I see the question “Do you really save money sewing things instead of buying them?” pop up frequently in online sewing groups. It’s a tough question because there are so many variables (and there are lots of reasons to sew other than trying to save money!), but I do think there are ways to make it a less expensive hobby. 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! But keep reading for even more ideas!
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!
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Also be sure to scope out the secret for making time to sew!
How to Save Money While Sewing
- Use Rakuten (formerly known as 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.
- Amazon Prime Day often has good deals on sewing & craft related stuff, check out this post of Prime day sewing machine deals & more, where I will update them each year (prime day is usually in July)
- 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. There is even an app for that, Cora!
- 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.
- Use fabric as interfacing – tip from Heather of Heather Handmade, see more of her money saving ideas here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Use your scraps
- Lining something that no one will ever see? Cobble together two scraps! Do the same thing with quilt batting scraps, using a zig zag stitch to attach them together.
- I love this super creative skirt from Call Ajaire that uses the tiniest scraps to make fabric.
- Swap fabric! Organize a local fabric swap or with online sewing friends.
- Buy the right cut of fabric for your project – a tip from Gemia at Phat Quarters, with a great visual to help you think about the different costs/sizes, go see it here
How To Save On Patterns
- Shop sales
- There are regular $1 sales on commercial sewing patterns at Joann’s (at least in the United States, I’ve heard it’s not this way other countries).
- 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. You can see the most popular free sewing patterns from over 50 designers this year!
- 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. You can see some of my favorites in this post.
- 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! Subscribe to your favorite designers’ newsletters so you don’t miss anything.
- 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 or “pattern hack” them together.
- Keep a wishlist of patterns you want, suggested by Ashley P. in a Facebook group. She said she organizes it by designer so she can be prepared and organized for any sales!
- Pattern test, as suggested by Delphine in the comments! You get a free pattern when you offer to test (although you have to do the testing work, too). Check designer’s Facebook pages/groups for testing calls!
- Shop sales
Do you have any tips that I haven’t covered? Please let me know and I’ll add them!