A recent question from a reader gave me the idea for this post. I mention sewing with fabric from my stash quite often & how that saves me money. When you first start out sewing with the hopes of saving money, especially on clothing or pajamas, it seems impossible. By the time you pay for fabric & a pattern, you've already spent more money than you would have by just buying them at the store. Plus you still have to spend some time sewing them & we all know that our time is very valuable these days.
There are some really beautiful designer fabrics available these days. They are pretty & really great quality, but on my budget $8 or $9 per yard is just too much. If I ever use fabric like that, it is reserved for special projects.
Most of the fabric that I use in my sewing projects come from the thrift store. I love, love, love vintage floral patterns & so I am drawn to vintage bed linens. A lot of the fabrics that I purchase from the thrift store are bed sheets & pillowcases that I repurpose into flag garlands, quilts, clothing & pajamas.
I really built my stash up while living in Ohio. I would often make a trip to my favorite thrift store & come home with a stack of new linens. It's not as easy to find such linens here in Las Vegas, but I still love to hunt every now & then.
Find a few thrift stores that you like & figure out their sale schedule. My favorite store in Ohio, Unique Thrift Store, ran a sale every Monday where everything in the store was 50% off. As to not be tempted to buy anything at full price, I would only shop in this store on Mondays.
Pillowcases were always marked at $1.00 in this store, but I would buy them on the sale day for 50 cents a piece. One pillowcase will give you about a yard of fabric, more or less.
I would pick up bed sheets for about $3.00 a piece on sale days. This post at Crafting a Green World breaks down how many yards of fabric you get out of each size bed sheet. But if you estimate that you are getting about 2-3 yards of fabric per sheet, then it's a phenomenal deal.
When investigating a bed sheet or pillowcase in the thrift store, it is important that you ask yourself a few questions before deciding to purchase.
1. Do you love the fabric? Will you actually use it? Do you have a specific project, or two or three that you could use this fabric for? It may seem like a great deal, but if you purchase the sheet & it ends up sitting on your shelf forever, then it was just a waste of money.
2. What kind of condition is it in? If it's dingy or dirty, faded or worn too thin...just leave it there. If it's in great condition, not too thin, even color throughout...go for it!
3. Is it priced right? Are you going to end up getting some pretty & unique, great condition fabric for about 75 cents per yard or will it be more like $3.00 per yard. You decided what price works for you.
Each thrift store also has a section of fabric yardage for sale. Usually located near the home linens. Here you will find cuts of fabric. Lots of times you can tell this fabric has never been washed. Some crafter bought it & never got around to using it, then donated it to the thrift store. Lucky for you, you can pick it up for cheap! Again, ask yourself if you are really going to use it. Do you have a specific project in mind for it? If not you could do the same thing the person that donated this fabric did & again, it's just a waste of money.
I've also acquired some really great fabrics from my mother & my mother-in-law. Both my mom & my husband's mom sew & they had some fabrics sitting around that they no longer have need for & so they passed it along to me. They're not all plaids, those were just the ones I was drawn to pulling from the shelf today. :) Anyway, this is an awesome way to build your stash & best of all, it's free!
Because I sew for my business, I spent quite a while searching for fabrics & building quite a large stash. It felt great when I got to the point that I could pull many different fabrics for a patchwork quilt or a flag garland & I didn't have to run to the fabric store for any fillers.
I do have some tips for shopping the fabric store as well. I always shop at Joanns & I only shop the sales. Watch for the clearance section to go on sale for an additional 50% off. You will be surprised at the great fabrics you can find in that section. I usually end up paying around $2.00 per yard. Remember once again to only buy fabrics you plan to use.
And a little bit about patterns. Once again, search those thrift stores. I've seen patterns for as low as 10 cents each. Plan to get them for less than a dollar a piece at most thrift stores. When shopping for current patterns, I never pay more than $1.99. Watch those sales at Joanns. I like Simplicity patterns a lot & I quite often get them for a buck.
You really can save a lot of money by sewing at home. It just takes some strategic shopping & planning. Set your limits & stick to them. You will be surprised at the bargains you can find & in the end you'll be proud of yourself not only for the awesome thing you made, but the awesome deal you got on the materials as well.
Hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any more questions. :)