Recently I've had the opportunity to charge ahead on a long anticipated project, searching down some great thrift shops. This has not been easy. Little did I know it was as simple as putting into Google "thrift shops near me". It has been a fun and interesting process and I have scored a serious winner out of all that I have visited so far. As has always been my experience, thrift shops affiliated with churches or synagogues seem to have the best and most interesting offerings. Isn't that what we all want?
Let's face it. Goodwill and Salvation Army are simply giant spaces filled with beat up fast fashion from the local Walmart. At least, that has been my experience since moving to NH. Keep in mind, I am talking about sewing affiliated options. I am looking for clothing made of fabulous fabrics with sections large enough that I could cut them up and sew them into great upcycled garments. I want tablecloths and linens I could dye and paint and get really creative with. Nothing like that at our Sally Mae. Nothing! and its huge. I knew I would have to hit the road and I did.
There was the shop in one of New Hampshire's very affluent towns, a town based on old, old Yankee money. It was church affiliated and held some amazing garments. They were so amazing that they were all pretty much small sizes and high end designer, the real thing, not the outlet imitations. There was Lauren, Tahari, even a Chanel, all suit after suit, all vintage and you know worn to Sunday service for decades. They were so beautiful I was tempted to buy one or two to just bring home and ogle. They served me no sewing purpose as they were so beautifully cut and well fitted with small sections of fabric that harvesting was impossible. Five dollars a jacket and very dated! I moved on.
I will spare you the others that were either toy or child centric, so nothing in those for me. Then I found another church affiliated thrift. This was a hoot and I struck gold. The place was behind a lovely Episcopal church but behind and across the street in what looked like an old gas station, one outfitted to do mechanical work. Talking to the church ladies let me know that all proceeds went to help animals, to animal shelters, to feeding them and getting them neutered. Wonderful, not what I expect but a great idea. She said that is what the parishioners voted on and I told her I thought that was really special. The store was mobbed and was organized but with that slight bit of mess that made it fun. I saw things that I had recently seen at antique shops for much more but I wasn't there for that. This was a college town, lots of beautiful art and jewelry and every thing very reasonably priced It was a vast room of bric a brac, clothing, home goods and all just really interesting. I found my place. A shelf full of old fabrics, all labeled and neatly wrapped appeared but in front of it was a filled apple basket. In the basket I saw large patterns peeking out that could only be Vogue Designers. Do I see the last letters of Miyake, as in Issey Miyake? I started digging. There were numerous Miyakes and there was only one I owned. There were Byron Lars patterns, a designer I love who is so gifted and I wish Vogue still carried. Donna Karan, Geoffrey Beene. on and on. I grabbed them all. At 25 cents each, I had plenty left to keep shopping. I strolled through scads of exquisite scarfs, beautiful designer sweaters in great shape, wonderful kitchy home goods and there were tons of lamps, one of which will definitely come home with me on the next trip. Finding this great shop, which the church ladies tell me turns over a huge amount of merch each week, has really made me feel like I have found my home now. Yay!
I am so thrilled about this particular Byron Lars pattern, Vogue Attitudes 1620. It had notes and scribbles on the envelope from the owner. I wish I knew her. The pattern was still in factory folds and clearly she never got to make it. You can see she had her own ideas about how to make the blouses collar. It is an exquisite blouse, isn't it?
The back of this blouse , the solid part, had many curved and shaped sections stitched together and hugging the hips. The yoke and these sections were solid. The rest of the blouse was sheer.
Our pattern owner scribbled her own ideas on the back. Those diagonal lines are hers and I guess indicate where she would use the sheer fabric. Did her sheer fabric have lines in it that she wanted to place on the bias?
Did the fact that the blouse had 28 pieces stop her from proceeding? Or did she own all those designer patterns in the apple basket and just never got around to it? I guess I will never know. I do know that Byron Lars is an incredibly gifted man and you can read how he started, his influences, etc in this Vogue article. I hope we see more of his work and maybe his patterns too. In the meantime, I'm going to fondle the goodies from the apple basket and make another trip back this week!!!...Bunny