Finding Great Fabrics for Sewing or Up-cycled Projects


Being an avid sewing, I am always on the lookout for beautiful and unique fabrics for my projects. I especially enjoy up-cycling retro fabrics into something new or restyled. Do I buy new fabrics from online or fabric stores? Yes, of course! I think all sew-a-holics do that, whether they need the fabric or not! But in recent times I have turned more and more to previously worn garments that I find at the thrift shops. The great finds I have encountered at these wonderful places have added plenty of quality and unique fabrics to my fabric stash.

In the town where I live, there is a large thrift store where you can buy clothing by the bag. Five dollars gets you a tall kitchen garbage bag full and for just two dollars you can walk away with grocery store plastic bag full. Depending on what I find on a given visit to my local store, I usually walk away with at least one bag of great finds.

When I have a little more time, I visit the Salvation Army or Goodwill stores nearby. Most of the time, garments are sold singly, but I often find something really nice for a dollar or two. Earlier this week I bought a near perfect cashmere cardigan for $2, and a denim skirt, new with tags for $3. So it always pays to look, and to visit often!

Here’s what I look for when I’m in search of fabrics for my sewing projects:

  • I only work with natural fabrics: denim, cotton, linen, wool or cashmere. I check fabric content on the labels to quickly sort out what I want.
  • Larger size skirts, dresses and blouses in pretty floral or batik prints. I choose larger sizes to get larger pieces of fabric for a project. ┬áHere’s a sampling of the recent floral prints I found:
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  • Cotton or linen stripes and plaids: long dresses or large sized shirts fit the bill for many projects. They make good coordinating fabrics for florals or denim.fullsizeoutput_1d8
  • Lastly, I love working with 100% linen. Buying good linen can be costly, but over the past 2 months I have found 3 full length linen summer dresses with plenty of fabric. These can be restyled into summer tops or skirts easily. Even though the color does not show it well in this picture, the top linen dress is a beautiful pale blue.fullsizeoutput_1d9

So, if you haven’t visited your local thrift store for fabrics with great potential, I’d like to encourage you to give it a try! It’s fun to score a great find and who knows? You may find some other great items besides fabric…but I’ll save that for another post.

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