|If you are like me you are probably looking on the web for garb ideas, getting excited by different designs, then getting depressed because it seems like you wont be able to make it for under $400! dont worry! the important thing is to know where to go and how to find a bargain. I made my last feasting gown for under $100 (with the cost spread out over several months) with some thrifty shopping.
Places to go
Op Shops: Ok, I know i suggest this everywhere – get used to it, op shops are an SCA players friend! Op Shops often have a bin (or four) of fabrics. now it is a bit of a drag going through them but you can pick up some real gems for excellent prices. when looking at remmies make sure the fabric is suitable and open it up to get its full width. I usually sit on the ground in front of the bins and rummage for as long as it takes. I recommend taking a small tape measure or something to see how long the fabric is – there is nothing worse than going home and finding its the wrong size! ignore the looks that other people give you (you have to get wierd looks in the SCA!) and PLEASE! fold or roll the fabric back up neatly when you’re done! this is better for the poor volunteers who are working in the Op Shops but also for other fabric hunters. Dont worry too much about color, at the prices we are talking about youcan usually dye it and still come out at a very good price! dont forget the used linens and curtains either, curtains are often made of useful material (and if you are lucky you can get a deal like mine where the curtain was pencil pleated and fitted exactly around my waist making a ready made skirt!) you can get good velveteens and satins like this. old sheets are really useful for making undergarments and linings with. whatever you get from an op shop – make sure you wash it first, especially from this section – often curtains etc arent washed first which is a bit ick but it also means they come up trumps when they are done! op shops are also good places to pick up things like garb jewellery.
Little fabric stores: I dont mean Lincraft or Spotlight, go to your local fabric store in a strip shop or somewhere, you can often find fabrics at clearance prices because they have to keep up with the competition.
Markets: Carribean, Dandenong and Vic markets have fabric sections and you can often pick up a good deal as they have less overheads and often sell direct from manufacturers or warehouses. I love the uphostery fabrics!
Just Buy it!
if you come across a good deal at any place, sale time or whatever, buy it. dont worry about whether you have a project on or something planned for it, if the fabric is good and you can use it at some point then pick it up because you may not get another chance – live for the now! I have missed out on some good deals because I have hemmed and hawed. I often buy remmies at op shops or fabric on sale that I have lying around for ages but when I decide what to make I usually have the fabric lying around somewhere. I would suggest buying a good plastic box for storing it in! (I still need to do that…)
Be prepared to look
Make a mental (or physical) list of good places to search and go back to them regularly. just because they may not haveanything you want this week doesn’t mean you wont get it next week!
When you are ready to make some garb, note down everything you will need before you start shopping, down to the amounts, notions, braids everything. if you have some fabric at home that you are going to work with take a small snippet with you so that you can match it or contrast with it. this will not only save money (as you wont have to buy too much of some things, or the wrong color or something) but will allow you to plan out a schedule for buying things in lots to ease the burden on your bank account.
I know, I need to follow my own advice here! if you have your fabric, patterns, notions, threads and so on all sorted out and conveniently accessible you will be able to find what you need, if you have something in stock that you need, and you wont buy doubles. you also wont lose something you paid good money for.
A list of places in the monash area that are good for bargain hunting (hopefully this will be added to as I find more!)
Clayton Rd Shops
Salvation Army Op Shop: a small but decent fabric selection, good lace and trimmings collection, linens section, mediocre. Remmie prices around $3
Smith Family Op Shop: a big Op shop at the end of the Clayton Rd Shops really good fabric selection and big upholstery section. not much in the way of trimmings. Remmie Prices between 50C and $3
Power Fabrics: this place is always having an opening or closing sale but I’m not complaining! the fabric selection varies greatly but usually has some nice linens and satins from around $3 per meter. no notions or braids.
Salvation Army Op Shop: Big Op shop with a growing fabric range. The upholsery range is pretty good too! also good for feasting Gear.
Smith Family Op Shop: reasonable size but no fabrics to speak of, some upholstery – pretty good for gambesons usually.
Kim Anh Fabrics: reasonably priced fabrics and a really good button, braid and bias binding selection.