Reviews: resources, books, museums

Friday Review: Three Buckets Full

Three Buckets Full

509 High Street
Lower Hutt City

Pogey bait extravaganza

What it is: an antiques and notions store with a focus on textiles, sewing, and beading.

'Traditional' antiques and sewing goodies: drawers full of textiles

Three Buckets Full is the Wellington areas best-kept secret: everyone who has ever been to it raves about, and loves it, but the shop does no advertising, isn’t on the internet, doesn’t really even have a phone line, is in the most unpromising location, and has the most inconspicuous, uninteresting shopfront.  If you don’t hear about the place by word of mouth, you are never going to find or visit it.

The unpromising neighborhood reflected in the inconspicuous outside

Luckily, word of mouth in the Wellington textile world is alive and well, and once I discovered it, Three Buckets Full became my favourite store ever.  Or at least, one of the more dangerous stores ever to take me in to.  It carries all of the most delightful and drool worthy pogey bait types: vintage jewellery, beads, buttons, lace, antique trims, old sewing notions, fabric, vintage textiles.  The only thing I don’t care for is the dolls.  Dolls are icky.

Drool worthy beads, buttons, and lace

Icky dolls

The Good:

Three Buckets Full is probably the only place in Wellington where you are guaranteed to find a huge selection of vintage buttons, beads, buckles, trim, ribbon and lace – everything that a historical costumer needs for trimming frocks.

Drawers full of buttons, all sorted by colour and type

I’ve used resources that I could only find at Three Buckets full on a number of projects: for Jeanne Samary’s belt clasp, on Carolyn’s dress, for the lace on my nougat corset, and to trim innumerable fluffy white undergarments.

An extravagance of beads and jewellery

Drawers full of vintage lace

The selection is extensive and delightfully scattered, as an antiques store should be, but the proprietor knows her shop, and can generally tell you instantly if she has what you need.

Lace, trim, and motifs, all carefully sorted

Among the many things that the shop carries that you might need are: silver buckles, diamante buckles, 19th century steel-cut beads, early 20th century seed beads, silk ribbon (the ribbon embroidery type), silk and cotton thread, a large selection of lace dating back to the mid-19th century, trim ranging from Victorian jet  to 50s nylon embroidery, old brooches, old buttons of every variety, vintage ribbons, antique jewellery, and even a bit of vintage fabric.


The shop also carries old books, old postcards and cards, old glass slides (generally of tourist attractions and artworks), a bit of old crockery, watches, bone crochet hooks, old shoe horns, quite a lot of dolls (ick), and a thousand other covetable bits and bobs that I have forgotten to mention.

Antique glasswear and crystal

The prices for most of the stuff in the shop is very, very reasonable.  There are a few categories of things that are a bit pricey, and one or two items that are downright exorbitant, but the vast majority is priced quite fairly.

Very reasonably priced hatpins

The Bad:

It’s all the way out in the Hutt Valley.  I know, I’m so spoiled having all my other favourite stores within walking distance, and a half an hour isn’t a bad drive, but I still don’t go out there just for the fun of it!

I shouldn't have to travel so far for all this goodness!

The other bad is that the shop sometimes has irregular hours.  Three Buckets Full is run by the owner, without staff, so if she is busy or not well, it simply isn’t open.  And the only number for the shop is a mobile phone, which frequently doesn’t pick up , so sometimes you can drive all the way out, and find the shop closed.

Finally, the shop only takes cash.  This is good and bad: I always pull up and remember that I don’t have any cash on me (I use my debit card for everything), but the cash only policy does help to limit my spending, which is good.  If you find yourself with not quite enough actual money to pay for your purchases, there is a Pak’n’ Save grocery store with an ATM just across the street.

So much temptation to buy too much (especially with my weakness for thread!)

The Ugly:

The dolls, and this one particularly.  Really what is going on with her body?  What’s with the cone thing around her waist?  And the weird bulbous torso that doesn’t match up to her top?  Uuuugh.

I don't understand!

Other stuff I really must show you:

The cash register (ah!  I want it!  So much!)

So pretty!

Her keychain.  Isn’t it fabulous!?!  In a y’know, creepy way

Big blue peepers

The best set of filing drawers ever.

Oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh, nom nom

OK, possibly to be the best set of drawers ever the bottom draw should have a ‘Chocolate’ label instead of a ‘treacle toffee’ label, but still, there is some total awesomeness going on there!

Jewels, sweets and money - definitely a girls best friend!


  1. I wish I lived near a store like that!!! My town has more than 3 antique shops, but only furniture, and all wildly expensive.

  2. This is my favourite Saturday hangout! You can’t walk into this shop and leave in 5 minutes…. it absorbs you!!

  3. Nomnoms indeed! several of my quilty friends from the Hutt are devotees of this shop too and I just twigged you were all talking about the same place! I want that set of drawers too, with a few choccies mixed in with the toffees 😉 And I’d love to go out one day and explore…

  4. Emily C. says

    I’m torn between “Yes! Three Buckets Full is finally getting its due!” and “Nooooo you told them the secret is out!”

  5. Oh, the beads. The laces. Droolworthy shop, indeed, even without the treacle toffees. (What’s a treacle toffee?)
    That doll- I bet the plastic thing was once a crinoline to hold up her skirt. I do hope she looked better dressed.
    I heart that keychain. It’s creepy, but oh, so unforgettable.

    • I’m actually beginning to suspect that the doll is a wobbly hula doll, and that the plastic thing holds out her grass skirt, and the off-kilter legs are because she has ‘wobbled’ to one side.

      Treacle toffee is a hard sugar and treacle (molasses) candy. I think it is really traditional for Guy Fawkes night. Maybe I should try making some and if it turns out good I can do a giveaway 😉

  6. Madame Ornata says

    Oh I have heard about it often – world famous in Welly but NEVER been. I see I am in for a treat. Wants buckles, wants silk ribbon, wants clasps, want ribbonsz, wants wants wants the preciouses gollum gollum

    • Joie de Vivre says

      Madame O I too have heard and not seen. And am lusting after, you know, everything! So a trip togther one day it is then! 🙂

      • Don’t encourage her! Actually, you don’t need encouraging either! Not until I actually see some ribbon embroidery first!

      • Madame Ornata says

        You’re on Joy! With bells and ribbons on he he he

        • Joie de Vivre says

          We’ll make a date then 🙂 Sorry Dreamstress, encouragement has been done. But you’ll see some progress I promise!

  7. Heh heh heh @ Ornata…

    Treacle toffee sounds delicious. I tried (unsuccessfully) to explain salt water taffy to someone the other day. Miss. The toffee sounds easier to make.

  8. Robyne says

    Thanks for your blog I’m in the Bay of Plenty (plenty not shops like these) I’m starting a list of stores with a road trip in mind…. Thema and Louise stylez…. so thanks now I have found you I’ll keep an eye on your site. cheers Ma Honey b

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