You can always head to the fabric store to buy material for that decorative pillow, but where's the fun in that? Thrift stores are full of all kinds of fabric and accessories -- at great bargains. If you're into sewing, zippers, lace, buttons, ruffles and other expensive baubles are available on old garments for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them new. Even better, donated bridesmaid dresses, wedding dresses, prom dresses and winter gear are a fabric bonanza of quality wools, silks, heavy cottons and velvets that you can upcycle into home décor and garment projects.
As with most thrift store fare, inspect items carefully for stains (even in linings) and insect activity. If you're planning on wearing a recycled garment as is, check to make sure the snaps, zippers and buckles actually work. Verify that all of the buttons are accounted for, too. Don't rely on the size tag as a determiner of fit, either. Sizes, particularly in women's clothing, have changed over the years. Try on the garment (over your clothes, if necessary) to check for fit.