Is being "Thrifty" the same as being mean?

Back in 2009, when I began thinking of starting a small sewing school, I struggled with finding a name. There are lots of cliched sewing names, and I didn’t want to go in that direction. After playing around with some names, I hit on the name Thrifty Stitcher. The name seemed to fit what I do- my theatre work is all about keeping beautiful costumes beautiful, and usually on a budget. Theatre costume can be all smoke and mirors, we make the ordinary seem extraordinary. I have actually made alpine maid’s costumes from the scraps of fabric left over from the front of house curtains.

Using the word Thrifty however prompted missed reviews from my friends and family. Thrifty living it seems, can be viewed as a poor living, Thriftyness is often seen as meanness.

In terms of learning to sew, is being thrifty un-glamourous?

In our current economic climate, whilst we are all embracing the make do and mend fever that is sweeping the country, most modern women don’t want to use or wear things that are too ” home-made” I don’t want cushions for example that don’t look gorgeous, or fit my style. Can I be thrifty without compromising design integrity?

As a Costume maker I collected beautiful fabric. When cutting up a gorgeous piece of indian silk I found on a weekend away, I was as thrifty with it as I could be. I wanted to get the most from this lovely fabric, so I cut out my dress after fitting a toile so i didn’t waste any in excessive seam allowances. I laid all the pieces out several times on the fabric to get the largest bit of spare fabric. The spare fabric was carefully stashed away, and contributed to several other projects until there wasn’t enough left to cover a button.
The dress I made was delicious, unique and a perfect fit. It didn’t look “homemade” and yet it was very Thrifty.

At our classes we encourage our sewing students to use things they love to create their designs. If you see vintage curtains in a charity shop, use them as fabric and make anything you can. If you spot some delicious liberty fabric buy it! For us being thrifty is about using everything you can and making things the best way you can.

At our studio we have a large selection of unique fabrics, ribbons and haberdashery. As costumiers we are given Fabric “scraps” left from shows. Some of these fabrics are specially printed and shipped from all over the world, and once we use the last scraps that’s it- there is no more! I love seeing how our students mix up our fabrics and create all the amazing pieces that come from our studio.

So Be Thrifty, and be unique!

Happy Stitching

1 Comment

  • Craft Princess

    10.01.2011 at 20:08

    Being thirfty is most certainly not being mean. I would say that to be thirfty is to be canny and to have a 'waste not want not' approach to things. I love the idea of turning something old into something new and I think this something that we are all starting to adopt now which is just brilliant!