Secondhand scavenge

Last updated 11:56 18/06/2012

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 velvet dress jpg 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.

bluefabricThen 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 madeblue shade 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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annie   #1   08:09 am Jun 19 2012

I've never had to go trawling! When I was a child anything and everything could be found at home or at my Gran's place around the corner. It's amazing what life during the depression (1929 not 2008) taught people about never wasting anything. Even though I am trying desperately to "declutter" there are still boxes of fabric and bags of wool. Slowly working through the wool by knitting - yes, knitting - hats scarves and gloves for old people in Christchurch. Luckily I have a daughter who will probably be happy to inherit whatever is left. Wool, fabric, buttons, trims, zips, elastic .......

kater   #2   02:16 pm Jun 19 2012

That lampshade is awesome! Can you give some more info how you did it?

Colleen   #3   08:37 pm Jun 19 2012

Lucky you! I think I'm pretty good at making the most of what we/I have - I chop buttons off old clothing and keep the fabric if it's worth having. I patch up the kids jeans and have been known to chop them into shorts. But still, I'm sure I don't know a thing about 'making do' compared with people from the Depression era. Always happy to learn though!


Colleen   #4   01:25 am Jun 20 2012

Hi Kater, I pretty much love it too. The lampshade tutorial is in the pipeline - you'll be surprised at how straight forward it is. Keep your eyes peeled for it...

Megan   #5   09:31 am Jun 20 2012

Im the keenest op shopper. Would happily spend hours trawling through them just to find what i like best. However the sifter collection I have only 1 (out of 40ish) came from an op shop, always on the look out for more tho. I often have people ask where I get lovely clothes for me and my children from, or items of furniture (like my vintage queen ladies chair) from. Its amazing what a lick of paint... or a few hours sanding can bring out.

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