Build with Basics – I tend to stock up on basics like descent ribbon (grosgrain, cotton and velvet), cheap but good quality fabric (cotton, silk, interesting patterns), tools and supplies (different type of needles, eyelets, hooks, stamps etc) items with plain surfaces (to paint on) glass-jars and so forth. As long as I have these basics I can always fix things that are broken or need to be re-hemmed fairly quickly without spending much money. It also provides a good base for easier DIY projects; you can do a lot with a little.
Be Flexible – I think it’s important to look at things with an open mind when you thrift for crafting supplies. It’s easy to get caught up in the pintrest spending cycle; pinning a project, attempting to find the “right” supplies but having to spend big bucks on branded ones, and ending up giving up. Instead take inspiration from techniques and materials used and search for similar supplies or items that you can apply them to. Rather than recreating a lesser version of someone else’ idea you will make more unique items.
Don’t Get Snowed In – Too much focus on one project will only lead to frustration. It is very rare that you can successfully go thrifting with a checklist. If you have many ideas floating around you will be more open to spotting interesting things. You are also less at risk of settling for supplies that are sub par just because you can’t find the right things (at the moment!).
Find Inspiration Everywhere – I keep an eye out for peculiar things, as interesting items can inspire new projects. For example jewellery which can be taken apart to be updated, clothing that needs updating or adjusting, an odd tassel, novelty print fabric, broken pottery, or whatever weird thing catches my eye.
Make For Keeps – When I was younger I would make pins out of toy animals, sew ties to t-shirts and make pouches out of 70s valances. At the time, I loved them but I’m a bit more picky these days, not starting a project unless I know I really want the final item. I know now that I like things to go well together, so I try to keep the colour schemes or patterns similar to things I own, and choosing good quality materials to ensure things will last. (That said, I still have the animal brooches..)
Take risks – When supplies are cheap and it’s a quick project it can be worth getting something you are uncertain about. For example, I bought a bag of old stamps, which could make for an interesting collage, scanned in to make a digital pattern, colour ordered and cut to create a portrait, lacquered onto wooden items, etc etc. You just have to look at things and imagine other uses. I personally think that these stamps could work well with my art, so will spend the next few weeks pondering on the idea I have. It may never come to anything, but for a few coins I have the supplies for lots of possibilities.
Know Your Limits – It can be easy to get caught up in thrifting, but sometimes you need to walk away. When you are truly doubtful something will be used, it’s costly or you feel it is going to take up too much space walk away. Sometimes you are better off leaving with nothing and spending those £3 on a Cornetto instead.