So I’d like to take a minute and talk to you about something that comes up frequently when I talk to people about sewing, and something I’ve long wanted to bring up here on mad mimmy.
How do I afford to sew?
Many people say you know everybody used to sew back in the day because it was cheaper, but it isn’t anymore. Why take the time to sew something when you can go out and buy it for less? Ok, this can be true. If you’re paying full price for fabric, than yeah–It can become really expensive very quickly, although there is certainly something to be said about the quality and meaningfulness of homemade versus store-bought. But right now our family is in a place where I am sewing all my kids clothes because we can’t afford anything else. I’m here to tell you that sewing definitely can be more affordable than buying! Even when you’re talking about Wal-mart and clearance priced clothing. I rarely spend more than $2-3/yard for fabric, and often it’s less than that. With kid’s clothing–especially with tees and shorts–a yard goes a long way. Many of the things I sew are coming out to be less than $1 per item. The only thing cheaper than sewing is garage saling, which I think is great but have never mastered.
Today I want to share two of my budget sewing secrets: First of all, I thrift a lot of my fabric. DI, Savers, garage sales and estate sales often have killer prices on really amazing fabrics. I’ve been buying fabric and notions at thrift stores/garage sales etc. for years, and have found some absolute treasures. Whenever I go thrifting I ALWAYS at least walk through the craft/home-ec. section, and I frequently find just what I was looking for. There are a few places to check–the sheets/blankets/curtains/tableclothes are always a good place to start. You can always use a good sheet of course (and I have), but they also often fold larger cuts of fabric over the hangers as if they are a blanket. Sometimes they roll up cuts of fabric and throw them near the place mats or dish towels, and then occasionally fabric is just shoved into a large plastic bag, and it’s kinda a lottery to see what you get. All thrift stores are organized differently, but take a good look around, and you’ll be surprised what you you can find. Countless times I’ve thrifted 3 yards or more for $2-3 dollars. This isn’t even touching on all the wonder and promise of repurposing articles of clothing for their fabric (which you all have seen the potential there, I’m sure!)
My second secret is simple: just tell people you love to sew and are always in need of more fabric and notions. It’s amazing how much fabric and notions will just magically come your way once people know that you want it. Most people aren’t crazy/ passionate about sewing as we are, and many times people have that cut of fabric that they’ve had for years and will never do anything with. And then there are the former sewists who sewed for years and years (future me), but have moved to a different stage of life and don’t do it anymore. When they find out that there’s someone out there who will actually use and appreciate their beloved supplies it’s a pleasure to give it away. I actually just made such an announcement in my church last Sunday, and had a sweet woman tell me that she had boxes and boxes that I was welcome to. Do you need any zippers? she asked, I have a huge box just FILLED with zippers! My heart starts pounding just thinking about a whole box of zippers!!!
Here are a few of my favorite projects (out MANY) that I’ve done with either thrifted or gifted fabrics:
This polka dot slubbed cotton was a DI treasure I picked up years ago, and finally found the perfect big bow dresses to make it shine! Cost per article: $1.50
This lovely textured yellow cotton-blend was one of those fabric dumps from a friend who felt she’d never use it. This pleated jumper was a curtain! Cost per article: free
Another lovely sweater knit for a floral cardigan from said glorious fabric dump mentioned above. Cost per article: free
This acrylic/wool blend came from a horrible poncho that a thoughtful sewing student passed on to me thinking I could find some way to repurpose it. This little boy blazer is one of my favorite things I’ve sewn! Cost per article: free
This bottomweight I spotted rolled up in a rubberband at DI was so ideal for Tito’s recent Sunday trousers, and there was 3 yards for $3. I think I used about yard, so I still have plenty for future projects. Cost per article: $1
This handsome ribbed sweater knit for this little button-up sweater came from an elderly friend of mine who brought me a box full of old fabrics that she’d had lying around for years. The leggings below were also knits from this same box! Cost per article: free
So next time someone says that sewing is not cheaper than buying, consider the fact that it can be! I get it that sewing and thrifting might not be your cup of tea, and of course you’re time is worth a lot too. But I LOVE to sew; it calms my nerves, relaxes me, stimulates my creative itch, and brings me an enormous amount of satisfaction. Doing it affordably has always been necessary for us, but being the real thrill-seeker I am, it’s made it even funner.
What about you guys, where do you get the best deals on fabric?