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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 🙂 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.