Crafters often get teased that a sewing or crafting project costs more than simply buying the item. That doesn’t have to be true! Here are 10 tips to prove the nay-sayers wrong so you can keep sewing and stay on budget.
Tip 1: Check items for usable fabric or notions before they hit the trash or goodwill bag
This cute hat was sewn from re-purposed sweater fabrics. I especially love recycling purse handles or pretty toile fabric that I can cut up and make into crafty little things. Buttons can be saved for new clothing. Our grandmothers were really good at this!
Tip 2: Build a stash of basic supplies you know you will use
Depending on what you like to sew, basic supplies are expensive to run to the store for, so stocking up costs less in the long run.
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 thrift stores or online marketplaces.
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 whenever 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 unsure of a bigger purchase
My husband buys used lawn care equipment, 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 secondhand (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
This sounds basic – but it’s so true! 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!
The sewing acronym WIP means ‘work in progress.’ I know you have them – that pile of unfinished projects that taunt 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: Make your own bias tape and piping
Storebought bias trim isn’t as pretty and costs you money. Did you know a leftover fat quarter of fabric can make over 3 yards of bias binding?
Tip 8: Trace your patterns
The fastest way to use a paper pattern is to cut it up. But then you can’t use the other sizes on the pattern, and storing it in the envelope or bag it came in is difficult. A smarter way is to trace your paper patterns onto tracing or tissue paper. This preserves the original pattern so you can use it again and again.
Tip 9: Reuse or make your own pillow forms
Pillow forms can get expensive, but you may already have some great ones on your couch. Before throwing away old throw pillows, remove the pillow form and see if it’s still good. The size and shape may inspire you to sew an unfinished quilt top into a beautiful pillow!
Tip 10: 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 cover-stitching!
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