Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tips for Thrifting Fabric

I'm not ashamed to admit most of our wardrobe comes from the thrift store.  I frequently buy a shirt, skirt or dress because I know the fabric will look good sewn into a quilt a year from now when I get tired of wearing it.  :)  

Here are my tips for "Thrifting Fabric"

***Shop your own closet first and don't be prideful.  Old boxer shorts are nice fabric when cut into strips.  People say "gross" when I tell them a certain piece of fabric is from a pair of boxer shorts.  WHO CARES!  Cotton is cotton! (of course they are washed).

***If you don't have easy access to thrift stores, don't forget tag sales, garage sales, estate sales, etc.  If you have a friend with good taste, tell them you're interested in their shirts next time they clean out their closet.

I like sewing the shirt tags into my quilts.  It adds an element of fun, as well as dates the quilt and always makes a for a fun conversation or memory.

***Always go with an open mind and think outside the box.  Yes, that Mauve
jumper with pink appliqued bunnies is horrible, but cut up, it's just pink fabric.  
*affiliate link*

Yep...check out the late 80's mauve tone on tone.  Not so bad cut up, is it?  
It's a pretty pink now.

***I much prefer smaller thrift stores as their prices are better and the money usually stays local, helping the community.  I still shop at larger "corporate" thrift stores but only on half price days.  Their prices have increased over the years, and I can get the same item at Walmart or Target for the same price.  

I had planned on this quilt being more "Low Volume", but it took on a life of it's own and became 
"Pastel Volume".   
I'm totally OK with that.  I like it when my quilts speak their mind.  :)

***Know your favorite thrift store's sale schedule.  For example: One of my favorite stores has all men's shirts, $1.00 on Tuesday.  Another place has all clothing for .25 cents.  Schnikies! It goes without saying, you hopefully want to find lots of XXL, long sleeve items.

The white piece in the very center with the orange squares is one of my favorite "civil war shirtings" from an Old Navy shirt. 

***Always buy natural fibers.  Cotton of course, but don't forget linen and wool.  They add a rich texture to your quilts.  What about seersucker (my favorite) or corduroy?  These fabrics will add sculpture and interest.  Don't be shy.  I dare you you to go Gee's Bend and add corduroy to your quilt.  

(Some of the most inspiring quilts I've seen lately are Victoria Wolfe's grandmother's handpieced quilts. I can't stop thinking about them and I'm terribly tempted to start hunting double poly-knit.  She shares pictures and stories of her inspirational grandmother in her book: 15 minutes of Play  I'm really enjoying this book and can highly recommend it.  If double poly-knit makes you happy, put it in your quilt).  

***Never pass on 100% cashmere anything.  :)  That's just my rule.  I'll wear it, or felt it.  LOOOOOVE Cashmere (and other pretty 100% wool sweaters).  

The green gingham/check down the center were a favorite pair of boxer shorts.  

***I never leave Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley, Lilly Pulitzer, Lands End or Wrangler shirts behind. These good brand names always have the best quality fabric with wonderful prints.  Do you have a favorite brand?  

***If you find men's shirts in purpleorange or brown, get it.  They are hard to come by.  You'll always have plenty of blues, greys and greens. 

 Remember to gather flannels or homespun fabrics.  

***Don't forget you'll need background fabrics and low volume type prints.  I don't care for solid white, but I will always grab a white shirt with print, especially if it looks like civil war shirtings.  I love them.  (Old Navy usually has really neat civil war shirting type prints. Watch for them).

I Spy a green shirt my daughter wore in high school. :)
***Be sure to visit the women's and children's section too.  That's where you'll find a lot of floral, feminine fabrics, novelty prints and typically more color than just a "blue dress shirt" from the men's department.  The women's section is where I find good reds.  Shirts and tops are fine, but there is more fabric in a dress, up to 3 yards.  If you've only got $10 in your pocket today, get the dress.  

This is a vintage pink and gray table cloth, I finally decided to use as backing.

***Watch for vintage clothing.  This is how I find a lot of my vintage fabrics.  EXCEPT, I take it home thinking "The fabric in this 1968 shift dress is FAB-U-LOUS!!!"  Then I don't have the heart to cut it and I'll end up hoarding it until I decide what to do with it.  *sigh* (Be careful of this.  Don't hoard.  Use it up. Now. Better on a bed, loving someone and keeping them warm, than junking up your studio and life).

***The pajama section always has fun novelty prints.  

I used 2 old pillow cases in this quilt.  The case itself was worn out and unusable, but I cut 2 inches off the edges and harvested the crochet work and ric-rack.  Just sewed them in as strips by top stitching the decorative edge down.

***When you're looking through clothing or pillowcases, always watch for nice trims and notions.  Can you harvest the ric-rac?  What about the lace?  Can you cut the ruffle off that cute skirt and use it some where else? 

***The linen section is my favorite place to look.  Vintage sheets are my favorite find, but what about the vintage table cloth?  The pillowcase with crochet trim?  Dinner napkins?  Shower curtains?  Upholstery fabric and velvets are nice to collect for the  bucket list "Crazy Quilt" you're planning

***Also, this is the section where a lot of scrap fabric and craft supplies end up.  DIG!  You'll find handkerchiefs, fat quarters, yardage, all kinds of good stuff.  My best scores have always come from digging.  If you're really, really lucky and the stars are all aligned, this is where you'll find quilt supplies, blocks and tops.  YUMMY!!  

***I personally like to look through the curtains.  There are always homemade window treatments in there, with yummy vintage fabric and notions.  We covered much of my daughter's wedding with thrifted lace curtains and crochet table cloths.  I covered a large window with thrifted curtains as well.  

***Don't be afraid of stains.  An Oxy-Clean soak will work, and if not, just cut the stain out.  Don't use that piece.  Or I'll use the piece anyway and applique things over the stain.  It always turns out randomly cute when I do this.

The finished quilt was begging to stand next to my Yellow Texas Roses, so I said Yes.  :)  

***Be careful of fabric dry rot.  If it's really old and very thin, sadly, I wouldn't mess with it.  But if you're dying to have it because you can't leave pink kittens behind, make sure you're getting it cheap and put it in an art quilt. 

Our latest Springer foster, Barkley wanted everyone to see how cute his butt is.  Really, Barkley?

***If you like it. Get it. It's your quilt. Do what YOU want.  Make your own rules, and then break them.  With thrifted fabric, it's so cheap you can afford to experiment.  I would never experiment with my Amy Butler-Heather Ross-Kaffee Fassett hoard.  Never, ever.  But...

With thrifted fabric, you now have permission to make something funky, fun and tie....and wow.....I kinda like this ugly block.  "It's so ugly it works".  LOL   Plus, it will be original.  No one else has the quirky (affordable) fabric stash but you.  

Quilt Bravely!!!  

Did I miss anything?  
Do you have any tips to add?  
I'm anxious to hear about your thrifting for fabric adventures.

Be blessed and Be a blessing.
Be inspired. 
Encourage one another. 
Make pretty things. 

~ Anne Hathaway ~ 


Sweet Woodruff said...

This is another test.

LA Paylor said...

Hi Michal
Thanks for visiting my blog, not afraid of color today. I wanted to say I'm from Tampa, now living in Maryland. Haven't been home since I got married and moved up north. I hope we keep in touch. I love doggies too, and yours are sweet. My standard poodle has his own page!
I had a good time tooling thru your blog.
LeeAnna Paylor

Quilting Stories said...

I believe that succeeding in making a beautiful quilt out of thrift fabrics is an art, and your quilt is successful! There is an harmony in the tunes, it's really great.

Jessica said...

Hello. :)
What a fun way to scavenge for fabric. I used to buy second hand until I found great prices on fabric by the yard. My allergies just can't take second hand shops for more than two or three minutes. lol, they do have nice cashmere sweaters... I miss those. :) Happy quilting.

Jessica said...

What a fun way to scavenge fabric. Great job on your quilt. It's beautiful. :)

Beverly said...

Happy Pink Saturday, Michal. I am so glad you joined us this weekend, and I hope you will be back often. I appreciate you making Pink Saturdays special.

I so enjoyed this post. Your work is fantastic. I wish I had the patience to sew. I am a great admirer of those with your gift and great eye for design.

Ashley @ 3 Little Greenwoods said...

"Quilt Bravely!" I LOVE it!

One day... I'm going to learn the art of quilting!

Thank you so much for sharing your creativity at our Show-Licious Craft & Recipe Party! Join us again on Saturday to show off your latest projects!

~ Ashley

Laura Lane said...

I adored this post! I'm going to hunt in multiple sizes for goodies now.
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Hi Michal, I've featured your fabulous tips and quilt today...

Unknown said...

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Meredith said...

Hi there. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I have only been quilting about a year. I am fully self-taught and use blogs like yours to perfect...make that move in that art. I have been accumulating fabric from the craft stores and ONLY buy from the remnant section unless someone makes a custom order. Lately most of my orders have been t-shirt rag quilts. I have fallen in love with this quick and thrifty style. I decided today, before reading your post, that I was going to raid the thrift store this afternoon for fun t-shirts to make a quilt. Who needs to buy full-priced fabric anyways? Thanks for the extra information...may have to grab some cotton prints while I am at it. :)
Check out my latest t-shirt rag quilt.

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