17 Brilliant Sewing Supplies You Can Find at Your Thrift Store

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Where I live there are a few magical thrift stores that always deliver. Be prepared for a bit of a hunt; sometimes you can harvest sewing supplies from unexpected items and places. Happy thrifting!

Pro tip: Be sure to inspect sewing kits and sets for missing or unusable items. Check the store’s return policy for electrical items like sewing machines and irons in case they don’t work when you get home. 

Sewing Baskets

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Don’t overlook the sewing baskets if you need storage for your sewing supplies. These can be costly brand new. Plus, sometimes they come full of notions! Just throw out the notions that can’t be used (here’s a warning on vintage sewing notions) and enjoy the unique addition to your craft space.

Antique Sewing Boxes

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Vintage sewing boxes are a rare, but special, find. Besides being a collectible, they are so pretty for organizing your supplies. I always appreciate functional items that are also unique.

Fabric

pile of fabrics happy woman
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When looking for fabric I have a few go-to shops which get a steady stream of donated treasures. Don’t forget that clothes and home goods can also be perfect. Just rip a few seams, launder, and cut for your next amazing quilt!

Ironing Boards

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A great ironing board can be pricey, but they tend to last longer, too. Getting more than what you pay for is a treat if you can find a sturdy (or even specific) ironing board.

Irons

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Naturally, irons would be next on my shopping list. My vintage General Electric travel iron is amazing at pressing seams flat. I often see them at thrift stores.

Vintage Sheets

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Some quilters only use vintage sheets for their quilt backings. Used sheets are a wealth of fabric, and often have really lovely prints. The possibilities are endless when you find a way to incorporate all kinds of finds in your project. What’s your creative style?

Patterns

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Even though I offer lots of free patterns, it’s worth it to dig (or even ask the owners) for other patterns. Take your time; some may be vintage or out of print. Check out my 25 Favorite Vintage Sewing Patterns from the 80s.

Sewing Books and Magazines

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I get some inspiration from thumbing through magazines, and you can almost always find some that spark your creativity at a thrift store. Look for color combinations, design ideas, or maybe even an old shortcut technique for an upcoming project.

Use Dye on Curtains and Tablecloths

dip dyed technique on cotton fabric
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Remember that you can dye a fabric if it isn’t exactly what you are looking for. Curtains and tablecloths are versatile pieces. Your quilts, and other projects, can really come alive as you piece in custom fabric.

Notions

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If you have never taken time to dig around at a thrift store you would be amazed at the notions available! It’s worth it to grab these treasures right up. They are a a fraction of the price of new notions.

Pro tip: Metal and most plastic notions last indefinitely, but old thread and fabric notions can degrade and become brittle.

Sewing Machines

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I once went to a thrift store and found four sewing machines. One was an industrial mother bear! Make sure you know what to look for in a used sewing machine, though; not every machine is a good deal.

Pro Tip: 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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Second-hand stores are 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. Plus, this is just another way to add a unique touch to your space.

Wool Sweaters for Felting

pile of cahmere sweaters
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Did you know that if an item is 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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Metal rings (and other hardware) are often like new on a second hand bag. I always get purses with hardware I can use. The purse above was made with thrifted handles (see my post and shopping video about it), and many of my other purses since! Necklaces and other jewelry can also be used to embellish your project to add a one-of-a-kind flair.

Pro Tip: You can learn a lot about purse and handbag construction by cutting them apart. What have you got to loose?

Embroidery Hoops and Supplies

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Floss, hoops, needles, kits; and don’t overlook partially completed projects. You can incorporate them into a new project, or even finish it!

Pretty Quilts Too!

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Sad but true – sometimes 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.

Bags of Stuff

Photo Credit: Madelaine Bell

Have you ever seen a wall, or sometimes shelves, of random things stuffed in a bag all together? If you have the time, sort through and check out what’s inside. I found some amazing trim from a stash like this once; you just never know.

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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. 🙂