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Aug 19

Friday Frugal Fashion Update

Fashion is a funny thing . . . . if you look around at the stores, or if you browse various sites online, you will discover the amazing variety of clothing, shoes, and accessories that are “in style.” Since I’ve never exactly been a “fashion diva,” I’m mostly clueless about this kind of thing, and certainly don’t have any idea what is “stylish” on any given day, but I have been doing a bit of research and I am absolutely fascinated by what I’ve found!

In my life, clothing has always been practical. It serves a function, and that is to provide modesty and keep us warm in winter. Pretty simple, right? Of course, I appreciate a pretty dress or a gorgeous pair of shoes just as much as anyone else, but it has just never been that important to me to have the latest, stylish outfit. So how did this Vintage Mama end up creating children’s clothing designs which are now available for sale as ebook patterns? And why did I decide to open an online shop where I sell vintage refashion and upcycle clothing? Well, all of that is a direct result of living frugally all of my life and learning how to “make do,” as my Mama always said.

Several years ago I discovered, quite by accident, that handcrafted children’s boutique clothing was selling like crazy on eBay. Now, I always thought that “hand made” or “home made” clothing was looked upon as the “poor girl’s” way to a new dress. That’s how it was for me. I learned to sew as a young teenager so that I could have a new outfit once in a while. But I was really quite content most of the time with the “hand-me-downs” that came our way, and I LOVED the thrift shops where we would go for our Back-to-School shopping trips.

Suddenly it occurred to me that, since I had been sewing for many years and am actually quite good at it, that perhaps I could create some of those beautiful children’s outfits and sell them online. So I did! And I almost lost my mind one Christmas season, making the same sweet holiday dress over and over and over, all in different sizes. That was not what I wanted to do! I love the fun of creating a new design once and then I want to move on to a new project. So, I started taking pictures as I went along on my next few projects, and wrote up the instructions into an ebook. I’ve been selling ebook patterns now for several years, and am looking forward to writing a few more this winter.

Then . . . . I discovered (again quite by accident!) that another thing that sells online is vintage garments. So off I went again, shopping at my favorite places: thrift shops and estate sales, where I found some gorgeous vintage items. Then, upon even more research, I discovered that another way to be creative and generate a bit of income along the way, is to “refashion” or “upcycle” garments. What that means is to take something that is no longer “in style” and cutting it up or adding to it  or embellishing it or combining it with another something that is no longer “in style,” and creating something completely unique. Now that is a ton of fun!

I’ve been amazed at what I’ve observed out here in cyberspace when it comes to “refashion” fashion! Since I”m just a pretty conservative, midwest, farming town girl, I”ve certainly learned a great deal about fashion  ;o)  Seems that for some people, “in style” means shabby, tattered, and in all ways “destroyed” to make the loudest fashion statement. Then there are the designs that are over-the-top with lace, feathers, jewels, metal, and leather. Variety makes the world go ’round, I guess! For me, I’ve discovered that there is a place for the simple “refashion” designs that I create.

It is so much fun to go out to my sewing studio and envision how I could take this top and embellish it with a bit of lace from that vintage slip, and add a bit of “tattered” ruffling to the neckline or a little ruffle around the bottom and turn it into a mini-dress. Or perhaps I can turn that gorgeous slip with the beautiful lace all around the hemline into a charming little dress, with tons of embellishments and perhaps a little lacey shawl or shrug. I can just see it all now!

So, for this Vintage Mama, with absolutely NO fashion sense at all, I think I’ve done alright. Still have so much to learn about fashion, design, and marketing . . . . but I’ll tell you what: if I can dream it, I can do it! And if YOU want something created, I’ll bet I can figure out how to make it  ;o) Off to my sewing studio to create a few more “refashion” fashions for my little Etsy shop! Check it out: Tatters to Treasures. See you there!   

~~ Nina

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