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How to Save Money While Sewing

 I see the question “Do you really save money sewing?” pop up frequently in online sewing groups. It’s a tough question because there are so many variables, but I do think there are ways to save money while sewing no matter what you’re making. Obviously, the best way to save money while sewing? Stop shopping. Often I decide on a new project and find myself drawn to my laptop, searching for a fun fabric to match with my vision. The problem? I have plenty of fabric already in my basement!

 I love this drawing by Sarah Lazarovic on “The Buyerarchy of Needs”; “using what you have” is becoming my new mantra! I wish borrowing or swapping was feasible but my friends who sew are few and far between.

I’ve rounded up my favorite tips and ideas for saving on patterns, notions, & fabric below – if I’ve missed any ideas I’d love to hear from you!

{This post contains affiliate links, indicated by an asterisk*. Please refer to ‘legal stuff’ in the top menu for more info.}

How to Save Money While Sewing

  • Use Ebates* – I have a whole post explaining how it works, here, if you have questions.
    • You sign up and then log-in before making a purchase. Search for the store, click on the link, and shop like normal. You’ll then receive a % of your purchase as cash back, redeemable by check or Paypal! It’s that easy.
    • They have cash back for Hancock Fabrics, Fabric.com, Jo-Ann Fabrics. Amazon has rotating categories, sometimes including sewing/crafts, and both HSN & Overstock.com have sewing machines. Etsy is on there now too, perfect for PDF Patterns!!
  • Use Ibotta* for Jo-Ann Fabric purchases – – I have a whole post explaining how it works, here, if you have questions.
    • You shop like normal, then take your receipt home and scan it, get cash back!
  • Price Compare
    • Whether you’re looking at a pattern book at Barnes & Nobles or a serger at your local dealer, price around. It never hurts to ask if they’ll price match. Shopping on Amazon? Use the website CamelCamelCamel to look at an item’s price history and see if their “sale” is really that great of a deal.
    • I do try to keep in mind that supporting local sewing/quilt stores is important to me – I want them in my community so I’m willing and happy to buy things there even if I might save a few bucks online.
  • Coupon
    • The big brick & mortar fabric/craft stores (Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, Hancock) will accept one another’s coupons. I have the apps on my phone so I’m never without some % off, no matter where I shop!
  • Check Closeout Stores (ala Tuesday Morning)
    • (Tip via Jessica from Snickerdoodle Stew) You never know what warehouse-closeout stores might have and Tuesday Morning often keeps their craft/sewing section full with notions and fabric. They also have inexpensive ironing boards and often Rowenta irons!
  • Stay Organized
    • Isn’t that the worst feeling when you know you have something but you can’t find it? Staying somewhat organized with fabric, elastic, patterns will prevent you from re-buying or doubling up.
  • Check Ebay
    • (Tip via Angela H. from Pinterest)Ebay is often the first place people turn to offload things in a hurry, so you can score great deals on just about anything. Set up a saved search to receive an alert for anything you might be looking for, whether it’s a sewing machine manual or vintage knit fabric!

How to Save on Fabric & Notions

  • Use sheets!
    • Both woven cotton & jersey knit sheets work well for muslins, quilt backs, and general sewing.
    • You can see me wearing jersey sheets in several different posts, see a round-up of them in this post.
  • Shop thrift shops
    • We’ve moved 4 times in the past 5 years so I’ve seen lots of thrift shops in the Midwest. Most have a ‘materials’ section with fabric yardage, notions, and patterns. You might have to ask where it is in the store, but it can be a true treasure trove. Be sure to check out my tips on shopping with upcycling and refashioning in mind!
  • Check the remnant bin
    • Lots of remnants are close to a yard, which makes them perfect for kid projects or softies/dolls. It’s also a good spot to pick a cheaper practice fabric before you cut into the nice stuff.
  • Freecycle/Craigslist
    • Both online sites often have machines, fabric, and craft supplies. Freecycle is a great place to ask for things like mason jars for organizing.  I also love Craigslist for estate sales; I search ‘estate + fabric’ to try and find the sewing stashes.
  • Upcycle
    • If you’ve ever read a post of mine, you know I love upcycling. This is my favorite upcycle for myself, and my favorite upcycle for my son. It makes my hippie heart happy, and I get easy access to different colors and prints. Don’t limit yourself to clothes – tablecloths, curtains, and blankets can all have a second life!
    • This is a great post on  Melly Sews about upcycling purse hardware. For all the clothing upcycling I do, it’s never occurred to me to scavenge for purse hardware too.
    • Spread the word to friends and family. I often have people ask me now if I’d like to paw through their closet remnants, which is always fun.
  •  Buy in bulk
    • Know there are years of knit shorts in your future? Buy a giant roll of elastic! Amazon, Wawak, & Ebay are all good spots to check.
    • I specifically love the savings of buying Olfa rotary cutter blades* & Organ sewing needles on Amazon. Highly recommend both!
  • Use your scraps
  • Swap fabric! Mara from Secretly Stitching let me know about Flickr swaps, what a great way to get fresh prints without dropping a ton of cash.

How To Save On Patterns

    • Shop sales
      • There are regular $1 sales on commercial sewing patterns at Jo-Ann’s and Hancock Fabrics (at least in the United States, I’ve heard it’s not this way other countries). I am so used to paying only a dollar for paper patterns, I was totally taken aback when I picked out one that wasn’t on sale and it rang up at $15.
    • Search for free patterns
      • Pinterest! Google! Independent pattern designers, bloggers, and fabric shops often release free patterns for publicity and traffic. It’s worth looking before you pay.
      • Sometimes the trouble with free patterns is that you get what you pay for. I like to google and see if another blogger has tried the pattern out before I start printing. This post on Fresh Stitches is talking about the problem with free knitting/crochet patterns but I think much of it applies to sewing too.
    • Check out pattern books
      • There are lots of sewing books with patterns or tutorials included, and the best part is you can get them from your local library! I regularly request books through Interlibrary Loan or ask my local branch to buy them.
    • Social media for coupon codes
      • I always check a designer or shops’ Facebook, Twitter, & blog before I purchase, in the hopes that I’ll find a coupon code!
      • There is a Facebook page called Sew Kids Grow that publicizes independent designers’ sales and coupons. They have a website as well, where you can search, SewingCoupons.com
    • Check indie pattern boutiques
    • Shop your existing pattern stash
      • (Tip via Roberta from Taking It Up A Notch)Look at the pattern pieces you already have and see if you can mix and match them to create the look you want.

How to save money while sewing! Tips on how to spend less when it comes to fabric, notions, and sewing patterns.

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This Post Has 38 Comments
  1. Great ideas! I keep telling myself to sew through my stash, which I am a little embarrassed to say, is kind of out of control. Then something comes up and NO STASH FABRIC WORKS! So off to the fabric store I go and always end up with more stash. Hopefully this winter, I will be able to sew through some of it. On the pattern front, I am doing much better using and hacking what already is in the bucket! So I guess that is something. 🙂

  2. Some great ideas here! I love the “Buyerarchy of Needs”. That is a great visual. I am not one to have a huge fabric stash. I have some but nothing crazy, thankfully. But I do wish I could do a bit more upcycling. Thanks!

  3. This is a great list! I have an upcycle stash and a huge fabric stash, but I keep buying new fabric to fit whatever specific vision I have. It’s probably time to plan some things based on my stash instead. And I’ll definitely check out my thrift stores now! Thanks for that tip.

  4. Learn to sort your patterns by their pieces. Bodices, sleeves, skirts, etc. A lot of patterns are just different combinations of the same pattern pieces. Designers create new patterns from pieces they have already used, and so can you.

  5. Great post:) Always upcycling bag hardware, often its so much cheaper:) Thanks for sharing Call Ajaire’s post – I have been contemplating different methods of converting scraps into new fabric using either dissolvable fabric or bondaweb.

  6. I’m trying to sew through my stash and only purchase necessities It’s really hard! Another place you can check out, if your city has one, is Tuesday Morning stores. They have lots of notions, and I’ve even seen people snag yard cuts of Amy Butler!

  7. I love this post! I do sew to save more, or at least spend less, but also to make my children and myself some unique items that I hope no one else will duplicate. It gives me the ability to make expensive items for them for a fraction of the price. However, lots of the things I see (fabrics, patterns, etc) I cannot justify buying when I have totes of fabric at home. Fabric and patterns are just like clothing and shoes, in that the newest trendy ones always peak my interest. The only difference is that I will settle on one or two to buy and just salivate knowing I need to use my other fabric first. I also and am a notorious bargain bin shopper. Price it a dollar a yard or $10 a bolt and yes, it will be in my home very soon.

  8. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.
    I have a small generous fabric stash because from times to times I grab a few bargains from the remnant bins at my local fabric store. I like to have a fabric stock in hands because I don’t always have the time to go shop for fabric (and going with my kids is not an option! 🙂 ). I would love to upcycle more but unfortunately in my country there are almost no thrift shops (and the only we have are for furniture and home appliances).

    1. I love remnant bins! Sadly, the fabric store cutters know my son’s name haha. That blows my mind about the no thrift shops!! I looked on your about page but didn’t see where you’re from – please tell me so I never move there 🙂 (Just kidding!! But seriously I love thrift shops).

  9. Great tips Stephanie! I use ebates a ton – especially around christmas shopping time. It’s fun to get those little rebate checks 🙂 The pattern mix and matching is where the monthly mashUp started. I suddenly realized a year and half or so ago that I had all these patterns I had been collecting and by combining them I opened up so many more options!

  10. I save all my spare fabric bits and use them as stuffing! Especially good for my daughter’s little “projects”. Great tips!

  11. On finding cheap patterns, the library has been awesome for me! As long as someone hasn’t stolen the patterns. I get them printed at office max. And it’s great if you have your own scanner you can scan them yourself and just put the pages together. Then you don’t have to pay at all! And there are lots of books with kids patterns at our library.

  12. Hello, great post, I know you wrote this a while ago, but if you are ever interested in fabric swaps, let me know, I know of some really great ones on Flickr, some of them are for specific fabric lines or designers and some are just for trading scraps, because it is always fun to play with other peoples scraps. Let me know and I will send you a few links.

  13. Great tips!

    It took me forever to realize this, but (at least at Jo-Ann’s) remnants are 50% off the CURRENT price per yard… so if the fabric is already on sale, it’s 50% off the sale price. So… say snuggle fleece is 50% off, and you get a remnant, that’s like getting it for 75% off total! (It’s even sweeter if I have a coupon for a percent off my total purchase!) Because of this I almost NEVER buy fat quarters. I tried to get a little more descriptive about it here:
    http://thehappyhomester.com/budget/why-i-almost-never-buy-fat-quarters/

    And, oh, it hurts my soul to remember there was ever I time I payed full price for a pattern! Thanks for sharing these! I think the “list price” of sewing discourages far too many would-be sewists from diving in!

    1. Thanks for visiting & commenting Mac! That is a good point about Jo-Ann’s remnants that’s easy to forget, I always check there for fleece and knit first. I totally agree about “list price” – I think all the posts about “sewing essentials” perpetuate that problem. All you really need is some fabric, a machine, and patience 🙂

  14. Most of my quilt fabric is from thrift stores. When shopping thrift stores you want to look for a few things though. A Goodwill in a young family area might not have as many choices as a store in a retirement community. After the estate sales they box it up for the closest Goodwill. At good will always look on the bagged wall in the linen section. Much of the time it’s a quilters heaven with precuts and larger scraps. We also have a Hospice thrift store that not only rolls their fabric with a paper band, but they write on it the size, if there is any flaws or stains, and the content if they know it. Then they sell it for $1 a yard for cotton, and $2 a yard for silk, velvet and like that. Church yard sales are also great usually.

    If you do estate sales go to http://www.estatesales(dot)net. See some of what they have before you drive to it.

    Play the fabshophop(dot)com bunny search every 1 or 2 months. There are almost 100 shops online lots that have great clearance sections. While I search for the bunny I always look at there clearance. This month I won a $10 gift certificate. It’s fun to find the bunnies, and a good thing to do while you sit on the couch watching something on TV that he chose.

  15. I have found a great place to purchase notions. WAWAK.com the last sale I purchased zippers invisible and regular for $.0.44 cents each and maxi lock cone thread for $1.99. Great place to shop. Shipping is $4.89 if you purchase over $100.00 it’s free.

  16. Excellent post! I just went to a yard sale today. Saw a few purses but didn’t see any need for them. Now I’ll know for next time how they can be put to good use.

  17. […] Many of us know that one person who claims to save so much money on clothes by either making them themselves or not shrinking away from the needle and thread when a stitch comes loose (as an aside, I am definitely a needle-shrinker-awayer). Saving money while sewing requires a bit of skill. Swoodson Says has a smashing guide that can help with this. […]

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