Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Things You Can Always Find At A Thrift Store #11: Pleasing Patterns

Hello! I've owned a sewing machine since the mid-1980's. In all that time I've not advanced my sewing skills to a high level of expertise, but still like to try new projects from time to time. Fortunately, thrift stores typically have a variety of pleasing patterns, and for a fraction of the original prices. Read along and see what I mean! I'll begin by showing off some patterns I've actually used, followed by make-it-someday ones. 

A 50c pattern, but would have cost almost 12 bucks at full price. Fabric stores often have pattern sales, but not as low as 50c! I made the project on the right, a sofa slipcover. It was relatively easy, though I remember that it took a long time to sew the hem at the bottom.

A pattern package full of sewing accessory projects (plus one button doll). This would have cost almost 19 dollars at full price. Needless to say, I was happy that I only needed a quarter at the thrift store! I made the project at the upper left, a sewing machine cover. (The photographed example has a large rick rack flower on it.) I figured that it was high time my sewing machine got a cover! (keeps dust off the machine). 

This is a pattern I've made over and over:

As the package states, this really is an easy pattern! Even a slowpoke sewer like me can whip up a pair of polar fleece socks in no time at all. I often make up several pairs at a time and give them to our daughter as part of her Christmas presents. I sometimes pick up polar fleece remnants at thrift stores too. That helps even more in making these socks easy, inexpensive and practical gifts.  If I have enough polar fleece left over after sewing her socks, I'll make some socks for me as well. Nice to wear on a cold winter day! 

This pattern is worth the $7.00 price on the package, but I only paid 50c for it. 

Now on to patterns I hope to sew some day:

From the Sew Green thrift store in Ithaca, NY, a fun pattern set: multi-pocketed vest, journal cover, portfolio and carry-all. The vest and its description on the back of the package caught my eye: "A play or work vest, with easy, folded pocket design, lets you personalize pocket sizes to fit the tools of your trade. A must for the artist, sewer, gardener, cook, sportsman or woodworker in your life." Well, I'm not a sportsman or a woodworker, but I can define myself with the other words, so I bought this pattern. It cost a dollar at Sew Green, but would have cost $12 at full price. 

And that brings me to another point about buying patterns at thrift stores. As I'd mentioned earlier, fabric stores often have sales on  sewing patterns, but these tend to be the "big names" like  Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, etc. But it's hit and miss for the smaller pattern companies, whose lines may not even be readily available at the fabric store chains like Jo Ann Fabrics. I think Jo Ann's carries The Green Pepper brand (the polar fleece sock pattern) - but I'd never heard of Diane Ericson, designer of the Creative Companion pattern. 

I wasn't familiar with the CNT Pattern Company either, before I spied this:

A jacket to "Start after Breakfast Finish before Lunch". Not sure how long it would take me to sew this jacket, but for only 50c I could afford to take a chance on this pattern. If I'd been looking at paying $10.49, I would have passed it up! 

Here's a good, multi-purpose pattern:

The pattern package didn't photograph great because it's in a plastic ziplock bag. So here's a close-up:

Shorts, crop pants, capris and long pants: you're covered for all four seasons! Not bad for fifty cents, and certainly better than the full price of eight dollars! 

I bought the next pattern over the weekend at the Ann Arbor PTO thrift store (a must-stop for the thrifty arts/crafts person):

And a close-up:

A variety of fabrics makes for a fun look, I thought. This is actually the second time I've purchased this pattern. My plans to sew the pattern the first time were thwarted, believe it or not, by a squirrel intruder. (you can read about this incident here.)
That initial purchase was from a store three hours away I had visited during a weekend trip, so I couldn't readily go back and buy another pattern. And this was before online ordering was the thing it is now. 

Besides, I really didn't want to shell out nine dollars again. So I was happy to find another copy of the pattern for 50c! I'm not sure why I remembered this pattern well enough to recognize it at the thrift store, since it'd been "stolen" around ten years ago! But I know it's the same one.

Thus far I've shown off either clothing patterns or those patterns meant for the home. So I'll end this post with a craft pattern:

A pattern for quilted postcards; the package includes directions and two preprinted postcard backs. The front of the package also has this message from designer Jamie Kalvestran: "Yes, you can actually mail this with one postage stamp and send it through the U.S. mail without an envelope, just like any other postcard!"

At the end of the pattern directions, Kalvestran adds that one instructs the post office clerk to make sure the postcard is hand-cancelled and place in the NON-machineable bin. "If the postal workers give you a hard time - let them know these are being mailed all across the country with success..." Okay, then! 

I really got a good deal: besides this pattern, which cost me 50c instead of $7.25, I also got a package of eight more blank postcard backs for 50c more. Not only that, but someone had actually completed a quilted postcard:

Whoever had sewn this had done a fine job, so I wondered why they hadn't made the other nine postcards, let alone mail this one out! But as I occasionally participate in postcard swaps, I thought this would be a nice project the next time I do one.

A couple of notes:
  • All full prices are those listed on the patterns at the time of the original purchases.
  • If you can, examine the pattern at the thrift store for completeness and correct sizing before you buy it. When I haven't remembered to check, I've sometimes discovered at home that a previous owner had cut off some of the sizes on a multi-size pattern, thereby making the pattern useless to me. And occasionally pattern pieces will be missing, which of course also makes it difficult to make the project. And occasionally, the pattern pieces will be there, but the directions won't! A lot of good that does!
  • Thus, it goes without saying is that your best bet is an uncut pattern. In spite of the high (to me) prices I've quoted in this post for brand-new purchases, most of the patterns shown here had never been used. 
Incidentally, I totaled up the full prices for the patterns shown here: $84.64. My thrift store price total: $4.25. 

So, besides offering pleasing patterns, thrift stores also offer pleasing prices! 

Happy Sewing!


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