Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sewing Savings

I am a sew-er and have sewn since I was in 8th grade. Being the oldest of eight kids if I did not sew I had nothing new to wear. My older cousin passed down to me and from there it went down the family. Back then you could buy fabric for .25 a yard at the Grants store. (Yikes, I am aging myself). Patterns were .10 to .25 a piece. So clothes were fairly cheap to make. ( No!! I am not THAT old!!)

Today patterns are expensive and so is fabric, so it pays to hunt in different places and do some adjusting to the way we use patterns and fabric.

For patterns I hunt out the cheapest sales. Joann fabrics often has sales on certain days. You will need to fight the crowd, but it is worth it if you need a new pattern. I also have bought patterns on eBay or

Two other places I find patterns are yard sales and thrift shops. Look them over, but for a dime or quarter you can usually figure out a facing if it is missing. Over the years I have also traded patterns with someone else that sews, borrowed patterns or used a ready made outfit that I liked, but was not in good shape, and made my own pattern. (Remember to add the seam allowance!)

You can also save money by cutting out the fabric without cutting into the pattern. Patterns today are made with many sizes on one pattern. If you cut the pattern you ruin it for using other sizes. I fold the pattern and cut under it. I use the lines in the pattern but my scissors are under the pattern instead of on top of it. I then always have use of all sizes of the pattern. This came in handy last Easter when I was making 11 granddaughter dresses of varying sizes!

Now for fabric. I buy on eBay, yard sales and from discount shelves. I also have friends that sew and they know when they want to part with some fabric they can call. EBay may not seem like a good place to us who sew, we like to feel the fabric and decide. However, I have purchased some great fabric for great prices for dresses, a nursery, blankets and other things. If you need something odd it is a good place to look to get it cheap. We had a "Spring Chicken" birthday party for my mom and I was able to find two different chicken patterned fabric that was "quilt type" for a quillow and did not pay that much for either piece.

This week I went to a yard sale at a friends and she was selling tons of fabric for .25 to1.00 a yard. I bought 3 yard of a VIP fabric for .75! I went to a thrift shop and bought a nice heavy homespun type fabric, excellent quality, $1.50 for 5.5 yards. I will be using it for my tablecloth.

Another way I have saved money for fabric is rather odd to some. There are plenty of huge size dresses in yard sales and thrift shops. Do you know how much fabric is in one of those dresses? Some of them are really nice fabric that would make a cute little child's outfit. I have used those, as well as "scraps" of fabric. Pieces people think are too small, but for a child a skirt with different color pockets and a shirt from another small piece works great!

Hunt around! The savings are there, just have a good place to store them till you need them! For more money saving ideas check out Biblical Womanhood!


Anonymous said...

I was recently given some mens XL denim shirts with a plant logo on them. I made my toddler denim dresses from them. I had to get a little creative with the pattern placement, but it really was fun and if I did not tell, you would not know.

miranda said...

Oh, I love your comment on using large size clothing! I was just going to write a post about that very topic. It is amazing how much fabric you can get that way.

jes said...

My mom is an amazing seamiest. She made Lexi's easter dress (one of 11 dresses) and she made Lexi's whole crib set when she was born. this included about 6 sheets, 6 receiving blankets, 6 burp cloths, a diaper stacker, 3 pillows, rocking chair pads, 2 quilts, a dust ruffle....Am I forgetting anything? Anyway, here are two links, one to Lexi's dress and one to one of the quilts she made.

Elaine said...

I just had to comment when I read that you used to shop at Grant's! We did too! I know all about if you didn't make it you wouldn't have anything new to wear! But I have always loved to sew and that was okay to me. I love to read about others who love to sew! Your suggestion for recycling clothes and giving them a new life is great! I found your blog from Biblical Womanhood and enjoyed reading it.
God bless,

Mary Ann said...

My mom used to make us dresses out of her old ones that still had good life left in them when we were pretty small.

I am starting to look beyond the fabric store for my sewing projects since they are so expensive, plus it's good to be resourceful and use what would otherwise be thrown away. I had been looking for yellow gingham for a project and I found a sheet at Goodwill last week that will work. It was ripped on the corners, but there is more than enough good fabric in the middle!!!

Peggie said...

I love hearing about savings on fabrics. I have been given "scraps" that were .5 to 1 yard or more, Given! People think it is "leftover" but to me it is clothing, a pillow, a patch for a quillow etc. Fun stuff. Same with lace, buttons, interfacing etc.

Kristina said...

My mom also did not cut patterns. She traced the patterns onto Do-Sew and then cut that out. That is another way to save all the original pattern sizes.

Mom2fur said...

The thing I lament now is not the prices (because, like you, I look for sales and other ways to buy fabric and patterns), but the fact that it's hard to find any fabric stores at all. Back in the late 70s, when I worked in NYC, Macy's had the most killer fabric department. Remember when you could find fabric at any department store?
I like the idea of taking fabric from large sized clothes. I've bought dollar shirts just for the buttons. And the Christmas table cloths you see at garage sales can often be cut up for aprons, etc.
While I'm always on the hunt for discount fabric, I've learned not to buy 'cheap' fabric. For all the work put into a garment, you should always start with the best quality fabric you can afford. Same goes with thread!
Great tips...I'm always glad to come across others who love to sew!