Out with the new, in with the old.

I’ve been doing pretty well with my shopping rules, meaning I’ve been doing pretty well sticking with organic and/or local and/or second-hand purchases. The only problem is I haven’t been doing so well on cutting back the unnecessary things I buy, which is definitely the most important of all those goals.

While I have been doing extremely well in dampening that gut reaction to buy something brand new by looking to Ebay or Craigslist for something used instead (like my new tripod or my new sewing book), I’ve recently been faced with something harder, but possibly more responsible in the long run: making used things work (thank you, Tim Gunn). In some cases I mean that literally, like this old Remington typewriter that my Tim (not Tim Gunn, because he’s clearly not mine) got from his now-deceased grandmother’s attic.

It weighs like a million pounds.

That’s obviously an exaggeration. But it weights A LOT. I think it’s cast iron. I know it’s pretty much absolutely gorgeous. Although I feel like I was raised on computers, I was actually on the generational cusp of having to use typewriters. I remember using them for college applications because just a mere 10 years ago not all schools offered PDFs of their applications that you could fill out online.

This is actually a terrible example, because the typewriter isn’t going to keep me from using a computer…it’ll just be a fun thing to test out and play with every once in a while. Could be fun to make prints and art with or something…

There are other things that are a better example of using the old to make something that will hopefully prevent me from buying something new.

Like this dress he also found in the attic:

I think it’s from the 30s (his great grandmother’s). Right now it’s a huge sack, but the rhinestones are actually quite nice–they’re set in brass in a way that, like everything else, seems to be done of a high quality you never see now. The plan is to seriously alter it into a fancy-ish dress. If I ever get my hands on that sewing machine.

So in preparation for my new life of altering old things and making them new again, I thought I would look for some tutorials on altering old clothes…and I found something even better. Did you know you can get incredibly old New York Times articles online? I found one from 1915: “Altering Frock Often More Expensive Than New Suit; Frequent Changes in Styles Likely to Make of No Avail the Hard Work of Reconstruction.”

Haven’t you seen a woman work for over a week over a frock that should have been discarded, and which never gave a moment’s satisfaction after it was finished? This condition implies lack of judgement.

Ouch! That’s totally me usually….

One of the greatest financiers, when asked to what especial quality he thought he owed his success, answered: “The elimination of the non-essential.”

I agree. But 1915 was a different time (amazingly profound, right?)…and the elimination of our non-essential would probably refer more to our purchase of new things rather than our need to more readily throw away old things…which most of us seem to have zero problem with. Remember when people used to fix things?

I guess maybe if this was what I had to make, I wouldn’t be considering rehabbing that old dress.  Luckily I can get away with a simple design and call myself deliberately minimalist.


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