Don’t Snooze and Lose: Top 15 Sewing Items To Score at the Thrift Store

Your local thrift store is sometimes a treasure trove of sewing supplies you can find for way less than retail cost. Be sure to inspect sewing kits and sets for missing or unusable items carefully. Check the store’s return policy for electrical items like sewing machines and irons in case they don’t work when you get home. Here is a list of sewing supplies to look for during your next thrifting adventure. Be prepared for a bit of a treasure hunt, as sewing supplies can be mixed in with other household goods or crafts. Happy thrifting!

Sewing Baskets

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Don’t overlook the sewing baskets if you need storage for your sewing supplies. These usually cost quite a lot new. When you find them at the thrift store, they often come full of notions! Just throw out the notions that can’t be used (here’s a warning on vintage sewing notions) and use them to organize yours inside.

Antique Sewing Boxes

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Vintage sewing boxes like this are a lucky find. Your grandmother probably had one! Besides being a collectible, they are so pretty for organizing your supplies.


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If you find the right thrift shop and arrive at the right time, you may find a bolt or a roll of new fabric for your next project.

Ironing Boards

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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!

Once I found a cute hideaway ironing board new at a thrift store. 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.


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Don’t forget the irons. My vintage General Electric travel iron is amazing at pressing seams flat. I see them at thrift stores often.

Vintage Sheets

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One overlooked source of pretty fabrics is vintage sheets. Some quilters use vintage sheets for all their quilt backings. As long as they are clean and in good shape, there is a lot you can sew with a sheet.


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Look for sewing patterns for clothing, accessories, and home decor. Some may be vintage or out of print.

Sewing Books and Magazines

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Books and magazines abound at most thrift stores, and if you take the time to sift through them, you may find a sewing or quilting treasure. I have a collection of sewing books from the 1980s that I love to look at for inspiration.


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Sewing notions can get pricey at regular stores, but you will often find unopened packages of vintage notions at the thrift store that still work great. Buttons, zippers, rivets, grommets, and snaps are great finds!

As a rule of thumb, metal and plastic notions last indefinitely, but old thread and fabric notions can degrade and become brittle.

Sewing Machines

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Used sewing machines are a common thrift store find, but I wouldn’t buy one without trying it out first. Make sure you know what to look for in a used sewing machine.

If you find a vintage Singer Featherweight like the one pictured above, you’ve hit the jackpot! These can be worth a small fortune!

A Lamp for Your Sewing Table

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Sewing is so much easier when you have enough light! I have found second-hand stores to be the perfect place to buy desk lamps for all my work areas. They can be pricey when new but are usually very inexpensive at a thrift store.

Wool Sweaters for Felting

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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! Wash them in hot water and then toss them in the dryer. That’s exactly how you’re not supposed to wash a sweater because it gets felted.

Felted wool is great for mittens, patchwork blankets, and other wool projects.

Purse Handles and Hardware

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The day I realized 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 much about purse and handbag construction by cutting them apart – you can, too!

Embroidery Hoops and Supplies

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Floss, hoops, needles, and sometimes even partially completed projects or kits.

Pretty Quilts Too!

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

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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. 🙂