Upcycle Ideas for Sewing Supplies

Upcycle Ideas for Sewing Supplies

From buttons to spools and zippers to tables, old sewing supplies end up at thrift stores, yard sales, and antique shops all the time. Cookie tins of notions or jars filled with wooden spools are a common sight and ideal for any number of projects. But even if you aren’t a sewist, those sewing supplies are ripe for repurposing, as well- no stitching required. So, if you’re interested in a few upcycle ideas for notions and such, you’ve come to the right place.

Sewing Pattern Art

Fashion wall art by upcycling the envelopes of vintage sewing patterns

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Vintage fashion is always on trend, and the graphics on old sewing pattern envelopes are like little pieces of art. So, why not repurpose a few thrift store frames and create stylish DIY wall art pieces like this?

Sewing Supplies as Jewelry

diy charm bracelets from rhinestone buttons

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Vintage rhinestone buttons are stunning, and deserve to live a showy life outside the button tin. But if you don’t want to use them on a cardigan sweater, here’s a great alternative: a button charm bracelet. Particularly well-suited for shank buttons, this DIY bracelet is incredibly easy to make and looks absolutely stunning in person.

Vintage Sewing Box Makeover

vintage sewing box makeover

Image credit: Confessions of a Serial DIYer.

Accordion-style sewing boxes are a quintessential way of storing sewing supplies. The brilliant tiered design allowed all sorts of notions to be stored away in a compact fashion. But, if the naked wood look isn’t your style and/or you want to store other smalls inside it, a makeover like this might be just what the upcycling doctor ordered.

Wooden Spool Necklace Rack

wooden necklace holder with vintage thread spools

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Vintage wooden spools are a favorite supply for both sewists and crafters alike. There are a lot of applications for them that have nothing to do with sitting atop a sewing machine. Such as a handy-dandy necklace holder like this

Bottle Charms

diy boho decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

At first, you may be asking yourself where the heck the sewing supplies are in this photo. But those “coin” charms on the bottles aren’t coins at all. In fact, they started out as vintage metal buttons before an upcycler got a hold of them. And now they add a worldly charm to these boho bottles.

Upcycled Outdoor Bar

upcycled sewing machine table as an outdoor bar

Image credit: Virginia Sweet Pea.

A vintage sewing machine table- the kind where the machine would fit inside it behind a fake drawer- is a common sight at thrift stores. And while they can be repurposed into side and end tables for the home, a DIY outdoor bar is an even more delightful idea. The original fold-out design really lends itself well to an entertaining purpose in today’s world, doesn’t it?

Thread Cones as Candy Corn

candy corn decorations

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

If there were textile mills in your area a few decades ago, then you may run across relics from those mills in your local thrift and vintage stores. And if using the thread for sewing projects isn’t a great fit for you, then perhaps a charming holiday project like this is more like it. Those vintage white thread cones really do transform delightfully into DIY candy corn, don’t they?

Sewing Supplies as Ornaments

upcycle a wooden spool as a christmas ornament

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Speaking of holiday craft projects, this wooden spool ornament idea is perfect for anyone who loves a vintage Skotch Kooler. Old wooden spools really are one of the best sewing supplies for upcycle projects. And they’re truly the perfect shape for this nostalgic ornament craft idea, too.

Tissue Paper Flowers

DIY tissue paper flowers

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Tissue paper flowers might be something of a kid’s craft, but this version doesn’t look like it was made in a kindergarten class, does it? Old sewing pattern tissue is ideal for any number of paper crafts, but perhaps especially these DIY flowers. They remind me of dried hydrangeas- and they’re SO easy to make.

Sewing Basket Table

upcycled sewing basket table

Image credit: Organized Clutter.

Once a staple in sitting rooms and usually next to Mom’s chair, sewing box tables (or basket tables) aren’t quite as common in today’s homes. And they certainly don’t need to be used for storing sewing supplies and needlecraft projects anymore, either. But they’re perfect for modern makeovers like this and used as accent tables instead.

Decorated Wooden Spools

Vintage wooden spools and flour sack fabric as necklace pendants

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Painting wooden spools and then wrapping them in pretty fabric or ribbon is a great way to transform them. Whether you then upcycle them into necklaces or just fill vases and jars with them is up to you. But it’s a satisfying craft project no matter how or where they end up.

Button Bracelet

coin bracelet from vintage brass buttons

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

I can’t seem to stop smashing old metal buttons and turning them into coins! Sometimes I turn them into bottle charms, but they’re also wonderful as jewelry like this bracelet. And so much easier to wear (i.e., lightweight) and less expensive than one made of genuine old coins.

Sewing Supplies as Christmas Trees

Christmas craft project with serger thread cones

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

You’ve seen an upcycle idea for white thread cones, but that was for Halloween decor. How about making mini tabletop trees for Christmas decor using green and red thread cones instead?

Crafting with Zippers

repurposed jewelry with a zipper and shirt sleeve cuff

Image credit: Little Vintage Cottage.

How CUTE is this little flower made from an old metal zipper? It’s the perfect accent to add on a cuff bracelet like this, but you could attach it any number of things. Hats, tote bags, even wreaths and picture frames come to mind…

Wrapping Gifts with Sewing Supplies

Sustainable gift wrapping with vintage sewing patterns

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Here’s another fun way to repurpose old or incomplete sewing pattern tissue: sustainable gift wrap! Whether you use the tissue as stuffing in gift bags or wrapping gift boxes instead, it’s an eco-friendly and super inexpensive way to celebrate the gift-giving season.

Upcycled Treadle Table

treadle table as an accent table

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

Older sewing machine tables, sometimes called treadle tables, had the foot lever built into the legs of the table. If those sturdy iron legs are salvageable, you can replace the top with something more contemporary and turn it into a vintage-inspired accent table instead.

Sewing Table Drawers

sewing table drawers as a planter

Image credit: Organized Clutter.

Speaking of treadle tables, the drawers that were attached to the table top itself are a wonderful relic to upcycle. And in this case, they’ve been painted and upcycled into a fresh plant stand and display.

Photo Display

wooden spool photo holder

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

There are so many crafts to make with vintage wooden spools and here is yet another one! Decorated with fabric (flannel in this case), they’ve been upcycled into simple photo holders to display cherished memories. But they’d be perfect on wedding tables to display place cards, as well. Simply paint them and wrap them in fabric that ties into the color palette.

Spindle Ornaments from Bobbins

Weaving bobbins as spindle ornaments

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Spindle ornaments are always a fun change of pace from traditional glass balls, but these are an upcycled version. They started out as wooden bobbins from an old textile mill, but don’t they work wonderfully as Christmas ornaments now?

Crafting and Upcycling with Sewing Supplies

sewing supplies at thrift stores

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

From spools to buttons, patterns, and beyond, sewing supplies are filled with stitch-free potential. And a LOT of them end up at thrift stores and estate sales on the cheap. I hope you’ve found some fresh inspiration for your own upcycling projects using these vintage notions. Let me know if you’ve been inspired by any of these projects- I’d love to hear about it!

Craft on!


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repurposed projects with vintage sewing notions

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. The first photo makes me crazy wanting every piece of that goodness! Great upcycling ideas!

    • Right?? It’s from several years ago at a Country Living Fair in Atlanta. The entire booth was vintage sewing supplies- absolutely AMAZING stuff. I wish I’d taken more photos!

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