Frugal and Crafty: Sewing

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I’m one of those people who were kind of thrifty before the recession.  For example; we don’t have cable TV, we cut our own hair, get most of our clothes from thrift shops, and most of our books and movies from the library.  I love the serendipity of finding something I need (or will need) on the cheap, or free.  I found my daughter’s bed frame leaning against a dumpster- sanded and varnished it and it’s beautiful!  I often find great kids books on the “free cart” at the library book store- usually the only thing wrong with them is they need a little tape. 
I like to make my hobbies thrifty too.  I love re-purposing things.  From time to time I’m going to write about the thrifty crafts/hobbies I enjoy.  This time it’s about sewing.

There are several books out there about reworking old t-shirts.  My youngest daughter and I really got into some of those.  She was especially interested because she often gets t-shirts for school clubs, etc. that are way too big for her, so these books helped her come up with cool ways to alter her t-shirts to fit better and look really fashionable:  Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay, and  99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special by Faith Blakeney, Justina Blakeney, Anka Livakovic, and Ellen Schultz (both from the library, of course).  She had so much fun making these shirts, that she is now interested in fashion as a career and is going to take sewing classes at school.
I don’t sew very often now, but when my daughters were little it was a big hobby of mine.  I made their old receiving bankets into nightgowns for them when they were toddlers.  Back then, WalMart had cheap fabric and half-price patterns- most of the WalMarts around here don’t even have a fabric department anymore. 
Some of my favorite things to sew didn’t require patterns though.  For a simple skirt, all you need is to sew a fabric tube in the length and width you need, make a casing for the elastic, thread it through, sew it up and sew up hems.  When my girls were little, I made halter dresses for them using this method with shoulder straps sewn on the top.  Another method I like is to cut the top off of some old jeans (or over-alls), and sew a skirt bottom (gathered at the top with a gathering stitch, no elastic) onto it. 
I found a lot of helpful instructions for sewing without patterns from these two books I found at the library: Clothes without Patterns by Fay Morgan, and Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre.  Also, this month’s edition of Ready Made magazine has some pretty awesome ideas for re-crafting clothes.

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