Don’t just look at Op-shops at places to buy stuff to wear or use as they are.  When you visit, check out the labels of the clothes to see what fabrics the clothing is made of.  Some are made of such beautiful material and notions that you can actually reuse them to make superb outfits.  Here’s how:

Buy clothing that is a few sizes bigger.

Unpick them around the seams.

Using a pattern for something you would like to wear, re-cut the garment allowing for any seams that you can’t be bothered undoing.


Preferably change the buttons and bindings to give the item a different look.

Eg. If a coat, add massive buttons to make it look modern. You may need to buy these new.  Either change the lining or make the coat up unlined and finish the seams neatly either as French seams or blanket stitched with a contrasting wool.  Perhaps crochet an edge around the entire coat.

This works particularly well with kids’clothes.  You can, for instance, add knee patches in a contrasting shade.  Or add some remnant fabric to the shape.

If you are just bored with your clothing, get together with a bunch of friends and have a swap afternoon.  This is fun and you can change your whole wardrobe and if you miss items too much, borrow them back!!

Clothing Rack

Buying vintage, op-shop products or using neighbourhood cast-offs is an excellent saving of carbon – nothing needs to be imported or transported.

For the home, pick a colour that you like and collect plates, cups, dinnerware etc. in that theme.  Don’t worry that the pattern isn’t the same.  When together it will all look great on a table.  For instance, yellow and white, blue and white, green, or if you like retro, orange and brown.  There are heaps of it out there!  You may also find stunning table cloths.

Australia has some of the best Op shops in the world so get out there and use them!  See what magic you can do with their products and do some good in the world at the same time.

(My favourites in Victoria:  The Schizophrenics’ Fellowship shops in East Kew,  and Fairfield, Doncare shops in Templestowe and Doncaster – their clothes are periodically magnificent.  They also have terrific homewares and dinner sets and everything is clean, organised and smells fine. The staff are also delightful.)

A great resource for finding op shops in your local area is or you can join an Op Shop Tour with the wonderful Joanne O’Callaghan who is also a member of I Op Therefore I Am blog

If you have any other ideas of ways to reuse the clothes from op shops, please let us know in the comments!

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