Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


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Makeover Monday: Sew TTTW!

Previously on Makeover Monday, I showed you the beginnings of my Take Tango to Work (TTTW) wardrobe, thanks to a fantastic find at one of my favorite thrift shops. I also concluded that, to make my tango wardrobe work-appropriate (and vice-versa), I should focus on professional fabrics and colors, and wear them in tango-ready silhouettes. Now that I’ve started sewing a few things based on that general concept, today we’ll be talking about how to choose patterns for maximum garment versatility. And I’ll show you a fabulous skirt I’ve just made, in 2 outfit variations: Professional Lindy and Tango Lindy!

Since I’ve decided a new skirt is a top wardrobe priority, my first step was finding the right pattern.  I was lucky enough to find this in my pattern collection:

Butterick 4859

Butterick 4859 skirt pattern. I made Version B. Sadly, this pattern is now out of print, but I found this one that’s similar (and still available): Vogue 7937.

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Thrift-Shop Thursday Debuts Today!

Thrift-Shop Thursday is here! Beginning today, I’ll be posting a new project on Thursdays, each based on a garment found at a thrift shop. (I define thrift shop fairly loosely, to include consignment and vintage shops, the occasional yard sale, and even hand-me-downs.)

I’m starting with a series of ideas for dealing with common issues with thrift-shop finds; today’s project will focus on replacing buttons. Enter my latest thrift-shop coup: a Christian Dior (!) jacket that fits my daughter perfectly. (You’ll see it on her later on.)

Christian Dior jacket

Christian Dior wool jacket, in perfect condition except for the loose front button. Thrift-shop price: $25.00!

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Quick: Change Your Clothes!

It started like most Wednesday mornings. I caught up with some reading over early-morning coffee and breakfast, and I was just rolling out my yoga mat, when suddenly…

…the phone rang.

It was the manager of my hair salon. I had an appointment for 2:15 in the afternoon, but my stylist had had a last-minute cancellation, and wanted to know if I could run over a little early. As in right that minute: 10:05 a.m. (It so happens that I live literally across the street from my salon, otherwise I wouldn’t even have attempted to make it.) Here’s a direct quote from my stylist, heard in the background while I was talking to the manager: “Just brush your teeth and come over!” The question was, how fast could I get there? Continue reading


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Makeover Monday: She Shops… She Scores!

Previously on Makeover Monday: Last week I told you about the launch of my wardrobe-wide makeover, that will transform my motley assortment into a cohesive collection. My most pressing need is for more professional wear, but I would also like to incorporate additional garments suitable for Argentine tango— without having to create 2 separate wardrobes. Hence my new and ongoing Makeover Monday project: Take Tango to Work!

My main issue: For me, virtually all clothing currently sold as tango wear is inappropriate, both as part of a professional wardrobe, and for a woman of a certain age. (Not to mention that tango clothes frequently come only in various combinations of red and black, neither of which is a personal favorite.)

What kinds of pieces would work? Even outside of dancing, I prefer wearing skirts, so I’m starting there. But even with the fashion latitude a creative professional enjoys, I don’t think slinky skirts and dresses are proper. So I’ll look for more structured pieces, meaning made with woven fabrics, including stretch wovens; these materials typically result in a more substantial garment, as opposed to one that would cling inappropriately.

Since I really wanted to get this makeover project off to a quick start (I have a tango lesson tonight, after all), I dropped into one of my favorite thrift shops, Value Village. (If you happen to be in the Portland area, the one I usually go to is the Tigard branch; this is a fairly large chain of stores, and you can search for the one closest to your zip code.) I was looking more for tops, of which I found a few, but my big find for the day was this skirt:

My new gray skirt!

SCORE! My new gray skirt is a lightweight wool pinstripe from Jones New York, fully lined, with an invisible zipper, in like-new condition. And it fits me perfectly! (Skirt price: $7.99!)

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Makeover Monday: A New Wardrobe Equation

No doubt you’ve heard of Einstein’s famous equation E = MC². But how many of us know what it means? I admit, I didn’t know off the top of my head, but fortunately for me, my brilliant daughter did. E stands for Energy, M is Mass, and C signifies the speed of light. So the equation symbolizes a quantification of energy determined by a specific mass moving at the speed of light. Something like that.

What, you may well ask, does this have to do with Makeover Monday here at CYC? Well, after last Monday’s Makeover, as I tossed around various topics to cover, I kept coming back to the same thing: the inescapable fact that my own wardrobe needs not just a makeover, but a total overhaul. And ever since I introduced Makeover Monday to Closet Confessions last week, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of continuing this collaboration of CYC favorites. And the possibilities in their alliterative titles naturally led to my new wardrobe equation. Here it is, along with my profuse apologies to Einstein:

C² + M² = E. (Closet Confessions plus Makeover Monday equals Epiphany.)

In keeping with this new formula, I’ll start with my latest Closet Confession, namely: I hardly have anything to wear. Continue reading


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Basics: Repairing a Hem

Because I’ve been making clothes nearly all my life, sometimes I forget that certain skills are not, in fact, second nature to everyone. Even so-called basic sewing techniques involve specific instructions, as I discovered this week when I had to fix a dress whose hem had started to come undone. Just photographing the various steps in the process of hand-sewing approximately 11″ was eye-opening— there’s a lot to this seemingly simple repair!

Here’s the situation: It’s a sheath dress in a substantial stable knit, meaning it has some give, but also holds its shape; this quality has to be taken into consideration, as I’ll show you in a bit. Somehow, between the last time I wore it and, well, now, the hem started unraveling between a side seam and the center back seam. (This is a ready-to-wear dress, originally hemmed with the commonly-used clear monofilament that doesn’t tend to wear very well.)

Hem coming undone

The hem of my dress coming undone. For such a small section to be restitched, it’s actually quite a project.

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Makeover Monday Meets Closet Confessions: A Sweater Story

It was only a matter of time. Ever since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve become more and more uncomfortably aware of the shortcomings of my own closet (wait, maybe that’s the reason why I started this blog). I’ve covered some of these faults in my Closet Confessions posts, and still have lots to talk about under that heading. And since Makeovers have now taken over my Mondays, I should have known that, sooner or later, they would cross paths on my way to what I hope is the perfect wardrobe.

Today is the day: Makeover Monday comes to the Closet Confessional.

The confession: This photo is worth at least a thousand reproving words.

Confession/Before

Confession/Before: My sweaters are in an unholy mess.

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