Epic thrifting day

16 Oct
I have a great love for thrift stores – when I was little we were very poor, but my Mom made bargain shopping into a game.  I still enjoy it!  I also like a lot of variety, but retail prices make me flinch.  I have literally no clothing budget except for my sewing.   Today I went to one of the larger Goodwills in town.  I had been on the verge of giving it up, as it seemed lately that they suffered from the same issue that all the southern Indiana stores have – very little in my size, and in fact, very little that wasn’t recent season Wal-mart discards and such.  I thrift to get nicer things than I could otherwise afford, and I could afford to shop at Wal-mart (but I don’t… it’s such an unpleasant place.)
I don’t know what happened, but it seemed that today there was plenty of merchandise in my size, from very nice brands – and even some actual vintage, which I find is quite rare in a Goodwill (I think it must get shipped to their boutique stores.)  Of course, it may also be that I was on my own – I often thrift with my husband, but he does not have the patience that I do to sift through every single rack in the store (and it is a very large store.)  I was there for two hours, but I think I made up for my recent absence from the thrift scene.
Skirts.  I have found that skirts are very easy to alter, so I have started buying them too large and altering to fit.  The red skirt  is vintage Pendleton wool – never worn, see the tag still attached!  It’s too big, but it’s easily altered.  I already washed it in Eucalen to remove the thrift store stink (how is it that all thrift stores smell the same?) and Leon slept on it (cats have an irresistible urge to sleep on wet laundry I find.) thus the wrinkles.    The other plaid skirts are also nice – the olive/purple miniskirt fits really well, and just to show you how sizing has changed, it’s a size 8 (I think it’s from the 80s, based on the tag.)  Now I usually have to buy a 2 in skirts, which I think is just silly.  I put most of these skirts in the “to be altered” pile – even if they fit they are often a low-waisted style, and I’ve definitely decided that low-rise skirts do not suit me at all.
This coat was a great find – vintage 100% cashmere, fur collar, silk lining in perfect condition except for one tiny, easily repaired rip where the sleeve lining attaches.   Sadly, it doesn’t fit me as well as I hoped, being a few sizes too big, so it is probably destined for ebay.
Various jackets… the one on the right is a Banana Republic equestrian style that appears to have never been worn, with great elbow patches.  I don’t know how I found these, because I never have any luck at all in the jacket section!  I have lately become enamoured with wearing blazers open over full skirts to extend the summer skirt season, but I had very few jackets anymore.
Many tops… you can never have too many I think, though when I had all these in my cart I was actually approached three times by people who thought I worked there!  I find that I don’t enjoy making tops as much as dresses and skirts, so I’d rather thrift those items than have to worry about making my own.  These will be worked into my wardrobe.  I need to get to making those two black skirts – I have fabric for a pencil style and a more full style, both with the thought of wearing them with my more colorful blouses.  Most of these are from Ann Taylor or NY&Co.
I bought this 80s sweater because I liked the color.  Is this style back yet?  I’m seeing the giant dolman sleeved sweaters everywhere, but that is really not a good look on me (though fab on others.)  This is better – volume on the top, but since my arms are free I don’t look like an enormous bat.
I even found a few dresses, after picking through a sea of ugly 80s denim jumpers.  The green print dress is clearly home sewn, and I had to buy it for that reason.  It needs taking in around the bust, but it will be cute next summer.  I love the teal wrap dress, which is sort of an empire wrap.  Works better on me than a waist wrap.  The calico dress is to wear with my cowboy boots and a jacket – I’ve seen a few women in similar outfits this fall, and I like the style.
And a purse… it isn’t a fancy purse, but I thought the stripes were fun.  I’m thinking early 90s maybe?  I seem to recall this sort of Ralph Lauren stripe being popular then.  Purses are stupid cheap at Goodwills here – $1.50 each.
And finally, I bought this set of vintage sheets to use as dress fabric.  I thought there was something I liked about the pattern, but it wasn’t until I had washed it and hung it over the balcony that I realized it forms a very MC Escher type 3d print.  My husband (the math nerd) was very excited to point that out to me.  I don’t know how old these are, but the fitted sheet does not have elastic, just a zigzagged edge.  Is that a clue?
Does anyone else share my love of thrifting?  None of my friends do… in fact, I bet they would be shocked if they realized what percentage of my wardrobe is thrifted.  It’s why I say sewing is not saving me anything – yes, it’s cheaper than retail, but I don’t shop retail!  That’s ok though… I just put it in my entertainment budget instead.
I’m hoping to start on my polka dot dress today… I was going to cut the fabric last night, but there was a giant wasp in my sewing room.  I’m a big wuss when it comes to anything that could sting me, so I shut it in and waited til my husband got up this morning to take care of it.  Hopefully today!
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23 Responses to “Epic thrifting day”

  1. Alexandra Mason October 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    What wonderful finds! I love thrifting too….i think 90% of my wardrobe is thrifted.

  2. Tasia October 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Oh nice! What great finds, the equestrian-style jacket is excellent for fall! I love thrift-store shopping, you just never know what you might find! but you’re right, a lot of people are appalled by the idea… or think it’s too time-consuming to ever find anything. It’s awesome when you can alter too-big items to fit, too! Skirts are great for that.

  3. Jen October 16, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    You know that you can refashion that coat! I dare you! All your purchases are awesome. Congrats!

  4. Misty October 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    I love the jacket with the elbow patches! I have a soft spot for elbow patches. Maybe it’s because I’m a professor now…

  5. Irene October 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    What a haul! Nothing wrong with thrifting, so long as you can actually find something you want. I gave up long ago, and I’d rather dig in the clearance section at the fabric store.

  6. ~Sherry~ October 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    My goodness what a great day you’ve had!!
    I love thrifting – we call it ‘op-shopping’ here – but my husband has no patience for it either! You can come across some fantastic quality older fabrics, so even if you have to take something apart and remake it, it can still be worthwhile.

  7. Myra October 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Wow, what a haul. My mom had a coat in the early 70′s like the camel one you have there with a fur collar. I love thrift stores, but there’s not much around here – the only one in town closed and it had lots of Walmart things too. I need to go to the ones in Victoria to probably find better. I went to one in Houston that was a kids resale and bought lots there for my oldest, high-end things since it was in a high-end neighborhood.

    • stitchywitch October 17, 2010 at 3:44 am #

      I find that the thrifts are often better in high-end neighborhoods, at least for clothes. There are only two stores in my city where I can get clothes, though there are plenty that are great for furniture etc.

  8. Deborah October 16, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Hi. I love the bag! The stripes are so coool. I also love those skirts that you found. It is so easy to lose yourself for a couple of hours in a good thrift store. Good for you!

  9. Anjanette October 16, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Love, love, love to thrift. My daughter’s first choice for clothes shopping is also thrifting. Good job on such great finds!

  10. peacockchic October 16, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    LOL!!! I totally understand about the wasp. Unfortunately I have no husband so everything dies a very slow death via RAID overdose. I have had some good thrifting luck lately but NOTHING LIKE THAT!!! great job with the amazing finds

  11. kelli ward October 17, 2010 at 12:33 am #

    I LOVE thrifting. My husband doesn’t so I also go alone. My favorite thing of late is to find very large items in great fabric that I can use to make other things – kinda like your sheet.

    • stitchywitch October 17, 2010 at 3:42 am #

      Ooh, that’s a good idea – there are always big caftans in great prints, I never thought to reuse the fabric in one!

  12. jenibrown October 17, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    OMG, I think I have that exact same coat in my closet. I got it from my mum, who got it from her great aunt. It’s a bit too small for me these days, but I hold on to it (along with a few other peices) for the family history behind it. How much did it cost you at the Goodwill? I’ve always wondered what it was worth (although I don’t know that I could part with it!)

  13. Stephanie October 17, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    Great finds! Next time I’m in the US (hopefully soon) I definitely have to go to a Goddwill store. I have never been to one and it just sounds heavenly if you are in to thrifting. I thrift most of my clothes too, except for some basics where I know exactly what I want. I just feel so sad for all these clothes that nobody wants, it’s much better than shopping new.

  14. Betty October 17, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    I love thrifting too. When I was growing up, my dad would take us kids along to thrift stores, almost daily. Strangely, my mom hates them–she’d rather buy cheap clothes at the discount stores. My siblings didn’t grow up to be thrift-shoppers either. (I think the reason I continued with it is because I started out working for very low wages after college.) The city where I now live is full of thrift shops, but none of my friends would dare be seen in any of them.

    Two of my current sewing machines and many of my sewing supplies and patterns are from the thrift store. I also shop there for dishes and clothes.

    I agree, it’s sad how many of the clothes you find at Goodwill now are cheap Wal-mart junk. But every once in a while, I find something great and that’s what keeps me going back.

    And what IS that smell that pervades the clothes? I’m convinced they spray some sort of perfume (Febreze?) on the clothes, because the clothes from the smaller shops around here don’t seem to have that odor. I have a pair of pants that I’ve washed 3 times, with vinegar in the rinse, and they still have that perfumey smell.

  15. avantaknits October 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Wow! You got some great stuff. I love love love that purse. And the Pendleton skirt brings back memories.

    I don’t thrift shop as much as I once did…like you said, it takes so much time to go through the racks thoroughly. But I had to do some thrift shopping recently to find a costume for a play and saw some nice things which got me to thinking about starting the habit again.

  16. Louise October 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    I love your post today! Though I don’t thrift (generally – Hey, I bought a canary yellow hooded cotton jacket in an XS – actually, too small, but still cute for $20 last month, at a re-sale shop), I see you clearly had fun. What I’ve done for the past year is go to the outlet mall with my neighbor, armed with coupons with higher & higher discounts the more you buy – hence, we pool our purchases together & increase the discount. But your site & my experience (yesterday) stand testimony to the fun of new clothes, however obtained!

  17. Debby October 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    I love reading about your thrift store adventures! You must have a fabulous time going through your closet, admiring the clothes you make and the clothes you find and putting new ensembles together.

    I don’t really have the time to thrift myself, but as my grandmother cleans out she has given me some fun things, including a short dark brown faux fur coat from the 50s that is so warm! What I really want, though, is a leopard one, or a leopard purse.

  18. ShirleyN October 19, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    Okay, until I actually needed vintage clothing I would never be caught dead in a Goodwill store. Of course, you should have been here when I was going through a divorce and had to clear out ALL clothes from all of my closets (some were vintage 1980s never worn suit/skirts, there was even a brown leather/leatherlike bomber jacket that was hardly worn – and I mean I may have worn it twice). And being a handbag freak, I had at least three boxes of assorted bags, some of which were never used!). Somewhere, either the Salvation Army store or Goodwill are some real finds to be had. Still, I have a hard time with “used items” however, one of our Goodwill store (there are at least three in our area alone) the clothing do not have any objectionable smell (though still a good idea to launder them). After seeing your finds, maybe I’ll forge another visit…sometime.

  19. sue H. October 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    So glad to find someone else who loves thrifting. I also rarely shop retail. Most everything I buy though needs repurposing or altering and sometimes I get frustrated with that but it keeps drawing me back – love the find and you can’t beat the price.

  20. scotty October 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    Loved seeing that vintage coat. My grandma’s dear friend Mrs. J had that exact coat in 1965. She used to wear it with her green bucket hat. You sure have fantastic luck with thrift shopping. I have never found anything that I loved & looked good on me.

  21. Amber October 23, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    Wow! You scored some great stuff! We used to hit the thrift shops all of the time when I was a kid – money was tight and that was the only way I could get the “designer” Guess jeans that I wanted to badly. I’m glad that you found some gems after having no luck recently.

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