Short of grubbing about in the rubbish, a good place to find second hand clothes is in your local charity shop, or if you live in the USA, your local thrift store.
Another excellent source is local jumble sales and boot sales. The clothes here are often the cheapest and there are many bargains to be had.
And in Spain many of the markets have stalls that sell second hand clothing for just a couple of euros.
Let all your friends know too that if they are throwing anything out to throw it your way.
What to look for
When you are hunting for suitable items there are a number of things to check:
- How worn is the fabric?
- What is the fabric composition?
Cottons and linens are usually pretty easy to work with, and will often fray well for that shabby chic look. Viscose is very common and fairly easy to sew.
- Is there any major damage?
- Are there any visible stains?
Underarm deodorants also cause some stains on certain fabrics – check the underarms for signs of this.
- How much haberdashery can be salvaged?
Then there is lace and ribbon, braid, embroidered motifs, metal fittings and buckles. Lace trim on the hemline of a full skirt can be up to 3 metres in length. All can be salvaged and used elsewhere.
Bringing Home the Spoils
For a small outlay of cash you should come home with a nice collection of useable fabric.
When I first started recycling I would take my finds home, wash them, and then religiously unpick ever seam.
That took hours so in the end I had a conversation with myself. Was it worth all that time to gain a couple of millimetres of extra fabric? The answer is a big fat NO so now I just take a pair of scissors and cut away as close to the seam as I can – much quicker!!
However if there is a zip in the garment I will unpick that for future use. Also any lace trim or ribbon needs to be carefully unpicked.
Any embroidered motifs can be cut out and backed with Vilene then used as a motif on something else.
So finally you should have a good stash of useable items. Try making items in patchwork, or use them for fibre art, or to make bags of all sizes, anything that doesn't need yards of the same fabric. Not only will you have created something for mere pennies, but you will also have done your bit to help save our planet from being drowned in rubbish.
About the Author
The author is a keen recycler and showcases a number of fashion items and home accessories hand made from recycled fabric at http://www.calicoroad.co.uk and http://www.bagglz.co.uk.