Spring Clean Your Closet with Goodwill’s Help

too-much-give-to-goodwillImage source

Spring is finally here – and that means Spring cleaning! I always head to my closet first and foremost to do a major purge this time of year. It’s cathartic and frees up my mind to get rid of lots of old junk that has accumulated – and that I no longer wear and enjoy. And what do I do with everything I pull out of that overstuffed madness? I head to Goodwill and donate it all – since I know it creates jobs and helps my community: one of the best ways to create a local impact by investing back into it. (more…)

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Sweater Yourself and Host a Festive DIY Holiday Sweater Party: Guide from Goodwill

With the holidays in full swing, it’s that time of year when holiday sweaters abound. Goodwill has partnered with Ad Council to produce a couple of cool tools to help celebrate that sweater-y time with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor about the (sometimes) questionable and ubiquitous HIDEOUS CHRISTMAS SWEATER.

Using their Sweater Yourself App, you can upload a photo of yourself through your Facebook account, selecting an avatar with accessories and hideous sweater of your choice, and send to all of your friends as a fun little holiday card. (Bonus: It also helps support and increase awareness for Goodwill’s mission to provide job training and community services to people in need.)

Sweater Yourself Now

In addition, they’ve also created a fun little guide for throwing your own hideous DIY Holiday Sweater Party on Snapguide. Browse through to get some inspiration and ideas for making this season fun and festive, and when all the celebrations are over, consider donating what you don’t need any more to Goodwill to help provide people with jobs, training, youth mentoring, and education. (I wrote a post awhile ago covering the life cycle of a garment donated to Goodwill…which may surprise you in the ingenious lengths the organization goes to in order to ensure that every piece of clothing has a final use (instead of just landfill). Seriously – if you haven’t yet…go read it!)

Check out How to Throw a Festive Sweater Holiday Party by Goodwill Industries International on Snapguide.

What could be more chic than paring down what you don’t need and helping others in the process? (And having fun while doing it 😉



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DIY: Pillowcase to Elastic-Band Skirt Makeover

Pillowcases come in a variety of prints that work just as well for pieces clothing.  Plus, they have just enough fabric (and are roughly the same shape) as a cute little A-line mini-skirt – and can be transformed easily, with just a couple seams.  (You can of course also transform them into dresses and skirts for small children.)  And now there’s no need to worry when you have a lone pillowcase and can’t find its mate.

Take Exhibit A, a dot-printed piece that I pulled out of my 48-lb. haul of clothing I sourced at my local Goodwill Outlet.  I was drawn to it because of the fabulous print – and I could only find one of them, so I had no intention of using it as a pillowcase…thus I thought it would work great as a skirt!  The whole process took me maybe 30 minutes – a quick-sew project to be sure!

How to Make an Elastic-Banded Mini-Skirt from a Pillowcase

You Need:
*a standard-size (or larger!) pillowcase
*2″ wide piece of black elastic
*tape measure
*marking chalk
*fabric scissors
*thread and machine needle for wovens
*iron & ironing board

How To:
1. Turn pillowcase inside out and cut off all the sewn seams, leaving two large rectangles.

2. Turn rectangles sideways and fold in half.  Cut edge on a slight A-line angle to the top.  (I know in the photo above the fabric isn’t folded in half – but you should probably do that to ensure the right and left sides of each piece are at exactly the same angle.)

3. Unfold your pieces.  Measure 1/2″ in from the angled edges of one of the pieces, and cut.  This piece will become the back of the skirt.

4. Pin back to front of the skirt at the angled sides, and sew together.

5. Wrap piece of elastic at your natural waist (or where you want to wear the skirt).  Make sure it is taut on your waist – not so tight you can’t breathe – but fairly tight.  Overlap ends by 1/2″ and cut.

6. Sew piece of elastic in a circle on your machine with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  (I used a straight stitch, then flattened each end and zigzagged over it to further secure it.)

7. Place elastic band over pillowcase top, overlapping about 1/2″.  Match pillowcase skirt center front  to center of elastic band, and skirt center back to the seam you sewed in Step 6).  Pin the two sides as well.

8. Sew pillowcase to elastic band using a stretch stitch on your machine, with the elastic on the top and the fabric below being thread through by the machine’s feed dogs.  Stretch the elastic between the pins so the pillowcase “gathers” naturally to the elastic.

9. Try on the skirt, mark where you want your hem to fall, and turn the hem (about 1″).  Sew a 3/4″ hem on the bottom.

10. Iron to set the hem and remove any creases.

And that’s it!  And the great thing is, the waist is elastic, so you can wear it belted higher up with a wide belt…or wear it lower near your hips for a different look.  Hope you have as much fun making yours as I did mine!

full2Happy DIY’ing!

~If you liked this post, please share it!~


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Chic Steals Featured On…

from A Good Look, the blog by the Goodwill of NY and NJ: “Chic Steals’ Carly purchased 48 lbs of clothes at her local Goodwill Outlet Store. That’s right – 48 lbs. of fashion as awesome as that white lace number. Nice haul, Carly!”

from CraftyCrafty.tv: “I’m always impressed by DIY-ers who choose less obvious fabrics to make up their patterns (remember the shower curtain dress?) so I was instantly drawn to this delightful dress that Chic Steals made up from a Vogue pattern using Ikea’s Patricia fabric. Ikea’s a good place to find bold, clean and eyecatching fabrics, which work just fine in dressmaking, even when they’re intended for upholstery.
“The pattern used here is Vogue v1068: the little sheath dress pictured top left, made here with a more tweedy fabric that’s also a great choice for autumn.”

from PopSugar: “This girl is a genius! ^_^”

Thanks guys, for the mention!
(And if anyone sees Chic Steals mentioned anywhere else – please send me the link, because I usually miss it!)

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Goodwill Outlet Store AKA “The Bins”

I visited a Goodwill Outlet store for the first time ever last week.  I had first read about these fabulous stores on CheapJap and was intrigued, to say the least.

When it comes to the life cycle of a donated piece of clothing, the thrift store is not the last stop on the line.  (Goodwill is one of many charities that works tirelessly to keep articles of clothing out of the landfills – and happens to be my favorite charity when it comes to donating my used clothing!)  Items of clothing that are donated to charities such as Goodwill are first sorted through; those that have minimal tears/stains/rips etc. go out on the selling floor, and those that are deemed less-than-worthy are sold to recycling companies such as Trans-America.  Such companies will recycle the garments into rags for industrial usage, or insulation, auto sound dampening, or carpet padding (source) – at the rate of about 260 tons annually.  Other articles of clothing are sold to developing countries at about 25-50 cents per pound.  In all, about 2.5 billion pounds of clothing a year is processed by such companies and sold abroad.  Imagine: that t-shirt made in a factory in China…could end up in a rural province not far from its origin someday.

However, each Goodwill chapter is at liberty to determine its own policies, so there’s no guarantee the clothing you donate will see those eventual end uses.  After a certain time at the regular Goodwill retail store, many items have not been sold, and it is then that they arrive at the Goodwill Outlet Store.  (There is a great photo essay here about how a garment travels through the Goodwill system of sorting and management, if you are particularly interested.)

The Goodwill Outlet Store is the last stop along the line in the life cycle of your average garment – if it fails to sell here, it is compacted by the baler and sold to the rag trade.  The idea of rescuing perfectly-usable items that would otherwise be thoughtlessly discarded appeals to me greatly, so I’ve been wanting to stop by and see how I could help (and how creative I could get with the results!)  Why the heck don’t they have a Project Runway episode with the designers scavenging their raw material from here???  I think that would be fabulous!

I love going to Goodwill (the Salvation Army “boutique shops” near me are ridiculously overpriced and have few pieces to pick through, Buffalo Exchange is fabulous but quite pricey, and I dislike going to “vintage stores” since the prices are usually enough to scare me out the door as soon as I glance at a tag).  But Goodwill is consistently a source of great pieces…the problem is that you just have to look.  (I’m not one for combing vintage stores for a great find; I usually find it insanely tedious.  But the fabled DOLLAR A POUND for clothing was way too good a lure to pass up.  I mean, even at fabric stores here in Portland I have never found fabric for a dollar a yard, so even if I found some cool sheets or something that I could use as raw materials I would be saving money.  [Okay, you New Yorkers – I know $1/yd of fabric is nothing new to you…but here in Portland it’s a bit revolutionary – rarely seen even from the jobbers that pass thru here from time to time.])  Now that Lil Tot is in school more and I am still technically unemployed, I have a lot more free time, and so I decided to spend one early afternoon braving The Bins.  Perhaps I would even find something with a designer label on it – the Holy Grail of shopping vintage.

CheapJap offers some great tips for visiting one of these places, and for sorting through everything (except I could only find one of my rubber gloves before leaving the house – I’m not sure where the left one went), so I spent about 2 hours sorting one-handed through more than 30 dumpster-sized bins in this gigantic warehouse.  People were looking at me strangely (for the single glove, I suppose), but when I saw that the workers there were wearing face masks, I didn’t feel so ridiculous.  There were some dirty clothes in there, man.  I was also surprised at how many families were there – parents and their numerous children were also combing through everything, spreading out and moving from bin to bin en masse.  The people with their carts the fullest were likely those who were trying to re-sell the clothes…one woman I talked to had a shop on Etsy where she made her living (re-)selling vintage pieces.

There were TVs too!

As I was going through everything, my head was just spinning with possibilities.  There were so many fabrics, so many ways I could give new life to these clothes – so many possible alterations…

Of course, most knit fabrics (i.e., t-shirts) were pretty much there for a reason: stained, hideously pilled, or worn.  There wasn’t much reuse potential there, I found.

But polyester garments had, on the whole, fared pretty well in The Bins; leather pieces had a lovely, beaten-up quality to them (though there were some in close-to-pristine condition); cotton items ran the gamut, tho most were crumpled (but could probably be restored with a good washing and pressing).  I focused mostly on wovens or synthetic fabrics, in large sizes so I had a lot of fabric to work with.  There were of course items in excellent, near-perfect salable condition with nary a stain in sight, as well as the odd designer label peeking out here and there.

I spotted: Banana Republic, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Volcom, Barney’s New York, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Bebe, for instance.

There was a large amount of Jones New York, Talbots, Metro7, Isaac Mizrahi, Liz Claiborne, Worthington, Levi’s, and Old Navy…which I think says a lot about the things people get rid of and that which is in excessive supply in the marketplace.  Private label companies for mass merchandisers…are you listening???

I piled up my shopping cart (and I mean – PILED up, so mountainous I could barely navigate turning it), and then at the end, dumped it all out and went meticulously through it, chanting to myself “$1 a pound, $1 a pound!” I eliminated many of the gigantic leather jackets I found since they were quite heavy, as well as the denim.  Light poly, chiffon, and lace stuff got a pass since it would work out to pretty much nothing at the register.

Okay, Carly…I think that’s enough.  Greedy girl!!

Despite my best efforts, when the lady at the register rolled my cart onto the scale, she read out “48 pounds.”  I almost died.  FORTY-EIGHT POUNDS OF CLOTHES!!  Say it to yourself.  Forty-eight pounds of clothing.  It’s unreal.

I was trying to save these clothes from ending up in a landfill – the ultimate result of excessive consumption – and as a result, I am excessively consuming them in bringing them home in the first place.  Ironic.

Here’s what I bought:

*2 leather jackets
*1 pair of shoes
*1 pair of jeans
*1 bikini top
*1 pair of rabbit ears
*1 nightgown
*2 blazers
*1 lace negligee
*5 tops
*5 pillowcases
*2 t-shirts
*2 pairs of pants
*3 dresses
*1 fitted sheet
*1 trenchcoat
*7 button-down shirts
*1 pile of fabric remnants
*1 kid’s pajama bottoms

And what cost did all this work out to?

Leave your best guess in the comments;-).  (It wasn’t $1 a pound, I can tell you that much!)

Edit 4/12: Great guesses, guys!  But…no one got it right.  Here is the proof of the pudding:

$25…for 48 POUNDS OF CLOTHING (+ a pair of shoes).

Isn’t that just PHENOMENAL???  Apparently, the more you buy at the Goodwill Outlet the more you save.  It’s $1/pound until 25 pounds, above that $0.95/pound, and then above 40 lbs. it’s 89 cents/pound.  I really worked for it tho! (See my dirty glove?:-)

Though I now have all this great raw material to work with….it’s now a question of when I’m going to get around to it.  I really need two of me to deal with this!;-)  But from here on out it’s a sewing and DIY extravaganza…and I can’t wait to share the results!

Have any of you ever been to a Goodwill Outlet store?


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