because it didn’t come from the thrift store. Rather, we were at the book-store looking for a birthday present and I made the mistake of showing this book to Tyo. Tyo has a big black plastic bag of clothing sitting on her closet floor waiting to head to the thrift store, so she’s over the moon at the prospect of getting to turn it into monsters instead. And it’s a pretty cute book, with charming, wacky creatures. My only dislike is that there are no actual patterns—the book gives you detailed instructions for drawing out the pattern pieces (a lot of which are rectangles) on the clothes you’re de-constructing, but that’s not so helpful if you don’t have the exact same garment they’re deconstructing.

However, it shouldn’t be too hard to improvise—I’m just hoping Tyo can achieve some degree of independence on these projects, since my actual interest in making stuffed monsters is, um, fairly limited.

Ehm. So there it is, the whole shameful, consumeristic list. I did get a bit of pattern tracing done this week, so it’s conceivable that a finished item might make an appearance. I hope so. I’m getting tired of writing “look what I bought” posts, as I’m sure you’re getting bored of reading them.

And thanks, everyone, for your commiserating on my last post. Even if this one is basically an illustration of how I’m entirely my own problem. /sigh.

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Score(?)

Before I get distracted with anything else, thank you all SO much for your very kind words about our poor fish. They helped a lot, each and every one. Thank you.

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Hudson's Bay point blanket

Erm. So, I had thought my weekly thrifting-as-time-killer was a relatively harmless pastime. I mean, aside from the occasional sewing-machine acquisition. Most weeks I might spend $10, often nothing at all.

Well, this last one blew my streak.  I was being so good, too! No sewing books tempted me. The fabric section had been thoroughly re-stocked for the first time in months, but there was nothing I needed. I walked away from two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles curtain-flounce thingies as they were $4 apiece for really not very much fabric. (I gotta say, a TMNT bedsheet dress would be da bomb)

And then, on a whim, I wandered through the blanket section. I don’t usually spend much time in there, if only because it’s always full of fluffy fuzzies and hand-made quilts I’m going to want to take home if I look at, despite not actually liking patchwork very much.

And then I saw red.

Wool.

Felted.

Could it be?

I pulled it open, heart beating quickly. That weight, of heavy wool, scratchy, boiled, and felted. There it was—the wide, black stripe. And where—yes, there were the points, four narrow black lines, and right below them, the label.

I had found a genuine Husdon’s Bay Company point blanket.

Points and label

For those of you for whom what I just wrote is complete gibberish, here’s the Cliff Notes. (I’ve also touched on this topic before.) The Hudson’s Bay Company was originally a fur-trading company, founded in the late 1600s, that traded across much of the territory that is now Canada. Trading posts were the front-line of European colonization, long before anyone was farming out west; and, perhaps unusually in colonial history, the native people actually had something the Europeans wanted other than land—skilled hunters and trappers, they could produce fur, especially beaver, which was in huge demand in the European hat trade. My own husband is Métis, a group descended primarily from white fur traders who married native women during their long deployments for the fur-trade companies. Since the late 1700s, one of their signature products has been the point blanket, so-named for the black bars woven into one edge, which denote the size of the blanket (my four-point blanket is a standard double size; more points=bigger). These points were important in the weaving process, since the blankets are boiled and felted after weaving, which considerably changes the size. The blankets are top quality and very thick—almost 1cm thick. Aside from their use as blankets, one of the most popular things to do with a point blanket was to make it into a coat. At some point during their transition from fur-trade company to modern deparment store, HBC hit on the idea of manufacturing their own blanket coats.

Label closeup

Which brings in my own personal connection. Early in their marriage, my father bought my mother a professionally-manufactured Hudson’s Bay blanket coat. Which I presume left my mom tickled pink, as one of her favourite jobs at that time had been excavating Fort Carlton, an HBC fur-trading post in Saskatchwan which burnt to the ground in the late 1800s. However, it was a dress-coat, and she never wore it very much, saving it for best.

I wish I had a better picture of this coat...

Unfortunately for her (and the coat), I had no such qualms when I got my hands on it as a teenager. I wore the crap out of that coat. I wore it until it cried uncle. I wore out (and patched!) the lining. I ripped the armpits. All of which might have been fixable, but my backpacks have worn the fabric so thin in the back that it’s probably beyond saving. I’m sorry, Mom. I loved that coat. Even though it was shapeless with a waist belt (not a good look for me) and the sleeves were too short (like every other storebought coat I’ve ever owned). It was the direct inspiration for my Czarina Coat.

So, it was only natural that, when I began sewing, I should price out some Hudson’s Bay blankets, just, y’know, for someday.

Ulp.

Um.

Let’s just say the price for a new HBC blanket is, um, a LOTTA beaver pelts.

Which brings me back to my thrift store moment. My heart sank as I fumbled for the price-tag. Value Village may be a thrift store, but they know what they can charge for the good stuff, and there’s no way they’d missed how good this was. Sure enough, $69.99.

WAY more than I was planning to spend that night.

But still about a quarter of the price new.

So now I have an HBC blanket, in my favourite red and black colours.

All I need now is the perfect pattern…

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More thrifting…

Scores

Erm. So, those of you who have (or have had) kids of a certain age know what I’m talking about. You get in the car, drive across town, drop them at their dance/music/sport/insert enriching activity here, and then… what? You drive back home, only turn around and go get them right away (and feel like a first world troll burning wanton fossil fuels)? You stay and watch, and feel like the classic annoying and overprotective parent? You sit outside in your car, wasting even more fuel? (Trust me, up here sitting with it not running in the winter for more than a few minutes is not an option…)

My solution, when I’m feeling responsible, is to head to the grocery store. When I’m feeling less responsible (or once the groceries are bought…), it’s to head to the thrift store.

Which, as I’ve said, is a bit uninspiring at the moment, but you never know when that’s going to change, and popping in once a week is exactly the kind of persistence that nets you the occasional gem. Or bags of lace you’re going to call a gem because it’s been so long since you saw anything better…

Anyway, on my most recent visit, the entire Singer Sewing Reference Library was there. Again. I’m not sure how many people in my area bought this collection, but it must’ve been a few as there’s been at least three infusions of these books since I started haunting this particular thrift store (which is only in the last year and a half, frankly.)

The trick with the Singer Sewing Reference Library is remembering what you’ve bought already. Maybe that’s why so many end up at the thrift store… people buy things twice and forget? I dunno. Anyway, this time I picked up the tailoring volume (which I know I wanted but can’t remember if I found or not) and the pants-fitting volume, because, well, one can never have too many fitting books (especially for fitting pants!). Of course it focuses strictly on loose, dress trouser type pants that are fitted at the wasit… y’know, the kind I never, ever wear… But still, good to have, right?

But then, of course, like clouds parting in the heavens, like choirs of angels singing, I saw another book, just sitting right there on top of the big block of SSRLs…

Yessiree, the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. (1995 edition)

Obviously this was meant to be.

… which would probably be more meaningful if I mentioned that my husband used to play in high school, and recently his buddies back home have started playing again (pre-midlife-crisis, anyone? at least it’s cheaper than sports cars…) and over Christmas I sat in and actually participated in my first D&D game ever and kinda had a blast, and of course if my husband ever did have a copy of the Player’s Handbook it’s long, long gone, and I was kinda in need of get-out-of-doghouse ammo that night and this was the perfect thing to bring home to make a sick and long-suffering hubby less grumpy with me and did I ever mention how I read ALL the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books I could get my hands on when I was like, nine, and this kid in my class told me I was in a cult for reading them (wtf?) but I never actually knew anyone who played becaue MAN that game would’ve been totally up my alley at that stage in my life when day-to-day reality was just about the most hellish it’s ever been…

Why yes, I actually am quite happy with myself. And I did sew up a Where’s Waldo shirt for Tyo over the weekend, but I haven’t got photos yet and may not get any before she takes scissors to the sleeves, which is a whole ‘nother issue…

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