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My year without buying clothes

30 Sep

In the middle of last year I realised that I had too many clothes and couldn’t close my wardrobe or really fit anything in any more. The internet suggested several approaches to dealing with this problem, which yes, is a very first-world problem. One of them was quite clever, and suggested changing your hangers all to hang one way and then whenever you wear an item you put the hanger back the other way. That way, after a few months you can see which things you haven’t been wearing and you can get rid of them. That seemed like a really good idea, but I was at a stage where I had too many hangers already and couldn’t see the direction all that well.

That idea did get me thinking though about whether or not I needed these things at all, so that was helpful. Then, I started reading some articles about people who decided not to buy any clothing for one year. It began with this article in The Guardian by Rebecca Smithers. I read a few more articles by people who had completed the challenge, and got really interested in the psychological effects they wrote about. To start with, they said that it had made them wear clothes they forgot they had, rediscover old favourites and relive past events or memories revived by a particular jumper or dress. That sounded quite nice.

The second thing they pointed out was the obvious fact that they spent less money. A few of them said that the easiest way to avoid tempting sales or impulse clothing buys was to avoid big shopping centres, which allowed them to save even more money because they weren’t tempted by anything they saw. They went on to say that as a flow-on of that, they had more time on their hands and found they had more time for friends, reading, gardening, baking and other hobbies. It all sounded good to me!

The third theme I noticed from these blogs and articles was that it had made people re-evaluate their approach to modern life, as they found that they didn’t need new clothes if they patched up old ones, or wore different garments together to make a new style. They found this spilled over into other aspects of their lives, like fixing furniture that was broken or in disrepair rather than replacing.

I put a much higher value on clothes during my year of not buying any, and you always value something you've made more than something you've bought

I put a much higher value on clothes during my year of not buying any, and you always value something you’ve made more than something you’ve bought

I could do that!

I thought I might give it a go. At the time I made that decision, I really didn’t know if I could do it. I was really nervous. Looking back, I think that is completely ridiculous. I can’t believe I actually felt nervous at the thought of twelve months without buying clothes! I made a few escape clauses: I could buy underwear, and an outfit for an event like a wedding if I didn’t have anything suitable, because I didn’t want to bring down the tone of someone else’s event.

One of the main reasons for wanting to do it was that I thought it might force me into making more of my own clothing. If I wanted a particular type of outfit, I could make one if I didn’t own anything like it already.

I set my start date for mid-September, because that was when I came back from overseas. The first few months were really difficult, and I found I was so tempted by websites and walking through shops. I stuck to it though and eventually banned myself from websites like ModCloth, and from walking through department stores and even looking at shop windows. That really helped, and after that I really didn’t think about it.

I started making some clothes for work, and of course, half-way through the twelve months I set about my challenge to become the Homemade Bride!

After looking through my wardrobe, I started putting out clothing to charity shops. At first it was a bag full here, a bag full there, but eventually I think I got rid of about half of the clothes I started out with. I really didn’t miss them. I realised that the garments that were a higher quality were the ones that still looked good after years of being at the back of the wardrobe, and they came out for an airing. I wore a jacket I hadn’t worn in ages, and colleagues and friends started complementing it and saying they liked the style and hadn’t seen anything like it for a while. Good quality at the time of purchase stays good quality!

End of the challenge

Yesterday, I bought clothing for the first time in a year. It was really hard! I refused to buy anything that wasn’t good quality material, or that I couldn’t make myself with a bit of effort. That basically left things made of jersey (I can’t sew stretch) like t-shirts and singlets, and a shirt that goes over a tank top. I bought about five items, and it seemed like the biggest binge!

I might buy the occasional piece of clothing, but only if I need it and can’t make it.

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Hello World!

26 Sep

Alphitomancy is back!

Hello everyone! After a month in ‘holiday mode’, Alphitomancy is ready to come back into the light (or at least into the grey-white cloud cover) and rejoin the world.

I’ve moved north-north-north-north-and-to-the-west-a-bit to Reading, England. I’ve been in the UK for almost a month now, travelling around the place to say hello to family, go on honeymoon and set up the flat in Reading. Whew! What a month!

I’ve been to England many times before, but always as a tourist. My first impressions of residing in England are: forms, licenses, and having to say “Oh, I think that’s what we call…” because everything is slightly different. Also, apologising for not understanding a process or system and explaining that I’m Australian. Once those things stopped clouding my vision, I was able to see all the wonderful new things that are in my life now:

  • I’m in berry heaven! Raspberries for ¬£2 a punnet, blackberries, redcurrant tarts… It’s wonderful!
  • Cheese is so much cheaper here than in Australia, and so much stinkier!
  • People are really friendly, and will chat to you about anything.

We went even more north to Scotland for our honeymoon. If you haven’t been, put it on your list and make sure you write ‘Highlands’ next to it. It’s so worth going.

Just get to the fabric already.

Alright. In Beauly, which is west of Inverness in the Highlands, there is a fantastic shop that you absolutely must go into if you’re in the area. It’s called Campbell & Co, and is a family-run business founded in 1858 and run by the current family generation of brothers and sisters all above the age of 60. They are just gorgeous together, and I guarantee you have never seen more elegant ladies in tartan and tweed and wool.

The shop is stacked floor to ceiling with tweed bolts, and they have furniture custom-made to accommodate bolts of fabric,  huge cutting tables and the biggest, sharpest scissors I have ever seen!

Family-run business in Beauly, Scotland. Definitely worth a visit!

Family-run business in Beauly, Scotland. Definitely worth a visit!

Tweed bolts stacked to the ceiling

Tweed bolts stacked to the ceiling

They also make the clothing up for you, if you want.

Alphitomancy is back online

Alphitomancy will be brought back online on Etsy very shortly. New items will be appearing, inspired by my recent travels and my new surroundings! I’m so excited to get back to work.

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Mod tartan

8 Jun

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I love love love this wool tartan! I think it’s a bit stylish, and maybe even a little mod? I bought it in Edinburgh last year on holiday, and have kept it, waiting and looking and hoping for just the right pattern.

I think I’ve found that pattern!

I’m going to use it to make a coat to wear over my wedding dress. It’s a vintage Vogue pattern from the 1950s, v2934. It’s got dolman sleeves, and sits around the waist line. I’m so excited!

I love the chequered mod look, I drew upon it for my mod style button ring. The ring is my most popular creation, and now comes in two sizes of tops.

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