upgrade thrift shop items - repurpose dress in a grommet embellished top diy-2

A thrift store can be a goldmine for those who have eyes to see beyond the trash to the treasure. Sometimes you’ll find a steal on a piece that’s great as-is, but other times you may have to use some creativity to bring out an item’s full potential.

Imagine finding a blouse with a pattern you really like, but the style looks it came straight from a 1980’s closet (in a bad way). You know what? Don’t be discouraged: could the sleeves be cut off or the neckline altered to make something totally new and awesome?

Other times, the most unusual sections can be the perfect place to look for material for that one-of-a-kind sewing project.

Whether you are a seasoned thrift store shopper or are just wanting to go for the first time, we have a bunch of ideas to help you take your thrift store shopping spree to the next level.

1.  Free Yourself to Re-Imagine Items

upgrade thrift shop items - repurpose dress in a grommet embellished top diy-2via a pair and a spair diy

Making the most out of your thrift store finds often requires basic sewing skills. If you’re familiar with sewing, your style upgrades will be a piece of cake, and even if you don’t, there are lots of ways to get useful tips on how to use a sewing machine. It’s up to you to decide if you need a refresher, a full-fledged crash-course on sewing or just a little help from a seamstress!

The most important part in a thrift shopping spree is recognizing an item’s potential and then turn it into a totally new, original piece. The art of  up-cycling, or more specifically “refashioning” can really be inspiring and a source of creativity if you love to wear a style that’s totally yours, quirky or even sophisticated, without worrying about the expense.

Experimenting is key, and one of the best ways to learn about this process is to head on Pinterest and find out projects for clothing upgrades or refashioning.

Inspiration can also come from a designer piece that you would like to replicate. Once you decide to put hands on your old clothes or on some items you picked at the thrift store, looking expensive on a tight budget is really possible.

2. Be Open Minded About Items and Sizes

Especially since some thrift stores are large and packed full of items, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and only look for clothing in the size you wear. But limiting your search could prevent you from finding many pieces that would make a great sewing project.

Since refashioning requires tailoring each piece to fit you, it is always a good idea to seek out a larger size that will provide you with the necessary extra fabric. Spend some time browsing through the larger sizes of women’s clothing and also in the men’s area to discover some great pieces to refashion.

Another unusual spot to visit during your shopping spree for up-cycled sewing projects is the easily overlooked home goods section! This area often has a good selection of fabric shower curtains, bed sheets and other odd pieces of fabric that can be an excellent source to find raw materials and original fabrics for your custom sewing creations.

Again, don’t be afraid to re-imagine an item: maybe that shower curtain with a pretty design could find new life as a great bag, and that bed sheet could be just right for a lining.

3. Know What to Pass Up

upgrade thrift store items diy fluffy slippersvia ps I made this

Certain thrift store pieces may have a lot going for them but have just one element that is simply a deal-breaker. To avoid a frustrating project and wasting your time, be wary of items that have issues like these:

  • An odd smell – Chances are you will not be able to get rid of a strong odor, even after a few washings.
  • Stains – Unless it is in an area you are planning to cut off, cover in pompoms or discard, it’s probably not worth the effort to try to remove the stain. It is possible that the original owner already tried and the stain is what caused this item to be donated in the first place.
  • Too Small – With any project that requires taking in or tailoring, such as updating a shirt dress, an item in your current size or smaller just won’t have enough fabric.
  • Tears or broken pieces you are unable to easily fix – As mentioned above unless the problem area will be cut off, these issues are probably not worth the time and effort required to deal with them, so pass up!

Ready For Your Shopping Spree? 

With so many sources availalable, there has never been a better time to start using your creativity to make beautiful pieces and recycle at the same time.

Armed with a few simple tricks, you can have that thrift store shopping spree with confidence and find those special items you can transform to make all your own.

Cover via  a pair and a spair diy