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Fearless Embroidery and Thrifted Threads

You may have noticed that I’ve been using a lot of different threads in my embroidered samplers, and some of them are quite expensive. One of my favourites is DMC perle cotton, which retails for $6.99 per skein in my local craft shop. Here’s my secret to using threads with such abandon: I almost never buy them new. In fact, unless they’re really special or a very large skein, I don’t pay more than 50c per skein for them.

I buy my threads at charity shops. If you like to embroider kits or use the exact colours in a pattern this probably sounds insane to you, but if you’re like me and make things up as you go or like to use designs with a “do your own thing” style of embroidery then it’s a great way to buy threads and end up with a wide ranging stash that you’re not afraid to use experimentally.

The trick is to go to the charity shops often (we call them op shops here in Australia). Sometimes you’ll find nothing but sometimes you’ll find this:

Embroidery wool, cotton and rayon threads thrifted from the local op shops

I popped into three shops while running errands over three days and found well over $300 worth of threads for $34. That price includes a roughly 2 metre long piece of vintage rayon/cotton fabric in the exact shade of bright light blue that I’ve been looking for to make some cushion covers and the orange tin shown in the picture.

These threads include

  • a whole bag of DMC Medici with at least 5 skeins untouched.
  • A bag of Appleton wool,
  • 3 skeins of Caron watercolors,
  • a bag of DMC soft cotton,
  • 7 full skeins of DMC perle cotton (making the retail price of just those 7 skeins almost $49) and several partial skeins,
  • well over 100 skeins of 6 strand floss in DMC, Anchor, Semco and Peri-Lusta brands (all good quality threads) and
  • at least 3 skeins of hand painted Medici,
  • a huge skein of purple hand painted wool and
  • four different skeins of hand painted embroidery thread with mohair.


Excuse me a moment, I think I feel a need to embroider something. 🙂


PS: If you are the kind of embroiderer that prefers to use kits and the exact threads mentioned in a pattern and you discard your leftovers, please donate them to your local charity shop!

Posted in Embroidery