Nourishing Stewardship

Thrift Store Haul! Upcycling Fabrics and Summer Baby Finds

Thrifting has got to be one of my favorite ways to save money and support sustainable living. Besides the obvious benefit of saving a ton of money on clothes and household items I already need, – especially with constantly growing kids – thrifting for my family is actually a great way to benefit my community and generate less fashion waste.

Anyway, enough about that for today. We can talk about the many positive impact of thrifting another time, okay?

Today I went on a trip to my favorite thrift store, which is actually in PA so it’s a little bit of a drive. We go roughly once a quarter and always on a Wednesday, because Wednesday is half off day. You’d better believe it’s worth the extra effort!

Here’s what I found:

Fabrics for Upcycling

My main purpose in thrifting today was to find some fabrics to upcycle into some new clothes for the kids and dresses for myself.

Women’s Blouses

First, I hit up the women’s blouse section to find some chambray and Western style tops. I’ve been browsing patterns lately and thinking of how nice it would be for my kids to have some of these heavier fabrics in their wardrobes. So I grabbed three shirts that I think will work very well for my kiddos.

While I was looking through the women’s blouses, I came across two stunning linen tops. I am an absolute sucker for linen, so I snagged those up. They weren’t on the list, but I’ll make myself a tunic or two from them and be a happy camper. I like these happy little finds!

The Linens Section

Then I went to the linens section, which is where the real magic happens. I always head straight to the sheets and try to find 100% cotton sheets or vintage ones with interesting patterns. Today I found a cotton twin sheet with a cute little explorer pattern that I can make into endless things for the boys.

I also found three floral sheets. One is Hawaiian print with those big banana style leave that are so popular right now. That one is 100% cotton.

I also found a vintage cotton-poly sheet with a fall-ish floral theme. I like the colors and might use that for a dress for myself.

To round out our floral offerings, I also grabbed a cotton sheet with blue flowers and stripes. I’m still not sure whether I’m keen on that one, but I may pair it with the teal chambray and see what happens. That’s one of the nice things about upcycling: you never know what you’ll get, and if you hate it, you’re not out a bunch of money.


I also peeked in on the pillowcases near the linens. I guess technically pillowcases are linens, but they’re so small that I usually only think of them for upcycling into kids’ clothes or accessories.

Anyway, I grabbed two matching woven floral pillowcases. They’re made of a thicker material, obviously for use as shams, and have patterning on the fronts and backs, so there’s a lot of material there. Pro tip: when looking for pillowcases, always look to see if you can find the pair – you’ll never regret having more yardage of coordinating fabric.

I also found a handmade pillowcase that’s clearly never been used. It’s a cute little birdcage pattern in quilting cotton and has a coordinating crochet trim. I think I may try to keep the trim end intact and turn it into an iconic pillowcase dress for Paisley. This is probably the last summer she can get away with that style.

Fabric Odds and Ends

I was shopping with my brother and he spotted a little basket with tons of fabric odds and ends. They were bundled into thick squares, so it was hard to tell how much yardage each contained, what material they were, whether they’d been cut into, etc.

I went ahead and grabbed two fabrics that felt generously packaged and were patterns I thought I could use. One is a simply quilting cotton with a charming little farm motif. It’s got a bit cut off of one end, but there’s easily at least two yards left. I’m thinking this might become some loose pants for the boys, or maybe even a pair of coveralls.

The other fabric is a thick houndstooth pattern in grey and red. I’m uncertain of the fabric content, but I’m thinking it’ll make a nice outer layer – perhaps for a winter coat for Colm. Maybe a matching one for Kyriakos too. I’ve got a healthy two or three yards to play with.

Baby Clothes

I never go to the thrift store without looking through the baby and toddler clothes. With three kids around, someone always needs more of something.

Today, I particularly needed shirts and shorts for Colm – somehow his entire collection of 2T clothing is geared toward the dead of winter and he doesn’t have much for summer wearing. Unfortunately, 2T/24M must have been a popular size at the thrift store today because I didn’t find anything for him.

Kyriakos needs some more onesies and shirts for this summer, and I had a lot more success finding things for his size. I grabbed three onesies (one with the tag still on it!), a t-shirt from the Disney store in NYC (also still with tag) and an Americana Oxford that’ll be adorable for Independence Day.

I always check out the selection of girls’ dresses when I’m in. It’s very hit or miss, so when I find something for Paisley, I always snag it. Today I found two 5T Gymboree dresses that look like they’ve hardly been worn. They’re a bit on the big side, but I’ll put them aside until she’s ready for them. I’m pretty pleased with this find.

Men’s Pants

Another thing I’d headed to the thrift store for today was pants for my husband. He’s in a fairly popular size, so again, this is something that’s hit or miss.

I did manage to grab him a pair of khakis and a pair of grey wool dress pants. However, after he tried them on, the grey pants are obviously a terrible fit. They’ve been heavily tailored to fit someone with a much more ample bottom and legs than my husband has, plus they’re too short.

No worries, though! I’ll simply take them and fashion some dress pants for the boys. A little grey wool never hurt anyone!

Household Items

The thrift store has a generous amount of household items that are kind of strewn throughout the store. Whenever I go, I tend to get a little overwhelmed and don’t go much out of my way to sift through household items. Even so, I always find my best treasures in the household goods section of the store.

Sure enough, today I found a few cast iron skillets, though I only purchased one of them. They were a tiny bit pricy and very worn out.

Since I’ve yet to restore cast iron (though I know it can be done), I didn’t want to have a stack of skillets to work through. I’ll figure this one out and go in armed with know how the next time I come across a pile of cast iron.

Find of the Day

Of course, what thrifting adventure would be complete without a find of the day?

Is this the woman’s version of a big fish story?

Somehow, I’ve got a golden touch when it comes to amazing finds at the thrift store. I very much love this aspect of myself (haha), and sometimes get itchy to go to the thrift store just to see what I can find.

My favorite find, by the way, was an amazing handpainted, gold leaf icon of our Blessed Mother. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful things we have in our home, and I got it for a mere $0.50 (our thrift store is run by Mennonites who don’t understand the value of iconography).

Ever since then, my mission is to find something that will may my husband go “Whoa! I can’t believe you got that” (in a good way) when I get home.

Today’s find is an amazing wooden high chair that I snagged for… TWO DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS. I kid thee not!

Colm models the high chair.

I’m pretty stoked, because we have an IKEA high chair that’s gotten quite a bit of use from Colm and Paisley. With Kyriakos about to turn four months old and start his voyage into the world of solid foods, I’ve been wanting a new high chair, but wasn’t about to spend money on one when we have a perfectly functional one at home.

But this one is an heirloom piece. It’s solid wood and will last us for however many more kiddos we have. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to refinish it – I’m thinking I probably won’t at this point, though I may if it gets much significant wear and tear. It also came with a synthetic insert that I’m not a fan of, so I’d like to quilt some new cushions for Kyriakos to use.

The Grand Total

How much did this bounty cost me? A grand total of $42.79.

I’d say that was a day well spent! The trip took me about an hour, and I shopped with both boys (Colm in the cart, Kyriakos on my chest), and my little brother. He also had some good finds, and spent less than $10 for his bounty.

If I’d shopped on a normal day, my cart full would’ve cost around $85. This would’ve still been more than a fair price for everything I purchased, but I’m very pleased that we went on half off day. Why pay more when you don’t have to?

Now I’ve got to plan quite a few sewing projects before the thrifting bug strikes again!

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Gabrielle Rystedt
Gabrielle Rystedt
Gabrielle Rystedt is a writer by day and a writer by night (because writers never sleep), who spends time balancing client orders, a couple of books and her blog at Raising Rystedts. She’s a business school grad who’s dabbled in management, both at the project and company level. She loves coffee and crafting, and enjoys settling down with a good book. Though as mom to three kiddos in three years, she realistically spends most of her time reheating her coffee and typing away like a crazy person on a laptop keyboard while surrounded by (clean) cloth diapers and cheddar bunnies.

What are your thoughts?