Finding beauty at the thrift store -- tips from a passionate upcycler (guest post)

upcycled fashion by Pelidesigns
Peggy here, from Pelidesigns, bringing you the inside scoop on what drives my passion for upcycling.

For me, upcycling is the ability to see beauty and the potential for change that others don't. It's taking something deemed ordinary and turning it into something authentic. This could be anything from old newspapers to buttons. But for me, it's garments and fabrics. And not only is it a creative outlet -- it helps save the environment, too.

The key to upcycling is being able to see the potential in anything. An average cardigan to you may seem boring, but to me the possibilites are endless. 
upcycled fashion by Pelidesigns
upcycled fashion by Pelidesigns
I have always been enthusiastic about yard sales and second-hand shops –- it’s the thrill of the hunt. Color and texture are what draws me to a garment, then it’s the “hand” or feel of the fabric that allows me to determine if it’s worth buying. The touch of a textile is just as important as how it looks. 
how to identify quality fabric at thrift stores
Next, I look for how the garnet is constructed. I look inside the garment to see that all the seams are finished nicely with quality stitching. (I learned a long time ago that the way a garment looks inside is just as important as how it looks outside.) Then I compare shoulder seams and sleeves to make sure they are the same length. Finally, I check the hems to make sure the stitching is smooth and even.
how to identify quality fabric at thrift stores
I look for quality labels, which typically ensures a quality garment. Some of my favorite labels are Talbots, Ralph Lauren, Coldwater Creek and Chico's. I feel like I've struck gold if I find something by Eileen Fisher. She uses some of the best fabrics. The list of quality clothing is long, but generally garments sold in better department stores are a safe bet.

Lastly, I check the condition of the garment, making sure that there are no rips or stains. Depending on how bad the mishaps are, I decide if I can work around them or not.
upcycled dress by Pelidesigns
I’ve always made my own clothing and in the last few years, I started making some for my daughter. But it wasn’t until I opened a shop on Etsy that I decided to take it to the next level. 

It’s not just about selling clothes -- it’s about being able to take something I'm passionate about and making it available to others. It’s very satisfying every time someone takes an interest in what I create. I’m looking forward to the future and more upcycling projects.
Peggy graduated from the School of Fashion Design in 1982 and for 20 years worked out of her home as a seamstress, doing anything and everything from clothing alterations to custom sewing, including wedding gowns. Visit her Etsy shop Pelidesigns to see more of her creations.