Secondhand scavenge

22:09, Jun 18 2012

Ah the joy of markets, garage sales, school fairs and the like. I like a trawl: you're likely to spy me with my elbows out and arms full at the white elephant or secondhand clothing stall, or hawking through the unwanted contents of someone's garage in search of vintage buttons, trims, or brocades.

These places, I find, are a freaking treasure trove of fabrics that you just can't buy anymore, if you ever in fact could. Just check out this little velvet dress I picked up for $1 a couple of weekends ago. I gave it a good hot wash and a tumble dry and it's come up lovely. I have plans to turn it into a doorstop, and the scraps would make a lovely teacup pin cushion if paired with the right cup.

Then there is this, a seriously retro blue polyester curtain which I paid 50c for. It's a bit more than a metre square and, again, after a hot wash and dry it's like new. What I will eventually do with it I don't know but in the meantime it's a genuine vintage addition to my stash. I'm sure I will feel inspired to use it one day.

What do you think of this lampshade I made the weekend before last? I spray-painted the lamp base and then made the shade from a vintage linen tablecloth I picked up at a market and I still have about two-thirds of that beautiful material left.

Of course I sometimes come away with duds - not everything I collect along the way is cherished. Some, I realise, is just tat and has even less value than the probably paltry price I paid for it in the first place. Those things get the boot. Sometimes one man's trash is just everyone else's trash too. But the good buys outnumber the bad and usually as the day goes on I kind of fall more in love with whatever I have brought home.

Usually I have an idea of what I am after. For example, I am always in the market for ornate secondhand frames, though it seems everyone else is too as I can never find any above a certain size. I also always keep an eye trained for lampshade bases that might benefit from my kind of makeover - a little simple rewiring if needed and a newer, cleaner, prettier shade.

I think soon I'll be scoping for knitting needles too. I'm trying to get better, really I am. But for me it's a slow, steady and sometimes sleepy journey. So far I'm just knitting rows and rows and rows, then unpicking to start again. This is my way of trying to get the tension just so.

Are you a trawler? Maybe you've got a great eye for a good buy? I confess that I tend to make purchases based on look and feel only but I wish, wish, wish I had more knowledge when it comes to vintage textiles and the like. It'd be nice to be able to spot a diamond in the rough, right?

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