I originally posted this here:http://www.sewsweetness.com/2011/05/10-ways-to-economize-your-sewing.html1. Set a monthy budget and stick to it.
This year, I've been restricted to $25 for my monthly sewing budget. This not only includes fabric, but sewing patterns, notions, and interfacing. I'm going to be honest, it isn't easy, especially if you have a small stash. But I think setting some sort of limit for yourself is important. It not only keeps you in check, but it will prevent you from buying fabric on impulse (fabric that you might change your mind about or not even use!). I keep a piece of paper over my sewing machine, with the budget limit at the top. Every time I buy something, I mark down how much I spent and what I bought. If I sell something (fabric, a custom item, etc.), I add that to the list as well as a "+" instead of a "-".2. Cut corners when working with a sewing pattern.
All patterns list the fabric and notion requirements on the back. In a lot of cases, I have found that the fabric requirement are usually an over-estimate. Designers will usually illustrate a cutting layout, which means they show you which pattern pieces to place where, and if you need to place them on the fold. However, it is really easy to economize your fabric when working with a sewing pattern. Once your pattern pieces are cut out, lay them out on your fabric but do not cut them out (if you do not already have the fabric you plan to use for the project, use a similar-sized piece of fabric to estimate how much you will need to purchase). If a piece needs to be used more than once, either mentally visualize it before you move it to another space on the fabric, or mark it with chalk or an invisible marking pen. Place the pieces as close together as possible (unless you need to fussy cut). Only cut when you are satisfied that you have saved yourself the maximum amount of fabric.
You can also use solids or scraps for less visible or important pieces. As an example, made the Amy Butler Weekender Bag. The pattern called for 1-5/8 yard of fabric for the exterior. I only had 1 yard of the fabric that I wanted to use, and even though I did fussy cut it, I managed to fit all the important pieces on the fabric. There were 2 pattern pieces that I was not able to fit, but these pieces I cut from solid green coordinating fabric scraps that I had. This works for this particular project because these parts of the bag are the reverse sides of 4 exterior pockets on the bag, which are really not visible. I am not sharing this information so that you'll purposely not have enough fabric for a project; but with advance planning, it is possible to work with much less fabric than a pattern calls for.3. Be flexible with your notions.
Coordinating thread that will match your fabric is needed for most projects, mostly for topstitching. But it is usually cheaper to work with white thread (I bought some Coats and Clark white thread recently on sale for $1 per spool). So I use white thread for all the non-visible parts of my sewing projects, and save the colors for when thread will be showing. You can also save on zippers by trimming a larger zipper to fit your project needs. I have a whole bag of older zippers in many sizes and colors, and I will often trim them if possible, just so I don't have to buy a brand new zipper.4. Swap for supplies.
There are several places to swap your unused fabrics or other supplies, such as on Flickr
. Keep in mind that you will need to pay for shipping, to send your item to your swap partner, but it's a great way to get something new (to you, at least!).5. Go thrift store shopping.
The best places in the thrift store to check for repurposing fabric is the linen section. Sheets and pillow cases are great sources of fabric. I blogged about one of my trips to the thrift store here
. I actually used the light blue king sized sheet ($2) last week as backing for a 70" x 90" quilt. Even if I had bought the fabric at the store on sale, it would have cost me at least $30. With all the supplies you need for a quilt, you could easily spend $100. Saving on the backing is a great way to trim your costs. The pillow cases also make great sources for making layer cakes or charm squares. A vintage dress, apron, or pajamas would also make a great source of fabric that you can use for a bag!6. Work with scraps.
Scraps will not only make a great quilt, but I have also used scraps to make bags and dresses. It's really easy to piece fabric scraps together into a larger unit, and use your pattern piece to cut out what you need.7. Only buy if it is on sale or with a coupon.
I know it's really hard, especially with quilting fabrics, but it is possible to buy only if something is on sale. I'm sure you have many fabrics that you have your eye on, so watch for sales (True Up has a weekly post of fabric shops that are having sales). Watch for a good percentage off, or a free shipping offer. Also, I don't buy anything at Joann's that isn't on sale. My family members save their Joann ads from their Sunday papers, so I usually have about 3-4 ads a week, and there are at least one or two 40% or 50% coupons per ad. Even if I only need thread or a zipper, I will use a coupon on it. I also use a lot of fusible interfacing, so if it's on sale and I can also use a 25% transaction coupon, I'll get 5-10 yards of interfacing at once.8. Share a fabric bundle.
If you want to purchase a fat quarter or half yard bundle of an entire fabric line, why not split it with a friend? On occasion, I'll go in on a bundle with my friend, Kim
, and it's usually cheaper to buy by the bundle as opposed to buying yardage separately.9. Conserve batting.
What do you do with all the scraps of batting you have amassed from quilting? Connecting smaller pieces with a zig-zag stitch is a great way to get larger pieces, especially for quilted projects like a table runner or bag.10. Use a free tutorial or a library book.
With all the free tutorials out there on the web, it's entirely possible to sew projects from only free tutorials. Amy Butler even has many sewing patterns available for free on her website, or you can find her Blossom Bag
pattern from the Style Stitches book here. Just about every sewing book that I have on my Amazon wishlist, I was able to request from the library. The books that come with pattern pieces even have the pieces in the back of the book. With many sewing patterns selling for $5-$15, it's a great way to save money.