Musings · Thrifting · Tips

Sewing on a Budget

Happy Monday, readers! This is a post that I’ve been contemplating for a while, as  sewing can definitely be an expensive hobby and it seems that fabric and notions are increasingly getting more expensive.

So, whether you’re a (relatively) poor college student (like me!) or just on a budget, here are some tips I’ve found help to make sewing a less costly endeavor.

  • Buy the highest-quality fabrics and notions you can afford. Well-made, natural fiber fabrics are worth the investment (and sometimes they needn’t be expensive, especially if you thrift) and will last longer than cheaply-made synthetic fibers.
  • Thrift whenever you can – It’s amazing what people give away to a thrift store sometimes, huh? But I’ve found amazing fabrics (like some great wool pieces, polished cotton, and fabulous printed cottons) and vintage patterns for under $1. Considering what some etsy sellers are charging for vintage patterns, buying from the thrift store can definitely save you a pretty penny, as well as shipping costs (you might have to pay sales tax in your area, but even a 9% sales tax on a $1 pattern is cheaper than any shipping costs). One caveat, however: thrift stores are very hit and miss. Somedays you’ll find amazing stuff, and other days you’ll come away with nothing. Don’t be discouraged, though, and realize that thrifting does require an investment of time. I recommend finding out when your local thrift store puts out there new merchandise, and then plan to visit your thrift store on that day. Also, many thrift stores will have weekly sales, so take advantage of those.
  • If you’re going to make a mock-up or test garment, use old sheets rather than muslin. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen the command “make a mock-up first!” in a sewing book, I’d be rich (okay, I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d definitely have enough to buy a candy bar). And while I think that it’s great advice, I don’t always make a muslin. Sometimes after I’ve made the garment I wish that I had, and, well, that’s sewing karma for you. That being said, mock-ups are great ways to try out your patterns, but rather than paying $2 a yard for several yards muslin to do so, you can go to the thrift store and get a sheet for that amount and use that to mock-up. Added bonus? You’re also being environmentally friendly by reusing something, rather than buying new.
  • Shop your stash first before buying anything new. You would think that if you’re sewing on a budget, you wouldn’t have a massive stash of fabric piled up in your closet. Wrong (at least in my case). There will be cases, of course, when nothing in your stash will work for the project you’re contemplating and you’ll need to purchase something else.
  • Trade fabric and patterns with your sewing friends. Exchanges like these are great ways to get new-to-you items in your stash for no money at all.
  • Sign up for coupons from the big fabric chains. Places like Joann’s and Hancock Fabrics have a program where you can sign up to get their mailers and they’ll send you coupons about every 2 weeks. Joanns also puts coupons in the Sunday paper, which you can use in conjunction with your mailer coupons for added savings!

Anyways, I hope these tips have been helpful! If you have any money-saving tips when it comes to sewing, please do feel free to leave them in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Sewing on a Budget

  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing! I’ve been trying to go for sort of a reverse approach with my sewing lately by going through my stash to put together a project that I can make with fabric and patterns that I already have. I gave up buying knitting/sewing stuff for Lent, and, oddly, it’s actually been really freeing to force myself to use stuff from my stash (and I’ve opted out of some sewalongs and special projects that I would have bought more fabric for and would’ve felt stressed out trying to keep up with!).

    1. Thanks and glad you found them helpful!

      And I’m definitely with you on staying out of some sewalongs for the sake of my sanity! I really wanted to do OWOP and the Mad Men sewalong, but I just have so many other commitments, and I really don’t want to be running on only 2 hours of sleep every night. 😉

  2. Hey thereannaintechnicolorI I found your blog site on Google the other day and I am quite thrilled that I did!
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    Thank you annaintechnicolor for Sewing on a Budget « anna in technicolor, a great blog post!

  3. Another good one is to use the old sheet or cheap soft fabric that you make the toile from, to make the LINING. This works especially well for historical garments, which were often lined and even built on to the lining anyway. So your toile can even do double-duty.

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