Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hallmarks of Quality

Not all bargains have a brand. Below are some quality indicators that make me take a second look when secondhand shopping.

(Granted, they are gross generalizations, but they do help me separate the wheat from the chaff, especially when I don't recognize a brand.)

  • handmade pieces like pottery with signatures on the bottom


  • blown glass, which you can tell by the pontil on the bottom (either a pinched area or a polished dip in the base where the glass was detatched from the pipe)


  • custom made draperies, which are generally longer and of better quality, lined and weighted--even if only to use the fabric for another purpose


  • damask and linen tablecloths and old quilts, to use as is or as fabric


  • all-wood furniture (no particleboard), drawers which are dovetailed, not screwed


  • upholstered furniture and pillows with down filling


  • clothing which is fully lined (a sure tip-off on men's suits)


  • clothing of all-natural materials like silk, linen, cashmere


  • clothing with European sizes on the tag


  • clothing with unusual buttons like horn or shell


  • shoes, belts, and bags of leather or unusual skins like alligator


I buy these items when the price is right: sweetgrass baskets, blue and white plates to mix with my tableware, handmade kids' clothing, pretty ribbons and gift wrap, Wilton Armetale serving pieces, vintage silverware, old bird prints, needlepoint pillows, Orvis gear and/or pants.

5 comments:

Slughorn said...

Thanks for the tips ... How do you clean your down-filled finds? I passed up on a down feather bed -- simply because I couldn't figure out how to clean it up.

Jordana said...

When I want to clean down, I throw it in the washer. Although many tags say not to, I've never found anything harmed by a trip through the washing machine with cold water and the dryer on low. I put in a few sneakers to help beat the items around.

Slughorn said...

Thanks, Jordana, but the feather bed was enormous -- probably queen-size ... and thicker than the Dallas phone book.

Marsha said...

Take it to a laundromat that has the super-size machines. I clean our huge overstuffed king-size comforters that way every summer.

Jenn said...

Thanks for the tips Meredith!