buy nothing new month

Monday 4 October 2010
Did you know that this month the Salvos is having a "buy nothing new" challenge, with some seriously good prizes to be won which is kinda ironic given the whole point of the competition is to recycle and be less consumeristic but who am I to judge? If you fancy winning $5000 in cash, go and have a gander at their site.

I don't generally buy clothes for myself from op shops (aka thrift stores) because I find sewing from scratch is easier than refashioning and I don't often see anything I like that fits. But I certainly scour the craft and miscellaneous bits and bobs aisles for bargains. Over the years I've amassed a huge amount of fabric and sewing patterns from op shops, including this time that I bought so much on a work trip that I couldn't fit all the fabric in my overnight bag, and had to stuff plastic bags full of fabric and tablecloths in the overhead locker LOL! However, My best three finds would be:

1. A 1960s Lutterloh pattern book

When I saw this little red folder crammed into a bookshelf in the big Salvos store in Wollongong (cnr of Kenny + Ellen Sts) my heart skipped a beat:

and then I pulled it out and saw it was complete with these lovelies inside my heart went pitter patter:

and finally when I spied the $2 price tag on it I nearly had a heart attack I was so excited! These things sell for over $100 on ebay, but apart from the monetary value they are just hard to come by so to find one in good condition and for so cheap was a major find indeed. Mine didn't come with the 'Golden Rule' measuring tape, but this could be purchased if I ever wanted to make one of the patterns. So far I haven't actually sewn anything from it, but just admiring the fashion illustrations is more than enough.

The beauty of this buy is in the timing of the find - I had been thinking about buying a steam press and was about to buy one that was on sale for $299 when I spotted this one in another big Salvos store in Warilla (Shellharbour Rd) for about $30. It was in pretty manky condition, with no manual but in perfect working order, and nothing a little hot iron cleaner to clean the hot plate and a new fabric cover for the ironing bed couldn't fix:

And then in an amazing coincidence, I stumbled across the manual for it about a year later in a Salvos store in another state (Bundamba in Qld of all places!) where it was for sale with the books and magazines and there was no steam press actually in the store. It must have been fate that I was there to buy it!

I don't use it for general ironing or pressing of seams while I'm sewing but rather for fusing interfacing which is very handy because I block interfaced all 14 pieces of the jacket I'm currently sewing and it's much quicker than pressing with the iron.

3. A Hobbytex paint set

When I was little my mum had a set of Hobbytex fabric paints, and I remember using them on various things probably much to my mother's annoyance! In fact I'm now experiencing the feeling of having one's child ruin something of yours, so belated apologies to you mum! Anyway, when I was out in Orange (a lovely town about 4 hours west of Sydney) last week for work I popped into the Vinnies early one morning before going into the office and saw this whole set there for the princely sum of $5:

I didn't even know these things still existed, yet this set looks pretty new with only a few of the tubes used. And I see on the Hobbytex website that this set currently sells for $389, so $5 for all of these is an extreme bargain. I can't say I have a need for these (yet), but I bought them for the memories and to show my mum. Maybe Anna will want to use/ruin them in another 10 years.....

People often ask how I find all this stuff, and all I can say is persistance. I never pass by an op shop without stopping for a sticky beak, and in fact I usually plan my trip to make sure I pass by any nearby op shops especially when I travel to a new town. Luckily both Vinnies and the Salvos have a list of all their stores on line, and also the Australian Op Shop listing is a handy resource. And the I op therefore I am blogs for the ACT and Victoria are handy too if you're in that area.

Well I had a great weekend away with the hubby - he got a round of golf in while I had a two hour massage and spa (total bliss!) and we got to sleep uninterrupted for the whole night whilst the little one kept her grandma up most of the night!

And now I'm engaging in some world championship level pattern matching in the jacket I'm currently sewing. If this was an Olympic sport, I would be in contention for a gold medal for matching the stripes on this princess seam:

And matching these stripes on the welt pocket too:

And now I'm off to see I can achieve the same on the raglan sleeves too....


  1. You've done well and I must compliment you on you stripe matching.

    I can't wait to get to my local thrift store tomorrow morning. They have some fabulous flat black sandals in the window that are MINE! Like you I pride myself on my op shop buys. Best buys - my current every day dinner set $5, my red wool medium weight overcoat $15, my brand new (tags on) Anthea Crawford suit $40.

  2. Thrifting is fun! You just need to be picky about it and get those great deals like you did.

  3. You must have been reading my mind the past few weeks! I was trying to find the liquid embroidery pens myself! I have some Christmas stocking that I needed to put names onto.... (all the rest I have used pens like these...) but they have long since dried up! And so then I just opted for fabric pens, which work... but it's just not the same! Great finds!

  4. You are the Queen of thrifting! Seriously! And thanks for teasing us with photos of the jacket. Is that red & white stripes I spy?

  5. Love your op shop posts! I learned how to thrift from my Mom and my husband used to shake his head at my love of thrift shopping. That is until I found $400.00 worth of necessary text books for my nursing course at a thrift store that you could buy all you could fit into grocery bag for $4.00! He then understood the allure of the hunt when I came home with the books plus some beautiful sweaters for my fall wardrobe for just $4.00! I look for fabric fact in my favorite little local shop the gal that works there will point fabric out to me when I walk through the door! And they give away their patterns for free!

  6. I am so impressed with your stripe matching! I was transported back in time by the Hobbytex tubes. Oh, how I loved making things with them when I was a kid. I am a third generation op shopper. I acquired the skill of fine opshopping from my mother, who learned it from her mother.

  7. Oh I remember Hobbytex from my childhood too, as well as the Hobbytex parties. It was the "in thing" for mums to get together. Thanks for the memories.

  8. Wow, that Lutterloh book looks amazing, I love the cute retro drawings. I got a collectable Alberon doll in mint condition from my local op shop for next to nothing recently. Your jacket looks like it will be gorgeous. Full marks for matching up those stripes!

  9. Great finds, but I really love that red book with those beautiful vintage illustrations!

  10. What do manky and sticky beak mean? I'm so curious! If you don't mind my asking? (I'm American if you were wondering.)

    Congratulations on your excellent purchases!