Why sew with thrifted fabrics?
1. It's cheap.
New, quality fabric is expensive. You can expect to pay at least $10 per yard for quality cotton fabric, both online and in brick-and-mortar fabric stores. However, let's consider a well-made, name brand (or even designer) men's cotton shirt. . . .
men's shirt, $2.99 at Goodwill
It's made up of about 1 1/2 yards (give or take) of high-quality fabric. Granted, the fabric isn't continuous yardage, but for most medium to smaller-sized projects, a men's shirt offers quite a bit of fabric to work with. You might pay $5.00 for the shirt at the thrift store, but usually, you'll pay much, much less. Now you have high quality, designer fabric at huge cost savings.
Even after removing the sleeves,
there's still plenty of fabric available.
$4 for 3 yards of new Amy Butler fabric, found at a thrift store
Fabric shopping at the thrift store is also great if you're on a tight budget. You can sew beautiful things for your home and loved ones, without a huge outlay of cash. It's also helpful if you are a beginner sewist, and don't want to spend a lot of money on materials on which you're learning and practicing.
2. It's unique.
You see the same popular prints on sewing blogs and pinterest, over and over again, and that's fine. . . .
3. It's eco-friendly.
By taking an item from the thrift store, like a skirt, and turning it into something new, like a tote bag, you are renewing the material, and extending its life and usefulness. That skirt was saved from the landfill, at least for a little while longer, and now serves a new purpose.
You can also look at the eco-friendly benefits in terms of less pollution, natural resource expenditure, worker exploitation, and manufacturing costs that new fabric entails, simply by not buying new fabric. That's going to get a little out of the scope of this post, but it's definitely something to consider.
4. It's good stewardship.
Good stewardship is about using what we've been given, without being wasteful. It's using what is so readily, inexpensively available to us, for a new purpose. It's being a good steward of the already-overflowing thrift stores and putting those discarded items to use... again.
planning a messenger bag, with thrifted pink ticking curtains,
a Heather Ross print, and some thrifted raspberry corduroy yardage
5. It's a challenge.
I'll be the first to admit -- it's much easier sewing with fresh-off-the-bolt yardage. Slap your pattern down on nice, flat fabric, and cut and go. Sewing with thrifted fabrics takes creativity, some puzzle-solving skills and a little patience.
You have to plan your pattern layout carefully, working around buttons and seams and rivets. Sometimes you have to plan around stains or holes, or oddly placed prints or designs. It can be frustrating, but it's almost always very rewarding.
6. It's FUN.
I enjoy the challenge, the puzzle. I love seeing an ugly skirt morph into a beautiful, unique purse. I like knowing that that new purse will be used and enjoyed for a long time.
Coming later. . . .
HOW to sew with thrifted fabrics! I'll cover what to look for in thrifted items, what makes them suitable for sewing, how to care for them, and how to use them appropriately. And by the end of this series, I hope you'll love sewing with thrifted fabrics as much as I do! If you have any questions at all, please leave me a comment below and I'll be sure to answer as best I can.
UPDATE! Here are my tutorials for sewing with thrifted clothing, with more to be added soon. . . .