Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thrift Shop Secrets

Have you every wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite thrift store? Like really, what are they doing in that "back room?" Well, I may have some answers. 

For the past four years I've volunteered at least five hours a month in a local charity thrift shop. Of course every thrift shop is a little different but I've also shopped at lots of different thrift shops so I have a little insight on others too.  
Where does all the stuff come from? 
 The charity thrift shops usually have donation centers on site. Some shops like Savers will even give you a discount coupon for making a donation. Some shops have goods that were donated at off-site centers or even picked up from donors homes. Some retail stores donate all their unsold inventory to thrift shops. And, some shops purchase products from other shops. 

Is it clean? 
It seems that most thrift shops have a similar "aroma". The one that I volunteer at uses air purifiers in the store and back room to eliminate that dusty smell. Thank goodness or I would be sneezing all-the-time. Some shops are big and have laundry facilities that process all the clothes and linens so they are fresh and clean when they hit the shelves. Others don't but will only put out items that were clean when donated. I'm a germaphobe so I always bring my hand sanitizer with me when I shop at thrift stores, just in case.

Who determines the price? Are prices negotiable? 
Some stores have set prices for many items like: t-shirts are $3, mugs are $1, jeans are $5, etc. Many stores have back room angels who determine the prices based on condition, brand name, popularity, and retail value. For most stores, prices are not-negotiable. Some stores even place as-is stickers on items so customers don't try to point out every flaw in order to negotiate price. Most shops also have a "no tag, no sale" policy.

When is the best time to shop? 
The early bird gets the worm. Thrift shops may not have a set schedule of when a new inventory shipment comes in like at H & M. They usually process the donations as they come in and stock shelves during store hours. But, usually at the end of the day when the customers have left and in the morning before customers come in, a lot of inventory is put out. So, the first one in the store gets the first look at the most "new" selection.

 What day is best to shop? 
Lots of shops have a sale schedule. Where I volunteer we have "Wacky Wednesday" where many items are sold at half price. Some stores have senior or student discount days. At my favorite out-of-town thrift shop, they have a tag color on sale every day. I've shopped at another cute shop that has a different theme everyday. For example, everything with a heart on it is 20% off.

Where does the money go? 
This varies greatly. Some shops are purely for-profit ventures. Others, like where I volunteer, are all volunteer-run charities. Most are somewhere in-between. Read more about that here and here. Also, the Thrift Shopper shows the charities served. is another good resource from the BBB. Whether you are a donor or shopper, it's good to know where the money is going. 

Is it worth the trip? Like, is there anything decent there? 
 I suppose this depends on your goal. Some shoppers are looking to buy items for 25 cents at a thrift shop that they can sell on Ebay for $100. There is even a new tv show about thrift shop treasure hunting. If you just lost a bunch of weight or have a new baby and need a new wardrobe for not a lot of money, a thrift shop is a good source. If you are entertaining and need decorations, extra plates, silverware, glassware, vases, etc., a thrift shop is a good place to get those temporary needs met. And, if you want to see a bunch of really interesting things from years past, the thrift shop is a great place for that. My sister and I like to go for the pure entertainment value alone.

Do they take returns? 
Most thrift shops do not take returns. It's a good idea to try on shoes and clothing and take a careful look at items for rips, stains, chips, cracks, misspelled words, and ask to plug in things before you leave. If you are shopping for a lamp, maybe take a light bulb with you. If you want to buy a flashlight, take some batteries with you. At the store where I help out, some customers will use or wear their purchase once and then re-donate it back to the shop.

Thank you for visiting the Vintage Sheet Blog today. I'm wondering, what is the best thing you've ever found at a thrift shop?

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Vintage Sheets on the Go

Beautiful Vintage Photography by Simply Hue Designs
Why would you leave behind all the comforts of home when you leave your home? Take a little piece of home with you by making some of these pretty items that I found around the internet. Or, make them as a gift for a traveling loved one.
1. Pocket Tissue Holder
Don't leave home without your tissues.These would be perfect for a purse, carry-on, briefcase or diaper bag.
From Suddenly I See
2. Pillowcase Drawstring Bag
I need this bag to haul my dry cleaning. It would also work in a suitcase to bring home the dirty clothes.  I'm a sucker for anything made from a pillowcase.

Made by Ros from Sew Delicious as seen on Mollie Makes
3. Vintage Sheet Camera Strap
Not only does this camera strap look more comfortable that the one that comes with the camera, it's also much more pretty.
Polaroids and Paislies

4. Vintage Fabric Lined Picnic Basket
I love picnics and I collect vintage picnic baskets. I love the idea of lining the basket with a pretty vintage sheet. Gotta love her picnic blanket, too. 
Smile and Wave
5. Upcycled Fabric Beach Blanket
Beach blanket from vintage sheets and a vintage chenille bedspread? Yes, please.
One Crafty Momma
6. Pillowcase Backpack
I love this backpack made from a pillowcase. Genius!
Simple Simon and Company

7. Lined Pillowcase Market Bag
There are a lot of amazing pillowcase market bag tutorials out there but I love this lined one that Cassandra  makes. And, it has a pocket! 

Cass Can Sew
8. Quilted Travel Pillow
I love roadtrips. I always seem to take a little nap on long journeys. I'm drooling over this vintage sheet covered quilted travel pillow.
9. Pillowcase Kindle Cover
Speaking of car trips, my family cannot leave the house without a Kindle. Susan's Kindle cover is absolutely gorgeous! And, she used a pillowcase. :)
Sugar Beans
10. Thrifted Sheet Eye Mask
If all that reading makes you tired, take a nap with a cute eye mask. I made this one for my niece's slumber party last year.
Vintage Sheet blog

 11. Fabric Decorated Vintage Suitcase
I totally need a vintage suitcase so I can mod podge some vintage sheet scraps to it. Love this idea. I think that I need these shoes too. :)
Oh So Lovely Vintage on Skunkboy
12. Pillowcase Garment Bag
Don't like that yucky plastic stuff from the dry cleaners? This looks like a much better way to protect our clothes. Just pack the clothes in the garment bag inside the suitcase. Easy peasy.
Martha Stewart
13. Fabric Passport Cover
Maybe you are going very very far away. Like, another galaxy. You may need a C3PO passport cover.
Knotted Nest
14. DIY Luggage Fabric Luggage Tag
Wherever you are going, you don't want to lose your luggage. I like this tutorial. The blog is not in English but the photos and instructions are easy to follow.
Meli Melo
15. Embroidered Mug Cozies
Don't leave home without your mug cozy. I love the embroidery and mini pom poms. So adorbs!
Bev from Flamingo Toes on Lilluna
16. State Stuffie
So, wherever you go, don't forget to take your vintage sheets with you.
Sugar Beans
Thank you so much for stopping by The Vintage Sheet Blog today. I hope that these ideas will help you get out in style. Or, maybe they will help you make the perfect gift for that picky sister-in-law.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quilting For A Great Cause

 I have something really fun to tell all my quilter readers (I know there are a lot of you out there.) One of VSB partners, Fat Quarter Shop, is hosting the 2015 Snapshots Quilt Along benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The Quilt Along has 12 traditionally pieced picturesque (novelty) blocks that capture and celebrate moments of happiness in our lives. The Quilt Along officially starts January 15th, 2015 and Fat Quarter Shop will release the first block pattern on the 15th of each month for the rest of 2015.

You can use your own fabric (vintage sheets?) or purchase the kits provided on the Fat Quarter website. All they ask from participants is a donation to St. Jude every time you download one of the adorable patterns.

Fat Quarter Shop and Moda Fabrics will match up to $10,000 from pattern donations for a total of $20,000. To read more about the quilt along, please visit the Fat Quarter Shop blog.

This is the cute camera block for the quilt back. Adorbs!

A very cute quilt for a very important cause. But, what if you are thinking, "Hey Heather, I'm still in 2014, what can I do now?" There is still time to catch up and participate in the 2014 Quilt Along that benefits the Make a Wish Foundation.

It features some more traditional quilt blocks with a twist. The Fat Quarter Shop website has lots of helpful videos. Seriously, how did I figure out anything before YouTube?

I hope that you can play along, make something wonderful, and help kids. Personally, I'm in love with the bike quilt block.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Retro Homemaking Ladies Night

If you could live in any time period, when would you choose? I choose the 1940s. I love black and movies, especially if they star Barbara Stanwick. And, I love planning parties and events. Put them together and you have an amazing party theme: Retro Homemaking. This was a recent activity for the ladies at my church but it would also be a fun girls night in party. Here's the details:

The Outfits
Everyone was asked to wear vintage. We "encouraged" the ladies with a best vintage dress contest. Also, the week prior to the event, my friend and I wore vintage to church to help build enthusiasm for the activity.
I'm on the left, Dana is on the right
The Decorations
Vintage aprons were tied together to make a bunting along the walls.

Each of the tables had a vintage theme. There were white tablecloths covered in vintage doilies or fabric with vintage collections that we gathered from a few of the ladies from our group. Fresh flowers and homemade cookies also brightened and sweetened each centerpiece.
Loving Laundry

Clever Canning
 Good Morn'n
 Remembering Carbs
 Baking Beauty

The Food
We had a potluck of retro classics. The ladies were asked to bring casseroles and other classic family favorites. I brought Watergate Salad in my most retro bowl. It is full of pineapple, marshmallows, and pistachio pudding.

The Activities
Everyone brought a pillowcase to make into an apron. Sewing and upcycling is sooo retro.  Of course we used my favorite tutorial: The 10 Minute Pillowcase Apron by the fabulous Betz White.
It's a great beginning sewing project. Some of the ladies were happy to model their new aprons. See how I'm able to include vintage linens in a church activity. I'm just clever like that. ;)
Our other activity included learning to make yummy classic favorites in a mug in the microwave. We have a lot of unmarried ladies so learning to make macaroni and cheese or chocolate cake for one is handy information. Sorry I didn't get a picture, I was busy teaching the apron class. :)

Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope that you enjoyed my share of our Relief Society Activity. I used to plan 6 of these fun activities a year. I miss it. My new calling (assignment) is to plan monthly service projects for our members. 

So, back to my question, If you could live in any time period, when would you choose?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Very Vera Quilt

Don't you love a finished product? Back story: Last month I sold one of my favorite sheets in my Grow Home store. It was a red, white, and blue king flat sheet made by Burlington. I love all the sheets and pillowcases that I found treasure hunting but some are harder to part with than others. After it sold I received a note from Aaron from Brooklyn Bags, the buyer, who told me the sheet was going to be used as the backing for a quilt. I asked Aaron to please send me a photo of the finished product, which he did.

 The front is covered in vintage Vera napkins.

Aaron used the scallop design from the Vera backing sheet for his quilting.

I am in love with how it turned out. And, I can tell Frank the dog is happy with how it turned out. So, it was hard to part with that amazing sheet but I'm so happy that it went to a good home and was transformed into something truly amazing.

Thank you Aaron for sharing.

 I think that Vera Neumann would be proud.
Vera was also an upcycler. She started her business making scarves from recycled WWII silk parachutes that she found in an army surplus store. Her work can be found in bed linens, table linens, scarves, clothing, furnishings, and more. Her work is still relevant. Target licensed her designs last year.
Jane from Right Brain Jane devoted a full week on her blog to Vera inspiration. Her blog is chock-full of vintage awesomeness but her Vera week posts are a sure delight. For a really amazing look at Vera's work, head to the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota. Jane has a blog post full of gorgeous scarves displayed at the museum. I just need an excuse to go to Minnesota. . .

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