Why do you sew? Lots of people take up the hobby to save money on things like clothing and curtains. Have you shopped at Target lately? You can buy a woman's dress for $20.
A dress I'm planning to sew for myself in the next week or two will cost far more than $20. The pattern itself was $18 plus $2.68 for shipping & handling, the interlock knit fabric was $51.92 (at least it was free shipping through Fabric.com). There will also be thread and buttons (TBD).
Obviously I'm not saving any money, but my reasons for sewing some of our clothing run wide and deep. Here are a few:
So how can we not go broke by sewing? I have some great ideas to share today.
Coupons: Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and Michael's all offer coupons. Use them! I never buy anything from those stores at full price.
Textiles can be found outside of the fabric store!
There is a lot of great fabric yardage that can be found on clearance at places like Marshall's. Tablecloths make excellent and sturdy tote bags.
Thrift stores. Curtains and tablecloths can be had for $2-3 at a thrift store (wash it before using). You can also find unused yardage in most thrift shops. I've scored linen for next to nothing at a thrift store because someone cleaned out their craft room or a house after an estate sale.
Re-purpose things at home. Take items from your home that you no longer use and turn the fabric into something new. The above cafe curtain didn't even require any sewing--I draped a vintage tablecloth from my grandmother that is too small for my table over a tension rod as an instant window covering. It works so much better than the full length curtains I used before this.
The hardware store. Canvas painter's drop cloths are one of the best sources for inexpensive cotton canvas. There will be flaws since its main purpose is to get ruined, but it's one of the best bargains out there.
Other craft store items can be had for a fraction of the price at places like Home Depot. Magnets, cording, nylon straps, wooden dowels, t-square rulers, etc. Even items that are expensive in a fabric store such as a fabric glue stick or quilt binding clips can be easily and cheaply substituted at an office supply store with Elmer's and paper binder clips.
Free Patterns. Do a search, you will find tons of patterns out there. It might read "free tutorial," such as my Chicken Feed Tote Bag. There are not as many for clothing as there are for accessories, but clothing ones do indeed exist. Check my resources page to start your search.
Digital Patterns. These are offered at a lower price than paper patterns when buying from indie pattern designers. The designer doesn't have to pay to print a physical copy and mail it to you, so that savings is passed on to you. When buying a digital garment pattern, the PDF will need to be printed by you and assembled like a puzzle (see my post on my nautical skirt). This can be frustrating, but it also saves you a lot of money!
Use scraps instead of throwing them away. Not only is it eco-friendly, you would be throwing dollars into the trash. Search "scrap buster" and you'll find many brilliant uses for your cast-offs.
Sew all interior seams with white thread, save the color for visible exterior seams. When you buy the large spool of white thread, it is less expensive per yard than the colorful threads not usually found on large spools. Use a coupon!
Measure twice, cut once. Nothing is more expensive than cutting incorrectly and having to buy additional yardage for your project. Similarly, buy only what the pattern calls for unless you know a way to use that extra half yard. Fabric sitting in your closet is a sunken cost.
Sign up for newsletters. You often get to choose a free pattern or get a discount on your first purchase. I got a free bathrobe sewing pattern by signing up for the Purl Bee email newsletter.
Lastly, I want to emphasize buying quality materials. What good is saving money on fabric when your finished project is threadbare within months of wearing it? Buying quality fabric (see post here) means that you will have a long life with that project. How long did that last item from Old Navy honestly last you? A season? Maybe a year?
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.