The Art of Thrifting

I had a wonderful “day-off” on Saturday.  My husband was judging a beer brewing competition and my in-laws took the girls for the entire day and offered to keep them overnight.  So, I was left with a WHOLE day to myself (aside from the brief meeting with our accountant to finish up our taxes).  What to do?  What to do?

I chose to spend my day leisurely thrift store shopping around my area.  This is something I rarely get to do and there were some shops in the area that I had never even checked out before.  My number one priority was to find a comfy wing-back chair to re-upholster.  I have been searching for one of these for some time now.  And while I was searching for my chair, I happened upon lots of other fun treasures that were just screaming my name.

I ended up finding these three vintage sheets (all at different stores).  Sheets are great to use as fabric.  I bought these with the intention of making dresses out of them, but if you come across any other great sheet patterns consider using them for window drapes or pillows.

This was my favorite one, by far.  It cost me $2.00 and I just love the border around the entire top of the sheet.  It has this beautiful floral print and the embroidered scalloped edging.  I can just see this as a hem for a sweet, spring dress.  The rest of the sheet has little flowers that will also be great for dress fabric.

I thought this sheet was fun and whimsical.  It was only $1.50 and is full-sized (which is a lot of fabric).  It has all different little animals and trees on it.  Fun for a little girl, I think.

And this one, well this one, I bought with my daughter Matilda in mine.  It just looks like her to me – sweet and feminine.  I think it will make a really sweet smocked dress for her and it was only $1.50.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a ton of disposable income to fix up my house these days.  With having two little girls and another one on the way, we are definitely on a budget.  I found these inexpensive frames and have an idea for a little wall-decor project with them.  I’m planning to spray paint them all to match.  These frames can be pretty expensive if you bought them new, but these were just a couple dollars.  And of course I will share with you once I get my project complete.

And this was a really fun find!  Someone had donated all these designer upholstery books to our local thrift store and I scooped them up for .99 cents per book.  I also got all these great seperate pieces of fabric as well – some are square and some are quite large (they are folded up in the picture).  I can see some serious pillows being made from these – and it was $5.00 for all of this fabric.  I don’t know if you remember, but I made my Fall Pumpkins from home decor fabric remnants and they turned out great.

I can see these remnants making something really great for Christmas – maybe an advent calendar or a patchwork stocking.  Oh, the possibilities are endless!

And finally, my chair!!  I actually found my chair!  I couldn’t believe it, but all the lines were just what I was looking for and the chair was super-comfy as well.  The legs are all carved and, it’s hard to tell in the picture, but there is some carving up around the top of the back of the chair as well.  I LOVE it and I got a wonderful deal on it too.  I plan to recover it in a much more updated, modern fabric.  I don’t know if you can envision it, but I can, and I think it’s going to be great!

Tips for Thrifting:

  • Bring a List:  Make sure you know what you are looking for.  It’s much easier to go into a store with some sort of direction.  You may find other treasures on the way, but if you don’t know what you are looking for, you may get overwhelmed by the whole experience.
  • Don’t Bring Children:  If you are really treasure hunting, this is best done on your own.  Children are too distracting and you may miss that diamond in the rough trying to keep them happy.  And it’s just so much more fun to browse leisurely, then have to worry about when your child is going to melt-down.
  • Be There When the Store Opens:  If there is a store that you know carries what you are looking for, be there right when they open.  Most furniture goes very quickly and the good stuff is gone early Saturday morning.  Make sure you don’t miss out!
  • Think Outside the Box:  Look at things from a different perspective.  What could this be used for other than its intended use?  If you get creative, you might find some really great deals and be able to create something truly fabulous.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask:  If you don’t see what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to ask the sales staff.  I was once looking for 100% wool sweaters and finally asked about them.  The lady took me to this back room where they had been holding over 200 sweaters for a woman, but they had lost her name and number and said I could have any I wanted for $1.00 each – SCORE!!  Also, ask if they know of any other thrift stores in the area – they might know of some that aren’t well advertised.
  • Do Some Research:  If you are looking for a bigger ticket item, such as a chair or dresser, make sure you get an idea of what is a reasonable amount of money to spend.  Some thrift stores can grossly over price these types of items.  I had done some looking on craigslist and ebay for wing-chairs, so when I came across mine, I knew I had found a great deal.
  • Negotiate:  Especially in used furniture stores – it never hurts to try.  All they can say is no.  And you are even better off if you have cash and are prepared to walk away with the item right then and there.
  • Have Fun:  View this as a treasure hunt.  The hunt is almost as fun as the find and if you don’t come away with anything, that’s ok, there will always be new treasure to find in the future.

I hope these tips will help you find some unique treasures.  You don’t have to spent a lot of money to have fabulous things, you just have to be a little creative.  It’s probably going to take me awhile to get around to recovering my chair, but I can’t wait to share that project with you – it’s going to be an adventure!

What has been your best thrift store find?

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  1. Wow great stuff! I posted about my best recent finds here:
    Thanks for sharing & great tips!

  2. Anonymous says

    I love looking at thrifty finds! I just came from Goodwill myself, but didn’t score as much as you did. Maybe next time. 🙂

  3. oh boy – those books are such a fabulous find!!!

    I love reupholstering furniture – such a passion of mine! I just wish it didn’t take such a toll on my body, but the end result is so worthwhile! My favorite pieces of furniture in my house are the ones I have resurrected myself – usually with blood, sweat and tears :). Great, great find!

  4. you found some really great deals! I love finding the decorator remenants. They do make the most expensive looking pillows 🙂
    Have fun!

  5. I’m just loving your thrift store finds-especially the fabric books!! Me = jealous!! One of my favorite places to find treasures are estate sales, because they usually have nicer/better quality things than run-of-the-mill garage sales/thrift stores in my area. Plus, often the proceeds go to charity!

  6. Wow nice finds! I never find anything good at thrift shops. I can’t wait to see what you make with the pretty fabrics!

  7. I haven’t thrifted in quite some time, the shops in my area just don’t seem to have that great of a selection. maybe because I’m not there when it opens so stuff is already picked over. 🙂 Congrats on your chair though, I hope you’ll consider sharing the details of re-covering it.

  8. Great tips, thank you! I love thrifting, I have found some amazing merchandise that way for so little cost.
    Hugs, Cindy

  9. I’m loving all of your fabric treasures! I always look for vintage sheets when I’m thrifting. And I’m so glad you found your chair! Usually when I’m looking for something specific, I can never find it 🙂

  10. I have the same white/pink roses sheets! I actually made a 1774 dress for my older daughter when she really got into the American Girl dolls and books. I love it. She has now passed it down to her little twin sisters to play dress up with! I love that sheet set! I plan on taking the pillow cases to make dresses for the twin girls this month! Yay!

  11. fun Lindsay! glad you got to have a fun day and found a chair you wanted on top of that!! thanks for the thrifting tips, I can’t wait to put them to use. 🙂

  12. Just found your site. LOVE the vintage sheets. I have some similar floral sheets that were my mom’s that are from the 60’s or early 70’s. Don’t know what I’m going to do with them yet, but just love them. Never thought to look for them at thrift stores. Will have to look!

  13. Great finds! I’d love for you to list some of the thrift shops you go to (I remember you mentioning you live in Illinois? If it’s around Chicagoland, the list would really be useful for me!)

    Thanks for such an amazing blog; love reading it every day!