Altered Fashions: Thrift Store Crafts
31 July 2010
When I was little my Mom would say things like, “you can’t make a silk purse from a pigs ear,” or “if life gives you lemons make lemonade,” or one that we have all heard, “you can never judge a book by its cover." I think people use analogies to either help you understand something complex in a simple way or to make you look at something in a new way—and her teaching this lesson to me has done just that—sometimes to a fault. I am an analyst to the core. I look at something and think "what can I do with that, what could it become, what else was this intended to be?" I enjoy giving old things new life through thrift store crafts.
With our economy still in a slow build from a recession and our nation becoming more aware of our carbon footprint, we are all doing a bit more analysis and a bit more repurposing. We are all working towards making that silk purse from a pig’s ear, and no we are not going to judge the book by its cover…but we are going to wonder what else we can make from the book. Be it a purse or cool decoupage material, that item has a purpose and we are going to find it.
Take fashion for example, when life gives you lemons (i.e., no cash) and you want to make lemonade (i.e., cool clothes) what do you do? Well, you do what our parents did and you get resourceful—thrift stores, garage sales, or organize a clothing swap. You learn from your experiences and you analyze—can I make this look cool as is, can I alter it and dress it up, or can I repurpose it and make it totally new?
Here are a few examples of how you can get that “silk purse”.Fabric
Anything you see at a thrift store or garage sale that is made of fabric can be turned into something else. You can add your own flair to the fabric with other detailing—decorative stitching, patterns with embroidery or personalization and monogramming
. Remember Andie from “Pretty in Pink”, that girl made amazing stuff, and I know you can too!Pillowcases
Pillowcase dresses are all the rage for younger girls right now. I have one that is a simple white pillowcase with the most beautiful hand embroidery on it and pretty ribbon ties that my little girl looks precious in. And when she gets older I can pair this pillowcase dress with a pair of jeans and a T and will it look great then too.
Yes, shoes! Tie on some fabric scraps
or parts of a scarf you also got at a thrift store to a pair of flip flops or take some costume jewelry
or old earrings and glue them to some shoes to make them look new again. Take canvas shoes and stamp
them or add flair with embroidery floss
. Take out shoe laces and add colored fabric laces
I once saw a skirt made from men’s ties
sewn together. It was really cute…if you are younger than me, that is. I also have seen men’s ties repurposed into headbands and belts and woven into purses
. All of these are great ideas. You could take any of these ideas and add embroidery to monogram them or make them even more personal to your style. You could add your school mascot to a headband or your initial to a purse.Men’s Dress Shirts
You can make a girl's dress out of a men’s dress shirt
. There are several downloadable patterns on the internet. You could take this idea and add a row of embroidered flowers or ribbon trim to make it even more girly, and for $1.00 and some time you have a dress that would sell for $50 or more in a boutique. Not bad for a thrift store find! You can do the same thing and make a tie or wrap shirt for yourself and add an embroidered flower to the collar or tie on the shirt. Shirts also make cute skirts. The ideas are plentiful here!T-Shirts
You can make anything out of a t-shirt, and the internet can help you do it. You can cut the image off and put it on a different shirt or bag. You can sew the shirt shut and cut handles to make a bag. You can make a baby doll top, a purse or a headband out of them. There is no limit to what you can do with a t-shirt. The material is forgiving and requires very little finishing. It is also very easy to sew on and embellish with other techniques such as embroidery.Jeans
These are often your pricier item at a thrift store, but jeans last so long and can be turned into so much. You can find an old jean jacket and embellish it
, or take jeans and add embroidery floss to the pockets to make them look like the embellished back pockets that are so expensive and trendy today. You can cut the legs off and add fabric ruffles and make a one of a kind jean skirt. You can always just keep it a pure jean skirt or shorts too. For pants that are too short for your little one—add some ribbon or fabric ruffles to the bottom.
As you can see there are many ways you can make something out of nothing, or see something different than what is right in front of you. You have been making lemonade all of your life, and now you can also make fashion lemonade with thrift store crafts
. I can’t wait to see what you create.