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 on: Today at 10:15:18 AM 
Started by Trish B - Last post by Elisabeth M
A little unrelated, but I am part of a dance group that loans folk costumes to our students every year - 75 or so students currently, though at one point we had well over 100.

Every year we have problems with people returning their outfits in a timely manner, or losing portions of them and not caring. If you don't sew, clothes are pretty replaceable! Losing an apron for your 6 year old's costume might not seem like a big deal to you - if she loses a tshirt, you just buy her a new one. But to a organization, it's a BIG DEAL. We only have so many, and every year, we were losing multiple costumes.

Our solution? We still loan out the costumes to each and every student for free. However, they have to pay a $20 deposit per outfit. It is returned at the end of the school year when we collect them. It's a big enough chunk of change to be an incentive to return, but small enough that it's generally not a financial impediment. We have had a much better rate of returns and have reduced the time we spend hunting down those that didn't return their outfit. Bookkeeping wise it's fairly simple and our nonprofit's auditors fine with how it's run.

Another key point - have a catalog of everything you keep and an estimated cash value, should you have to make an insurance claim or go to civil court.
It's never been an issue for us but our organization makes sure that everything is cataloged for that purpose.

TL:DR - Consider having a deposit system. $20 is an amount that worked great for us. Make sure you keep good records.

 on: Today at 06:30:09 AM 
Started by Trish B - Last post by Sarah Olson
Our group is a hobby group, rather than volunteers for a site, but the loaner closet purpose likely translates.

The closet is focused on being able to get people into clothes quickly so they can "try out" the activity before putting in the expense and time of sewing their own clothes, and allowing them to spread out purchases (for instance, get a corset quickly, but we can loan you a hoop for a while) so they don't have to have 100% of a wardrobe before starting. The end goal is absolutely to get everyone into their own clothes. We also host balls, so the loaner closet can be helpful in letting someone still be fancy even if their resources haven't expanded to formal dress as yet, or to have a friend/partner join them for just that evening.

We definitely have sewing days to help new and experienced sewers alike progress in their skills. The secondary benefit is just the time spent together - this is one of the best times to build friendships and learn the history and culture of the group. I would imagine (and hope!) that that would be true across any organization.

The one exception to this for us is really children's clothes. Given the frequency of kid-friendly events (handful per year) and the growing speed of kids, it really hasn't been a problem to have an indefinite loan through that particular size.

 on: June 27, 2017, 10:10:16 PM 
Started by Trish B - Last post by Elizabeth
Just some thoughts gathered from observing closets around the country:

It seems to work best to focus the loaner closet on new volunteers, encouraging and aiding them in getting their own full wardrobe up to speed within one or two seasons. Long-term use doesn't end up being loans--they're permanent gifts, and there are no funds coming in to replace the items when the single volunteer wears them out entirely.

It also seems to work best to do some sort of cleaning/use fee with them, to provide for future replacements. In that sense, it becomes more a lending library with a small fee, rather than simple loans---or, still a loan, but with some interest. Cheesy The presence of a small use/replacement fee can help fund the closet long-term, and also can encourage people to gear up with their own items as soon as practical.

Some items, like sunbonnets and shawls and aprons, are multi-size enough to be easy to stock in a loaner closet. Other items, like undergarments, are more personal, and really do need to be individual.

I've seen some groups host sewing days, where volunteers learn to make their own simple garments under the tuition of an experienced sewist. I've also seen "pay to play" arrangements where volunteers do pay a moderate rate to have things sewn for them--I tend to think this conditions people to see custom sewing as something low-cost, which it isn't, so it's not my favorite.

Another option is looking at sponsorships and grants from the community to provide funds to outfit entire volunteers; the grant/donation-funded items stay with the loaner closet for their entire life, but the volunteer doesn't bear the financial burden of custom garments.

Some groups have a lending library of patterns, which has its own whole host of struggles and benefits.

 on: June 27, 2017, 06:31:12 PM 
Started by Trish B - Last post by Trish B
I have a question or two for anyone involved in maintaining a loaner closet.
What is your target audience for the clothing-new volunteers or established volunteers?
Do you encourage volunteers to assemble their own wardrobe?
 We currently have 2 loaner closets- one at the site and one for our Friends group, which I am in charge of.

If any  of you have a few minutes, I am doing a little research on loaner closets and would appreciate it if you could answer a few questions.  I will post a short summary here when I am finished. Please p.m. me if you would be able to help.  Thanks a bunch! trish B.

 on: June 23, 2017, 09:20:12 AM 
Started by Eileen Hook - Last post by Eileen Hook
Thank you for this resource - found it on Amazon for $37! Order placed!

 on: June 23, 2017, 08:08:39 AM 
Started by Eileen Hook - Last post by Brian Baird
I believe that Joseph is talking about the book SHIRTS & MEN'S HABERDASHERY 1840s TO 1920s by R.L. Shep and Gail Cariou. It is out of print. In this book, there is a pattern with a yoke from a 1857 GODEY'S as well as a Devere 1859 pattern with a yoke.
Brian Baird

 on: June 22, 2017, 06:35:37 PM 
Started by Eileen Hook - Last post by Eileen Hook
The Shep book? I'm not familiar with that source, but it sounds useful. Please elaborate!

 on: June 22, 2017, 06:27:34 PM 
Started by Eileen Hook - Last post by Joseph Stevens
I believe the Shep book has a pattern for one as early as 1845/46. Judging by advertisements, it seemed to be a common feature on ready-made shirts by the mid-1850's.

 on: June 21, 2017, 01:58:17 PM 
Started by Eileen Hook - Last post by EKorsmo
I found an 1879 patent application which suggests that yoked shirts were in common use by the end of 1870s (Specifications and Drawings of Patents Issued from the U.S. Patent Office, page 161):

"Sack-shirts, so called, formerly worn, were straight loose-fitting garments. and often with the back lined the whole width and down to the waist; but the kind or style almost universally worn at the present day is made with a yoke or double piece of cloth resting on the shoulders and designed to fit the shoulders quite smoothly. The back of the shirt, being joined to this, requires some fullness, (more or more or less, according to the shape or size of the wearer,) which is sewed to the yoke by gathering in or plaiting the fullness into the yoke. To line the back the whole length of the yoke would require both thicknesses to be gathered, which would make it very difficult to iron both parts smoothly."

 on: June 21, 2017, 10:59:37 AM 
Started by Eileen Hook - Last post by Eileen Hook
Ok, i assume it would be safe to expect non-white shirts to follow the same pattern as white? Particularly if they are the 'newer style' cut?

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