Hot! Sourcing: Notions & Fabric

Thread Based on the questions I've already received via email, a good number of folks would like to know exactly where to find the various supplies I use to create my dresses. I plan on writing up my vintage pattern strategy in a later post so this is more focused on notions and fabric.

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I try to use vintage and second-hand supplies whenever possible. I also try to be as thrifty as possible. Those two requirements equal more time spent, a trade-off I'm willing to make. The greatest source of my real deals and finds are estate sales and flea markets. I love antiquing and finding hidden gems so the time spent doing all of this is actually quite enjoyable. Estate sales tend to depress me a bit, however, since you're usually dealing with the belongings of a recently-deceased elderly person. My finds are often bittersweet since I imagine the person who never got to use them. On the other hand, I'm giving life to something that was once important to someone else.

The secret to sewing is to save a stash of stuff that you'll need later. If I'm somewhere like an antique store, I'll always grab a vintage zipper or button card if the deal is right. I may not have a use for it now, but I will eventually. 

I made a bunch of good garage/estate sale finds this weekend. It took be about 45 minutes total to go to two sales and find what I needed. 


  • 25 Vintage (a couple new) zippers for $1! Yes, $1.
  • 61 spools of thread (pictured above) for $8
  • 6 yards of a woven (but scratchy) green fabric from the 1950s for $6.
  • 3 yards of a vintage reproduction cotton – $1
  • 3 wools/tweeds fabrics (~2 yards each) for $6
  • 1 1/3 yard of an orange cotton $2
  • 1 yard of a vintage novelty print $2
  • 2 yards of red linen $2
  • 2 1/2 yards of calico $2
  • 3 cards of vintage snap closures 




The grand total? $30. I estimate that I'll be able to make eight articles of clothing out of these items. That's $3.75 per item! I have to factor in the cost of patterns, but that shouldn't add more than a couple dollars to the cost.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow, I’m impressed! I never find such deals where I live. Or maybe I just don’t look in the right places…

  2. oh my gosh! That is such a steal! Those tweeds look so yummy!

  3. What a great post…I miss the huge sewing stores from when I was a kid. My town had a store called Fabricville with every single thing you could ever need. I remember hanging out there for hours trying to decide which pattern I wanted to buy! Joanne Fabrics just doesn’t do it the same…
    Emily :)

  4. that’s a great haul and a cute print. garage sales around here are great, too.

  5. Wow! That was a great haul for so little. :) I usually raid whatever bins/stashes of sewing supplies thrift stores have when I visit. I’ve found some really amazing things that way for mere pennies. Need to try the estate sale route though–that seems like it could be a goldmine! :)
    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  6. Now THAT’S a haul. Good job! You’ve inspired me to be more thrifty with my crafty purchases.

  7. That is AWESOME! i have gone to several garage sales locally and have not found a thing. I absolutely love your blog. So delightful! I sew a lot for my daughter but have not sewn for myself in a long time. You inspire me to do more.
    Happy Sewing!

  8. Do you find that vintage or second-hand thread is harder to work with? How do you test the strength to make sure it doesn’t fall apart in your projects?