Felicity, Miscellenia

Clothings Swaps

Last Saturday I got to host my own clothing swap for the first time.

I’ve been going to friend’s swaps for years, but never had enough space to host my own, but courtesy of exciting big(ish) new house, there was space!

So how does a clothing swap work?  You set up a time, and invite tons of people.

It works best if you can invite people from a variety of different social groups, so that you get a lot of cross pollination of clothes and styles, and don’t end up trading the same stuff constantly.  I invited my sewing friends, my vintage friends, my Theresa & Chiara friends (yes, you ladies get your own group!), and my swing dancing friends.

Bags of stuff for a clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

Everybody goes through their closet and fishes out the things they never wear, don’t fit, or  don’t love, and then shows up on the day with bags of clothes and fabric and shoes.  If you are lucky they also, to use the classic Kiwi phrase, “bring a plate” (of food, of course).

Clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

As hostess, I ran around beforehand sticking labels to the walls for different types of goods.  I had labels for shoes, skirts, frocks, pants, tops, sewing stuff, random stuff, and special stuff.

Clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

As people show up they empty their bags into the appropriate piles,

Clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

Felicity, cunning cat that she is, figured out what pile she belonged in:

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com

I had to explain what a swap was, and how we certainly weren’t going to give her away!

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.comNoooo….please don’t!  

Once everyone arrived everything but the sewings stuff and special stuff was open for grabs – it was all hands in, picking things out, checking, sorting, dashing into the bathroom or spare room to try it on and check it out, showing it off to get others opinions.

When things quieted down just a wee bit, the sewing stuff was also open for all takers.

Clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

At the end we announced the special stuff individually, so it could be shown off, explained why it was so special, and the giver could ensure it went to a good home.

Finally, we went through all the remainders, tried to tempt people into taking them, and sorted the unwanted stuff into bags for our chosen charities:  nice work clothes for Dress for Success, or random bits for Opportunity for Animals.

And then there was showing off of scores, and hugs and farewells, and helping people carry bags out to their cars.

And the next day I took my body-weight in stuff to the chosen charities!

So what did I get?  Mostly I gave away a huge bag, but I am THRILLED with my pile:

Clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

From the top left, there is a cool old bag, A Girl of the Limberlost, a FABULOUS vintage raincoat (can’t wait to do a photoshoot with it!), and an equally fabulous hat that I think is 1980s does 1930s, 17th Century Dress Patterns (oh, swoon!), an amazing silk scarf which I’m going to make into a ’30s handkerchief halter, and a piece of grey and white checked merino.  Happiness all around!

Clothing swap, thedreamstress.com

OK, so the two books were specials: Emily found the copy of A Girl of the Limberlost for me (and contributed the hat and fabric to the swap), and another friend brought 17th Century Dress Patterns for a private post swap-swap (I traded it for a Janet Arnold).

A Girl of the Limberlost thedreamstress.com


  1. Anfinwen says

    I love “Girl of the Limberlost!” It makes me proud to be from Indiana. Have you read any of Jean Stratton-Porter’s other works? My favorites are Laddie and Freckles (the book before Girl of the Limberlost).

    • I love Girl of the Limberlost too 🙂 I even made a dress based on it.

      I’ve also read both Freckles and Her Father’s Daughter, but struggled with both of them. The ‘lilies beget lilies and thistles beget thistles’ of Freckles is basically eugenics, and the racism in Her Father’s Daughter is pretty pronounced. :-/

      I do love the nature descriptions though! Such a tragedy that the Limberlost was destroyed. I’m so pleased that there are movements to restore it.

      • Anfinwen says

        Yes, I was quite startle at the racism in “Her Father’s Daughter.” I also tried “Keeper of the Bees” but quit part way through. I honestly wonder how the same person could write such different types of books! You should definitely try “Laddie”, though. It’s more in the tone of “Girl of the Limberlost.”

  2. Wow! This looks like SO much fun!! I’m trying to make a list of people in head that I’d invite to one of these already!

  3. A Girl Of The Limberlost is a great book! I haven’t read it in years, but I remember enjoying it immensely. What a fun time it looks like you had. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I love me a good swap! Glad you hosted one, happy you gave me a shout-out.

    I also love how you always give me amazing clothes when I visit. 😉

  5. I’d love to find “17th Century Dress Patterns” at a costume swap! Congratulations for that, and your other finds (the white silk scarf is amazing too, as is the purse.

  6. fitch says

    Please judge the other books as a product of their times and not that Hoosiers are racist. I’ve lived in Indy my whole life, I really should read Limberlost. I’m sure the wikipedia synopsis doesn’t do it justice!

    • I do consider them a product of their time, to an extent. There were other authors of the same period who were much more egalitarian in their outlook, and who believed that people should be judged on their own worth, not on their ancestry, so the ideas were available. It certainly never occurred to me to tar all Hoosiers with the same brush though – that would be falling into the same trap that Stratton-Porter did!

Comments are closed.