Sewing on a Budget: 7 helpful tips!
When I started this blog over 10 years ago, I was sewing from a corner of our family room and anything I bought came out of our family’s budget – keeping expenses down was extremely important!
I was forced to find creative ways to stay within a budget, which was sometimes fun and sometimes frustrating.
Here are my best tips for sewing up a storm – and still keeping it within a reasonable budget!
Tip #1: Check discarded items for usable fabric or notions before they hit the trash or goodwill bag.
Our grandmothers were really good at this.
I especially love finding purse clips or pretty toile fabric that I can cut up and make into crafty little things!
Tip #2: Slowly build a stash of basic supplies that you know you will use.
Depending on what you like to sew, basic supplies are expensive to have to run to the store for, so it costs less in the long run to stock up.
For example: I can get 14’’ nylon zippers at wawak.com for 37 cents each. Shipping is usually about $4, but if I get 10 zippers at once the total cost is less than $10, or less than a dollar a zipper.
If I have to run to Joanns for a zipper it’s $2.99!
Stocking up on things like zippers, thread, and elastic (or quilt batting for quilters) that can be purchased online saves me lots of money.
And if you have to shop at a big store (like Joanns, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby) for something… make sure you check online for coupons before you go!
Tip #3: Shop secondhand.
Some of my best sewing deals have come from the thrift store or craigslist.com.
Earlier this year I shared 5 Hidden Sewing Supplies you can find at the Thrift Store.
And that post didn’t even include fabric. You KNOW that I always browse the fabric section when I’m at the thrift store. I can’t count the number of times that I have found expensive quilt shop quality fabrics for pennies a yard. That’s not to say I buy fabric every time I’m at the thrift store.
But when I do find a treasure I don’t let it stay there!
Tip #4: Take a friend if you are unsure of a bigger purchase.
My husband buys lawn care equipment on craigslist, which I would never do – I have no idea what’s a good leaf blower and what’s not!
But in the early days of my sewing hobby I had to buy all my sewing machines second hand and now I have lots of experience.
So if you are interested in a second hand (or new) machine and don’t feel confident enough to evaluate it on your own – take a friend. I bet she (or he) would enjoy it!
Tip #5: Organize your sewing supplies regularly so you don’t forget what you have.
I know this sounds basic – but it’s so true for me! I hate coming home from the store to find that I already had just the thing I needed.
I often find that just the act of cleaning up and organizing my sewing stash inspires me to use what’s already there.
Here’s a video I made about how I organize my fabric.
Tip #6: Re-purpose your WIPs!
I know you have them – that pile of works-in-progress that taunts you no matter how much you try to ignore it.
So I have a rule that if a WIP is over a year old, it is fair game to be made into something else.
Quilt blocks have become pillows, zipper pouches, and potholders.
Clothing pieces have turned out different than the pattern intended – but at least they became something usable. 🙂
Tip #7: Share with a friend!
I have a sewing friend who lives just a few miles away from me and we both share a love for particular notions and fabrics.
It saves us a lot of money to lend books and magazines back and forth, swap fat quarters, or use each other’s specialty machines for embroidery or coverstitching!
What’s your favorite tip for sewing on a budget? Share it with us in the comments below.
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂
I buy sheets at the thrift store. They are great to use as backing for a quilt and are useful for a lot of projects.
I’ve bought two larger sheets from the thrift store to make into a simple quilt/comforter for my kids for camp. I’m not sending something that cost an arm and a leg or took a lot of time for overnight camp. The bonus is Im sending my love with them, they can just snuggle up for a little Mom time when I’m not there.
My daughter’s also doubles as a signature quilt.
I look at plus-plus clothes on clearance racks. I recently purchased a Lord and Taylor skirt and top set (only 3x, but really boxy) for 3.97 each. I have loads of fabric, lining, an invisible zipper and hook and eye closure for less than $8. I seam-riped watching tv.
Great ideas as always. I noticed the sofa in your sewing area. LLooks comfy. Can you give any info about it. Might be a possibility for my family room. Thank you
Oh my goodness for being a new beginner sewer at 60 years young, I’ve found so far how expensive it is trying to get just the basic supplies. Your suggestions are extremely appreciated by me. I can’t thank you enough and look forward to more money saving tips. On a disability budget can use any help!!!
Thank you, Thank you,
The Dollar Store! I needed mesh to make your cute purse organizer. I forgot it when I was at the fabric store an hour away. I went to my local dollar store, and bought a three-pack of mesh laundry bags. They were barely basted together! I ended up with three 12" zippers, and three pieces of mesh 12" x 30", all for, you guessed it, $1.00!
Also thrift stores and rummage sales, particularly when they are clearing out on bag sales. Children’s clothing have cute buttons or embroidery to use as accents on projects; men’s jeans can be cut up for the denim (they’re usually 100% cotton, no spandex, and larger sized); out of date wool jackets, suits, coats if you want to felt wool; and blouses, skirts and dresses if you want colorful fabric for small projects. Look at care labels and content to make sure they suit your purpose.
Yesterday I made your Peek-A-Boo pouch, and the only new thing used was one snap. Scraps of fabric were left from from a previously constructed purse. The plastic needed came from a saved bed sheet package. And that package had a zipper, so I used that too! Very satisfying to have a lovely new organizer for my backpack. Thanks Caroline, for your wonderful patterns and ideas.
#5 is so true! I found two instances wherein I had multiples of two different sewing/quilt block books.