How’s that for a title?
Here is a list of things that I do to keep sewing an affordable hobby for me, and also a way to have a great wardrobe that’s in my budget.
- sign up for the mailing lists of your local fabric stores. For me, those are Joann Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics.
- make a list of the patterns you want, and wait for the 99 cent (or 1.99) sales to buy them
- stock up on staples, such as basic color thread and zippers, while they are on sale
- …. but don’t hoard stuff! Don’t buy every time of notion “just in case” you might use it. If you’re not using it, it’s money wasted.
- if you have trouble remembering what supplies and patterns you have and end up buying doubles, consider keeping an inventory and bringing it to the store with you. If you’re a paid member of Pattern Review, you can use their pattern stash feature to keep track of your patterns.
- before starting a project, check for reviews of the pattern on Pattern Review. You can avert disaster by heeding the warnings of others.
- don’t forget the bargains that can be had by buying secondhand! Check Goodwill and other thrift stores, estate sales, Craigslist, and put the word out that you sew… you will inevitably be offered sewing supplies by people who no longer sew!
- this is commonly known but bears repeating: make a muslin! You can test the garment using cheaper fabric, and tweak the fit at the same time.
- track the sale intervals at the chain stores. For example, I’ve found that the notions wall is 50% off at Joann’s every quarter. I hold off on notion purchases until the next sale if I can.
- You may not be able to find suitable fabric at the chain stores. This leaves 2 options: independent fabric stores or online. If you’re lucky enough to have an independent fabric store nearby, lucky you! If not, online shopping is for you. The caveat: you can’t touch the fabric, and shipping is expensive. However, some sites’ shipping charges are more reasonable than others. For example, fabric.com offers free shipping on orders over $35. They also have frequent sales that they’d be happy to email you about. Fashion Fabrics Club‘s charges are lower than most that I’ve seen and seem less aribitrary. And the fabrics on both sites are affordable as well.
- Think twice before stashing fabric. On the plus side, if you find a good deal on a fabric you really like, it can be prudent to buy it if you don’t have a specific project in mind for it. However, if you do this a lot, you’re going to end up with a fabric store in your house! Obviously, this is not a cheap investment, and it’s not benefiting you financially. The line between keeping a reasonable supply of fabric on hand and SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) is a very fine one!
- Only buy the amount of fabric you actually need. I’ve heard quite a few sewers state that they always buy extra fabric. However, in my experience I’ve never found that to be necessary. I buy that is recommended on the pattern envelope and have never run short as long as I follow the suggested cutting layout. If you buy extra, chances are high that you’ll be left with lots of remnants that you won’t have any use for.
- Instead of buying a new pattern, take a look at the ones you already have and see if you can modify one of those to look like the one you want to buy. This is particularly beneficial if the pattern you want is pricey.
- If you have to do a lot of basting, consider using up almost-empty spools of thread left over from past projects.
- When buying a machine, iron, or other expensive items, consider what is the cheapest model that will meet your needs. Don’t buy a machine with features you know you’ll never use. Features like embroidery and novelty stitches look fun, but would you actually use them? And don’t forget to check for reviews of the machine and do some comparison shopping. And don’t pay extra for lessons unless you really need them. Remember that machines pretty much work the same, and most come with instructional DVDs. Regarding irons: I’ve found that the $10 iron actually worked better than the $100 I used to have!
- Buying the cheapest fabric doesn’t always mean you’ll save money. If you’re making an item you plan to wear regularly, a more expensive fabric may indeed last longer, which means you’ll save money by not having to make a replacement!
Well, that’s it for now. Let me know if these tips are helpful, and if you have any to share! I’ll post any reader-submitted tips in a future post (of course, you’ll be credited!).