Friday, June 1, 2012

5 Thrift Store Finds to Recycle into Crafts

I've never liked thrift stores, though you wouldn't know that now. When I was younger my mom would stop into them to scout out antique furniture-- the finds were few, but every once in a while she would score something great. One time I accompanied her and found a piece of vintage costume jewelry, never found any ever since, but I always take a peek in the glass cases up front. Over the years though, I have come to see thrift stores as a treasure chest for crafting materials-- albeit, most of the things I pick up are taken apart and recycled in entirely new ways (and I'm not talking junk art). 

I was reading a post over at, Let's Go On a Picnic, about being a thrift store addict and I got to thinking of all the things I look for at thrift stores to recycle into crafts.
Honestly, ever since I started going to more stores to find "crafting materials" I noticed how much other stuff these stores hold and some of them are pretty much like Marshall's or TJ Maxx with donated overstock from big name stores. 

K, so here are my 5 thrift store finds to recycle into crafts. 

Promotional T-shirts
You know those t-shirts that local businesses toss out on parade day or everyone in band must wear on the bus? Well, even though most people will climb over 100 people to catch one at a parade or ball game, few people actually wear them. Instead they go right to the back of the closet and into a bag for the thrift store within six months. That's where I come along and scoop up a crap load of "yarn" for pennies because most of them get relegated to the bargain bin on account of nobody wanting to wear a shirt that says "TJ's Auto Body" across the front. 

The shag part of this rug is made from tshirts

Bed Sheets 
I don't bring home anything nasty or even well used looking. Nope, there are enough new bed sheets filling up thrift stores all over the place. Folks buy back ups all the time, never use them, clean out the closet and I get them for a song. At the same time, stores by too much of a print or pattern that no one wants, and while it might look hideous as a bed, the colors are just right when its torn up and reused. 

Old Purses and Wallets
I love sorting through the old purses that fill thrift stores. I don't care if they are new or well used, its the color and material I am looking at.  I like using leather for jewelry, accessories and even to add to pillows and stuff. Even thought I can get hides at wholesale prices through my dad's business, the stuff is expensive so I only buy it for large pieces with something specific in mind. With the purses and wallets I drag home, most are already dyed a rainbow of colors and treated, so I can tear em up and not worry-- plus no one is going to resell them for much especially when they have been so used. 

I am really picky about frames, so I probably buy one in every 500 I see at any thrift store. Love the olders scrolly wood ones, because they upcycle better. All in all, I don't recycle a lot of frames, but every once in a while I like to make a shadowbox, especially post vacation, and folks always want cute framed prints, pressed flowers and frames for holding jewelry etc. 

Wool, knit, felt. Love them all because there is a way to use up all those ugly sweaters that have hardly seen the light of day. I cheat when it comes to knit blankets and pillows. Its not that hard to stitch those babies together and turn them into cuddly pillows and blankets that everyone wants.  Leg warmers, arm warmers, doll clothes, even fuzzy socks and booties or winter hats. Try it!

So those are my five favorite thrift store finds to reuse, not to mention plain old crafting supplies that folks buy and then never use. 


I just looked at my messy desk and remembered one of the most commonly reused things I bring home from thrift stores. Books! I used to get mad when I saw some of the things folks did to books, but honestly, there are some books that its okay to tear up. Some are better for the job than others......I send a lot of romance novels through the shredder so that I can use the strips for confetti :)