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5 Ways to Save Money on Sewing Supplies

Guest post by Angi from SchneiderPeeps

When people find out that my daughter and I do a lot of sewing, a common response is “Fabric is so expensive! I can buy an item cheaper than I can sew it!” This can certainly be true. But I have learned that it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to be a frugal sewist:


We often get fabric and notions from people who used to sew but no longer do. Some of it is great for us and we keep it. And some of it is not for us and we donate it to a nonprofit thrift store.

Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

Not only can we often find great fabric at thrift store and garage sales, but we also can get vintage sheets and tablecloths. We frequently use vintage sheets to make pajama pants. They are preshrunk, very soft and if you cut it right you don’t have to hem the bottoms

Old Clothes

I know this sounds funny, but if the fabric is good, then save it. I regularly cut up jeans that have holes in the knees and flannel shirts for quilts. I also save buttons on clothes that are headed for the trash because they are too stained up to donate.

Community Fabric Sales

The Senior Citizens group in our area hosts a fabric sale a couple of times a year. The fabric is $0.25 per yard, notions are $0.05 to $0.25 each. They also sell, yarn, books and patterns.

The fabric that I used to make the pajamas for my daughter (shown above) came from this sale. Each project cost me under a dollar to make. We always find some gems among the rubble. And if you need some double knit polyester, this is definitely the place to find it!

Coupons and Sales

When I find a fabric that I just love and would be perfect for a project, I wait until it either goes on sale or I have a coupon. Then I buy the least amount that I need for the project.

When I was re-doing our master bedroom, I found some decorator fabric that I loved. But it was $18 a yard! So I waited. When it went on sale for half price, I bought two yards. That was enough to make window toppers, and a couple of throw pillows. For the curtains, I used fabric that was $5 a yard.

If you are not familiar with how different fabrics feel, I suggest visiting fabric and quilt stores and feel the fabrics. You’ll soon learn what a quality cotton fabric feels like and what a lesser quality cotton fabric feels like. This will help you as you begin to build a stash of fabric that you didn’t buy off a labeled bolt.

Caution: be careful of using old (vintage) thread. Thread weakens over time and it is best not to use it on something that you want to keep for a long time for for something that will be washed or used a lot.

Angi is a wife and mom of 6 children who spends her days homeschooling, crafting, gardening, playing chauffer, keeping chickens, trying to learn how take better pictures and blogging at SchneiderPeeps.

photo credit

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  • I’m going to translate this article and forward it to my mom. She is a very creative tailor. Thanks for sharing.

  • Liz says:

    I always reuse fabric. I turn old outdated or unfitting clothes into something else. (like a pair of short jeans into a skirt, capris or a purse for the girls). I also love going to thrift stores and getting old sheets and bedding to turn into things.

  • Lauren says:

    I also would suggest, they have clearance sections with pretty good deals and usually a coupon for 30% off the clearance price.

    Also, check craigslist in the arts and crafts section, I’ve gotten huge boxes of childrens fabric for less than $5.00 by people just wanting to get rid of it!

    • Ditto on … shipping on orders over $35! I can always find really high quality fabric, such as Moda and Michael Miller….for far cheaper than Wal Mart fabric. High quality lasts longer, sews better and does not fade as quickly…..especially when making children’s clothes! And if you are making clothes to sell, high quality fabric is what customers want! Hancocks of Paducah also has EXCELLENT fabric for as little as $1.99 a yard!

  • Su says:

    Love this! I do craft shows with hairbows and what not, I save every scrape of fabric from sewing projects because you never know when it just might be the right piece to add to a bow. 🙂 The only fabric store in my town is a very high end privately owned, so if I am needing a solid, I simply buy flat sheets at Walmart for $4 for a twin, it’s much cheaper even than Hobby Lobby.

    My mom purchased me a skull skirt/shirt set at a yard sale, I will wear the skirt but the shirt wasn’t my style, so we cut up the shirt and made me a rag tote. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I am just getting into sewing, and have been a little discouraged by how expensive it’s seemed. I will definitely be putting these tips to use.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Excellent advice…these are things I did, especially during the years when my children were small and we were poor!! And the children and I were as well dressed as anyone. I generally did not sew all that much for my husband, watching for sales at good ole Kmart (blue light specials) in those days. Once my Mom and I were in Kmart when one of those came on, offering men’s sports jackets for only $5…we got one each and my hubby wore his until he outgrew it, handed it down to my dad and so far as I know he wore it off and on over the next 33 years. The days of GOOD quality!! Today you must be oh so careful as a great deal of fabrics for sale are not worth the time to sew up. One reason hunting in thrift shops etc can net you some really fine fabric to work with!! And there are grandmas like me who still have fabrics they have had for years…and that will be good for a very long time yet!!

  • Thank you for this post – I never thought about looking for fabric in thrift stores! One thing that I ALWAYS make myself because it is ALWAYS cheaper (at least new anyway!) than buying new is curtains! And since I’ve moved over 25 times in my 28 years, I always need different curtains! It’s difficult for me to buy curtains that have the color that I want without paying a TON of money for so I make them myself! I’ve been able to make some really great curtains and valances that match my decor perfectly and save at least 50% and usually more like 75% off the price of curtains. Love!

  • Crystal, I think the link to this family’s blog is not working!

  • Lisa says:

    Great ideas thanks! I’ll add one more that I saw from another site…clearance curtains. The panels can be large enough for accent pillows & other small projects!

  • Rae says:

    I do all of these too except for the community sale because we don’t have that here. These are what I do (and yes some of them are listed in the article I am just putting together my list).

    –Clothing that is free or very cheap because it is out of date or a weird style so it didn’t sell (either thrift store, yard sale, freecycle, etc). A lot of times the fabric will be nice for something. For instance maybe a zebra print 3XL shirt was not the best choice for that but using it for applique or teen accessories would work great. Or the torn and faded dress that they are about to throw out that has some great unique buttons? Use those buttons.

    –Yardsales can be great for finding fabric, thread, and notions. I have found that if the person is charging by the yard, it usually is not going to be a good deal (they usually do 50% off the retail price which is nowhere near good enough for a yardsale!). But when they really want to get rid of stuff and they are selling by large remnants or bag/box it is great. One time I went to one where a guy was selling his wife’s extra crafting stuff and nothing was priced, he would just give you a price when you told him what you were interested in. My sister got an amazing deal on what she got so I went through and found every single thing I had any interest in (2 large bags full of crafting tools, gems, ribbon, stickers, etc plus a folding step stool and a leather wallet) and he gave it all to me for $12! A lot of the stuff was new in package.

    –Whenever I see fleece throws for $3 or less (or $5 or less if it is a great quality or unique fleece) at Walmart, Big Lots, etc I buy some and buy the biggest size available. It comes out way cheaper per yard than buying at the fabric store.

    –I am on the Joann’s mailing list. The 50% off one regular priced item coupons come in handy sometimes but the ones I love best are the 20% off entire order coupons because these can be used on sale and clearance! And they often have fabrics for 50% off so that is an automatic 60% off. Looking in clearance section can yield even more savings 🙂 And the stuff is way better quality than the $1 or $2 per yard stuff from Walmart

  • Anna says:

    I sew for myself and my kids. Our Walmart still has fabric that goes on sale for $1/yard. I stock up on that sometimes. Also, Hancock’s around here has great sales on fabric and patterns at different times of the year. I don’t always use patterns or use old ones I have. I can also make patterns out of newspaper or butcher paper. I inherited my grandmother’s sewing and my mother’s sewing materials and items. I also use old or new clothing and add decorations or spruce plain clothes into something more stylish. I can make about anything my children want when I have time to sew :). My clothes I make are so much better made than some store bought clothes and last much longer. I made myself professional suits several years back that I still wear today. I spent much less on them than if I bought the suits themselves. Teaching me to sew was one of the greatest gifts my mom and grandma taught me. I am passing it along to my children as well.

  • Andrea Q says:

    The remnant bin at JoAnn’s is my favorite place to look for inexpensive fabric. The pieces are often big enough to make pajama shorts or a skirt for my little girls.

    Also, if you sew with patterns, never pay full price! JoAnn’s regularly has weekend sales where patterns are on sale for $0.99 or $1.99.

    Check the linens section at thrift stores…flat sheets rarely wear out and thrift stores are a great place to find orphaned flat sheets. They work for curtains, pajamas, baby slings, totes, etc. Plus, king sheets can be cut down to make smaller fitted sheets.

  • Crystal, I linked to your post on my blog and added some info about things to consider about older fabrics before accepting or buying them.
    Also, FYI, your link to SchneiderPeeps above under the picture of thread is not working. 🙂

  • Catherine says:

    Also try, craigslist and estate sales. I know quiet a few older people that have “stash” they will never finish up and that no one knows what to do with once they are gone. These things end up heading towards the dumpster if you don’t step in!

  • Another idea…. you can often get giant men’s t-shirts on clearance at Walmart…. I just made a pair of shorts for my size 4-5 son out of a 3x t-shirt I got for $3.50. And I have plans for the scraps. (This one had a flag that I used as an applique on the shorts.) I plan to buy what’s left after July 4th when they get marked down to $1.

  • Sarah in MO says:

    Yes, fabric can be expensive, but if you’re patient, you can almost always get it on sale or with a coupon! I always love it when I can find it at Thrift Stores too! Our local Flea Market has one booth that often has high quality fabric for a good price. The pieces aren’t huge, but they’re big enough to make skirts or something with! I sew all the time for our family and as a business, and I’m always looking for good deals on cute fabric! 🙂

    Thanks for your good suggestions!

  • Erin says:

    Don’t forget vintage bed linens from the thrift store! Pillowcases are usually $1 and flat sheets are $3. Excellent price per yard and very unique. =)

  • Lenetta says:

    Whenever I am somewhere that sells fabric, I head straight for the remenant bin. They’re usually 20-40% off.

  • akanksha says:

    while on topic of savings, i found another great site that has helped me get price adjustments after I bought something from an online store. i have been using it for last 2 months and have got price adjustment back on at least 4-5 items – more than 100 dollars saved so far.

  • I buy fabric and sewing things at yard sales! Or buy pretty bed linens at yard sales and use it for fabric for crafts and things.

  • dana says:

    Can someone tell me what to do with stained, ripped jeans and clothes? I usually donate to Goodwill but they told me they do not accept those or they will throw them out. I have a bag of these items–my husband’s worn out work jeans and my little boy’s jeans with the knees blown out. I tried to patch them but the patches just peeled off. I really hate to just throw them out. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Angi says:

      It depends on where the stains and rips are on the jeans. I usually cut up jeans into 6.5″ squares using a rotary cutter – cutting around rips or big stains. I then use these squares to make denim blanets or denim and flannel quilts. I keep one of these blankets in my van at all times. You never know when you’re going to have an impromptu picnic. You can also search the web for “clothing repurposing” and I bet you’ll find all kinds of ideas.

    • Rae says:

      If they are just the knee area down, you could make them into skirts (cut them off then add a triangle section from another part to the front and back). Or you can use that section as the base of a purse for a teen. Or you can just cut out any good pieces to use for applique and the pockets are great to use for all sorts of things like adding a pocket to a pillow or an organizer or making a little purse for a little girl, etc. For more ideas, I came across this “11 things to make with old jeans” on a site I visit:

    • Jen says:

      The Salvation Army usually takes items that are stained/torn and sells them in bulk as rags. They are still making money for their programs from those items, rather than throwing them away.

  • Ramona says:

    I am very fortunate to have a craft store fairly close by that is filled with donated articles for re-sale. A local senior center receives the proceeds. A lot of items are for sewing. I never buy zippers at the local sewing store, I go there. I’ve bought lots of sewing notions as well. They’ve even had rolls of upholstery fabric. All donated.
    That and garage sales and coupons at the local sewing store make sewing for me a fairly inexpensive hobby.

  • Bethann says:

    I buy fabric at thrift stores, too. I desperately needed some solid blue fabric for a project and didn’t want to drive to the nearest fabric store (over 35 minutes away). I headed to our thrift store, found a blue silky tank top that was perfect for my needs. $1. I’m also sitting here in a pair of capri pants made out of denim pants bought there that were too big and too short that I took up and hemmed, and repurposed the bottom part that I cut off into my denim rag quilt stash.

  • Shirley says:


    If you join for your area, you can often find craft stuff that people are giving away, or you can post that you “Want” fabric and see if anyone has some to give away.


  • Kassandra Wood says:

    Ladies, I would LOVE to learn to sew. Does anyone have any suggestions for an adult whom has never touched a sewing machine??? 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Google “video tutorial learn to sew” or something similar or put “learn to sew” in the search box on youtube (and even “how to use a sewing machine” or specifics like “how to thread a bobbin”). I learned how to do many things because of free internet video (or for the older things picture) tutorials like knitting, growing my own bean sprouts, stretching canvases, etc. I am positive that you would find a ton of videos that meet your needs 🙂

    • Angi says:

      I am hosting a summer sewing school in real life and on my blog. I will have 6 projects – 3 and some tips are already up – each posted on a Thursday. Once the projects are done you will have learned things like basic hand stitches, pieces a quilt top, turning corners, sewing in a circle, stacking and flipping, lining a tote, topstitching, etc. Here’s the link .

    • Angi says:

      Another idea is to go to a local sewing machine store – one that just sells machines and sewing stuff – and try out their machines. They will be happy to sit with you and let you play. When you decide on a machine buy from them – they will be a little more expensive than online or at walmart but you will be able to go in there at anytime and get help with your machine or your project. Well worth the extra money. They will also have classes that you can take.

    • Catherine says:

      Contact your local fabric/craft store. My mom teaches classes for JoAnns and people call all the time for her to do private lessons. She even has a waiting list for lessons. I’m sure there is someone like her at your local store.

    • Jennifer says:

      My suggestion is to find an older lady (at church, in the neighborhood) who sews, and ask her to help you. I knew some of the basics of sewing, but buttonholes and zippers were tough for me, and I sought out that older lady. She helped me with several projects, until I was ready to fly on my own.

  • Eleanor says:

    I would also try some local estate sales. While I don’t sew, I find lots of “notions” such as vintage seam binding, buttons, hooks and eyes, etc. to resell or gift. The sales are also great for serious sewing items such as skirt hem markers, sergers, and old-style sewing machines. If you don’t need a fancy machine, you can get yourself a workhorse for sometimes as low as $20 – gorgeous table and case included! I have also seen bolts of fabric, and of course lots of gorgeous linens and other fabrics to repurpose.

  • Another thing we used to do a lot is buy fabric from Amish mail order companies. The fabric is about $3-4 a yard, but lasts and lasts and lasts!!! This was proven when my mom decided to add some fabric to a dress she wore almost every couple days for several years and found the fabric had not faded at all, even with much washing.

  • Amy says:

    I have a series on saving money on craft and sewing supplies on my blog.

    Crystal, this is a great post with good ideas. I’ve been known to cut buttons off of shirts that can no longer be salvaged. Thanks for posting this!

  • Jody says:

    To save money on thread, I buy the large Surger spools at hobby lobby – I think they only come in white, black and navy blue. I buy them with the 40% off coupon from the internet. I take those home and wind them onto smaller bobbins and then use them on my machine. It takes a little extra time, but the savings are enormous. I am not sure of the quality comparisons though. When I compared the yards and cost of the surger spools to the little spools, I was shocked by the price difference.

    • Angi says:

      Jody, this is a great idea. I also use serger thread. If your machine has a spool holder that sits upright and has a hole through the top, you can actually put the serger thread on the table behind the machine and thread the thread through the hole on the spool holder and then thread your machine. I have 2 Janome machines and one has a holder like this and the other has a holder that lays horizontal. So if I need to use the one that lays horizontal, I have to put the thread on bobbins. I’ve done this for about 3 years and so far haven’t had a problem and it saves a lot of money.

    • Jennifer says:

      You can also set the serger thread cone in a mug on the table behind your machine, and thread as usual.

  • erika m says:

    Im curious as to what sewing machine you would recommend for a beginner-intermediate sewer. I know the basics of sewing but I really firmly believe its my cheapo machine that keeps getting me! Anything sewing machine suggestions that does a good job and is fairly economical for a machine?

    • Jennifer says:

      Look at the Brother machines on the Wal-mart website. Best prices around, and great quality despite the price. We have had one for 5 years, and it is just a dream to sew with.

  • Jen says:

    I don’t limit myself to “vintage” sheets at thrift stores. If I like the pattern, I buy it! I have a set of cloud print jersey sheets that I picked up specifically to make summer pajamas for my girls and I. There is usually no price difference between newer sets and “vintage” ones.

    I also picked up a set of LARGE curtains at a rummage sale, because they were trimmed with a cotton crocheted lace. I got yards and yards of this trim for $2. The curtain panels were made out of white cotton, which I now also have several yards of!

  • Melia says:

    I’d love to use this with my Textiles students!

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