We are all seeing a movement called “Mindful Clothing.” The trend is popping up everywhere again. It’s a few things, fixing and mending what you own, buying handmade clothing, buying vintage, up-cycling and staying away from fast fashion. In the 1940s there was the “Make do and Mend” movement, a time heavily influenced by WWII and fabric rations, and people were making clothing out of anything and everything. I love this concept because the possibilities are limitless.

In 2008- 2009 I wanted to prove to the world and myself that sewing clothing did not have to cost more than buying ready made off the rack styles. I made an entire line of dresses from table cloths, sheets and fabrics all from the thrift store, reusing and saving things from landfills.

Tracy McElfresh

The dress above is one of my favorites. The large part of the print was the border of the table cloth and the small print was the center. When I told the check out lady at the thrift store my plan she laughed at me. I assured her it would be beautiful. This dress cost me $2.99 and sold for almost $200 in 2011.

The 1950s navy blue dress in these photos was made from a linen from the thrift store. I learned all about vintage pattern sizing that year. Sizing is not just width, but length, too. I originally made this size 12 dress for myself and the lengths were all too long and hits in all the wrong places. It wound up being a dress for my taller, best friend Harriet. Here we are together in my first fashion show.

Sheets were open game also and there were plenty. I love how wrinkle free sheets from the 1960s-70s are. Now there is an entire group of people that make bridesmaid dresses out of cool vintage sheets for weddings.

Another linen table cloth made a beautiful halter top dress. Cost $1.99.

I don’t even know what this was but it was like no other fabric print I had seen in 2008-2009. I honestly can’t remember the cost.

I went thrift store fabric hunting almost every single weekend during this time period and that was a big part of my success.


The fabric on this dress was new although the collar and bottom border was table runner, a free gift from my mother. It really added to the uniqueness of this 1960s Jiffy pattern.

This was a small table cloth that I transformed into a 1950s dress. I love the way it came out.

Another way to be mindful is to shop local. Here is a list of Dayton-ish local independent sewing shops.

Can you can add to my list?

Sew to Speak– Worthington

Little Shop of Stitches– Miamisburg

Sew a  Lot– Centerville

Fabric Shack– Waynesville

Sulphur Grove– Huber Heights

Crafters Lodge– Bellbrook

Bernina on Main– North Dayton (not a lot of fabric but defiantly worth checking out)


Behind the senes~

Here is another picture from that time period that I recently I came across. I was a nanny of four cute little girls and loved to make them little rompers.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh
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