Last year we did costumes for a production of Treasure Island and we practically lived in Goodwill. We kept going back every other day and checking different branches to see different stock. We got "pirate" scarves, pants and shirts to make ragged looking, coats that we made appropriately piratical, wide belts for hanging cutlasses, and even some decent boots.
Also, the pants I used to make my shorts were really nice, a great fit, under $5, and I got them at Goodwill.
Some of my favorite finds include: a pair of combat boots; a nice pair of paratrooper boots; this awesome coat that looks like it was from a park ranger, it has a removable liner and a removable faux fur collar; and the nicest belt I have ever owned.
Seriously, this belt is high quality. I've bought a lot of belts and they all fall apart. Cheap belts are typically made by gluing cheap thin layers of leather together. Eventually the glue fails and the layers come apart. Then it's just a matter of time before each layer wears through. This belt isn't like that. It's made from a single piece of thick leather. I'll be honest and say that it doesn't look as nice as it could. It's not a nice shiny belt that you would want to pair with a suit, but this thing is tough.
Recently it came apart. Not the leather, no. The stitching that holds the buckle in place. I guess they didn't make the stitching as tough as the rest of the belt. Obviously, I could have gone and gotten a new belt but I was not going to shell out the amount of money it would take to get as nice a belt as I already had and I wasn't going to be happy with a cheap one. So naturally I decided to fix it.
I already had the sewing awl that I used on both my leather journal and my wallet. I used it again to fix my belt but to be honest it wasn't necessary. The holes were already there since I was resewing it and even if they hadn't been I could have just punched holes with a regular awl or a leather punch and then used a needle and thread. I like using it though, and the thread it has is a tough waxed type.
The stitching had come completely out so I had to sew both seams. One to hold the buckle and the second to hold the little strap.
I started by threading the needle and pushing it through.
Then pull the excess thread the rest of the way through the hole and pull the needle back out so it looks like this.
Then push the needle through the next hole and pull it back out a little bit so it forms this little loop.
Run the end of the thread through the hole all the way, pull it taught and pull the needle back out. Repeat that process until you're finished. You have to keep it tight as you go along but make sure that the tension on either side is even or else it will pull to one side and look messy.
To tie it off I pulled the whole loose end of the thread through one layer and left it in between the layers. Then I pulled the awl back out and pushed into the adjacent hole, also only going through only one layer, pulled some extra thread through and cut it free. That gave me two ends that I could tie together with a square knot.
I repeated the whole process on the other side of the little strap and voila! Good as new! Or at least good as "gently loved".
So there you go. Whether you've happened upon a great thrift store treasure or you actually invested the money in a nice belt, you don't have to give up at the first sign of a little wear!