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.
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).
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.
As people show up they empty their bags into the appropriate piles,
Felicity, cunning cat that she is, figured out what pile she belonged in:
I had to explain what a swap was, and how we certainly weren’t going to give her away!
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.
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:
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!
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).