The Beginners Guide to Op Shopping

"How do you find such great things?" It's a question I'm asked all the time. As Mr J and I were driving out to one of our favourite treasure troves the other day we were discussing this very thing. What's the difference between a person who walks into an op shop and sees clutter and junk, and a person who sees future design projects, bargains, and treasures?

I've taken a few people op shopping with me only to have them walk out empty handed which amazes me.. because I always seem to leave with an armload!  Thrift shopping requires a completely different mindset to normal retail shopping. It's more of a discovery than finding the exact thing you're looking for. That's what I love about it.. the thrill of the unknown. Here are some of the things I've found recently:

Vintage suitcases for storing linens and craft supplies

Vintage pottery

Some good things to be found at Bullaburra Market

Le creuset  saucepan, Pyrex pie dish, wool blanket and vintage linen

Old tins for crafty bits, Pyrex, and souvenir linens

West German pottery 

Here are my top tips for op shopping success:

  • Have an open mind. That ratty old board game with missing pieces in the corner there? You could transform that into a piece of family artwork like my Scrabble Board. Try and look at things not for what they are, but for their shape, colour, size, and texture. 
  • Keep in mind that you can change the function of items really easily - a key rack can become a jewellery holder, a pile of stamps can be used for mosaics, and you can turn an outdoor table into a side table, or a screen into a headboard.
  • Always look at the linens. Tablecloths can become skirts or bags, sheets can be used for just about anything, and tea towels make fantastic cushions or bags. If they have holes or stains keep them for cutting, you can use the good parts for applique detail or for patchwork quilt squares. 
  • Have a go at remodelling vintage clothing. Old dresses can easily be updated by cutting them to knee length or by removing the sleeves and adding a belt. A simple remodel trick is to cut off the bottom portion and attach it to a t shirt top or singlet like I did with an 1980s dress and a dress for my daughter. A simple top can be transformed by adding a doily or a piece of embroidered linen.
  • Don't be afraid to have a rummage. Some of my best finds have been down the bottom of bargain bins or plastic containers full of remnants. 
  • If something catches your eye but you don't know what to do with it, buy it and store it until inspiration hits. Once you leave the shop the chances of ever finding something similar again are slim so don't let anything you really love go by.
  • Prices in op shops are fixed and it's generally not polite to haggle. My exception to this is if the price of something is out of place with other similar things in the store. In my experience prices are set by volunteers who like all of us have their own tastes. I've often heard old ladies having spirited arguments out the back about how much to charge for something. Last week I found a suitcase that was $9 and a much bigger one was $7 we took them both to the counter and they changed the price for us.
  • If you bring your kids with you feel free to let them loose in the toy area but do tidy up afterwards. 
  • Take cash, lots of op shops (in Australia particularly) are cash only or have a $10 minimum for eftpos.
  • If there's something you like, try and collect a few of the same in varying colours or shapes so you can display them together. It makes op shopping really fun if you have a secret wishlist in mind before you walk in the door. 
  • Have fun! Plan an op shopping route and make a day of it.

Anzac Day

It's been a while since I've written a family post! Anzac Day is an extra special one for me because my great grandfather was a soldier in the Australian Army in WWI. He was one of the first to arrive at Gallipoli and one of the last to leave. Although I never had the chance to meet him, stories about him and his Military Cross have been part of the fabric of my childhood. I've started to talk about the Anzacs a bit with my own children and I'm thrilled that this year Jemima is involved in a special Anzac day at her school. The idea of Australians and New Zealanders as brothers in arms is poignant for us as a Kiwi family living in Australia. It's comforting to think that there's that connection there between our homeland and the land we call home. Tomorrow we're planning a quiet day in each others company reflecting on how very lucky we are to be able to do that.

Gluten free Vegan Anzac Biscuits

There's no reason why we dietary challenged folk can't enjoy the good old Anzac biscuit. As a child these were a staple in my house at all times of the year. I make them often too, but I especially like to make a big batch the night before Anzac Day. Here we'll use tapioca in place of flour, and a mix of flaked quinoa and almond meal instead of rolled oats. They have a slightly nuttier taste than traditional Anzac biscuits.

Combine in a bowl with a whisk:

1 C tapioca starch
1 1/3 C coconut
1 C flaked quinoa
1/2 C almond meal
2/3 C sugar

Then in a saucepan melt together 2 Tbsp golden syrup and 100g DF margarine (or use butter if you can).

Mix the melted butter and syrup into the dry ingredients along with 1 tsp baking soda that has been stirred into 4 Tbsp boiling water.

Combine until well mixed then roll into balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden. Yum!


One of the things I find the most fun when it comes to sewing, is reusing vintage fabrics and turning them into something entirely different. A few weeks ago I came across a kids sheet set with a Superman print from 1979. I snapped it up and have been thinking of how I could rework it into something fun for my son Ben.

A few years ago I made and sold kids jeans reworked from an adult size pair of vintage jeans and I decided to use that concept again here. Vintage denim is soft and worn in, and it's normally much better quality than the denim you can buy off the roll.

So here they are, Ben's KAPOW! jeans.

And since I've recently opened a store through my Facebook page I'm adding these little babies to the shop. 

They are:
Custom made KAPOW! jeans in sizes 12 months - 5 years made from vintage Superman fabric and recycled denim. To order please email me on or see the 

And while I was sewing I made a few more of my cushion covers using vintage tea towels. Most of these have a side zipper so the cushion can be used on both sides. More items are added to the store every few days so make sure you 'like' the page and check back.

South Otago New Zealand cushion made from vintage tea towel.

Floral cushion made from 100% cotton vintage tea towel.

Australian Crocs cushion made from 100% linen vintage tea towel.

And lastly, this great Tote Bag made from 1960s floral fabric and lined with a orange and cream geometric print:

To order please see the born again creations store.

A little bit of vintage...

I was in the mood for some vintage linen today and as a result here are the latest cushion covers for sale!

I've been collecting vintage tea towels for about a year now for my Vintage Picnic Blankets. In fact, I can't go past a cheesy vintage tea towel without snapping it up. These ones are some of my favourites - pure Irish linen in fantastic bold bright colours. Most of them have a side zipper so you can turn the pillow over and use  both sides. They take a small rectangle shaped insert, but you can use hobby fill or a small square shape insert too. As you know, I'm always out treasure hunting so make sure you 'like' the born again creations Facebook page and check the store album regularly for more designs.




To purchase please visit the Facebook album: born again creations store.

Lawson Markets

Today we travelled to Lawson to the Magpie Markets. I think we've been to almost all of the Blue Mountains markets now, and this one was definitely my favourite. The weather was warm, the food was yum, the company was great, and there were bargains to be found. That's my kind of Sunday.

I've been looking for an old suitcase and today I found it. I see these from time to time on ebay and in vintage stores but they're always quite expensive. This one was only $15 so it came home with us today. Now to decide what to put in it.. dress ups? Woollen blankets?

I also bought some herbs for our deck (6 for $10 - bargain!) and spent the afternoon potting them up. I've planted some winter greens in the big red tub, and in smaller pots we now have rosemary, two kinds of parsley, chives, lemon balm, mint, peppermint, chamomile, sage, thyme, oregano and marjoram.

Some of them will need to be repotted when I find some nicer, bigger pots. But at least for now we have some living and growing things about us again. And that feels good.


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