My thrifting ways

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This post isn't really about crafting. I've been reading a lot of blogs on the subject of thrift store finds and the re-doing of them. I got inspired to write a post about some of the bargains I've scored over the years.My most recent score was a FREE swing set! All wood, it is about 15 years old and the owners' boys were way past the age of playing on it. The slide is a little rough and we had to trash the "teeter totter" because their dog had eaten away at the seats. But with some stain on the wood, spray paint on the hardware and some new fixtures, it is a gem for our daughters!

Here's the before, sitting in the previous owner's yard:
And after, set up in our yard (we added a sandbox that my husband built):
Side note: the people we got it from had a deer's head laying in the backyard, waiting to go to the taxidermist for its antlers. Can you say 'EEEWWW'?!

I also recently scored a small bedroom set from a neighbor during our neighborhood's annual clean up days. For $40, I got a queen sized headboard that is the bookshelf kind, a night stand and a tall dresser with attached mirror. Sweet deal! Right now it is dark walnut veneer, but that will change. I'm going to paint them off white and get new knobs. The dresser and nightstand will go in one of my daughter's rooms, and the headboard will go on the bed in the guest room, which doesn't have one currently. I'll show you the before and after shots as soon as I have some.

There's a web site called Hayneedle (formerly NetShops) that sells all kinds of things for the home. Well, guess what? Their headquarters are in my town, as is their main warehouse. And 2 or 3 times a year, they have a warehouse sale where they get rid of all the returns, scratch & dents, and overstock. It's invitation only -- you have to know someone who works there. Here's a list of some of my scores over the past few years:

1. A captain's bed. Ours has storage in the bottom drawers, and the upper drawers are actually a trundle bed. Retail: $699. My price: $72. It was damaged, but my Renaissance man of a husband fixed that up, lickety split!

2. Barstools. We picked up TWO of the one pictured, barstool height, for $10 each! Swear! Retail: $350 each. AND there was nothing wrong with either stool. The year before we picked up two stools (one bar, one counter, but they matched) for $20 each. The hubby just cut the barstool down to counter height, and fixed a minor issue on one of them.

3. Dartboard. Not sure of the exact model we picked up, but it was similar to this one. Retail: $150-ish. My price: $15.

4. Poker Chip set. Retail: $50. My price: $10. Made a great gift for my brother-in-law. I'm told that he keeps it in the trunk of his car so that he's never without it when he needs it.

5. Patio umbrella. Retail: $150+, and it doesn't include the iron base. My price: $15, including the base. Mine is wood and doesn't tilt, but that's the only difference.

I think that's it for Hayneedle deals. Can I just say how much I love living in the same town as their headquarters?

I also prowl craigslist occasionally when I'm looking for something specific. My best find was a brand new, in the box, never used Cricut Expression for $180. Less than HALF of retail! Yay!

Here's a tip: if you're prowling craigslist, you can set up a feed with your specific search term right to your blog reader. I use Google Reader to peruse all the different blogs I like to read. If you read a lot of blogs and haven't figured one of these reader things out yet, do so now. Anyway, once you've input your search term and hit 'Search' on craigslist, scroll down to the very bottom of the first page of results. You'll see an orange RSS button. Click that to "subscribe" to the feed for your exact search term. That way you don't have to keep going to craigslist to do a search, it will just forward items to you as they're listed!

Summer dress

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I recently went to a local consignment sale that happens twice a year. In a word, it is awesome. There is anything and everything you could possibly need for your kids, and most of it is very high quality. Because it's consignment, people get to set their own price, so you have to look carefully to find the best deal. But when you do! Jeans for $1, anyone? That's what I'm sayin'!

Why do I bring this up? Because this year, I showed great restraint and did not buy my daughter any summer dresses at all. I just couldn't justify it when I've got bins full of cute fabric, and I can get patterns on sale for around $1. I've made only 2 dresses so far, but this one is to die for:

The halter dress is from a Simplicity pattern, and it was so easy! And this picture doesn't do it justice. It looks less sack-like in person. Here's a shot of the back:
The dress is only 4 pieces of fabric, plus some elastic. There's a facing in the bodice, which next time I'll make a little longer. Love it! I can't wait for the weather to turn warmer so she can wear it all the time!

What kind of sister would I be?

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If I didn't make a bag for my sister?!

For Lisa, we have the lush pink paisley with coordinating stripe:Isn't it gorgeous? I love, love, love paisleys, and this one is particularly awesome, in my humble opinion. Here's a view of the inside:
The best part? On super duper clearance at Hancock a couple of weeks ago. Normally around $20 a yard, I got it for less than $5 per yard!

I made a few changes from the original pattern. Like before, I used the lining fabric for the piping and handles. This time I cut the handles on the bias, too, so that they have that barber pole effect. I didn't put piping around the bottom of the bag this time. It made it so hard to sew on the previous bag. I made sure to leave piping "tails" on the sides so that I could use them to plug the holes left in the corners. That worked even better than I had hoped! This time I also used heavier interfacing than the pattern calls for. I like how it makes the bag stand up on its own a little bit more. Unfortunately, it made the handles a bit more stiff than I'd like, though Lisa may find it works for her. I also didn't think it needs to be that heavy in the zipper area, either. Next time I'll use a mix of the heavy and light interfacing to get the best result. Final bonus addition: pockets on the outside, in between the handles. Perfect for the grocery list, boarding pass or parking ticket!

Oh, and note to self: remember to unzip the zipper before you sew on the bottom of the bag. Trying to unzip one from the wrong side is a pain in the ass!

Coming soon: Sarah's adorable polka dot bag!