First we had Project Runway (US, Canada, Australia, Project Catwalk in the UK, Project Runway Allstars and Under the Gunn… but who’s counting!).
When The Great British Sewing Bee came out, I couldn’t believe there were two sewing-related shows out there.
Well this summer, a third show from the UK aired with a healthy dose of sewing – This Old Thing. Its host, the fun and sassy Dawn O’Porter (wife of Chris O’Dowd!), shares her love of all things vintage with viewers with the hope of converting even the biggest H&M addict into a thrift shopper. She believes that buying vintage allows us to have unique, stylish and well-made garments that we will treasure, in contrast to throwaway trends found in high street/mainstream shops.
The show packs a big punch into 60 minutes. Every episode features Dawn taking vintage-phobes shopping and teaching them what to look for. She also puts together three looks for another high street addict seeking a wardrobe makeover which uses something they own, something vintage from a relative (think Grandma’s Sunday best from the ’80s) and something from a vintage shop. There’s also a look at a mini history lesson about some aspect or era in 20th century fashion. On top of that, the show also has segments in Dawn’s sewing workshop that teach DIY tricks for giving new life to vintage pieces. It’s these segments in particular that really speak to me, because it made me realize how simple it can really be to alter a garment so that it’s just right. Just taking a hem up a few inches or switching out the buttons can totally reinvent something.
After watching a few episodes, I was inspired to do a little vintage DIY project of my own. I’ve had this one vintage dress in my closet for years that was handed down from an old roommate of mine and I absolutely love it. But, I’ve never worn it because it’s see-through.
For the longest time I’ve been meaning to make a slip to wear with this dress – today I finally did it! Using some very inexpensive materials and this tutorial by Christine Haynes on Craftsy, I sewed up a slip while my baby was napping this afternoon. Easy peasy, and now I can wear my vintage dress!
I really like This Old Thing because of the options it offers for making our wardrobes more sustainable. You can buy second hand rather than buying something new. You can look for high quality garments that can be repaired and altered rather than a disposable outfit of the week. You can find great things in your own closet (or Granny’s) that just need a little sprucing up or altering, rather than going to a mall. And for making the case for this in a fun and enjoyable way, I give props to Dawn O’Porter and This Old Thing!
- The website for This Old Thing has some fantastic tips for shopping vintage and tutorials for DIY alterations
- Dawn O’Porter has also released a guide to vintage to go along with the TV series, This Old Thing: Fall in Love with Vintage Clothes
- The New Dress A Day blog has some great examples of refashioning thrift shop duds (lots of muumuus being turned into party dresses!)
- The So Zo blog has many, many tips and tutorials for updating vintage finds