Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I hate itchy wool!

I've purchased some wool garments recently at thrift stores and found that one of the skirts has a particularly itchy waistband.  I got to wondering why some wool is itchy and some is not.  Turns out that wool is graded and the longer fiber wool is the softest.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wool:
"Wool is also separated into grades based on the measurement of the wool's diameter in microns and also its style. These grades may vary depending on the breed or purpose of the wool. For example:
  • <15.5 - Ultrafine Merino[9]
  • 15.6-18.5 - Superfine Merino
  • 18.6-20 - Fine Merino[9]
  • 20.1-23 - Medium Merino
  • 23< - Strong Merino[9]
  • Comeback: 21-26 microns, white, 90–180 mm long
  • Fine crossbred: 27-31 microns, Corriedales, etc.
  • Medium crossbred: 32–35 microns
  • Downs: 23-34 microns, typically lacks luster and brightness. Examples, AussiedownDorset HornSuffolk, etc.[14]
  • Coarse crossbred: 36> microns
  • Carpet wools: 35-45 microns[9"
I'll be reading labels more carefully before I buy.
I found a solution for the itchy waistband, I lined it with vintage lace I picked up off of Etsy.  I also added a much nicer button.

When is the last time you shaved your sweaters?

I love cashmere and nothing makes a sweater look worse than pilling under the arms (and wherever else it gets heavy wear.)

An easy way to clean up this problem is to literally shave those little bumps off.  Pull the fabric taut and firmly comb it.

Now that you know this trick you can eye those cashmere sweaters in the thrift store (watch for moth holes) and see if they can be easily spruced up with a little grooming.

Monday, January 30, 2012

TGBM, Study in brown

Thrift: 2012: Jacket, Skirt
Gift: Earrings
    From artist 2008: Necklace
    Retail: top (2010), shoes (2008?)
Made: None

Rubbing Alcohol and Shoe Stretching?

I just went to a shoe store with a beautiful pair of dark brown suede pumps that I rarely wear because I walk out of them. Time to fix them or donate them.  The salesperson helped me with new inserts, heel pads and a stay pad on the ball of the foot area. Great, not walking out of them - but - they are tight across the big toe knuckle.

She said to wet the area to be stretched with Rubbing Alcohol (which acts to facilitate the stretching) and wear the shoes and they would stretch to conform to my feet.  Testing it right now.  Keep you posted.

Update - it did not really work, Darn!  I might try it on another pair in case it works differently on other leather.

The right color makes a difference

Here is an excellent example of the right color making a big difference.  One of the things Bekah and I learned from John Kitchener was that matching your eye color is flattering and makes you look calm and approachable.  Notice how Bekah's eyes and lips stand out as the "features" on the background of her scarf and Ano's sweater which both match her eye color.  Beautiful!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Online clothing recycling program for children's clothes


thredUP Launches Online Concierge Service to Compete with Children's Consignment

New service is first kids clothing recycling program online; simplest way to clear out outgrown clothes and share with others
SAN FRANCISCO-- the leading online marketplace for secondhand children’s clothes, announced the launch of their new service, Concierge, today. thredUP Concierge is the first recycling program for children’s clothing on the Internet, finally remedying a dilemma that every parent faces: what to do with your child’s outgrown, yet hardly worn, clothing.
Using Concierge is simple: Upon signing up online at www.concierge.thredup.com customers request a pre-paid, ready-to-ship recycling bag. They then fill the bag with their children’s outgrown items, put the bag on their doorstep, and thredUP handles the rest.
At thredUP’s processing facility, expert consignors inspect items and reward senders based on the quality and quantity of clothes returned. Similar to consignment, the amount paid to the sender varies by item type, brand, size and season - up to $5 per piece. All items that meet quality standards are then resold via thredUP’s online secondhand marketplace. This is consignment at Internet scale – truly massive.
During Concierge’s invite-only beta phase, thredUP inspected, processed and recycled roughly 40,000 items. With the service’s public launch, the company expects to begin recycling more than 10,000 items per day.
“With Concierge, we aim to bridge the convenience gap families see between recycling and rewards,” said James Reinhart, CEO and Chief Knitwit at thredUP. “Turns out when recycling is easy and rewarding, parents do it, and they get their kids involved because it’s the right thing to do. We believe that Concierge will help find new homes for 3.5 million items annually, keeping 1 million pounds of children’s clothing out of U.S. landfills.”
In addition, for each bag returned, thredUP makes a cash donation to Coats for Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing winter coats for kids in need. “thredUP is a community of families helping families by sharing,” said Reinhart. “It’s only fitting that we provide our community another way to give back beyond just recycling clothes.”
Early adopters praise the service. Amanda Villaveses, a Concierge beta tester from Oakland, California, said, “thredUP sends you the bag, you pack it and put it on the doorstep. I never thought it could be easier than giving it away, but it actually is. I don’t even have to get in my car!”
Concierge will bolster the already thriving thredUP mom-to-mom marketplace, which has more than a quarter million members who have exchanged two million kids clothing items online since April 2010. The service is part of the company’s larger vision of giving every single children’s clothing item a second chance – thus coming to dominate the $3B secondhand kids clothing market.
”With Concierge and other upcoming product launches, we aim to truly change the way families perceive used clothing. The Internet has revolutionized a lot of industries. Why not secondhand clothing?” noted Reinhart.
To sign up or for more information, please visit http://concierge.thredUP.com.

TGBM tally new knits

Thrifted 2012: pants and top
Consignment 2011: shoes
Gifted > 4yrs ago: All jewelry
Bought 2011: Scarf (bamboo from Costco)
Made: nothing
Artist: nothing

Can you tell George is back in town?  This picture looks more like a portrait.  Thanks honey.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wool Moths

Wool moths, eewwwww.

Do any of you remember your grandmother's closet having that strong mothball smell? 

Turns out there is another way to get rid of eggs and moths.  Freeze the garment for several days below 32 °F (0 °C).  

I do this when I bring home a used wool garment.  Of course if you live in the right climate just leaving it outside in a plastic bag for a couple nights could do the same thing (Masha, Angela, Kim, Alison.)

Once I was in a business meeting and (stupidly) said "It smells like a hamster cage in here." There was a moment of silence and then the smartest and highest ranked woman in the room, whom I deeply respected said: "Well my perfume does have a cedar note."  Thought I was going to die. She never held it against me.

I was reminded of this unfortunate episode because cedar wood was also used to try to deter moths. Apparently it is not effective for very long as the oils evaporate.

TGBM Jones New York coat

Here I am in my newly thrifted Jones New York coat/jacket with the upgraded buttons from Suzy-Q.

Thrifted: Jacket, sweater, skirt
Consignment store: Shoes
Artist: Necklace
Gift: Earrings
Made: nothing but I did change out the buttons
Retail: Pantyhose

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New purchase, new buttons

I scored today at Goodwill. I bought a beautiful claret red knee length Jones New York coat/jacket for $24.99 which is really high for Goodwill but wait till you see it on.  A little transformation will take place first...

My sister Suzy-Q is an amazing thrift store shopper.  Last year for Christmas she sent me a huge bag of buttons she harvested from thrift store garments.  There is one remarkable rams head set in silver I've been waiting to use and this seems to be the right garment to carry them off.  I know the the garment looks pink below but it is the same color as above.  Photo of the transformed garment to come.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bras #$$@#^%^% !

Have you ever had your bra professionally fitted?  I have and it makes a world of difference. I know what many women do not... that when my weight changes enough to go up or down a clothing size my bras need to change too.       What!    Yes it is true. 

What you really want to know is that a poor fitting bra is not flattering and will spoil to look of great clothing. A bra that is too small will make you look heavier.  A bra that doesn't properly support your breasts will make you look older (because the girls are dragging.)

Read on:
"A number of reports state that 80–85% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.[1][27][28][29] A correctly fitted bra is determined by accurately calculating the chest size (or band size) and breast volume (the cup size). The band size can be adjusted slightly using the two or three alternate sets of fastening hooks and eyes in the clasp. The bra straps (over the shoulders) can usually also be adjusted slightly." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassiere: 

Here is one of wikipedia's citations:


Right bra 'could halt breast ops'

Back pain
Large breasts can lead to severe back pain
Bra fitting clinics in hospitals could prevent thousands of unnecessary and expensive breast reduction operations every year, it is claimed.
A London hospital offering bra checks says so far, none of the women tested has been wearing the correct cup size.
This can lead to pain in the neck, back and shoulders, say doctors, sometimes so severe that women seek surgery.
A leading breast surgeon said women tended to over-estimate by up to three cup sizes when buying a bra.
 To date, 100% of those fitted have been wearing the wrong size 
Dr Alex Clarke
Royal Free Hospita
Reduction surgery is frequently requested by large-breasted women who are suffering discomfort, and is available on the NHS in some areas, although many women opt to pay for the operation themselves at the cost of many thousands of pounds.
Approximately 10,000 women a year have breast reductions carried out privately in the UK.
However, Dr Alex Clarke, a clinical psychologist from the Royal Free Hospital in London, said that this could be money wasted, when all that was really needed was a better-fitting bra.
She said: "Women have the opportunity to be properly fitted by an expert bra fitter when they visit the clinic.
"This may be the first proper fitting they have had.
"To date, 100% of those fitted have been wearing the wrong size - this results in the weight of the breasts being carried by the shoulders rather than the chest and contributes to back pain."
Major surgery
Professor Kefah Mokbel, a consultant breast surgeon at St George's Hospital in London, agreed with Dr Clarke.
Last year he spoke at a British Medical Association conference calling for bra-fitting clinics to be routinely available on the NHS.
"Research suggests that women tend to underestimate the size of their back by up to four inches, and overestimate their cup size by up to three sizes.
"Many breast symptoms related to discomfort in the neck and back are caused by ill-fitting bras.
"Patients present to specialists requesting breast reduction to relieve their symptoms, and current guidance in the NHS is that, if the patient has symptoms, breast reduction should be offered.
"However, many patients could be spared what is in fact major surgery by having a bra which is correctly fitted and offering them the right support." 

In our area you can get a free fitting at Nordstrom and probably other department stores too. The brand of bras I like best is Walcol.

Exchange Party

I mentioned in my last post that the necklace I was wearing was courtesy of Laura Fairchild via an Accessories Exchange Party.  It was the first party like that I've hosted.  Four of us brought out accessories we were not wearing anymore.  We sorted them into like piles: belts, scarves, earrings, necklaces, bags, etc.
I hadn't really sorted out how to let people pick and choose so it was a bit awkward but we all selected a few items.  Wish I'd read this first:

I took the items we did not exchange to the Career Closet in San Jose. www.careercloset.org/
"We are an organization designed to empower women to re-enter the workplace equipped with everything they need to make a great first impression and land the job they want."

 43 E Gish Rd # 100  San Jose, CA 95112-4817
(408) 451-1200

I asked the lady there what they needed most.  Jewelry, watches, handbags, bras.

What is lurking in your drawers and closets?

TGBM Tally with cut velvet scarf

Earrings: Gift 2011, Thank you George

Necklace: Courtesy of Laura Fairchild during a 2011 Accessories Exchange Party

Sweater: Goodwill 2011

Cut Velvet Scarf: Goodwill 2012

Pants: Goodwill 2010

Shoes: Consignment Store 2011

Made: nothing

Retail: nothing

Monday, January 23, 2012

TGBM tally

Shoes: Bought retail ~ 5 years ago
Pants: Goodwill 2012
Blouse: Retail 2009?
Jacket: Retail 1996 - yes, 1996, classic from Talbots and worn often enough to rank way higher green factor than thrifted
Earrings and 1 necklace: gifts
2nd necklace: bought from artist
Made: Nothing but I re-hemmed the pants and repaired tears in the lining

Reco Jeans® is the only company to use innovative, new recycled fabric exclusively on all of its denim products.

Did you know more than 20% of the entire world’s pesticide usage in a year is used to maintain cotton? 

Check out this company that is using 60% recycled fiber in their jeans.


just-out-of-bed TGBM

No photo but here is the tally for my just-out-of-bed eating breakfast outfit:

Slipppers: sheepskin, bought from the artist at the Craftswomen's Fair in SF
Jeans and belt: Purchased retail
Sweater: Blue wool, christmas gift to my husband which I recently commandeered and shrunk to my size in the wash (sorry Jo) 
Vest: Goodwill
Cap: No idea where it came from
Jewelry: none yet

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I plan to go to the free preview night with some friends.  Join us there for a no host dinner in the museum cafe (great food) before the event and look at the cream-of-the-crop creations in person.

From the Discarded to Divine website: http://www.svdp-sf.org/DISCARDED/index.html

What do you currently do with the clothes you're done wearing? What can you do to keep textiles and clothing out of landfills? (Hint: participate in Discarded to Divine!)


FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012
de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park


SF Design Center Galleria
101 Henry Adams
Tickets will go on sale March 1!

It began in 2005, when St. Vincent de Paul Society Help Desk Director Sally Rosen found herself facing a pile of unusable donated clothing, torn and stained. Sally thought, "While working at the Help Desk, I realized our discards were waiting to be transformed into divine creations." She began to think of recycling, imagining how these discarded garments could be remade into something new and useful. She decided to invite designers to take the discarded clothing and create wearable works of art and exquisite home décor, thus Discarded to Divine was created.

Discarded to Divine is a charitable event showcasing the talents of professional and aspiring designers who transform discarded, donated clothing into one-of-a-kind couture creations and exquisite home décor which are auctioned to benefit those overcoming poverty, homelessness and domestic violence.

Now in its sixth year, Discarded to Divine has become a much anticipated fashion event, attracting nearly 1,000 of San Francisco's philanthropic community, fashionistas, young professionals and established friends of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco.

Wear. Donate. Recycle.

From the Council for Textile Recycling Website, http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/: 


The U.S. EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space.
While the EPA estimates that the textile recycling industry recycles approximately 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) each year, this only accounts for approximately 15% of all PCTW, leaving 85% in our landfills.
The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.


Since the mid 1940's U.S. charities and the post-consumer textile recycling industry have repurposed and recycled billions of pounds of clothing, household textiles, shoes, and accessories. This ensures your old clothing, footwear, and textiles continue to add value to the U.S. economy and beyond.

More more than ever it iseasy to be green - simply donate and recycle what you buy and wear.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Close up of original jacket buttons and new buttons

It's a bit hard to tell but the new buttons are good quality silver colored metal which is awesome because they will make my silver jewelry pop.  These new buttons also upgrade the look of the jacket making it look much more expensive.

This reminds me of one of my favorite ways to inexpensively bring a kitchen more up-to-date: replace the hardware on the cabinets.  Three things really date a kitchen or bathroom and are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace (compared to a remodel).

1) cabinet hardware
2) faucets
3) light fixtures

Bathroom bonus #1 (more expensive) - replace old shower doors
Bathroom bonus #2 (inexpensive)  - replace the toilet seat (without replacing the whole toilet)

Similarly for the rest of the house:

1) light fixtures
2) door knobs (and front door hardware)
3) light switches and covers

Once upon a time I bought a townhouse and was in the process of replacing the half bath door handle and locked myself into the half bath.  Friday night, no one else coming home that night. Too long ago for cell phones.  I remember thinking at least I have water and a toilet if I'm in here all weekend.  I think it took me over 30 minutes to figure out how to get out. ha ha. Seemed like an eternity probably due to the sheer embarrassment of it.

Traveling - todays outfit tally (picture is a bit dark)

Today my tally is:

Shoes-thrifted mock croc Ralph Lauren.
Socks, jeans, and belt - purchased retail.
Top - made it myself.
Jacket - thrifted, $5.99, goodwill Colorado Springs, upgraded with buttons off another thrifted jacket, awesome!
Necklace - gift from my sister, made with crystals I provided.
Earrings - I had made at a bead store

Nailed it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I've been teased about wearing so much red.

I do it because I know it looks good on me and I am vain enough to regularly take advantage of a sure thing. I went along with a friend to see John Kitchner in Oakland where John did a color analysis for her.  I thought to myself I already know what looks good on me (red) so I don't need a consultation with John.  I thought about it more over the next few weeks and decided to go 1) to see if my color sense was on track (mostly) and 2) to find out what colors I was not taking advantage of.

Turns out I look great in seafoam green and many other greens and blues.  I had almost none of these colors in my wardrobe already.  Yesterday I picked up a beautiful seafoam green cut velvet scarf at Goodwill in Menlo Park for $8.  I'll post a picture tomorrow.

If you are in the SF Bay Area I highly recommend John Kitchener for color analysis: http://www.pscjohnkitchener.com/five.html

My favorite style book is Women's Wardrobe from the Simple Chic collection. It was published in 1995 but the clothing is so classic it really doesn't look dated. A hardcopy can be had for pennies used on Amazon. The other Simple Chic books are very good although some images are repeated across the books.

I've started to take pictures of my thrift store purchases. I'm planning to start to add labels to my clothes indicating their category. This label will look something like: Thrifted@ Salvation Army, Jan 2012, $2.99. It would certainly be a conversation starter.

Organic cotton top I made and favorite silver and pearl necklace purchased from and artist at the Saratoga Rotary Art show.

I play a game with myself every day.

The game is called Thrifted, Gifted, Bought, Made and refers to the origins of my clothing, jewelry and accessories.

The game is a measure of the green factor of the clothing and the art/creativity factor.

Most days I have on something I bought at thrift or second hand store, something I bought new from a retail store, something I made, a piece of jewelry or clothing handmade by an artist, and something I received as a gift.

The beautiful jacket and necklace were gifts from my husband : >