Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One Deal At a Time.....354 days to go

This week I am highlighting all of my personal bargain shopping tips! If I can't do it, someone else might as well do it. I am gonna do this by deal category. The first category is: One Deal At a Time Deals

What is One Deal At A Time (or ODAT as it is known in bargain shopping circles)?  These are websites where the retailer will literally sell one item at a time until...

a) a timer runs out or
b) it items sells out.

My favorites include: www.steepandcheap.com, www.whiskeymilitia.com, and all of their sister sites (listed fully at http://www.sacalerts.com/steepandcheap_tracker.php).

Not only are the regular deals on these sites great, and usually the best price on any item that you can find, but there are often "Dollar Deals." Dollar deals are things that are sold for $1. There are also other super cheap items that sell for a more odd number, like $1.39, or something like that. These deals are HARD to get. But I am gonna tell you how to do it (you lucky ducks!!). To start, the only 2 websites that consistently have the dollar deals are www.steepandcheap.com and www.whiskeymilitia.com . The others have great deals, but rarely  have dollar deals.

1) It really helps if you have a desk job and are at your computer a lot!  You really have to watch the internet all the time.

2) You need to make an account on the website you want to purchase off of, including pre-loading your credit card and shipping info in (you'll see why later), and STAY logged in!

3) Watch the deals as much as possible. Some days there are 3-4 or more $1 deals, some days there are none. You can see the latest trends at the website I referenced above: http://www.sacalerts.com/steepandcheap_tracker.php.

4) So, while you are watching the deals all day, STAYING LOGGED IN to your account. Whenever the timer for the current deal gets down to a few seconds, start refreshing the page using Ctrl+R while keeping your cursor hovering over the drop down menus where you select items. This is how you catch a dollar deal in its first seconds, which is the only way to get them.

5) Don't think about sizes or colors, just go as fast as you can. If you get something that doesn't fit you great you have a nice gift for a friend out of it. Select the item size and color and select ADD TO CART as fast as you can.

6) The next page will be shipping, just let it select it for you. It'll be the slightly more expensive option, but if you select it you might lose the deal, and it's only $1 difference usually

7) It'll advance you to the credit card info page, this is why you want your info pre-loaded. It'll have all of it filled in. You just have to fill in your password and press submit. If you've saved your password into your computer properly, it will already be filled in.

8) Congrats, you bought yourself a dollar deal! Now, it will give you an option to hold your order and keep adding to it. Every subsequent purchase will only be $0.99 shipping. So, that's a great deal. It'll hold it for up to 8 days and you can add to it for tremendous shipping savings. A few items aren't holdable, but, most of those don't end up as dollar deals anyway.

Any questions, let me know! Has any one on here gotten a dollar deal before? I'd love to hear about if you have, or if you do! Happy Shopping, if you dare (it's pretty addictive).

(All that bargain sharing made me tired...allow my dachshund, Roxie, to illustrate this for me :))

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weight on...Weight off (355 days to go!)

Clothing and weight gain/weight loss. What a weight-y topic! Ha ha ha! All puns aside, I've had to deal with this, and I know I am FAR from alone on that! There was a time when I'd NEVER have signed up to not buy clothes for a year because one of these 2 things:

1) I was gaining weight
2) I was losing weight

Many people go through a time of finding their ideal weight, or dealing with weight issues. And, clothing is along for the ride. I was lucky to be able to alter some of my "Fat Clothes" down after I lost weight, but making clothes bigger is a whole other issue as it is MUCH more difficult!

Prior to this last year, I'd been at the same weight for about 3 or 4 years after I had gained and lost 50 lbs in my first couple years of college.  I lost about 10 lbs over the course of this past year so I did have to get some new pieces to fill in voids of fitted items that wouldn't be alter-able.  My plan for this year is to not change weights:). But, other options would be:

1) Alter the items
2) Get items that are not as fitted to start with (empire waisted tops, for instance)
3) Stretchy things
4) Make new clothes
5) Live in sweatpants (well, this may not be the snazziest option...)

Any other ideas for how to handle the weight issue when on a clothing no-buy? I'd love to hear them:)

Starting tomorrow, I will spend the rest of the week giving out my BARGAIN SHOPPING TIPS! If I can't shop, other people may as well get the bargains that I would have gotten. So stay tuned!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What to do with all this time?...356 days to go!

Well, some of you have asked if I can still browse the clothes websites. I can. And I have told you of my love to bargain shop. It's still there. But, for some reason, when I clothes are off limits...I don't shop hardly at all, even for other bargains or other things I could get. Not that I constantly NEED to buy stuff. I don't. But, I used to be on the hunt for bargains ALL THE TIME. Now? Not so much. Although I guess I need to start looking for Christmas gifts soon...you get the best deals if you shop it in advance!

So what do I do with all this time? Well, school. And, also, I've taken up bento box making. For those of you who are unfamiliar, bento boxes are a Japanese thing, and involve making healthy, packable, and adorable food (Seriously, like, rice balls shaped like bunnies and stuff).

I did these today, for my lunch tomorrow....time well spent:) Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The worst of all the 4 letter words: DEBT! (357 days to go...)

Debt is the worst 4 letter word. Why? Because it keeps us from being able to be truly free...it keeps us tied to a payment schedule...we end up having to pay more in the long run because of sky high interest.... Or something like that.  That is why being debt-free is so important to me though, it is a way better feeling than getting a new pair of shoes, or really awesome designer jeans. 

Trust me, I've had my trials and tribulations with the credit card...and debt. But, after paying it off years ago, it never reared its ugly head again. Debt, that is. This is what I felt like when I had debt:

(in reality, this picture taken when I really didn't want to get up early in the a.m....)

So, I am not doing this challenge to get out of debt or anything like that. But, it isn't a bad idea for people who are in debt and need a jumpstart! You can always do a no-buy, or a clothes no-buy for 1-3 months and see how much you save. I bet it would be motivating...

And on that note, I bid ye adieu on this fine Saturday evening. Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hem THIS!!!...358 days to go!

Some things I learned when I was a professional seamstress:

1) People are inherantly lazy about their clothes. Even seamstresses
2) People do not want to pay to have hems done, but they do not want to do it themselves
3) People do not realize how easy it is to do their own hems, and how little time it takes
4) People would rather walk around with their pants dragging on the ground till the pants fray than hem them.

Well, hems are a big issue for many...the short, the tall, the people who wear suits, even kids. And pant length is an issue for me too. I hate when my pants are too short, and I hate when my pants are too long. But, hemming is SO easy to do. And if you learn how to hem you can really expand your wardrobe.

So, as part of my challenge I am trying to get the wardrobe I have in tip-top shape so that I have a large "palate" to work with (see how I tried to sound fancy there? I think it worked).  I got these pants for, like, $3 about 3 months ago. They are just too long. I have a weird inseam...33". Too long for regular pants, too short for tall pants. So, they have been sitting around, looking pretty and doing nothing. I decided they need work, and that I'd give some hem tutorials here.

Just so you know...I'm only gonna show you the right way to do something. You'll see a lot of tutorials on quick and easy hems/alterations/etc. That's not how I roll.  I do it the right way, or DIE TRYING! Well...that may be a bit dramatic..this takes a little longer than using hem tape, or (god forbid) duct tape to hold up a hem, but it lasts longer too, and is really quite easy. 

Here goes... how to hem a pair of CASUAL pants (dress slacks are totally different...but I'll get to them another time...)

1) ALWAYS wash your pants before you start! Whether they are old or new (especially if they are new though), WASH them. Older pants stretch out between wears, making them seem longer. New pants often shrink up a lot in the inseam upon first wash. To illustrate this point, I measured these pants before their first wash:

And after their first wash:

(Just playing a little pants pool...nevermind...)

You can see the length difference.  They lost about 3/4" to shrinkage in the wash! So, never skip this step.

2) Try them on WITH SHOES, and be realistic about what shoes you will wear. Personally, I always am like "Oh, I should keep them longer in case I wear heels every day and look fabulous!" But then my regular regiment of flats sneaks in and I don't wear the pants because they are too long.  I tried to take a picture of the hem with me trying them on and I just couldn't get it right. I need a photographer...

3) Pin them to the appropriate length. If you are alone, do it in a mirror. If you are with someone, get them to pin it while you stand so that the length stays the same. Either way, check it in the mirror, while standing at full length, and make sure they are pinned where you want them to be pinned.

     a) With flats, this would be 1/4"- 1/2" from the bottom of the shoe in back (the exact length depends on your personal taste).
     b) If you are hemming your pants to wear with heels, the pants should come about halfway down the heel, if not a little further (again, it depends on your personal taste).

You are just pinning to see how much you need to bring the hem up, that's all, so it doesn't have to look brilliant. I usually just pin in a couple spots on 1 leg. However, if your legs are drastically different lengths, you should pin them separately.

Here are my pinned pants:

4) Next, you need to measure with a ruler to determine the actual amount you need to bring them up. I have a special magical sewing ruler (well, it's special at least...), but you can use any ruler. Just make sure it is a hard ruler, not a soft measuring tape.

This is what mine looks like when I am measuring it:

TAKE NOTE of the amount you want to remove! I mean seriously, write it down. It is easy to forget until it is too late in the process.  Once you've measured and written it down, you can take the pins out and get ready for the next step.

5) Next is the step that most people who sew hate more than anything. But, some people like it. With most industrial hems, you need to rip the hem out before you can re-measure it and do it the right length. To do this I use this awesome little tool (you can find it at any fabric store, or even in WalMart's sewing section):

So, what you do is that you carefully tear through the thread all the way around. Make sure to not catch the fabric while doing this. It will look something like this:

 You can also do this on the inside of the seam, instead of on the outside, that looks something like this:

This takes awhile, but doing this process ensures that your hem will look really professional, hang well, and be good to go forevermore. I also like to pick the little thread remnants off of the hem just so that I have less to do later.

When you're done tearing out the hem, it will look something like this...:

And here's a little something I made out of the extra thread.....HAHA!!!:

6) After the hems are ripped out, go look up how much you said that you needed to raise the hem. Mine was 3/4".  So, I am going to mark on the pants 3/4" from where the bottom of the pants was. I use tailor's chalk (it is actually more like a wax..and it disappears when ironed), but you can use just a nice sharp pencil, or any other marking tool from the fabric store. I do not recommend using pens or permanant marker!  If you are hemming really dark pants and don't have tailor's chalk, you can use stick foundation, blush or concealer in a pinch.

      a) I start by finding the crease, and laying out the pants on an ironing board:

      b) Then, I go around by halves. I mark one half of one leg, flip it over, and mark the other half.   I use a ruler as I go and I make small dashed lines where I am measuring (in this case, I make small dashed lines 3/4" from the OLD bottom of the pants).

7) Now, need to re-fold the hem. This can be tricky to explain. In these pants, the hem was doubled over, plus a small lip of 1/4". So, I will probably do that again.

Original hem all laid out...you can see the deep crease where the original bottom of the pants was, and then you can see another 2" below it, with another crease, and then about 1/4" with a raw edge at the end.:

So, what I am going to do is trim 3/4" from the VERY end of this whole hem thingy, and fold it the way it was originally folded. So, I am gonna measure 3/4" and mark it...

And then cut off below that point. I am measuring 3/4" because that is how much I am raising the hem. If you were raising it 1/2", you would cut off the extra 1/2". If you leave the extra, it adds too much weight at the bottom of the pants.

8) When I am done with that step, I iron the pants where the NEW bottom will be (the first line we marked). I iron them under. 

9) When I am done ironing, I need to pin the pants before I sew them. Pinning helps hold the fabric in place. You can get pins at any fabric store.  I like to put a pin every 1.5" or so, but it is just something you do by feel, you don't have to measure or anything.

So, first step before pinning is to get the fabric in place for when you want everything to be. So, I am going to turn the pants inside out, fold 1/4" under, just like the first hem did:

Then I am going to fold 2" under.

Then I will pin all of that by sliding a pin through all of the layers, like so:

Now...you're ready for the big time...

9) Sew those bad boys! Well, there's more to it than that. If you have a sewing machine, that is very helpful. I assume you know how to thread it and get it ready to sew. If you are doing this by hand, get a long, strong, thick needle and wear a thimble.

Get a thread that matches the original hem in the pants. Buy it in advance when you have the pants with you, preferably. I have a lot of thread on hand, so I just use what's in stock that matches the original closely.

When you sew, always start by going three or four stitches forward, and back stitching 3 or 4 stitches. This helps anchor the stitches to that none of them come out when worn or washed.

You need to make sure you are sewing at the depth where you want your hem. I want mine 2" deep so, I line mine up with a point on the sewing machine (mine has a measurement grid) where that depth will be achieved. You can also measure the distance you want from the needle and put a little piece of tape there to use as a guide. Here's mine:

And I keep an eye on the top to make sure that all the layers are being stitched through.

When I finish, I also backstitch 3 or 4 stitches

And trim all threads right at their base:


You can wear these, or iron them and then wear them, or just put them up on your wall as a great accomplishment.  If you are concerned about there being marks from the previous hem, a few washings and ironings will take care of it.

Now you know how to properly hem a pair of casual pants! If you have any questions, or if I explained anything poorly (which is ENTIRELY possible! Sorry in advance), please leave a comment and I will get back to you about it.

Thanks for reading:) Have a good one...and never forget that you can tweak your existing wardrobe that it is SO AWESOME that you don't even want new clothes! (I hope...)

Oh, and I'm not a big fan of drinking and sewing (trust me on this one...), but you've definitely earned at least one glass of wine at this point. Cheers!:)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to ... 359 days to go!

So, as part of my coping strategy to get through a whole year without buying clothes, I plan on doing some sewing and altering of my existing clothes.  I am immensely fortunate to have those skills thanks to sewing lessons back before sewing was considered "hip" and "cool." Back when I was in sewing, there was no knitting movement, or Learn To Sew movement. There were no cool sewing studios in the hip area of town. It was just straight up dorky. People made fun of the stuff I made (wearing a dress made out of music note fabric to play in a band concert in 8th grade? Surprisingly uncool...). But, now I am glad for it, and I was even a professional seamstress for awhile.

I think a lot of people would like to be able to sew, but don't know where to start. So, I urge you to start here! I'm going to have intermittent "how-to" advice on the most simple of clothing alteration techniques. I think I'm gonna start with how to re-hem a pair of existing pants to the right length. I'll include photos and answer any questions you may have! It should be fun, and until I start that, you can just think about how lucky you are to be learning more about sewing in a time when it is "hip" :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On the subject of Gifts and Ebay...360 days to go

I read a book once about a woman who went a No-Buy for 1 year. She couldn't buy anything except absolute essentials. She didn't even buy q-tips (what to the WHAT!). But, friends, I am not on a complete no-buy. So, I still get to buy people gifts. I really love getting people gifts, so I am thankful that this is not part of my challenge! Besides, I am not sure that people want to receive homemade gifts from me...macrame hot pants, anyone?

Also, I must confess that I do have a little Ebay side venture. I have to get stock for that side venture, and I do happen to sell clothes. However, most of the stuff I sell is stuff I couldn't even wear (mostly Men's...). However, for my challenge I will not keep anything that I get with the intent to sell it on my Ebay store. How's that? Let me know if you don't think that is fair!

Thanks for stopping by, I'd love to hear your thoughts or similar experiences with a no-buy, no clothes buy, or macrame hot pants:)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh boy, that was hard! But then it was ok. 361 days to go...

I knew the first challenge for me would be in the form of a Great Deal!  I'm always on the hunt for a good deal...on clothes or anything else. I know all the tricks, all the places to get coupon codes, and I truly believe I could be in the bargain shopper Olympics. Well...that may be overstating it a bit...but you get the idea:)

So, of course, I see a great deal today. And I started the whole thought process of going about getting the deal...and I stopped dead in my tracks. I can't! I can't! I can't! At first I felt kind of sad. But then I felt...kind of liberated. Because, I just saved some precious moments of my life by not taking the time to get that deal.

I wonder if it would even be possible to calculate how much time people spend shopping in a year.  There have been times I've considered bargain hunting a hobby of mine. But, no more.  There are many more worthwhile things in my life that could use even the extra seconds of time that I'll save day-to-day. I will consider "gaining time" one positive gained by this challenge, even early on!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to school....back to school!

Whenever it is back to school time, I just can't get sweet Adam Sandler's voice out of my head! I'm a grad student, so I am also headed back to school this year, starting next week. And, what is the best thing about going back to school??? NEW CLOTHES!!!!

Well, this year, not so much. New clothes at least take the sting off of having to go back to school, I think that is why there is such a big Back To School push by retailers. For little kids it makes sense, because kids need new clothes because they are growing. But for big kids, such as myself? I haven't been growing in a long time...although Retail Land (similar to Candy Land, but causes more side effects...such as crippling debt for all!!!) probably hopes that my consumerist tendencies will grow.

So, I came to a decision...I don't think Retail Land should dictate when I get new clothes...this year, or any other year.  So, I'll just keep on wearing my plain, ol' boring clothes and hope that I don't lose any popularity contests for it!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Starts Today

And, I officially am starting the challenge TODAY.  Before I kick it off, I just have to put a disclaimer up: I know I am not the first person in the world to do this, or talk about it. I don't presume I'll have any special or different responses or thoughts. But, all I know is that I LOVE clothes and shoes, and that is really gonna put the challenge into challenge!

Friday, August 20, 2010

So what is this all about?

That is a really good question. What the hell am I doing?  Well, I'm a big clothing and shoes fan. I'm thrifty about it, and I am not a shopaholic...but, money spent on clothes and shoes is a large part of my expendable budget.  I love fashion, and bargain hunting. The two go together surprisingly well! But, I have everything I need, and I keep slowly adding more, just because I can.  It's not necessary, and I'd like to challenge myself to try something new. So, I am challenging myself to shop less, save more, and stop filling up my closet.

So, here are my rules:
1. I will not spend any money on clothes or shoes for an entire year. (I winced as I typed that)
2. I can replace socks and underwear IF something wears out (I'm really not a fan of underwear with holes in them...)

I'll be posting my trials and tribulations as I go along.  I will also be trying to track my savings by adding up how much I've saved on items I would have purchased. Please follow, encourage, heckle, or whatever you desire. I'd just love to hear your thoughts, and what you think of this challenge!