Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Rags for the Bag

In case you haven't yet realised it, I am seriously enamoured of clothes. Not "fashion" as in what the magazines are telling me the designers like right now, but fashion; the great, enormous scale of designs, colours, fabrics and accessories human beings have used in all cultures, for centuries, to decorate and protect themselves.

Clothes are amazing, and I'm not sure I could ever get tired of thinking about and playing with ideas for ways to be dressed. Sure, I have my favourite eras and styles, my own tastes and preferences, but I still enjoy mixing it up and thinking about others and what might suit or excite them, too.


Clothing drive-by by Esther17 on flickr; a white business shirt on a ahnger, dirty, torn and stained.This is why I never thought I would ever meet my match. Enter my partner; a man who loves thrift shopping even more than me, who- when I met him - had more clothes than me!
Part of this is becase he loves the thrill of finding that perfect item that suits as much as I do. But some of it is certainly also because he's gotten emotionally attached to a lot of his clothes. A bit like those supposed women who hang onto that dress for "when I'm a size 10 again", he had pants whose waistband would now just close around a single thigh still lurking in the depths of his wardrobe.
That he'd last worn twenty years ago.
That had a bleach stain on one leg from when his Mum had dropped it, in the laundry.

Because of the emotional investment in his clothes, I've been using a mixture of gentle and more aggressive tactics to get rid of some of his dinosaurs (my own wardrobe tends to get purged of the unworn and unfit every few years).
The bane of my existence has actually turned out to be the Terribly Comfortable (Moth-Eaten) Hole Transportation System, the sort of shirt that's hanging together with goodwill and a few bits of thread and fond memories.
I'm not denying that you need a shirt or two like this in your wardrobe. For the memories, for yardwork, for moving furniture or to spatter in red paint to wear as a zombie costume for a birthday party (no, really). But a dozen or more?
So I've been ditching them, slowly, taking what I can use again and doing so, but trying to be really ruthless if the fabric is too worn or there are just too many holes.

Here are a couple of things I do when I find a fresh victim shirt:
  • Cut off (and keep)the buttons. These are always reusable on sewn garments or items that are missing one. They make great game counters or eyes for toys. Toddlers, kids AND adults love playing with and arranging buttons (it can be v therapeutic and soothing). Plus, they're usually plastic and thus most likely the last thing to break down at the tip.
    buttons by Laineys Repertoire on flickr
  • Assess the sleeves. Sleeves make nifty hats for small babies, and two sewn together (with a bit of shaping and elastic) can make baby shorts or bloomers.
    Small, drooly baby wearing a viking-style horned hat made form soft materials, in navy and cream.
    This totally used to be two old t-shirts.

  • Check out the rest of the shirt for patches not too worn or holey. Small squares and rectanges are practical as pieces for baby and toddler tunics, pants and shirts or for cleaning cloths - worn clothes are usually soft and especially good for glass cleaning.
    Small boy wearing green tunic with apple print over stripey, long-sleeves shirt, kneels on the floor, staring solemnly at the camera.


So those are my tips for Hol(e)y Old Relics of the Wardrobe. Got any of your own?

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