Category Archives: Clothes swaps

Guest blogging on House of Pinheiro

Earlier this month, the lovely Rachel sent me an email, asking if I’d be a guest blogger on her site. Naturally, I said yes. (Who can resist Rachel’s requests?!? ;-) )

So today, a blog post by me is up on her House of Pinheiro website. Right here in fact. It’s about how to run a clothes swap – something I’ve done a fair bit.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Rachel!

MPM – a retro blue floral dress

Yep, I know it’s not Monday. Quite far from it, in fact, but here’s the (delayed) post from this week’s Mending Pile Monday anyway.

I picked up this lovely bright blue floral vintage dress at the latest clothes swap my friends and I held. What can I say? The fabric, it just called out my name.

Before alterations

The length, however – not so good. Somewhat frumpy, in fact. It’s not really long. And it’s not anywhere near short. Clearly, it was made for a much shorter person than I. (The waist also sits a bit high, but not so high that people will notice. Or that’s what I’m telling myself anyway.)

So, I lopped 9.5 inches off it. And then I did something I’ve never done before – I hand-stitched the hem! Eek!!! I’ve been summoning the courage to do this for quite some time now, and this week was the week I got brave and picked up the hand-sewing needle. And oh my, did it take a while. *sigh* I’m really happy with how the hem looks. Although I doubt I’ll be doing this on a circle skirt anytime soon.

And now, I have a dress that I anticipate will be getting a fair amount of wear this summer!

After shortening

MPM – grey skirt is good-to-go

A very quick and simple Mending Pile Monday task this week. So quick and simple, it felt a little bit like cheating, even.

I hosted a clothes swap party at my place on Saturday, and one of the items up for grabs was a nice grey straight work skirt, which was coming apart at the end of the invisible zip. Clearly, the skirt needed help. So I kept hold of it, and fixed it up.

Here’s a (not particularly good) photo of what it was like beforehand (turns out taking a close-up photo of a section of grey skirt where a seam has started to come apart does not make for an overly exciting photo):

If you look closely, you can just make out the issue. The bottom part of the zipper was coming away from the skirt, and the seam under the zipper was also coming apart.

A few minutes with an invisible zipper foot, a standard zipper foot, and my trusty quick-un-pick (*sigh*), and the skirt was as good as new! See?

And it’s now living a second life, in the wardrobe of my friend Steph. :-)

Clothes swap party fun

A group of friends and I hold clothes swap parties every few months. It’s a great way to clear all the stuff out of your wardrobe (and bookcase) that you don’t wear – I find that every time we have a clothes swap party, straight after it I get even more ruthless at getting rid of the things that don’t fit me quite right or that I never wear, leaving more space for the things I love. Yay!

We held a clothes swap party on Sunday, and I was lucky enough to score these three gorgeous things:

This cute wee number has been hand made by some unknown seamstress. It doesn’t fit me quite right, but since it’s a bit too big (as well as having the under bust seam in an odd place) I figure I can do something to rescue it. I just love the bright happy floral fabric. :)

This top used to belong to my friend Natalie. The black part is a knit fabric, so it’s super comfy to wear.

I love this dress – it’s so bright and happy, with it’s red and white stripes! The fabric is heavy enough that I’ll be able to wear it during winter with tights and boots as well. Yippie!

How to run a clothes swap party

Over the past few years, I’ve hosted and attended a lot of clothes swaps. Some have gone a lot better than others, and my friends and I have honed our clothes swap party methods to something that we think works really well. In case you want to try hosting a clothes swap party yourself (which I highly recommend – they’re heaps of fun!) here’s some tips that have worked for us:

  • The more garments the merrier! As long as they’re in decent condition, anything should be fine – after all, just because you think it’s only good for the dress-up box, doesn’t mean it won’t be someones favourite garment of the day!
  • Don’t worry about making sure the girls are all the same size – people often get rid of things that don’t fit them any more, and despite the wide ranges in sizes of the girls at the clothes swaps I’ve been to, everyone always goes away with at least one new thing they love.
  • Don’t limit your self to clothes – shoes, accessories, books, DVD’s, kitchen equipment, etc – it’s all good to swap!
  • It will take longer than you expect – trust me. Put aside a few hours to run a good clothes swap party.
  • Break regularly for trying-on sessions and tea and cake. Tea and cake (or cocktails) are a must-have for clothes swaps, in my opinion. But then, they make every occasion better, don’t they?!
  • The more mirrors you have, the better. Set up a couple of trying-on areas, with full length mirrors and decent lighting so people can see what things look like. Although most people just tell the others whether things look any good on them or not, so half the time garments don’t even get as far as the mirror.
  • To make things fair, we use a token system for deciding who gets an item. Each item is held up in turn, and anyone who is interested puts their name (or in our case, their fabric-covered disc) into a bowl. The person who’s token is drawn out gets first chance at trying on the garment and keeping it if it fits them. If it doesn’t fit, it goes back in the pile and people get to draw for it again. (And of course, if only one person is interested, it’s theirs!) This means the shyer people don’t get left out of things – if you just make it a free-for-all grabbing session, usually the more extroverted people end up with everything and the shy ones get nothing, which kind of sucks.
  • If you’ve got more than 8 girls, it can take a very very long time to go through everything. Separate out tops and bottoms, then break them into sizes. (The more girls you have, the more size ranges you’ll want to split them into. For example, if you’ve got 8-10 girls, just into small, medium and large will work. If you’ve got 15+ girls, you probably want to try extra small, small, medium, large and extra large groups.) Remember that girls are often different sizes top and bottom, so split into groups and do the tops first, then change groups to do the bottoms. Also, often people can be the in-between sizes, so it’s worth separating into groups for every second size, then splitting into different groups for the middle sizes. E.g. if you’ve got small, medium and large sizes, split into two groups to start with – small and large. Sort out those piles of garments, then come together again for the medium sized pile.
  • Donate anything that’s left over to a good charity – the last feel good deed for the day. :-)

Clothes swap party time

Since it had been a couple of months since the last one, we had a clothes-swapping party at my place last night. Which was fun, as always! :-)

For those who don’t know how a clothes swapping party works, here’s how we run our ones…

Firstly, invite a bunch of lovely girls. Everyone goes through their wardrobe and pulls out anything they don’t want anymore (things that don’t fit, that they don’t wear, or that they just don’t like) that’s in decent condition. Clothes, bags, shoes, jewellery, books, it’s all good! Then we all bring along our stash of unwanted stuff and, while eating random little nibbles, we sit in a circle in a room and take turns showing what we bought. General show-and-tell styles – people go through their unwanted-stash and hold things up one at a time, telling everyone a little bit about them as they go. Where they are from, what size they are, maybe why they’re getting rid of them or a memory they had with them. Then the item gets put on the floor in the middle of the room, and anyone who is interested in it grabs it to try on later. Continue around the circle, until everyone has played show-and-tell with their unwanted-stash. Then, it’s try-on time! (It pays to have a couple of rooms where people can try on stuff, by the way. And plenty of mirrors, if possible.) Everyone tries on what they are interested in. If things don’t fit or they just don’t look right, they go back into the central pile. If more than one person wants the same item, it generally defaults to the person with the least number of items they want to take home. Failing that, hold a fashion-off, where both people try it on and the rest of the group decides who should have it. (Thankfully, we have never had blood-shed at any of the parties. Although it got close once! Eek!)

Then, at the end of the night, everything that’s left that no one wants gets bundled up and given to charity. No more unwanted wardrobe clutter, new things for everyone to wear, and feel-good vibes from giving stuff to charity. All good! :-)

So, last nights swap was a little bit smaller than usual. Only six of us, as it turns out. But we all got to take fun things home, so it was all good! It’s always great seeing people get all excited about something new, and the person who bought that item along getting all excited that something they used to love it going to a new home where it will be loved again. :-)

I got a couple of super-awesome things from last nights swap. So excited, can’t wait to wear them! My favourites are a long black knit dress with a v-neck, that will be super-fantastic for work for winter. And another dress, in crazy retro orange/yellow/cream floral. Tulip style, so it comes in just under the knees (odd to walk in, coz it sort of hugs your knees with a knit band!) and with a sash belt around the waist. So cute!! Got a funky handbag as well, made of what looks like airline seatbelts in a variety of colours. Happy wardrobe times!! (And, as per usual, I’m now looking at the rest of my wardrobe, wondering what to cull for the next swap. Hah.)