Muscatine Iowa – Pearl button capitol

Muscatine Iowa – Pearl button capitol

Who would have guessed that buttons were the cause of the decline of fresh water clams in the Mississippi River? Or that Muscatine Iowa was known as the pearl button capitol of the world? Not me. This is what I find fascinating about travel. The opportunity to learn.

From the 1890’s to the 1900’s pearl buttons were made by cutting blanks from freshwater clams. These blanks were polished, sanded, and then drilled to create buttons which adorned many types of clothing. Harvesting the clams with rakes from the bottom of the river provided an income for many during these times. Unfortunately the demand for buttons caused over harvesting of the clams and the industry began to decline in the 1920’s. Around this time other materials also became available. The last factory closed in 1967.

The clams were just beginning to recover when they became a source of freshwater pearls. According to the Wisconsin DNR site “In 1995, more than one million pounds of shell were removed from the river in Wisconsin and shipped to Japan for use in the cultured pearl industry.”

 It is hard to not keep seeing the problems of over consuming clothing. The costs to our environment whether your items are made naturally or artificially are huge. Buy quality and wear it forever! Easier to say than do. Be conscious of what you want the future to look like but don’t beat yourself up over past choices. Move forward in a thinking way.

Care for your boots and shoes

Care for your boots and shoes

Do you have a pair of boots or shoes that are classics, well made and that you love to wear? You can extend their life and save money by caring for and storing them properly as well as making inexpensive repairs. I had this amazing pair of black leather motorcycle boots that were an unusual splurge for me. I wore them a lot and could walk for miles in them. The heels were wearing down so before it got too late I took them to the shoe repair shop and for $20 got new heels! Good as new and comfortable as ever. In addition I try to polish and condition the leather 2-3 times during the season (which is probably not enough if I wear them regularly). When I put them away I stuff newspaper inside. This absorbs odor and moisture and keeps them upright in my closet.

What is your favorite shoe care technique?

 

Be memorable doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot

Be memorable doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot

Buying items at thrift and consignment stores is good for the environment and your wallet. Another inexpensive source of clothing could be some of the neighborhood groups, Facebook marketplace and free cycle groups that have been set up to share items no longer wanted. There are even online used clothing sites such as Thred Up and Poshmark where you can buy used items or items from others closets.  A site called The Real Real calls itself a luxury consignment sales shop.

Being a beneficiary of someone else’s buying mistakes can save you real money.  On a recent shopping trip I made to the local Salvation Army on 4th Ave in Seattle I found some great buys.

The outfit on the left is made up of an Eddie Bauer goose down vest $7.50 , Acrylic/wool blend green sweater $4. The scarf is one my mother knit for me and the shoes and jeans are a thrift store find from a while ago.

The berry colored cardigan on the right was $4. The navy knit jacket in the  middle was from another thrift shopping trip and was  a splurge for me at $15.

You don’t save time shopping this way and you may not find what is on your list without making several trips. Here are my tips for Goodwill and Consignment shopping.

  • Go with a list. It will save you time and you will avoid those same frivolous purchases you make at real stores.
  • Go prepared to easily try things on without a dressing room if need be. This means slip on shoes, leggings and a camisole.
  • Know what your colors and styles are so you don’t get discouraged. Since these stores are filled with items from many different brands a size 10 or 14 is not necessarily a size 10 or 14 – if you know what I mean. Limiting yourself to only try on silhouettes and colors that you know should be a flattering choice for you will save time.
  • This can also be the place to pick up something you aren’t sure about. It is an inexpensive try. Like the sequin jacket in the middle – would I really wear it? Fortunately I love it.
  • Get a cart. Everything that fits and is the right color should be taken to a window usually in the front of the store where you can hold them up and closely inspect for rips, tears, pilling and stains. An item that looks worn out is not a good addition to your wardrobe.
  • Ask about the return policy. In spite of following all the rules you may get home and find your great deal is not as great as you might have hoped. Our local Salvation Army and Goodwill currently offer a 7 day exchange for store credit if the tags are still on.
  • Read the labels to make sure you aren’t going to have to spend a fortune on dry cleaning.
  • Be prepared to run everything through the wash once you get home.
  • Remember to take the price tag off (especially shoes). I once walked into a meeting and fortunately a fellow thrifter pointed out the tag before I took the stage. 
  • HAVE FUN and allow yourself time.

People ask me “Aren’t you worried about someone seeing you in their stuff they gave away?” My answer is no. Everything that is manufactured is made in multiple units. This means there are already multiples of whatever you buy running around with someone else wearing them. There is no way for a person who donated an item to know if this is what they gave or not. 

I would be happy to make a Goodwill or consignment store run with you after we meet to sort our your style and needs. If you have the patience it can be an amazing source of unique finds.

What is the best thing you have found this way?

How do you do your part?

How do you do your part?

By now you must be aware of the cost fashion can impose on the environment and workers in the fashion industry. Or maybe you thought it was all “fixed”.  Things have improved. You now have choices about how and where your clothing was made and who made it. Yet fashion is still an industry that is about churning out more because stockholders and everyone employed needs to make money.

 I’m not sure what would happen to the economy if consumers began buying less items of a higher quality that are made or refashioned locally. There would probably be some turmoil if it happened all at once. I do think if we all start to make better and more thoughtful choices companies will respond with less and better quality product and hopefully higher worker pay. It may cut off my flow of thrift store finds because now everyone has things they love, that fit them well and they aren’t shopping for entertainment anymore which would result in less to get rid of.

I tend to take the easy way out and shop thrift and consignment stores. I am also the one that picks up fabric and sewing notions from thrift and fellow seamstress give a ways.

How do you make sure your clothing is a responsible choice?

Changes

Changes

If you have been reading this you know that this blog is like the impromptu speeches I have given at Toastmasters. A challenge to myself that I don’t always succeed at, that meanders all over the place with no point. It’s purpose has been to explore my style and figure out what to do when I grow up.

Along the way I wondered if I wanted to be a personal stylist (I know pretty odd considering all those awkward photos of awkward outfits). I wondered if I could teach classes on finding your style (but that has already been done in a much better way than I could do it). Could I be a blogger that links to items I like and gets a small return? (Now we’re back to the awkward photos). For a while I experimented with a sewing blog thought. With patterns and instruction. Then I asked myself could I design women’s clothes and or patterns? Maybe but there is still a lot of learning that needs to happen there.
Then there is the question of the guilt over adding to the mounds of products we already produce and consume. I really couldn’t bring myself to add to it. Or else it was that secret fear that always lingers in the back of our heads of “I’m not good enough”.

I decided to go with the guilt. At last after a year plus of awkward writing and exploring I have decided to launch a line of up cycled and refashioned bike bags that are pretty enough to use everyday even if you don’t ride a bike. They would also work on a stroller handle or walker handle if life has taken you there. They can carry your bike equipment or your life equipment. They are designed to be easy on and easy off and bring joy to your life.

Most items are made from pound store purchases (rejects from even the thrift store) on their way to be turned into rags. I LOVE the challenge of looking at something that was once something else and turning it into a useful well loved item again. Everything gets thrown in the washer and dryer and put in a stack for future creations. It is a slow process that provides unique items.

What isn’t a pound store rescue is a remnant from a project in my life or someone else’s life. Buckles and webbing are new and I am exploring which options are most eco friendly. I recently purchased some past their prime leather coats that may provide handles or other bag pieces.

With this launch I am officially changing my blog page name to The Weekly Ride. Yet another way to walk my talk.
I’ve finally found my joy. I hope it brings you some as well.
What have you found to bring joy?

Dad’s Shirt

Dad’s Shirt

You  may have gathered that I find myself more and more interested in re-creating and utilizing what is around me.  My husband recently quit working in an office and was purging his closet. He had a dress shirt that was a beautiful shade of orange and in spite of repeated wearings still had fabric in fabulous shape. My mother who loved to shop and buy Christmas presents had given it to him many years ago. I decided to try to turn it into a summer top for my daughter who is graduating from her Master’s program May 12.

When she was home at Thanksgiving I made her suffer through a duct tape wrap so I could make a dress form of her to utilize in trying to sew for someone besides myself. We used the instructions we found here at Offbeat bride. At one point the fume from the duct tape got to her and she over heated so I had to do some of it while she was laying down. It is a little off shape and quickly getting battered but I don’t think she is going to let me do it again. The first item I made was a peplum top that turned out to be too large. Hoping to alter that shirt when I see her next.

My first step was to pin my proposed seams on the shirt while it was on the form. I decided to make it sleeveless, leave the buttons and get rid of the collar.

Pinned seams

Next I did  a rough cut 1/2″ away from my pins (to create a 1/2″ seam allowance). I did this while it was still on the form.

Dad’s shirt with cuts made

I then took it off the form, refined the side seams and sewed it up. I cut facing for the armholes and neck from the sleeves. Here is the finished product. If she lets me and it looks good, I will share the completed project on her!

“Dad’s shirt” is complete

Last night I was catching up on my blog reading and found this post about how to turn Dad’s shirt into a dress for a much younger daughter. Super cute.

What have you done with Dad’s old shirt?