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How to save money while sewing

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How to save money while sewing

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  [formerly of] 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!

Pin this list of sewing money saving tips for later with this link or image below:

sewing money saving tips

Also be sure to scope out the secret for making time to sew!

hand sewing floss

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,, Jo-Ann Fabrics. Amazon has rotating categories, sometimes including sewing/crafts, and both HSN & 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)
  • 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. There is even an app for that, Cora!
    • Wait for sales! Keep a list of what you need and check weekly sales/wait for common seasonal ones like Black Friday or Memorial Day.
  • 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!

fun knit fabrics

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.
  • Shop secondhand
  • 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
    • 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.

sewing tips

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.
    • 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!

Do you have any tips that I haven’t covered? Please let me know and I’ll add them!

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Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

This post showed up in my email today -- July 2, 2019! I have to go back and follow up some of the links, however I need time for sewing so will leave that for an evening when my eyes are too tired to sew :) I use all of your ideas for inexpensive sewing fabrics/notions. We have several MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) Thrift Shops in our community (Winnipeg, MB, Canada). I have picked up a ziplock bag of brand new zippers for $2., 2-4 m of fabric for $2., etc. I use old sheets as muslins -- when the centre of the sheet wears out there is still lots of useable fabric around the tear! I have also used old sheets as foundations for sewing string quilt blocks. My stash is totally out of control ........ can't say anything more then that. "Everyone" who knows me "gifts" me with their old sheets, towels and fabric and fabric scraps that they have to get rid of -- silly people who don't use it themselves :D Right now I am working with "new fabric" as I am making national costumes for some of the girls in the Scandinavian Dance Group for our major yearly city-wide "Folklorama". This year is the 50th and the Scandinavian Centre is one of the few that has had a pavilion every year since it began! We do "recycle" the costumes as the various children grow out of them -- all are handmade. We "steal" the closures off the vests/bodices and reuse them -- they are very expensive to import from the various Scandinavian countries :( It works. Every so often a "grandma" or "aunt" wants a new outfit for their dancing girl or boy and I am happy to help out by making them if they provide the material. I love to do quilts and have so many scraps that I could likely make 10 quilt tops without even making a dent in my stash of scraps .... I once saw a post "I can't die, I have too much fabric that has to be sewn" -- or something like that. I need to have a plaque made of that! I am 70 and fear that my daughter-in-law is going to have a major headache when the time comes to get rid of my "Stash" of excess fabric! Final note, yard sales are an excellent way to pick up nice fabric/sheets, etc. I live in a neighbourhood where many of the families have become "minimalist" and part with some of the most amazing fabric pieces that can be up cycled! I love it. I truly enjoy your newsletters! I'm not on Instagram so miss out on some things, I don't have time to read Instagram posts -- email newsletters and Pinterest keep me reading enough!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 11th of August 2019

People also gift me with their old clothes haha!! I'd love to see one of your Folklorama costumes that you're sewing if you have a picture! Thanks for reading :)


Wednesday 10th of January 2018

Nice post. You can also sign up for pattern tests, you will need to sew the garnment bit you get the pattern for free

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 2nd of February 2018

Good idea! I added it with credit to you, thanks!


Saturday 30th of January 2016

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.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 31st of January 2016

Totally! It can be tricky to balance 'hoarding' and having a nice stash - at least it is for me :) But definitely cheaper for bag hardware to upcycle.


Saturday 23rd of January 2016

I have found a great place to purchase notions. 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.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 26th of January 2016

Thanks Sandy, I will check it out!!


Friday 22nd of January 2016

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.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 26th of January 2016

I've never heard of the Fab shop hop thing, how much fun!! You have made me excited for garage sale season again, too, thanks Jennie :)

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