How Makers Can Support Secondhand September

It’s Secondhand September and this is my first year even knowing what that is, I’ll admit. Secondhand September is a 30 day pledge created by Oxfam encouraging buying secondhand versus buying new. Buying thrifted and secondhand clothing encourages sustainable habits and prevents the tons of clothing donated to goodwill and resale shops from going to the landfills that are already overflowing. As a maker, I sew or knit most of my clothes to the point where I haven’t bought new clothing in three years except shoes. However when I do need clothing I’d rather buy I usually thrift or buy clothing vintage.

As a conscious maker, I sew most of my clothes using sustainable fabrics but I’m always open to using second hand materials and items in my sewing practice. Some even unconventional. Below I’ve listed 5 ways sewists and makers can support Secondhand September in their making habits and I hope dome of them inspire you to travel down a more sustainable and conscious road! I’ll be sharing more tips next week, stay tuned!

Five Ways Makers Can Support Secondhand September

1. Thrift for fabric

Fabric is fabric, unconventional or not. You can find some amazing fabric gems at thrift stores if you know where to look. Sheets can be used for muslin fabric and vintage quilts can be turned into jackets. Look out for large scarves, shawls and tablecloths as well that feature large/wide yardage and can be used for clothing. Sometimes you can find a nice couple yards of actual fabric as well!

An Orchid Midi Dress (pattern by Chalk and Notch) made from a tablecloth my husband found for me at a garage sale a few years ago

Another great fabric thrifter is Cortney @s.is.for.sew on Instagram, she finds the most beautiful fabrics at second hand shops.

2. Upcycle and repurpose clothing

In order to make second hand plus size clothing more accesible to the plus size community I don’t recommend doing the ever popular trend of buying a large shirt and turn it into a smaller cute shirt kind of deal too often, especially if it isn’t needed. Instead opt for clothing in your size range and see what things you can add to it. Ruffles, tiers, panels or adding embroidery are all ways to enhance clothing you already own or that you find in the store to give a little life and new look to. You can also paint vases, frames and other household objects to make them more modern and give them use.

A thrifted Denim duster I turned into a jacket and skirt (skirt not shown). Embroidered the front of the jacket using my sewing machine.

3. Don’t donate damaged or ill sewn handmade clothing

Clothing donated to second hand shops usually ends up in the landfill if it is damaged, stained or not fit to be resold. If you are a maker and want to donate your clothes to a second hand store, repair any damage to the item first. If the item I poorly. Sewn, consider keeping it, repurposing it, or sending it to a fabric recycling organization for ittobe used more purposefully. A list of good fabric thrift stores and recycling companies can be found using THIS LINK.

4. Create sewing swap meets for old patterns and supplies

If you have a large assortment of patterns, notions and fabric you can always arrange for the sewists in your community to have a sewing swap meet. You can all trade for things and everyone gets a chance at grabbing items already available versus buying new. You can also orchestrate things like this on Facebook by forming or looking for pre existing groups

5. Start a destash account

Start a destash account on Facebook or Instagram where you can sell your handmade items, fabrics or patterns to people interested in buying them. You can do this via story sales, posts or posting them to your website. It’s a great way to pass along extra hand made items, fabric and sewing supplies while also being sustainable.


Did I miss anything? Let me know what Secondhand September ideas you plan on implementing in the comments, whether you sew or not 😊.

Until next time,

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