If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve had quite a bit of thrifting luck lately. I found a bunch of great shoes, hit on an “Everything’s $1 Day”, and won the vintage lottery with a dress that fits perfectly.
Those $1 Days are my favorite. Not only can I find great dresses and sweaters (with shoulder pads!) for super cheap, but it’s a great time to stock up on jeans.
“Stock up?” you might be asking. Good question. Over the years, I’ve made tons of things out of old jeans – some good, some not so good. (Check out “jean crafts” on Pinterest to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.)
(Note: I may or may not have made a braided denim rug for our first apartment in Tennessee.)
Here are my top 5 things to do with thrift store jeans:
1.Wear them! Finding jeans that fit well can be hard. Thrifting jeans that fit well is even harder. But sometimes, the stars align, and you find a pair that fits just right, as is – perfect waist, perfect fit, perfect length. This was one of those pairs! I was looking for something above the ankle to wear with boots (or heels) that didn’t have any distressing. When you find a good fit, snatch those jeans up immediately, because when else will you find a just-right pair for less than $10?
2. Distress them. I did a post a year ago about how to distress your jeans. I used a newish pair from Target, but thrifted jeans are GREAT for this because they are usually already showing a little age AND you aren’t out much money if it doesn’t go well. Check out the full tutorial for how to distress jeans here.
3. Crop them. Sometimes the jeans fit pretty well, but they’re too long. Or they are boot cut and you’re looking for a narrower hem. Or you just want to try out the raw hem look. Grab a pair and take your scissors to them. Cut them exactly where you want them to hit or leave a few extra inches to cuff them. Leave the hem to fray. I love the look of “scruffy” raw hem jeans with a pretty, feminine blouse and equally pretty, feminine shoes. I just chopped these up two weeks ago, and I’ve already worn them 8 times – they’re my new favorites.
4. Patch them. Or use the thrifted jeans to make patches. These were my favorites. I found them at Target years ago, and they fit perfectly. (Sometimes Target jeans aren’t that great, but I’ve had more luck with them in recent years.) However, as happens with less expensive denim, the stretchy fibers started to wear out, so the knees got saggy. To give them new life, I used a pair of my old jeans and a pair of thrifted jeans to make patches. They add texture and character, and I can keep wearing these old favorites. (Tutorial for these patched jeans coming next week!)
5. Quilt them. I made this rag quilt MANY years ago (maybe 2003?) and even submitted it in a local county fair. (I got 3rd place!) I called it “Family Jeans” (get it?) because it was made with castoffs from our family – old denim shirt from Husband, pants from me, a dress from my mom, jeans from my brother, etc. I used a mix of pink calico fabrics for the backing and sewed all the pieces together, leaving the edges fray. (I don’t remember where I found the tutorial originally, but here’s one that’s pretty close.) We’ve used this quilt on our bed ever since.
I decided it’s time to make another one, but this go-round, I want to use only white denim. It’s a lot harder to find, so I’m hitting thrift stores more frequently in hopes of collecting enough to get started. (Those Everything’s $1 Days are perfect for this!)
I recently had a conversation with a woman I met while combing the aisles of Goodwill, and we chatted about the joys of thrifting. I told her about my quilt plans, she told me about making coasters. Then she said, “I’m pretty sure you could just buy white denim at Joann’s….”
(insert record scratch sound here)
(Oh, guess what! It’s 2018. I can ACTUALLY “insert record scratch sound here”!)
Yeah, okay, sure. I COULD do that. I could just BUY the fabric to make the denim quilt. But I love thrifting. I love the idea of making a quilt out of recycled fabric, I love the thrill of the hunt, and I love those rare vintage treasures you find when you’re not even looking for them.
So I’ll keep searching and collecting, and I’ll be sure to show you how it all turns out when I’m done!