Where To Get Cheap Fabric

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The snow is on the ground, and that means our harvest is done and it’s time to start sewing like mad until spring comes again.  I have a list a mile long of clothes, costumes, and holiday items to get started on–and it’s going to take a lot of material.

Anyone who also sews a lot for their family, or is just crafty, knows that material isn’t cheap.  Even plain denim for pants and skirts for a family can be enough to break the bank.  So how does a homesteader on a serious budget do it every year?  She’s got to find a source (or two) of cheap fabric.

Here are eight places I look for cheap fabric without compromising on quality:

 

The Clearance Rack

No surprise here.  Nearly every store with a fabric section will have some kind of discount or clearance section.  Sometimes, they are quite hard to find. Ask an associate to show you where it is.

In my experience, most of the clearance fabric are nothing you’d ever want to use.  But if you’re patient and take a minute to really look through the bolts, you’ll find some treasure in there.

The best part?  It’s on clearance!  Want all 10 yards?  Take them 🙂 .

Holiday Sales

If you’re on a mailing list for a craft store, then you probably get coupons for every holiday.  This is how I stocked up on burlap to winter my roses.

I got a 40% off (one cut of fabric) coupon in the mail.  I then called ahead and asked if I could get a bolt–and they got one just for me.  When I got there, I found the burlap I wanted (in 60 inches) on sale for $2/yard.  They let me use the coupon.  Yeah– $1.20/yard.  I was happy and my roses were protected.

After-Holiday Sales

All the fabric you drooled over during the holiday rush wishing you had the time and money for?  Suddenly it’s all on sale after the holiday.  And while that may not seem exciting to you (yet), just hear me out.

I went to a fabric store just after Independence Day one year.  They were running a sale:  50% off any fabric with red, white, or blue anywhere on it.  It was awesome!

I didn’t pick up any flagged, striped, or starred material, but I was able to get so many different prints and textures with even a hint of one of those colors for a great price.  You never know what will get marked down after a holiday.

Yard sales

I’m sure none of us ever buy material that stacks up and never gets put to good use, right?  (Ahem.)  But would you believe there are people who do? Unbelievable, I know.

Many times when people are pulling things for a yard sale, they get into “purge” mode, and even great cuts of fabric end up on those tables.

The sales I find the most fabric at are the ones done by younger people who are also selling baby clothes, people who are moving, or those labeled “multi-family yard sales.”  And, if you see a sewing machine sitting on a table, there’s usually some fabric somewhere.

Second-hand stores

Hands down, this is where I find most of my fabric on a typical year.  We don’t shop much, but when we do, I always stop at one of a couple second hand stores and go straight to there craft section.  There are always yards and yards of colors, prints, and textures available.

Nearly all of the pajamas and costumes (like this one) I make for my family I’ve made with materials from one of two second-hand stores.

I can pick up 3 yard sections for $1 most of the time–no matter what the width or type of fabric.

Estate sales

It appears to me, no one really wants someone else’s material collection when an inheritance takes place.  I have found entire boxes of who-knows what kind of fabrics (and some really vintage fabrics) at estate sales.   When I ask how much they want, I always get a generic, “Ten dollars?  Twenty?”

I have found velvet and denims this way.

I have also found tanned hides this way.  If you like working with hides for skirts, belts, boots, etc. like we do, this can be useful.  I find however, that the seller usually wants some outlandish price, or they just want to get rid of it. It’s hit or miss.

Amazon

Have you ever typed “cheap fabric” into the search bar on Amazon?  It takes you to this list.  Pretty nifty, eh?  And since the prices are always changing on Amazon, researching tomorrow or the next day could lead you to completely different fabrics.

A word of warning, read how the fabric is sold and ask questions before purchasing.  If it’s sold “by the yard” and you buy 3 yards, you may get 3 separate 1-yard increments.  Each retailer is different, so look closely at the bold print and a few of the comments to find out for sure.

Need more than a yard at a time?  You can also search “cheap fabric by the bolt” and get to this list.  This is how I purchase nearly all of my fabric when I purchase it from Amazon.  I have bought cheese cloth, PUL, tulle, and bathing suit materials from Amazon this way.

 Search What You’ve Already Got

Those sheets that have been in the closet for 10 years that you’ll never use? They could make a perfect project.

We try to reuse just about anything we have at least once before tossing it out.  Old shirts, sweaters, pajamas, skirts, curtains, towels,and blankets are just a few things that can become new creations with a little love and creativity.

And–don’t just look at your own things.  When I go to the second-hand stores, there is often a basket of free clothing that is a collection of things no one wants.  Last year when I went, it had four XXXL women’s skirts in it that they hadn’t sold.  I got them all and made many little skirts for the girls–free skirts.

Check out sheets on clearance, and other items at yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores.  You’re only limitation is your own creativity.

8 Great ideas on where to get affordable fabric for all your clothing and crafting needs!

With so many options available, it’s possible to stock up on the fabrics you will use this year and next without breaking the bank.

 

41 Comments

  1. I made my wool diaper covers by finding a thrift store with a fill a bag sale. Once spring came all their hideous wool sweaters were put out for the sale. They made cute bum covers.

  2. I have never thought about amazon! Great idea! Thanks!

  3. I admire those who sew. I just have never been very into it. Although I did make some super cute Christmas stockings with counted cross stitch cuffs once. But they were crazy hard and not very sturdy.

  4. I would love to learn how to sew. I love the idea of bum covers and diapers made by hand. I just don’t have the skills.:)

  5. This is a great list of ideas! I want to make curtains for our kitchen and I’ve been looking everywhere for a good sale…maybe I should just wait a bit and see what happens!

  6. I love, love a bargain. I don’t sew but I do crafts and some of these sources for inexpensive fabric can definitely be applied as source for cheap craft supplies. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is a great, comprehensive list! I’m pinning this to refer to later. I’ll also add that once I bagged up all the scraps that I knew I wouldn’t ever use. Some were large pieces of fabric that just weren’t my style. I sold them on Craigslist, which gave me a little spending money for more fabric. 😉 Just another strategy to save money!

  8. I love fabric! That Amazon tip is priceless! Thanks so much. Your header is beautiful too!

  9. These are shops I don’t have access too, but then some of your suggestions made me realise there are more places I could find fabric than I thought! I wanted to make fabric bunting a while ago and so started saving my kids’ clothes…items that were worn too much to sell or pass on, maybe with holes in etc, and I did start to cut the triangles…maybe need to return to this project!

    • Yes, there are so many places to find fabric that we all tend to overlook. Good luck on your fabric bunting!

    • When my kids were small, I used coloring books and free hand drawing (prior to the internet) to make cute fabric appliques such as puppies, football or baseball, butterfly, etc from fabric scraps that I would then stitch over the hole/tear.

  10. This is a great, comprehensive list. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to buy fabric on Amazon, though. 🙂

  11. Thanks for these tips! I love sewing but don’t always know where to find cheap fabric. Now I have some places to look! <3

  12. Thanks for sharing your trade secrets! These are some amazing tips I would not have thought of!

  13. Thanks for all the ideas of where to find cheap material! If you do not look around it can cost way more to make something than to buy it!

  14. What a great list of bargain sewing places. I sew and make totes to sell at bazaars and other places and if you don’t watch out you can have almost as much in the fabric as you can charge for the tote. I have a ton of material right now but I’m always on the look out for “deals.” Thanks for sharing and happy sewing !!

  15. Thank you for taking the time to share these:)

  16. Great list!
    My daughter “borrowed” my sewing machine to make bows for her Etsy store.
    I was given an older sewing machine by a neighbor. I am hoping, it can be put to good use.
    I love coupons! I get a couple from JoAnn Fabric every year for 60 percent off and that is how I buy the Muslin I use for comforter covers.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Passing on the skill of sewing is so important! I tried to get my oldest daughter a hand-me-down machine, but she mostly uses mine too 🙂 . Coupons can make all the difference once in a while, can’t they?

  17. Great post! Our best finds have been at second hand stores in the forms of sheets and curtains… All we see are fabrics when we see bedding 🙂 Thank you for sharing these ideas on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

  18. Never would have thought of Amazon but why not, they sell so many different things! Thanks for sharing your info!!

  19. Great tips! Thanks for sharing on From The Farm…you were chosen as one of the top 3 posts!

  20. Depending on what you’re making, I’ve grabbed clean fabric tablecloths and fabric shower curtains at thrift stores for very inexpensive fabric. Want to make something fleece? I’ve cleaned out the local dollar general and family dollar stores of $4 fleece throws for savings. These are marked down even more after the holidays and you can often get camo prints and assorted solid colors. You can also post your needs on area facebook online garage sale groups.

  21. I have made adorable teddy bears and other stuffed animals out of fuzzy bathrobes and coat liners from thrift stores. Right now I am collecting used denim clothing to make a “jean” quilt…love the hunt.

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