Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The 3-R's

We all know about the 3 R's of consumption: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Well, it turns out, in my house, there is a second version specifically for clothes: Repair, Repair, Replace. Ok so that's really only two, but in my case it's more like: Repair, Repair, Repair, Repair, Repair, Repair, Run around half naked, (ok fine!) Replace.

The thing is I've come to completely detest shopping. Well, that's not true. Tell me we're going to the farmers market or the grocery and I'll hop right up and go with you. Tell me we need clothes, and I'll crawl under the nearest piece of furniture like my dog when it's time for her bath. First of all, I'm lucky if I can find something I like, then of course it has to actually fit. Right. Like that's going to happen.

But it was getting to be about that time. I've repaired, repaired, repaired and some of my things are literally holding on by a thread. That's the latest repair in my favorite jean shorts (photo above - yeah, I know, I'm quite the seamstress. I think it's time to buy new thread colors, no?). I also have patches in both butt cheeks of my favorite jeans and my pjs look like the result of WWII bombing raid (thankfully, my hubby isn't turned off by the whole refugee look). 

Regardless, my store-free days were obviously numbered. The other of my favorite pairs of shorts (pictured here) have been repaired at least six times (let's play a game - how many of the repairs can you see in this photo?) Anyway, last Thursday, they split on me right across the butt cheek - yep, while I was in public with no spare clothes within a 20 minute bike ride (thankfully I had a sweatshirt to wrap around my waist). I brought them home deciding to fix them (with lovely black thread) and only wear them around the house. Besides, they've gotten so thin that if you hold them up to the light, they are translucent - probably shouldn't be worn in public anymore anyway. Washed and repaired, I wore them to bed on Friday night as jammy bottoms. The next morning I got up to go to the bathroom. I don't know about you, but when I sleep, my clothes get all bunched up on me. So when I stood, I gently adjusted my shorts so that they wouldn't find a permanent home in my butt crack and R-I-P! Ugh. Ok. So it's time. 

Thankfully, I live in a college town where there are tons of second hand shops. Of course, that doesn't make it any easier to find clothes that fit, but it helps with the fact that I'm cheap (ooh, I mean frugal), as well as I feel good having taken part in reusing someone's un-wanteds (green). Once I had decided that a shopping trip must be made, I perused my closet to make sure there wasn't anything else I needed. If we're going to do this, let's do it all at once, if possible. I decided that I was looking for 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, some pj's and 2 tops that could be worn to occasions where I had to dress up (dressing up being no t-shirt).

We decided Sunday was the day. After a nice lunch date with my hubby, we set out for one of the two second-hand shops I had selected. Nervously, I approached the first. Dave, good hubby that he is, drove me there and waited patiently while I heaped clothes onto the hook on the dressing room door. Too big... too small... too ugly (do people actually wear this stuff?)... too pink... too low-cut... too I'm not even sure what this is... Wait... Ok, here's something. 

We went through this process half a dozen times until finally, I'd managed to find 2 pairs of really comfortable jeans ($10 for one; $15 for the other), a nice white sweater that will go with either jeans or my dress pants ($8), and a pair of sweat-shorts ($4) and a terry cloth top ($8) that can be worn for pjs or bumming-around in public. I couldn't find a single pair of shorts, and I could still use another top and maybe a second pj-like outfit, but for under $50, I got all this stuff that I like and that is pretty comfortable. Oh, and we only spent one hour in the store. Pshew! As we got to the car, we made a quick decision to go ahead and try to the second place just to see what they had, but alas, they were closed.

When I arrived home, I went straight to my closet and pulled out those tan shorts and the WW-II-bombing-raid-esque pajama bottoms. The shorts I could do little with and I expelled a little whimper as they fell to the bottom of the trash. I stared at my jammy bottoms for a good five minutes, scissors in hand. Could I really do this? They'd make great dust rags. In the end, I did the deed and they are now awaiting those 2 special days a year that I feel motivated to dust (yeah, unfortunately, I'm not kidding on that one).

There are still a few things I need so we'll probably have to make a trip another day, but when it was all said and done, it wasn't so bad. I lived through it and have some nice things as a result. So, anyone else out there hate shopping? How far have you gone in repairing your clothes before you finally break down and buy new/almost new ones?

22 comments:

Going Crunchy said...

Oh, I'm so laughing at your post. I don't like to shop in regular stores, but do love shopping at Goodwill and such. I consider it a thrifting challenge.

I especially hate shopping with kids except for the farmers market. They enjoy it there!

And may the thrift be with you!

Tammi said...

Haha!

I'm glad you found some good clothes. I need to make the trip to the thrift store too. I'm not used to Texas heat and I'm in disparate need of a couple extra pairs of shorts. I love clothes shopping but the thought of dragging 3 kids with me, nope. So I always put it off.

#3 said...

I admire your mad sewing skills. I've got a few pairs of work pants that could use your touch.

Unfortunately, my fixes appear more like FrankenFixes.

The garbage shorts probably could have been used as a 1 shot rag, or perhaps a patch for other clothes, instead of filling a landfill. If you compost, it probably would have found a good home there, as well...

eco 'burban mom said...

Want to know a secret? My husband is a much better fixer and mender than I! My son's torn baseball pants? Mended my my husband. Mended so well in fact they lasted through that season and then another! I sew on buttons, he mends gaping, "I ripped it on the dugout bench" holes. I need some of your skills for sure!

Heather @ SGF said...

going crunchy - thanks! I'm definitely feeling the power of the thrift. I actually feel up for one more try to see if I can't pick up those few other things. Maybe next weekend...

tammi - you definitely need a few more shorts here in Texas. My clothes get so sweaty that I either have to keep washing them or have extras. I can see where three kids tagging along might hamper the shopping experience :) I have enough trouble concentrating on finding clothes let alone keeping track of little ones and all the things they could get into.

#3 - do you think those shorts would decompose in the compost bin? They are 70% cotton and 30% nylon. We only throw our trash out once every 5 weeks so the shorts are certainly retrievable.

eco 'burban mom - skills? What skills? I think they look more like what #3 calls her "franken fixes." My dad can sew, but I"m completely hopeless. I suppose it would help if I actually went and bought some thread that matches. He he. I'm a bit lazy about such things. At least your hubby doesn't mind some sewing from time to time.

Red said...

I live for thrift shops. New clothes can be so icky.

I wish I could so, but I am worthless in that department. I can bare sew on a button.

eco 'burban mom said...

heather - I've got to say, your Dad seems like a right cool dude! The peaches, the sewing... he's a trend setter! :o) And, at least you sew! I have such good intentions, but the pile that should be mended or repaired keeps growing. I have a hard enough time just keeping up with the washing of the clothes!

Wendy said...

I had a beloved pair of jeans. They got a hole in the knee. I cut them off and made them shorts. Then, the place right under the pocket tore, and I patched them, but not well, and then the patch frayed, and so I patched them again. I'm still wearing them, even though little holes have erupted all over, and one of the belt loops is no longer attached.

I have these socks - not a "pair", but a particular style that I have only found at L.L. Bean for $8 each. Unfortunately, after three months of constant wear during the winter, the heels and toes get holes. So, I was taking yarn and "sewing" a patch onto them. It works for a couple of wearings, and then, I have to give up on patching them. So, I took one pair, cut the feet off, slid my thumb through the heel hole and use them as fingerless gloves when I'm typing ;). It works great for keeping my hands warm while I'm trying to work. Someday I'll actually learn to knit, and then, I'll knit new feet onto the socks ;).

I'm keeping the rest of the socks to be used as the absorbent layer in my hand-sewn menstrual pads ... that I'm going to make someday ;). I'm also keeping old t-shirts and my husband's old underwear for the same reason, and I have an old pair of his pants that will become a skirt for me at some point in the future.

I love repurposing clothes. It's fun :).

Heather @ SGF said...

red - I like the thrift shops too. You can find all kinds of cool stuff!

eco 'burban mom - you've only heard the tip of the iceburg on how cool my dad is. He's only the best dad ever! :)

wendy - I've donated tons of clothes to places like goodwill or our local women's shelter. Things that are so bad we can't give them away, we cut up and use as rags (shirts anyway). Cool idea with the socks! My grandma taught me to knit, oh, 100 years ago, but I've totally forgotten. Oops. You might be able to find a class at a craft store.

It was really hard to let go of those PJs. I'm still wearing the jean shorts that have been patched over and over. I'm sure their days are numbered, but, but, but... they're my favorite...

Beany said...

I don't really mend them. I believe its some sort of new fashion thing to have holes in clothes so its the trend around my household. I know its a bad habit, but I should mend more than I do now.

My husband mends his socks however, its stitches are ugly...but no one can see so it doesn't matter.

I've only hemmed clothing to shorten clothing items.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - Oh! I wish I could hem. If they are work pants, I take them to the seamstress, but my jeans, I end up just hacking away at with a pair of scissors. :) Not exactly elegant, but it gets the job done!

kale for sale said...

My insides go to stone when I think about clothes shopping and it gets worse as time goes on. But I work in the city and have to have some semblance of formality. Now, the farmers' markets are another story. I could spend the day there shopping or not.

Heather @ SGF said...

Kale for sale - I'm with you. If there's food involved, I can hang out all day. I love talking with the farmers market vendors or even just wandering the grocery isles to see what crazy things manufacturers are making these days. A recent grocery display had cupcake mix. I thought - cupcake mix? How is that different than cake mix? It turns out it's not, there's just 1/2 the quantity and they throw in a few baking cups, wrap it in a pretty box and charge more for it. Geez! When it comes to clothes, I'm just not that curious. All that shopping and trying on clothes and we were out of the store in an hour. I was all business!

Simply Authentic said...

i mend as much as i can and alter as much as i can myself, before taking them to female relatives for the major alterations. my best fix was a staple to a pair of underwear's seam. i absolutely love the thrift store but find myself coming home at times with more than i need then. lately i've been receiving the benfits of female friends/relatives cleaning out their closets. however i do give in to new buys at times, especially when i know i need a particular item, i can make them last for years, and it helps in the work appropriate category. you found some incredible deals! and your story of the pj bottoms cracked me up-i had the same thing! personally i'd love to have the patience and space to store old items to turn into quilts.

Heather @ SGF said...

simply authentic - oh that is too much! I love the staple to the underwear! That reminds me of a boyfriend of mine who stapled his belt together when it was tearing!

Do you know how to quilt? That would be an awesome way to use old clothes!

Kathryn B. said...

Oy, Heather. We are twins separated at birth. Actually maybe we are septuplets with some of the other posters. And boy do I have some run-around-half-naked stories to tell about my worn-out clothes. Like you, I hate clothes shopping. I repair things with my amateurish sewing technique until the clothing article is either see-through or practically falling off. Then finally it becomes dust rags or patches for other worn-out clothes, and I hit the thrift stores. I think if you and I walked down the street together, someone would offer us a ride to the homeless shelter!

My strategy is that I go to the big department-store-style thrift store about once a year, spend a few hours there trying stuff on, and stock up. It takes time to find clothing that I like and that fits well. I figure I can endure that kind of shopping misery if it'll get me through the year.

And my poor hubby. I patch his belts with duct tape (on the inside). And, lazy me, I just run his holey socks through the sewing machine in a straight seam. I've taught him that if his socks feel tight or bunchy in weird places, that just means that I love him :)

Heather @ SGF said...

kathryn - so the dept store thrift shop...is it all new stuff they couldn't sell? That would be pretty cool! I don't think we have anything like that here. We have tons of second hand shops though. Haven't got up the courage to try another one though. We had a ton of other errands to run this weekend. Maybe next weekend... maybe... :)

Kathryn B. said...

No, it's like a regular thrift store, only bigger (it's the Savers chain). They carry a mixture of second-hand and some overstock. The main advantage to me is the size - there's enough selection that if I spend some time at that store, I can eventually find some decent clothes. It saves me from driving around town to multiple stores!

Lisa Sharp said...

I understand the sadness in getting rid of clothes. You dust twice a year! I dust everyday lol. Wanna trade? haha

Heather @ SGF said...

Lisa - Um. That would be no. I do dishes every day, laundry most days, water plants, and take care of pets. I even try to vacuum, sweep, and clean bathrooms once every week or two (we don't make much mess), but dusting is soooo not my favorite thing to do. I think Ill just stick to the twice a year but I appreciate the offer :)

Abbie said...

I have to admit- what I fix the most are bras. They're all sewed back together, mostly the straps. I know I have to replace them when the wire pops out, since I just can't manage to sew it back in there permanently. And getting stabbed in the pit while away from home (and a non-hurting bra) is the worst.

Heather @ SGF said...

Abbie - That's pretty good. I've never fixed a bra. Of course, I'm gone lazy in my old age :) and now all I wear are sports bras.