The recent political flap about Olympic uniforms being made in China sort of cracks me up. If shock and outrage are warranted, it certainly has been a long time coming. Americans know their clothes are made somewhere outside the U.S., for pity sake! The garment industry left our shores sometime after 1965. Until then, 95 percent of our clothes were still made in the U.S. Today it’s the other way around. Surely Senator Reid knows that didn’t happen overnight.

For people who want American-made clothing, there are at least four alternatives.

Make your own clothes.

Find a good seamstress to sew for you.

Buy vintage garments that were made in America.

Find U.S. manufacturers that make clothes!

So, how do you find the five percent now made domestically? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack, but they are out there, friends. Truly they are. You’ll discover some of them surprisingly close to home.

On a recent trip through Roanoke, Indiana, I tripped across Gem’s, a shop that’s loaded with art, gifts, jewelry, clothing, and furniture. Everything was arranged so artfully that it took me a while to realize it was a consignment shop with new, handcrafted, and previously-owned pieces.

(I fell in love with this original painting at Gem’s.)

Among the new merchandise was Hand Jive, a whimsical line of clothing for women. Hand Jive is made in a Fort Wayne sewing room that is home to six to eight local seamstresses. I love the way this site uses beautiful models with ordinary bodies most everyone can relate to. They also have some very cool styling videos. Gem’s proprietor Ginny Etter-Meeks wears Hand Jive garments almost exclusively. They suit her so well, it’s easy to see why. The day I stopped in, she was wearing this fresh tunic with a pair of jeans.

Her shop is located directly across from Joseph Decuis, a very impressive farm to fork restaurant. It’s also down the street from the Roanoke Public Library. While my husband was eating key lime gelato at the corner sweet shop, (Moose & Mollie’s, another great remnant from the past) I stood across the street from the library and watched a beautiful scene unfold.

A little boy about 10 or 11 years old parked his bike in front of the library, dashed in with a stack of books under his arm, and rode away with a new stack in his basket. Less than 15 minutes later, a little girl wearing a cute straw hat did the same thing.

How I wish I might have caught them in a photo for you. But I was too busy savoring the preciousness of that moment to think of sharing. Here was proof that there are still plenty of kids entertaining themselves with books–and not on a Kindle or IPad.

How many places are left in the world where a kid can safely ride alone? I will never forget the delicious freedom of taking off on my bike in the small town where I grew up, fleeing home and the hairy-legged boys who tore the heads and arms off my dolls. My fourth grade teacher, Ida Rhodes, lived just a few blocks away and I rode back and forth in front of her house, hoping she might come out and visit. It makes me happy to think that somewhere, children are still forming memories about the places they travel on their bikes.

Whether you live in Indiana or you’re just passing through, Roanoke is a wonderful destination for walking back in time. Somewhere near you, there’s probably a Gem’s that’s offering a locally-made line of clothing. If not, search broader.

I’m smitten by Unique Vintage, a California-based store where you can shop for new clothing with a retro vintage feel. They feature several brands that offer American-made garments including Heartbreaker, Steady Clothing, and Bernie Dexter. I just ordered two 1950s-inspired shirtdresses plus a matching crinoline I hope will work with one of them.

I’ve only recently realized how flattering 1950s dresses for pear-shaped women like me. They are perfect for accentuating a small waist and concealing wide hips! Poke around the Unique Vintage site and you’ll find some great sales on retro swimwear and summer dresses, plus free shipping on orders over $150.

Stick around. Next week, I’ll introduce you to some local designers who are making fabulous clothes right in my back yard!

Who are your favorite local designers and garment makers? We would love to know about them! Share them here.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.