Sewing on a Budget

How to keep the cost down on your sewing adventures.

So I might just be confusing myself with something else but I swear I have written this blog before. Alas, I’m sure past MonMon started writing notes and just thought my idea went from a brainstorm doodle in a notebook into cyber space and is still in fact just a brainstorm doodle in one of my countless notebooks. Alas, as I have embraced my love of sewing just a little bit more this year, I often get asked on my Instagram how I keep my costs down but still enjoying my hobby. Sewing isn’t cheap and like most hobbies can get out of control really quick. There’s an odd misconception that sewing your own clothes is cheap and as much as I wish it was, it really isn’t. To help us all in our love of garment creation and keeping a few extra dollars in our pockets, I wanted to share some tips on how to enjoy sewing on a budget.

Shopping second hand
If you are just starting out, you might find it daunting to know where to begin especially when it it comes to buying a sewing machine and equipment. Have a look in thrift stores, second had shops, garage sales and online garage sales to get you started for things such as sewing machines, dress makers dolls or other equipment. Joining Facebook groups for sewing enthusiasts is also a great way to see what people are selling or finding.

Invest in the right things
Some sewing items are pricey so it may be tempting to try and skim off the budget but honestly, some items should be an investment. It’s better to buy one good tool, such as a pair of fabric scissors, than skim the budget and buy a pair you need to keep replacing.

Start Small
You do not need all the bells and whistles when you start. Avoid the trap of buying all the gadgets nd gizmo’s when you first start sewing. Overtime, you will start realising what you really need and what you can live without. A basic sewing machine, some thread and fabric scissors are a great place to start so don’t feel pressured to buy fancy things that you might not even need.

Op shops can be a gold mine
Whenever I go op shopping, I always make it a habit to check out a few section of my local op shops. The first section is the craft section; this is often where sewing patterns end up and depending on what you are looking for, you can really start to collect a good amount of basic patterns. I do find that the most common patterns tend to be from the 80’s but with a little skill, you can really tailor any pattern to look modern or more of a vintage style you prefer.
Some craft sections can also have a haberdashery segment which is great when you are looking for ribbons, knitting needles, pattern books, buttons and other fun things.
The second place I scour is the bedding section. Fabric can be quite expensive so getting bang for your buck is of upmost importance. Bedsheets are often quite large, cheap and great to sew with so browse your bedding sections and see what you an find. I often look for florals or simple patterns (sometimes you can even dye them). Tablecloths and curtains are a great idea too.
Note: I ask all my friends that whenever they do a deep clean out, can they donate their old bed sheets to me. They are all happy to do so, I also often get their families bedsheets and I get free fabric for testing out my patterns.

Facebook Buy/Sell Pages
If it can be sold, there’s probably a Facebook page dedicated to buying, selling and swapping it. I have found heaps of fabric de-stash pages online especially on Facebook which is great for getting a range of unique fabrics at lower prices. Often when people de-stash their collections, they are happy to bundle and you can really get loads of cheap fabric.
The same goes for general sewing buy/sell pages. You can find people selling on heaps of old patterns (these often have their own pages/groups), buttons, notions and other equipment. They are worth being a part of.

Shop sales
This might seem obvious but it’s worth keeping in mind. When it comes to modern patterns, I often wait for my local Spotlight to have a pattern sale (my favourite is all patterns $6) and keep a list of patterns I want to get when sales come up.

As to borrow or trace patterns
When you become a part of the sewing community, you might really be floored by some peoples kindness and generosity (I know I certainly have been). I’ve often seen people ask to be able to trace a pattern that someone else owns or borrow a pattern. Of course not everyone will be ok with this but I’ve seen it done enough times that it’s worth looking out for.

Buy with a plan
We’ve all done it, we’ve all gone fabric shopping and got caught up in the hype and come home with a mountain of new fabric without a single plan. This can lead to fabric being hoarded and not actually used. When shopping for fabric, try to plan a project for it straight away (and write it down so you don’t forget) so you are less likely to end up with fabric you will never end up using. The same goes for buying notions, trims and other haberdashery.

Shop for fabric out of season.
This is an odd one but if you shop for your fabrics out of season, for example buying summer fabrics in winter and winter fabrics in summer, you are more than likely to save a few dollars. Stores try to get rid of their stock when new seasons come in so by shopping at the end of a season you can save a few dollars. Same goes for holidays seasons; I often shop at the end of a holiday season and save the fabric for the following year but keep in mind that not everything stays in stock until the end of the season.

If you can, buy in bulk.
If you are planning on making a few garments that require special materials such as boning, notions or special trims, see if you can get a better deal by buying in bulk. I try to do this when it comes to boning especially as the more meters/yards you buy, the cheaper the items gets overall.

Use budget fabric for your mock ups
You may think that sewing a muslin or a basic mock up is a waste of time and money but, it ensures you do not waste your good fabric. This is where buying old bedsheets can be a huge budget aid as for a few dollars you get heaps of yardage to test out patterns to see if they work before you ruin your good fabric. In saying this, the old “measure twice, cut once” applies here too.

Shop with friends online
If you have a few friends who all enjoy shopping for fabric online, shop together to save on shipping. Fabric is heavy and can be expensive to ship to you depending on where you live and where it’s coming from. By getting your friends to shop together, the shipping price can be split and you can all save a few dollars.

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Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.

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