Thrift Shop Adventures, tierneycreates

Found! At the Thrift Shop!

Have you ever found something you made/gave someone as a gift at a thrift shop?

A couple of weeks ago I had my first experience of finding one of my handmade items at a thrift shop for sale – one of the little wallets I used to make. This experience got me pondering about the handmade gifts you give people and what becomes of them (and how sometimes you have to just let go for the sake of your own sanity and peace).

Found at the Thrift Shop

I was obsessed with making little wallets for a while from fabric scraps and here is one of my posts about my obsession – Little Wallet Madness.


I would give them as gifts with my tierneycreates business card inside as an example of how you can use the little wallet. I also gave away five little wallets during the tierneycreates Blog 4th Anniversary Celebration (Announcing the Winners of the tierneycreates Blog’s 4th Anniversary Giveaway).

It was serendipitous that I found the little wallet at the thrift shop and it was sort of like the Universe wanted me to find it.

I had just finished having lunch with a friend and felt compelled to visit a local charity thrift shop after our lunch. I wandered around, not knowing why I was there and then felt drawn to the purse and wallet section.

Inside the used purse and wallet section, I found this adorable item for my sister who loves Lululemon – a little zippered wallet made from recycling a Lululemon bag:


My sister has a collection of Lululemon bags and this little wallet was the perfect treat for her. So I thought – “Wow, I guess I was supposed to come in here and find this for my sister!”. Just in case there might be another one, I kept rummaging through the used wallet section and came upon this:


It looked familiar and I thought: “Ah someone else must have made little wallets like I did”

But then after inspection I discovered something shocking: an old tierneycreates business card inside the wallet!


I stood there in the thrift shop, mouth open, feeling like I was having an out of body experience.

What bothered me was not that someone no longer wanted one of my handmade little wallets and donated it (that was better than them just throwing it out); but that they just left my business card inside (note this is one of my old business cards from when I used to have an Etsy shop, etc.)

I may have narrowed it down to who could have done this and at the moment I felt like it was obviously a person without any class – a person with class would have removed and recycled my business card before donating (I’ve since calmed down from my initial reaction…).

Of course I purchased it (it was only 50 cents) along with the Lululemon little wallet for my sister. I removed and recycled my old business card from it and put it away for now. At a later time I will decide whether to regift it to someone or to re-donate it to the charity thrift shop (but not with my business card inside).

What Becomes of the Handmade Gifts We Give?

Many times you know what becomes of the handmade gifts you give people – either they love, cherish and use them or they do not. They might regift them, they might donate them, they might even throw them away. Or they might just shove them in the closet to gather dust.

This is something I’ve struggled with as a crafter and quilter and had to work on letting go – once you give someone something, it is theirs to do with what they want – even if it might be heartbreaking to you.

People who are not crafters or artists may not understand the love that goes into something that is handmade and how essentially a piece of the maker goes into the piece (and not just if you stuck yourself with a needle while making the piece and bled a little on it like I’ve done a time or two – ha!)

Sometimes my heart breaks for the maker when I see a beautiful handmade item sold for cheap at thrift shop. I’ve rescued lovely granny square afghans from thrift shops (usually sold for $2 – $3) as I know how much work goes into this type of project and I love granny square afghans but have yet to make one myself.

On the overstuffed chairs in our front window where we read (and I work on blog posts) I have rescued granny square afghans from my collection as well as on the bench where Mike our miniature schnauzer hangs out to watch cats, birds and passing dogs out the window (to practice his barking).


Here is Mike napping on one of the rescued afghans:


I do not want to become a hoarder and I know I cannot rescue all the beautiful handmade items that have been donated to thrift stores. I only rescue granny square afghans if they are exceptionally appealing and under $5, that is my guideline, but still how many granny square afghans does one person need?

A friend of mine told me a story of how she discovered a neighbor’s husband using a quilt she made her neighbor to mop up an oil spill in a garage. To me this sounds much worse than finding something you made donated at a thrift shop.

What I’ve learned as I mature as a maker is that I need to be very selective of who receives my handmade items. Also I’ve learned to that sometimes you need to just let go of your attachment to the handmade item when you gift it.

Sometimes it hurts when someone does not fully appreciate the work and time that went into a handmade item but I have to remember unless they are a maker, a crafter, an artist, or any type of creative individual they may never understand.

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. – Rumi

68 thoughts on “Found! At the Thrift Shop!”

  1. Yes, we all struggle with letting go when we give handmade items. I make it a point never to ask or comment about them later. Having people tell me how much they still enjoy (fill in the blank–little zipper makeup/sewing bags, fabric postcard, purchased boutique or silent auction item)–makes me think that more are genuinely appreciated than are not! Most of the time I had forgotten about giving the little remembrance, so I think this is as it should be–when we give something, truly turn loose of it. A really happy thing happened recently: a friend who does estate sales brought me one of my fabric postcards dated 2007 which the woman had kept among her “treasures” until her death. Now that really made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay Martha – your comment really made me smile and reminded me that although there are the people donating my handmade items to the thrift shop, there are the people who cherish those items like in the example you shared! Thanks for commenting 🙂


  2. Oh I feel for you! I think I would have been hurt, too.

    I often think about what will happen to the items I give as a gift. The worst thing that happened so far was that I made this icy blue, mohair, lace shawl for a friend for Christmas. Some time later she wrote me a mail and in a side sentence mentioned that she gave the shawl to her 8 year old because she (the friend) doesn’t like blue at all and now her daughter wears it every day to school. Instantly I had this picture in my head how this delicate, work of love was dragged around day after day … to be honest it still upsets me just thinking about it. Long story short … my handmade gifts are now only given to people who create themselves because they are more likely to appreciate it.

    Happy Monday from Virginia, ivonne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! My heart gasped when I read what happened to the lovely shawl you made your friend. I see you have come to the same conclusion I have and too bad we had to go through these experiences to get there. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a different perspective and I make and give crafts away as well. I am a thrift shop buyer as well as a minimalist. When someone gifts me something, I can’t always politely refuse. I keep it for a while and then either regift it or donate it. I don’t think the card left inside was necessarily a bad thing. Either that person thought it would be nice for the next owner in case they wanted another or they never opened the wallet and didn’t know it was there. I don’t think that donating or giving them to a family member is bad either. I treasured hand me downs when I was a kid and frankly wore many of them out. Two of my favorite skirts were such and even though the maker might be appalled, the eventual receiver is delighted. Isn’t that what we really want? To have our work loved so much that someone can’t let go of it? Does it really matter that it doesn’t end up with the person it was originally intended for? I would much rather have it that way than collecting dust on my closet shelf because I feel guilty that I won’t use it. What we are really mourning is that we didn’t know the person we gifted as well as we thought we did. It’s not that your art is lacking. It is still well-loved. Mourn the oil spill quilt definitely.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh my goodness I love your perspective and thanks so much for your comments! You are right, when I think about it I would rather have someone give something to someone else to enjoy (who will really appreciate it) rather than it just gathering dust.
      Excellent insight that “What we are really mourning is that we didn’t know the person we gifted as well as we thought we did”.
      Also – good point – perhaps they never even opened the little wallet and looked inside. Still I am glad I have moved from a person who was so eager to give everyone a handmade gift to someone who is more selective 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are very right about that too. Although I wouldn’t be upset, I wouldn’t give to them again either and giving to a select few rather than to many is simply grace and makes it even that more special.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Tierney, I totally understand this. When I see handmade stuff in thrift stores, it breaks my heart! Especially if it’s something with any type of label on it. Someone took their time, energy, love and sometimes tears to make this for someone. It is sad that they can’t be loved through generations. I get that people die, get divorced, etc. . But is there really NO ONE who wouldn’t want to keep these things. I’ve had something like this happen to me, too. I’ve told quite a few people when I first started quilting that yes I’d make them a quilt, but over time they have mistreated me, given up their friendship or done things that don’t make them deserving of the time, love and effort that goes into a quilt. Not to mention the cost since I can’t quilt the bigger ones myself and the fabric costs. Yes, I have a big stash of fabric and some smaller sized quilts I can quilt myself, but it still costs. Oftentimes, when I speak of cost it really has nothing to do with actual $$. It’s really the time and pieces of myself that I give away and you don’t get those back. I’ve become selective about my quilts the longer I do this. That sounds harsh, but if you don’t say “Boo” to me except when I post a quilt on FB that you like and want, do you deserve one? I could go all day on this subject! I just want you to know that I’m sad your gift was given away without even the thought to remove your card. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I think I need to say something about my own stuff on my FB page about this topic. But I’ll have to write it out first. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much love to your Tanya – thanks so much for reading and for your comments! I appreciate how much you can connect to my feelings on seeing handmade stuff at thrift shops. I’ve found stuff too with beautiful labels with loving sentiments and I think “well at least take the label off before you donate it”. Of course you never know if someone passed away and their family was just getting rid of things or something. I wish we could have quilt retreated again together before you moved to the NE 🙂


      1. Well, we will just have to plan another one! I so loved the retreat we spent together. It was so great to connect with you and everyone there! I’m back there in November. Not sure if you are seeing Judy then, but I’m there for a month!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Tierney, I feel for you. I don’t give hand-made gifts unless I know that this is what this person wants. Not everyone appreciates hand-made, either – even though this sounds like sacrilege to makers. 😉
    When I was a child, I once overheard a conversation about birthday gifts. It went: “And she gave me this hand-knitted jumper, that rubbish! I mean, who wears hand-knits? I wanted a sweatshirt, not this!” So I don’t give my hand-knitted “rubbish” unless someone asks for it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is some excellent advice: ” don’t give hand-made gifts unless I know that this is what this person wants”. I have sort of thrust my handmade gifts upon people in the past that I was not sure it was what they wanted! Wow at a young age you got expose to the reality that not everyone wants handmade items! Thanks for your comments!


      1. That was in 1970s, mind you, and hand-knits were not popular because sweatshirts just got invented, I think. Anyway, those were teenagers talking, and you know what they are like! In my family we used to give hand-made gifts to each other, and they were much appreciated; but I’m rather glad I overheard that, so I knew that other people might feel otherwise!


  6. Isn’t it difficult for us crafters who cherish all things handmade to understand that not everyone feels our joy? I have had to be more selective in my gifts or wait until a person expresses interest in my making them one. I wonder if the person donating the wallet (which is adorable by the way!) either never used it, or felt that if someone found it in the shop, a business card was provided. Hey, if handmade wasn’t popular, neither would Etsy be! Craft on, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comments and encouragement to craft on 🙂
      I so appreciate people reading this post and commenting and now I feel like I am over it after sharing (oh wait is this blogging therapy sessions?!) You are right it is difficult for us crafters to understand there are those who do not appreciate handmade items like we do.


  7. Wow that must have seemed surreal to you in that thrift store to see one of you own creations. I do understand your reactions though.

    I never knew the term “Lululemon” although I know the type of bags you mean. I’ve seen some tote bag sized ones made out of dog food bags. They are pretty cool!

    I think the neighbor’s husband probably got an earful from his wife about wiping up oil with a hand made quilt! Yikes!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have one of your wallets and you will NEVER find it in a thrift shop! My family jokes with me about all the stuff I make and gift. There was a commercial about a couple who found out the mother was coming over, so they went to their storage unit to get all of the homemade gifts they had received from mom and set them up for display at the house. This made me wonder if that was how my family felt. But, I see them using what I make and this makes me feel good.
    I like to look for homemade stuff at thrift shops.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m 100% with you on the opinion that it so not classy to leave the business card in there. I wonder if you can even remember who received that particular wallet. You made a lot of them and at first glance you hadn’t recognized it as your own work. This means that maybe we crafters should keep a database and record who received what. That way, in the future, if they do something totally not classy with the gift we can rub their noses in it. I have zero problems with people donating stuff I made for them. I’ve donated things I’ve made for myself! In fact, I celebrate any means to make sure the thing gets used and not dumped in a landfill. I keep thinking about how delightful it might have been for you to find the wallet at the thrift store without the business card inside. Sooooooo taaaacky. Blah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comments 😀
      Another reader mentioned that maybe the person did not even think about the business card being in there so I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I think I was meant to find it and it was a lesson about letting go as well as being more selective on who gets my handmade items.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just realized that maybe the person would be silly enough to leave money in there! I mean, they didn’t check the inside of the wallet, so it might as well have been. And then I remember that I found money in a pair of pants I bought second hand once. People need to check pockets when donating, for the sake of being classy and not losing cash!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I found my brother was letting his dog sleep on the Afghan I had made him when he went away to school. It was really hurtful so now I try to limit my handmade gifting to people who also craft so there is some understanding of the time, effort and money that has gone into the gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I did have a friend who was the recipient of one of my very early quilts contact me and say that the quilt pretty much had had it and do I mind if her dog used it as a blanket? I said yes as that seemed like a good outcome for a worn out quilt that I know I did not do a great job of assembling in the first place. I really appreciate her thoughtfulness of letting me know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I could be in danger of becoming a hoarder one day. I have to resist buying the handcrafted items I see in charity shops unless I really, really ‘need’ it ! I have never found one of my own but I am now picky about who I gift my crafts to. I used to cross stitch many years ago and each Christmas gave cards to lots of family and friends. However one year my sister opened hers with a grimace and said ‘oh what a surprise, a cross stitch card..’ in a slightly derogatory and bored voice. I love my sister dearly but she has never had a cross stitch since. A woolly hat I knitted for her a few years later was received well, glad to say! I didn’t give up gifting to her, just changed what I gift and do it rarely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this experience! Reading the comments have helped me fully recover from my surprise to find one of my items at a thrift shop. I mean you know your sister loves you but she does not necessarily appreciate the handmade work (of course I would have displayed a cross-stitched card and kept it in my collection for eternity!) Thanks for reading and sharing 🙂


  12. First off, that’s a crazy coincidence to have found your own creation in the shop. Second, yes, tres tacky to not even take out the business card. I know a little how you feel. I gave my dad a few drawings for his apartment, then never saw hem again…until he retired and got an RV. Then I got the drawings back. Not sure where they were all these years, but at least I got them back.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I haven’t read the comments, so someone else might have thought of this, but I think I may be inclined to leave a business card in as a final service to the giver of the item. This way, if the person who buys the thing wants more, the maker might get more business. Another thought is that the recipient might have died or become incapacitated and someone else was working on emptying out the belongings. Yes, when you give a gift, it is the thought that counts, and the person can do whatever they want to with it. It is difficult, I understand, but something I have to remind myself whenever I give anything away, “If this item winds up being abused, am I okay with it?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a great point, however I have narrowed down who likely is the donator/culprit and they are still alive 🙂
      But if I did not have a guess who it was, you are right that could have been what happened. I appreciate the question you ask yourself and I am going to use this too in the future: “If this item winds up being abused, am I okay with it?”. If the answer is NO then I should not give it to that person, if YES I should just let go 🙂


    2. This is how true talented people like tierney, who are hiding, can get discovered by one of those famous people. Somehow the famous person gets the product, puts it on Instagram, and tierney is getting massive numbers of people to her site. And then her and beastie go on the news and share their story. Next thing you know its a Hallmark Christmas Movie special about her gift that saved Christmas. And because its hallmark someone falls in love by the end and the audience gets to be grossed out by some kissy face action at the conclusion of the wholesome movie. And you are welcome, lets get this on script.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh my gosh Tierney, I’m sorry this happened to you.
    I would feel the same as you did, total shock and then I would start crying right there in the store. The rational side of the brain says, “I can’t take it personally “ but I so would.

    I love your little wallets! Why give away something so pretty, unique and useful? A person should think twice with what they do with a special handmade gift. No class at all! Hmphhh!

    I’m glad at the same time you found the perfect wallet for your sister. The universe works in strange ways sometimes.
    I love how you rescue granny square blankets and give them a happy home. When I see hand embroidered items like napkins and table runners at thrift stores, I buy them for my collection. Even if the creator doesn’t know, I feel happy that someone appreciates their time and talent.
    Also, it was enlightening and interesting to read all the comments on this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Abbie for adding another wonderful comment to the thread! I agree the other comments were enlightening and interesting too!
      I love how you rescue handmade items also! I am feeling much better now and sharing it on my blog seemed to serve as “therapy” 🙂
      Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. T — I’m catching up on my blog reading and I feel for you. I always worry that my handmade gifts are burdens instead of gifts. I did want you to know that the night Cindy and I met you in Cincinnati, I had the little purple batik wallet you made (I won it in a raffle) in my purse and I wanted to get a picture of us with it (I use it every day), but I forgot in all the excitement! Your crafts are to be treasured!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you so much for sharing your finds and story! We are avid thrift shoppers and will admit, we do find and purchase some handmade item. For us, we see it as giving that home made thrift store item a second home! I think others feel the same way too! Thanks for this great post and are excited to read future ones 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Tierney! I know I would have had my feelings hurt by finding something I made at a thrift shop. I’m glad you posted about it and have had so much feedback that is helpful to all of us for future making and giving. Although I want to show love to people by giving them something I have taken time to create, I have to be realistic about their love language, which is often something completely different.

    I go to many thrift stores, garage and estate sales and I am always thrilled to find handmade items. Actually, that is one thing I am always looking for. I don’t feel bad for the maker or get upset at the donator/seller because why should they keep something meaningless to them when it could be truly appreciated by someone else, like me? It thrills me to give a good home to something that required hours of work and skill. These are my favorite things!

    Congratulations on your piece having such a place of honor and meaning to people world wide!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Tina for your thoughtful comments, I so appreciate them! I think this topic made for an interesting discussion and I definitely feel better after reading the comments and thinking through how I feel about the whole handmade gift giving thing! 🙂


  18. What a great post, and so many wonderful and different thoughts in the comments! I learnt a while ago to be selective to who I give hand made gifts to. I don’t take it personally, I just remember to not go to the same amount of effort in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Yikes! I’m so glad you posted about this, because it’s something I thought of early on when I started making Beasties, and it still haunts me! But reading all the comments has helped give me some perspective on it too. And yes, the original recipient of your little wallet is totally unclassy, and the joke’s kind of on them for giving up such an awesome gift. I was one of your lucky winners from your 4th Blogiversary giveaway, and my little wallet will have to be prised from my cold, dead hands! Originally, I was keeping it as my “good” wallet for special occasions, but I found it so much better than my day-to-day one that I couldn’t resist using it all the time. So thank you, and I’m sure this one wallet-in-thrift-store incident is the exception rather than the rule!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww – thanks for the smile but I hope in your final moments on this earth you are not clutching the little wallet I gave you – I think you should be clutching a Beastie! I cannot imagine a Beastie ever ending up in a thrift shop. Of course you would never know as it would be purchased immediately! 🙂


      1. Awww, you made me smile back! And you know what, although it’s double crappy when a handmade treasure isn’t appreciated, there’s no substitute for the warm fuzzies you get when you see your work being really cherished. That’s why other people’s Beastie photos ROCK! So thank you for being a part of that! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  20. How strange to come across this at the thrift shop. I can only say that the mini-wallet I received during your giveaway is *awesome*: I used it on my recent trip to keep my Canadian and U.S. cards and IDs separate and very neatly organized. I’m amazed by how compact and neat it keeps the 15+ cards it holds (it is the perfect size, adorable, and so well-made). I would gladly have given that adorable little wallet a new home!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.