Sewing On A Budget

by Destri on February 18, 2011

Thread On Spool and Rack

I received an email a while back from Heather, frustrated with the expense of sewing.  She had started sewing to save money and has found it to be rather expensive, and wanted to know if I had any tips to bring the cost down.  I have been there too, thinking that sewing would be a thrifty hobby, but have found like most hobbies, it can hit the pocket book hard if I’m not careful.  Still, with a little creativity you can make your dollars stretch.

Tips For Sewing On A Budget


They are not just for dresses!  If you shop the thrift stores you can pick them up anywhere from 10¢ to $1.00.  I have paid as much as $3 for hand embroidered pillowcases at a thrift store, which is a steal.  If you are shopping at an antique store you will pay a little more, but they are usually in brand new condition.  Often you can find a set with a high thread count and sateen cotton, perfect for pajamas.   Don’t overlook the solid and white ones, they are perfect for random projects.  I love sewing with pillowcases, the possibilities are endless!  Here are a few things you can make with pillowcases:


Sheets are perfect for sewing projects.  They are big, so you can make just about anything with them.  You can pick them up at thrift stores for next to nothing, and Walmart has a line of inexpensive  sheets with the twin flat sheets coming in at $3.00 in a variety of colors.  Also, there are a bunch of etsy stores with a great selection of beautiful vintage sheets, one of my favorites is JaneSays Vintage.  Really, you can make anything with a sheet, but here are a few ideas:

Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose!

I could give you a ton of links here, but just go through the Sew Be It Repurposing archives and you will see a lot of my projects include something repurposed.  It’s the easiest way to bring the cost down on sewing. Everyone is repurposing, so there is no shortage on ideas out there, just go blog hopping!  Here are a few more ideas:

  • My sister takes the buttons off of stained and ruined clothing before tossing, I just started and I have a great collection!
  • Take hardware from things you are tossing – clips, clasps, d-rings….
  • Pick up shirts, skirts and pants with patterns you love from thrift stores, you are bound to use them at some point.
  • Okay, one link, because this post is buried and it is one of my favorite ways to repurpose, No Sew Onsies to Bibs.
  • Old table cloths that are water proof are great for any project you need to be waterproof, or wipe-able.  Like seat covers, make-up bags, diaper bags….

Random Tips

  • Shop the sales.  Go through the back rooms and sale tables, find the prints you love buy a yard or two for future use.  When shopping online, shop the store sale page.
  • Eyelet fabric with pre-finished edges is often on sale.  It is great for dresses, curtains, skirts..anything, and you don’t have to hem!
  • Don’t cut out your pattern pieces, trace them onto butcher paper then cut, then you can use them over and over.
  • Make use of unconventional fabric sources,  for instance I once made pillows from cloth napkins.  They were already square, all I had to do was so them up, total cost $6.00.  Or like these pajamas I made from an old blanket,   it is one of my favorite projects to date!

When Not To Skimp

As with anything, you often get what you pay for.  That is why I like thrifting for finding fabric, you can find quality at a bargain.  Keep in mind if you are spending the time to make something, it is worth using quality items to get a great finish. Here are a few tips on what not to skimp on:

  • Thread.  It is worth getting the high quality brand.  Trust me.
  • Felt.  This depends on what you are making of course, but it has been in my experience that inexpensive felt just doesn’t pan out in the end.
  • Lace, it either looks good, or cheap.  Go for the one that looks good, you won’t regret it.
  • If you are making an heirloom piece, or something you want to live through the ages, it’s worth using the expensive material.  If you are making your babies blessing or baptism gown, splurge on the nice cotton.

Okay, now in the defense of sewing.  It can get expensive, but keep in mind you are making quality handmade items.  If you were to buy handmade items from a designer…well sheesh, you could easily get into the thousands.  Don’t discount the value of what you’re creating!  I hope this helps Heather, and thanks for the email :)

So now it is your turn, what resources have you found to help keep the cost down in sewing?  Any other little tips you can add for Heather?  Do tell!

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