If you love thrift stores and garage sales, this is the column for you. There’s gold in them thar hills—sewing gold! Change your perspective a little and look at the world as one big fabric store and you’ll find all kinds of treasures to add to your stash. I love thrift stores since you can so many great things in them.
– Have a closet full of old bridesmaid or prom dresses? Use them to make a quilt or a patchwork pillow. Give the bride a memento from her wedding by printing her wedding details on a piece of printable fabric. Then, use fabrics, trims, and even petticoat tulle from the bridesmaid dresses (or even the bride’s dress if you have scraps from alterations) to artfully dress a pillow she can keep always. Give your daughter a memento of her high-school dances with a quilt made with fabric from her dresses. Create an appliqué of a dress to put in each square using the fabric from her gowns.
– Handkerchiefs, gloves, scarves, bandanas, lace & linens. When I was a child, we had to have a new embroidered handkerchief and a pair of white gloves every Easter. Sew these mementos into projects to create an artistic memoir. Trims can often be pricey when new, so take them off of old garments or lingerie and reuse them. Make a dress from a vintage pillowcase or from a bandana.
– Used Clothing & Thrift Items. Find tablecloths with embroidery or lace to transform—many vintage linens were made with handmade lace. Use old straw hats as forms to create fancy dress-up bonnets. Use old jeans to make trendy handbags. Find old craft or knitting kits and use the threads and yarns to create decorative trims for your projects. Remove the back and insides of an old stuffed fabric doll or toy, and use the front or profile for a cute appliqué on jeans. Silk or lace from wedding gowns can be removed and used for other sewing projects, and the tulle from underskirts can be re-made into pettiskirts. Take a blouse from your closet that you haven’t worn (but can’t bear to give away) and use it to create a camisole or a fabric belt.
– Robes & Terry Cloth. Cut worn parts from old robes or towels and sew them together to make a fun shower curtain (use with a liner). Vintage chenille is fun to use for stuffed toys.
– Buttons, Beads & Jewelry. If you have an old jacket with great buttons, consider taking the buttons off to re-use them. Find beaded sweaters or jackets, old jewelry—even shoes– and disassemble to reclaim the beads and findings. Remove belts from cool belt buckles and attach a new fabric belt. Re-use hardware from old purses to make new ones. Frequently, hardware is expensive to buy new but remains undamaged on used pieces.
– Scraps. Be sure to use those scraps of fabric for small projects like appliqué, scrapbooking, patchwork, hair clips, stuffed toys, and embellishments.