DIY Wearable Vintage Collars

JOANN Fabrics and Crafts located on 1500 Bald Hill Road in Warwick, RI

It all started ten days ago. I was feeling highly motivated and eager to complete a DIY project sewing embroidery on a pair of jeans. Not mind-blowing, I know, but it was something that I had wanted to try. I made my mental list of items I thought I would need to purchase and planned my trip for my day off on Thursday. I am honestly so much of a Rhode-Islander that this was undoubtedly a designated day-off activity. I mean driving from Providence to Warwick otherwise…not happening. Once Thursday came, I took my fifteen minute drive and headed to JOANN Fabrics on Bald Hill Road. Despite my quick looks at Pinterest and other photos of jeans I gathered ideas from, I went into the fabric store relatively naïve to the fact that I had no clue what I was doing.

As I walked into the store, I was immediately shocked at the amount of customers inside (does everyone have Thursdays off?). Walking through the aisles, it got even worse and upon arriving at the fabric section, I was met with droves of women of all ages purchasing their weight in fabric. My immediate thought was that perhaps they were gathering fabric to make masks with. Later, while at check-out, I was told that the store is normally not that busy, but that those with the JOANN app had a particularly good coupon that day and Thursdays are their shipment day for new goods. Pro-Tip: Anyone who wants primo fabrics or any other potentially out-of-stock items should give JOANN fabrics a visit on Thursday mornings.

After growing increasingly discouraged even after asking for help from kind store associates, I decided to do further research and return to the embroidery section another day. I scrapped my original idea entirely and decided I would go an alternate route of more casual hand-sewing, but without embroidery floss or specific techniques. I trekked back to the fabric section and chose a few different colored threads that I was confident I would use on my jeans.

Just one of the areas to get overwhelmed looking at thread.

Lastly, I searched around until I found where the needles are kept and tried to decipher exactly which needles were appropriate for my project. Am I the only person dumb enough to think a needle is a needle is a needle?

Is this a joke? Why are there so many different types of needles?!

After using the handy-guide (seen below) to help select my needles, I ended up choosing a bundle of assorted needles so I could finally be free of the hell this trip was becoming.

Very helpful, but still overwhelming.

So after all of that, I realized that I still somehow purchased the incorrect thread (it was too thick to use with any of my needles) and ended up scrapping both ideas for the time being. If you read my last post, you will remember that I visited a vintage store, The Lady Next Door, where I purchased two vintage collars. My new DIY plan was to make them more wearable for everyday use. Here are the instructions (finally, I know) for how to make a wearable vintage collar.

DIY Wearable Vintage Collar

Supplies

  • Vintage collar
  • Fabric cleaner (i.e. Oxyclean, bleach, etc.)
  • Basin or large bowl
  • Sink
  • Ribbon
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Pin
  • Scissors
  • Clear nail polish or Top Coat
  • Mirror
  1. Find/acquire vintage collar. I found mine at a local vintage shop, but you can find them occasionally at Savers, Ebay, Etsy, or maybe your grandmothers attic.
My vintage collar just after purchasing.

2. Clean collar. Though it may not appear dirty by any means, I always prefer to wash most secondhand items that I purchase. Since this particular item is rather delicate, I chose to hand-wash it using hot water, Oxyclean, and a small dash of bleach. You can choose whichever cleaning product you desire as long as you make sure it is delicate enough to not ruin the collar. I use a small plastic container that I had previously purchased at Walmart which I specifically use for soaking items longer term. Feel free to use any large bowl or your sink if you are only planning on soaking for a short period of time.

Pre-soak and mid-soak of my collars.

I left the collars to soak for about 24-hours. Then, I dumped out the liquid, removed the collars, and placed them in fresh hot water in my bathroom sink to rinse out any remaining soaking liquid.

Collars mid-rinse in my bathroom sink.

After, I drained the water from the sink and repeated the rinsing process. Then, I removed the collars and let them hang dry until they were no longer wet.

3. Trim any excess threads or frayed edges. As you can see, my collar had a few areas that needed tending to before I could start my project.

4. Lay out thread, needle, scissors, pin, and ribbon you would like to use for the bow. I chose a double-faced, thin black ribbon. Double-faced means that the ribbon looks the same on both sides. This particular ribbon is perfect for a project like this because when wearing the collar, you will be able to see the ribbon from all angles meaning the double-face will ensure that it will always look the same.

I chose a basic white thread to use. Since the collar is white, you do not want the stitching to appear which makes white thread the best choice. Match the thread color with whatever collar your particular collar is. I selected a needle from my bunch that I had previously purchased and simply chose one that had a large enough eye to thread through.

5. Start by cutting a two long pieces of ribbon (about 16.5 inches long). You want it long enough to trim excess ribbon once you’ve tied it on yourself at the end. If it is too short at this stage, you will have to redo the entire process. Better to have it start too long and cut the excess later!

6. Thread your needle with chosen thread.

7. Place your ribbon on the inside edge of the collar (the side you don’t want to show) on the outside corner and decide where you would like it to sit.

8. Once you have found the appropriate spot, move the ribbon a little further down so you have a larger area of the ribbon to adhere to the collar. This will ensure that your ribbon is more secure once sewn! Pin the ribbon in place.

9. Start sewing from the inside of the collar towards the outside (i.e. sew through the black ribbon the collar and back through). Try to sew in the center of the ribbon as opposed to the outside edges. Since it is a thin ribbon, the ribbon will start to fall apart if you sew too close to its outside edge.

First stitch.
All done with stitching! It doesn’t have to look neat since no one will be looking at this area.

10. Once you have sewn the ribbon with enough strength that you believe it will stay adhered, knot your thread, and cut the excess.

11. Cut the excess ribbon on a bias (i.e. diagonal vs. straight across) and put a small dab of clear nail polish or Top Coat on the ribbons edge. Both measures will keep the ribbon from fraying.

12. Repeat the entire process on the other side.

13. Put your collar on yourself with the ribbon part placed on the front of your neck. Tie a bow and position it however you would like it to sit when wearing (i.e. loose, tight, etc.). Look at collar in mirror and cut excess ribbon that you think is too long and would like to remove. I tried to make my bow look symmetrical and trim excess ribbon afterwards. I wanted a looser bow since this particular collar is smaller on me. Adding the bow makes finding a smaller collar more do-able since you are creating a more personalized fit with the length of your ribbon anyways.

Voila! You have now just turned a vintage piece into something that is wearable for everyday use.

I hope you enjoyed this DIY and that it inspires you to think more creatively when finding different items during thrifting trips! Do you prefer purchasing items that are ready-to-wear or do you enjoy thinking about new ways to repurpose old items? If you like creating, drop a comment below and share some items that you have thrifted and altered for yourself!

The Lady Next Door

I had only good intentions with this next post. Originally, I planned to write about a thrift DIY (Do It Yourself) project, but last week got away from me which bled into this week as well. When I set aside time to finally complete my DIY project, I forgot all about it and ended up visiting a new-to-me vintage store.

Though I grew up in Barrington, Rhode Island, I strangely have not spent much time browsing in its bordering neighbor, Warren. On Friday afternoon, I ventured over the Warren Bridge to Water Street and admired the beautiful fall scenery amongst the cute shops and old storefronts that lined the street. After driving around for far too long, I finally retreated to the first parking spot I had passed. Thanks to my best friends recommendation, I walked down the pumpkin adorned road and arrived at The Lady Next Door.

The Lady Next Door located on 196 Water Street in Warren, RI

From the outside, the store has an old-fashioned appearance, like most of the shops and homes nearby. I was welcomed with a rack of assorted vintage clothing and a cute array of fall motifs interspersed with various antique housewares just outside the shop entrance. As I looked through the clothing, I was impressed with the great quality and style of the items and became eager to look inside.

Set of drawers packed with assorted unique finds.

The Lady Next Door is open Thursday through Saturday from 11AM-6PM and Sunday from 12-4PM, but customers can also request to visit by appointment. Upon entering, one quickly realizes that this will not be an expeditious visit. The Lady Next Door is the kind of vintage place one hopes to find, chock full of jewelry cases, jars of buttons, shelves of housewares, and drawers of handkerchiefs and lace trim. As you walk through the store, there is no shortage of things to look at. In the front half of the store, there are assorted housewares and home décor mixed with jewelry and a million other little things.

Only a portion of the great wall of dishes and assorted kitchenware.

Making your way towards the back of the store, the odds-and-ends continue as you pass a wall of men’s hats, a glass case filled with old toys, and plenty of other items that you most certainly don’t need, but will touch and contemplate purchasing repeatedly throughout your visit.

A small view of the clothing found in the back of the store. Notice the note hanging above the rack of white clothing which states, ‘Some of the items on this rack are over 100yrs OLD. Please handle with care. Always happy to assist!’.

The back of the store is where most of the clothing is kept. There are multiple racks of clothes ranging in age and type with some containing everyday pieces and others which house 100-year-old lace Victorian dresses or fun partywear. Not a square-foot is wasted as each nook-and-cranny is filled with more and more items. Shoes are kept in an open trunk and fur stoles lay cozy in a large hat box.

Vintage Louis Vuitton luggage. Destined for someone with the intials M.E.R. and approximately $795 to spend.

Though the store did not have menswear aside from the hats, they truly have most everything else you could hope to look at while browsing. What I loved most about the store was the extremely fair pricing. All items seemed to be priced affordably (ignoring my LV luggage pic) or fair considering what the item was. In addition, I enjoyed the atmosphere. Sometimes when vintage shopping, you are faced with store associates you notice watching your every move. Each time you touch a sweater or lift a glass, you can feel their watchful eyes burning right through you and you just want to leave. This was not the case whatsoever. I poked around for about 45-minutes and not once did I feel like someone thought I would break their china. The owner is very kind and willing to help answer any question you may have. When I asked how she would style one of the lace collars, she gave me a few ideas I would not have thought of and even looked online for additional inspiration and advice.

An extremely tempting Coca Cola sweater for $65.

At the end of my visit, I left for home with a small bag of goodies containing a postcard of the Turks Head Building in Providence, RI ($3.50), a pair of sterling silver heart earrings ($22), and two lace collars ($18 and the proceeds were donated to Fair Fight Action).

In a time where supporting our local businesses is more important than ever, it felt great to buy from a Rhode Island shop, especially one that gave me such a nice Friday afternoon. Are there any great local shops that you have been trying to help support? Drop a comment of your favorites below so other readers can visit!

Fall River ‘Savers’

A picture is worth a thousand words, but this sad cat picture is worth soo much more.

Do you ever have a day where for whatever reason you grow oh-so tired from work, errands, etc., but the only thing that sounds like relief is shopping? Not a nap, not relaxing on the couch, but shopping? I know I am not alone in this and Thursday was just one of those days.

After an appointment in Fall River, MA, I had planned on driving to a nearby TJ Maxx which I had never been to before. As I was driving and contemplating just going home after all, I passed a shopping center sign that read my favorite word: Savers. WHAT? A nearby Savers I had NEVER been to? If you know me even a little bit, you are probably wondering how that is even possible. I text my best friend to tell her and even she was convinced I was lying. Fast forward 30-seconds and I was parked in the lot and walking into a new-to-me Savers.

For those of you that may not be familiar, Savers is one of the major thrift-store chains that are in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts. Savers holds a small space in my heart due to my love of thrifting as well as the fact that I worked there throughout the beginning of college. Prior to working there, I had never been in a Savers and now my multiple trips per week proves that I never should have left.

Savers on 109 Mariano Bishop Boulevard in Fall River, MA. Located in the Fall River Shopping Center.

My first thought upon walking into the Fall River location was how clean it was. When I go thrifting, I am not picky as to how dusty or disorganized the space is, but that is why I was so pleasantly surprised to find how fresh and clean the store looked.

My next surprise was that this location posts which color tag is 50% for the week. In case you are not aware, Savers has different colors marking the bottom of each sales tag/sticker which designate what week the item hit the sales floor. Each week, they switch the 50% color to whatever color tag has been on the floor the longest. At this location, purple tags were 50% off. Rambling aside, most stores do not post what color tags are 50% off and if asked, many store employees will lie and say that their particular store does not have 50% items…which is exactly why I was SO surprised to see a sign informing customers as to what was on sale.

Examples of the colored sales tags I am referring to.

As I walked through the store, there were a few things that caught my attention. The housewares section had beautiful finds, but I was particularly intrigued with the amount of large dishware sets that were mostly vintage and in great condition.

Just a small selection of the dishware they had.

Next, the assortment of handbags and wallets were impressive! Not only did they have a variety of styles and shapes, but the quality of all of the bags were excellent condition. These were by far the best bags I have even seen in any Savers location. Most bags appeared to be NWOT (new without tags) or maybe used once before. If you are into nineties Liz Claiborne leather and straw bags, honey this is the spot for you. Originally, I had a few bags in mind to buy, but I ended up consolidating and chose this beauty.

It was only $2.99 (50% w/ purple tag), in perfect condition, and I am pretty sure it’s handmade. I loved that it was super unique with the yellow wool body and black circle clasp. It looks like a great transition piece for Fall and was my favorite find of the day.

Lastly, I made my way over to their huge jewelry section (not including jewelry found in the case). As you can see from the photo, they have a lot more jelwery than most other Savers that I have been to. I appreciated that it was neatly kept in one area which made browsing a breeze. I scored my second find of the day which was this handmade (?) bracelet that was only $1.99. It is super versatile and definitely can be styled a variety of ways. It is funny how both of my favorite pieces are most likely handmade and very unique looking.

My visit to the Fall River Savers goes to show that thrifting trips are truly a mixed bag. Yes, sometimes you can go thrifting and all you find are purses with coffee stains inside and frames with photos of other peoples family members in them, but not all trips are like that. Okay. Well…those items will actually always be there, but hopefully those aren’t the ONLY items you are regularly finding. Thursdays trip showcases that sometimes even with just a few dollars (i.e. less than $5), you can find some truly unique finds.

The ‘Thrifty Goose’

Yesterday was one of the first perfect September days in New England. After a week of somewhat cloudy (i.e. smoky) skies, the weather on Saturday was just what everyone needed. And what better activity to do on a beautiful, crisp day then venture indoors and go thrift shopping…

St. Martins Episcopal Church located on 50 Orchard Ave in Providence, RI

From 10AM-2PM every Wednesday and Saturday, St. Martins Episcopal Church has their thrift store open. On my first visit in August, I did not have very high expectations and was just hoping to perhaps score a good deal on nice clothing from an East Side mom. Was I ever wrong! The ‘Thrifty Goose’ is a treasure chest of quality clothing, shoes, accessories, and even housewares. The store is located inside the church in their hall where they hold wedding receptions which translates to a large, bright open space full of natural light and room to browse. This was one of the highlights of my first visit because I was wholeheartedly expecting the store to be located in a dark, dingy basement like most other church thrift stores are.

In the large hall, the store contains mostly women’s clothing, but does have a small section with men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. The clothing brands vary from Banana Republic and Carol Little to Michael Kors and Salvatore Ferragamo and the price points do not disappoint. On both of my visits, the store was having a 50% off sale on all items not marked with a black line on the tag. Regardless of the sale, I did not see a price over $12 on clothing and the only higher priced items were high quality handbags (i.e. Brahmin). The quality of each item is either new, worn a few times, or perhaps dry-cleaned!

One of the views inside the ‘Thrifty Goose’. Notice the housewares in front of photo, some of the handbags/accessories in far back left, and assorted clothing throughout.

One of the more unique aspects of this particular store is its array of high quality antique housewares. The housewares are spread throughout the hall on several dining room tables and near the back of the hall where you purchase your finds. Looking for a beautiful antique mirror for your hallway and only want to spend $15? Look no further. Trying to impress your friends at a socially distant dinner with your antique China and have a price point of $10 for a set of four dinner plates? Come on down. Eager to discover what its like to drink out of fine crystal? ‘X’ marks the spot. Next time I am looking for a fancy silver carafe or dinnerware with some pizazz, I will definitely be stopping here first.

The shoe display. Shoes I have seen here generally range from great condition to NWOT.

I know you must be wondering what I purchased. Unfortunately for fashions sake, but fortunately for my wallet, not very much! The last time I shopped, I purchased a vintage blouse, NWOT short-sleeve top, antique goose key holder, and gently-used FitBit Aria smart-scale for a total of $27 dollars. Yesterday, none of the items I purchased were on sale, but I bought a Lands End navy polo and fancy Swedish linen crops for $19. Considering I was not able to try anything on and both items fit their recipients, I was overjoyed with my success.

All in all, I hope you appreciated my review and ramblings about the ‘Thrifty Goose’! Next time you are in the East Side of Providence, take a peek at one of my new favorite spots. You won’t be disappointed.