Category Archives: Thrift store

Restricted by the landlord, Inspired by my husband

We are renting short-term, and the landlord absolutely forbids anything on the wall. I can’t have shelves that would organize things so well in the sewing room, and I can’t give up a lot of floor space. We have several bookshelves that are doing duty as a pantry because of the shallow (and few) cabinets in the kitchen. I don’t really want to buy more furniture, even used, so a comment by my husband inspired this sewing room makeover. “I could even use boxes as furniture for a while.” So I will.

inspired temporary storage of fabric

I have some plastic bins on the floor with various craft supplies that I can’t seem to live without, but never open the box to access. Anyway, I decided to tape together some of the boxes we have saved for the next big pack-and-move, and use them as fabric storage. All this is supposedly set aside for doll clothing and accessories. I keep going to thrift stores and stumbling onto fantastic sales so I come home with another bag full of tops, tablecloths, and fabric remnants that I just know I can turn into something absolutely cute for a doll.

I stacked the boxes in the corner, and it also inspired me to rearrange most of the rest of the room. I think I can walk through it again. Even though I resent using valuable sewing time to clean, fold, and reorganize, I know I’ll appreciate it the first chance I need something and can immediately put my hands on it.


Thriving on thrift

I’m seriously addicted to thrift stores, and I don’t want a cure.

I found a girl’s pink t-shirt for a quarter. I knew I would repurpose it for doll clothing. I wish I had a before picture, but here is the after:

  • one doll’s tank top
  • one knit ruffle scarf for dolls
  • one knit ruffle scarf for girls
  • two knit braided headbands for dolls

Just think what I could have made with a larger t-shirt! I also saved a bit of pink knit fabric to use later, and the sparkly M (for Missouri) to applique on something else.

This past weekend I found these two 18″ dolls at a thrift store, for a combined total of $6.50. I already cleaned the skin of both of them using lens cleaners for glasses. I figured (correctly) the alcohol would rid them of most of the smudges. I need to figure out something to use on the purple marker that wasn’t easily removed. The picture above is an almost-before picture of the dolls. I have to do something about their hair, and I’m going to use the ONE shoe as a pattern for making shoes for dolls.

Making do with what it is

I love thrift store shopping, and crafting. The two go hand in hand, quite often.

I am an elementary reading teacher, and right now I have 50 students. I always put up a small Christmas tree in my classroom, and usually have ornaments on the tree that students can choose to keep.

I found a bag full of small round “gold” rings, and my thought was that they were snap-together frames for a craft project. Knowing there were plenty in the bag for one per student, I bought it. Little did I know, they were actually curtain rings. No snap together parts.

No worries. I got them home, fiddled around a little, and decided there was plenty of gluing surface to cut paper in a circle and glue to the back. I got out my new crafty circle cutter and found 1 5/8″ is the right measurement.

I plan to print a photo of each student to put in the center of 50 of the rings.

I counted out 50, and found at least that many remaining in the bag, so I found some scraps and this is what I did. Simple, cute, and I may revise it at some point.

I had a small scrap of pine tree fabric and it covered the backs of three of the rings. A little bit of ribbon, and it’s a simple ornament. I will probably work up a small tribute on the back saying it’s a gift from Mrs. M.

Tutorial: Fabric covered photo album

Last summer I had picked up a photo album at a thrift store. I used the hard cover to make over into a book purse.

Seaside Date Evening Bag

Seaside Date Evening Bag

Now I find I have a need for a small photo album, so I remembered that I had kept the photo sleeves and decided to make a new hardcover for the album. It was very quick (about an hour) and pretty easy. In fact, no sewing needed!

Find a piece of cardboard larger than you need. In my case, 8.5×11 was plenty big enough. I wanted some overhang on 3 sides to protect the edges of the photos.

Trim the cardboard to the size you need. Center the photo sleeves and mark the two fold lines to form the spine.

Use something with your straight edge to score the two fold lines. I used a regular screwdriver. The scored lines will be on the outside of the folds.

Choose your fabric. Cut fusible interfacing the same size as your cardboard. Center it on your fabric and press, leaving a margin for turning under.

Use a craft or tacky glue, and first glue the spine, or narrow center portion of the cardboard to the back side of the fabric. Then, in turn, fold one cover and glue to fabric, then the other. It is important to fold as you glue, so that the book will tend to stay closed rather than try to flop open.

Squiggle some glue around the edges, eyeballing the distance that your fabric will turn under. First, fold the corners at an angle, as shown. Dab the corner fabric with more glue, and turn the rest of the fabric.

Choose your inner cover fabric. Measure just larger than the cardboard cover. Fuse with interfacing on the reverse side, interfacing being a little less than the size of the cardboard. Turn under raw edges.

Center the inner fabric to the inside of the album cover. First, glue the center (spine) portion, then fold and glue each end. Glue the spine of the photo sleeves and press to the spine of your cover. Finished!

Three tops and a quilt

No, not quilt tops. Clothing.

First, the quilt. The fireworks quilt is finished and given away.

When I mentioned to my husband that I needed a different fabric for a narrow border, he promptly scrutinized the fireworks fabric and suggested a bright green. I think he was right on with that suggestion, it brings out the brightness in the colors. The mother and father-to-be laughed when they realized I had used fireworks for their July baby.

This top I’m very happy with!

I made it from a thrift store sheet, purchased for $1.25. I have plenty of fabric left over to make something else, like a skirt, or summer pajamas, or incorporate it into baby quilts. I love it when a plan comes together like this!

Two more tops finished, and I’m not as pleased with them, but they will do. The dark floral print below was yardage purchased at a thrift store.

I followed the pattern according to what would be my size, and it ended up far too big to wear. I’ll have to adjust a couple of things.

This plaid fabric was also yardage from a thrift store. The sizing is right, but I think the pattern was a poor choice for me. I may wear it around the house only, or I may grow to love it.

Replace as refashion

I’m feeling more like myself again and had a great thrift store shopping session last Saturday. Among my finds were two tops I could wear to work that were ready to go, no altering needed. Another is too small and there’s nothing I can do about it except get on the exercise bike and lose that weight!

Today’s post is about a repair to one shirt. I fell in love with how simple it was, a v-neck button-down white cotton shirt with lace at the cuffs and hem. When I tried it on to show my husband, he pointed out that some of the lace was coming apart.

Close up of the lace problem

I found a great rose patterned lace in my basket, which was actually a leftover from some curtains I had made about 17 years ago.

I set my serger to do a rolled hem, and I did it successfully, I might add. Sometimes I don’t notice all the steps I need to change on something. I made a rolled hem at the bottom and sides of the lace piece, pinned it right sides together with the shirt without even cutting off the old lace, and simply serged it in place. I let the serger cut off the old.

I stitched over the seam with a narrow zigzag to keep it from flipping and allow it to hang straight. I’m very pleased with the results! I didn’t have enough lace to do the cuffs also, so I just cut off and serged the ends of the sleeves. I’ll figure it out later.

Busy day

With the heat reaching upper 90s and the heat index even higher, I knew I didn’t want to be in the sewing room in the afternoon. It’s upstairs and heat rises, and the upstairs a/c isn’t working at this time. Ugh. Anyway, I decided to get an early start on things.I had two pages of the mystery quilt to work on. Thank goodness there was no cutting this time! I have no idea if all the cutting is finished, or if it’s just a couple of simple steps in a row. One step had me sewing a rectangle to a sashing strip, and the other had me sewing a light/dark combo to a light/dark/sashing strip. I ended up with what looks like a 4-patch with a sashing strip.

mystery quilt blocks

Then I decided it was time to alter some clothes. I bought two pair of cotton pants at a thrift store. One was my size but too baggy, and the other was too big and needed more than a little alteration. I’m pleased with how they came out. They are both a gingham check, one is a mossy green and the other is purple, though I’m sure it doesn’t show as purple in the photo. Here are the after pictures, on a hanger.

green ginghampurple gingham

Later, in the dreaded hot afternoon, I had the brilliant idea to make a business card holder. I wanted something to make it simple for my business cards to be displayed in the toe ring boutique, and if I sew it, it will reflect the kind of work I do. Tutorial follows, and I hope you enjoy!