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June 28

Recent Purchases

Hey peeps!

As you all know, I either sew or knit all of my ‘vintage’ articles of clothing… I rarely purchase them.  I do have to admit to you all, I actually feel guilty when I buy a vintage garment instead of making it.  It feels like cheating.

Before you interject to tell me I’m crazy….I’m actually snickering to myself as I just typed that ’cause it does sounds pretty silly.  Do any of you feel guilty buying vintage garments?  This doesn’t include shoes & needed accessories, but only includes items I know I could make.

Speaking of shoes, I wanted to share with you guys my recent Etsy purchases…

I had recently bought 3 pairs of size 4 shoes on etsy since they were so cheap.  But as I suspected, 2 pairs out of the three are too narrow for my feet.

These 40’s brown ones are so perfect and pristine; I dearly wish they fit!

These bright shoes are actually a tad too long for my feet.

The third pair is tight & very high, but somewhat wearable.  They’ll be perfect (in photos at least) once I make something green to go along with them.  heh

I spent $20 on each of these pairs of shoes and I’ll only be able to kinda-wear one of them.  You may think it’s crazy spending this kind of money since I can’t even return them.  But having small feet is one of my major challenges.  It’s difficult enough finding shoes I like in normal stores (that aren’t black or kids shoes), let alone vintage styles.  So for me, it’s worth the gamble.

Anyone have size 4, narrow feet and are looking for vintage shoes?  :)

Around the same time, I paid a whopping $15 for these 50’s semi-spectator pumps and they’re perfect!

I’ve been hunting around for some full-fledged spectators for close to 6 months.  heh  These ones seemed pretty close and they’re comfortable enough for daily wear.

As you may have noticed, this is one thing I’m always on the hunt for… size 4, 40’s and 50’s era shoes.  I scour Etsy nearly daily, hoping for new size 4 shoes to pop up along with looking on Nordstroms and Naturalizer on a regular basis since they carry my size.

You’d think small shoes would be easier to come by since (as I’m told) back in the day, people used to be smaller.  I don’t really find that’s the case since I have a hard time finding their shoes, but their feet sure do seem to be narrower.  heh

Fast forward to this past week….

Planning ahead like a good husband, Felix was doing some research to see what was nearby Sawyer, Michigan, he came across Apparel from the Past:

When he first told me about the place I was very *mehh* about it.  I felt bad since he was expecting me to squeal with delight.  As the days went but I was becoming more and more excited by the idea of finding shoes, hats, purses, etc. at this place.  And once I walked inside the shop I was amazed!  There was soo much to look through and sadly I was in a rush since the whole family was with me.

One of the first questions I asked Marsha, the store owner, was “Do you have any size 4 shoes?”  I was expecting a “No”, but was completely astounded when she said “YES!”

Gasp!

Two of the pairs she showed me were too narrow, but the third one was PERFECT!  I would have bought them then and there, but the sole of one of the shoes had split due to the old age.  She then offered them to me for $15, and I decided not to take them since I didn’t think they could be fixed.  But this shoe-lesson has taught me to hope…. somewhere out there is a perfect pair of 40’s shoes that will fit.  Where there’s one, there’s more.

I then turned to the racks and racks of clothes and began shopping quickly.

I tried on a few dresses that were either too big/small along with some separates.  I ended up purchasing two button up blouses and a navy, wide brim hat that needs a bit of TLC.

This cream blouse looks eerily similar to my recent 50’s scalloped-peplum blouse.  They both have peplums, they both have cut on sleeves, and they both have gathers at the shoulder.  heh  This is where I start to feel guilty…. I could have made this identical blouse using my mail order 2629 pattern.  But this top was only $15 and I’m almost positive I would have spent more just to buy a similar fabric.  A little less guilty… but still….

This one I don’t feel guilty about.  Behold, the cutest golf-T:

This top fits like a glove!  It’s a women’s blouse, but the label says it’s tailored like a man’s shirt.  I paid $25 for it, which is a bit much, but I haaaad to have it.

Pattern Detail:

It’s a light tan color with olive stripes.  The shop owner was asking if I golfed… Nope, no golfing here.  :)

In 2012, I actually feel like I’ve been spending a lot less money on store-bought clothing.  I believe I’ve only gone to the store to buy 1 or 2 pairs of trousers, a pair of workout pants, and as you know I recently bought a bathing suit online.  The only other (non-vintage) purchases I can think of were for shoes.  Nearly everything else I’ve made myself.

What’s even stranger is that this hasn’t even been a conscious choice.  I’ve been in the mentality that if I need something, I need to look in my fabric stash & pattern stash to make it.  I think this is why I feel a bit guilty buying vintage clothing, I know I can make it myself, and buying it is only giving me instant gratification.  (Golf blouse aside….)  heh

Conclusion to this post:

I feel as if I’ve opened up a can of worms!  I wanted to show you guys my recent fun purchases (even the shoes that didn’t work).  But I’ve begun to delve into consumerism vs. make-do & mend.  I can keep talking about it… but like I said, it’s a can of worms that’s worthy of a post in itself.

Related to this topic, have you read Vintage Vixen’s recent review of the book: Overdressed, the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion yet?  I seem to have the same conclusion as Solanah:

I could go on. And I might in the future, but when it comes right down to it, I really think you should read this book.

I’m not certain I need to read the book since I already seem to be in the same mindset as the author.  But I may since I’m nerdy and like to have a solid understanding of the facts before forming opinions of my own.  Blame in on the ‘researchy-math’ side of my brain.

Have any thoughts to share on my recent purchases or on consumerism vs. make-your-own?

And do let me know if you (or anyone you know) is interested in the size 4 narrow shoes that don’t fit me.  I’ll cut you a really good deal.  :)

  1. Lauren / Jun 28 2012

    I’m not opposed to buying vintage clothing for the most part, although I tend to avoid buying it from actual vintage shops/sellers – so many of them are SO overpriced. I see all kinds of pieces that priced $100+ just because they’re “old” but the condition is just terrible… or the garment itself is ugly as sin lol. I scout for that kind of stuff at the thrift store & flea market, hurts the wallet a little less! Unfortunately, I’m very opposed to buying vintage shoes – specifically for the reason you mentioned at the shop; they tend to get dry-rot (especially NOS) and fall apart, even if they look structurally sound. It breaks my heart because I love the styles so much! Oh well.

    But as far as feeling guilty? No way – vintage clothing has some of the BEST fabric prints (as long as you can avoid that awful polyester that was so well loved in the 60s-70s haha), I couldn’t duplicate that! I do feel guilty buying new clothing, though – like something from the mall. Which is why I haven’t done so in years.

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      They can be overpriced! I need to venture out more and do some thrift store shopping. I used to do it often when I was in high school & college but haven’t done much since. It sounds silly… but I’m really allergic to dust and dust mites, I would just sneeze the whole time and hours afterwards, and it stopped being ‘worth it’.

      I cooould just take my allergy med like I’m supposed to and it wouldn’t be an excuse. hehehe

      I never even thought about dry-rot with shoes! I’m going to be a bit more tentative when purchasing online.

      I avoid polyester like the plaugue! Asside from being unbreathable, it makes me itch & get rashes on my legs. Oh well! :)

  2. Stephanie / Jun 28 2012

    Oh, yummies! I don’t feel bad about buying vintage but sometimes I feel bad wearing it. Most of the people I know know by now that I make a lot of my own clothing and they always seem a bit let down when they ask if I made something and I reply no…. But that’s not going to keep me from buying and wearing it! (especially hats! Love hats!) I have been noticing that I shop less than I did a year or so ago. Lately, the shopping bug has me again though. I think it’s because I’ve been sewing less….

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      I get that too! It was easy during MMM since everything I wore was Me-Made. Afterwards everyone kept asuuming I’d made everything I was wearing, and had to deal with the let-downs. It’s great motivation to push me to make trousers and other basics that I don’t typically sew myself.

      I wonder if that’s why I made these purchases… my sewing has slowed down over the past month. huh

  3. Cation Designs / Jun 28 2012

    I have never bought any vintage pieces, mostly for the same reasons as you and Lauren…I don’t want to pay premium prices for something I could make myself, or might have structural issues. That said, I had seen some absolutely swoon-worthy shoes in the vintage shops in my area, but like you found, they were all incredibly narrow! So it’s not just you!

    I felt similarly after reading Vintage Vixen’s review — I have so much in my reading queue already, and that book would just be preaching to the choir. Let us know if you do read it, though, and if you find out anything interesting!

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ms. Cation. I do think the book would be slighly preaching to the choir, but the part that would be interesting is the facts behind the thinking.

      I know some bits about why purchasing new, sweat-shop clothing is bad… but the other reasons like the actual impact (positve or negative) on the ecosystem, ecomony, and individual people.

      I’ve read briefly about the impact of cashmere fabrics and how destructive the animals become to the wildlife & ecosystem: eye-opening. But I find that I’m unaware of the true impacts of other clothing even vintage clothes.

  4. Qui Pardue / Jun 28 2012

    I’ve been shopping less simply because now that I’m sewing a fair amount, I just prefer and WANT to sew everything that I can. Of course, I don’t have time to sew everything, so I do shop some (mostly for pants and workout clothes).
    I really need to add a few blouses to my wardrobe, and I keep holding out to make them, but it’s been a couple months now… So… I might need to buy a couple just to keep myself clothed ;) Other projects seem to continually jump in front of my planned blouses.

    Your shoes are darling–it’s too bad they don’t fit right. I’m a 9 1/2 or I’d take them off your hands ;)

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      I couldn’t have said it better! I think were’re 2-peas in the pod on this one. I don’t want to make workout clothes and I also need more blouses. :)

      I WANT to sew everything too! Why would I want to struggle to find the perfect jean when I can just make it?! (Naturally, after lots of fitting.)

  5. Sue / Jun 28 2012

    1) those brown shoes are ADORABLE!
    2) I usually feel guilty purchasing new RTW clothes, even shoes, instead of making something myself or just using what I already have (even if it doesnt fit right/I no longer like it), but feeling bad for buying vintage? Never! I’m surprised to hear you say that you find yourself felling guilty for looking at/purchasing vintage items instead of sewing them up from scratch! Using something (vintage) that already exists – as long as it’s not crazy overpriced – rather than creating something from scratch seems perfectly legit to me. :)

    • Sue / Jun 28 2012

      Also! I’m totally planning to read that book Solanah posted about. Nerds unite!

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      Thanks Sue! Sometimes I do feel guilty and sometimes I don’t… It depends if I can make it or not. Usually when there’s a really cute print that I know I’d never find, I’m all good with purchasing.
      But when it comes to the eyelet blouse above… that was a guilty purchase. I rationalized it because of the price tag (the $15 dollar price trumped the fabric cost and time for me to make it) but that’s about it.

      Yay for being nerdy! :)

  6. Tasha / Jun 28 2012

    I don’t feel bad at all for buying vintage clothes. Of course, I was wearing vintage clothing long before I ever started to sew, so if I wanted something to look vintage, I bought vintage. lol There’s nothing to feel bad about, in the end you’re participating far less in mass-consumerism by buying second-hand. At this point pretty much everything I wear clothing-wise is vintage, or sewn or knit by me, or sewn by other small-label repro brands, except a few RTW pieces like thin cotton cardis for work (to hide tattoos in summer, lol), and plain t-shirts. Well, and unmentionables. :P

    The prints and fabric (better than anything we could get to day), the history… there’s just something magical about my vintage garments. I don’t buy things that are too overpriced, though now and again I’ll splurge a bit on something if it’s in really good condition (just like maybe now and again someone would splurge on a really great RTW piece). I do have many pieces that have little issues here or there. That doesn’t bother me in part because of my appreciation of the history of the piece (and of course I’d never pay $$ if it had real problems). I wonder what woman before me stained the pocket with a pen, what was she doing when she did? What did she do in that dress or blouse? That’s just a connection I could never made with something store-bought. Although I like the connection I have with items I’ve sewn or knit, it’s not the same thing. I guess then it’s not all just about the vintage aesthetic for me but the connection.

    I am enjoying getting into sewing my own vintage-inspired clothing, and am looking to more vintage fabrics when I can for that purpose (still afraid to cut most of them, ha ha), because it’s just more interesting to me aesthetically and historically, and I guess heck, it gives me a good challenge for the hunt. lol I find myself wanting to buy less vintage pieces because I’m thinking more about making my own now, which is kind of a fun turn of events. But I will -always- love that vintage connection.

    Phew, sorry for the novel! Here’s something shoe-related: those are all cuuuute! Vintage shoes can be super narrow, I’ve taken to buying a size up just so I can fit them. Ugh. But I do favor more retro/repro shoes in general because I hate being uncomfortable, though some of my vintage ones are pretty good. lol

    • Tasha / Jun 28 2012

      OMG seriously I didn’t realized I’d written that much, sorry!

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      I wish I was in your boat… purchasing vintage before making it. I bet I wouldn’t have the same feelings towards it now if I had done the same.

      As for the history… I feel very tied to my patterns for the same reason: both sewing and knitting ones. I always wonder about the ladies who had made the same adjustments or their notes in the margins. I love it when the pattern had been previously used. It makes me feel like the pattern is ‘better’ and that I’m continuing their legacy. :)

  7. Anna / Jun 28 2012

    I totally share your pain about having small feet. One place I’ve noticed that is good for dress shoes and you can sometimes find things that go with vintage: dance stores. Since even the kids have heels when they dance. This has helped me a lot, now if I could find some nice everyday walking shoes that are not sneekers and also winter shoes that look somewhat grown up, I’m happy…

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      I’ve never though of dance shoes. Thanks for that tip!

      I’m now imagining myself falling in love with a tap shoe and walking around in them. heh Good thing the tappy bit can usually be removed. :)

  8. Liz / Jun 29 2012

    I love your shoe purchases and if I am ever over your way may have to come and steal them! I think a size 4 is the same as a 37! On a serious note, did you know you can stretch shoes – I have successfully done this a number of times. There is a spray you buy from cobblers called “Stretching Spray” – you spray the shoes until they are quite wet and then put them on, I usually wear sports socks to give a bit of room (it’s a sexy look) and then leave them on for at least a couple of hours. I start sitting down and then stand up for small amounts at a time as they are not normally comfortable for extended periods. For this to work the shoes have to be leather and leather lined. I have previously stretched knee high boots 2 inches to make them fit my calves!! Hope this helps – maybe then you can get some wear out of all of the shoes!
    Liz

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      You’re thinking of UK sizes… A US size 4 corresponds to a European size 33 or 34 and a UK size 2. (The UK size 4 is a US women’s 6.5 and is a European size 37).

      I’ve never heard of stretching spray! I think the first pair would suffer integrity if I stretched them since I’d need to increase the width over an inch in width. But for my other snug shoes that I struggle with this is a great option! Thanks so much. I’ll be on the lookout for it. :)

  9. Anon / Jun 29 2012

    You shoudl see whether you can stretch the shoes that are too narrow for your feet – I do this. My feet are a little wider than usual and I just use wooden shoe stretcher. It is the shape similar to that of a human foot , in my case, my feet. You can buy them from a shoe repair store and perhaps an old fashioned cobbler. It is easily fitted into your shoe since its fitted with a knob and a number of screws so that its length can be adjusted as per the requirements of the shoes to be stretched. So, you just set the size of the shoe stretcher in such a way that it can be easily inserted into the footwear. When its in the shoe just adjust the screws to build up a tension within the shoe. I usually leave it for about 12 hours – overnight. Then I remove it and see whether the problem is resolved. If they’re still a bit tight then put the shoe stretcher back into the shoes but this time increase the tension. But this time leave it for a shorter number of hours.

    • Liz / Jun 29 2012

      Thanks so much Anon. I’ve actually taken my shoes to a cobbler before to have them stretched, but I never thought about purchasing the device for home use. I bet it would be cheaper in the long run.

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