Sunday, September 13, 2015

Do you thrift?

I love to "thrift", recycle, shop the op shop, whatever you would call pouring through racks of worn clothing in sometimes off scented stores in search of the rare gem. I know how those guys feel when they find gold up there in Alaska, or when the bells ring for you at the casino. S C O R E !


And the entertainment value is incredible. Where else can I go and spend 25 cents to a dollar and get such joy?  I started thrifting in my teens. I had a voracious passion for really nice clothes and therefore sewing. But, alas, I had no money. My large family wasn't poor but with 8 kids and Catholic school, well, the guilt would set in if I asked for anything, another by product of being Catholic. Took me years to get over that but that's another story for another time! In the meantime I would spend hours after school at Hadassah Thrift or the Goodwill searching through the piles. I remember once buying a man's full length cashmere camel coat for less than a dollar at most. I brought it home and remade it into my own cashmere coat. I was sixteen at the time. I enjoyed taking apart the seams and planning my remake.  I got a little housekeeping job for a neighbor, the textile designer at one of the local mills. She brought me fabric samples of her work they would run off, gorgeous stuff. I cleaned her tiny house for fabric and it was win/win.  I made friends with a man at a men's coat factory and through the loading dock I could get a ride up to the fifth floor where I could pick the woolen scraps and bring them home. I was one thrifty sewist who learned networking for fabric before the word was invented, and very proud of it. I hewned my skills in my teens. I still enjoy the hunt today and have finally found out how to work our one local option to occasionally get a score. It's the "who you know" plan that  works for me. 

I also have a good friend who knows my penchant and every now and then shows up with amazing things  for me in just the right size, like this custom made cape made in Ireland of Irish wool tweed. She, good friend as she is, will never tell where she gets this stuff and I have my instructions to not ask, but it is always excellent quality. I ask no questions and the garments keep coming. She knows that I will buy garments just for the fabric or just for the buttons and gets it. But she has a great eye for what I like too and that's I got the above cape. She doesn't care what I do with this stuff. No strings attached. The coat fabric is gorgeous. It fits perfectly. The buttons are ugly but can be improved. There is enough fabric to make something else. Do I keep it for clothing and risk looking like yesterday's news or do I cut it apart and make something else? Would you look at those welt pockets? Nice! It's the perfect length too!

It says" Warranteed to be a Pendleton, Trademark U.S. Patent off. app., Pendletone woolen mills, Portland, Oregon, 100% virgin wool, Made in the USA."

She also brought me this week a GORGEOUS black wool Pendleton jacket. It also fits quite well but I make take the shoulders in. The fabric literally glows with that glow only 100% fine wool suiting has. Check out the buttonholes, beautifully hand made;

 It's a classic look with welts, pewter buttons and princess seams. Here's a shot of the inside with it weft insertion fused full front, hair canvas back stay, and shoulder pads, hand made ones:

Lightened for better viewing

I think this could work nicely with some black jeans for work this winter. 

Those two pieces were from my friend. This next one I found this week for the grand price of twenty five cents. It is two layers, self lined, real silk charmeuse, new as can be and the trim is fabulous.

When I thrift shop, I try to keep an open mind. Will I really be going anywhere that would warrant this type of garment? Do I dare be the talk of the village in my backless wonder?

 Probably not. But I can #1, admire it, #2,  use that amazing trim, and #3, have a truckload of silk for Hong Kong seams  and bindings. In the meantime, my fantasies live, and all for the expense of 25 cents! A better entertainment value just can't be found. 

I would love to hear your thrift stories and even if you thrift at all. Does sewing go hand in hand with thrifting?  I know many wouldn't be caught dead in something someone else has already worn. I'm not that proud here and can always appreciate quality, no matter where it comes from or what it costs..............Bunny

39 comments:

  1. My mom thrifts and finds amazing things.

    Though when she visited me she was offended by the thrift store prices. So I've been right that we do not get a good value here! :) I like Banana Republic but don't think a used pair should cost me 20 bucks. Seriously.

    So no, I don't thrift but I enjoy seeing the cool things people find.

    That Pendelton wool - fantastic. And the trim on the top is stunning.

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    1. I rarely pay over a dollar for anything. Where I go, on Fridays they put a garment rack out side and everything on it is free for the taking. I've got some really good deals from that rack. I've been in shops where the prices are steep. Bye, bye for me!

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  2. I am always amazed by the beautiful pieces people finding in thrift stores but I just don't have the patience to look....my loss. You have some great finds!

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    1. Thanks, Tomasa. I literally give myself fifteen minutes to run through and my eyes run right over all the denim and khaki. I also go straight to the very large sizes first. They give me more fabric, like the jean jacket recycle I just did. And lady there will go and get me something that's not out yet and show it to me and she is usually spot on. Great fun, at least for me.

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  3. I love to thrift. The thrill of finding a cashmere sweater or a Harris Tweed shirt for a few pounds. Such fun. Of course being a sewer has its advantages, taking in or letting out seams or shortening a hem, and not to forget vintage fabric pieces.

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  4. I love to thrift. The thrill of finding a cashmere sweater or a Harris Tweed shirt for a few pounds. Such fun. Of course being a sewer has its advantages, taking in or letting out seams or shortening a hem, and not to forget vintage fabric pieces.

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  5. Thrifting is not so cheap here in Melbourne. Often you can buy cheaper new in the stores. However, in my hometown of Shepparton there are some bargains but never as cheap as what you have got. My best bargain is a $5 mens black soft leather jacket. Plan to one day remake it into something more modern. Or maybe just use it for trim. We'll see. Other bargains is buying bras on the $1 rack for the findings. Most are new but not in my size.

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  6. I actually {gasp} stopped sewing my own clothing in favour of thrifting. It was the mid nineties and the thrill of the thrift took a firm hold on me. I did do some minor re-fashioning, but for the most part, found exactly what I was looking for as is. It's only in recent years, that I've got back into garment sewing. {Always had a decor sewing project on the go in the meanwhile.} Now, thrift store purchases are primarily accessories, and things like housewares.....and fabric and patterns are the first department I head to.

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  7. I used to thrift when my kids were small, but unfortunately the quality of the clothing in the thrift stores here (Seattle area) has really gone down and the prices have become ridiculous. I can still find a few treasures for my grandchildren, but once they move into adult sizes, I will either sew or buy the clothes I give to them. The clothing selection could be due to the fact most people here dress very casually. Goodwill pulls the nicer stuff from the donation stream for their annual Glitter sale, so the chances of finding a well made garment at a bargain price is rare.

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    1. I agree, thrift stores are filled with clothes from WalMart but once in a while there's a gem. It is a search, for sure.

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    2. I also remember when people shopped more seasonally for their clothing. The closet would get purged of older "looks" and sent to the thrift store. That's what it was like when I used to hit Hadassah Thrift years ago. Now people buy constantly and constantly throw away cheap fast fashion junk.

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  8. Yes I thrift. Great looking pieces you selected.

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  9. Those pieces are AWESOME! I remember thrifting with my mom. As a kid I couldn't understand why; but now the first thing we do when she comes to visit is go to thrift stores. Its like treasure hunting!

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    1. I do the same when my SILs come to visit.

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  10. We are not proud either. We thrift as a way to make the family budget work to clothe everyone and look for pieces we can change up as well. Although, we are not so fortunate to find great pieces for 24 cents to a dollar. We usually have to spend $2 to $8 for each item from Goodwill. You were so smart as a teen. That is very impressive. You have some great finds.

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  11. Best I ever found was a gorgeous black silk jersey boatneck top; Saint Laurent, £2. I was gobsmacked and did that furtive "is it amoral to get something so good, so cheap when the seller is unaware what it is" dance... I never looked back ;-)

    Sadly, most of the clothing in the stores around me is rubbish now - maybe I received all the goodness due me in one go!

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  12. Best I ever found was a gorgeous black silk jersey boatneck top; Saint Laurent, £2. I was gobsmacked and did that furtive "is it amoral to get something so good, so cheap when the seller is unaware what it is" dance... I never looked back ;-)

    Sadly, most of the clothing in the stores around me is rubbish now - maybe I received all the goodness due me in one go!

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  13. I live in Sweden and thrifting is very popular here! Red Cross and other help organisations are the best to make bargains but you have to be quick ;-) I always look for fabrics and textiles in general, even large garments that I can use for homedecore in collage tecnique that I make and sell.
    When my kids were small I made a lot of their clothes from thrifted findings, a good way to stretch the budget for a young family :-)

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    1. It really is amazing how much quality fabric can be had in in certain styles and sizes, perfect for little one's clothing.

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  14. I started to sew from mainly charity shop /thift items over a year ago, it pretty much started with wool coats - I could not believe that wool coats could not sell for 3euro (I find them on the 'reduced' rail). I had not sewn 'properly' in a long time, so sewing and pattern drafting using thrift was great... and the qualities of the fabrics are amazing and the other plus is you know how the fabric hangs and wears, as well as the challenge of making it all better again ...

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  15. You've found some real treasures with your thrifting! I never considered buying the silk items for the hong kong seams - great idea!

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  16. I haven't thrifted in a few years. One summer my daughter worked in a charity shop, a recipient of (apparently) very wealthy ladies. She was lucky to find some very expensive unworn clothing and shoes, which she snapped up, however they were nowhere near $1.

    You sound like quite the teenage opportunist, Bunny! Great finds.

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  17. Our thrift stores aren't like yours for sure!! Great finds for you!! Love all those pieces.

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  18. iI don't thrift although years past I found a few things at St. Vincent's. Regarding your cape, I say keep it, it is so on trend now, but do replace those buttons. The jacket if beautiful too.

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    1. I agree. The buttons are really tacky and will search for upgrades. It fits perfectly and looks pretty good.

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  19. I thrift, but don't get the bargains you find. I notice a decrease in quality as most of the goods appear to be worn out fast fashion.

    The rise of vintage stores means that the really high quality goods have been picked over by professionals. They scour Los Angeles stores daily at opening.

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  20. I love thrifting, but don't have a lot of time to do so! It does take time and patience but can reap rewards, and the fabrics of old are of a quality that is hard to find today. I like to keep good stuff in it's original state, however I just wrote about a jacket I made from an old coat because the fabric was unique!

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    1. I loved that jacket, Sheryll. What a a gorgeous find!

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  21. I have never thrifted and found anything I would want to spend time re-making although many of my clients bring me stuff they have found. Some of the ladies are the first to handle the bundles that arrive and they grab the best stuff for themselves.I remember back when I lived in So Cal and the Junior League had a thrift shop and members could pick through all the bundles for the best stuff before putting it out on the rails which I found a bit like cheating. The same thing happens here at St. Vincent's which is a shame but they assume if you volunteer, you can cherry pick the best stuff...sad. Your finds are amazing! The labels tell a story and the clothes look like they never been worn...fabulous!

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  22. I love thrifting, too, for reusable fabrics as well as clothing to alter. Our Goodwill is too high, but we have a couple of church sponsored shops that have great prices. I try to stick with those, especially at end-of-season, when you can get a bag full of stuff for $1.00! If that's going on, and I've found wonderful things, I will donate $10. . I have found some wonderful clothing that I couldn't wear, but I knew someone who could, or I'd just use the fabrics and trims (oh, the buttons!)

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  23. I love thrifting, too, for reusable fabrics as well as clothing to alter. Our Goodwill is too high, but we have a couple of church sponsored shops that have great prices. I try to stick with those, especially at end-of-season, when you can get a bag full of stuff for $1.00! If that's going on, and I've found wonderful things, I will donate $10. . I have found some wonderful clothing that I couldn't wear, but I knew someone who could, or I'd just use the fabrics and trims (oh, the buttons!)

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  24. Por casualidad entre en su pagina y me parece muy buena, este tema de la ropa de segunda mano es maraviloso y ademas de encontrar tesoros tambien se aprenden tecnicas de costura, gracias.

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    1. Es verdad. La chaqueta de lana fue muy bien hecho y por eso enseño el interior.

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  25. Last month I found a Diane Von Furstenberg silk tunic for $7. There were also two pairs of Paul Fluevog shoes that retail for $200+ that I didn't buy. I'm still kicking myself over that one. My thrifting experiences normally aren't like this, but I love that tunic -- and it's even in my size. A friend of mine started an Etsy shop and buys all of her fabric from thrift stores. This is now her full-time job.

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  26. Our charity shops (that's your thrift shops) are way more expensive. It's an alternative/addition to charity donation. I agree lots of things go into the vintage sections and get an even higher price tag. I've never thought really of shopping for trims but wonder if the prices make it worth it.

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  27. My family loves second hand/thrift shopping. Fun post. I think you should wear the silk blouse, it's lovely.

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  28. When I look at one particular school picture of myself around grade 9, all I see is the awful thrift store dress my mother made me wear for the picture. She had picked it out, not me. However I recovered from that long ago traumatic event. I thrift store shop all the time, mostly for repurposing or because of a unique trim or construction technique. I look for skirts in unique silks and wools, especially large size pleated skirts because there will be lots of fabric. Leather coats and pants also come home with me to be cut up for trim or made into purses. I purchased a coat just for it's mink fur tassels. A pair of silk brocade culottes labeled Giorgio Armani with size and fabric content in Italian was purchased because of the exquisite finishing techniques. As was a man's wool suit tailored in Hong Kong with the most interesting pockets (one for a pen in the interior of the chest lining) and internal tailoring.

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  29. I love thrift stores and as a costumer for years I spent much time searching for costume pieces or parts for shows. I made most of what was used but once I asked twenty kids to bring in one white dress shirt so I could remove the collar and sew the band closed. It made a good look for Fiddler costumes. After waiting forever I went to the thrift shop and got a big bag that I could fill for $5.00. That shop was run by a ladies group and they definitely did remove anything of any real value before it hit the sales floor.
    Now that I live in a different area we have a huge Goodwill with terrific prices and the town where it is located is surrounded by very wealthy towns where much of the clothing donated is great quality. I shop there for garments for the plays often. Once the show is over I just donate it all back.

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