Treasure hunting

My dad was a hoarder. He taught me the value of free stuff (though, to be honest, he didn’t mention the costs…but that’s for another post) and that there was no shame in making use of what someone else found useless. Clean up week was better than Christmas (and it still is!) and when friends ask “Hey, I’ve got some stuff. Do you want it?” I am just now learning how to be, shall we say, discerning.

I love to make stuff, and when I have the time and energy, I don’t want to be bothered by something pesky, like having to shop for supplies. Don’t get me wrong: I love a craft store as much as the next crafty girl. But when I wake up at 4 am itching to make a multi-pocketed tote bag with gingham trim, I don’t want to have to wait for a fabric store to open. I pride myself on having most anything one could need for most craft projects involving fabric, zippers, interfacing, ribbon, elastic, beads, paints….you get the idea.

So today, one of my bi-monthly Saturdays without V, I took myself to a morning movie (Trainwreck, but that’s another post…), then drove around to the dumpster behind JoAnn Fabrics.

Now, settle down. I know Dumpster Diving isn’t for everyone (though Lisa Ling seems to think it’s okay). And as I mentioned, I have no shortage of craft supplies in my house, and honestly I can afford most of the supplies I could want. But I also hate the amount of waste America produces, hate how disposable everything is, and I especially hate how wasteful stores are of perfectly good merchandise. If you wander around YouTube, you can see all kinds of people finding all kinds of things in store dumpsters, and there’s something extraordinarily satisfying of pulling something useful out of the jaws of overflowing landfills.

Today, I found 92 patterns in the dumpster. There were many more, but I got tired of pulling them out. (I only picked ones off the top, for those of you who find dumpsters squeamish…but really, there’s not much for sale at JoAnn Fabric to get yucky). If I’d waited for them all to go on sale, at best, I could buy them for $1 each, roughly (though the It’s So Easy patterns never go on sale, and are always $2.99 in my experience). Now, some of these patterns are not my style, or V’s style. 32 of them are duplicates.


Grown up clothes, above.


Accessories and home decor.


Kids’ clothes.

What with the internet, a lot of times when I sew I don’t even use patterns  anymore, or I already own the patterns I like most for things like pants for V, or skirts for  me, or backpacks or tote bags or baby shoes. Some sewists don’t like using commercial patterns, because they can be confusing and they are often sized by drunk turkeys: you not only can’t go by the size on the package, but you have to measure yourself, the pattern pieces, and calculate for seam allowances, among other things.

I’m not an expert seamstress by any measure, but Mrs. Malme, my home-ec teacher, made sure I could read a pattern, and what with the internet’s handy videos, I can almost always figure out that which I don’t understand. And though I love the internet, I can’t always picture how things come together if I can’t hold a pattern in my hands. So I’m very excited by this windfall, and I recognize how awesome my timing is, because I start teaching again in nine days. I have a lot of sewing to do before then.

But, gentle readers, perhaps you do, too! Because I got 32 duplicates, and because even some of the non-duplicates will not be useful to me, I’m going to give away some patterns! What would you like? I’ll mail out packages of patterns to up to 5 people who have use for them, however many you’ll take. Comment here or send me an email (removing the asterisks, jennife*rloyga**nyo*@*icl**m)/contact me through Facebook, and I’ll try to be fair and helpful if there’s some crazy mad rush for these. I’ll take requests until Tuesday, 18 August, after which I’m donating all the patterns I can’t use to the thrift store, where they STILL won’t likely end up in a landfill until someone can make use of them.

Whew! Are you excited? Me too. Here’s what’s on the table.  Remember, sizes run small in most patterns…and I’ve linked all the ones I can find to the Simplicity website. You can click around and look at the back of the pattern envelope/see other information through those links.


For women: Simplicity 1416, (formal dress, sizes 4-12) 1497, (short formal dress, sizes 4-12) and 1482 (cute tops, sizes 6-14)


More women: These three are all XXS-XXL, or about a size 2-24. Simplicity 0419 (tops with a cute back inset), 0424 (JUMPSUIT. You guys, we should all totally have matching jumpsuits. I have 2 extra of this pattern), 0818 (infinity dress. You could make all your bridal party dresses just from this pattern. If you don’t put them all in jumpsuits, I mean).


It’s so Easy! Simplicity 1398, unisex XS-XL (these really are easy patterns, and a good place for a new sewist. Shorts and shirts for sleeping). It’s so Easy! Simplicity 1530, unisex XS-XL (pajama pants and shorts, knit long-sleeved tops), and Project Runway Simplicity 1585, sizes 12-20 (cute swingy dresses).


It’s so Easy! Simplicity 1312, (animal hats with attached mittens, in 4 different sizes. Adorable).  Simplicity 0425, one size, infinity scarf, other embellished scarves.


Back to women’s: Simplicity 1620, (sizes 20-28, cute separates). Simplicity 1430, sizes 4-12; these pants look to be more complex (there’s pockets AND a zipper), but I believe in you. You can do it.


Simplicity it’s So Easy! 1313, lunch bag and snack pack.  Simplicity Sewing for Dummies 1579 Alphabet pillows. And  Simplicity it’s So Easy! 1275 Tree skirt and Christmas stockings.


On to little ones: Simplicity 1710: Baby shoes. Oh, mercy, you guys. Little shoes! For little feet! Simplicity 1448, baby dress, pinafore, pantaloons. Pantaloons! Sizes XS-L. And Disney’s Simplicity 1432, with leggings, tutus, and tops. They want you to buy the Disney appliques, but I’ll keep my eye out for them in the dumpster, if you like.


More little girl options: Simplicity 0421, fancy tutu dresses. sizes 1 1/2 -4.  Simplicity 1478, girls’ sizes 3-6, using that fancy ruffled fabric.


For slightly older girls (Sorry this picture is blurry). Sewing for Dummies 1455, size 7-14. I have sewn this pattern repeatedly, for V, mostly. I’ve only made the top, (and the top into a dress, here) but it’s adaptable and really truly simple. Simplicity 1625, size 8 1/2- 16 1/2: Girls plus separates. V’s hopefully going to get some school clothes out of this pattern. And another Simplicity 1478, this time in sizes 7-14.


Finally, back to women…The first two here are from the Multi-taskers for Simplicity line, where pieces are made to be a top and a skirt, or a skirt and a poncho, or some such thing. I like the idea, but have no idea how they work in practice.Both are XXS-XXL. Simplicity 1259,the one with the skirt/dress/poncho…Simplicity 1257, with miniskirts, a slouchy top, and some whatnot. Also pictured is  Simplicity 0420, which I really wish I could find a link to. It appears to be a reissued vintage pattern, and comes in sizes 6-14. It’s a really cute sleeveless dress, early to mid-60s, by the looks of it. It also says “Simple to sew using 5 main pattern pieces.”

So there you go. Let me know, and I’ll update the post as patterns get called for. Again, it’s first come, first served, based on time/date listed on however you contact me. And if you’re in my area, you won’t count as one of the 5, unless you want me to mail stuff to you. Aaaaannnndddd…go!


About Jennifer

Writer teacher mama sister friend sewist poet trying to stay warm in Minnesota's northwest.
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One Response to Treasure hunting

  1. Shirley says:

    Ahhhh, have you figured out yet that we are related? I, personally, have not yet done any serious dumpster diving, but I have to admit to going too far at Hancock Fabrics going out of business sale and I now have more Burda patterns than I am ever going to use. But, hey, I don’t smoke, drink, very rarely buy retail clothes, and very rarely eat out. My vices are gadgets, patterns, and fabric. I have always counted on you being my go-to person for eliminating my stash, but now you have gone and eliminated much of your own in preparation for your move!

    FYI – I have a fantastic supply of already shrunken and trimmed wool sweaters to be made into mittens and anything else one does with shrunken wool. I really should get an ebay account since I found out people sell packs of shrunken sweaters. They SELL them; I don’t know if anybody buys them.

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