5 Hidden Sewing Supplies You Can Find at the Thrift Store



If you are like me, then you are probably really good at scouting your local thrift stores for fabric – you know what you are looking for and you can quickly scan the craft section to see if they have the kinds of fabric you want.

These beautiful rolls of Michael Miller home decor fabric were a thrift store score that I almost missed! (read more)

These beautiful rolls of Michael Miller home decor fabric were a thrift store score that I almost missed! (read more)

I wrote a post with tips for thrifting for fabrics here, in case you are wondering how I do it.

But did you know that there sewing supplies hidden in other sections of the your local thrift store too? Let me share my thrift store sewing secrets with you.

thrift store ironing board.jpg

1. Ironing Boards and Irons

A good sturdy ironing board can be expensive but it can also last forever. The thrift store is a great place to find a sturdy vintage ironing board that just needs a new cover – which you can sew!

Plus I found that cute hideaway ironing board new at a thrift store too and I blogged about it here. I have since seen more of those – new in boxes! I think people buy them and don’t ever install them so they end up being donated.

Don’t forget irons too – my little hottie vintage General Electric travel iron is amazing at pressing seams flat. She was only $5 at the thrift store (read about finding her here).

vintage sheet from the thrift store.jpg

2. Vintage Sheets

One overlooked source of pretty fabrics (even pretty large fabrics!) is vintage sheets. The first quilt I made for my daughter Chloe has a vintage sheet for a backing and we all love the soft cozy feel of that quilt.

The queen sized sheet was in good shape when I found it at a second hand shop, and it’s still holding up great 5 years later – even better than the rest of the quilt unfortunately!

sewing notions from the thrift store.jpg

3. Metal Notions

A couple years ago I wrote to you a warning about using vintage notions. But that doesn’t apply to a lot of metal notions such as grommets, snaps, hooks & eyes, and covered button kits!

These supplies can get pricey at regular stores – but you can often find un-opened packages at the thrift store and they still work great.

On the other hand, old needles are not always a good deal. If you find sewing machine or hand sewing needles, make sure you examine them for signs of rust or brittleness. I don’t buy old needles anymore because I’ve found they aren’t worth even the small price.

felted wool from the thrift store.jpg

4. Wool Sweaters for Felting

Don’t pass by the sweater section!

Ignore the size and style of the sweaters – if they are at least 60-70% wool you can felt them!

How? Just wash them in hot water and then toss them in the dryer – exactly how you’re not supposed to wash a sweater, lol.

Felted wool is great for mittens (get my free pattern here), patchwork blankets, and all kinds of other wool projects too.

purse hardware from the thrift store.jpg

5. Purse Handles and Hardware

The day I realized that I could cut apart old purses and salvage their handles and hardware was a happy day indeed!

The purse above was made with thrifted handles (see my post and shopping video about it) and many of my other purses since! Some purses are worth their thrift store value for the metal rings alone.

As an added bonus, I’ve learned a lot about purse and handbag construction by cutting them apart – you can too! 🙂

thrift store baby quilt.jpg

Not a supply – but quilts!

Sad but true – many beautiful handmade quilts end up at the thrift store.

My jaw dropped once when I came across an Amy Butler charm square baby quilt for $2. You can bet I snatched that up – I felt like I was saving a poor unloved animal from the shelter!

And it was just the right size for my kids to use as a lap quilt in the car.

Do you know of any other ‘hidden’ sewing supplies at the thrift store?

Or have you made an amazing find that you just have to share?

Tell us about it in the comments!


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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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  1. Lesley Gilbert says:

    Thanks for your tips – I do the same with hand bag handles, and if the bag is in great condition I’ve recycled the zips and inner pockets. A local charity shop has a craft section upstairs were you can find fabrics, buttons, paper patterns (which I buy for a friend) books, other crafts I’m not interested in and odd balls of wool, which I buy for my charity knitting. I never come out empty handed. I also give them back ‘crafty’ stuff I no longer want/need to resell on, so it’s a win-win. I love my Thursday visit on the way to my craft class. Greetings from a sunny mild England 🙂

  2. Wilma Veldman says:

    I also shop at thrift stores for a lot of my sewing needs! I have bought purses for their hardware, I buy pretty buckles for dresses, snaps, elastic (It is pretty easy to tell if it is old and unusable), fabric, throw cushions for re-covering, zippers, etc. Yesterday I bought a bag of quilt pieces which someone had started but never finished. There were 9 large squares and one complete quilt top. I will finish these and donate them for fundraisers. I teach sewing classes to kids and for the Summer Camps I provide all of the fabric and notions so thrift stores are the best way to be able to do this!

  3. I took the buckles off a thrift store pair of boots and sewed them onto a thrift store skirt that I had slit up the side. Now I have an edgy new skirt 🙂

  4. My best thrift store find has been my Kenmore 158.141 in excellent condition just needing cleaning and oiling runs fantastic!!! All this for $15

  5. Theresa Stewart says:

    I also scrounge thrift stores for replacement zippers on jeans, skirts, dress pants and jackets. Clothing is $1 each at our local one and I can find just about any color and size zipper I need. Then I still have leftover fabric for denim repairs, diy pumpkins, quilt sqaures, you name it!

  6. Linda Bick says:

    I love thrifting! My favorite is an adorable baby quilt that I use on my table in the fall! Hand quilted too! I also felt like I was saving a friend! Paid $2.00!

  7. Fantastic post! I find all sorts of goodies at the thrift stores! I love your blog – this is my first time to post a comment. Your efforts are appreciated!

  8. Have been using Goodwill for several years for vintage sheets and sometimes lovely fabric cuts.
    Jeanne C.

  9. MPaula Whelan says:

    I woke up the other morning thinking to buy zippers at the nearest thrift shop. I had never seen zippers there but sure enough, there was a bag of 9 zippers for $2.50. I bought a small pillow only to find that it had 4 different covers on it. I find quilted mattress covers that I repurpose as batting in baby quilts. I found 6 spools of glossy paper (from some kind of printer) that I use for planning quilts and other craft projects; I doubt that I paid $1 each. One local thrift store has most belts for $1. I salvage the buckles and, often, the leather for straps. I bought a wedding dress for the wonderful amount of white satin. There is also a long zipper, crinoline and lace trim, $5. That is not to mention curtain, bedspread and duvet fabric, 5 yards of grey corduroy plus a bit of red velvet, jars of beads and buttons, spools of ribbon and a couple yards of fabric in a homemade muumuu. Sometimes I don’t buy anything but it is never a waste of time.

  10. A great collection of information! I like such guides when everything is well described. I will definitely visit this blog more often because it is very helpful. And you can discover many interesting things!

  11. Kitty Austin says:

    I look at the clothing for re-designing items. I’ve made a loose fitting vest from the skirt of a too small button front dress, leaving the patch pockets intact. It fits fine and all I did really was to cut and face the neckline and armholes which I did with the cloth parts I cut away. I also look for unique buttons on blouses and jackets not to mention sewn on trims and lace. I just make sure they aren’t worn or broken. I have been known to buy 2-3 items of clothing and combine them into 1 patchwork piece, but I always make sure that they all require the same kind of laundry method. My thrift store always has their clothing at half price of the already cheap price on Mondays so that’s when I shop. I buy jeans to make tote bags and I just recently saw a cute rug made from denim strips so I’m going through my bag of jean legs to try my hand at weaving!! I love to thrift store shop!

  12. I do buy vintage sheets for quilting, as well as old metal zippers in fabulous colors, and I find plenty of double fold bias tape that I use for making garlands (I test it for dry-rot before use). I find great fabric renmants and sometimes yardage, too. I love the thrill of the hunt.

  13. Pam Zurcher says:

    I just found your blog this past week and I have been enjoying it very much. Thank you!

    Some things I always look for are nice silk scarves, interesting buttons and bra hardware in good shape.

  14. Steff Burton says:

    I use large shirts and skirts as potential fabric. Faux leather pants works cut up as accents or doll clothing. Lace, zippers, stuffing and ribbon are a common find where I live. Sheets are a great backing for pillows, wall hangings and baby and lap quilts. It’s like treasure hunting.

  15. I bought an XXL men’s leather jacket just for the leather. I had no idea what I was going to use it for but the leather was soft and I had to have it. Five years later, I finally tore it all apart and I’m using some of it for the front facing and collar, covered buttons and leather bound buttonholes on my new fall jacket. There is plenty left for other projects, too.

  16. All great suggestions! I also buy belts made from metal rings to use as purse hardware. I purchase skirts and jumpers for yardage to make purses, especially wool. I don’t know where you are located but if you are ever in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area look up Lancaster Creative Reuse (they are on FB). This is a thrift store of only craft items, nearly anything you can think of! No affiliation, I just love this store and I’m told people come from great distances (ie hundreds of miles) just to buy and donate.

  17. I buy denim, especially denim dresses for the fabric.Sometimes I can get over a yard of wonderfully soft denim from a $1 dress. I also buy vintage hankies, tablecloths and curtains for my stash. The embroidery and/or lace gives my quilts a vintage look.

  18. I have also bought a fully beaded wedding gown for $10! I have made Christmas stockings, metal framed handbags, ring bearer pillow, wedding photo album, and covered a box for wedding cards for the signin table at my son’s wedding.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    When the thrift store is gearing up for a season change, they have great sales. I live for the 10 for $10 sales.

    I look for wool sweaters, denim and garments with great buttons!

  20. Sue singer says:

    I found 2 yards of brand new wool flannel for under $10.
    I also recently saw a full size Pendleton wool blanket, no holes, for $4.00. Since this is a charity shop, I told a worker that it was way underpriced. Hopefully they repriced it. I just didn’t need it.

  21. I look for high quality sheets. They make the best pillow cases!

  22. Jennifer Orozco says:

    Patterns! I’ve found some wonderful vintage patterns at the thrift store.

  23. Judy Ries says:

    Thank you for the great tips! I certainly will be using them in the future!
    I recently bought a man’s linen shirt for $1.50 at Goodwill and cut it up for an embroidery project. Linen can be very expensive at a fabric store!

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