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making your own clothes?  RSS feed

 
                            
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Location: Cholula, Mexico
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Has anyone here tried sewing/constructing their own clothing? I'm new to the subject, but for years it had drawn my attention for several reasons. First of all, I've always had qualms with spending a lot of money on clothes, in part because of industry practices/qualms with consumption/budget restrictions. It seemed frivolous in a sense, greatly because although many people think they express themselves through clothing, they're often choosing between things the industry laid out; what they have has always been chosen for them. Also, as a curvy gal it's always been hard for me to find flattering clothes, so it seems like making them could in fact save me time and effort.

Anyway, a couple months ago I started taking sewing and pattern-making classes. I hadn't once tried to sew anything, so I was starting from scratch. However, with a helpful teacher and much practice I've already made a few skirts and pants and I'm starting on my first dress. The whole thing has been so helpful to me in so many ways! I can make my own designs, save money and feel more in charge of what I'm wearing. Also, it's a very creative process and sooo fun! I also think that we can really change things through production, so taking the production of something as essential as clothing into our own hands can be, in a sense, revolutionary. So, any other permie-sewers in the forum? And how do you think clothing production can fit into the larger sense of permaculture/homesteading (or urban homesteading, in my case)? I would also think in terms of clothing recycling, reconstruction, etc. Throwing the topic out to see your points of view... Cheers! 
 
Jami McBride
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ceiba wrote:
So, any other permie-sewers in the forum?

And how do you think clothing production can fit into the larger sense of permaculture/homesteading (or urban homesteading, in my case)?

I would also think in terms of clothing recycling, reconstruction, etc. Throwing the topic out to see your points of view... Cheers! 



I have sewn all my life - off and on.  I too took a very expensive pattern making and alternating class many years ago and still have all the materials.  My daughter was in a sewing/cooking 4-H for years and then they moved from clothes to quilting these last two years.

I really enjoy changing patterns, sewing for fun, stretch and sew patterns and materials and recycling of materials and clothes for other uses. 

I do not have much time now for all the sewing I would like to do.  I do have an entire room full of material, sewing machines and a dinning room table for projects.   But sewing takes a backseat to everything else now days.

I just picked up 3 gallons of fresh raw milk, (note to self: must make last two gallons into yogurt) and a flat of lettuce starts I got for free (must plant today!).  Sigh - seems most of my sewing time now days is re-sewing ripped seems in crouch

I hope this thread takes off - it would be nice 
 
jacque greenleaf
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I've also sewn on and off for years. Here's my thoughts -

You will not save money, even if you don't count your time. You can buy cheaper at WalMart or KMart or at thrift stores.

What you can do is get better quality and fit, especially for women's clothes. Because of fashion, most women's clothes are intended to be worn for about 6 months or so, and you can see that in how they're made.

It is getting harder to find good clothing fabric at the chain fabric stores, like JoAnn or Hancock. Quilting has taken over the world. Independent stores can be better, and don't forget online sources. My current favorite store is a warehouse style store crammed with bolt ends from clothing manufacturers. It's a real treasure house, most fabric runs under $5/yard, and some of it is very good quality.

When I am shopping at thrift stores, I keep an eye out for top quality clothing that can be altered to fit without a lot of angst - sweaters, for example. Don't bother remaking acrylic or polyester clothes, but finely woven or knitted rayon, cotton, wool, silk, linen, including some blends with polyester, are worth the trouble. Old wool or cotton looks much better than old polyester. In some thrift stores, you can also find yardage. And I also glance over the draperies, curtains, and bedding - sometimes you can find good fabric in those pieces.

Rather than buying piles of patterns, develop some basic patterns for yourself and the other people you sew for, and learn how to move the darts and change the sleeves and collars to blend with current fashion, if that's important to you.

I think sewing, like knitting and crocheting, does fit into a permie lifestyle. You won't necessarily save money, but you will gain a lot of satisfaction. It's another way to opt out of consumerism, and you can remake existing items and discards, getting more use out of their embodied energy and materials.



 
Jami McBride
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I have to agree - you won't save money, if you buy the material you need, when you need it, from the local fabric stores (even on sale) now days.  It's all become another expensive hobby.  And you won't save money if your comparing what you can make against items you can buy from discount stores.   

So sewing now days cannot have the same motivation as it did in days gone by - the motivation of saving $ money. 
However - there are still great benefits and motivations to be had by employing the self reliant skill of sewing.

Recycling, as jacqueg mentions.  I have bought nice quality sheets at recycle shops and made dresses for my daughter when she was young and aprons, plus other household items. 

Because of my sewing skills I was able to buy those inexpensive ($3) pre-printed vest/pattern materiel-blocks and turn them into complete little holiday theme dresses for my daughter and shirts for my son.  Once kids get bigger these thrifty tricks no longer apply.

The truth is - sewing offers a bit more control over one more area of our lives, but now days it doesn't bring with it any savings in time or money, so we have to pick and choose how and what we sew.

I don't sew for myself any more it's just not worth it, but for household items and special situations I still enjoy the creative experience - from conception to production it's mentally fun!




 
                            
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Location: Cholula, Mexico
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jacqueg wrote:
You will not save money, even if you don't count your time. You can buy cheaper at WalMart or KMart or at thrift stores.


In my specific case I'd have to disagree; here in Mexico quality clothes (i.e. anything that will last after being worn 3-4 times) are incredibly expensive: $100 US will buy maybe 2-3 items (this is an important reason for middle and upper-class folk to go on frequent shopping excursions to the states). Discount clothes here will end up completely deformed after a few washes, and the fashionable short lifetime applies for pretty much anything. Granted, you can buy thrifted clothes quite cheaply, and although it takes a lot of time it's quite fun and I do my share of it. However, fabric is cheap! I just made a pair of jeans for less than $7 US, when in a shop a decent pair would cost upwards of $50 US (or a cheap, cheap pair would start around $20US); the same applies for skirts, dresses, pretty much anything except for cotton t-shirts and such. Although I wouldn't count on making my entire wardrobe, I do find it a good way to save money on certain items that would be cost-prohibited or would get a lot use. Also, since I make my own patterns I save in that bit as well (and there are plenty of free, stylish patterns on sights such as www.burdastyle.com and www.craftster.org). You can also find "retazos", which are like leftover reels of clearance fabric for really cheap ($1 or $2 US per meter), and if you're lucky you can find really cool patterns! I guess I'm lucky in this sense 
 
Brenda Groth
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i enjoy all the needlearts ..except i'm not fond of knitting..so yes i sew and crochet clothes for myself and others..

i've always sewn all my own draperies and curtains as well as for others too..

one area that you might also find interesting is remaking clothes..either your own clothes if your sizes change..or from thrift stores..

there are really great books out there on remaking clothes..if you find one on Amazon they'll lead you to a whole line of them..i have a few and love them.

there are some simple ones and some more complex..as well as books on tailoring your own clothes to fit better..

also if you have damage on an item you can often change it entirely and make it still useful by remaking or tailoring it..

say if you have a t shirt with a tear below the bustline..you can cut off the hem evenly and you can crochen a sweater bottom to it..you can remove the cap sleeve and crochet on a long sleeve..you can open them up doewn the front and crochen a lace edge on it and make a jacket or long sleeve top..

so many fun ways to save m oney, kill time..and have a very unique cute wardrobe
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Footwear might be tricky. I just saw this simple pattern for sandals, which is apparently a popular design among a particular sort of long-distance runner:

copper canyon huaraches
 
                          
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Boy I wish I could make my own shoes!  I had a pair of lovely cotton dresses with string tie waists (lets you have a fitted look even as you change waistsize, though the shoulders/neck from a size 16 are now too loose on my size 12 body) from China via KMart IIRC.

Twenty years and pounds later when I got a job where I needed to wear long dresses such dresses were nowhere to be found. But there were patterns for similar ones and I got several cotton prints I liked and made them up into the pattern with varied details. I keep that pattern, made a mother daughter dress with it and the matched child's dress on three occasions, and after the long dress job was over raised the hem on some of those dresses.

So for me wanting all cotton and a certain style it saved me paying a dressmaker, or not having what I knew and loved. Had I seen the same stuff in WalMart or Kmart I'd've paid up to $50 for them and aside from my time the material and pattern (especially since pattern has made a half dozen dresses) I spent a lot less than that making them.

I also knit- and NEVER save money on that...
 
                    
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I've been sewing for years, mostly because I have a fairly uncommon (extreme hourglass) body shape.  I had to change clothes to fit me when I was a teen, and the alterations gradually got more and more creative. 

I use a sewing machine from probably the 30s or 40s I found on the street in philadelphia - a Gimbels (one of the country's first department stores).  It only makes straight or zig zag stitches but it will go thru just about ANYTHING, I've found.  Four layers of denim?  NO problemo!

Here's a gallery with some of my fabric sculptures and a couple shirts I made from other shirts - all of it made several years ago at this point (oh, and some of my ceramics).  I've made a whole lot of my wardrobe, it's pretty common for me to be wearing only stuff that I either made or altered.  The two shirts down at the bottom were men's shirts that I altered.  The skirt I made from thrifted curtains.  The two larger animal sculptures are wool army blankets. 

I hardly ever buy new fabric, and I don't buy patterns.  I find fabric at thrift stores sometimes, but what I usually do is find an already existing article of clothing, with fabric I like, that's way too big and really cheap, then take it home and make it fit me.  I added some interesting trim onto the pockets of a nurse's scrub recently and it suddenly became a very cute sun dress!

I picked up a dress form (one of those foam torsos covered in muslin) the other day at a thrift store and that's been a real thrill.  For years I would try to pin things on myself and then sew it and then put it back on and pin it and take it off and sew.....It's especially handy for dresses. 

You can make your own custom dress form.  Put on an old tee shirt that you'll never want to wear again.  Have a friend wrap you up in duct tape, like three to four layers of it all over, making a sleeveless duct tape "shirt." (or if you want use a really long shirt and have it go down over your hips - this is helpful for dresses)  Carefully cut up one side of the shirt and slip out of it, then tape up the cut side and stuff it with whatever (paper, pillow stuffing) until it's firm.  You could shove a stick up inside it with a base so it'll stand up. 

I have a reaaaalllly impossible time finding pants that fit me.  I found a pair that seemed made for me like seven years ago and wore them to shreds, then cut them apart and made a pattern from them.  I bought some really nice (pendleton, if that means anything to anyone) wool fabric for $30 and made a pair of amazing pants from them.  They look like $100 pants!  And -  they are exactly how I wanted them to be. 

When I first started sewing I didn't care very much about details and finished edges and whatnot.  I've gradually become more concerned with those things.  I picked up a copy of The Vogue Sewing Book at (what else?!) a thrift store a few years back and it lays out the way to do it very professionally.  It's a good reference but I can't say I get that anal about things very often. 

This makes me want to take pictures of the apron I just turned into a halter dress last week....snow on the ground makes me want to create summer clothes.....

I love making my clothes.  I recycle my wardrobe kind of endlessly.  Jeans become skirts which become bags.  I just embarked on dog clothes...my poor dog has very little hair and appreciates a coat when it's cold. 
 
Brenda Groth
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I sprung for a dress form with a 50 % off coupon from Joanns fabrics online a couple of years ago..

but that is a good idea...what can't you do with duct tape
 
                    
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Brenda - not much you can't do with duct tape, I think! 

Another thing that's helpful for self-made patterns, or if you're nervous about ruining some really nice fabric on your first try of a new pattern/design, is to make a practice item out of really cheap fabric - ideally fabric that is similar to the fabric you want to use for the real deal.  Thrifted sheets are usually pretty perfect, but obviously they are thin and have no stretch. 

You can perfect the clothing item with the cheap fabric, then take it apart and use it as your pattern for the more expensive stuff.  And you have a chance to work out the hang ups before you start to sew with the nice fabric.  This can be helpful for beginning sewers even if you're using a commercially made pattern.  Expect that some of your projects are not going to work out.  Expect that you'll be taking out seams and re-sewing them.  Keep trying! 

This is how I came up with the patterns for the animals I used to make.  I'd make smaller versions out of crappy fabric and stuff them to see what needed to change, then un-stuff and make alterations, then re-stuff and eventually I'd have a good pattern that I could scale up and use with good fabric......NOT a time saver but a good technique for artists and perfectionists!  Actually the duck (Patrick) on that site I posted was the model for the armless legless bear (Harold), but I liked it and ended up modifying it to become the ducky shape. 

To teach yourself to sew without a book or any kind of instruction, there's nothing like finding something you like, taking it apart and then putting it back together.  Sometimes taking notes can remind you of what to do. 

AND!  One thing I used to use all the time when sewing which I really miss nowadays is an IRON.  Iron all your fabric flat before you start doing anything!  When you sew a seam and then iron it flat, it helps the fabric drape and take on its new shape.  You're actually breaking the fibers of the fabric a little bit at the seam edge, and this helps it "remember" that it's not just a big flat floppy sheet, but a three dimensional object. 

I sewed for years before I lived with a girl who had a really nice iron (and a nice sewing machine, and a serger, and a mother who was a seamstress and taught her a lot) and she showed me the beauty of steamed flat seams/hems/everything.  My projects got a whole lot more professional looking after that experience. 
 
Brenda Groth
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i heartily agree re the iron
 
                        
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I started making my own clothes (due to poverty) in high school.  I finally got my own sewing machine and it followed me all the way through graduate school and jobs I had in urban situations.

I started out using Vogue designer patterns - because I wanted to learn designer techniques.

Eventually my taste became extremely simplified.  Most designer patterns just aren't comfortable to wear when you are working in an outdoor field situation!

Finally when I retired, I needed a wardrobe for working in the yard and for doing projects around the house.

Most constructed clothing just is not comfortable for the activities I do now.

I found that the Folkwear Patterns are more likely to be what I need.  Often Ill just look at the pattern and make my own to suit myself.

http://folkwear.com/

There are also lots of projects around the house that you can sew -- like make duvets, or quilted window covers to keep out winter drafts.

Knitting seemed too ditsy for me also -- until I got a knitting machine.  Mine is a 1936 knitking and it knits a few yards of knited fabric in just a few hours.  You can shape it into anything you like.

The Folk Wear Japanese Field clothing pattern is a classic that is adaptable in many many ways.  And the pants are really comfortable for wearing while you work.

http://folkwear.com/
 
                    
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Wow, that's a cool pattern site, wombat.  Rosie the Riveter Overalls look amazing!
 
                        
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Here's a source for a wide range of sewing patterns.  Sewing Workshops has some very good patterns Ive found over the years -- a lot of new designers start out there.

http://www.sewingpatterns.com/

Loes Hinse now has a boutique in Monterey I think.

http://www.sewingpatterns.com/subpage.php?brand=loes%20hinse

She has really good pants patterns -- you can use them over and over for years and years.
They never go out of style.  I think she exemplifies the California style.

When I lived in California -- Santa Barbara -- I met a woman who had been a seamstress for Dior in Paris.  She opened a little boutique in the El Paseo in Santa Barbara.  I used to go there and she would turn the dresses inside out for me to see the construction techniques.  She hand made the dresses for the S.B. society ladies.  Its the first time I saw what the inside of a $1000 dress would look like.  Lots of hand work, and all the seams were hand finished.  She featured elastic waistlines which were an innovation back then.

 
Brenda Groth
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interesting pattern sites..
 
                    
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Here's a site for DIY ideas.  Mostly turning one thing into another.  Some knitting and home decor type things too.

http://www.threadbanger.com/

Unfinished edges and simple tee-shirt fabric designs are trendy right now.  So if you make your own clothes and are kind of sloppy about it you'll look like you're on the cutting edge of fashion! 
 
Brenda Groth
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speaking of t shirts..or sweatshirts..

there are some really cute ideas for using shrunk, damaged or stained ones..or just good ones..

one i really like is to cut off the sleeves an attach crocheted long or short sleeves..and then cut off the bottom hem and crochet a longer bottom (esp good for shrunken ones that are now too short)

if you have a stain on the front..you can cut down the center and crochen around the neck down the center across the hem and back up the other side of the front and make a light jacket or button front top..generally stains are right where we drop our food from the fork.

that same jacket above can also have the sleeves replaced with crocheted sleeves as well.

you can do the same with other premade clothes..esp if the fit isn't just right but you love the fabric or style..

 
                        
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I was searching for sashiko quilting -- thinking about making a quilted jacket.

I ran across this technique - making new fabrics from old sakiori.

http://www.harding-giannini.com/textiles/?page=sakiorisashiko
 
Seth Pogue
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Just on the off chance that societal collapse leads to a slowdown or stop of interastate trucking, might be good to have a few bolts of your favorite clothing material tucked away.  And a case of dental floss as thread since it's so durable.
 
                        
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I have lots of old fabric but if it is not stored properly in acid free boxes what you will have is a bunch of dry rotted fabrics.

Actually well priced fabrics are easy to find on the internet.  You can also recycle clothing from the salvage shops -- and you can make things out of sheets found at discount houses, and also from drapery fabric.  Although Walmart has discontinued fabrics -- they still are to be found at places like JoAnns.

I have old thread, and old patterns too.  I wish Id known back then that they would be preserved better if you keep them in zip lock bags!

We have a local thrift store and quite a lot of fabric comes through there.  And things like hand crocheted table cloths that have potential also.
 
                              
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hope this doesn't get the thread too off topic, but for those who have those older-non electric type sewing machines: what's the comparison? which do you like better and why? where do you think a person could pick up one?
 
                        
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Non electric sewing machines -- treadle operated.

Some of these were mechanical wonders and often their straight stitch is better than the 400$ electric machines -- the zig zag mechanisms tends to throw off the ability of the machine to stitch in a straight line.

At least here in the rural South you can often find them at flea markets.  I think I have a few still myself that I bought for the cabinets.  To get them working you may have trouble finding a belt.  Some of them have a long type bobbin so be sure to look for a baggie full of accessories.  Then you have to clean and oil.  It is really great when the electricity is off (which it sometimes is for days here) to light up an oil lamp and a haul out a basket of mending and get the treadle running.

Highly recommended if you can find one that is not rusted out.

Old Electric straight stitch machines are often in flea markets and salvage stores also.  They often work better than modern machines for straight stitching.  My favorite is the small Singer that was so great to take to college because of its handy size. 

http://cgi.ebay.com/Singer-FEATHERWEIGHT-Sewing-Machine-221-w-Buttonholer-/350349981576?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item51927c7788

 
                                    
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I like to sew but use finds from the thrift store for the most part...either clothing all ready made or that I can "make over" to fit or from material that is purchased through the thrift. A few years ago I bought fabric from the store to make quilts, curtains ect...that's before I woke up and realized I didn't have to pay rediculous prices for what I consider to be flimsy material...they don't make it like they used to
 
Tyler Ludens
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I make my own clothes except underwear, socks, and shoes, or I wear used clothing. Like simplysue I get my fabrics at the thrift store in the form of used clothing.  I have a sewing machine but also do a lot of hand sewing.

I recommend the sewing forums at http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?board=348.0 ; for useful tips and encouragement, as well as links to free patterns.

Free patterns also at  http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns
 
Jami McBride
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Regarding those peddle sewing machines -

Here is a link to buying parts:  http://sewingmachine221sale.bizland.com/store/page19.html

This link has great info on them, seems they are not just for the Amish:  http://www.antiquequiltdating.com/non-electric_sewmachine.html

And they sell them at  http://www.lehmans.com/store/
 
                              
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We have an awesome resale store in town so that's where I buy most of my clothes--except for jeans which I know the brand and size etc and just get them at Walmart. I'm kinda weird shaped for jeans and tho the resale store has TONS of great jeans for great prices I just dont' have the time(or frustration) to try on 50 pairs.

So I do get sweaters, dresses, coats, shirts etc at the resale store. I alter as needed, and will buy something if it has great fabric to use for quilting or some other fabric project.

I save old clothes, and I suppose there may come a day when I'll have to make my own underwear from old t-shirts, ha. IN any case, there's a pantry of fabric on hand for various uses.

I knit and crochet(and sell stuff). I'm a knitwear designer, but the market has tanked for freelance designers, so I'm now just making up tons of hats and scarves and mittens from my loads of free samples(quality stuff!) to sell at the Saturday market and at a boutique in town. I've also started making upcycled bags and mittens from old sweaters to sell too. The mittens did great last year. I embroider flowers etc on them. It makes me enough money in this crappy economy for little extras(like "new" clothes/shoes when I need them, all the Christmas presents for family, etc).

It's really easy to make sewing patterns from clothes that fit you well. I did this for baby clothes when my kids were babies, and a few things for me.
 
Larisa Walk
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I grew up with all my clothes being homemade by my mom, including dresses made from feed sacks and coats from my dad's old coats.  I started sewing my own clothes at age 12.  Back then it was the inexpensive way to have clothes, but now sewing has become a "hobby" and fabric prices are usually too high.  Instead I go the thrift shop route and most of my sewing is remakes.  I do sew housewares like organic cotton sheets and pillow cases.  The problem with thrift store clothing for me is the heavy laundry soap perfumes, which I can't handle.  I have to wash everything several times and hang it outside, sometimes for several weeks, before I can wear it or even have it in the house.  I may have to go back to sewing from scratch to avoid that problem.  I used to do custom sewing and alterations but gave it up partly due to the perfumes/soaps.  Maybe that is where I got overexposed?

I've also crocheted and knit since about age 9, so I make sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, socks, etc.  I spin wool from our pet Shetland sheep for most of my work, but I recently acquired some finely spun hemp yarn that I plan on knitting into summer socks, which is the one item that I've been buying new.  I also like to make rugs, pillows, and blankets (currently I'm making a rug in Bosnian crochet with sisal twine for our entryway) .  I also recycle old thrift shop sweaters by unraveling them and reworking the yarn into new projects (this works well for plant fibers as most animal fibers are too felted/sticky to pull apart easily).  If you like to crochet or knit, this is a great way to get low cost yarn - you just have to look for garments that don't have cut and serged seams otherwise you'll end up with all the yarn only being 1 row long.

I have a really nice floor loom, but weaving is the one thing that I'm not very good at as I'm still too much of a beginner and also don't have time for it with all the other stuff I'm doing.  I should probably let go of it, but the loom was hand built by my husband and is really a finely built machine.  Maybe someday I'll be worthy of it? 
 
                        
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Walk.  You are where I wanna be in the fabric arts but Ill probably never make it to that level!

I wish I was better at knitting.

I have an old knit king knitting machine.

Here is one from the 1950s.

http://goodeys.tripod.com/Knittingtoys/id6.html

Mine is c.  1934.  Once its oiled and cast-on the knitting goes really fast.  Then you can switch to hand needles to finish off.  It works best on fine yarn, but you can do heavier yarn on every other needle.
 
Larisa Walk
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Hi Wombat,
I've had several knitting machines over the years and currently have a Studio bulky.  I used to sell some knit goods for a while, but didn't like knitting as much as crochet.  The only thing I've made in the last few years was yardage.  I knit up over 20' of full carriage width and took it to a laundromat to felt it in a big washing machine.  I haven't cut into it yet, but I intend to make at least a couple of coats from it.

The other thing that I didn't mention earlier is that my sewing machine is an old 1970's vintage Bernina, which I converted to treadle power shortly after I got it.  I learned to sew on my mom's old treadle and preferred the control over the electric motor, but wanted a machine that could do zigzag, etc.  In the early 1980's I came across an industrial treadle sewing machine base with a larger drive wheel which makes for faster sewing.  And I also added in a step pulley to further increase speed.  Now I can go slow or fast, depending on what I'm sewing.
 
                        
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Walk.  That is simply amazing.  I never heard of anyone converting an electric sewing machine to treadle power.  But what a great idea!  Getting rid of the noise and making the machine controllable.

My machine is a 1950s Husqvarna viking.  My mother-in-law worked in a sewing shop in Northern Michigan (lots of Swedes and Norwegians) and she gave me the machine for a wedding present with all the gadgets to go with it.

Ive read about felting but I haven't tried it yet.  I did find some accidentally felted sweaters at the local thrift store in the freeby box.  I got them to make dog blankets.

I never did learn to crochet.  Probably out of rebellion.  My Mom was an expert.  She would make me crochet dresses that I had to wear to school -- so embarassing!  Some were feed sack prints with lace collars.  Of course I wanted t shirts and jeans like everyone else.
 
Larisa Walk
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Hi Wombat,

I know what you mean about teenage fashion desires.  I bought real Levi jeans with my own money when I was a teen, although I also made my own dresses (very mini at the time) and also a full-length fake fur coat.  Crazy!!!  My parents did buy me 2 new dresses and a coat (purple plaid - I got to pick it out) when I started kindergarten.  That was it until I was a teen.

My mom didn't crochet, but my aunt did and I learned by watching her.  She made piles of doilies and table coverings while working as a telephone switchboard operator in her small Iowa town.  As she got older and her eyesight was less sharp, she started making piles of afghans.  The telephone company closed down when they automated, a veterinarian moved into the old office and hired my aunt as a receptionist, where she continued to crochet between answering the phone and waiting on people.

My sister, 15 years older, taught me to knit at about age 9 or 10.  We both started to knit matching vests back then.  I wore mine in my 4th grade class picture.  My sister still has hers, unfinished 45 years later.  I don't think she'll be finishing it anytime soon.
 
                  
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Getting back to the permie bit... Using natural textiles in your sewing means that scraps & cut thread can go into the compost pile. They might take a while to rot, but it will eventually happen. ...And when you really mess something up and you can't stand to look at the mess you've created you can punish the fabric (it's never really our fault, you know) by making it hold up the tomatoes, patch a new hole in the chicken fence until you find some wire, block & kill weeds...... There are probably 101 uses for dead fabric that you can't / won't use for more refined purposes. I'm using some decor textiles that I'm just "done with" as weed block to lazy-kill grass in the raised bed garden I made last year. This fall I'll dump chipped wood & leaves on it. Eventually the fabric will rot away under there.

There are a lot of way expensive natural fabrics (bamboo comes to mind) but rayon, cupro (aka "washable silk" labeled cotton) and raime are all cheap plant textiles you might not be aware of. Good old wool is fire resistant and 100% linen cannot be beat for work clothes. My husband has a blousy linen farm shirt he wears for hot work that is the best thing ever. Although it seems heavy he stays cooler than in a tee shirt and although it gets really sweat soaked and stinky it a) dries quickly 2)does not retain the funky odors and c) doesn't seem inclined to rot. He wore it all last summer and -- as an experiment -- still has not washed it even once.... It looks and smells like new!

I know what we paid our seamstress friend to make that shirt... and what the antique linen cost (he's kinda particular) but I don't think we could buy anything half as good for three times the price. Anything practical and linen or wool is definitely a savings in my book.
 
                              
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jenn wrote:
I also knit- and NEVER save money on that...


Have you ever un-reveled wool sweaters for the yarn?  Try looking in the fall in the thrift stores for wool/wool blend sweater CHEAP. You need ones that haven't felted and have a certain kind od seem.

There is a really good yahoo group called recycledyarn that you ought to join-its free and they are a nice bunch-they will pass on links and info galore on how to do this and what to look for and what to avoid.  If people wear wool in your area, you should not have too much trouble getting  used wool sweaters.  Or cotton/cotton blend if thats what you want-but thats a little trickier to re-use.


Leigh
 
                              
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I'd really like to learn more about sewing. I did a little when I was younger years ago-some more my daughter when she was little, some shirts for a buddy of my brothers, and some for a neighbors little girls. But that was years ago and I've forgotten what little I knew.

I have a sewing machine, I need the re-place the manual which got lost. Mostly I need to learn how to alter patterns.

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Another way to get inexpensive cloth is from freecycle.org A yahoo groupe. Its international, bet everyone here could find a branch in their town. Same for yarn-but thats almost always acrylic.


Leigh
 
                                
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Location: Savannah, GA
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My favorite trick for stains on otherwise good clothes is to stencil over the stain with fabric paint. You can use any craft or artists acrylic paint and fabric medium. I cut stencils from quilters plastic template material, or you can use old file folders for stencils a couple of times and then throw them away. Items with acrylic paint should probably not be composted due to the possible presence of toxic metals.

I've made a lot of my own clothes over the years and they can fit much better and last forever. I still have some blouses I made 20 years ago that are in perfect shape today.

I also know how to stitch leather and I have made shoes - I used to belong to a medieval recreation group - but the shoes I made are not as comfortable as the ones that are made today. Most well made shoes today are made up of several different layers of leather and fabric to hold the shape and the soles are formed of various types of synthetics which are more comfortable to wear. But with some practice you can learn to make custom moccasins for instance if you are capable of making a pattern for a dress. Suede and light weight leather can be sewn on the sewing machine, but heavier leather should be sewn by hand with waxed linen thread and two needles. If you know how to hand sew fabric, hand sewing leather is really not too different. Start with a length of thread twice as long as you usually would. Thread a needle on each end and pass the thread through the first hole so the ends are the same lenghth. You make each hole with an awl and then use blunt needles to stitch through each hole going both directions. The two threads lock each other into place. If the article will get heavy use (like horse gear) you use a special tool to make a groove for the thread to fit into so the leather is rubbed instead of the thread, that way the stitching lasts a lot longer. With some practice it's pretty easy to make all sorts of leather pouches and animal harnesses of all kinds.
 
Jami McBride
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Thanks for the tip!

What wonderful, creative talent is represented in this discussion.
I'm so busy outside just now, but if I were not I'd be in my sewing/craft room trying out some of the ideas mentioned here.

If anyone is interested - I created a fabric wallet pattern for myself years back with instructions.  I'll look for it on my old hard drive if anyone would like a copy to make.  I use to buy myself one every 3 years when mine wore out at craft fairs.  Then they stopped having them for sale, went out of style I guess.  So I made my own pattern, what else was a desperate woman to do?
 
Tyler Ludens
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bdswagger wrote:
I'd really like to learn more about sewing. I did a little when I was younger years ago-some more my daughter when she was little, some shirts for a buddy of my brothers, and some for a neighbors little girls. But that was years ago and I've forgotten what little I knew.

I have a sewing machine, I need the re-place the manual which got lost. Mostly I need to learn how to alter patterns.

Any suggestions would be helpful.


I suggest joining  the Craftster sewing board  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?board=348.0

it has free patterns, lots of tutorials, and a very supportive helpful community! 

 
                        
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Walk:  I thought you might be interested in this home made knitting machine I found on You Tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUXk-EHKD_c

 
Larisa Walk
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Wombat,

Looks like someone went to an awful lot of work to make something that knits slower than hand knitting, and is less portable too.  I got the knitting machines to speed up the work but don't particularly like either the outcome or the process.  I guess I'm too stuck on crochet as I like the hands-on feel of working and also prefer the textile result.

I'm currently crocheting a pair of hemp fiber socks.

Larisa
 
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